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Fantasy plays: Falcons' Robinson, Lions' Gibbs among top NFL rookie options

Every year, the NFL draft supplies the league with new and exciting players to watch. For fantasy football, sometimes those rookies can help take your teams to the top.

Rookies often have an acclimation period while they adjust to the pro level, but these stars-in-the-making should be able to hit the ground running.

Their lack of experience in the NFL may steer your league-mates away, but savvy managers can capitalize on their upside.

Here are the five best NFL rookies to target in fantasy drafts in 2023.

BIJAN ROBINSON, RB, ATLANTA FALCONS

If an NFL team drafts a running back in the top 10 of the NFL draft, you’re probably going to want that guy on your fantasy teams.

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That’s just what the Atlanta Falcons did with former Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson, whom they selected with the eighth overall pick.

Robinson was a dynamic playmaker at the collegiate level. He was an efficient player in the passing attack, as well.

Now, Robinson is set to adapt his unique skills to the NFL game and is already drawing praise from his teammates and coaches.

He’ll lead a Falcons rushing attack that has had some extremely productive outcomes in fantasy football, with under-the-radar players such as Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier emerging in recent seasons.

Expectations are high for Robinson in his debut season and his exciting talents should help him live up to those expectations.

JAHMYR GIBBS, RB, DETROIT LIONS

The Detroit Lions selected Alabama Crimson Tide running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th overall pick.

Gibbs spent the first two years of his collegiate career with Georgia Tech before transferring to Alabama.

With No. 1 pick Bryce Young pacing Alabama's offense, Gibbs led the Crimson Tide in receptions (44) while rushing the ball 151 times at an efficient 6.1 yards per carry for 926 yards and seven touchdowns.

Gibbs is in a good position to put up fantasy points in his rookie season. His pass-catching abilities will make him a strong option in fantasy leagues that reward points for receptions, and playing behind a strong offensive line, should help him continue rushing efficiently in the pros.

He’ll be splitting work with new teammate David Montgomery but should still have plenty of opportunities.

JORDAN ADDISON, WR, MINNESOTA VIKINGS

The 2023 NFL Draft had four wide receivers drafted on its opening night, but new Minnesota Vikings wideout Jordan Addison may have the clearest path to immediate production in the NFL.

The former Pitt and USC standout is now expected to line up opposite superstar Justin Jefferson as the Vikings’ second receiver for the upcoming season.

Addison caught 100 passes for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2021.

He’s expected to slot into the Vikings’ No. 2 receiver role this season after the team released veteran Adam Thielen in the offseason.

If Addison can fully absorb all of Thielen’s workload from last season, he could lead all rookies in most receiving categories. That makes him a worthy fantasy pick.

JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA, WR, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Just because Addison might have the clearest path to targets doesn’t mean he’ll be the only rookie wideout worth drafting in fantasy this season.

Seattle Seahawks wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba had 95 catches for 1,606 yards and nine scores in 2021 while vying for targets with bona-fide NFL talents Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson at Ohio State.

Smith-Njigba may be slowed at the start following surgery for a fracture in his wrist. He’ll be competing for targets with Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf this season.

ANTHONY RICHARDSON, QB, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Quarterbacks with rushing upside can dominate the fantasy landscape, it would be foolish to ignore former Florida Gators Anthony Richardson, who entered the NFL as the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft and has earning the starting job for the Indianapolis Colts.

Richardson only had one full season of production as a starting quarterback and could be a raw prospect heading into Week 1, but his athleticism could more than prop him up in fantasy football this season.

Richardson’s lack of experience as a passer may make his rookie season a bit of a bumpy road, but any good performances we see from him as a passer this season will just be a bonus to his rushing upside.

In fantasy leagues that only require one starting quarterback, you can target Richardson in the later rounds. He’s going on average as the QB16, meaning he should still be on draft boards after most teams lock in their QB1s.

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