Should Dynasty Managers Panic If Jaxon Smith-Njigba Is the Only First-Round Drafted WR?

Jaxon Smith-Njigba appears locked into the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Can the same be said for anyone else in this class? Recent reports suggest the NFL has cooled off on the incoming class of wide receivers, but what does that mean from a dynasty fantasy football aspect as managers get ready to dive into their rookie draft?

Is Jaxon Smith-Njigba the Lone First-Rounder of the 2023 WR Class?

By now, you’ve likely heard someone say the 2023 class lacks a proper No. 1 wide receiver prospect. That is accurate. Unlike in years past, where there was a Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase level of a candidate deemed all but bulletproof in their profile, things are different this year.

But the NFL is a passing-driven league, so naturally, we should expect to see several wide receivers still go in Round 1, right?

Perhaps not. According to a recent tweet by Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy, the “NFL is not nearly as high on this year’s WR class as media.” Nagy went on to say that, despite frequently seeing “4-5 wideouts in mocks,” Nagy has spoken to “numerous teams that only have one first-round grade at the position. That guy is JSN.”

Strictly looking at this from a Smith-Njigba standpoint, the only real “news” is his gap on the field, especially to the likes of Zay Flowers, Jordan Addison, Quentin Johnston, and Jalin Hyatt.

Smith-Njigba is the next in a long line of Ohio State wide receivers to hit the NFL in recent years. Not only did they hit the NFL, but they also smashed the door down in the process.

MORE: FREE NFL Mock Draft Simulator (With Trades)

While Michael Thomas could be considered in this group, in more recent history, it’s a whos-who list of Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Terry McLaurin. Moreover, in 2024, Marvin Harrison Jr. will be the first receiver selected and is likely better than them all.

That’s coming from Buckeyes wide receiver coach Brian Hartline on an appearance on Bussin’ With The Boys. As for Smith-Njigba, even Wilson and Olave stated in an interview that, as a freshman, he was the best of the three.

Although JSN had an unproductive 2022 season due to injury, his draft stock was already set in stone, given his performances as a sophomore, including his historic Rose Bowl outing.

Based on the information available and the tape, JSN is the only realistic option for the WR1 ranking from a dynasty standpoint. We know the draft capital will be there for Smith-Njigba, and although I do feel he’ll receive a slot-centric role in the NFL, he can step in from Day 1 and record 120+ targets as a rookie.

Throw in his route running and underrated physicality, and conversations surrounding the 2023 rookie class of wide receivers should begin with deciding who is second, as the debate for No. 1 is closed.

How Does This Impact the Rest of the WR class for Dynasty?

The conversation stemming from these comments should be directed toward the next group of receivers. These are the ones that many of us have felt would go in the first round, but statements like the one above from Nagy seem to contradict.

Coming into the season, Smith-Njigba was in a group of four that made up a Tier 1, consisting of TCU’s Johnston, Kayshon Boutte from LSU, and Addison, who was transferring from PITT to USC after winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver.

Only Johnston had a better year, as he helped lead the TCU offense to a National Championship Game appearance against Georgia. As a 6’3″, 208-pound perimeter receiver, Johnston is the guy for you if you like big bodies on the outside.

But while he had a productive season, there are questions about how well-rounded and nuanced Johnston is at the position. His routes can leave some to be desired, and he had some egregious drops in 2022.

For someone who is supposed to be that go-up-and-get-it guy, it’s a significant red flag on his profile. Not to mention Johnston is dealing with the ghost of draft mistakes past, thanks to Jalen Reagor’s lackluster career as a first-round bust.

MORE: Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Zay Flowers Go Top 15 in Latest NFL Mock Draft

When looking at Boutte, who was the SEC Freshman of the Year, there’s enough talk that he’s out of Round 1. In fact, Boutte may have to wait until Round 3 to hear his name called after an injury-plagued 2022 season and a surprisingly poor testing cycle for a player who many deemed his speed and YAC capabilities to be his strength.

For as complete of a receiver as he looked at times, Addison weighed only 173 pounds at the NFL Combine and is probably the most scheme-dependent of the top-tier players in this class.

If there were one player who is landing spot-proof, it would be Flowers. Unlike Johnston, Boutte, and Addison, Flowers’ stock has only increased this offseason. He was a standout winner at the Senior Bowl, and at the Combine, measured in at 5’9″ and 193 pounds, and still ran a 4.42 40-yard sprint, despite managing to put on 13 pounds since he was in Mobile.

Next to JSN, Flowers is likely the best route runner in this class, but he’s a more dynamic vertical route runner and does better at staying in the DB’s blind spot. Truth be told, Flowers is my WR2, but draft capital will undoubtedly play a factor in deciding what the overall rankings will be.

Listen To What NFL Teams Tell You About a Player by the Draft Capital

More times than not, the NFL will tell you what you should think about a player. This is a talent-driven business. Ultimately, whoever they feel is the most talented will go off the board first. With that comes a longer leash and a wider window in which teams are willing to give players time to develop to become the player they thought they were drafting.

While draft capital and landing spots are not the only factors that go into my draft process, they can certainly change how I view some players. If the NFL is not overly high on some of these wide receivers, why should I now be reaching for them in my draft?

While I might love Flowers and feel he has the ceiling to be a team’s WR1 and a high in WR2 for dynasty, if he’s going in the second round, is it reasonable to believe that can happen? At that point, the draft capital suggests the NFL is concerned about his size, and with that, his opportunity ceiling is lower than someone like Smith-Njigba.

MORE: 2023 Dynasty Rookie WR Rankings

The 2023 draft might not give us players like A.J. Brown, CeeDee Lamb, Chase, or Jefferson, but would anyone turn down Keenan Allen? Would you turn down reliable WR2 or WR3 production while adding more depth and flexibility to your rosters? I wouldn’t.

We’ve been spoiled in years past, and this is one of those drafts where we need to reset our expectations of what is to come. But as we’ve seen, draft capital doesn’t always equal production. Amon-Ra St. Brown is a perfect example. So get your guy in your upcoming rookie draft; just do it smartly and let the NFL guide you and your evaluation of these incoming rookie wide receivers.

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