The focus this weekend, and every NFL Draft weekend, is on the rookies, the 250-plus young men who just saw their professional careers start. And understandably so. But there are also a few thousand guys already in the league before the draft started Thursday, and for many of them, their fantasy football outlook changed dramatically based on what happened the last few days.


Below, I’m looking at the winners and losers of draft weekend among the veterans, the players who were already in the NFL but saw their fortunes change the most.

2023 NFL Draft Veteran Winners

The Unsupplanted Running Backs

James Conner, Arizona Cardinals
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams
Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots
Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(I'm not sure “unsupplanted” is actually a word, but I'm rollin' with it.) Each of these guys came into draft weekend with a hold on their respective team’s starting job, but in every case the hold was tenuous to at least some degree. There were rumors Joe Mixon, for one, could be cut if the Bengals landed a prime running back, while someone like Rhamondre Stevenson could go from bell cow to timeshare if the draft fell the wrong way.

Instead, all six escaped relatively unscathed. The Bengals, Cowboys and Rams each drafted a running back in the fifth round or later, but --with the possible exception of Deuce Vaughn stealing receiving work from Tony Pollard in Dallas – it's hard to imagine any of those late backs making a meaningful difference in the outlook of these backs. Running back on the whole is fungible enough that no one above is out of the woods, but these five players skating through the draft without their teams drafting a starter-worthy guy to challenge them is a definite win.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

Of course, draft weekend started with Lamar Jackson becoming the highest-paid player ever, and the team followed up his big signing with another first-round pick spent on a wide receiver, the third first-rounder spent on a receiver in five drafts since Jackson came to the team (Marquise Brown in 2019, Rashod Bateman in 2021, Zay Flowers in 2023). Flowers, Bateman and new signee Odell Beckham form the best receiver room Jackson’s ever had (and not by a little), and add in Mark Andrews, and this is a suddenly impressive group.

Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

Both quarterbacks got No. 3 receivers in the draft who fill very different roles. The Seahawks drafted Jaxon Smith-Njigba to ostensibly fill the slot and give Geno Smith a trio of JSN, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett that could immediately be one of the league’s best groups. Justin Herbert saw the Chargers add a desperately needed field-stretching element in Quentin Johnston — he, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams aren’t quite as elite as the Seahawks’ trio, but Johnston’s arrival should give Herbert a lot more of the field to work with than he’s had the last couple years.

Jordan Love, QB, Green Bay Packers

<a target=

The Packers could handwave not drafting skill players when Aaron Rodgers was their quarterback, because a Hall of Famer could make lemonade from just about anything. Now that Rodgers is a Jet, though, Jordan Love was going to need more to work with. And the Packers did that — after drafting DE Lukas Van Ness in the first, each of the Packers’ next three picks (two seconds and a third) went to pass catchers, with two tight ends in Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft and a receiver in Jayden Reed, and then they added another receiver in Dontayvion Wicks in the fifth. It’s still far from an elite stable of targets, but it’s much better now than it was 72 hours ago.

Gabe Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills

A year after Gabe Davis was everyone’s breakout pick, only for him to finish as the PPR WR35, there have been murmurs all offseason of the Bills getting a new No. 2 receiver to run alongside Stefon Diggs, leaving Davis to be the No. 3. Instead, the main pass-catching weapon the Bills added was a tight end, picking up Dalton Kincaid in the first round to work alongside Dawson Knox, with Buffalo not adding a receiver until Florida’s Justin Shorter in the fifth round, too late to be an obvious contributor. With Isaiah McKenzie and Jamison Crowder gone from last year’s team and only Shorter and Deonte Harty (he of 793 career receiving yards in four years) brought in, Davis could be a post-hype sleeper candidate for 2023.

Robert Woods, WR, Houston Texans
John Metchie, WR, Houston Texans

CJ Stroud is going to need someone to throw the ball to in Houston. Give me either the wily veteran in Robert Woods or last year’s forgotten rookie in John Metchie (or both) to be his favorite targets as the rookie gets his feet under him. The rest of the depth chart after those two (and rookie Tank Dell) is made up of castoffs (Noah Brown, Amari Rodgers, Steven Sims) and a veteran in Nico Collins who has yet to show anything in the NFL.


2023 NFL Draft Veteran Losers

Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions

The Lions adding Sam LaPorta at tight end in the second round is a help for Jared Goff, because the team was pretty lacking in tight end weapons before that. But the top skill player addition was 12th overall pick Jahmyr Gibbs, which facilitated the trade of D'Andre Swift. Maybe that helps the team overall, but from a Goff/fantasy perspective, it’s a wash. And then of course the Lions grabbed Hendon Hooker in the third round, who is probably going to have basically a redshirt rookie season as he recovers from a torn ACL, but he’s now the heir apparent in Detroit. (And that's not to mention the suspension of Jameson Williams last week that definitely hurts the overall weaponry.)

Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings

<a target=

If the Vikings had tossed a Day 2 or early Day 3 pick at a running back, we might have taken that as indication that the team was ready to jettison Dalvin Cook and roll with a rookie/Alexander Mattison duo, as has been rumored much of the offseason. In that situation, Mattison might have been able to seize the bell cow role. Instead, the team’s moves over the weekend didn’t seem to portend any inclination to dump Cook (I don't think seventh-rounder DeWayne McBride discounts this), which means there’s a better chance now that he’s back in 2023, Mattison is again the backup/handcuff, and fantasy managers have to wait longer.

Tyler Allgeier, RB, Atlanta Falcons

A year after finishing 14th in the league in rushing yards despite being a fifth-round rookie, Tyler Allgeier now finds himself in an awful situation for fantasy productivity. The Falcons picked up Bijan Robinson with the eighth overall pick. Allgeier isn’t as good a rusher as Robinson and isn’t as good a receiver as Robinson or Cordarrelle Patterson, leaving him on the outside looking in as far as heavy workloads are concerned. Never trust a Day 3 rookie running back, even if he starts out productive. The leash is always going to be short.

Khalil Herbert, RB, Chicago Bears

Khalil Herbert might still open the season as the No. 1 in Chicago. But D'Onta Foreman’s arrival already shortened his leash, and Roschon Johnson, despite being a fourth-rounder who played behind Bijan Robinson in college, might already be the best back in the Bears backfield. Herbert might not have the job by Week 4, if he even still has it by Week 1.

Raheem Mostert, RB, Miami Dolphins

Raheem Mostert’s key claim to fame in the Miami backfield is being blazing fast. And that’s obviously a good thing for a running back, even moreso on a Dolphins team that has collected speed demons like the Eagles collecting former Georgia players. But now Mostert is 31, and the Dolphins just picked up third-rounder Devon Achane, who is just as fast as prime Mostert but is only 21. The entire Miami backfield took a hit with the pickup of Achane, but Mostert’s is the biggest.

Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Travis Etienne ran for 1,125 yards last year on a team where the only other back who reached even 200 yards was on another team by the end of October. No shade to JaMycal Hasty and Snoop Conner, but Etienne never really had a challenge for the RB1 role after James Robinson left. But the team signed D'Ernest Johnson this offseason and then drafted Tank Bigsby Friday, and while that combination doesn’t mean Etienne has lost his starting job, it does mean he’ll have more competition for work, and that lowers his ceiling.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

It’s hard to get a good read on whether D'Andre Swift’s stock, going from the No. 1 alongside David Montgomery behind one of the league’s best offensive lines to the No. 1 alongside Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Gainwell behind another of the league’s best offensive lines, went up or down this week. I could be convinced either way. Though we'll definitely want to see them through to backs a bit more to really invest:

That said, Penny’s definitely took a hit. When he signed in Philadelphia the general consensus was that he had an outside shot at leading the league in rushing yards if he could stay healthy behind that unit. Now, Swift will probably get the first crack at lead back role, and even if it still ends up being Penny, Swift will get enough work to keep Penny from getting anywhere near that ceiling.

Kenneth Walker, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Last week: Rashaad Penny’s gone from Seattle! Kenneth Walker is the Seahawks’ clear RB1! That’s a great role!

This week: Zach Charbonnet’s now in Seattle! Some people think he’s a future star!

Yes, Walker will still be the starter. No, he’s no longer got the same ceiling. Yes, that’s frustrating.

Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos

<a target=

The asking price for Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy in trade is rumored to be very high, so maybe the Broncos don’t end up making a trade. That said, the team signing Marquez Callaway and then spending a second-round pick (its first in the draft) on Oklahoma’s Marvin Mims certainly isn’t a set of actions of a team that thinks it is set at wide receiver. It’s hard to imagine Sutton, Jeudy, Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler all break camp with the team at this point … and even if they do, that is a lot of mouths to feed.

Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Cleveland Browns

Donovan Peoples-Jones had a nice little third-year breakout last year, setting career highs in targets (96), receptions (61) and yards (839). But he did that as the No. 2 receiver in an offense fairly devoid of No. 2 receivers. Now, Amari Cooper is still around, the team traded for Elijah Moore, and the Browns also spent a third-round pick (their first) on Cedric Tillman. Peoples-Jones won’t have the luxury of lack of target competition in 2023.

Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills

Everything said about Gabe Davis above can be said about Dawson Knox here in reverse. The team didn’t add a replacement receiver, but they did grab the first tight end off the board in Utah’s Dalton Kincaid. Knox is likely never going to be a yardage monster, and Kincaid arriving to steal some of his red-zone work means Knox’s role as even a fringy TE1 is probably now off the table.