Dynasty Rookie Sleepers 2023: Fantasy Targets Include DeWayne McBride, Michael Wilson, Zach Evans, and Others

With the NFL Draft behind us, dynasty fantasy football managers are in the process of digesting everything that happens and evaluating how the draft and landing spots impacted the value of incoming rookies, especially those in the middle rounds.

While not an exhaustive list of names as what constitutes a sleeper could be different from league to league, these are some of the dynasty rookie sleepers I would keep an eye on during your upcoming rookie drafts.

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Dynasty Rookie Sleepers 2023

DeWayne McBride, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Paying attention to contracts and talk surrounding veterans on teams is one of the easiest ways to find paths and opportunities for incoming rookies. Given the rumors surrounding Dalvin Cook’s status with the Minnesota Vikings, former UAB running back Dwayne McBride instantly popped into potential sleeper territory when he was selected by the Vikings.

McBride is a no-nonsense rusher. While he was among the highest-graded players in his class, he’s a one-cut downhill bowling ball who averaged 4.9 yards after contact per attempt over his career and was top five in missed tackles forced per attempt at 0.26.

Following Cook’s release, McBride took a massive step up the dynasty rankings. Alexander Mattison will undoubtedly be the top rusher for the Vikings moving forward. Still, McBride should consistently be considered a sneaky fantasy-relevant player due to his touchdown upside and surprising explosiveness (19.6% 10+ yard rush rate).

McBride will likely give you a little to nothing in the receiving game, and I would give the early nod to Ty Chandler for that role. Yet, in the NFL, players who can consistently and repeatably find the end zone or move the ball three yards at a time against a stacked box when the defense knows you’re going to run the ball will always have a role. I don’t picture McBride ever becoming an elite fantasy option, but given the draft capital invested, McBride should be better than expected once the Vikings trust him with goal-to-go opportunities.

Evan Hull, RB, Indianapolis Colts

At 5’11” and 210 pounds, Evan Hull looks like a professional NFL running back. He has the size to play with physicality, which he did often, but he can catch the ball out of the backfield and become a short-area grinder. He’s not an overly dynamic rusher but can maximize his opportunities.

I was curious to see when Hull would come off the board, and on Day 3, he was taken No. 176 overall in the fifth round by the Indianapolis Colts. Now, let’s not get confused about who the RB1 is. It’s still Jonathan Taylor. But who’s up next if something happens?

We saw this take place last year, and Deon Jackson rose to the occasion. Shane Steichen has a tendency to want to use a combination of running backs. While I would never advise taking the ball out of Taylor’s hands, I could see a role with Hull seeing a noticeable number of opportunities per game, including some opportunities inside the red zone.

With a depth chart consisting of Zack Moss and Jackson, I like Hull to come out of camp as Indianapolis’ No. 2 RB and the primary handcuff for Taylor. That’s solid value for someone currently going in the late third or early fourth round of rookie drafts.

Sean Tucker, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A producer nearly his entire tenure at Syracuse, Sean Tucker was one of the more productive college rushers. After a COVID-shortened 2020 season, Tucker blew up with over 1,500 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore, with over 1,000 yards coming after contact. Although he took a slight step backward as a rusher in 2022, Tucker was still a force on the ground and commanded 52 targets, which tied Jahmyr Gibbs for the most RB targets in this class.

Unfortunately, Tucker is facing an uphill battle. During the NFL Combine, medical evaluations discovered a heart condition for him, and he didn’t participate during the Combine or at his pro day. Despite his play on the field, Tucker went undrafted, finally being picked up as a UDFA by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

MORE: 2024 NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades (FREE)

Tucker wasn’t my favorite back in his class, but some genuinely loved his play on the field. If he can make the team, I also have to favor the landing spot, since Tucker could beat out both Chase Edmonds and Ke’Shawn Vaughn for the No. 2 spot behind Rachaad White. He’s a more versatile RB.

Who knows if that day will ever come. I hope Tucker can chase his dream. He’s currently going undrafted, but if you have the room, I would take on Tucker and add him to my taxi squad as an upside sleeper for 2023.

Zach Evans, RB, Los Angeles Rams

At the end of the day, the NFL will tell you how you should view a player, and with Zach Evans falling to the No. 215 overall, the message is loud and clear.

However, rather than completely fade the 5’11” and 202-pounder, let’s look at the upside here. Everywhere Evans turned, he faced stiff competition. Whether with Kendre Miller at TCU or Quinshon Judkins at Ole Miss, Evans was still a sole producer with a career average of 3.47 yards per play, which was second-best among incoming rookies. Although he’s zero in the passing game, Evans might’ve found himself in a decent spot.

