Best Ball Players To Avoid (2023 Fantasy Football)
Best ball season has gotten earlier and earlier each year, to the point where there really is no time to blink between the season ending and the next year’s drafts opening. Much can change between now and the start of the season. There are, after all, six months to go, but already, there are players whose prices look overinflated at the current ADP.
Travis Etienne (RB – JAC) ADP 29.7 RB11
Travis Etienne is a very good running back, who we’ve seen handle a three-down workload. However, NFL coaches don’t always have the same desires for one player to handle all of the touches. At the NFL Combine, Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson was asked if the team will look to add another running back to the trio they already have on the roster, and he answered straight to the point: “Yes.” If you are drafting one of the first 12 running backs, you want that player to be a near-every-down back who gets the vast majority of the receiving and goal-line work to complement the hard between-the-tackles touches. Right now, it doesn’t seem like Etienne will be that next season.
Javonte Williams (RB – DEN) ADP 69.3 RB20
It was shaping up to be a nice season for Javonte Williams before he tore his ACL and LCL in early October. Williams will face an uphill struggle to be ready for the start of the season. He could face the same issues that other running backs coming off an ACL injury have struggled through, namely a lack of explosiveness and an inability to hit their top speeds. After the NFL Combine, reports started to surface that Williams could miss as much as the whole 2023 season, and while at a certain point, every player becomes a value, Williams’ ADP needs to be a round or two later before we can consider him in that bracket.
DK Metcalf (WR – SEA) ADP27.0 WR15
DK Metcalf finished 2022 as the WR25 in half-PPR points per game, and it’s fair to question what has actually changed since then. Geno Smith will be back for another year, and it’s entirely possible he isn’t as efficient as he was in the first half of 2022. Tyler Lockett will also be back in 2023, and many mock drafts have the Seahawks taking a wide receiver with one of their two first-round picks in this year’s draft. Metcalf is a fantastic player with a fantastic set of measurements, but sometimes that’s not enough.
Deebo Samuel (WR – SF) ADP 31.3 WR16
Deebo Samuel had a far less relevant fantasy year in 2022 after the outstanding WR3 campaign he had in 2021. Samuel managed only two top-12 weekly finishes, with the rest of his weekly finishes being 19th or worse, with seven outside the top 30. In best ball, we want players capable of huge spike weeks, and it seems like Samuel will struggle for those with Christian McCaffrey now commanding such a large amount of fantasy work. Paying a third-round price for a player coming off two games over 16 PPR points doesn’t feel great at all. We must also consider that Brock Purdy‘s elbow injury means he’ll likely not be healthy until the early parts of the season and Samuel has never seemed to have a particularly strong connection with Trey Lance.
Jameson Williams (WR – DET) ADP 59.9 WR31
It was a slow start to Jameson Williams’ NFL career, as he entered the league with a torn ACL and missed the first 12 games of the season. He never played more than 25% of the snaps in the games he did play. During the games Williams did appear in, he had nine targets and a single catch, albeit for 41 yards and a touchdown. The Lions undoubtedly have plans to get Williams involved more often in 2023, but with Amon-Ra St. Brown vacuuming up targets, Williams feels like a very boom-or-bust player.
George Pickens (WR – PIT) ADP 70.4 WR36
In 2022, George Pickens finished as the WR55 in half-PPR points per game and had only two performances over 15 points in his rookie season. Pickens averaged 4.9 targets per game, yet from Week 7 onwards never had more than five catches in a game. The big plays are jaw-dropping and noteworthy, but if big plays aren’t giving us big points, should we really be pursuing them? The Steelers will likely benefit from positive touchdown regression this year, but Pickens is going ahead of several rookie receivers who could become immediate WR1s within their respective offenses in a few weeks’ time.
George Kittle (TE – SF) ADP 49.7 TE4
It feels very easy to fade George Kittle in 2023, despite him coming off a career-high 11 touchdowns. Kittle had the second-highest touchdown rate of any tight end who saw over 50 targets, but in the eight games with no touchdowns, he averaged a meager seven PPR points, which is not helping anyone in fantasy, particularly at the cost of an early fifth-round pick. That’s before we even get into the issues at quarterback he’ll have this season.
Dawson Knox (TE – BUF) ADP 125.7 TE12
Another tight end who failed to help you when he wasn’t scoring touchdowns is Dawson Knox, who regressed from the nine touchdowns he scored in 2021 to only five in 2022. In the nine games Knox played and didn’t find the end zone, he averaged 6.2 PPR points, and his 3.3 receptions per game ranked 17th amongst tight ends. The only time I would consider drafting Knox would be as part of a Bills stack.
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