2023 NFL Draft: Potential Starters & DFS Impact Players

NFL DFS Rookies 2023

The NFL Draft has a rich history of supplying rookies that make a DFS impact, right out of the gate.

Sometimes first-round picks boost their teams’ fortunes right away, making Pro Bowls and earning Rookie of the Year honors while they’re at it. Cam Newton (2011, 1st overall) Odell Beckham Jr. (2014, 12th overall) and Ezekiel Elliott (2016, 4th overall) are just a handful of examples.

Today we’ll look at first-rounders from the 2023 NFL Draft, specifically those who could yield DFS value early in the season. We’ll review all four offensive skill positions to find the rookies that could return surplus DFS [Value].

Value, in this context, refers to DraftKings fantasy points divided by the player’s DraftKings salary. Aiding in this endeavor is DFS Hub’s WhichStatMatters page. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the infinitely different ways in which the WhichStatMatters page ranks DFS performance.


KANSAS CITY, MO – APRIL 27: Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud with a jersey after being drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft on April 27, 2023 at Union Station in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire)

For the 2022-23 season, starting quarterbacks generated an average of 17.2 fantasy points per game at an average DraftKings salary of $6k ($6,000).

Do a little division (17.2 / 6) and, the typical starting quarterback provided 2.8 times their salary last season.

There are two high-probability QBs that could exceed that value in the 2023-24 NFL campaign:

Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers – The first overall pick out of Alabama will be an early favorite to be crowned the 2023 Rookie of the Year. Despite the paltry offense fielded by the Panthers last season, Young will have newly added veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen to rely on. The rookie QB will also be joined by running back Miles Sanders, who comes over from the Philadelphia Eagles. On top of that is another important new face in former Rams coach Thomas Brown, who will be Young’s offensive coordinator. 

C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans – Stroud is a pure pocket passer which may limit some of his DFS upside, but he should be able to make up for it with pinpoint accuracy and limited turnovers. With Dalton Schultz making the move from Dallas to Houston, the rookie quarterback will have a trustworthy tight end to dump off passes to. Schultz supplements wideouts Robert Woods and Nico Collins. Talented young running back Dameon Pierce is also in the mix for Stroud, if he finds himself in trouble. Perhaps most importantly, Houston has beefed up its O-line, both in the draft and via free agency.

Running Backs

NEW ORLEANS, LA – DECEMBER 31: Alabama Crimson Tide running back Jahmyr Gibbs (1) attempts to break a tackle by Kansas State Wildcats safety Josh Hayes (1) during the Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Kansas State Wildcats at Caesars Superdome on December 31, 2022 in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire)

Last year, starting running backs (those first on Depth Chart) had an average of 14.5 fantasy points per game and an average $6,500 salary on DraftKings. That meant the typical starting running back yielded 2.2 times their salary last season.

Here are two rookie halfbacks that could easily exceed that figure throughout their rookie year:

Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions – The biggest downside to Gibbs in the Lions backfield was D’Andre Swift. That problem is solved with Swift being quickly traded after the draft. The Lions shocked draft watchers by scooping up Gibbs with their 12th overall pick, and they won’t be disappointed. While not a brute back, he’s a fast accelerating runner with moves and a talented receiver. Running behind one of the best lines in football, he’ll have every opportunity to fill up the stat sheet come September. And his price may be reasonable too, given he’ll split time with Montgomery.

Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons – It’s hard not to be excited about a player with comps to Saquon Barkley. Robinson is electric. He catches the ball and runs with the patience and ferocity that makes it hard for just one defender to take him down. While the Falcons didn’t necessarily need a running back, Robinson is considered by many to be a can’t-miss prospect. He’ll enter the league with the same gusto that Barkley did back in 2018 and get all the touches he can handle.

Wide Receivers

KANSAS CITY, MO – APRIL 27: Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba holds a jersey with commission Roger Goodell after being drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft on April 27, 2023 at Union Station in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire)

For the 2022 season, starting wide receivers (those first and second on the depth chart) had an average of 12.2 fantasy points per game at an average DraftKings salary of $5,700. This means that, on average, a starting wide receiver returned 2.1 times their salary.

Both Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson came out of the 2022 NFL Draft on fire. Here are two more pass catchers that could do the same in 2023:

Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Seattle Seahawks – With the 20th pick of the draft, the Seahawks have given QB Geno Smith another big-time weapon. This shows they’re invested in Smith and, in turn, trust that Smith-Njigba will contribute right away. The rookie WR can play in the slot or on the outside, allowing him plenty of routes alongside DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens – Between injuries and underperformances, the Ravens didn’t have any sure things at the wide receiver position. Flowers will see his fair share of targets alongside Odell and Rashod Bateman. He has a history of making good use of those targets with an impressive YAC. Look for Flowers to be a high-impact player for Lamar Jackson in the slot.

Tight Ends

LAS VEGAS, NV – DECEMBER 02: Tight end Dalton Kincaid (86) of the Utah Utes reacts during the Pac-12 Conf. championship game between Utah and USC on December 2, 2022 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire)

This past year, starting tight ends had an average of 8.5 fantasy points per game and an average DraftKings salary of $3,900. On average, a starting tight end provided 2.1 times their salary in DK points.

Historically, first-year tight ends have had a tough time making an immediate fantasy impact in comparison to other skill positions. And with only one TE taken in the first round this year, all eyes will be on one rookie.

Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills – While the Buffalo Bills already have a dependable tight end in Dawson Knox, the Bills couldn’t pass up Dalton Kincaid, far and away the best tight end in the draft. While Kincaid joins an already-packed offense filled with big-time pieces, Kincaid will get his chances. Moreover, he’s capable of making the most of them with sticky hands and burst-speed that create separation. Expect him to have a low DFS salary early in the season and, as such, a high chance at providing great value in the right matchups.

For more tips and assistance on both rookies and veteran players, utilize our Free NFL DFS Lineup Builder throughout the football season.