Read & React: Bold Predictions, Busts & Sleepers


Read & React:

Bold Predictions, Busts, & Sleepers

At Fighting Chance Fantasy, we're in the best shape of our lives and chomping at the bit to get the draft season started. Information is at a premium this time of year and you might hear some wild bold predictions, bust discussions, and sleepers. With Training Camps getting ready to heat up around the National Football League our talented writers collaborated with their best takes before all hell breaks loose with the first injury of the preseason. Tell us if you agree or disagree in the comment section at the end of the article.

Follow our writers on Twitter: Leo Grandio (@smooth1074), Seth Quinn (@SethFQuinn), Matt Miles (@DirtyAirFC) and Michael Chasco (@ChascoFCF) all season long!  

Quarterbacks

Sam Howell finishes as a top-10 QB

Before you keep scrolling, consider this take with a fantasy lens and not one of real football. Granted, Sam Howell isn't a top-10, real-life quarterback and probably won't develop into one for a few years. Young, developing quarterbacks often need live repetitions to accurately diagnose and anticipate throws at the NFL level. Where Howell's raw skills come into play for fantasy managers this year lies in his ability to move within the pocket and escape when it eventually collapses. Just look at Daniel Jones' top-10 finish in 2022, and the 708 rushing yards jump off the page. Jones was nowhere close to being considered a top-10 quarterback entering last season but finished ahead of more expensive quarterbacks like Justin Herbert, Tom Brady, and Lamar Jackson. If head coach Ron Rivera can stomach some predictable growing pains early, Howell has a clear path to fantasy success if he can lead a mix of a young, talented core of veterans in Washington's offense. You could be worse off with the trio of receivers in Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel while leaning on the rushing attack from versatile Antonio Gibson and the power of Brian Robinson. If Howell comes near 500 yards rushing this season, you might have one of the best values in fantasy football waiting to be added to the waiver wire or free in best ball tournaments. - Michael Chasco @ChascoFCF

Clayton Tune will start most of the 2023 season

Kyler Murray is hurt and the Cardinals won’t rush him back. I believe that Clayton Tune will beat out Colt McCoy in training camp, which will give him the chance to start most of the year at quarterback this year. If they want the chance to draft someone else or get the first pick and trade it, sitting Murray to give him extra time to recover makes sense. It will also help them tank discretely. - Seth Quinn @SethFQuinn

Running Backs

Cam Akers finishes Top 15 RB

To say the Rams had a rough year would be putting it nicely. In the first 13 games in 2022, Los Angeles started 12 different starting offensive line combinations and eventually finished with the worst record by a team who won the Super Bowl the year before. As tough as quarterback Matthew Stafford has shown over his career, he couldn't withstand the pain inflicted by the constant barrage of defenders bringing him to the turf. Stafford would later waive the proverbial white flag after suffering a season-ending spinal cord contusion only after being hit 63 times in nine games. Negative game scripts alone would've been a nightmare for Cam Akers managers, but a mid-season tiff with head coach Sean McVay would later result in a benching in Weeks 6 through Week 8. Nobody would've blamed Akers for calling it a year, especially when the Rams were going nowhere fast and coming off a devastating Achilles injury. 

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But something happened. Something that would give McVay and the Rams' front office a glimpse into 2023. That something was evidence of a fully confident player running behind an offensive line that finally found some continuity. Akers finished the season with three straight 100-yard rushing performances, but more importantly, Akers appeared to be the best player it had and featured as the main cog in a McVay run game. Los Angeles' pursuit of reworking the offensive line continued into the offseason and will feature a group of homegrown talent in tackles Nate Noteboom, and Rob Havenstein; center Brian Allen; guards Logan Bruss and Steve Avila - all acquired through the NFL Draft. The Rams have only missed the playoffs in two of McVay's six seasons as head coach - both instances came after a Super Bowl appearance. With no clear threat of competition behind him, Akers should be taken before neighboring running backs in committees. - Michael Chasco @ChascoFCF

