One of the more interesting things about looking at Dynasty risers from the offseason is how the landscape changes from January to July. First, it is tough to be a riser when we are adding so many new faces to every position via the NFL Draft. Three of my top 12 QBs were still in college when the 2022 NFL season ended, and there are 12 wide receivers and tight ends in my top 150 who are rookies, added in May. But nowhere is the difference as pronounced as it is at running back.
Bijan Robinson is my No. 1 running back, and Jahmyr Gibbs joins him in the top six. Eight more running backs crack the top 50 from the 2023 class. If you are a riser this offseason at running back, things must have gone very well for you.
The other oddity concerning rookies is that they do not show up in offseason risers because I didn't have any of them ranked in January. That can be a bit misleading because there were certainly winners. Anthony Richardson landing with Shane Steichen as a top-four pick was the biggest. Richardson had elite upside coming into the draft process, but his passing production at Florida told us very little about his floor. In March, it seemed like there was a real risk he could slide and maybe even go behind Will Levis. That last line sounds pretty funny now.
Gibbs is another rookie who is ranked much higher than I expected he would be, thanks to the Lions inexplicably deciding that there was a second running back in the class worth a top-12 pick despite the fact they had made David Montgomery the second-highest paid back in the 2023 free agency class. We went from "Gibbs isn't Alvin Kamara, but that might be his best comp" to "Alvin Kamara caught 80 passes as a rookie, so why not Gibbs?"
Here are eight veterans who overcame the prevailing winds and rose in my Dynasty rankings this offseason. Hopefully, they aren't done rising yet:
Jordan Love, QB, Packers
This is probably obvious, but back in January we were still in the dark about Aaron Rodgers' 2023 plans. Now Love is the unquestioned starter with an exciting receiving corps that includes Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Jayden Reed, not to mention new tight end Luke Musgrave. Love is best viewed as a starter only in leagues where you can start more than one quarterback, but a hot month to open the season could change that perception quickly. Love has the potential to produce like a low-end starter in a one-QB league and he'll likely get at least two years to grow into that.
Sam Howell, QB, Commanders
Howell's weapons, which include Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, are probably better than Love's. It's also possible Eric Bienemy shines without Andy Reid, and Howell has a great system as well. Factor in that Howell ran for 828 yards and 11 scores in his final season at North Carolina, and Howell has more upside than Love. But he also had far less pedigree and far more competition in the form of Jacoby Brissett. Matt LaFleur can probably afford to let Love struggle in his first year as a starter, but it's less clear whether Ron Rivera can.
Brock Purdy, QB, 49ers
Mr. Irrelevant from 2022 is absolutely relevant in Dynasty leagues now. Kyle Shanahan has been pretty clear that Purdy will get a shot to start once he's fully recovered from his torn UCL. Most reports this summer about Purdy's recovery have been positive as well. Being in Shanahan's system with Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle really helps. Still, I do worry about Purdy's lack of pedigree and the presence of Sam Darnold and Trey Lance on the roster. I would be selling once Purdy is healthy if someone expects him to be more than a mid-range QB2.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders
This is one where I am simply higher than Jacobs than everyone else. In other words, if you want to go buy Jacobs, you'll probably pay closer to RB14 value than RB4. I am just not sure why. He is a 25-year-old running back who just produced a top-three season in every format, and he's on the same team with the same coach and the same competition for touches. Unless Jacobs does the unthinkable and refuses to sign the tag, injury is the only way I can see him fall outside of the top 10 this year. There are nine active running backs who have had more than 350 touches in an NFL season; Jacobs, Jonathan Taylor, and Najee Harris are the only three under 26 years old. Taylor is coming off an injury with a new coach, and Harris lost touches last year to Jaylen Warren. Don't be surprised if Jacobs finishes as RB1 this year.
Miles Sanders, RB, Panthers
Few running backs are guaranteed much beyond the first four years of their career. After Sanders' new deal with the Panthers, he may get another full four years. At the very least, you should feel confident he will be the Panthers' starting running back for the majority of the next two years, which is more job security than most backs get. Sanders will be reunited in Carolina with his former running backs coach Duce Staley, who was his coach in 2019 and 2020 when Sanders averaged 4.1 targets per game. If he gets back to that mark and stays healthy, he'll be a top-12 back this year. The Panthers offensive line isn't as good as Philadelphia's, but it did clear the path for D'Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard to average better than 4.5 yards per carry last year.
Mattison is another obvious winner now that Dalvin Cook is out in Minnesota. He's also another sell candidate if you can get a 2024 first-round pick for him. The Vikings had the fourth-highest situational pass rate in Kevin O'Connell's first season, which led to 672 pass attempts in a season they won 13 games. They're retooling on the fly and expected to be playing from behind far more often, which could easily lead to 700-plus pass attempts. With Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson on the roster, don't expect many of those passes to go to Mattison. I would expect Ty Chandler or DeWayne McBride to cut into Mattison's workload more than he cut into Dalvin Cook's.
Treylon Burks, WR, Titans
Burks was an elite WR prospect who had a terrible rookie year. He battled asthma last offseason and generally struggled to stay on the field as a rookie. When he did get to 100%, Ryan Tannehill got hurt and Burks finished the year catching passes from Malik Willis and Joshua Dobbs. The Titans added virtually nothing in terms of target competition, and Burks has the chance to get a target share of 25% or larger in 2022. Will Levis also provides a much better backup plan to Ryan Tannehill than Willis and Dobbs did. DeAndre Hopkins is the one potential free agent as of the time of publishing who could really hurt Burks' 2023 prospects.
Skyy Moore, WR, Chiefs
Like Burks, Moore struggled mightily as a rookie. It may be even more understandable for Moore, who was trying to learn Andy Reid's offense and how to play the wide receiver position. Moore was not a wide receiver in high school and only played the position for three years before joining the Chiefs last year. The Chiefs added Rashee Rice in the draft, but I expect Rice will have the same rookie struggles Moore had (and almost every other rookie wide receiver for Andy Reid has had). The only receiver who has been consistently talked about as being ahead of Moore is Kadarius Toney, and Toney has played 19 games in two seasons, most of them as a part-time player. If it all clicks for Moore this year, I'm still too low on him.
Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE, Titans
A lot of Okonkwo's situation is the same as that of the Burks. Robert Woods is gone, Austin Hooper is gone, and there is no one more qualified than Burks and Okonkwo to hog those targets. Okonkwo has a good size/speed combo and flashed solid downfield ball skills last year. He scored at least nine PPR Fantasy points in four of his last six games as a rookie. One thing we look for in a breakout tight end is the ability to finish first or second on your team in targets. There is no doubt Okonkwo possesses that ability as long as DeAndre Hopkins doesn't land in Tennessee.
Smith has been here before. He was a popular tight-end sleeper and/or breakout candidate for a year and a half before the Vikings signed T.J. Hockenson. We would have never expected Smith could have landed in an even better situation, but he may have. While he can't be No. 1 or 2 on the Bengals in targets without multiple injuries, the next best thing is playing on an elite offense with one of the best QBs in the game. Hayden Hurst averaged more than five targets per game last year. Assume Smith hits that mark and is at worst a streamer. His upside if he connects with Burrow is much higher.