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.
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
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.
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
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
Gibson will come close to being a top-12 RB
De'Von Achane will be the top rookie RB (besides Bijan) and finish top-24 in FP/G
Jaylen Warren is the Steelers RB to roster in 2023
Kadarius Toney finally has his breakout season
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.
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
Brandon Aiyuk will be a top-12 WR
Mike Gesicki will be a TE1
The Carolina D/ST should be the last pick of your draft.
The Best of the Rest
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
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