Fantasy Draft Strategy | Dominate Single-QB Leagues in 2023

by Trevor Grosz · Best Ball Plays & Strategy

While the upcoming 2023 NFL season is several months away, it’s never too early to create your fantasy draft strategy for seasonal leagues. Here, we lay out winning tips and a game plan for leveraging different positional clusters in single-QB PPR drafts.

Early Rounds: Double-Stack RBs and an Elite WR

Early on in 1-QB drafts, the strategy is to emerge from the third round with two high-upside RBs and an elite WR1. The strategy behind stacking RBs early is based on the lower supply of high-usage backs. Last season, there were only six RBs (min. 200 snaps and 10 games) that recorded a snap share higher than 70-percent. For comparison, 60 WRs saw at least a 70-percent snap share.

Quite simply, there are more receivers than RBs on the field at any given time. Running back has also become a more specialized position in recent years. Most teams have two to three RBs that serve specific roles, such as short-yardage grinder backs and third-down receiving backs. Pair two high-usage backs with an Alpha WR in the first three rounds and you build a solid foundation for your team.

Middle Round QB Options:

Much has been made in recent seasons about the optimal time to take your starting QB, especially in one-QB leagues. While it is tempting to draft an elite QB like Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, or Joe Burrow, it requires sacrificing an early pick that could be used on an elite position player. Here are the QBs to target in middle rounds (rounds 4-7, ADP per FFPC):

Justin Fields – ADP 45.8

Justin Fields‘ breakout as a runner in 2022 was electric. He finished as QB6 in fantasy thanks to his 1,143 rushing yards, the second-most all-time by a QB. Fields also finished with 2,242 passing yards, 25 total TDs, and an improved 60.4-percent completion percentage. While his passing improved last season, his efficiency numbers in the passing game were not great overall.

Justin Fields Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

He recorded a 71.6 (No. 30) True Passer Rating and a 53.9 QBR (No. 17) in 2022. With an improved roster around him in 2022, however, Fields will take a step forward as a passer.

Lamar Jackson – ADP 55.5

Currently the highest-paid player in NFL history, Lamar Jackson offers intriguing value at his current ADP. While his fantasy points per game have decreased each year since his MVP season in 2019, he was still in the top 10 in fantasy points per game each of those years. With the additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers, Jackson will have increased options in the passing game.

The concern with Jackson is whether he can stay healthy. He missed 11 games due to injury in the past two seasons. His rushing has also decreased over the years, and his comments about new OC Todd Monken’s system suggest that that trend will continue. Still, Jackson is one of the most versatile players at the QB position and increased production in the passing game will set him up to achieve top-6 potential at his position. 

Justin Herbert – ADP 62.4

2022 was a down season for Justin Herbert. He finished with 17.1 fantasy PPG (No. 15), the lowest fantasy PPG mark in his career. The Chargers suffered plenty of injuries to their offense throughout the 2022 season, however. Pro Bowl OT Rashawn Slater and starting WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams spent significant time injured. Despite the injuries, Herbert managed 4,739 passing yards (No. 2) and 25 TDs (No. 8). With new OC Kellen Moore and a healthy receiver room, improvement from Herbert is imminent and he is a great value at his current ADP.

Trevor Lawrence – ADP 71.3

Trevor Lawrence took a huge step forward in his development in the past season. He finished as fantasy QB8 overall, with 4,113 passing yards and 30 total TDs. He improved in nearly every passing metric in 2022 under new coach Doug Pederson. Expect him to take another step forward in his development in 2023.

Intriguing Tight Ends in the Middle Rounds

We can approach the tight end position similar to quarterback. High-end TE options are at a premium, costing an early round pick and sacrificing elite talent at other positions. Below are  intriguing options in rounds 5-8:

Dallas Goedert – ADP 47.5

Dallas Goedert has been a consistent fantasy option at the TE position over the last few years. He has averaged at least 10 points per game for three consecutive seasons and a career-best 11.8 points per game (No. 5) in 2022, despite serious target competition from A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith. Among TEs, Goedert was No. 7 in Target Share at 19.4-percent (25.6-percent in the red zone) and No. 6 in Route Participation Rate at 84-percent. While he struggled with injuries toward the end of the year, Goedert’s ceiling production is worth taking on the risk and his value is likely depressed by those injuries.

Darren Waller – ADP 59.4

2022 was another year defined by injuries for Darren Waller, who missed seven games due to a hamstring strain suffered in Week 5. When he played, he averaged 9.4 points per game (No. 10), his lowest points per game since 2018. While the injuries and declining scoring are concerning, he offers high upside in 2023 if he can stay healthy. After a trade to the Giants, Waller has the opportunity to take over as Daniel Jones top receiving option. He is a risky but high upside option at his current ADP.

Evan Engram – ADP 72.9

In his first season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Evan Engram returned to form as a reliable fantasy option at the TE position. Engram finished with a career-high 73 receptions on 98 targets and 766 receiving yards. He is basically a WR with a TE salary. He led all TEs in snaps from the slot with 300. While Calvin Ridley joining the offense could affect his target share, Engram offers a low-cost and interesting option at TE.

Late Round Upside Swings

It is easy to dismiss the late rounds of fantasy drafts. This range includes backup QBs and TEs, kickers, defenses, and players that might not last on your roster for long; however, dismissing these rounds is a mistake. Take some chances on high-upside rookies. Here are a few to consider:

Jordan Addison – ADP 90.9

Jordan Addison offers immediate fantasy value after being selected by the Vikings in the first round of the NFL Draft. Addison is an elite route-runner and will have every opportunity to put that ability on display in the Vikings’ pass-happy offense. He will take over Adam Thielen‘s role as the top slot option, where he will see single coverage looks while the defense focuses on Justin Jefferson.

Roschon Johnson – ADP 113.3

While he may not possess the immediate value that Addison offers, Roschon Johnson is an alluring option at his current ADP. He joins Khalil Herbert and D’Onta Foreman in a Chicago RB room that lacks a clear-cut number one option. Johnson enters training camp in a special teams role, but will earn meaningful snaps on offense once the season begins.

As Cody Carpentier mentions in the 2023 Rookie Guide, Johnson is a physical back capable of taking on any role in the Bears’ backfield. With the praise Johnson has been receiving during rookie minicamp, per Alex Shapiro of NBC Sports, he is worthy of consideration at his ADP.

Zay Flowers – ADP 105.7

Jeff Zrebiec of the Athletic characterizes Zay Flowers as a home run threat and complement to the trio of Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman, and Mark Andrews. The Ravens will become a more pass-oriented attack under new OC Todd Monken, which bodes well for Flowers. There are plenty of options in the Ravens offense, but the front office spent a first-round pick on him because they believe he can contribute immediately.

Drafts Are Heating Up this Summer

It is never too early to be watching draft trends and formulating a killer draft strategy that will allow you to dominate in your single-QB leagues. Working the waiver wire and trading early for emerging stars will allow you to finish well, but setting the foundation of your team in the draft is an absolutely essential part of team-building. The fantasy landscape changes year to year.

Our goal is to help you leverage positional trends year over year, building elite fantasy squads to help you bury your leaguemates.