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The Ultimate Guide to 2023 Fantasy Football

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

The 2023 fantasy season is upon is. With drafts beginning over the next few weeks, it is time to take a look at some players worth targeting, sleepers to grab late, and general team-building strategies that will help you win your league.


Firstly, lets look at some draft strategy:


It important to ignore the allure of drafting based on rankings and a player's average draft position (ADP.) As is proven every year, a player's ranking is not equal to their value and you should draft as such. If you like the 5th overall receiver instead of the 1st when your pick comes around, trust your research and pick the 5th.


Whether you avoid players due to injuries, bad QBs, or for another reason, it is important to stick to your system.


In the first rounds of your draft, it vital to prioritize running backs.


While I would not exit the first 3 rounds without a RB, drafting a mix of both RBs and WRs can be the best path. If you find a great value at WR in back to back rounds, take them but it is important to secure 3 starting running backs within the first 5-6 rounds.


Because carries are so important, you cannot afford to wait on a running back that could end up buried on their team's depth chart.


Paying attention to depth charts as well as player connections is important in finding value.


Firstly, just because someone is talented does not ensure they are guaranteed volume. For example, Michael Gallup is a very skilled receiver but because he is the WR3, will not necessarily be a consistent fantasy producer. Unfortunately, it is very tough for skilled players to succeed in fantasy if they are not given ample opportunities and properly placed on the depth chart.


Player connections can make for great picks, especially when it comes to QB and WR duos. "Stacking" a QB and their top target can lead to huge breakouts for your team if done correctly. You need to watch which pass catchers QBs gravitate toward and look for players that may be in a new situation or that have some other external reason for success like an improved offense or scheme fit.


Some examples that have caught my attention in training camp are Justin Fields to DJ Moore, Aaron Rodgers to Garret Wilson, Jared Goff to Amon Ra St-Brown, and Derek Carr to Chris Olave.


Watching for these connections can be done in the offseason through training camp or from games in prior seasons. Likewise, it is important to monitor headlines and ensure you are not missing any obvious red flags.


A proven league winner like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen are attractive QB options in the 3rd round of drafts. It is important to note, though, that those aforementioned QBs should go at least a round and probably 2 ahead of all the others and you cannot let other player's picks dictate your own. If your QB target is Justin Fields and you want him in the 5th round, do not reach and draft him in the 3rd or 4th just because it is what others are doing. If other people are reaching, opportunities are emerging and there will be no shortage of talent available.


Your own tolerance for risk will determine much of your strategy. You can pick receivers from good offenses that consistently rack in over 1,000 yards like Keenan Allen or Tee Higgins or take some risk that could lead to more 'boom' weeks.


I like to keep my first 2 rounds relatively safe, targeting players with near guaranteed volume and take greater risk as the draft goes on. For example, my late round picks are often rookie RB and WRs or those with unique skillsets.


Below are some specific players that I like and dislike by position:


Quarterbacks:


Like:

Justin Fields

Fields' 2022 was defined by back to back 40pt weeks that put him on the map. After starting the season poorly, Fields rushing became a central part of the Bears offense. While the team ultimately finished the season poorly, Fields has a true WR1 in DJ Moore and showed rushing glimpses last year that excites me about his potential in 2023.


Jared Goff

At QB18, Goff is a great backup option. He will produce on a consistent basis, is on an improving team, and can be grabbed at the end of drafts.


Geno Smith

Despite his QB5 finish in 2022, Geno Smith is still very underrated, sitting at QB15. The Seahawks added 2 skill position players in the first 2 rounds of the 2022 draft and all else remains roughly the same. Smith was among the biggest surprises of 2022 and remains motivated this year.


Don't like:


Kyler Murray

Murray is coming off a torn ACL suffered a third of the way through 2022. With a new head coach and an injury that will keep him out to start the season as well as limit his important rushing upside, I am avoiding Murray.


Anthony Richardson

The Anthony Richardson hype is somewhat understandable given his impressive physical skillset and rushing ability. However, there is little to suggest that he will have passing success in 2023. With a poor offense and limited production in college, there are better backup options than Richardson this season. In dynasty leagues, he may be worth a look but not in redraft.


Running Backs:


Like:



Derrick Henry

If you want consistent volume and production with boom potential each week, Derrick Henry is a safe first round pick. His consistency is unmatched and there is no doubt that Tennessee's offense runs through him. With an improved passing game, he will improve from last season's admirable production.


