Win your 2023 Fantasy Football League with the PlayerProfiler Staff! Discover 5 League Winners from Rounds 3-8 to base your draft strategy around!
Jason Allwine – Kyle Pitts
Avoiding a player because you got burned the year prior is never a good process move. But that’s just what is happening with Kyle Pitts. Last season, I had Kyle Pitts as my #1 TE to avoid– but this year I’m targeting him wherever I can. As the fourth to sometimes sixth tight end drafted, it’s a discount that should not be passed on.
Everything we liked about Kyle Pitts coming into the NFL, and over the last the two seasons, is still there. He’s got incredibly impressive workout metrics, the highest draft capital of a TE ever, and on an offense with a clear path to success. Plus, last season he was dominant in more than a few key statistics. Pitts was No. 2 in Target Share, No. 1 in Target Rate, No. 1 in Deep Targets, No. 1 in Air Yards Share, No. 2 in ADoT, No. 1 in Unrealized Air Yards, No. 1 in Average Cushion, and Top 5 in Expected Points per Game, Air Yards, and Yards per Route Run. All of those point to massive success in 2023 with a QB and offense upgrade coming his way.
The Falcons Passing Game
But Jason, the Falcons never pass the ball. This is true as the Falcons were No. 31 in Team Pass Plays per Game. However, it’s possible there’s at least a small uptick as Marcus Mariota is gone and they added pass catchers- Bijan Robinson, Mack Hollins, and technically Kyle Pitts since he was out for seven games. Pitts still averaged nearly six targets a game last season which isn’t bad at all given the athleticism.
The way I see this offense shaking out is that something has to give. Drake London, Bijan Robinson, and Kyle Pitts can’t all succeed regularly. When you break it down, the player with the easiest path to success in this offense is none other than Kyle Pitts. Drake London will draw No. 1 CB coverage and a linebacker will have to lock onto Bijan Robinson and another will have to spy Desmond Ridder. Plain and simple, Kyle Pitts will be open.
I am expecting a massive bounce back season for the once No. 1 Dynasty TE. Capitalize on the discount now and get yourself a top tier TE that will provide a weekly advantage against your opponents.
Seth Diewold – Tyler Lockett
In each of the past three seasons, Lockett has finished no lower than WR 17 in fantasy points per game. Last season, he finished as the WR 13 overall and the WR 12 in fantasy points per game. While it is true that the Seahawks selected Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, that doesn’t necessarily mean Lockett’s targets will go down. In fact, Geno Smith attempted 572 passes last year. It is true that Smith attempted more passes last year than Russell Wilson did in a single season with the Seahawks. Needless to say, this is going to be an offense that passes the ball, and there will be plenty of opportunities to go around. Lockett will get at minimum 100 targets, and at his current price of being drafted in Round 6 (No. 60 overall, WR 32), fantasy gamers should capitalize on the insane value.
What the Critics Say
Another criticism is the fact that Lockett is an older player at this stage of his career. It is true that Lockett is entering his age 30/31 season. However, Lockett showed no signs of slowing down last year. In fact, Locket was getting open at an impressive clip. Lockett ranked No. 5 in Route Win Rate and No. 5 in Target Separation amongst wide receivers. Additionally, Lockett ranked No. 26 in yards per route run. This shows that not only was Lockett getting open, but he was getting open deep down the field. Lockett also ranked No. 21 in Deep Targets despite his average depth of target ranking just No. 47 overall. This shows that even if Smith-Njigba takes over the short to intermediate area of the field, Lockett can still work deeper down the field and earn those targets fantasy gamers really care about.
Lastly, this offense is going to be really good. Geno Smith rose like a phoenix from the ashes last season and proved that he is a good NFL quarterback. The Seahawks only bolstered his weaponry by adding Smith-Njigba and Zach Charbonnet in the NFL Draft. This team is going to be able to move the ball up and down the field. They are going to be scoring a lot, and Lockett no doubt is going to be a big part of an offense fantasy managers are going to want pieces of. Do yourself a favor and draft Tyler Lockett in the sixth round.
Matt Babich – Joe Mixon
What if I told you that you can draft a running back who’s cleared 16 fantasy points per game in the fourth round of your drafts? Well, you can if you draft Joe Mixon. Legal issues looming along with talks of being cut suppressed his ADP. First came the contract extension, ensuring Mixon would be around for two more seasons. Now, Mixon has been found not guilty in his recent trial.
That being said, this does not mean he’s getting off scot-free with the league. With no conviction, it’s tough to imagine him getting more than Kamara’s sentence of three games if he were to be suspended. Considering how long these events can take to fall into place, we may not see any punishment for Mixon until next season.
Now that we’ve established that Mixon will be on the field, let’s review his opportunity resume. Historically, he’s been a workhorse, clearing a 74-percent Opportunity Share in each of the last five seasons. He’s also a target-demander, drawing a 10-percent Target Share in four of the last five seasons and commanding a career-high 74 targets in 2022. This elite level of high value touches propelled Mixon to fantasy excellence. With no significant competition, he’ll continue to cannibalize touches in 2023.
