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One Fantasy Target and Avoid for Each NFC South Team

As the dust settles from the festivities of the NFL draft, team rosters are starting to come into focus as we head into the longest part of the offseason. It’s never too early to take a look at some players to target and avoid in fantasy football for 2023 – I do just that in the first part of an eight-part series covering one player to target and one player to avoid in redraft for the upcoming season.


Atlanta Falcons


One player to target: WR Drake London


Target him as your: Ideal WR3


Desmond Ridder’s development will ultimately determine what heights Drake London can reach in year 2, but if London’s rookie season was any indicator, he’ll be a very startable fantasy asset regardless of the QB play in Atlanta. He registered a very strong 2.07 yards per route run in 2022, good for 14th among 103 qualifying receivers and second among rookie WRs last year, just behind Chris Olave (2.42). His 114 targets are also very encouraging, especially considering that the Falcons offense in 2022 was as run-heavy as any in the NFL. Any kind of improvement in Desmond Ridder’s play will only add security and upside to London’s fantasy value, and with the Falcons providing one of the strongest supporting casts to their second year quarterback, we’ll have a good idea right away of London’s fantasy prospects for 2023. It’s difficult to envision a scenario where Ridder does anything but improve, or at the very least maintain, his level of play from last year – if Ridder is competent, London can have weekly top-12 upside in his sophomore year.


One player to avoid: RB Tyler Allgeier


The sad truth about Tyler Allgeier is that there’s nothing wrong with him or what he showed us in 2022 as a rookie – he’s just being bumped down the depth chart and sitting behind a generational talent at running back. The Falcons didn’t make Bijan Robinson the first RB taken in the top-10 overall picks since 2018 to have him split carries with Allgeier, so it looks like after a rock solid rookie season, Allgeier’s upside is shot for 2023. As the RB48 on Underdog, he’s coming off the board in the 13th round behind Roschon Johnson and Tank Bigsby – two guys that figure to see greater snap shares and workloads in their respective offenses (especially Tank!). It also doesn’t help that Allgeier’s skillset is almost exclusively in the running game, as he was targeted just 17 times in 2022 and doesn’t figure to see that number increase with Bijan in the fold. If Ridder takes any step forward in the passing game, as well, the Falcons may be more comfortable implementing a balanced attack as opposed to running up the mileage early on their rookie RB. Regardless, Allgeier’s value is that of a premium handcuff for this season and the short-term future.

 

Carolina Panthers


One player to target: WR Adam Thielen


Target him as your: Safe floor WR3


It was a bit of a surprise to see a 32-year old receiver like Thielen sign a three-year contract in free agency, but it’s clear the Panthers believe that his veteran savvy will only benefit Bryce Young in the band-of-brothers offense they’ve built around their young (wink) signal caller. Thielen was hyperproductive in his last three years in Minnesota, racking up 30 TDs in that span while working behind Justin Jefferson. Now, Thielen finds himself in Carolina, where he’ll easily be the most experienced pass catcher on the team. Jonathan Mingo presents plenty of intrigue as the Panthers’ second round pick, but even he will need time to adjust to the NFL climate. Young will need someone in the passing game to depend on early, and as the current WR64 on Underdog – cheaper than his teammate Mingo (WR59) – Thielen’s PPR value will give him a safe floor to operate with, as well as early-season upside. 


One player to avoid: RB Miles Sanders


Sanders has yet to finish a fantasy football season as a top-12 running back, but he has two RB15 finishes (2019 and 2022) under his belt as he makes his way to Carolina for 2023. Last year saw him take over Philadelphia’s backfield, as he out-snapped both Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell by 200 carries each. However, Sanders’ biggest drawback has been his receiving ability – his 35.5 PFF receiving grade pales in comparison to Chuba Hubbard (59.6) and Raheem Blackshear (71.4), the two running backs behind him on the depth chart. There’s no question that Sanders will likely control the rushing snaps and opportunities given that he signed a lucrative deal with the team in the offseason, but the Panthers 2023 offense will not be anywhere close to the Eagles 2022 offense. If Sanders is relegated to an early down role in the Panthers offense, he won’t be able to lean on batches of touchdowns to carry his value in weeks where Carolina is slumping. And at his early sixth round price as the RB19, I’d much rather take a swing on J.K. Dobbins six picks earlier or even D’Andre Swift a whole round later than accept the low fantasy ceiling Sanders projects to have. 

