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!
Joe Burrow (QB – Cincinnati Bengals)
Burrow continued to show flashes of elite potential in 2022, taking the next step in becoming a high-QB1 for fantasy, essentially standing as the only player in that category last year – not quite competing with the elite QBs (Allen, Mahomes, Hurts) but definitively separating himself from the next tier of QBs (Smith, Fields, Lawrence, etc.). He swung in the complete opposite direction from his 2021 season, where he was among the most inconsistent QBs in fantasy, to the 9th-most consistent QB in fantasy in 2022 (0.376 CR) with only two games under 16.5 points. The potential is absolutely there for Burrow to take another step forward and push for the top spot among fantasy QBs, especially with his receiving corps that potentially got even better with the addition of Irv Smith Jr. this offseason. To make matters better for Burrow, there doesn’t appear to be a scenario, outside of injury, where he finishes outside the top-10 fantasy QBs. For Burrow, it will all come down to his price. I am all for him being drafted as the mid-QB1 option (QB4-QB6) that he’s being selected as, but the bigger question comes down to when within the draft does that price fall. If he leans towards his ECR price (QB6, late-5th/early-6th round), I will contemplate drafting him, but if he favors his projected ADP (QB4, mid-4th round), he’s completely off the board for me. It’ll ultimately come down to that whether he’s a solid option or drastically overvalued.
Joe Mixon (RB – Cincinnati Bengals):
Mixon has established himself as a reliable fantasy option on a year-to-year basis¬, finishing as a top-13 RB in PPR scoring in 4 of the last 5 years with the lone season he failed to reach that threshold being one where he played just 6 games (and was the RB9 while active). While Mixon’s fault has historically been his inconsistency, as was the case statistically in 2022 (5th-worst Consistency Rating among RBs, partially skewed by his 55-point performance), he provides a stable floor for those with reasonable expectations. In his 36 games with Joe Burrow at QB, Mixon has posted 10+ points in 28 of them, including 10+ points in 12/14 games in 2022 (with one of those two being a game he exited due to injury). Only once has Mixon been able to fully bring it all together for a complete season, finishing as the RB4 in 2021 with pretty regular (7) 20+ point outings, but beyond that year, he has been a pretty solid RB2 option, which is what he is best suited for. He appears to be projecting toward a late-3rd/early-4th round draft price as a mid-RB2 (RB16 on ECR, RB17 on ADP). At that price, I am all game on Mixon as a low-risk/high-upside RB2 option with the potential to finish as a top 10 (or even top 5) RB.
Ja’Marr Chase (WR – Cincinnati Bengals):
Similar to Burrow, Chase followed the same trajectory as his QB – maintaining (and exceeding) his 2021 production but flipping from an extremely inconsistent option to a rather consistent one, finishing as a top-10 WR in Sig CR (0.443) last year. Chase did drop from the WR5 to the WR11 in PPR scoring in 2022, primarily due to an injury in Week 7 that forced him to miss 4 games (plus the Bills/Bengals game suspension later in the year). However, he did see a massive increase in workload (7.5 targets per game in ’21 to 11.2 targets per game in ’22) and in per-game production (17.9 PPG to 20.2 PPG). There’s no doubt that he’s one of the league’s premier WRs, and 2023 presents the potential for him to continue his upward trajectory. Chase is one of the few players (Jefferson, Kupp, Hill, Adams, etc.) that have the realistic potential to finish as the top-scoring WR in fantasy. As an elite WR1, you’re expecting to pay the price for production. There’s no question he’ll be a 1st round pick and likely the WR2 or WR3 off the board – the question is: when in the 1st round will he go? If it’s 7th overall or later, I’d strongly consider (and recommend) going with him, even despite my heavy preference for prioritizing RBs in the early rounds. If he costs a price of 1.06 or higher, I will likely pass and favor the RBs or Justin Jefferson.