Breece Hall will not be an RB1 this season

I may end up with an egg on my face with this one, but Breece Hall will not end up as an RB1 for fantasy managers this Fall. Hall who is recovering from a torn ACL and has a current ADP of 31.5 as the RB11 will have a hard time meeting those expectations. Now don't get me wrong I love his talent but I feel that the Jets will ease Hall back into the line-up gradually. Not only do the Jets have Michael Carter returning this season, but they did draft talented running back Israel Abanikanda in the NFL draft in April. The Jets have even been rumored trying to sign Dalvin Cook, which would really throw a wrench into Hall's RB1 chances this year. I would rather draft Joe Mixon and Aaron Jones who are currently going two rounds later in drafts. Now dynasty that is a different story but this is for redraft for this season only. Furthermore, prior to the start of training camp, Hall was just placed on the PUP list. Things that make you go hmm! - Leo Grandio @smooth1074

Bijan Robinson will be the RB1 overall 

Not super hot, but rookies typically do well. Combine that with a lot of the best current fantasy backs being on the older side for running backs, and Bijan Robinson seems like he has a great shot at the top RB spot. - Seth Quinn @SethFQuinn

Damien Harris will finish higher than James Cook

I could see a Zach Moss, Devin Singletary situation all over again. Damien Harris will get a lot of the touchdowns and important touches but James Cook looks better to fans when he touches the ball. They will split carries, but Harris will finish higher because he will get more goal-line carries. From a fantasy football perspective, fans will hate it, but from a real football perspective, Damien Harris is better than people will realize, and will upset James Cook owners throughout the season. - Seth Quinn @SethFQuinn

Antonio Gibson will finish as an RB2 in PPR

With the arrival of offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, the entire Commanders offense is about to take a major step forward in production. The offense has been somewhat conservative over the last couple of seasons, but now has the opportunity to open things up. One of the main benefactors of Bieniemy's playcalling should be Antonio Gibson. Gibson has been yearning to play a little more wide receiver in the offense as he played in college. If the new offensive coordinator obliges Gibson's request, the running back could line up all over the formation and isolate miss-matches to take advantage of during the games. Gibson has a current ADP of 96.5, as the 31st running back off the board, and should have an excellent chance to end up as an RB2 for fantasy managers in 2023. - Leo Grandio @smooth1074 

Gibson will come close to being a top-12 RB

Eric Bieniemy will actually use Gibson correctly, which will allow him to thrive once again. I don’t think the offense is good enough for him to be top-12, but he will come close. Brian Robinson is the only real threat standing in the way of Gibson's path to fantasy success, but given they complement each other, both can succeed. I think Gibson's pass-catching ability will shine this coming season, making him the Washington running back to own. - Seth Quinn @SethFQuinn
 

De'Von Achane will be the top rookie RB (besides Bijan) and finish top-24 in FP/G

De'Von Achane’s speed is incredible, meaning he is likely to rattle off some big plays. Combine that with the Dolphins' great run scheme for speed backs, and Achane will be a stud when he gets playing time. He’s currently stuck behind two veterans, but I think he will surpass them both by the end of the season. - Seth Quinn @SethFQuinn

Jaylen Warren is the Steelers RB to roster in 2023

To start, Jaylen Warren already started eating into Najee Harris’ workload and proved to be more efficient, ranking 5th in yards created per touch and No. 2 in expected points added. I’d expect Harris/Warren to be closer to a 60/40 split this season, giving Warren a steady RB2 floor at a 10th-round draft price. - Matt Miles @DirtyAirFC

