Ever since his historic 2021 season, one of the most talked about players in this 2023 rookie class has been Jaxon Smith-Njigba. With Smith-Njigba being selected 20th overall in the NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks, only one question remains. How should we be valuing Smith-Njigba in dynasty fantasy football?
Since his legendary 2021 season at Ohio State, Smith-Njigba has been the clear WR1 in the 2023 draft class. After seeing Smith-Njigba outproduce Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave at a younger age, I knew he was an elite-level prospect. At Ohio State, Smith-Njigba dominated in the slot showing off elite separation skills and phenomenal hands.
Ohio State coach Brian Hartline said he believes that Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be someone who “leads the league” in receptions and receiving yards.— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) March 9, 2023
Multiple rival coaches have also noted that Njigba was the best WR in the Buckeyes’ 2021 WR room.
That room also included Garrett… pic.twitter.com/Ajm2ABEfrW
The only reason to be cautious of Smith-Njigba is his nagging hamstring injuries. These injuries can derail a player’s career if they’re not treated correctly. However, Smith-Njigba did everything he could to ensure he’ll be fully healthy heading into the NFL.
Even though Smith-Njigba received criticism for only playing five games during his 2022 season, this was the right move. We’ve seen so many great players have their careers cut short due to lingering injuries.
Despite not participating in all the drills at the combine, Smith-Njigba had a solid showing. He was the top performer in the 3-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle, where he posted times of 6.57 and 3.93. These drills confirm that Smith-Njigba has an excellent burst and change of direction.
The only thing still in question is his speed. Since Smith-Njigba was playing next to two elite prospects, he was used almost exclusively in the slot. Slot receivers tend to be slower, so a bad 40 time could have pushed Smith-Njigba out of the first round. Although Smith-Njigba didn’t run at the combine, he ran an impressive 4.48 40-yard dash on his pro day.
NFL Draft Capital
One of the biggest questions heading into the NFL draft was if Smith-Njigba would be a first-round pick. Smith-Njigba would answer that question by going to the Seahawks at pick 20.
Being the first wide receiver taken in the draft is a fantastic sign. Slot wide receivers typically tend to have lower draft capital which shows how great of a prospect Smith-Njigba is for still being the first receiver off the board.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba said in a recent interview that he knows he’s going to “dominate” in the NFL.— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) May 5, 2023
Njigba said that there’s “no ceiling” for his game and that he’s not just a “slot” guy.
However, Seahawks HC Pete Carroll said in a recent interview that he’s going to “count on”… pic.twitter.com/Z4YFozmiaz
The Seattle Seahawks are a middle-of-the-road landing spot compared to the Chargers, Ravens, and Vikings. These teams took Quentin Johnston, Zay Flowers, and Jordan Addison back to back to back.
Although many people don’t expect Smith-Njigba to produce this year, I have him penciled in as the number two target in this offense. Tyler Lockett had a good season last year, but he’s another year closer to aging out. Stepping into this 2023 season, Lockett will be turning 31 years old.
The team also has D.K. Metcalf to dominate on the outside and allow Smith-Njigba to feast in the slot. Geno Smith is an above-average quarterback who had a breakout season last year and will be able to get Smith-Njigba the ball consistently. The Seahawks had the 15th most pass attempts last season, but this number will improve with the addition of Smith-Njigba.
Right now Smith-Njigba has an ADP of 37.29, according to Dynasty Nerds ADP. At this price point, the only wide receiver I would have him above is DeVonta Smith.
Smith is highly regarded in the dynasty community but possesses a ton of red flags. Jalen Hurts is a great quarterback, but the Eagles are a run-heavy team. Most importantly, DeVonta Smith was a significant benefactor to Dallas Goedert’s Injury. In games Dallas Goedert has missed, Smith’s production dipped to 13.03 PPG.
Based on pure value, I’m still okay with taking guys like Cooper Kupp and Stefon Diggs ahead of him. On the opposite end, I’m never considering the guys behind him, like Drake London or D.K. Metcalf. Smith-Njigba is the poster child of buying talent in dynasty, and I expect him to spike in value after his rookie season.
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