If you’re still not convinced, let’s review Mixon’s production. While he’s not a very efficient rusher, he’s still compiled at least 1,100 rushing yards in three career seasons. He is, however, very efficient in high-value situations. Mixon’s surplus of red zone touches have yielded at least eight touchdowns in his last four healthy seasons. He’s also a quality pass catcher, padding his hefty target share with a top-25 finish with at least 1.1 Yards per Route Run in every career season.
His biggest competition in 2022 was Samaje Perine. The Bengals, however, clearly didn’t think he added much to the equation. They let him walk in free agency, and the only back they added was 5th round rookie Chase Brown. Mixon is now, without question, the pass protection back. This means we could see 2020 levels of snaps and opportunity for Mixon in 2023.
Cincinnati is going to, obviously, be a high-octane offense this season. This provides Mixon mouth-watering touchdown upside. Joe Burrow could push for 700 pass attempts this season, and Mixon will be heavily involved. He’s an effective rusher and, more importantly, a superb pass catcher. Given his expected workload, he has top-5 running back well within his range of outcomes. He also has the most stable floor among backs in his tier.
Matty Kiwoom – Antonio Gibson
Sometimes there are players that the fantasy football universe loves but their NFL franchise doesn’t share that feeling or they are splitting opportunities. These players are typically athletic, have posted encouraging underlying performance metrics, and have a diverse set of skills. These players have the ceiling of being a league winner. This year that player is Antonio Gibson and he is my league winner candidate.
Gibson is currently being drafted as RB 32 in Round 8. Fantasy managers have to use a top 100 pick to obtain Gibson’s services but his current ADP of 97.9 is a great price to pay for a player with the skillset and production history that Gibson has. The tailback has never finished worse than RB 28 on a fantasy points per game basis in his entire NFL career. This season, fantasy gamers are able to draft a talented player at his absolute floor.
League winning running backs are the players with receiving upside. Gibson played some wide receiver in college at Memphis and he has proven that he is a skilled receiver in the NFL. In his three years as a professional, he has averaged 41.3 receptions per season. Last year Gibson posted a 1.66 Yards per Route Run and a 12-percent Target Share. Both of those metrics were inside the top 12 for qualified running backs. Gibson will now have the pass catching role all to himself. J.D. McKissic is no longer a member of the Washington football team and it is wheels up Gibson.
The Unfortunate Truth
Unfortunately, Brian Robinson still projects to be the early down grinder for the Commanders. But if Robinson was to miss games, Gibson has the size and speed to be a full-on bell cow. He is six feet tall and weighs around 230 pounds. Not only is Gibson big enough to carry the load, but he ran a 4.39 40-Yard Dash and posted a 122.8 Speed Score. That makes him a 96th-percentile athlete amongst running backs. When he came into the league in 2020, he was the No. 4 most athletic back in that class. Remember how loaded that class was? Gibson is that dude.
Antonio Gibson checks the boxes to be a league winner in 2023. Fantasy managers can draft him at his floor. He has a role in his offense that will give him valuable opportunities for fantasy football. His receiving ability allows for a solid floor, but his athleticism provides an insanely high season if he is given the keys to the castle for a long stretch throughout the season. Draft Gibson and get ready to win some leagues!
Theo Gremminger – Justin Herbert
2023 is the year of the QB. Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, and Josh Allen are pushed up in ADP, with Lamar Jackson quickly climbing up. But there is a way for drafters to combat the big four by simply waiting and selecting Justin Herbert– this year’s League Winner. He possesses everything we want to look for when trying to find that special player to lead our teams to fantasy glory: immense talent, a strong supporting cast, and an exciting offensive scheme. With a Round 5 price tag in FFPC Main Events, Herbert allows drafters to avoid the second, third, and fourth-round QB Price tag while still being able to draft the potential QB1 Overall.
The ADP market was a year early with Herbert. Herbert was pushed to QB2 overall in 2022, routinely selected in front of Patrick Mahomes and way ahead of Jalen Hurts. This year, Herbert gets back mega-talented Rashawn Slater on the offensive line. At offensive coordinator, Los Angeles brings in Kellen Moore. Under Moore, Dallas was No. 4 in the league in PPG in 2022 and No. 1 overall in 2021. Expect shots downfield and an exciting pace of play that should showcase Herbert’s immense passing ability. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler are all healthy and are joined by first-round WR Quentin Johnston, giving Herbert the best weapons he has ever played with.
In 2021, Herbert was a few points away from finishing as QB1 Overall with over 5,000 yards passing and 38 TD passes. This year, he finally gets it. Draft him with confidence and make him a part of your draft plan.
Theo Gremminger: Follow @TheOGFantasy
Matt Babich: Follow @babich_matt10
Jason Allwine: Follow @J_Footballwine
Matty Kiwoom: Follow @MattyKiwoom
Seth Diewold: Follow @seth_diewold