Wide Receivers

Kadarius Toney finally has his breakout season

His talent has never been questioned but his health has. Now Kadarius Toney has no more excuses as he will have the chance to receive the second-most targets in Kansas City only behind Travis Kelce of course. Although there are plenty of weapons at Mahomes's disposal, as long as Toney can stay healthy he should be able to get enough targets for his breakout to take place. This is what Patrick Mahomes recently said about Toney: “I’m extremely excited,” Mahomes told Rob Maaddi from AP NFL Podcast. “He has all the talent and he works his tail off. Like I was talking about with [Travis Kelce]. We are going to try to keep him healthy, and on the field as much as possible because when he is on the field, he is a difference-maker. I think y’all saw that this last year and in the Super Bowl, especially. He’s one of those guys that if you just get the ball in his hands, he makes plays happen. So, I’m excited for him to have a full season with me, coach [Andy] Reid, and Travis [Kelce]. The sky’s the limit, he can be one of the best receivers in this league.” After saying a couple of Our Fathers and Hail Marys as I pray for Toney's health, that is all I got. Like Forrest Gump once said, "That is all I have to say about that" - Leo Grandio - @Smooth1074

Jakobi Meyers flourishes in Las Vegas

Head Coach Josh McDaniels was probably thrilled when his former employer decided it was time to let Jakobi Meyers go to free agency in favor of veteran Juju Smith-Schuster. McDaniels, the former offensive coordinator in New England, reunites with Meyers, who led the Patriots in receiving every year since 2020. Meyers inked a three-year, $33 million contract ($21 million guaranteed). The move wasn't surprising, considering McDaniels helped develop Meyers into an NFL receiver after coming to New England as an undrafted free agent in 2019. McDaniels is still shaping this roster to his schemes and moved on from the contract extensions it gave to former mainstays Derek Carr and Darren Waller. Meyers gives Las Vegas an element to the offense Waller could not - a reliable receiver who is also a willing blocker in the run game. Meyers lines up from the slot and works the intermediate areas of the field. As training camp ramps up, it will be interesting if Meyers and Hunter Renfrow can co-exist in this offense. The Athletic's Tashan Reed hinted at the Raiders' attempts to trade Renfrow - who is due $13 million over the next two years. If Las Vegas can find a new home for Renfrow, it can save $7 million in cap space in 2023 while eating his $5.5 million in dead cap money in 2024.

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The Raiders have some obvious concerns heading into this season. Especially after McDaniels replaced Carr with another former Patriot, Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo has had three seasons end on injured reserve and only played one complete year in his nine-year career. Garoppolo had surgery this offseason to repair a broken foot, and it remains unclear when he will join his new teammates when camp opens. Even Davante Adams, one of the premier players in fantasy, was not immune to a dip in ADP to the uncertainty in Las Vegas. Adams continues to remain in draft queues later than ever. Some fantasy managers are pivoting to younger, unproven talent like Amon-Ra St. Brown and Garrett Wilson early in the second round. If Garoppolo can't stay healthy, it may have to turn to Brian Hoyer or Aidan O'Connell - which would be an absolute disaster.

Adams and Meyers do complement each other well. Much like Adams, Meyers brings an ability to make contested catches, but stretching the field was not in the bag for Meyers. Is anyone better at it than Adams since he broke out in Green Bay? Adams draws a ton of attention and has been known to get teammates some space to operate in favorable matchups. The Raiders are projected to bring back all five starters on the offensive line in 2023, according to The Athletic's Tashan Reed. This is a unit that allowed just 35 sacks last season and found some success with Josh Jacobs running behind them. Speaking of disasters, try not to get bogged down by Meyer's production in New England, as the offense was run by now-replaced Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. - Michael Chasco @ChascoFCF

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Brandon Aiyuk will be a top-12 WR

I think while Deebo Samuel is great, Brandon Aiyuk is also very talented and will be Brock Purdy’s preferred target whenever he is playing. The offense will be as efficient as usual, and Aiyuk will be the primary beneficiary of it this season. Aiyuk has shown signs of breaking out in recent seasons, and I think he finally does this coming season. - Seth Quinn @SethFQuinn

