10 Players to Target or Avoid at Current ADP in 2023 Fantasy Football Drafts
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Titans WR DeAndre HopkinsJustin Ford/Getty Images
Fantasy football draft season is finally upon us. Since most leagues will use the gap between the final set of preseason contests and the start of the 2023 NFL season to hold their draft, there isn’t much time remaining for managers to get prepared.
If you haven’t done much research yet, we have you covered. To get ready for your draft, you should come up with a list of targets you’ll want to avoid and those you’ll want to take relative to their average draft position.
Having certain players crossed off your list or circled will make life much easier when you’re on the clock each round. With that in mind, here are five players you’ll want to keep an eye on and five players to steer clear of based on where they are currently being drafted.
Average draft position, fantasy stats and rankings are courtesy of FantasyPros’ PPR data unless noted.
Avoid: Zach Ertz, TE, Arizona Cardinals
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Zach Ertz was one of the more consistent fantasy tight ends earlier in his career, but he’s no longer a viable option at the end of it. He’s going to be a limited contributor at best, and that’s only if he can stay on the field for an extended stretch.
It’s far from guaranteed that Ertz will return to his former self following the devastating knee injury he suffered midway through last season. The Arizona Cardinals star tore both his ACL and MCL during a Week 10 contest and was only recently cleared to return to football activity. Although NFL Media’s Mike Garofolo reported that Ertz is on pace to start in Week 1, there’s too many red flags here to feel confident in the 32-year-old.
ACL tears are notoriously difficult to recover from. Last year alone, Odell Beckham Jr., Chris Godwin, Robert Woods and Michael Gallup all attempted to come back from knee injuries that they suffered the previous season. Godwin was the only one of those pass-catchers who managed to stay relatively healthy and contribute worthwhile fantasy production.
Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray is also recovering from an ACL tear of his own, so the Cardinals offense could have an extremely low ceiling with Colt McCoy at the helm. Ertz was already showing signs of decline last year, averaging almost 12 fewer yards per game than he did during his initial 11 contests with the Cardinals in 2021.
Target: Isiah Pacheco, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
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Set Number: X164304 TK1
Isiah Pacheco was one of the breakout stars of the 2022 NFL season. He went from a seventh-round pick who wasn’t a lock to make the Kansas City Chiefs’ final roster to earning the starting running back job for the eventual Super Bowl champions.
While Pacheco played a key role in that title run, he finished as the RB37 in PPR leagues. That should change in 2023 now that he’s locked into the starting gig in this electrifying Chiefs offense.
Pacheco didn’t get the starting nod until Week 7 last year and had only one game in which he recorded more than 16 carries. He had almost no role in the passing game either—those duties largely went to veteran Jerick McKinnon—but he still managed to score nearly 100 fantasy points between Weeks 11 and 18. That 12.4 PPG average would have put him around the top 20 scorers at the position over the course of the full season.
The consistency should be there in 2023. Pacheco should have little competition for rushing volume, barring an unexpected return to prominence from 2020 first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He should also be healthier after dealing with a broken hand and torn labrum that were both surgically repaired this offseason.
There’s a lot to like about Pacheco around pick No. 75 overall. He may not have league-winning upside, but he’ll be an excellent addition to most fantasy lineups as a reliable back with a high floor.
Avoid: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Baltimore Ravens
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Odell Beckham Jr. was once one of the NFL’s most dynamic wideouts and a major source of fantasy production. Those days are long gone, though.
Even after signing with a Baltimore Ravens team that was desperate for pass-catching talent, the aging Beckham will struggle to replicate the type of performances he had regularly with the New York Giants early in his career.
Beckham hasn’t played a meaningful NFL game since the opening half of Super Bowl LVI. While he capped off a resurgent season with the first touchdown in that game, he tore his ACL soon thereafter and missed the entire 2022 season as a result.
Beckham told Dan Pompei of The Athletic that he considered retirement after the injury, but he instead opted to return on a one-year deal with the Ravens. He’ll now not only be competing with incumbents like Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews for targets, but also dynamic rookie Zay Flowers, whom Baltimore selected with a first-round pick this year.
Given his age, injury history and place in the suddenly crowded Ravens pass-catching corps, managers should steer clear of Beckham during their drafts.
Target: Darren Waller, TE, New York Giants
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The New York Giants haven’t had a quality pass-catching tight end in some time. That will change in 2023 thanks to their trade for Darren Waller.
Although Waller’s last two seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders left plenty to be desired, the 30-year-old appears healthy and ready for a return to stardom with the G-Men.