Truth be told, I’m still a bit of a Cam Akers truther, and there were some positive signs toward the end of last year — when Akers was the RB4 during the last six weeks of the year. But is that going to carry over into 2023?

I won’t be bold enough to say he’ll be a below rusher for the Rams or say Akers has the job locked up. Injuries have been a factor in his career, as has been inefficiency. But who is going to step up if Akers has to miss time? Kyren Williams? Ronnie Rivers?

Personally, I think Evans has just as good of a chance to be the Rams’ RB2 in 2023. Although the draft capital is not what many would hope for, keep an eye on the news out of Los Angeles. Evans could be one of the sneaky post-hype dynasty rookie sleepers heading into the upcoming fantasy season.

Chase Brown, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

I thought Cincinnati was a really good landing spot for Chase Brown. The Bengals lacked depth behind Joe Mixon, who is still an elite RB, but progressing in age. They lost Samaje Perine, who had 95 carriers last year, along with 51 targets, 681 scrimmage yards, and six touchdowns in free agency to the Broncos. That would leave Chris Evans and Trayveon Williams as the remaining members of the depth chart, but neither is anything close to a proven asset.

Usually, there’s not much to get excited about with a fifth-round RB. But Brown was one of the most productive backs in college football over the last two seasons, where he recorded 2,648 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns, along with 41 catches for 382 yards and three touchdowns in the receiving game.

Brown was selected as the 10th running back off the board and wound up in one of the best offenses in the NFL. It has all the athleticism to capitalize at nearly 210 pounds with a 4.43 40-yard dash, 40-inch vert, and a 9.8 RAS.

It does hurt that Brown is an older prospect and didn’t break out until his fourth and fifth years in college, and he’s already 23 1/2 years old with 734 touches. Additionally, his career average of 3.26 yards after contact per attempt is in the 19th percentile of all running backs drafted since 2018. Due to his size concerns (5’9″) and going down on first contact, there’s a reason Brown is in sleeper conversations and not breakout conversations.

That said, all it takes is late third-round draft capital to acquire the next man up for the Bengals, which could happen as soon as 2024, when Mixon will cost the Bengals $13.1 million against the salary cap. Cincinnati can clear $10.1 million by releasing him.

I would be concerned that Brown is just another Day 3 RB easily replaceable in the next draft. Therefore, be a savvy manager in how you hold on to Brown and be ready to sell when he finally has a good game, either on his own or filling in for Mixon, where you can then sell high.

Although Brown is a sleeper for 2023 dynasty rookie drafts, he’s a Day 3 running back at the end of the day, which carries very little value in the modern NFL at what is considered a replaceable position.

Jayden Reed, WR, Green Bay Packers

Here’s where the term “sleeper” gets a bit subjective. I value Jayden Reed as a top-20 player in 2023 dynasty rookie rankings, but I’m consistently able to draft him in the third round. If he’s being undervalued that much in leagues I’m in, he’s more than likely a sleeper in most others.

Reed could be the gem of the mid-rounds. Despite being held back by a lackluster Spartan passing game, Reed had an impressive 2.18 yards YPRR and an 11.5 aDOT while drawing a target on nearly 25% of his passing downs. He’s not the biggest at 5’11” and 185 pounds, but Reed’s a more polished receiver right now than Christian Watson is.

Reed posted solid success rates against man, zone, and press, and I genuinely think by midseason, he’ll push Watson for the No. 1. Reed’s route tree and technique are more advanced, and Watson’s underdeveloped traits will likely show up more with Jordan Love under center than they did with Aaron Rodgers.

Reed’s ceiling is closer to Terry McLaurin, who is always wide open (even when covered) and has a “my ball” mentality. If there’s one player on this list I want to make sure is on as many teams as possible, it’s Reed.

Michael Wilson, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Michael Wilson isn’t just a sleeper; he’s one of my favorite players in this class. Seeing him go to the Arizona Cardinals was fantastic. Wilson didn’t have eye-popping numbers at Stanford, totaling 134 receptions for 1,662 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. However, the former Cardinal missed time with injuries. He played only 14 games over the past three years.

The 6’2″, 213-pound receiver shined at the Senior Bowl. But unlike players such as Jonathan Mingo, Tank Dell, or Reed, Wilson’s momentum faded after he ran a 4.58 at the Combine. However, he plays much faster than this and consistently beats corners who ran in the 4.4s.

When you watch Watson’s tape, he wins off-line and at the top of the route routinely. The No. 1 indicator of future success is separation, and Wilson is one of the more polished receivers at creating it.

