Ten Situations That Could Affect Fantasy Football in 2023
By Tim Lazenby
Storylines of the NFL offseason are the name of the game as the fantasy season draws to a close. Obviously I, like many, am still completely invested in football heading into the real life playoffs, but as a dynasty fantasy football manager, I can’t help but look ahead. Oftentimes, we can become lost in the headlines and what they might mean for football in the actual NFL landscape, but it’s pertinent to remember what these articles can and will mean for the future success or failure of our ever so important fantasy squads.
Whether it’s a change of management, new players coming on or old faithfuls leaving the nest, the impact of movement cannot be understated, as little as it may seem at the time. Below I’ve listed ten situations that could affect fantasy football moving forward into 2023 and beyond. Obviously some situations garner more interest than others, but each one will impact the players on your team whether for the good or bad.
Running Back Frenzy
Free agency at the end of the season is always exciting. Where will Player A go? How will Player B affect a team’s chances? How much money will be spent on Player C? The storylines are endless, but if there is one storyline for this off season it will be that of the running back. I can’t remember an offseason where so many prime running backs were available. Now, remember, just because a player is a free agent, it doesn’t mean they’ll go elsewhere, but it makes for interesting fables. And while there is a plethora of talent available at other positions, here are some of the running backs who will be free agents at the end of the season.
Game Changing Running Backs:
Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Miles Sanders, David Montgomery, Tony Pollard
If I were to take a poll, most people would probably put Saquon Barkley at the top of the most desireable on this list, but I would be most excited about Josh Jacobs. The man has played with a chip on his shoulder after not having his fifth year option picked up. I find it extremely doubtful that he’d return to his current situation in Las Vegas. Sure, they can try to franchise tag him, but I’m hoping for the best for him. Unlike Barkley, Jacobs has been very consistent throughout his career and injuries haven’t been an issue. And despite him leading the NFL in rushing yardage, Jacbos is still going to be cheaper. Tony Pollard is also very interesting, but we’ll have to see how he can do as a true starter. My guess is that Saquon and Pollard stay put anyway.
Really Good 1B Running Backs:
Devin Singletary, Kareem Hunt, Rashaad Penny, Jamaal Williams, D’Onta Foreman, Jeff Wilson Jr, Damien Harris, James Robinson
Of this list, I’d be going for Devin Singletary or Jamaal Williams for my 1B. Unlike the others, Singletary and Williams have been fairly healthy. If I had to pick one, however, I’m going Singletary. The man hasn’t gotten enough credit for what he’s done. Is he a true starter? No. But he’s truly underrated. Jamaal Williams has surprised the football world by leading the league in touchdowns, but with that comes a more expensive contract. So, if I’m managing the books, I go with the younger, cheaper option.
One could make the argument that the most exciting division in football as a fan of the teams is the NFC South. Before you condemn me, hear me out. Yes, I understand it’s arguably the worst division in the NFL, but it’s also the one where you have no idea who is coming out on top. I predicted fairly accurately about the teams other than Tampa Bay, but that’s the most exciting part. Without a juggernaut, literally anyone can take that division. This also means that, moving forward, it’s possible depending on this offseason that a new juggernaut could emerge. Ironically, I believe it’s the team that everyone saw as the firesale one. Not only are the Carolina Panthers exceeding expectations, they are also the best team in the division to make themselves better.
Aside from the fact that New Orleans doesn’t even own their 1st round pick, after the Christian McCaffrey trade, the Panthers now have an extra 2nd, 3rd and 7th pick. And while there is a bit of a mess next year when it comes to the salary cap, it’s not impossible to fix. They’ve done so much with so little and I look forward to what future the Panthers can concoct. Sam Darnold or not, they’re in a position to get better.
2023 NFL Draft
The 2023 NFL Draft is a spectacle every year, and honestly it rivals the actual season when it comes to my excitement. Along with the usual hustle and bustle of the draft, 2023 is going to feature some very interesting headlines. Let’s start with the actual draft class. While it’s true that every rookie crop is talented, The 2022 class was only really loaded at wide receiver. The 2023 class brings far more franchise changing players, most notably at quarterback and running back. And when it comes to fantasy, especially in superflex, this is truly tantalizing. Let’s hope you didn’t trade away your 2023 picks.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some interesting facts about the first round. Houston is the most likely to land the first overall pick, and with that selection they will almost certainly grab the top quarterback. But, in case you didn’t know, they also own Cleveland’s top pick this year, among others. It’ll be interesting to see how the Texans choose to use those selections, but no matter what they do, the probability of no longer being the laughing stock of the league is very high. Also of note, Miami, the Rams, New Orleans and the Browns, of course, have no first round pick. So, we’ll see how they handle that hurdle. And lastly, the Broncos mortgaged their future on Russell Wilson, so they will miss out on their 1st round pick, (currently the 3rd overall). But at least they are lucky enough to own San Francisco’s (currently the 26th).
