The 2023 Fantasy Football season is over and it’s time to turn our attention towards next year. Let’s take a minute to look back at some of the major trends from this year to see how we can improve for 2024.
1st Round Busts
Whether it was injuries or guys not living up to their draft stock, there were more misses than hits in the 1st round this year. Unless you took CMC #1 overall, or Tyreek Hill, pretty much everyone else underperformed.
Austin Ekeler was probably the worst pick since he stayed healthy and in your starting lineup, only to put up replacement level numbers each week.
Bijan Robinson was solid at times, but his sporadic usage really limited him. Nick Chubb was lost for the season in Week 2, Justin Jefferson missed 7 games, and then guys like Ja'Marr Chase, Stefon Diggs, Travis Kelce, and Cooper Kupp didn't exactly live up to expectations.
Rookie Wide Receivers
Puka Nacua, Zay Flowers, Jordan Addison, Rashee Rice, Tank Dell, and Jayden Reed all burst onto the scene this year. The beauty of it is that most of them didn't cost much if any draft capital and made a huge difference for your team if you added one.
Late Round Running Backs
What do Kyren Williams, De'Von Achane, Jerome Ford, Gus Edwards, and Jaylen Warren have in common? They all finished the year as RB1's but were available late in the draft.
7 different QB's were lost to season-ending injuries this year and they were all pretty much QB1's: Aaron Rodgers, Anthony Richardson, Kirk Cousins, Daniel Jones, Deshaun Watson, Joe Burrow, and Justin Herbert.
There were a few surprises like Brock Purdy, Jordan Love, C.J. Stroud, and Sam Howell, but the quarterback position was pretty predictable this year in fantasy.
If you invested early, you were probably rewarded this year. Guys like Mark Andrews (pre-injury), T.J. Hockenson, and George Kittle all finished as TE1's.
There were also some major surprises like Sam LaPorta, David Njoku, Trey McBride, and Jake Ferguson. They're all also relatively young and represent a wave of exciting new talent at the position.
Target young WR's early
The NFL has become a pass-first league. That’s not necessarily anything new, but it’s time that we incorporated that into our Fantasy Football strategies. The days of the bell cow running backs are fading and committees are the new normal.
If you decide to take a RB early in the draft, the possibility of him getting injured or ceding carries as the year goes on is high. That degree of variance has me looking towards those top 10 WR’s that you absolutely know will see double digit targets each week.
Taking that a step further, I’m specifically targeting a young WR who doesn’t have the wear and tear on their body like the veterans do. We’ve seen how rookie WR’s can play a huge role in an offense from Week 1, but they won’t cost you a 1st round pick. So it’s the 2nd and 3rd year guys who are most likely to break out.
Tyreek Hill played through a lot of injuries this season on his quest for 2,000 yards. He didn't quite make it, but he did have +110 receptions for his 3rd season in a row. That type of volume has me concerned about how healthy he can stay next season. He's likely going to be a top-3 pick next year, but I would rather target a younger WR like Ceedee Lamb or Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Wait to take RB’s
Recent contracts show it’s clear that RB’s aren’t valued like they used to be. Situations like committees, 3rd down specialists, and TD vultures (looking at you Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen) exist in most backfields.
The bust rate is high so it makes sense to skip the top-tier options and look for upside and opportunity. Keep an eye on training camp and who the stand outs are because even if it doesn’t happen Week 1, those RB’s usually see their opportunities increase as the year goes on.
I'm passing on Rams RB Kyren Williams next year for a few reasons. Primarily because it's going to be tough to replicate his efficiency and volume. I'm also steering clear because the Rams only spent a 5th round pick on him.
That sounds irrelevant, but when organizations don't use a high draft pick on a player, specifically RB's, they usually don't afford them as many opportunities. Think of guys like James Robinson (undrafted) and Dameon Pierce (4th round). Both burst onto the scene as their team's featured back, only to be replaced before the end of their second season.
Compare that to Najee Harris (1st round) who has had +250 or more carries each of his first three seasons, despite averaging less than four yards per carry.
I'm targeting young RB's like Jahmyr Gibbs and Breece Hall next year. Not only do they have fresh legs, but I anticipate them having more opportunities. No disrespect to Zach Wilson, but the Jets offense was an absolute mess without Aaron Rodgers. Assuming he comes back healthy, Hall and company should have a lot more red zone opportunities.
David Montgomery had a great season but Gibbs is the future in Detroit. He's the most electric RB I've seen since Alvin Kamara in his prime. With all the experience he's gained this year, including a post-season run, he should be that much better off next season for it.
Gibbs was really eased into his role as the season progressed but he should be featured from Week 1 next season, regardless of Montgomery on the roster. That alone is enough for me to take him early in hopes of his continued breakout.