MORE: 2023 Dynasty Rookie WR Rankings

Wilson’s an older prospect at 23, but given the current value, I’m perfectly fine with that, as he makes the most of every target. Last year, Wilson finished top eight in missed tackles and yards created after the catch among wide receivers.

The offseason rumors came to a head as the Cardinals released former All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins, which has caused quite a stir. Marquise Brown, meanwhile, is in the final year of his contract but is the expected No. 1, with Wilson battling Greg Dortch and Rondale Moore for the No. 2 role with added red-zone competition from TE Trey McBride.

The Cardinals are rebuilding, and they’re pushing all their chips in for 2024, possibly for a run at Caleb Williams. Whether it’s him or Kyler Murray under center, Wilson is set up to be one of Arizona’s primary targets, making him one of my favorite dynasty sleepers of 2023.

Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Houston Texans

There might not be a more productive wide receiver in college football over the last three years than Xavier Hutchinson was at Iowa State. Hutchinson put up impressive numbers as he compiled 254 receptions for 2,929 yards and 15 touchdowns during the previous three seasons for the Cyclones. He tested well while posting a 7.27 RAS and has good size at 6’1” and 203 pounds.

Hutchinson is by no means an uber-athlete. But as a possession receiver, he was routinely the player quarterbacks look for when dropping back. Houston is very much up in the air regarding their WR room.

With Brandin Cooks now in Dallas, there’s no set pecking order, even though I would give the No. 1 nod to Nico Collins, who heads into his fourth year. Houston also signed Robert Woods from Tennessee and Noah Brown from Dallas, and drafted Dell in the third round of this year‘s draft. Additionally, John Metchie III will return this year as the 2022 second-round draft pick missed all of last season following a cancer diagnosis.

The coaching staff is likely going to go with a receiver-by-committee approach. Given that the depth chart isn’t overly competitive with a ton of ambiguity, Hutchinson could work his way onto the field in Year 1 if he’s able to maximize his opportunities and grow into a more significant role over the second half of the season. He’s a deep dynasty sleeper, but Hutchinson certainly has the talent and the opportunity to overcome his situation.

Charlie Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

What if I told you at the end of your draft that there is a receiver out there who caught 110 of his 154 targets for 1,361 yards and 12 touchdowns? Would you be interested? How about if I told you he would be getting targets from Joe Burrow and ran a 4.43 40-yard dash with an 8.54 RAS? Do I have your interest now?

Although Charlie Jones will never be the primary option so long as Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are playing in the NFL, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the eventual Tyler Boyd replacement, whose contract is expiring at the end of the year.

During the NFL Combine, Steve Smith called Jones “Mr. Consistent” and compared him to Adam Thielen. Unfortunately, Jones is older at 24 years old, but he did receive Day 2 draft capital and is a sleeper I would take a late-round flyer on in my dynasty drafts.

If he pops off in a few games, Jones could provide a decent sell-high opportunity with him being attached to Burrow and this high-powered Bengals offense. After all, one of these Purdue receivers has to do something at some point, right?

Tyler Scott, WR, Chicago Bears

When you’re looking for sleepers, examining depth charts is a way to find a path to opportunity for incoming rookies that might not be the most talked about names. That’s where former Cincinnati Bearcat Tyler Scott comes into play.

Scott is uber-athletic with a 4.44 40-yard dash, 40-inch vert, and 11-foot broad jump. He was tied for top five in yards per route run against zone coverage last year at 3.47 and had over 900 yards and nine touchdowns during his junior season. Scott even received Day 2 draft capital (No. 134).

By no means is Scott the biggest wide receiver at 5’10” and 177 pounds, but he’s got that dawg in him that you want in a mid-round, undersized player. When I look at the Bears’ WR room, Scott might very well be WR3 behind DJ Moore and Darnell Mooney as a legit three-level weapon with the speed to explode past safeties. He tracks the ball well down the field and has home-run upside, even if he’s not the most consistent producer from the volume perspective.

Scott will fit exceptionally well with Justin Fields under center, who I expect to take the next step in his development and have a Jalen Hurts-level rise in 2023. Early on, Scott will likely be challenged by Chase Claypool for the WR3/4 role, but I’m betting on Scott’s intangibles. Claypool did very little after the Bears traded for him.

Although Scott played on the perimeter in college, he has starting slot WR upside.

Puka Nacua, WR, Los Angeles Rams

dynasty rookie sleepers

Puka Nacua might not receive all the hype in the world, but he deserves more praise than he’s likely getting. I guess that’s what happens when you go to BYU.

An X receiver through and through, Nacua brings good size at 6’1″ and 210 pounds, but it’s also going to look very familiar in his skill set to some Rams fans. Nacua’s physical getting yards after the catch and can work well at multiple levels of the defense. There’s a bit of an injury history, but the Rams are well aware of it as he and Cooper Kupp share a former WR coach in common, Junior Adams.

