Players to Target or Avoid During Draft Season
The heat wave that all of us have been feeling over the summer is about to get kicked up a notch. With training camps underway we’re all about to really get overheated with all the breaking news coming out of all 32 NFL teams’ camps. Prior to us entering into the heart of the fantasy football draft season, Michael Chasco (@ChascoFCF) and I (@smooth1074) wanted to give you some insight on which players you should be targeting or avoiding when you head into your drafts. Anyone can draft Christian McCaffrey or Justin Jefferson in the first round, but one of the keys to drafting is to recognize when and where to find values and to know which players to avoid that may let you down at their current Average Draft Position (ADP). Now tighten up those chin straps, because it's time to jump out of those three-point stances and get ready to sack the competition.
This year more than ever, it appears that you can really wait on a quarterback in fantasy drafts. If you decide to play the late-round quarterback game which quarterback are you grabbing that is outside the top 10?
Russell Wilson, Quarterback - Denver Broncos
The easy answer for this one is Aaron Rodgers who is currently the 13th quarterback off the board, but I’m going deeper down the rabbit hole for this quarterback. After a disastrous 2022 season, most fantasy managers don’t want Russell Wilson anywhere near their fantasy teams this Fall. This is what makes Wilson probably the biggest value at quarterback heading into draft season. The veteran quarterback is currently coming off the board as the 18th quarterback, with an ADP of 124.5. That is after the 10th round, which makes Wilson a great value if you decide to really wait on the quarterback position this year. With news coming out of camp that Wilson is really getting in tune with new Head Coach Sean Payton’s offensive scheme, one can only believe that Wilson can find his inner Drew Brees and put the Broncos offense in gear with the help of Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Greg Dulcich, and hotshot rookie Marvin Mims. Oh and let’s not forget that he will have a returning Javonte Williams back in the backfield with him, along with new free agent Samaje Perine, who is excellent in the receiving game. If Wilson can’t get it done with Payton, then Wilson will be put to pasture. For me, I’m giving Wilson a second chance and calling last season an anomaly. - Leo Grandio @smooth1074
Sam Howell, Quarterback - Washington Commanders
Sam Howell will have a great opportunity to impress a Washington franchise desperate for any stability from its quarterbacks. Last year the Commanders gave the keys to Carson Wentz only to finish last in the NFC East. Wentz only started seven games and was a disappointing 2-5 in those contests. Granted the division was surprisingly tough last season and Washington was the only team not to make the playoffs. If the Commanders show patience with Howell he can turn in a decent top-15 performance this year with his ability as a thrower and rusher. Howell possesses a natural feel for a collapsing pocket and can create a positive play with his escapability. Howell can impact this fantasy season much like New York's Daniel Jones, who had over 700 yards rushing and a top-10 finish last year. Howell will have a talented roster to throw to, which is highlighted by Pro Bowl receiver Terry McLaurin and an emerging second-year receiver Jahan Dotson. McLaurin is coming off three-consecutive 1,000 receiving yards seasons despite little stability with his quarterbacks. McLaurin has caught passes from 10 different QBs in his career. In just four years, McLaurin has caught passes from Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Wentz, and Howell. If the second-year quarterback struggles early on it'll be interesting if Head Coach Ron Rivera turns to veteran Jacoby Brissett. I'm willing to take a chance since Howell is practically free at the end of drafts and can provide huge returns. - Michael Chasco @ChascoFCF
Which rookie are you trying to get your hands on the most, that is not named Bijan Robinson?
Jahmyr Gibbs, Running Back - Detriot Lions
With Jahmyr Gibbs currently being drafted around the 3/4 turn, if I have an early fourth-round pick I am definitely smashing that draft button. Gibbs totaled 2,132 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 383 carries in his collegiate career while averaging 34 receptions, and 404 yards per season, to go along with another 15 receiving touchdowns. This makes Gibbs a serious dual threat in the Lions' offense. In PPR leagues Gibbs will have an excellent chance to be a top-10 running back this season with his phenomenal receiving skills. Couple this with the fact that the Lions moved up in the NFL Draft to select the talented rookie running back in the first round and should make him the next most sought rookie in your fantasy draft this year. - Leo
Zach Charbonnet, Running Back - Seattle Seahawks
Head Coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider haven't been shy about how much the Seahawks value the running back position. Since 2018, the Seahawks strived to create a balanced, run-first team through the NFL draft. Seattle spent valuable draft capital on the position by selecting Rashaad Penny, Ken Walker, and most recently Zach Charbonnet at 52nd overall last April. The addition of Charbonnet gives Seattle one of the best 1-2 punches in the league. It'll be interesting when the Seahawks use its duo on the field this season. According to The Athletic's Michael-Shawn Duggar, since 2018, Seattle has had only eight regular-season games in which two running backs recorded at least ten carries - none in 2022. Charbonnet complements Walker well with his vision, contact balance, and a downhill running style similar to Arizona's John Conner. Pay close attention to how Charbonnet is being used, especially if he gets opportunities around the goal line. If Walker were to miss time for any reason (he's already dealing with a groin issue in training camp) Charbonnet can be easily inserted in fantasy lineups as a high-volume RB2. - Michael Chasco
Which second-year wide receiver will have the biggest fantasy impact this Fall?
