Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Since bursting onto the scene as the QB1 in 2019, Lamar Jackson has failed to replicate that production. He has seen both his passing yards and his rushing yards decrease each year. This decline in stats has consequently led to his fantasy finish being lower each year since. Jackson finished as the QB1 in 2019 but since then has finished as QB10, QB15 and QB14. A troubling stat given the fact that he consistently goes as a top-six quarterback in ADP. Add in the fact that his rushing and passing touchdowns have both decreased each year and we have a recipe for disaster. We now see Lamar Jackson being the most overvalued quarterback in fantasy football.
This season, Jackson is going as QB5, 37th overall according to Fantasy Pros ADP. Lamar is being drafted on the strength of one league-winning year. A QB5 price tag for a quarterback who hasn’t finished higher than QB10 over the past three years is simply not a winning bet. Back-to-back years of missed games due to injury have also contributed to his decline in fantasy production.
Jackson should be going with the quarterback tier of Dak Prescott, Tua Tagovailoa and Deshaun Watson in drafts. Instead, he is going with the tier of Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. At his current cost, I will have no shares of Jackson in the 2023 fantasy leagues.
Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Every year we do this with a player, and every year it comes back to bite us. This has Mike Davis 2.0 written all over it. Alexander Mattison has never rushed for more than 500 yards in a single season. He has also never caught more than 35 passes in a season. In four years with the Vikings, his highest fantasy finish is RB39.
Despite the fact that he has never been a full-time player and has never finished as high as a RB3, he is currently being drafted as RB22, 54th overall according to Fantasy Pros ADP. In 2022, Mattison saw a larger role in the Viking’s offence than ever before. Despite this, he finished with the lowest rushing yard total of his career. In addition to his stats decreasing despite his workload increasing, his efficiency has also markedly reduced over each year of his career.
Mattison had several good games as the bell cow in the absence of Dalvin Cook, so naturally fantasy managers have assumed that will continue as a full-time player. Mattison’s success without Cook was largely due to Minnesota’s lack of options forcing them to give Mattison insane volume. In those starts, Mattison was able to volume his way to a top-five finish. This will not be the case in 2023. Though he projects as the lead back he will surely not be the only running back to see significant work. Whether it be Chandler, McBride or Nwangwu, someone in this backfield is going to be a thorn in Mattison’s side.
Michael Pittman, WR, Indianapolis Colts
In 2022, Michael Pittman set an NFL record. He set the record for most receptions by a receiver without breaking 1,000 yards. That should tell you all you need to know about Pittman. Even in the best of circumstances with a statue at quarterback, he could not break 1,000 yards. Enter 2023 and we see not only a healthy Jonathan Taylor to take his share of the workload, but we see a rookie quarterback thrust into the mix. Richardson is inaccurate, in addition to that he will run the ball more than just about any quarterback in the NFL.
Pittman has volumed his way to fantasy relevance in the past. With Richardson at the helm, he is unlikely to see a level of volume anywhere near what he saw previously.
Pittman is currently going off the board as WR29, 70th overall according to Fantasy Pros ADP. The fact that he has finished as WR17 and WR20 and is going as WR29 should indicate how grim this outlook is.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
D’Andre Swift is not “Him”. While he was talented and explosive coming out of college, he lacks the ability to stay healthy. Swift was once valued as a top-three running back despite having not finished higher than RB15 in any single season. He has also missed at least four games in each of his NFL seasons.
Swift was given away by the Detroit Lions in the offseason and now finds himself with the high-flying Eagles offence. That in theory makes for an excellent pairing. The problem is Jalen Hurts has never leaned heavily on his run game. If the Eagles need to run the ball at the goal line, they typically do so with Hurts himself.
He is going off the board as RB24, 61st overall according to Fantasy Pros ADP. While he has always finished higher than RB24, he is not a good bet to return on that investment. Swift was the lone back at one point in Detroit before yielding carries to Jamaal Williams. Now in Philadelphia, he will be forced to share the backfield with both Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Gainwell.
Penny and Swift will both be lucky to make it through four games without significant injuries. They are easily the most injury-prone running-back duo in the league. Gainwell is an immense value behind the two injury-prone backs and could be a league winner if thrust into the starting role.
Isiah Pacheco, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Isiah Pacheco’s rookie production came out of nowhere as one of 2022’s biggest surprises. While his 830 rushing yards as a rookie were impressive, he still only managed an RB37 finish. Pacheco seemed to usurp former first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the Chief’s lead back. However, it remains to be seen if that will be the case in 2023.
Pacheco is projected by many to be the lead back to start the season, but how long that role last and what it entails is a mystery. The Chiefs re-signed veteran back Jerick McKinnon and Edwards-Helaire is still lingering on the roster. Barring Edwards-Helaire being released, it’s difficult to see a scenario in which Pacheco will see more touches than he did in 2022 with the entire backfield lost to injury.
Pacheco currents checks in as RB28, 73rd overall according to Fantasy Pros ADP. While this ADP isn’t egregious, it’s rarely the ADP I’ve seen him go at in my leagues. Pacheco has been going in the fifth round for the most part, and that cost is simply too high.
The worry here is that the Chiefs simply have too much invested in Clyde and not enough invested in Pacheco to give the latter the bell cow duties. The Chiefs have every reason to make this a three-headed backfield, even if they prefer Pacheco. They have already declined Edwards-Helaire’s fifth-year option and could simply run him into the ground to keep Pacheco fresh for another deep playoff run.
George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steeler
With each training camp highlight reel catch, we see by Pickens, his ADP jumps another 3-4 spots. Don’t get me wrong, his talent is impressive, but highlight reel catches don’t get me extra points in fantasy.
The problem here is, that the highlights have been so impressive that fantasy managers have completely forgotten his lack of any significant volume. Pickens saw a three-game stretch early in his rookie year in which he was targeted seven or eight times per game. After that stretch, he was targeted anywhere between two and six times per game at most.
He is currently being selected as WR35, 83rd overall according to Fantasy Pros ADP. While not overly pricey, his cost seems to rise daily. Six targets per game is a lacklustre Steelers offence and is simply not enough to produce a viable WR3 for fantasy. After week seven of 2022, he failed to record more than five catches in any single game.
Factor in that his teammate Diontae Johnson, who got 147 targets to the 84 of Pickens is going at essentially the same cost (WR33) and I will take the safe play of Johnson over the flashy play of Pickens any day.
Brian Robinson, RB, Washington Commanders
Brian Robinson was the feel-good story of the 2022 season as he battled back from a gunshot to fantasy relevance. This in conjunction with his college days being played at Alabama seemed to make him a sexy pick in many sleeper columns. He rushed for 797 yards in just 12 games, a nice total to say the least. The issue here is that Robinson proved to be little more than a between-the-tackles plodder who lacked any real explosiveness.
Coming into training camp, the Commander’s coaching staff have seemed to sour on Robinson and have been pumping up the previously maligned Antonio Gibson every chance they get. Gibson has always been the best running back on this team and by far the best pass-catcher in the backfield.
After a rookie season that saw him finish as RB43 despite missing four games, it is unlikely he will match that production again. 2022 was his best chance to win the job from Gibson and instead, he seems to be relegated to backup duty.
He is currently going off the board as RB34, 94th overall according to Fantasy Pros ADP. While this price tag is not too extreme, a top-100 pick for an inexplosive backup running back is a bad bet to make.
If you would like to see more of our rankings for the 2023 season, check out our rankings page at kingfantasysports.com.
Image Credit: Tommy Gilligan – USA TODAY Sports