Bijan Robinson

Selecting any rookie in fantasy comes with risk, particularly in the first round. Currently the RB3 on ESPN's rankings, Robinson is among the most electric runners in the league and he has not yet played a game. He can make anyone miss, can catch passes, and despite Atlanta's depth, will undoubtedly get the bulk of the touches.


Rhamondre Stevenson

Rhamondre Stevenson was very efficient last season, averaging 5 yards per carry on 210 attempts as well as 8.8 yards per reception on his impressive 69 receptions. After Damien Harris left in free agency, Stevenson has become the undisputed top back. He is hard runner that gets touches in the redzone and will improve his TD output in 2023.

*Note that Ezekiel Elliot recently visited with the Patriots so proceed with caution if you are drafting in the next few weeks. I would most likely avoid Stevenson if Zeke were to sign with New England.

Update 8/15: Ezekiel Elliot just signed with the Patriots. I anticipate him taking a lot of goal line carries, thus limiting Stevenson's upside. While Stevenson will continue to be efficient in the receiving game and his ADP will fall as a result of this signing, I would be very cautious, particularly in non-PPR leagues.

Dameon Pierce

While drafting anyone from the Texans comes with its own risk, Dameon Pierce is an attractive option at just the RB17. He missed 4 games in his rookie season last year but still totaled 1,121 yards on the ground as well as 30 receptions for 165 yards. He is a very aggressive back, entertaining to watch, and will strive in what should be an improved Houston offense. He has very little competition in the Houston backfield and produced last season in spite of all of the team's issues. The team brought in Devin Singletary which is unconcerning given the clear trust Houston instilled in Pierce even as a rookie.


Cam Akers

Cam Akers has certainly gone under the radar so far this fantasy season. Currently the RB24 on ESPN, Akers missed the entire 2021 regular season due to a torn achilles and struggled to regain his momentum until Week 11 of 2022. From that point forward, he consistently averaged over 4 yards per carry and double digit carries. Akers appears to have returned to Sean McVay's good side and resembled his 2020 rookie self at points last season.


Brian Robinson Jr

The biggest concern with Robinson is the Commanders offense and competition with fellow RB, Antonio Gibson. After missing the first 4 games of last season, Robinson had 20+ carries on 5 occasions and sits at RB35 largely due to his lack of touchdowns. While Gibson is more involved in the passing game, Robinson is the more explosive back which will likely lead to success down the line. With a second year QB more comfortable in the offense and his first full season ahead of him, Robinson is a good value late in drafts.


Don't like:


Rachaad White

White is unproven and at RB19, I think he is severely overvalued given the committee approach in Tampa.


James Cook

Cook has not proven that he can be a 3 down back. Going back to college, he has never had more than 14 carries in a game. While this may not be an issue, Buffalo also tends to mix things up inside the 5 rather then just handing the ball off to their back.


Joe Mixon

Mixon's 2022 numbers were greatly inflated due to a 5 TD game early in the season. While the Bengals have a great offense and give him the ball plenty, this is a talent issue that would make your 2023 season frustrating to watch.



Wide Receivers:


Like:


Garret Wilson

Wilson has WR1 overall upside. After a strong rookie season, he has an unparalled QB improvement, going from Zach Wilson to Aaron Rodgers. Wilson is among the most talented WRs Rodgers has played with his career and will build on his 8.6 target per game average from 2022. Drafting Wilson in the 2nd round could be a league winning pick given the hugely improved offense and clear talent.


Amon-Ra St. Brown

The Lions are an obvious trendy pick to breakout in 2022. While this may be slightly overblown, the Lions offense is no joke. St. Brown is the undisputed WR1 and consistently racked in both targets and YAC when healthy in 2022. He had an explosive start to the season and while he struggled with TD output for much of the year, he remains an attractive option in the 2nd or ideally 3rd round.


Chris Olave

Like Wilson, Olave put up impressive numbers in his rookie season despite unreliable QB play. Olave emerged as a deep threat and with new QB and underrated deep passer, Derek Carr, signing a big deal with New Orleans this offseason, Olave will break out. With little competition for targets and an improved run game and QB, Olave is well positioned.


Jerry Jeudy

Jeudy is certainly the riskiest pick on the list as drafting him is a bet that Russel Wilson will bounce back after his disastrous 2022. I think Sean Payton will turn things around and show his offensive prowess. Jeudy emerged as Wilson's top downfield target and posted a career high last year with 927 yards and 6 TDs. In the last 5 weeks of the season, he averaged 91 yards per game and 8 targets.