Garrett Wilson, Wide Reciever - New York Jets
Last year’s wide receiver rookie class was phenomenal and many of them will be in for an impactful season for fantasy managers in 2023. The one wide receiver that I see that will be in contention to possibly be a Top 5 wide receiver next season and give the biggest contribution to fantasy managers this season has to be Garrett Wilson. In Wilson’s rookie campaign. Last year Wilson was targeted 147 times and accumulated 83 receptions, 1,103 yards, and four touchdowns. Now this is an impressive rookie season I must say, but that was with Zack Wilson, Joe Flacco, and Mike White throwing him the ball. Now enters future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers, who will provide Wilson with better and more accurate passes which will lead to higher-receiving totals and possibly more touchdowns. If you want Wilson you are going to have to pull the trigger in the second round because he will be gone by the 2/3 turn. - Leo
Chris Olave, Wide Receiver - New Orleans Saints
Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson were the only two rookie wide receivers with over 1,000 yards receiving last year. One would assume both talented players would have similar ADPs heading into their sophomore seasons but the addition of Aaron Rodgers to the Jets has fantasy managers drafting Wilson a round earlier than his former college teammate. Olave got an upgrade of his own as the Saints signed veteran Derek Carr in free agency. Carr doesn't have the track record Rodgers has, but he's an improvement over mid-QBs Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston. Olave is a rock-solid pick in the third round, mainly due to his lack of competition in target share in New Orleans. The Saints opted not to invest in wide receivers this offseason as it decided not to bring back Jarvis Landry and Marquez Callaway. The only other fantasy threat will be the oft-injured Michael Thomas. Since Thomas' two consecutive Pro Bowl seasons in 2018 and 2019, he had only started eight games for New Orleans. If Thomas were to miss any time, Carr would have to lean heavily on Olave, and it could launch his ceiling into the top tier of fantasy receivers in 2023 and beyond. - Michael Chasco
What player that is currently being drafted past the 10th round has the chance to be a league winner this season?
Zay Flowers, Wide Reciever - Ravens
Although I’m tempted to say, Tyjae Spears, Ty Chandler, or Zamir White, I will shy away from running backs this time around and go with Zay Flowers. The Ravens’ offense is about to kick things up up notch by bringing in Todd Monken as offensive coordinator (OC). Monken has NFL experience but has been the OC for the reigning two-time National Champions Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs had a top-5 offense in 2022, and now fantasy managers are hoping that some of that magic will rub off on the Ravens' offensive side of the ball. Most fantasy managers have been yearning for Rashod Bateman to grab the WR1 in the offense but the only thing he has been consistent with is unfortunately getting injured. Bateman is already nursing a foot injury and is currently on the PUP list. The other wide receiver that has made headlines this offseason, was when the team signed Odell Beckham Jr. The veteran receiver missed the entire 2022 season due to tearing his ACL in Super Bowl LVI. That is over a year and a half away from football. Now that leads me to the hot-shot rookie. Flowers heads into the NFL after a phenomenal Senior season at Boston College. In 2022 Flowers roasted the competition for 78 receptions, 1,077 yards, and 12 touchdowns. The rookie wideout has been impressing everyone in camp and his 11th-round ADP will be sure to rise through the progression of draft season. - Leo
Ah yes, the best part of fantasy football - the sleepers! What's better than experimenting with several Best Ball drafts and mixing in with a couple of late-round sleepers? The 10th round is about pick 120 in ADP in a 12-person league, and most of your cheatsheet has more black lines than a redacted government document. Finding those values and hidden gems is the most satisfying aspect of fantasy. More than likely you won't find a player to carry your roster to a league title, but it can give you stability in positions you can afford to be wrong about. Instead of a player I want to highlight, I would rather talk about the tight ends in general. This season I've shifted away from picking late-round RBs and WRs and focus more on those starters in the later rounds. Reviewing some of my most successful teams last year I had one glaring similarity - Evan Engram. If I missed out on the top-six TEs early, I took a ton of Engram late. Some of my worst teams had players like Tyrion Davis-Price and Will Fuller. I'm determined to find my new Engram this year. For the last couple of months, my favorite post-120 picks included Greg Dulcich and Tyler Higbee. Starters like Mike Gesicki, Michael Mayer, and Cade Otton can be taken with your last pick of the draft. If you swing and miss in redraft, you can find an emerging player later in the most ambiguous position in fantasy football. - Michael Chasco @ChascoFCF
Name a player you are avoiding drafting at their current ADP?