Nacua can be LA’s new Robert Woods, essentially. He ranked 17th in contested catch rate in 2021 and last season was the team’s fifth-leading rusher, averaging 8.4 yards per carry with five touchdowns. In his two seasons at BYU, Nacua rushed 39 times for 357 yards with five scores.

Sean McVay can incorporate Nacua’s unique skill set into the offense, providing opportunities for manufactured touches that the other receivers, such as Van Jefferson, Ben Skowronek, and Tutu Atwell, do not possess.

With the WR room open after Kupp, Nacua has a solid chance to become an early contributor for Los Angeles in 2023, transitioning from a dynasty rookie sleeper to a critical player.

A.T. Perry, WR, New Orleans Saints

Selected with the 195th overall pick in Round 6, A.T. Perry is an outside receiver, aligning out wide over 90% of his snaps at Wake Forest in his last two years — catching 152 of his 254 targets for 2,396 yards with 26 touchdowns.

A 6’3″ and nearly 200-pound receiver, Perry posted solid numbers at the NFL Combine, including a 4.47 40-yard dash and a 9.62 RAS. He had an above 68% success rate against both man and zone, along with a 70% success rate against press coverage, according to Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception.

Although he wasn’t a YAC receiver in college (3.1 YAC/r), Perry went down on first contact just 27.3% of the time in open space. He’s undoubtedly raw, but if Rashid Shaheed doesn’t catch on, or if Michael Thomas is, well, Michael Thomas and always hurt, Perry could end up being the No. 2 target behind Chris Olave and become a favorite red-zone target for Derek Carr.

In shallower leagues, I wouldn’t be surprised if Perry hit waivers after your draft. If you have room on your dynasty roster, stash him as an upside rookie sleeper.

Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys were in need of a new tight end after letting go of Dalton Schultz during free agency. Although they did not acquire Michael Mayer or Dalton Kincaid, Luke Schoonmaker is a highly versatile TE who’s not receiving enough credit.

Selected No. 58 overall, Schoonmaker is going to be on the field early because of his run-blocking abilities, which were showcased at Michigan. Unfortunately, he was just never truly a part of Jim Harbaugh’s ball fits, catching 52 of his 68 targets for 583 yards and six touchdowns in his final two seasons for the Maize and Blue. In his defense, Michigan averaged only 25.7 passing attempts per game during the regular season (16.6 completions).

That doesn’t mean Schoonmaker can’t be trusted in the passing game. With only three drops in college, he’s as sure-handed as it gets. And while he only had two missed tackles, he’s sneaky athletic, posting a 9.86 RAS with a 4.63 40-yard at 6’5″ and 250 pounds.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Winners and Losers

Schoonmaker averaged 11.9 yards per reception in his final collegiate year and has above-average body control, route running, and awareness against coverage to know where the soft spots are. He’s one of the most complete tight ends in the 2023 draft class.

In a Mike McCarthy offense, Schoonmaker’s especially well-suited for the TE position. It may take until his second season for him to fully showcase his skills, but he’s the most talented tight end on the team. If you need TE help — which is nearly all of us in dynasty — add Schoonmaker to your roster.

Tucker Kraft, TE, Green Bay Packers

If Love succeeds this year, it certainly won’t be due to the veteran leadership around him. Take a quick glance at the depth chart, and you’ll realize that the projected top seven receivers and top two tight ends were all drafted in 2022 or 2023.

At receiver, that’s Watson, Reed, Romeo Doubs, Dontayvion Wicks, Samori Toure, Grant DuBose, and Bo Melton, with both TEs being 2023 rookies in Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft.

As the first pass catcher the Packers drafted this year (No. 42), much of the hype has surrounded Musgrave, but 36 selections behind him, Green Bay grabbed Kraft. While they get it done in different ways, Kraft is somehow going as the forgotten name.

Musgrave is more of an off-ball tight end, but Kraft can put his hand in the dirt as a run blocker and has the raw speed to threaten down the seam and the ability to use in deep-passing concepts.

Kraft has some of the best hands of the class overall and posted a 58.8% contested target rate. At 6’5″ and a shade under 255 pounds, he’ll certainly be a red-zone target.

Although I prefer Musgrave overall, there is every reason to believe Kraft can and will have a sizable role, especially if the Packers want to implement more 12 personnel to complement Love.

Managers who don’t wish to pay a premium for Musgrave can wait a little longer and draft Kraft as one of the more underrated but overtly talented sleepers in the 2023 dynasty rookie draft.

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