In our “32 in 32” series, we are highlighting three of the most notable fantasy football players for each team, covering all 32 teams in 32 days!
Bijan Robinson (RB – Atlanta Falcons):
Robinson was undoubtedly the top RB prospect coming out of the draft since Saquon Barkley and the draft capital the Falcons were willing to invest (8th overall pick) reflects that. Everything suggests Robinson will be a top-10 option for fantasy, even as a rookie, in 2023. Atlanta’s offensive make-up, both in terms of personnel (solid O-Line) and play-calling (55.3% rushing plays in 2022, 2nd-highest) suggest a heavy dose of Robinson will be the case as a rookie, likely eclipsing the 300-touch mark with ease. What particularly stands out with Robinson is the draft capital Atlanta was willing to invest in him, especially with numerous other positions of need. Robinson joins a class of just 10 RBs in the past decade to be selected inside the top-25 of the NFL Draft – 9 of them went on to play as rookies (Etienne missed his rookie year to injury) and nearly all were extremely successful. All but one finished as an RB2 or better, 78% of them (and all RBs selected inside the top 10 picks) finished inside the top 10 in PPR scoring, and a third finished as top-3 RBs. History suggests the Falcons will use Robinson early, often, and use him productively. Being drafted that high indicates he’ll be used often, but it also raises his draft price for fantasy. He’s unanimously the 1.01 in dynasty/rookie drafts, but his re-draft price tag (1.07 on ADP) as a top-5 RB taken on both ECR and ADP is commanding. There’s always the risk of uncertainty with rookies (as there is no proven production/utilization in the NFL), so it ultimately comes down to how comfortable you are in a risk/reward option that high. I personally will be investing a top-6 pick in him, but there’s easily a case against that – either way, it seems very likely that he’ll walk away from his rookie season either as a league-winner or a league-loser for fantasy (with little in-between), finishing as a top-5 RB as a rookie or heavily disappointing with a finish outside the top-12.
Drake London (WR – Atlanta Falcons):
London got off to a hot start to his rookie season, posting 16 catches for 214 yards and 2 TDs (WR14) through the first three weeks, but ultimately struggled beyond that point, failing to hit 10+ points again until Week 10 and only reaching the double-digit plateau in five of his final 14 games. A large reason for his production (or lack thereof) was horrific QB play, seeing Marcus Mariota at QB for a majority of the season, who posted the 2nd-highest percentage of off-target passes (70.6%) behind only Zach Wilson. London did, however, show notable improvement with Desmond Ridder under center for the final four weeks, drawing 36 targets (10th) and converting those into 25 catches (8th) for 333 yards (8th) and 54.3 fantasy points (WR18) – far from elite, but still extremely promising production, especially without finding the endzone. One should expect London to take a step back in terms of target share (26%, 14th in the NFL) with TE Kyle Pitts returning from injury, Cordarrelle Patterson moving more into a receiving role (as opposed to the RB role he was utilized in), and Bijan Robinson being added to the offense, but with an overall improving offense, the opportunity will be there for London to establish himself as a potential go-to redzone threat for Ridder. At a WR2/3 price (WR21 on ECR, WR26 on ECR), he’s certainly a viable FLEX option at the top of the 5th round (5.01). I like him as a high-upside FLEX option but am very cautious about investing in him as a WR2 option, especially with the uncertainty of how run-heavy the Falcons’ offense will truly be with Bijan Robinson in the backfield.
Kyle Pitts (TE – Atlanta Falcons):
2022 was a season to forget for Kyle Pitts, but those that drafted him (including myself) have been left with a sour taste in their mouth after that year. Heading into 2022, it looked like Pitts was more likely to step into the elite-TE1 conversation than stay where he was at as a rookie (TE6 in points), especially with a TE-friendly offensive scheme and Marcus Mariota’s lengthy history of TE production – everything was aligning for a monster season – then it fell apart. Mariota kept trying to get the ball to Pitts (7th in TE targets when active), but inaccuracy was the downfall to Pitts’ opportunity in 2022, bringing in just 28 of his 59 targets before a season-ending injury in Week 11. The inability to get the ball left owners frustrated with Pitts as his production went from hyper-consistent in 2021 to extremely inconsistent in 2022, posting under 5 points in 60% of his games. 2023 brings a completely new opportunity for Pitts, especially with Bijan Robinson drawing defensive attention and Desmond Ridder offering a (likely) improvement at QB. Those drafting in fantasy need to forget about the “he disappointed last year so he will again this year” narrative, and while he did indeed disappoint last year, a large reason for that narrative was his 3rd-round price tag with the expectation of becoming a rival for Kelce/Andrews atop the position. In the mid-6th round (6.05) on both ADP and ECR as the 5th/6th TE off the board, expectations are nowhere near what they were heading into last season. Now may be the perfect opportunity to capitalize on that price tag as others are wary of him based on the negative perception of his name alone. As a mid-TE1, he’s worth the risk, especially with no TE beyond him offering a fraction of the upside or substantial security. With the TE position essentially being a ‘dart throw’ beyond Kelce, Andrews, Hockenson, Kittle, and Goedert, there’s no reason not to invest a mid-round pick on a player just 10 months ago being labeled as the next great TE.