Tight Ends

Mike Gesicki will be a TE1

After averaging 59 receptions and 684 yards per season from 2019-2021, Mike Gesicki was the forgotten man in Miami Dolphins' new head coach Mike McDaniel's new offense. Having Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle on your team will tend to make you M.I.A. for numerous games. After the Dolphins let him walk as a free agent this offseason, Gesicki now has a chance to rebound from his putrid 32 receptions for 362 yards performance in 2022. At first glance, Gesicki's new zip code will and should make fantasy managers draft anyone else than him in fantasy drafts this season. At his current ADP 187.2, Gesicki could possibly not even be drafted in many leagues. He is the TE23, and if you want to punt on the position you can wait on tight end, and draft the veteran in the final rounds of your draft. What makes Gesicki appealing in New England is the return of Bill O'Brien as offensive coordinator. The Patriots wisely moved on from Matt Patricia as offensive coordinator as he and this offense were spinning their wheels in the mud in 2022. When O'Brien was previously with the Patriots, he really implemented an unstoppable offense around two amazing tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and now will get to utilize Gesicki and his athleticism at will. Other than a currently injured JuJu Smith-Schuster and second-year wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, Gesicki does not have much competition for targets. Gesicki will be the move tight end for the Patriots and Hunter Henry will be used as well but is a better blocker than Gesicki. So if you are feeling lucky and want to roll the dice at the tight end position later in drafts Gesicki is your man. - Leo Grandio @Smooth1072

Team Defense

The Carolina D/ST should be the last pick of your draft.

Carolina quietly averaged 2.1 sacks per game with only 211.4 pass yards per game and held opposing quarterbacks to an average 89.0 QB rating in their first 14 games last year. Look for a potential breakout from Jaycee Horn that could propel this to a Top-15 defensive unit or better with a weak division and a fairly easy schedule in 2023. - Matt Miles @DirtyAirFC

The Best of the Rest

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The Ravens will support three Top-36 Wide Receivers

and a Top-3 Tight End

The Ravens are going to throw more. Lamar Jackson seems to want to, and with his new contract, should be allowed to in order to protect himself from injury. I think he will spread the ball around a lot, Rashad Bateman will finish top 24, and Odell Beckham and Zay Flowers will finish top-36. Mark Andrews will suffer a little because of this but still catch enough touchdowns to finish as TE3. - Seth Quinn @SethFQuinn

 

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Justin Fields and D.J. Moore will prove to be the best value stack this season, with Moore finishing as a top-15 WR and Fields finishing as a top-3 QB

I think both players will benefit greatly from each other. Justin Fields will gain confidence as a passer now that he has a more worthy WR1 to throw to. D.J. Moore will benefit from being targeted by a much more talented quarterback to catch more passes from. He may struggle to get touchdowns, but I think his target share will be very high. - Seth Quinn @SethFQuinn

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The Broncos offense will cook as they were expected to last year, making their offense have multiple great values.

Sean Payton's arrival means great things for the Broncos offense. I think he will get Russell Wilson back on track to bring a top-12 QB at least and potentially reach the top-8. I think Greg Dulcich will be great and be the second receiving option and be a top-5 tight end. I think Jerry Jeudy will be great and come close to being a top-12 WR. - Seth Quinn @SethFQuinn

The Vikings will have the WR1 and TE1 this season.

I think with Dalvin Cook gone, they will throw a ton. Justin Jefferson is the best receiver in the league so he will get his, but I also think T.J. Hockensen can thrive as the second-most targeted option with Adam Theilen gone. With some uncertainty at the tight end position and the down Travis Kelce year coming at some point soon, I don't see why not, can the Vikings have both the TE1 and WR1 this fall? - Seth Quinn @SethFQuinn
What are your bold predictions for the upcoming season? If you would like to discuss this further you can reach out to us on Twitter at @FCFantasySports.

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