2023 NFL Draft: QB Landing Spots (Fantasy Football)
This year’s quarterback class is much more exciting than last year’s. In 2022, we had one QB taken in the first round, and three of the top four picks this year are signal callers. The NFL draft promised some significant changes behind center and did not disappoint.
Bryce Young- CAR, 1.01
The most NFL-ready QB in the draft went first overall. Young is now the highest QB ever drafted from Alabama and the lightest QB taken since 2000. He has been among the best QBs in college football for two years. Now he is paired with Frank Reich to try and pull the Panthers out of the dregs of the NFL.
The biggest struggle with the Panthers is who will catch the ball from Young. Young is a great talent, but someone has to catch his passes. The rest of the draft will define how much Bryce can do in year one, but the long-term has a good upside if the team can help him with pass catchers in the coming years. He’s likely a top-3 rookie pick in SuperFlex dynasty rookie drafts.
CJ Stroud- HOU, 1.02
Stroud was the other guy dominating college football for multiple years. He is a deadly accurate passer, able to get out of the pocket and run. Stroud is not a runner like Justin Fields, but he can give you some yards on the ground. The fear of his low score on the S2 cognitive test put a fear that he would fall in the draft, but the tape was too strong, and the Texans took him at the top to keep him on the team.
Like Young, the question is, who does Stroud have to catch his passes? The team has a few options in Robert Woods, Nico Collins, and John Metchie, but no one that gives you ultimate confidence for Stroud to grow with over time. The rest of the draft might improve his upside for the year, but he will be the franchise guy in Houston for at least a while. Stroud slides in comfortably as the QB3 in this class in rookie drafts.
Anthony Richardson- IND, 1.04
The Colts had been linked to almost every quarterback in the draft, and they sat still and took the one with the highest upside. Richardson now gets the chance to develop into the franchise QB for Indianapolis. Richardson is a dynamic playmaker in the running game. He has accuracy problems but is electric and unstoppable when on and doing well. With Shane Steichen’s history with Jalen Hurts, the hopeful growth for Richardson is incredibly high.
The reality is that Richardson is probably the safest Fantasy QB in the draft. Because he can run the ball at an elite level, he has an incredibly safe floor. The upside is also astronomical. Richardson broke the charts at the combine and displayed those traits in college. At least there were flashes of greatness; now, he has to become more consistent. Hopefully, Steichen can use him like he used Jalen Hurts and maximize the talent. If so, the sky is not a high enough limit for Richardson. He is currently the Footballers QB1 in their rookie rankings.
Will Levis- TEN, 2.34
Levis was widely believed to be a first-round draft pick but slid to the second round. Levis was constantly on TV on night one and, fortunately, didn’t have to wait long on Friday night. The Titans traded up and took Levis, who will be the heir apparent to Ryan Tannehill. Levis is a hot and cold player. If you watch his tape from the 2021 season, he looks like an outstanding NFL QB. Levis has a big arm that allows him to make impressive throws, but he is sometimes reckless from the pocket. He can run effectively but also lingers in the pocket for too long. This poor pocket presence caused him to take massive sacks, which injured him in 2022. The 2022 tape is very troubling. Levis played 11 games and threw ten interceptions, with only 19 touchdowns.
It depends on whether Levis becomes a reliable passer and develops a better pocket presence. The Titans don’t want to throw the ball very much, so the ceiling for Levis is naturally lower. His ability to run the ball could buoy him into fantasy consistency. There isn’t a great group of pass catchers for Levis to grow with, so if the Titans don’t help him out, Levis might have a big year here and there, but it seems doubtful he will ever be elite for Fantasy.
Hendon Hooker- DET, 3.68
Hendon Hooker is one of the oldest quarterbacks ever drafted. He will be 25 when the season starts. However, reports are Hooker was one of the best leaders and most mature prospects in recent years. The other knock on Hooker has been that the offense at Tennessee is not very complex. It utilizes space, option routes, and lightning-fast tempo to put opponents at a disadvantage. Teams questioned how much of Hooker’s staggering college production was him and how much was the system. In the last two years, Hooker has thrown 58 touchdowns to only five interceptions while running in another ten touchdowns. Hooker tore his ACL late last season, and while reports are that he is ahead of schedule in his recovery, he is still not going to be fully healthy till most of the way through the season. The good news is the Lions have a QB that can play in front of Hooker for a year in Jared Goff. Goff could force the Lions to leave Hooker as a backup, but it seems the Lions have their next man up behind center.
