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NFL Draft Round 1 Takeaways

NFL Fantasy

The NFL Draft never disappoints. 

Thursday Night’s first round brought a flurry of trades that triggered a myriad of reactions across social media.  It is rare that trades occur during the draft, but the list of Day 1 moves made for superb content.  There were six trades in total that occur after the draft officially started: 

  • Texans trade back into No. 3 spot after picking at No. 2
  • Cardinals trade back into the Top 10 with Lions at No. 6
  • Eagles trade up a spot with Bears
  • Patriots trades out of No. 14, Steelers jump Jets
  • Giants move up after a trade with the Jaguars
  • Bills move up as Jaguars move down again

Our FTN staff has combined their reactions to Round 1, including the big fantasy winners from the opening night. If Day 1 was any indication, Day 2 of the NFL Draft should be even more exciting.

Wide Receiver/Tight End Value

Scott Spratt

The quarterbacks of the teams that drafted wide receivers and tight ends were the Round 1 winners I didn’t expect. Teams had drafted more receivers early in recent  seasons, and that stuck many on below average teams with lesser quarterbacks and failed to move the needle for the latter’s fantasy prospects. Last year was the nadir of that trend as Drake London joined Marcus Mariota, Garrett Wilson joined Zach Wilson, Chris Olave joined Andy Dalton, Jameson Williams joined Jared Goff, Jahan Dotson joined Carson Wentz, and Treylon Burks joined Ryan Tannehill. This year saw the opposite. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston, Zay Flowers, Jordan Addison, and Dalton Kincaid all slipped to the back half of the round when the best teams tend to draft. And while that may have hurt their short-term fantasy 
prospects because of more competition from talented receiver rooms, consider the bonus it will be for their already productive quarterbacks. Geno Smith was a surprise top eight fantasy quarterback in 2022 and will now have DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Smith-Njigba for his run at an encore. Justin Herbert added Johnston to Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. Lamar Jackson added Flowers to Odell Beckham and Mark Andrews. Kirk Cousins added Addison to Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson. And Josh Allen added Kincaid to Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. Those quarterbacks already had a case for early-round fantasy consideration. And now they will pair their superior talent with clearly superior skill players and justify those early-round fantasy picks.

Rookies Will Make An Impact

Tyler Loechner

Anthony Richardson to the Colt at 4 was the first big surprise of the night, and I absolutely love it for fantasy – but more for dynasty than 2023. Gardner Minshew might actually have some best ball appeal in 2023. Bijan Robinson landing with the Falcons is an incredible pairing, and he’ll be locked into the top-five RBs in fantasy drafts this summer. The other Round 1 RB, Jahmyr Gibbs to the Lions at 12, may spell the end of DeAndre Swift in Detroit. There’s just no way the Lions give David Montgomery a sizable contract, spend a premium pick on Gibbs, and then keep Swift around. The WRs all fell a bit later than expected, with Jaxon Smith-Njigba landing in Seattle at No. 20. It’s not the ideal landing spot for fantasy as the team already has an alpha WR1 (DK Metcalf) and a field stretcher (Tyler Lockett). But that team does now have a lot of weapons. Quentin Johnton to the Chargers may mean less Keenan Allen in 2023, Zay Flowers to the Ravens helps Baltimore continue their offensive quest of going from 0 to 100 in one offseason, and Jordan Addison to the Vikings is the perfect pairing with Justin Jefferson.

Bijan Robinson is a Top-Five RB

Adam Pfeifer

Bijan Robinson is a top-five redraft RB. All week long, it was expected that the Atlanta Falcons would select Texas running back Bijan Robinson. And sure enough, Robinson was off the board at eighth overall. We know Robinson is going to be ranked highly in dynasty but I believe he should be a top-five running back for redraft leagues, too. This Falcons running scheme is elite, as their carries were stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage just 15% of the time last year, the fourth-lowest rate in the league. Tyler Allgeier had a fantastic rookie campaign, rushing for over 1,000 yards, while ranking ninth in yards before contact per rush attempt (2.9). And from Week 10 on, Allgeier ranked 10th in rushing yards (612), seventh in 100-yard games (2) and third in yards per attempt (5.3). The entire offensive line is underrated, but especially the right side led by right guard Chris Lindstrom. Per FTN’s Rushing Direction stats, Allgeier averaged 6.2 yards per carry on runs to the right in 2022. Atlanta ran 230 plays with multiple running backs on the field last season, the most in the league, while operating out of the pistol formation at the highest rate in football. Robinson, who played in a similar style of offense at Texas, will be a perfect fit and on a team that sported the league’s second-highest neutral script run rate in 2022 (55.6%), Robinson should be seeing as many touches as anyone in football.