Don't like:


DaVante Adams

I have little doubt that Adams will be a consistent fantasy producer. The concern, though, is Jimmy Garrapolo at Quarterback as well as his ADP of WR5. I would prefer someone with more boom potential like Stefon Diggs, Garret Wilson, or Amon Ra St-Brown.


Diontae Johnson

A lot of people are on the Diontae Johnson bandwagon even though he scored 0 touchdowns on 147 targets last season.


Keenan Allen

There is little doubt about Keenan Allen's talent but his health and TD production are more debatable. With another receiver drafted in Quinten Johnston, there is further competition for targets. Again, Allen is a safe option but not someone I am targeting.


Marquise Brown

After a disappointing 2022 with Kyler Murray at QB for much of the season, it is tough to make the case that Brown will improve with Colt McCoy under center to start the season.


Tight End:


Like:

TJ Hockenson

After being traded to the Vikings midway through the 2022 season, Hockenson put up impressive numbers. While he scored only 3 touchdowns, he performed consistently and will grow as he becomes more comfortable in what will be a good passing offense in 2023.


Even Engram

Even Engram in resurging after an impressive first few seasons with the Giants. He is very athletic and became a favorite target of Trevor Lawrence. Ultimately finishing as the TE6, Engram really came on as the season progressed, stringing together 3 games with 8+ targets and 60+ yards in weeks 14-16.


Chig Oknkwo

Okonkwo is going undrafted in most leagues and is a worthwhile stash. Okonkwo, a 6'3 238lb 2nd year TE, is extremely athletic and a versatile piece in the Titans offense. He is set to build off of his 3TD, 450 yard 2022 and his season could resemble Jonnu Smith's 2020 in which he finished as the TE9 after scoring 8 touchdowns.


Don't like:


Dalton Schultz

After a notably incosistent 2022, Schultz signed with the Texans. The offense does not have a clear leader in target share, which could be a positive, but it is hard to trust a player moving to a worse offense with a TE10 ADP.


Mike Gesicki

Despite being TE2 behind Hunter Henry, Gesicki is currently ranked as the TE19. He has good hands but since Gronk, New England has struggled to put up competent TE numbers. Pair that with Mac Jones and his inconsistency and there is what I think is a poor situation.


Dawson Knox

Buffalo used a first round pick on TE Dalton Kincaid and will likely use him extensively in year 1. As a result, the touchdown dependent Knox does not provide a lot of upside.


Boom or bust players to consider:


Christian Watson

Watson enjoyed a major breakout in the middle of the 2022 season, scoring all of his 7 touchdowns from weeks 7 to 10. He is big and a downfield threat but is also downgrading at QB from a hall of famer to unproven starter. He is the top receiver in Green Bay and has impressive physicals skills, making him worth a look at WR20.


Calvin Ridley

Ridley has rapidly risen up draft boards since the start of the summer. After missing 2022 due to a betting suspension, Ridley is heading into his first season with the Jaguars and has reportedly looked very fast and in shape. He was electric in Atlanta and could emerge as Trevor Lawrence's top target.


Jahmyr Gibbs

After being drafted 12th overall by the Lions, there are high hopes for this rookie RB. My concern is his lack of usage in the redzone and bigplay dependence in college but if he pays off, he could pay off hugely. Talent is not an issue and with an exciting offense in Detroit, Gibbs could be used in various ways.




Later Round Sleepers:

Brandon Aiyuk

Aiyuk emerged as the 49ers WR1 last year after his sophmore season was somewaht disappointing. While there is a lot of talent across San Francisco's offense, Aiyuk's ADP of WR30 is a huge undervaluing.


Zay Flowers

The Ravens revamped the WR room but rookie Zay Flowers may benefit the most. Competing with injured Rashod Bateman and often injured, Odell Beckham, Flowers is versatile and could emerge as Lamar Jackson's most reliable target.


George Pickens

Like Aiyuk, Pickens is severly undervalued at WR36. I believe he will emerge as Kenny Pickett's top target and has some of the best hands in the league in just his 2nd season.


Tank Bigsby

Given Travis Etienne's durability issues and Bigsby's talent in the Redzone, he could payoff as a late round stash.


My hope is that this article both exposes you to players you may not have considered and that can help you win your league as well as give you the tools for you to pick players of your own. If you stick to these strategies, things will go well as long as you trust the process and stay disciplined in the draft. Expect more fantasy content such as the guide for dominating the waiver wire as we approach the 2023 NFL and Fantasy Football season.

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