There’s already a ton of hype surrounding Anthony Richardson, Bijan Robinson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Dalton Kincaid, but all four of these premier rookies will be gone by the end of the first round of most rookie drafts.
So what can dynasty GMs who don’t want to mortgage their futures to trade up for these hyped rookies do instead? Here are a few rookie sleepers whose ADPs are likely to be much cheaper and can be targets in the second round of rookie drafts or perhaps even the third round or later depending on the league.
2023 Rookie Sleepers
QB Stetson Bennett
There aren’t any real rookie sleepers at the quarterback position in 1QB dynasty leagues, but Stetson Bennett is a name that will probably be available in the third round of superflex rookie drafts, if not even later. Despite having led Georgia to two consecutive national championships in 2021 and 2022, Bennett wasn’t a highly-touted draft prospect and fell to the Rams in the fourth round. His age and lack of arm strength are just a couple of detriments to his profile, but Bennett has shown athleticism and poise in the pocket.
While he may not be a long-term starter in the NFL and better suited as a backup, there’s a chance that Bennett could shine in Sean McVay’s offensive scheme, one that made even Jared Goff look like an MVP-caliber quarterback at one point. Matthew Stafford has been cleared for 2023, but he played just nine games last year after suffering elbow and spinal cord injuries along with two concussions. There’s a chance that Stafford could again miss time this coming year, at which point Bennett could be an upside hold or a quick flip for a second-round rookie pick in superflex formats.
RB DeWayne McBride
There’s nothing too special about DeWayne McBride from an athletic or production standpoint, but he’s one of the best rookie sleepers at running back in this draft class. McBride will likely be available in the late second or even third round of some rookie drafts, and he carries quite a bit of upside given his landing spot. Dalvin Cook has refused to take a pay cut, and the Vikings could save $9 million by releasing Cook, which seems like a distinct possibility after Minnesota re-signed Alexander Mattison to a two-year, $7 million deal back in March.
While McBride’s seventh-round draft capital doesn’t suggest any immediate opportunity, the Vikings’ depth chart at running back would be pretty barren behind Mattison if they were to move on from Cook. In that scenario, McBride would battle Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler for the No. 2 spot alongside Mattison. Although McBride is unlikely to be a league winner by any means, his 93rd percentile college dominator rating was impressive, and he could contribute immediately as a rookie on early downs with some touchdown upside given his powerful running style and ability to break tackles.
WR Marvin Mims
There have been whispers dating back to the NFL Combine in early March that the Broncos could trade either Jerry Jeudy or Courtland Sutton. Although new head coach Sean Payton refuted these rumors, a trade is still possible in light of comments that Payton may remake this offense entirely. More recent reports from the NFL annual meeting in late March stated that while Denver may not be actively looking to trade Jeudy or Sutton, they’re at least open to the idea heading into 2023. The Broncos just picked up Jeudy’s fifth-year option, so either they or a potential trade partner would have team control for just under $13 million for the 2024 season.
Some dynasty GMs may overlook Marvin Mims due to the Broncos’ crowded wide receiver corps, but that could quickly change, and the talent is there. Mims ranked in the 94th percentile with his 4.38 40-yard dash, and he ranked in the 96th percentile in breakout age. His crisp routes and impressive speed prompted Denver to traded up into the second round of the draft to select Mims, and he could be an immediate contributor. Even if the Broncos keep Jeudy and Sutton for the 2023 season, there’s a chance that one or both could be gone next offseason, making Mims one of the best rookie sleepers if his ADP stays in the mid-second round of rookie drafts or later.
TE Sam LaPorta
“Sleeper” is always a relative term, and it’s especially hard to pinpoint rookie sleepers immediately after the NFL Draft when rookie ADPs aren’t yet available. Sam LaPorta is a player whose ADP could land anywhere from the early-second round all the way down to the third round of rookie drafts. Dalton Kincaid and Michael Mayer are likely to be the top two tight ends selected in most rookie drafts, but don’t forget about LaPorta (I actually have LaPorta ranked one spot ahead of Mayer in my dynasty rankings). He’s an impressive athlete who tested in the 90th percentile in both 40-yard dash time and broad jump, two metrics that help determine receiving ability.
LaPorta has also displayed crisp route-running and reliable hands, which led to him having led Iowa in receiving yards over his last two collegiate seasons. Detroit needs reliable pass-catchers given their lack of wide receiver talent behind Amon-Ra St. Brown, and the Lions took LaPorta one pick before Mayer in the second round, which indicates an immediate receiving role in mind for him. With T.J. Hockenson having been traded away last season to Minnesota, LaPorta can become an immediate safety blanket for Jared Goff while also threatening downfield with his speed.
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