While one could stretch out the meaning of which veterans are affected by the 2023 NFL Draft in a multitude of ways, the focus here will be on playing time and/or utilization potential among conventional fantasy football assets.
Jared Goff, Detroit Lions: This one falls into the “sort of” column … Goff played better than most expected in 2022, and the team reportedly is discussing a contract extension with him. Nevertheless, there are higher expectations on the Lions than we’ve seen in many years, and the early third-round pick of Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker makes the long-term leash on Goff a little tighter. Coming off an ACL tear, Hooker physically should be ready for Week 1, but the game plan is to let him redshirt as long as possible. At a minimum, Goff has been put on notice and needs to show he’s unaffected by it. Consider the former Los Angeles Ram as a No. 2 with matchup utility, but his late-season role could be in doubt if Detroit struggles.
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans: Last year’s pick of Malik Willis didn’t turn out well by any stretch of the imagination. The 2023 second-round investment in Will Levis is a direct threat to Tannehill finishing out the season as the QB1 the moment this vet struggles, even if head coach Mike Vrabel says the rookie will begin as a third-stringer on the depth chart. Injuries and inconsistent play within a run-heavy offense may be larger areas of concern for Tannehill’s 2023 outlook, but adding Levis into the mix absolutely doesn’t help.
Davis Mills, Houston Texans: After some back and forth in the media as to whether C.J. Stroud would indeed be selected by Houston at No. 2 overall, he ultimately was the choice, making Mills’ days numbered. Fortunately for gamers, Mills wasn’t likely to be on anyone’s fantasy radar anyway.
Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons: Teams don’t draft running backs in the top 10 and not immediately utilize them, so there “what could be” element of Allgeier’s second season is now longer in play, and Patterson may find himself unemployed at some point in the near future. Allgeier is now merely a handcuff to Bijan Robinson, while Patterson can be ignored.
Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks: Zach Charbonnet‘s versatility will place him on the field over all three downs when needed, but his talent makes it difficult to see how Seattle doesn’t employ nearly a 50/50 split once the rookie is up to speed with the playbook’s nuances. Walker’s situation was shaping up to be one that could have led to RB1 returns, and now he’ll be a much safer second back with a lower ceiling than he had a month ago.
Rashaad Penny, Philadelphia Eagles: Detroit’s selection of Jahmyr Gibbs at No. 12 overall immediately spelled doom for D’Andre Swift‘s future in Motown, and a trade to Philly shortly thereafter actually improved Swift’s worth in some ways. He’s in a better offense behind arguably a better line, and Penny belongs under glass. The trade was a win for Philly as a team but a huge blow to the former Seahawk’s fantasy outlook. Always an injury liability, Penny now will be the 1b to Swift in an offense loaded with talent looking to get their hands on the ball. He’s an RB4, at best.
D’Onta Foreman, Chicago Bears: The well-traveled vet was inked to replace David Montgomery but a fourth-round pick of Texas’ Roschon Johnson immediately puts that outlook in peril. Foreman, 27, will need to resemble the best he has shown as a pro to fend off Johnson, who likely would have been a much higher selection if he hadn’t been on the same team as Bijan Robinson. Foreman vs. Johnson may be one of the more entertaining camp situations to watch. Younger legs tend to win out at running back, and there’s a reason Foreman has been a career journeyman after all.
Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins: Speed is Mostert’s game, and the selection of Devon Achane directly competes with what the veteran brings to the table. Durability has long been a problem for the former track star, and we could see the explosive rookie fully replacing Mostert as the 1b to Jeff Wilson Jr.‘s 1a status at the first sight of a hangnail. This is a young man’s game, and the 31-year-old Mostert faces an uphill battle to retain his role.
Snoop Conner, Jacksonville Jaguars: Conner was seldom utilized as a rookie in 2022, but the departure of James Robinson created a hint of optimism surrounding the powerful backup getting a crack at being the RB2. The Jags invested a third-round selection in Auburn’s Tank Bigsby, a clearly superior talent to Conner. The primary share of the workload should still belong to Travis Etienne, yet we could see a path in which Bigsby leads the way in carries over the first two downs before getting yanked on third downs. Either way, Conner is no longer worthy of any consideration.
Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears: We’ve seen ups and downs from Mooney, including injury woes of late. There’s a chance this is me overthinking the situation, so take it for what you will. Chicago drafted Cincinnati wideout Tyler Scott, whose game is eerily similar to that of Mooney. Being a fourth-round pick suggests we’re not looking at a dire situation for Mooney in 2023, though we all should take notice of how Scott performs in the offseason as it could put pressure on the coaching staff early in the season. For now, Mooney is a so-so WR3 with a substantially lower of a floor than he had this time last year.
Joshua Palmer, Los Angeles Chargers: Drafting Quentin Johnston in Round 1 puts Palmer in a lousy situation for fantasy purposes. He has offered a late-round value buy as an insurance policy for Mike Williams and Keenan Allen owners the last couple of years, but the level of capital invested into adding Johnston will put Palmer’s upside on ice. It’s definitely possible we could see Johnston struggle and Palmer hold him off during the summer. However, the rookie stepping up is a smarter bet.
Darius Slayton, New York Giants: Somewhat surprisingly, Slayton stuck around in the offseason. His loyalty was met with the third-round pick of Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt, a similar receiver whose game is raw but built on getting vertical. Slayton should remain ahead of him on the depth chart in the short term, but we’ve likely seen his ceiling, whereas the rookie is all upside and could cut into the vet’s time as the year wears on.
Terrace Marshall Jr., Carolina Panthers: Was anyone truly focused on Marshall developing into a fantasy-relevant asset this summer? Regardless, he had an opportunity with a new coaching staff to showcase what they’re getting from him on the heels of two unimpressive seasons in the NFL, but that will be more difficult following the second-round investment in Jonathan Mingo. The rookie is a more dynamic weapon and is part of this regime’s plans, not a forgettable leftover lingering in the back of the fridge. Being a third-year pro, this LSU alum has a chance to fend of a rook heading into Week 1, but we’re not crazy about his odds of keeping Mingo at bay for long.
Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars: The team’s franchise tag recipient, Engram’s heir apparent was drafted in Round 2 when Brenton Strange was chosen out of Penn State. The former New York Giant is coming off a strong showing, and this pick likely won’t matter in 2023 if Engram can once again avoid the injury bug. It still adds another wrinkle into Engram’s risk-reward ratio, and his needle no longer is pointing due north between this move and the return of Calvin Ridley.
Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills: The best pass-catching tight end of the class, Dalton Kincaid, now calls himself a Bill. This offense needed another weapon in the aerial pecking order, which could have come as a third receiver to battle Khalil Shakir. Look for multiple two-TE sets with Knox likely playing a traditional Y role and Kincaid acting as the second slot receiver. Don’t bank on the rookie outright displacing Knox as the primary starter, but a player already as TD-dependent as Knox now becomes that much riskier.
Austin Hooper, Las Vegas Raiders: Hooper continues to get chances after flopping on a league-high TE contract signed with Cleveland in 2020 and a blown opportunity in a prime situation with Tennessee a year ago. He inked with Vegas in the offseason but saw the Raiders draft the best all-around tight end in Michael Mayer. Assuming Hooper survives the summer as the team’s starter, look for Mayer to overtake him in short order.