Literally no one could have imagined how the situations of both Seattle and Denver turned out after the Russell Wilson trade. I, like many others, predicted that the Seahawks would have finished near the bottom of the league and the Broncos would be very competitive in the “best division in football”, in the AFC West. Well, we all had to buckle our seatbelts as the season unfolded. Not only were the Seahawks competitive, but the Broncos have basically been a dumpster fire all season long, save the defense. As we near the end of the season, the Seahawks are blessed with Denver’s first round pick, (currently 3rd), along with their second round pick among others.
General Manager John Schneider has inadvertently pulled off one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history, and that’s not an over-exaggeration, at least to this point of Wilson’s career in Denver. Along with the plethora of picks, at this point on the books, Seattle will have the fifth most cap space in the league next season. They only have two players with a cap hit over 10 million for crying out loud. And if they choose to stick with Geno Smith, it’ll be stupid how much they don’t have to pay their quarterback. If there’s an off season I’m sure to be watching, other than my Chargers, the Seahawks are right near the top.
I already spoke about the Carolina Panthers earlier, but I have to single out Steve Wilks here. After all pundits abandoned hope for Carolina, the job that Wilks has done can’t be overlooked. At first glance, his grasp at the helm doesn’t look stellar, but you have to remember what the man had to work with. After being handed the keys in Arizona in 2018, his 3-13-0 record got him fired after one season. But remember, the man was working with rookie Josh Rosen, along with 35 year old Larry Fitzgerald as the top offensive weapon and the 26th ranked defense in the league. Given no time to build rapport or chemistry with his team, it’s impossible to know what effect he could have had. And let’s not forget that his replacement, the guru Kliff Kingsbury, currently holds a 4-11-0 record this season, which is good for last in the division. He has a career record of 28-35-1, featuring exactly one winning season out of four. Steve Wilks should have been given a chance for the Cardinals.
In his current situation, talking over for Matt Rhule midway through the season, his 5-5-0 record doesn’t look gleaming. But let’s remember that, up until that point, they had exactly one win while featuring way more talent, most notably in Christian McCaffrey. Does Wilks deserve coach of the year? Not by a long shot. But I’m curious to see what the man can do once he is allowed to fully get his hands dirty in major decisions to make this team his own. The Panthers have only made him the interim coach, but I worry they’ll hire the new shiny toy in the offseason to man the ship. If Steve Wilks isn’t the captain in Carolina for 2023 and beyond, I’d wager the ship will begin to sink.
I have to be honest with you when I say that I’ve never liked Baker Mayfield. When the Browns had the choice to pick Mayfield, Darnold, Allen or Rosen with their first overall pick, Mayfield would have been my third choice. I’m not an expert in college football, or even close to one, but I just didn’t see the wow factor along with the intangibles and size that one would look for in a franchise quarterback. For some reason, he also gave me that Johnny Manziel vibe, which I thought was also incredibly ironic for all the wrong reasons. But once he came in his first game, along with the terrible performances of Darnold and Allen to that point, I was ready to make my former apologies. Well, turns out I was mostly right.
After much contemplation and evidence of Mayfield in the NFL, I was feeling more and more terrible for him. While he hasn’t lived up to the hype, I certainly disagreed with making him the scapegoat for all the problems in Cleveland during his time there. Seeing his limited success for the floundering Rams has been inspiring and a truly feel good situation. Let it be known that there is a zero chance he is the starter in 2023, unless Stafford can’t come back from injury or chooses to retire. But that doesn’t stop me from believing Mayfield will be given one more chance. And his future employment will affect not only real life football, but fantasy aspects as well. I’ll be watching his situation moving forward with way more intensity from last offseason, that’s for sure.
There aren’t many fanbases more intense than that of Raider Nation. Despite the fact that I cheer against them constantly, as a Chargers fan, it doesn’t stop me from loving some of their players. After making the playoffs last season, crushing my hopes and dreams along the way, it seemed all but sure they would continue their winning ways by adding arguably the best receiver in football in Davante Adams. There were also little improvements on defense, which was one of the low points for them in 2022. Well, much like their division counterpart in the Denver Broncos, the dreams coming true have turned into nightmares. Much like I believe in giving a chance for the interim coach in Carolina, I believed Rich Bisaccia deserved his chance to lead the team moving forward.