The 6’6″, 255-pound Waller has the size of a tight end, but his speed, hands and route-running ability make him more of a jumbo-sized X receiver. He’s used that rare blend of traits to dominate defenses, especially during a two-year stretch between 2019 and 2020 where he recorded 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns on 197 receptions.
Injuries hindered Waller over the past two seasons, and his production dropped accordingly. He finished as a top-three fantasy tight end in both 2019 and 2020 then ranked 17th in 2021 and 31st in 2022.
Despite those woes, the veteran is confident he’ll be returning to form now that he’s in the Big Apple, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post:
“I believe wholeheartedly in myself, and I believe that through action and consistent performance Giants fans will believe, as well. They can have questions at this moment about my health — those are legitimate concerns — but I believe I’ve addressed those issues. I’m willing to be the best I can be to be a weapon for this team — a tool that this team can use to get to the next level they want to go to.”
Waller has quickly developed a connection with Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. The two linked up three times for 30 yards during a single series in last week’s preseason game, which was a small showcase of what they should consistently provide in 2023.
Considering how difficult it is to find a reliable tight end in fantasy leagues, getting Waller around pick No. 65 is an incredible value with tremendous upside.
Avoid: Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons
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Drake London was the first receiver taken in the 2022 NFL draft, and he flashed tons of potential as a rookie. He got off to a relatively slow start, but he finished strong by putting up at least 12 PPR points in four of his last five games.
While those late-season showings might have managers excited about what he’ll do in 2023, it’s worth noting that tight end Kyle Pitts wasn’t in the lineup for any of those contests.
Pitts was establishing himself as a target hog as the 2022 season went along, drawing a sizable 29 looks between Weeks 8 and 11. While his production left something to be desired—he recorded only 35.8 fantasy points during that four-week stretch—the Falcons were clearly trying to feed him. During that same stretch, London saw only 21 targets and scored 32.4 fantasy points.
With the Falcons still lacking an elite quarterback, it’s too risky to take London at his current ADP. That’s without even factoring in the amount of plays that Bijan Robinson—the potential three-down superstar running back whom the team drafted at No. 8 overall this year—will account for as a rookie.
Stay away from London and wait for Atlanta to find a franchise quarterback before considering him in fantasy drafts.
Target: Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears
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Top-end passers were among the most common players on championship teams in ESPN PPR leagues last year, according to Tristan H. Cockcroft. Patrick Mahomes (found on 22.2 percent of title-winning rosters, second only to Christian McCaffrey), Jalen Hurts (18.0 percent) and Josh Allen (15.2 percent) led many of their managers to victory in 2022.
Justin Fields could soon join that elite group of signal-callers. Coming off a top-six finish in just his second NFL season—and being one of only eight quarterbacks to eclipse the 300-point mark—the Chicago Bears star appears ready to become the top scorer at his position.
Fields is arguably the league’s most mobile quarterback right now, as evidenced by his 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground last year. If he keeps running at a high level and boosts his throwing numbers in 2023, Fields may end up being the steal of many drafts in the mid-40s.
The 24-year-old already made a significant jump as a passer last year. Thrust into the starting lineup as an unprepared rookie on a terrible team, Fields threw for only 1,870 yards and seven touchdowns against 10 picks across 12 games in 2021. He was more productive and poised last year, amassing 2,242 yards and 17 scores against 11 interceptions in 15 contests.
With new weapons like DJ Moore—the elite wideout whom the Bears got exchange for trading down from No. 1 overall—and fourth-round pick Tyler Scott landing in Chicago this offseason, Fields now has the tools in place to round out his game. It’s up to him to execute, but given the skills he flashed last year, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Avoid: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Tennessee Titans
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It wasn’t long ago that DeAndre Hopkins was an early-round lock in fantasy leagues. He was one of the NFL’s most dominant wideouts during much of his tenure with the Houston Texans and remained red-hot at the start of his time with the Arizona Cardinals.
However, injuries, a lengthy suspension and declining skill have marred his last two seasons. As a result, Hopkins is unlikely to ever return to the upper echelon of fantasy performers.
Hopkins will now be suiting up for the Tennessee Titans following his release by Arizona. The Titans had a gaping hole in their pass-catching corps after trading away A.J. Brown last year, despite their selection of Treylon Burks in the first round of the 2022 draft. While Hopkins will fill that void, it would be unwise to expect elite numbers from the 31-year-old.
Availability could continue to be a problem for Hopkins. He failed to finish either of the last two seasons due to various injuries, and he has suited up for only 19 of a possible 34 games over that span. While six of those absences were due to a suspension, he’s had both hamstring and knee issues pop up.