Breece Hall, Running Back - New York Jets
As I mentioned in our recent Read and React Bold Predictions article, I really love Breece Hall’s talent and if he was not coming off an ACL tear he would probably be a first-rounder. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Hall has a current ADP of 26, which is the early third round of fantasy drafts. He was already placed on the PUP list. What scares me most about Hall, is the noise of Dalvin Cook possibly signing with the Jets. Aaron Rodgers freed up some CAP space by restructuring his contract for the team to make some moves. I really believe that was to make room for Cook to join the Jets. I may regret not drafting Hall but I’ll take my chances since most players that return from a torn ACL tend to have a low production year, the following season. - Leo
Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver - New York Jets
Garrett Wilson has more helium than balloons at the five-year-old birthday party. As mentioned above, Wilson and his college teammate Chris Olave were the only two rookies to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark last season. Wilson has been shooting up draft boards with the addition of future hall-of-famer Aaron Rodgers - and for good reason. No doubt the talent is there, but if you want Wilson this year, you will have to pay a heavy price. Wilson hovers around ADP 13 in Underdog drafts which is the same neighborhood of top-5 RBs and ahead of fantasy studs like Davonta Adams and Jaylen Waddle. You can't win your fantasy league at the first turn on the draft, but you can lose it. This price is too rich for me when you're depending on a quarterback on the wrong side of his 30s. - Michael Chasco @ChascoFCF
What player will you be planting your flag on this year and claiming to be your guy?
Nick Chubb, Running Back - Cleveland Browns
Currently, Nick Chubb is being drafted in the mid-second round as the sixth running back off the board. If you want to see the epitome of consistency, Chubb is the running back you want to draft. He is all business. Chubbs shows up to the game, kicks ass, and goes home. This is Chubb’s career average through five seasons: 242 rushes attempts, 1,268 rushing yards, 24 receptions, 198 receiving yards, and 10 total touchdowns. This includes the last four seasons when Chubb has been sharing the backfield with Kareem Hunt who is no slouch himself. Now that Hunt is no longer on the team what is Chubb going to do the rest of the NFL, especially in the receiving game? The veteran running back has an awesome offensive line, the best quarterback (Deshaun Watson) that he has ever played with who can run and will keep the linebackers' attention, and no one to really challenge him for touches. If he is there at the end of the first round pounce on that draft button. Then you can add a stud wide receiver in the second round or play some bully running back or draft a workhorse running back should one fall to you in the second round. Furthermore, Chubb stated that he is going to dedicate this season to the late great Jim Brown who passed away in May. How's that for some extra motivation? - Leo
Justin Fields, Quarterback - Chicago Bears
Justin Fields has some huge expectations coming into his third season with the Chicago Bears. GM Ryan Poles has been on a mission to surround Fields with new weapons with the addition of D.J. Moore and Chase Claypool. Both talented wide receivers have never played with a player like Fields, and there have been questions about how quickly the trio can create chemistry with a new offense. So far, all the reports have been positive, and Fields has emerged as a leader for a franchise desperate for one. History is on his side as QBs entering their third year take a massive leap once paired with an elite wideout. Josh Allen took off once Buffalo acquired Stefon Diggs, and last year Jalen Hurts put up elite numbers after the Eagles traded for A.J. Brown. I'm taking Fields ahead of Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow, and I wouldn't be surprised if he finished as the overall QB1. - Michael Chasco @ChascoFCF
What players are you high on or low on heading into the draft season? If you want to discuss this further you can reach us at @FCFantasySports.