2023 Fantasy Football Year In Review
With the 2023 fantasy football season “in the books” for fantasy managers, dynasty season is now upon us as managers set their sights on 2024. Now is the time to look at some of the stand-out players from the season. Each year, the waiver wire adds rise to relevance, and early-round misses crush fantasy managers’ hopes, with this season being no exception. With dynasty managers already looking ahead to 2024, let’s review some stand-out stars and call out those who underperformed in 2023.
When healthy, Christian McCaffrey is the best player in fantasy football. Not only does he finish the season as RB1 once again (PPR), but no running back is within 100 points of him this year. The versatile running back has finished as RB1 or RB2 in four out of his seven NFL seasons. Despite his age (27), McCaffrey has proven why he should have been the first overall pick in redraft leagues for 2023.
There is no better “big play” receiver in the league than Tyreek Hill. Despite being 29 years old, Hill had the best fantasy football season of his career. While a 2000-yard season seems out of reach, we should all appreciate the monster year Tyreek had, finishing as WR2 in fantasy (PPR), logging over 1700 yards, and recording 12 receiving TDs.
CeeDee Lamb won leagues in 2023. According to ESPN, Lamb had a 65% playoff advance rate and showed up when it mattered most by posting 39 PPR points in week 17. Capping off his career-best season with a bang (finishing as WR1 in PPR formats), the 24-year-old receiver appears to be just entering his prime. Lamb should be a top-three receiver off the board in all draft formats for 2024.
Those who didn’t know the name before the 2023 season know him now. The rookie out of BYU showed up immediately for fantasy managers, putting up over 20 PPR points in his first-ever NFL game. If that didn’t catch your attention, his Week 2 performance did. Nacua registered 15 catches and 147 receiving yards, leading most managers to rush to waivers in hopes the rookie was still available. While I would have liked to see more touchdowns on the season, Nacua has a 30% red zone target share. Touchdown progression is coming. After week 17, Nacua is WR5 on the season and is a top pick in 2024 drafts, possibly even in the first round.
My current TE1 in the dynasty formats is Sam LaPorta. What LaPorta did in 2023 was nothing short of amazing. It’s tough for rookie TEs to impact their offense immediately, but LaPorta did just that, finishing his rookie campaign as the TE1 in PPR formats. LaPorta’s on-year PPR points come in as the best rookie season by a tight end since Mike Ditka in 1961. The rookie is ready to be a focal point of the Rams offense for years to come, and for those who were able to snag the tight end in the 2nd round of their rookie drafts, congrats!
Williams only saw 35 carries his rookie year and was not on the radar for most entering the 2023 season. Despite a lackluster rookie season and missing four games this year, the former 5th-round pick out of Notre Dame is 3rd among running backs in total touchdowns (15), trailing only Christian McCafferty and Raheem Mostert. Williams is more than just getting there with volume and has been highly efficient. His 5.0 yards per carry average is good for fourth in the NFL. Finishing as RB5 (PPR) on the year is impressive, especially when you don’t see it coming. Those who had the foresight or were quick enough to get him off waivers found themselves a league winner.
Overall, Allen finished 2023 as QB1 and again showed us why he is worth a top pick in drafts. Being QB1 in fantasy football is nothing new to Allen, as he has finished in the top spot three out of the past four seasons. This consistency has him firmly as my QB1 in dynasty formats and will lead to him being a top pick again in the 2024 drafts.
Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, Drake London
It’s less about the players and more about the offense. It was the wrong choice despite where you may have drafted these players. Hindsight is 20/20, and those who thought this offense was in line for significant progression hit the Arthur Smith-run offense wall…hard! No matter how talented and young this group is, fantasy managers cannot trust them heading into 2024. With inconsistent attempts and targets, it is impossible to believe that the Atlanta offense will look any different in 2024 if Arthur Smith is still calling plays. All were misses at ADP and for dynasty managers holding these players as you await for the next coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
Ridley had his fair share of good games but was not a “lock” in lineups. Failing to register 12 or more PPR points in 10 games this year meant he was better left on the bench most weeks. Ridley was drafted in the first five rounds of most leagues and was one of the more significant “misses” in the early rounds of drafts. Selecting Ridley in the 3rd-4th round of redrafts likely led to you missing out on Keenan Allen, Deebo Samuel, and Mike Evans. Lesson learned: the dynasty/redraft community should now adjust, knowing that his 2020 season (5th in PPR points among WRs) is no longer in his range of outcomes.
