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!
Trevor Lawrence (QB - Jacksonville Jaguars):
Selected 1st overall as a generational prospect in 2021, Trevor Lawrence struggled in his rookie season, primarily due to the Jaguars’ coaching debacle (i.e. Urban Meyer) and a lack of weapons.
That completely changed in 2022 with the additions of Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram to go with the return of Travis Etienne (injury) and Head Coach Doug Pederson at the helm. With the new pieces in place, Trevor Lawrence took off with over 4,400 total yards and 30 total TDs to just 8 INTs in a season that saw him break out as the QB7 in fantasy.
His situation is likely even better heading into 2023 – a second full offseason within Doug Pederson’s offense and with the addition of a true WR1 in Calvin Ridley (WR5 in his last full season), Larwnce has the potential to emerge as an elite QB in the NFL.
It appears that he will be going around the 7th round (give or take several picks) somewhere between the QB6 and QB8 off the board on draft day. At that price, I am perfectly comfortable investing in Lawrence and his realistic top-5 (or even better) potential as he offers better draft value than the high-end QB1s (Allen, Mahomes, Burrow, etc.) but will likely offer similar production.
Travis Etienne Jr. (RB - Jacksonville Jaguars):
After missing his entire rookie season to a foot injury, Travis Etienne saw a very strong “sophomore” season with over 1,400 total yards and 5 TDs, finishing as the RB17 in PPR scoring.
He saw a seamless transition back to football, dominating the Jaguars’ backfield duties, especially after the departure of James Robinson mid-season, drawing 74% of the backfield snaps in 2022 with over 60% of the backfield touches.
Unfortunately, all signs point to Jacksonville wanting to reduce that workload in 2023 (in an attempt to preserve him), bringing in D’Ernest Johnson via free agency, and drafting Tank Bigsby in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft. The addition of Johnson isn’t very concerning, likely serving as a change-of-pace/backup for Etienne, but the addition of Bisby is likely to be impactful. Bigbsy’s tough playing style will likely command a majority of the short-yardage and goal-line work with the potential to eat into Etienne’s early-down workload.
I absolutely love the potential for Etienne as a player given his versatility and talent, but the opportunity doesn’t appear that it will be there for him to reach his ceiling, at least for fantasy purposes.
Currently going in the late-2nd/3rd round as a low-RB1/high-RB2 (RB12 on ADP and ECR), I am going to pass on Etienne relative to the position. I don’t mind his overall draft price in that late-2nd to early-3rd round range, but him being drafted as a fringe RB1 is very worrisome with a likely reduced workload in 2023.
Calvin Ridley (WR - Jacksonville Jaguars):
Ridley is coming off a year and a half away from football, sitting out the second half of the 2021 season due to mental health concerns and missing the entire 2022 season to a suspension surrounding sports betting.
During his suspension last year, Calvin Ridley was one of the more intriguing trade deadline acquisitions, being dealt to Jacksonville with the intention for him to become their WR1 upon his return in 2022.
Many are forgetting how good Calvin Ridley was prior to his absence. In his last full season in the NFL (2020), Ridley was the WR4 in PPG and the WR5 in points, tallying 90 catches for 1,375 yards, and 9 TDs in Atlanta.
Now joining Jacksonville, Ridley is expected to be Trevor Lawrence’s true WR1 weapon, which has incredible potential within itself. Even if he sees some rust early on in the season there is the realistic scenario where he picks up where (or close to where) he left off in Atlanta in a very favorable Doug Pederson offense that should rank towards the top of the league.
Currently projecting as a mid-to-low-end WR2 option (WR17 on ADP, WR25 on ECR) in the 4th/5th round, I am perfectly fine with Ridley as my WR2 this season. The upside he offers is tremendous with the potential of Trevor Lawrence, especially after Christian Kirk’s success in 2022. The security isn’t ideal, coming off a year-and-a-half away from NFL action, but at that point in the draft, his hiatus is being more than accounted for in his draft price.