Fantasy Football 2023: 3 Rookie Sleepers Undervalued in Drafts
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NFL rookies can be incredibly valuable in fantasy football, and not only in dynasty leagues.
First-year players are objectively fun to roster. There’s the excitement of adding young talent and the seemingly limitless possibilities of picking up a player who has yet to hit the NFL gridiron. Moreover, when talent and opportunity align, these players can really produce.
That’s why the highest profile rookies typically carry a significant draft cost. If you want Bijan Robinson, you better have a pick in the top half of the first round.
But don’t worry if you miss out on the likes of Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs. There are several other freshmen who should be fantasy assets and won’t cost a fortune at the draft. We’ll highlight three of them here.
Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings
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Jordan Addison might not be a sure thing, but he doesn’t carry a sure-thing fantasy price. He can be added, on average, with a draft pick outside of the top 80, per FantasyPros.
There aren’t many players in this range who can match the upside of Minnesota’s first-round pick.
Addison, who runs smooth routes to all levels of the field, has a non-zero chance of becoming the WR2 in a Vikings offense that accounted for the third-most passing attempts last season. They also have a ton of targets and touches available after moving on from Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook this offseason.
Even if Addison can’t knock K.J. Osborn out of the No. 2 role behind Justin Jefferson, the rookie could see sample action in three-wideout sets. If Addison becomes a favorite of quarterback Kirk Cousins, the potential for big numbers is real.
Luke Musgrave, TE, Green Bay Packers
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Luke Musgrave didn’t have the chance to put a ton on tape at Oregon State—the abbreviated 2020 season and a knee injury in 2022 cut into his field time—but the Packers still deemed him worthy of a top-50 pick.
It isn’t hard to see why. He has quick feet, smooth hips and good speed for the position. He also seemingly already has the trust of quarterback Jordan Love, who may not have a favorite target in Green Bay’s young receiving corps.
“We’ve just got to keep getting him the ball, keep feeding him, and see what he can do after the catch,” Love said of Musgrave. “He’s going to be a really good player.”
If you don’t draft a tight end early enough to feel great about the position—and, honestly, would you feel super confident in anyone other than Travis Kelce?—then Musgrave is worth considering for a low-risk, high-reward flier.
Bryce Young, QB, Carolina Panthers
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Bryce Young might have been the top pick in this year’s actual draft, but he’s been an afterthought in the fantasy versions. On average, he’s going off the board as the 151st overall pick, per FantasyPros.
At this draft cost, there’s very little to lose and a whole lot to gain from a potentially dynamic quarterback.
His arm talent is tremendous. Over his last two seasons at Alabama, he piled up 8,200 passing yards with 79 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. He also has more rushing potential than the stat sheet shows. While he only ran for 185 yards last season, remember that college quarterbacks lose rushing yards on sacks. When he scrambled, he made things happen and had seven rushing scores over the past two seasons.
His supporting cast with the Panthers is far from perfect, but it’s better than it has shown this preseason. He has playmakers in the passing game, like Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark and Terrace Marshall Jr., a solid offensive line in front of him and, in Frank Reich, a head coach who has often let his quarterbacks are it out.
You can draft Young as your QB2, but he has a chance to be universally regarded as a QB1 by season’s end.