It’ll be surprising if the Titans air it out enough for Hopkins to post game-changing fantasy numbers, too. Only five teams rushed at a higher clip last year, and Tennessee and still has Derrick Henry dominating the ball. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is fading fast and has dealt with injury issues of his own, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see either one of the younger backups (Malik Willis and Will Levis) get some run under center if he struggles.
This isn’t an ideal situation for a receiver, and it will result in some pedestrian numbers for Hopkins. His current ADP seems too skewed toward what he has accomplished in the past and not accounting enough for what should be a big dip in production this season.
Target: Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets
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Breece Hall has plenty of red flags surrounding him heading into the 2023 season. He’s not only working his way back from a torn ACL, but he’s also going to be splitting time with Dalvin Cook, who’s coming off four consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.
The New York Jets’ decision to sign Cook has caused many fantasy managers to begin avoiding Hall in their drafts. According to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, the running back has seen his average draft position in 12-team PPR leagues fall from the back end of the second round to the top of the fourth round.
While Cook figures to cut into Hall’s touches, the second-year tailback displayed enough promise during his rookie year that managers should be willing to overlook their concerns. Those who do will likely be rewarded with fantastic production at a value price.
Prior to suffering a season-ending knee injury last October, Hall had rushed 80 times for 463 yards and reeled in 19 receptions for 218 yards. He found paydirt on five occasions and looked like one of the most dynamic backs in the league.
Hall seems well on his way to returning to that status, as he logged five snaps during a practice scrimmage last week while displaying his trademark speed and athleticism on his touches, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. Jets head coach Robert Saleh plans to increase his workload leading up to the season-opener against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 11, which the Jets expect him to be ready for.
Considering his incredible efficiency numbers (and Cook’s poor ones), Hall could pay dividends on a fourth-round investment even if he doesn’t garner 20-plus touches every week.
Avoid: Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots
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As if the New England Patriots backfield hasn’t been complicated enough for fantasy managers under head coach Bill Belichick, the team injected a major wild card into the mix by signing Ezekiel Elliott. The Dallas Cowboys released him at the start of the new league year, and he recently signed a one-year deal worth up to $6 million with the Pats.
That has made Rhamondre Stevenson’s status as a true lead back questionable. While he appeared to be in line for the lion’s share of work following Damien Harris’ departure, that may no longer be the case.
Stevenson led the Patriots with 1,040 yards and five touchdowns on 210 carries last year. Harris, New England’s feature back in 2021, chipped in 462 yards and three touchdowns on 106 totes.
While Stevenson should still be the main Patriots tailback, his upside seems significantly lower than it was prior to the Elliott signing. There’s a real chance that Zeke not only eats into his carries and goal-line work, but also some of the pass-catching volume that made Stevenson a fantastic play in PPR leagues last year.
The Patriots employ other players who could be in the backfield mix as well. Ty Montgomery is a threat to vulture touches despite missing nearly all the 2022 campaign with a shoulder injury. A pair of 2022 Day 3 picks in Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris are also vying for a roster spot and playing time.
Considering how tight-lipped Belichick has been in the past about anything related to his personnel strategy, don’t expect any clarity here until the season begins. Even then, it would be par for the course for the coach to mix up his backfield rotation depending on the matchup, player performances and other factors.
Target: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions
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AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman
Amon-Ra St. Brown has quietly developed into one of the NFL’s most dangerous wideouts. He put himself on the fantasy map by averaging roughly 25.2 PPR points per game over his last six contests as a rookie, and he continued that strong play most of last year.
St. Brown is coming off a 106-catch, 1,161-yard, six-touchdown campaign and has plenty of potential to improve those numbers.
While St. Brown finished as the No. 7 receiver in PPR leagues last year, he saw the looks to post top-five numbers. His 146 targets were the ninth-most in the league, and his 28.1 percent target share shows how elite he is at getting open. While he isn’t as much of a deep threat as some of the receivers who finished ahead of him, he more than makes up for it with volume.
Detroit has made it a priority to get the ball in St. Brown’s hands, and that shouldn’t change in 2023. He even piled up a respectable 95 rushing yards on his nine carries last year and could continue to make an impact on sweeps and other unconventional plays designed to spring him free.
While the Lions did add first-round running back Jahmyr Gibbs and second-round tight end Sam LaPorta to their offense this offseason, those two rookies should only help St. Brown feast by diverting defensive attention away. St. Brown is getting drafted in the middle of the second round in most leagues, but he’s a great bet to post a Round 1-type stat line as the leader of what should be an explosive Detroit offense this season.