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Fantasy Football Rookie Wide Receivers: Jaxon Smith-Njigba Among Top-Ranked Players

Seahawks Fantasy Insider Scott Engel looks at the potential impact rookie receivers could have in 2023.


Scott Engel is in his 12th year as the official Fantasy Football writer and analyst for He is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame. Scott is a four-time FSWA award winner and a 12-time nominee. You can find more of his fantasy football analysis at The Game Day.

Fantasy football players were definitely intrigued when the Seahawks selected Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba with the No. 20 pick in the first round. The crafty projected slot receiver was the first WR drafted by any team, a signal that Smith-Njigba will have instant and significant appeal in dynasty leagues. He also has the potential to emerge as a quality fantasy starter in seasonal formats over the next few years.

Smith-Njigba was widely regarded as one of the very best WRs in the 2023 rookie class and he enters into very friendly real-life and fantasy situations for a first-year pass-catcher. He is a good possession WR who is technically polished for a rookie. Smith-Njigba fits ideally into the Seahawks' passing game as a key target for Geno Smith on important downs, and working with accomplished veterans DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will only accelerate his pro development.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba: Fantasy Football Scouting Report

Prior to the NFL Draft, compared Smith-Njigba to Jarvis Landry. The newest Seahawk WR may indeed conjure up elements of Landry's game during his best seasons in Miami in the past while having additional fantasy upside. Smith-Njigba certainly profiles as a very promising Points Per Reception league fantasy prospect who can eventually settle in as a solid No. 2 fantasy WR.

As a rookie, the former Buckeye will comfortably slot in as an essential complement to Metcalf and Lockett. In seasonal leagues, Smith-Njigba has promise as a streaming option while functioning as a good depth pick to flesh out your fantasy WR corps.

Dynasty leaguers will be listing Smith-Njigba high on their 2023 rookie draft boards. His current age of 21 and the potential to become a prime target in the Seahawks' passing game will mark him as one of the top five picks off the board in many dynasty drafts. Smith-Njigba will frequently be the first or second WR taken in dynasty rookie drafts.

The addition of Smith-Njigba to Smith's receiving crew also further solidifies the outlook of the Seahawks' QB as a fantasy option in seasonal leagues. Last season, Smith finished as fantasy QB5 overall and as QB7 in points per game. With a top NFL receiving trio of Metcalf, Lockett, and Smith-Njigba, Smith should be considered a top-end fantasy QB2 with the potential to finish inside the top 10 again. He is certainly a highly recommended draft target in two-QB and superflex leagues, where you can start a quarterback at an additional flex position.

The addition of Smith-Njigba to the Seahawks' WR room also will have notable impacts on Metcalf and Lockett. The rookie can quickly become a trusted target to help extend drives, while also easing some defensive pressure on the returning veteran WRs. Metcalf will remain a high-end fantasy WR2 target in seasonal fantasy football drafts, while Lockett should still be regarded as a very productive fantasy producer for the 2023 season.

The opportunities to learn from and work with two premier NFL WRs will have a major impact on Smith-Njigba in real life and fantasy football. Lockett absorbed much of what Doug Baldwin imparted to him, and now Smith-Njigba can progress as a pro with Lockett acting as one of his mentors. Baldwin was a regular fantasy starter as a WR in his prime years, Lockett has been an annual staple in fantasy lineups, and Smith-Njigba can surely follow suit as a quality fantasy football starter over time.

Fantasy Football Rookie Wide Receiver Rankings: The Top 15

Jaxon Smith-Njigba was one of several potentially impactful wide receivers that were prominent selections in the 2023 NFL Draft. Here are my fantasy football rookie wide receiver rankings for 2023, with a lean to dynasty formats, and additional analysis on who can produce well in their first NFL seasons.

  1. Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings: He will become an instantly productive No. 2 WR for Minnesota. Addison has a strong outlook both now and in the longer term.
  2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seahawks: The former Ohio State star is in a great environment to help him become a very good fantasy PPR performer.
  3. Quentin Johnston, Los Angeles Chargers: A sizable playmaker who enters a terrific situation working with one of the NFL's best young QBs.
  4. Jalin Hyatt, New York Giants: Daniel Jones gets a significant speed and TD threat. Hyatt might vault to the top of the Giants' WR depth chart very early in his career.
  5. Jonathan Mingo, Carolina Panthers: This rookie will have an immediate opportunity to operate as a top target for Bryce Young and he can become a must-start fantasy player for many years ahead.
  6. Rashee Rice, Kansas City Chiefs: Significant upside as a guy who can quickly vie for quality playing time, working with Patrick Mahomes.
  7. Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens: An explosive playmaker. Flowers should emerge as a top downfield threat for Lamar Jackson.
  8. Jayden Reed, Green Bay Packers: Another weapon for Jordan Love. Reed will have a chance to battle for a No. 2 WR spot with the Packers right away.
  9. Marvin Mims, Denver Broncos: A good fit as a deep threat in Denver.
  10. Josh Downs, Indianapolis Colts: He may eventually become a top pass-catcher for Anthony Richardson. We will have to see how much Downs pushes for the No. 2 WR job with the Colts early in his career.
  11. Cedric Tillman, Cleveland Browns
  12. Tank Dell, Houston Texans
  13. Michael Wilson, Arizona Cardinals
  14. Charlie Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
  15. Kayshon Boutte, New England Patriots

Bonus Rankings: Updated Fantasy Football Quarterbacks For 2023

Because of the impact of many rookie WRs and the arrivals of rookie QBs, I am also providing an updated list of my top 20 fantasy quarterbacks for the 2023 season. The position is deep with quality starting options, more so than in the past. You can land a good starting QB outside of the top 12, as evidenced by the rankings of Geno Smith and Kirk Cousins.

Quarterbacks who have seen their fantasy appeal rise or elevate after free agency and the draft include Lamar Jackson, Justin Fields, and Daniel Jones.

  1. Patrick Mahomes
  2. Josh Allen
  3. Jalen Hurts
  4. Lamar Jackson
  5. Justin Fields
  6. Joe Burrow
  7. Justin Herbert
  8. Trevor Lawrence
  9. Dak Prescott
  10. Daniel Jones
  11. Deshaun Watson
  12. Tua Tagovailoa
  13. Kirk Cousins
  14. Geno Smith
  15. Aaron Rodgers
  16. Anthony Richardson
  17. Kyler Murray
  18. Russell Wilson
  19. Jared Goff
  20. Bryce Young

For more fantasy sports analysis from Scott Engel, visit The Game Day during the fantasy football offseason.

Take a look at photos of WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba from his time at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. Smith-Njigba was selected No. 20 overall by the Seahawks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

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