With the NFL news tornado slowly simmering down after free agency, it’s time to survey the dynasty landscape. Every year after NFL free agency, a plethora of players see their dynasty “stock” rise or fall based on their situation or the circumstances changing around them. This year is no different, with a list of dynasty fantasy football names that have seen their 2023 outlook tank. Let’s discuss the who and the why for these free agency losers.
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2023 NFL Free Agency Losers in Dynasty Leagues
D’Onta Foreman (RB – CHI) / Khalil Herbert (RB – CHI)
Aging RBs & middle-round RB rookies like Rachaad White & Tyler Allgeier
I'm moving them in dynasty for WRs
& a ton more…someone will destroy your hopes
Invest in WRs
— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) January 28, 2023
D’Onta Foreman’s minuscule one-year deal with Chicago killed two birds with one stone. Not only did it smash any hopes of Foreman stepping into 2023 with a nice two-year outlook in dynasty, but it trounced any hope of Khalil Herbert cruising to a 60-70% opportunity share next season.
Herbert and Foreman were yards-after-contact (YAC) darlings last year, ranking third and tenth in YAC per attempt (minimum 100 rushes per PFF). Herbert appeared primed for moon rocket time after David Montgomery departed for Detroit. Herbert has six games in his career in which he’s played at least 50% of the snaps, averaging 21.5 touches and 109.6 total yards with RB1, RB26, RB40, RB11, RB6, and RB33 weekly finishes. Herbert’s liftoff has been delayed with the possibility of cancellation. Foreman will be a thorn in his side all year. Last season in Weeks 7-18, he was the RB29 in fantasy points per game with at least 100 total yards in five games.
Travis Homer‘s pass-game prowess could turn this backfield into a three-headed monster if all this weren’t bad enough for Foreman and Herbert. Foreman (1.09) and Herbert’s (0.62) career yards per route run marks (per PFF) scream that neither player has the receiving chops to stop Homer from wedging his way into the rotation. Foreman and Herbert will be frustrating flex-play RB3s in 2023.
Ezekiel Elliott (RB – DAL)
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys 'set to part ways' with RB https://t.co/85QL8v30gE via @thewonkypenguin #DallasCowboys
— FantasyPros (@FantasyProsNFL) March 15, 2023
Ezekiel Elliott’s best and only hope for retaining any relevant dynasty value as an early down grinder on a good offense was to remain in Dallas. Only Jerry Jones and his obsession with Elliott could have made that an actual thing for 2023.
At 27 years old, Elliott looked like a back on his last legs in 2022. He finished as the RB22 last season on the strength of 40 red zone touches (13th) and 12 total touchdowns (sixth-most). Last season he scored a touchdown in eight straight games without surpassing 100 total yards in any game. Elliott was 48th in juke rate, 41st in breakaway run rate, and 54th in yards created per touch.
Elliott will likely land on another roster before Week 1, and that’s the time to pounce and trade him away. A 2024 third-round rookie pick, a half-used Starbucks gift card, or a crisp high-five are acceptable returns at this point for Elliott in dynasty.
Mike Evans (WR – TB) / Chris Godwin (WR – TB)
"The Buccaneers will likely go ahead with QB Kyle Trask as their Week 1 starter."
Buccaneers fans and dynasty managers with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on their teams: pic.twitter.com/nKaocLUsCb
— Moody (@EricNMoody) February 23, 2023
With Tom Brady’s retirement, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have been gifted a quarterback room now led by Kyle Trask and Baker Mayfield. To say there will be a dropoff in Tampa Bay’s quarterback play in 2023 is an understatement.
This will have a trickle-down effect on the Buccaneers’ offense game plan. Outside of the offense’s overall efficiency declining this year, there will be changes in their pace and passing rates. Since 2021 Tampa Bay has been third in neutral script pace, first in neutral passing rate, and first in red zone passing rate. Without Brady under center, these numbers will shrink, hurting Evans and Godwin’s raw target volume numbers.
Asking Evans and Godwin to outkick volume concerns with their efficiency is an iffy bet. Removing Evans’ ridiculous Week 17 showing from the equation, he finished with a 71.9 PFF receiving grade (35th minimum 50 targets per PFF) and 1.59 yards per route run (36th among wide receivers), which would both easily be the worst marks of his career.
Godwin’s 2022 season could be excused by injury rehab and a career-low 6.0 aDOT, but it’s still noteworthy that he also finished with the lowest PFF receiving grade (76.4) and yards per route run (1.76) of his career. Unless these wide receivers are liberated from this situation by trade, their 2023 outlooks are dimming by the second.
Terrace Marshall (WR – CAR)
The free agency additions of D.J. Chark, Adam Thielen, and Hayden Hurst aren’t coffin nails by any means, but they definitely don’t help the 2023 outlook for Terrace Marshall. Marshall showed promise down the stretch last year that his wretched rookie season could have been tied to flimsy coaching and injury. In Weeks 8-18, he logged six games with 1.7 or higher yards per route run, commanding a 17.9% target share and a 26.2% air yard share.
Thielen is past his prime, and Hurst and Chark have never been top-shelf target earners, but Carolina isn’t projected to be a high-scoring aerial attack. Marshall looked like an intriguing dynasty buy-low target that has since dissolved into a hold-only player if you have him on your roster.
Mike Gesicki (TE – NE)
Mike Gesicki’s run as a top-15 fantasy tight end has officially ended. Since 2019 before getting shelved last year by Mike McDaniels, Gesicki has parlayed his big-slot role into TE, TE8, and TE14 finishes in fantasy points per game. After signing a one-year deal in New England, those days are over.
As Jonnu Smith quickly found out during his tenure with the Patriots, if you can’t block, then good luck earning a substantial route per dropback share under Coach Bill. Gesicki has been a putrid blocker during his entire career in South Beach, never eclipsing a 53.0 PFF run-blocking grade.
Gesicki will serve as a mismatched piece, but I doubt he can surpass the 28.3-31.7% route rates that plagued Smith. You’re essentially cooked as a fantasy tight-end option without a heavy dose of routes.
Dalton Schultz (TE – HOU)
Dalton Schultz's Dynasty Stock this offseason pic.twitter.com/6H17w0uGhV
— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) March 22, 2023
Since Dallas looked to be moving on from Dalton Schultz this offseason, the hope and prayer for Schultz are that he would land with Kellen Moore in Los Angeles. This would allow him to hop from one above-average offense to another with the upside to supplant Gerald Everett on the roster or at least as the every-down option. Sadly this didn’t happen, and Schultz landed in the fantasy black hole that resides in Houston, Texas.
Schultz should still be viewed as a full-time player with only Teagan Outoriano, Brevin Jordan, and Mason Schreck behind him on the tight-end depth chart. Schultz will check the playing time box this season that we covet with tight ends after finishing tenth in route per dropback rate last year, but his upside to crest the top 12 fantasy tight ends in 2023 and remain a top-15 dynasty tight end is in question. Last year he ranked 23rd in PFF receiving grade and 18th in yards per route run (minimum 20 targets per PFF) as the TE9 in fantasy points per game.
Houston’s passing rate with a rookie quarterback incoming will likely be depressed to league average at best, which will hinder his target upside. Schultz has been a mediocre target earner for most of his career, finishing 16th or lower in target per route run rate in two of the last three seasons. The Texans don’t project to be a high-scoring offense, so we are left with a fantasy volume bet on a one-year deal. I’d be shipping Schultz off your roster as part of a larger deal as soon as possible.
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