Hooker has one of the best deep balls in this draft, and despite a more significant number of pass attempts, he only has five interceptions. That means he isn’t creating negative plays. The Lions are rich with pass-catching weapons, including some tremendous downfield targets for Hooker to showcase his strength. If he can return to form as a runner and be as effective a passer as he was in college, he could pay off despite being selected in the third round. Even if he doesn’t throw for crazy touchdown numbers, he is a mobile QB, and we know those guys are consistent producers for fantasy football. He’s a second-round rookie pick in SuperFlex formats.
Jake Haener- NO, 4.127
Haener is probably one of the more underrated players in the draft. He played at a smaller school, so the lack of high-end competition kept him from being a household name. Haener has excellent touch on his passes and often throws his receivers open. He threw for 53 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in the last two years. He is a traditional pocket passer, so he fits the mold of a good backup for Derek Carr.
Everyone is looking for the next Brock Purdy. The thing that people are leaning on to find that person is the S2 cognitive test. Haener scored in the 96 percentile on that test, which is exceptionally high. Haener is most likely a backup, and if Carr is healthy will never see significant playing time. However, Carr’s deal is like a one-year deal; if Haener shows promise, he could have a shot at the job. The Saints have some excellent weapons that could boost pocket passers’ scoring, but they would have to boost quite a bit for a QB with zero running ability in his arsenal. He’s a sneaky post-draft pickup in dynasty leagues if you have the bench space.
Stetson Bennett- LAR, 4.128
The Rams needed a backup for Matthew Stafford. So, why not get a guy who has won the last two College Football National Championships? Bennett has never been a guy teams believed in until Georgia finally gave him a shot. He seized the opportunity and never looked back. Bennett is shorter and smaller in size, similar to Bryce Young, but also similar to Young is an effective runner. Bennett is one of the sneakier athletic quarterbacks out there. He continually ran away from defenders in the SEC and created big plays with his legs. The biggest knock for Bennett was the teams he was playing against were constantly out-talented by everyone around him, so all he had to do was not mess it up. To his credit, Bennett did more than not mess it up, and now has a shot to be the future QB for the Rams. Everyone has always doubted him, and yet he just kept winning.
Benett is another “What if he is the next Brock Purdy” move. The Rams drafted Bennett not to compete for the starting job unless Stafford gets injured again or decides to retire in the next season or two. The Rams have Cooper Kupp, who can make just about any QB look good. So if Bennett has to play, he can’t ask for a much better WR1. Plus, with his ability to run, Bennett does come with at least a slightly higher floor. The Rams don’t have much first-round draft capital, so they may be trying to hit on a future starting QB from the back rounds. If that is what they are doing, Bennett has shown he can be a quality starter against the best competition in college football. The question is, does he have what it takes to do that in the pros?
Aidan O’Connell- LV, 4.135
O’Connell is a similar story to the other QBs in this round. The Raiders drafted him to be a backup to a veteran, but if he has to play, he has shown flashes of being a quality starter. During the last two seasons at Purdue, O’Connell has been behind some shaky offensive lines, leading him to get the ball out of his hand fast. The good news is he is deadly accurate in the short-to-intermediate passing game. His issue is that his deep ball is, at times, on target and, at times, nowhere close. He isn’t much of a runner but can move in the pocket to extend plays here and there. When things go right, they go very well for O’Connell, but he seems to go down with the ship when the game goes wrong.
We must recognize that Jimmy G will not survive the entire season. At some point, his backup will need to play. The question is, will O’Connell be the backup, or is that Brian Hoyers’ job? If O’Connell gets action, he has the potential to put up a good game here and there, but his consistency is shaky, so at least this first year, he will probably spend most of his time with a clipboard in his hands learning.
Clayton Tune- ARI, 5.139
We know Kyler will miss time, and with Colt McCoy, Jeff Driskel, and David Blough already there to fill in, Tune may not be worth a second thought in Fantasy, but McCoy has struggled to stay healthy, and the other two guys struggle to play QB. There is a chance Tune could see some action this year if the team decides to see what the young guy has while they wait for the franchise guy to come back.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson- CLE, 5.140
Nothing of note here; again, he probably won’t see the field at any time this year. However, he is a freak athlete, and should Deshaun Watson get hurt, the team could shoot or the upside of DTR over their other backup Josh Dobbs.
Sean Clifford- GB, 5.149
The Packers want to see what they have in Jordan Love, but the team needed some depth with only Danny Etling as the only other QB there. Clifford is a good runner, so if he ever plays, he could be a sneaky sleeper, but at this point, that isn’t a projection I would be willing to make.
Jaren Hall- MIN, 5.164
Ranked by many mock drafters in the top 10 of QBs, Hall is another undersized QB but has good footwork and can take off and run when needed. The Vikings could be looking to move on from Kirk after the season. The only other QB on the roster is Nick Mullens; it is hard to see either of these guys being the franchise’s future, but if it happens, having Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison to throw the ball to is never bad.