What else can you say? Jaylen Warren was the running back to own in Pittsburgh for 2023. Warren proved to be more efficient and, clearly, the more explosive option of the two. Warren received more than double the targets in the passing game (69 to Najee’s 33), ultimately leading to more fantasy success. Like Ridley, Najee was a disappointment. Harris finished as RB27 on the year (PPR), whereas Warren finished at RB20.
Can we all agree to stop drafting Michael Thomas? The man has not finished an entire season since 2019 and will be 31 by the start of the 2024 season. I have a league mate every year who thinks they’re getting an excellent value drafting Thomas in the later rounds of drafts. While you still may find a sucker in your league to draft him next year, don’t let yourself do it. Fade Thomas, draft a rookie.
The 2nd year running back was primed for another significant role within the Texans offense this season. Despite the massive strides the overall offense took under first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie quarterback CJ Stroud, Pierce had seen his role shrink more and more as the season went on, eventually being supplanted by Devin Singletary. As of week 17, Pierce has a 2.87 yards per carry average, the worst in the NFL among running backs. This fall from grace isn’t good, and only time will tell if Pierce can regain some of the same magic he’d seen in his rookie campaign. Pierce was downright unplayable in most games this year and was better off on your bench.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone more on the Dotson bandwagon before the year than me. I’ll have to go back and watch the film as my brain can’t comprehend what happened to the 2nd year wideout. Despite playing four more games, Dotson has fewer yards, fewer touchdowns, and fewer PPR fantasy points this season than he did last. Yikes. When looking at the numbers, Washington’s game against Seattle stood out. Dotson was on the field for 95% of offensive snaps yet only had two targets while failing to register a catch. It was just a bad year for a player I was high on this season and will undoubtedly be moving down in my dynasty/redraft rankings for 2024. Our own Michael Lindberg did a Dynasty Dilemma on Dotson back in October
Mahomes had a down fantasy football season relative to where he was getting drafted. A lack of consistency from his receivers and a decline in efficiency from Travis Kelce landed Mahomes at QB7 for the year, making 2023 the worst fantasy football finish for Mahomes since 2019. Still widely considered the best quarterback in the game, Mahomes will try to rebound in 2024. For dynasty managers, don’t panic but rather have faith that Andy Reid and the Chiefs’ front office prioritize offensive playmakers in the offseason.
Honorable Mentions / Final Thoughts
- Mike Evans and Keenan Allen can still play at the highest level for your fantasy team.
- CJ Stroud is legit and will ascend dynasty and redraft boards for 2024.
- Breece Hall is elite, even if his offense isn’t.
- In addition to LaPorta, Trey McBride, Dalton Kincaid, and Jake Ferguson round out a great group of young TEs heading into 2024.
- For various reasons, Stefon Diggs, Austin Ekler, Travis Kelce, and Cooper Kupp were all disappointing. It seems their best days are behind them.
- Quarterback injuries decimated fantasy teams in 2023. Looking forward to seeing the returns of Joe Burrow, Kirk Cousins, Anthony Richardson, Daniel Jones, and Aaron Rogers next year
What do you think? Who were some of your best hits and misses of the fantasy football season? Let’s talk about it on ‘X’. Make sure to share your opinion in the comment section. Cheers to a great 2023 fantasy football season.
Sources: Sleeper, ESPN, Yahoo Sports, Stat Muse, Dynasty Pros, Fantasy Pros
Nick Godwin has been playing fantasy football since 2010. He grew up right outside of Philadelphia. GO BIRDS!! You may have seen him in Underdog bestball drafts (ALWYSSTDY), or in other draft rooms under Always Steady. He plays fantasy to win and hopes to share his hot takes, talk strategies, and most importantly, help everyone win their championships. He’s always ready to talk all things dynasty, devy, redraft and IDP. As an avid fantasy fan, he spends most of his days mock drafting, getting in to best ball drafts, and preparing to dominate his home leagues.