Finding the best fantasy rookies is all about finding the greatest talent in the draft class… or is it? Year in and year out, we find heavily talented players who fall into terrible situations and struggle to reach their hidden potential. Some players who fall into this category are D.J. Moore, Jakobi Meyers, and Jordan Love. Other players are far less talented but are drafted to ideal teams who heavily utilize their talents. A few players who fall into this category include Dameon Pierce, Chris Olave, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. All of these players are great, but Moore and Meyers have dealt with poor quarterback play in low scoring offenses, while Love has been stuck behind Aaron Rodgers despite being a first round pick.
Pierce was handed the keys to the Texans offense and was force-fed a lot of carries, and Olave landed on a team with no talent at receiver besides the injury riddled Michael Thomas. St. Brown may appear to be an outlier, but when you take a closer look, you will realize he landed on a Detroit Lions team with absolutely zero talent at receiver and a quarterback who loves to make short completions to his slot receiver. St. Brown has proven his ability, but his perfect opportunity is what led him to where he is today.
There are plenty of talented receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft class, but you’ll need to find those who land in outstanding situations following the draft. The team they are drafted by can turn a top-level talent into an elite fantasy receiver, and they can turn a mid round receiver into a heavily utilized weapon. A poor landing spot can delay the growth of the receiver, similar to Treylon Burks’ slow start in Tennessee.
The Panthers have committed to finding their franchise quarterback this season after trading for the first overall pick in the draft. In doing so, they also lost their top receiver in D.J. Moore. Any receiver acquired by Carolina would immediately receive a heavy workload by default, there’s simply no one else to throw the ball to. With a rookie quarterback likely leading the charge, expect the rookie connection to spark, as the new quarterback will use his fellow rookie receiver as a safety blanket as they both get accustomed to the NFL.
This high-powered offense already has their quarterback for the next 10 years, and that’s the great Josh Allen. During the regular season, Allen is a monster, throwing for over 4,300 yards and 35 passing touchdowns in each of the past three seasons. Allen has Stefon Diggs in his arsenal, but the Bills are desperately looking for a reliable number two receiver in this offense. They have experimented with Gabe Davis as well as Isaiah McKenzie, but both receivers have been lackluster at best. The Bills are struggling with their cap space and will not be able to grow the offense through free agency. If the Bills draft a receiver, look for them to immediately gain an opportunity to play over both Davis and McKenzie. It’s no guarantee, but if the rookie can take the starting role, I would expect magical numbers with Allen. Diggs will be turning 30 years old midway through next season, and there’s always the chance a rookie receiver can eventually take over the top dog role as Diggs begins to decline in his 30s.
New York Giants
The Giants recently extended the contract of their franchise quarterback who will be getting paid $40 million annually, just $3 million shy of Josh Allen’s bankroll. This franchise quarterback is none other than Daniel “Danny Dimes” Jones. Jones is a fan favorite and has gone from a fumble machine to a legit playoff level game manager. Jones played admirably in 2022, passing for just over 3,200 yards despite not having a number one receiver. The Giants leading receiver in 2022 was Darius Slayton, who would normally be the third-best receiver on most NFL teams. A rookie receiver on the Giants would likely lead the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards from day one of the 2023 season. The Giants have Wan’Dale Robinson, who is a nice slot receiver that missed significant time due to injury. The outside receiver position is up for grabs, and this could be an excellent landing spot for any rookie in this draft class.
The Houston Texans are in a similar situation to the Carolina Panthers, as they have the second overall pick in the draft and are expected to take their franchise quarterback as well. Brandin Cooks is certainly on his way out of Houston, and the talented John Metchie is still on an open timetable for his return from cancer treatment. The Texans recently signed Robert Woods to be a veteran leader in the locker room, but Woods hasn’t been the same since his ACL tear. Even with a decent season from Woods, there is still plenty to go around in what could be an exciting offense, with likely Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud under center.