 

New Orleans Saints


One player to target: WR Chris Olave


Target him as your: High-upside WR2


Olave is a statistical darling that backed up those metrics by passing the eye test with flying colors in 2022. Despite inconsistency at quarterback in New Orleans throughout the year, Olave posted a glowing 72-1044-4 stat line and 2.42 yards per route run, which ranked tops among rookies and sixth among qualifying receivers last season. With consistency in the form of Derek Carr arriving for his second year, Olave is set up to take the next step in his sophomore campaign. Say what you want about Derek Carr as an NFL quarterback, but as a fantasy QB, he’s perfectly capable of supporting a strong WR1 in fantasy football – and on an offense that has little to offer outside of Olave (Rashid Shaheed and the oft-injured Michael Thomas are not reasons to be concerned), Carr will be looking Olave’s way early and often in 2023. His WR12 price in the second round on Underdog reflects the high expectations the fantasy community has for him, but those expectations feel warranted given the high-end season Olave enjoyed in his first NFL action.


One player to avoid: RB Alvin Kamara


Despite being the RB31 on Underdog, that price is still far too high for a player that could ultimately end up returning zero return on investment in 2023. And with players like James Conner (RB27) and David Montgomery (RB28) going in that same range, the risk Kamara presents compared to the security of those two backs isn’t appealing. Further clouding the situation is the Saints addition of Jamaal Williams, last year’s league leader in scrimmage touchdowns. The situation is actually quite comparable to Michael Thomas’s 2022: both players enter their respective seasons with serious question marks surrounding their availability, while the addition of Olave in 2022 mirrors the addition of Jamaal Williams in 2023. Unlike Joe Mixon’s legal situation, I expect Kamara’s to be resolved come Week 1, and with that resolution could come a significant suspension. And if all of that wasn’t enough, consider that Kamara posted a career-low 2 touchdowns and 2.72 yards after contact per attempt in 2022, as well as the 2nd lowest yards per attempt, targets, receptions, and receiving yards in his career. Kamara does turn 28 this summer, so it’s fair to wonder if he’s beginning to exit his fantasy football prime – regardless, I’d rather leave another manager in my league to take on the risk that Alvin Kamara carries into 2023 at his price. 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers


One player to target: RB Rachaad White


Target him as your: Low-ceiling RB2


Nobody is expecting the Buccaneers offense to be any good in 2023. Tom Brady’s departure has left Tampa Bay with humongous shoes to fill, and it’s clear that a QB room of Baker Mayfield, Kyle Trask and John Wolford isn’t going to come remotely close to doing that. As great as Evans, Godwin, and Gage are at WR, there’s a chance that the Bucs offense is the worst in the league in 2023 based off of QB play alone – and if that’s in the cards, then the onus falls upon volume to carry players from this team to relevance. Enter Rachaad White, who remained fantasy relevant via 56 targets (13th most in the NFL) and 50 receptions in 2022. Leonard Fournette is out of the picture, and with just undrafted rookie Sean Tucker figuring to be the only source of any competition this year, White has the chance to earn the vast majority of touches on the Bucs offense. He’s a low-ceiling player, however; his efficiency metrics were down the toilet, with his 1.13 yards per route run ranking 54th among qualifying running backs and his 3.7 yards per attempt being tied for 98th. He’s a straight bet on volume, but on a Buccaneers offense where no part of the passing game can be depended on, White is my pick.


One player to avoid: QB Baker Mayfield


This could be every Buccaneers quarterback that will take the field this season. I don’t expect Baker Mayfield to start the entire season, or even a stretch of games longer than eight for that matter. Tampa Bay has rapidly descended into a rebuild, and that means we’ll see a perpetual passing of the torch at QB in 2023. It’s going to be extremely difficult to stream any of Mayfield, Trask or Wolford, even in 2QB leagues. There’s no reason to want any part of the Buccaneers’ signal callers, and the wide receivers will likely suffer as well. At least receivers get points per reception.

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