The hiring of Josh McDaniels can’t be entirely attributed to the derailing of the Raiders, but it’s hard to ignore. Raider Nation is tired of losing. For a team with such a rich history, lately, it’s been awful. Since 2002 when they lost the SuperBowl, the team has only had a winning record twice. To roll the dice and gamble when they finally found success was mind boggling. It all comes down to Mark Davis, who’s owned the team since inheriting it in 2011. The changing of the guard has already begun as Derek Carr has been benched for the remainder of the season, but other hard decisions have to come. Truthfully, the Raiders don’t have the money to fire McDaniels after already paying Gruden to not be around for years to come. Getting creative will be necessary. The urge to fire people or cut players can’t be the knee jerk reaction, but hard changes will need to come down the pipe, whether that be through the assistant coaches or player trades. As much as I dislike the team, due to my love of the Chargers, I feel terrible for them. It’s all in Mark Davis’ hands.
Philadelphia Eagles 2021-2022-future
I say it all the time, but I make mistakes constantly. And when it comes to predictions in the NFL, that is no different. When I saw the schedule for the 2022 season, I immediately got to work, trying to figure out how each team would fare this season. While I was very right about a number of teams, one of them where I was terribly wrong was my decision of the welfare of the Philadelphia Eagles. Although I had them making it to the divisional round, I also saw them with a losing record and getting demolished in said round in the playoffs. Much to my chagrin, the Eagles have not only been successful, they’ve been outright dominant as the best team in the NFL. But, not to look foolish again, I worry about their success moving forward.
I know it’s true that they’ve made it to the playoffs two of the past three years, it’s also been that of a wildcard team. Playing in their division has made this more easily attained than others. We also have to acknowledge that they haven’t been this much of a juggernaut since their SuperBowl win in 2017 and much of that team is gone. Let’s also remember just how much of the team is not signed in 2023 and beyond and they aren’t even close to the top of the league in cap space. I am well aware that the emergence of Jalen Hurts and acquisition of AJ Brown has ignited this team, setting the league ablaze, but I worry that management will not be able to retain enough talent to dominate moving forward. All that being said, I was dreadfully wrong in my prediction last time, so it wouldn’t be shocking if I was an idiot once again.
New York Jets
If I’m rooting for a team other than the Chargers this season, it’s the New York Jets. If you know me, it helps that I’m not a fan of the Patriots or Bills, but that’s beside the point. And aside from the fact that they drafted my favorite rookie in last year’s crop in Sauce Gardner, I love when a team that’s been down on its luck turns things around. Despite beginning the season 1-2-0, the Jets quickly rattled off four wins in a row and seven wins out of the next nine games. Despite the adversity of losing Breece Hall and the debacle of Zach Wilson, there is a lot to look forward to if you bleed Gang Green. It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses, however, and the Jets have their work cut out when it comes to success in 2023 and beyond. While it’s true that the Jets are winning games in spite of these issues and more, they still sit dead last in a very competitive division.
I think we need to take a moment and discuss why this team is easily headed in the right direction. We all know how quickly Zach Wilson imploded, but even with his play, they still have a winning record. I’m never one to give up on a quarterback quickly, but this may be one situation where I move on at a cheetah’s pace. Mike White has the favor of his teammates and his salary would allow the team to flourish. The Jets aren’t in a terrible situation with the salary cap and like the Seahawks, they boast no outlandish contracts that leave them grasping at straws. The Jets were also smart enough to keep all their picks in the first four rounds of this year’s draft. And the continued growth of rookies like Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Jermaine Johnson lets all Jets fans breathe a sigh of relief.
And last on the list is the Houston Texans. There’s always a team with a season to forget every year, but this has been too often an occurrence in Houston. It hasn’t always been this way though. If you look at the 2010s, the Texans only had three seasons with losing records. That includes six division titles despite questionable coaching and general managers. It may seem like the Texans have been terrible forever, but that’s simply not the case. It’s only been the last three seasons that have been ones to forget. And like I mentioned earlier, the future of this franchise is going to start with the draft.
The Texans have the 2nd overall pick, along with the 12th pick in this year’s upcoming draft. They have twelve picks this year and eleven (including two 1st) in 2024. I’m sounding like a broken record, but this year’s class is bursting at the seams with players who can change the fate of a franchise. The division is terrible, making a rise to the top easier, and the cap space situation is extremely admirable. Moving on from Laremy Tunsil and Brandin Cooks, notably, will not only benefit the team in terms of opening space for other talent, but the savings would be in the tens of millions. General manager Nick Caserio is certainly in an awkward position to say the least. Considering what he has to work with, he’ll either turn this franchise around or be scorned for years to come. No matter the case, I’m eager to watch it unfold.
Tim Lazenby joined Dynasty Pros, after writing for a few years elsewhere, and is passionate about all things fantasy football. Tim has been playing fantasy sports for over twenty years now and takes his love of the game to every article he writes. Although he’s played a variety of fantasy football, he is especially in love with dynasty football. If you ask him for advice, whether you’re just joining or you’ve been playing for years, he wants nothing more than to help you succeed, than to keep that fantasy gold to himself. A lover of the game and ultimate competitor, Tim is just trying to spread the good news of fantasy football to all.