Robinson top RB, Wideouts Land in Favorable Spots

Chris Meaney

Bijan Robinson immediately enters the fantasy football draft season as a top-five running back. He has the upside to finish as a top-three back given his landing spot in Atlanta with run-first head coach Arthur Smith. Tyler Allgeier racked up 1,035 rushing yards on 210 carries in his rookie season. He had two 100-yard games and topped 70 rushing yards five times and only had 18+ carries in three games (20+ just twice). Robinson will open up as the Week 1 starter and should live in the 300-350 touch range with work in the passing game. With Robinson now in ATL, I’ll have to figure out what to do with my Allgeier shares in dynasty formats. First thought is to package him to the new Robinson owner. This is BR’s backfield.

The same can’t be said for Jahmyr Gibbs, who landed in Detroit at 12. This was the most shocking pick of the draft for me. He joins a crowded backfield with David Montgomery and D’Andre Swift. It’s not that I don’t believe in Gibbs, and I certainly have my issues with Swift, but I feel Detroit could have traded back again. Nonetheless, Montgomery could very well be the lead and goal-line back in the Lions offense. I thought Swift was out the door the minute Detroit signed Montgomery, and last night’s pick confirms it. The Lions could trade him or have him stick around as a pass-catching back in his final year. As of now, this is a sticky situation for fantasy. Montgomery will probably come with some value on draft day. For the first time ever, I’d actually suggest buying low on Swift. It shouldn’t cost you much, and he might land in a new spot soon. Keep in mind he’s never played a full season in the league.

All four wideouts landed with good quarterbacks with good offenses, but most have to compete for targets. Jordan Addison is in the best spot for first-year success, as he’ll  battle with T.J. Hockenson for targets behind Justin Jefferson. I believe Addison can play a similar role that Robert Woods did in Kevin O’Connell’s offense a couple of years ago with the Rams. As of now, he’s my favorite wideout in redraft leagues. The others have plenty of competition in their new offenses.

Finally, it was a big day for the Ravens, as they locked up Lamar Jackson and gave him a new shiny toy in the passing game. The Ravens played 11 personnel a league-low 12% last season. That’ll change this year with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken calling the shots. Flowers joins a pass-catching room that includes Odell Beckham, Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews. Flowers will see a lot of single coverage because the Ravens will spread things out this season. Opposing defenses will have a hard time helping with all those weapons, and then you have to account for Jackson’s legs.

Lamar Jackson Wins Round 1

Michael Dolan

No one should have been more excited than Lamar Jackson on draft day. First he signed a record-setting contract extension that’ll keep him in Baltimore for the next five years, then the Ravens drafted a first round receiver for him to throw to. Drafting Zay Flowers adds to an already exciting offseason for Jackson that includes the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. and a new OC in Todd Monken. Jackson lit up the fantasy scene during his MVP campaign, but we haven’t seen him reach that same ceiling since in a few years. This offseason has put him back in contention to be the dominant fantasy force he was back in 2019, and he’s once again a serious contender to finish the season as the overall QB1.

Jahmyr Gibbs Uncertainty

Jeremy Popielarz

Last night may have been one of the most impressive starts to an NFL Draft in recent memory. However, for fantasy managers, it ended with many questions. Three quarterbacks were drafted inside the Top 5, yet Kentucky’s Will Levis wasn’t one of them. This leaves us with a clearer picture as both Bryce Young and CJ Stroud will likely start Week 1, while fourth overall pick Anthony Richardson could sit for a few weeks behind Gardner Minshew. We hit the over on the 1.5 running back prop, as both Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs were selected inside the Top 15. Bijan fits the Atlanta scheme perfectly and could potentially lead the NFL in touches in 2023, cementing him as the 1.1 in rookie drafts this spring. As for Gibbs, landing with the Lions was less than ideal, but could be a great fit as a complement to David Montgomery. If Gibbs slides in your rookie drafts scoop him up. He will become a go-to guy in the passing game for the Lions. Swift is now on trade watch, which could improve his situation drastically if he lands with a winner. 

The wide receiver group may have received some of the worst landing spots we could have hoped for, with only Jordan Addison and Zay Flowers set to have huge roles in 2023. Addison will be the perfect complement to Justin Jefferson in an offense that has produced multiple WR1s in the past. Flowers steps into a shallow Ravens receiver room and brings electricity. He forced over 15 missed tackles and 503 yards after the catch at BC last year. Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Quentin Johnston both ended up in murkier situations, projecting as the third option on their respective teams. However, they have the potential to become their team’s WR1 in 2024. 

Finally, we saw the Buffalo Bills select the only tight end in Round 1 as they got their version of Travis Kelce in Utah’s Dalton Kincaid. Kincaid led this class in snaps from the slot (55.1%)  while also forcing 16 missed tackles en route to 397 yards after the catch– both most in the class. He becomes a priority in rookie drafts as he will likely become a huge target gobbler in the middle of the field leading to early and often success.

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