The 2022 NFL season just ended, but it’s not too early to look ahead to 2023 from a fantasy football perspective. Underdog Fantasy’s The Big Board drafts with rookies launched last week. It gives a very early look at 2023 drafts and trends, and we’re diving briefly into some takeaways.
Bijan Robinson might go in Round 1
Texas running back Bijan Robinson is currently the RB4 (behind only Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, and Jonathan Taylor) on Underdog without even landing with a team yet. Robinson is an outstanding prospect that very well could immediately be among the best backs in football during his rookie year if he lands in a good spot (like Dallas, as some have speculated, or Philadelphia). So it’ll ultimately come down to the landing spot. With an early Round 2 average draft position right now, Bijan might vault clearly into the top-ten mix—though he could easily drop to the Round 3/4 range if his situation doesn’t look great.
Quarterbacks will go high
Patrick Mahomes (ADP: 14.0), Josh Allen (ADP: 15.7), and Jalen Hurts (ADP: 16.6) are all going squarely in Round 2 of pre-draft best ball drafts. We are actually somewhat disappointed with this development, hoping the top-tier signal callers would be able to be swiped in Round 3 for both traditional and best ball drafts. Instead, based on early returns—though The Big Board drafts might lean toward the safety of elite quarterbacks knowing their teams/situations are mostly set—it looks like Mahomes, Allen, and Hurts will all go in the first two rounds of most 2023 drafts.
Travis Kelce will no longer be a steal
Similarly, Travis Kelce is now going as a top-five pick after yet another sensational year from the tight end slot. Underdog drafts were a little different, but in many traditional drafts you could grab Kelce at the Round 2/3 turn. That will be virtually impossible this summer, with the All-Pro tight end locked in as a first-round selection given the difference he can make at his position. Really, things are lining up about where we expected based on takeaways from last season.
Running back values?
However, one potential positive development is the “dead zone” for running backs (generally considered by many to be about Round 3-7, give or take) appears quite strong as things currently stand. Some guys like Tony Pollard (injury, potential free agency) and Alvin Kamara (potential suspension) are uncertain, but clear lead backs like Nick Chubb, Rhamondre Stevenson, Najee Harris, Joe Mixon, and Dalvin Cook—Mixon and Cook are currently going in the 50s after they were first-rounders last year—look like they could be hits. We do have a long way to go to the season, but the “dead zone” might not be too scary in 2023.
Justin Jefferson will be the consensus 1.1
Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson (ADP: 1.3) is the leader in the clubhouse for the top pick in 2023 fantasy drafts by a decent margin (Ja’Marr Chase is second with an ADP of 2.7). The reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year had a relatively quiet ending to his third season as a pro, but he still put up a 128/1,809/8 line—and it’s not crazy to think he has the upside for more. The blend of safety and upside might mean no one else pushes for the consensus first overall pick in 2023 fantasy drafts.