The NFL offseason has gotten off to a fun start, and it’s not close to being over!
Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, David Montgomery, Miles Sanders, Brandin Cooks, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darren Waller (among others) will be wearing different uniforms, and we’re still waiting on a potential blockbuster trade between the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers involving future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers.
Plenty of other moves have also been made that will change the outlook of real and fantasy depth charts, and the next personnel shake up is coming up soon. That’s the 2023 NFL draft, which will be held next month from April 27-29 in Kansas City
Sports Illustrated draft insider Kevin Hanson is already hard at work, scouting players and posting his most recent mock draft that could give fantasy fans a look at what teams around the NFL might do when it comes time to make their selections.
Here’s how I would break down Kevin’s first -round predictions from a fantasy standpoint.
1. Carolina Panthers (via CHI): C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Hanson believes the Panthers will take Stroud over Bryce Young, but regardless the team will take their future franchise quarterback. Stroud, who was challenged to a game of HORSE by Carolina quarterbacks coach Josh McCown at Ohio State’s Pro Day, will be worth a late-round pick as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback in most re-drafts.
2. Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Texans will take whoever the Panthers don’t between Stroud and Young, and that quarterback will be the likely Week 1 starter. Young, who isn’t what you would call a “big” field general, threw for 3,328 yards and 32 touchdowns in his final season at Alabama. Like Stroud, he’ll be in the late-round conversation in re-drafts.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Richardson thrilled scouts and coaches alike at the NFL Scouting Combine, and Hanson likes him as a top-five pick to the Colts. While he’s still raw and only had one year as a starter at Florida, his size and speed make him an interesting pick in real and fantasy football. He’d also benefit from new head coach Shane Steichen.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Raiders signed veteran Jimmy Garoppolo, who will open next season as the team’s No. 1 quarterback, but he’s not a long-term option. Levis, the big man out of Kentucky, could be that option. He’d likely be a backup with dynasty value alone as a rookie, but Levis could also see some burn since Garoppolo isn’t overly durable.
• Fantasy Impact: Adam Thielen | Brandin Cooks | Mike Gesicki | Jamaal Williams | Miles Sanders | JuJu Smith-Schuster | Baker Mayfield | David Montgomery | Allen Lazard | Rashaad Penny | Darren Waller | Jakobi Meyers | Jimmy Garoppolo | Derek Carr | Dalton Schultz | Devin Singletary | Damien Harris
9. Chicago Bears (via CAR): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
The Bears loaded up on draft capital in trading the No. 1 overall pick to Carolina, and getting protection for Justin Fields is a big priority. With D.J. Moore, D’Onta Foreman and Robert Tonyan added to the roster, the Bears grab Johnson to go along with newly-signed Nate Davis to shore up the offensive line for Fields.
11. Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
The Titans need help on the offensive line after losing Davis to the Bears and releasing LT Taylor Lewan, so adding Skoronski makes sense. From a fantasy standpoint, however, it would be better to see the Titans look for wide receiver help. At this point, it’s Treylon Burks and really no one else in terms of draftable assets.
13. New York Jets: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
The Jets have signed a pair of wide receivers in Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman, and they’re in good shape at running back with Breece Hall. As a result, it makes sense to add protection for Aaron Rodgers (assuming that trade with Green Bay happens). Jones adds depth to a unit that has dealt with injuries to Mekhi Becton.
14. New England Patriots: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
I’ve seen some mock drafts where the Patriots select Texas RB Bijan Robinson (as a Cowboys fan, I hope not), so I like this pick much more. Wright is one of the top tackles in the 2023 class, and he’ll help protect Mac Jones and open up holes for Rhamondre Stevenson. If New England needs anything on offense, it’s a wide receiver.
15. Green Bay Packers: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Let’s assume Rodgers is heading to the Big Apple, leaving Jordan Love as the new starting quarterback in Green Bay. It would be nice to get him a security blanket in the short and intermediate passing game, and Mayer would fit the bill. With Robert Tonyan now in Chicago, Mayer would start right away and have late-round redraft value.
20. Seattle Seahawks: Jaxon Njigba-Smith, WR, Ohio State
The Seahawks are already in good shape at wide receiver with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in the mix, but the latter is entering his age-32 season. That makes this move more of a long-term, dynasty choice. Regardless, Njigba-Smith would likely battle for the third wideout position and be more of a late-rounder in 2023 redrafts.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
This move might assume the Chargers have traded Austin Ekeler (he has been given permission to a seek a trade), so Robinson would be the clear No. 1 runner. That’s an exciting potential scenario in fantasy, as the Texas back has superstar potential written all over him. In fact, he’d be a top-24 redraft pick in Hollywood.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Quentin Johnston, WR, Texas Christian
Is it me, or does it seem like the Ravens always need a wide receiver? Johnston, who is ranked all over the place by scouts (I’ve seen him as the top wideout and the fourth-best), is a big-bodied dude with speed who would come in and be a top-three option in the passing game for Baltimore. Johnston would be a fantasy late-rounder.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
The Jaguars are set at the top offensive skill positions from a fantasy standpoint, with Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Christian Kirk, Calvin Ridley and Evan Engram all in the mix. So, it makes sense to land an offensive lineman who can help replace Jawaan Taylor and protect their biggest assets. Jones would fit the bill.
25. New York Giants: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Who is the Giants’ No. 1 wide receiver right now? Isaiah Hodgins? Sterling Shepard or Darius Slayton? In fantasy, it might be the smallish Wan’Dale Robinson. This is a huge position of need, so grabbing a player like Addison seems like a no-brainer. A former Biletnikoff Award winner, he’d be a late-round choice in fantasy redrafts.
26. Dallas Cowboys: O’Cyrus Torrence, IOL, Florida
I want the Cowboys to land Robinson so bad it hurts, but it’s also unlikely. Tight end would be a better fantasy fit after the team lost Dalton Schultz to the Texans, but grabbing an offensive lineman is never a bad move. Tyron Smith and Zack Martin aren’t getting any younger, after all, so Torrence would become a nice addition.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
The Bengals lost Hayden Hurst (Panthers), so this seems like a nice fit for fantasy purposes. He’s maybe the best receiving threat among the tight ends in the 2023 class, and he’d be a nice option in the short and intermediate pass attack for Joe Burrow. Kincaid’s value would rise in the future if the Bengals lost Tee Higgins, too.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The Chiefs have lost JuJu Smith-Schuster (Patriots) and Mecole Hardman (Jets) as free agents, so making a move at wide receiver seems logical unless the team can trade for DeAndre Hopkins. Anyone catching passes from Patrick Mahomes will have some value in fantasy drafts, so Flowers would certainly be on the radar.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business to help you win a fantasy championship!