The 2023 NFL Free Agency is in full swing, with a lot of top players already in new landing sports ahead of the new season. Based on all the moves, our analysts have updated their player notes (which you can find under our 2023 fantasy football rankings). So let’s examine the fantasy football outlook for some top players on new teams entering the 2023 campaign.
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Fantasy Football Outlook: Players on New Teams (2023)
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The nine-year veteran is now on the Saints and will be suiting up for a team other than the Silver and Black for the first time in his career. There were some concerning signs of slippage for Carr in 2022. His interception rate (2.8%) was the highest of his career, and his completion percentage (60.8%) was the lowest since his rookie year. He averaged 7.0 yards per attempt, a five-year low. Carr doesn’t add rushing value, so his fantasy value will depend on his landing spot and his ability to rebound from a down year,
Miles Sanders signed with the Carolina Panthers, reuniting him with many familiar faces from his days with the Philadelphia Eagles. Duce Staley (former Eagles RB coach), Frank Reich (former Eagles coach) and Josh McCown (former Eagles QB) have all seen what Sanders can do, and that surely played a part in bringing him on as the team’s 1-for-1 replacement for new Chicago Bears running back D’Onta Foreman. At a minimum, Sanders will operate as the main back on early downs, while Chuba Hubbard (RB62) and Raheem Blackshear split work on third downs.
But I say at a minimum because those guys still have to prove themselves to the new coaching staff to earn substantial roles. Sanders has already proven his worth with these coaches before. And last year, he showed everyone what he was capable of when he finished as the RB10 in half-point scoring overall/RB13 in points per game from Weeks 1-17. He ended the year averaging just south of five yards per carry and scored 13 rushing TDs after scoring zero in 2021. His carries inside the 10-yard line ranked inside the top five among all RBs. And when Sanders saw his best-receiving usage to date — 50 receptions for 509 yards as a rookie in 2019 — it was under Staley’s tenure.
With Sanders’ uber-efficient rushing running behind an offensive line that finished ninth in adjusted line yards in 2022, Carolina is a great landing spot for him. His rushing alone should earn him production similar to what we saw from Foreman after the team traded away Christian McCaffrey. From Week 7 onward, Foreman sat as the RB21 in total points and RB22 in points per game. He ranked fourth in the NFL in total rushing yards (852). But his path to back-end RB2 status was not consistent whatsoever.
Foreman rushed for over 110 yards in half of the last ten games while finishing with fewer than 40 rushing yards in four of his others. His inconsistency was due to a lack of pass-game work, causing him to be completely phased out of games Carolina was out-matched in. But I don’t think that will necessarily be the case for Sanders. The former Eagle has the chance to be a full-blown workhorse with an expanded receiving role based on the four-year, $25 million ($13 million guaranteed) commitment from his new team.
David Montgomery signed a three-year deal worth $18 million ($11 million guaranteed) with the Detroit Lions, setting him up to be the new Jamaal Williams on the field for the foreseeable future. In Montgomery’s 15 healthy games played last season, he averaged 10.9 fantasy points per game as the RB26. But in 11 games, he played alongside a healthy Khalil Herbert, Montgomery saw an even bigger decline in production, averaging 9.2 fantasy points (RB35), 13 carries and 48 rushing yards per game.
Monty’s rushing expected points added (EPA) of -15.3 ranked 32nd, while Herbert’s 1.17 rushing EPA ranked 12th. Even so, it’s hard to envision Montgomery as anything less than a fantasy RB2, with the highly-coveted goal-line role likely his to lose on his new team. Keep in mind that last season, Williams carried the ball a league-high 45 times inside the 10-yard line. Williams would finish the year with a league-high 17 rushing TDs, not too far off his 16.4 expected touchdowns.
The scoring production fueled an RB12 finish for Williams. A similar red-zone role will lead to more scoring for Montgomery, which will no doubt supply another season of solid fantasy production at a relatively cheap price tag. Williams’ 262 carries (sixth), 16.1 touches per game (higher than Swift’s 10.3) and his newly signed contract suggest the team will be featuring plenty of Montgomery (RB27 average draft position (ADP)) at Swift’s expense (RB19 ADP).
How does a running back finish as the RB12 while catching only 12 passes? Touchdowns. That’s exactly how the season played out for Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams. He took on the role as the Lions’ goal-line back, carrying the ball a league-high 41 times inside the 10-yard line for 13 rushing TDs. Williams would finish the year with a league-high 17 rushing TDs — not too far off his 16.4 expected touchdowns.
Touchdown regression pundits will shout to the heavens that Williams cannot duplicate his 2022 success, and his new landing spot in New Orleans confirms this. He signed for three years, $12 million, $8 million guaranteed but will now compete for red zone touches with Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill. Kamara totaled just eight carries inside the 10-yard line last season, with Hill chipping in 12. But a potential Kamara suspension would dramatically boost Williams’ fantasy value as the Saints offense has never shied away from featuring the likes of Latavius Murray or Mark Ingram when AK41 has missed time in the past.
The Buffalo Bills signed Damien Harris (RB42 ADP) to a one-year contract to fill the void left by Devin Singletary. Bills general manager Brandon Beane stated earlier this offseason that the team wanted to add another back with more “size” to compliment smaller running backs like James Cook and Nyheim Hines. Harris, at 216 pounds, fits the mold of the bigger back that Beane was after, so it’s not a shock to see this deal completed.
Last season, the former Patriots running back was plagued by injuries, playing in just 11 contests — two of which he left early. And in his nine healthy games, Harris averaged just 8.8 fantasy points, 11 carries and 49 rushing yards per game. He took a major backseat to the surging Rhamondre Stevenson, who operated as the RB1 in the backfield for the majority of the season. Now with Buffalo, Harris’ best fantasy prospects are for him to land the Bills’ red zone back role. He scored just as many times as Stevenson from inside the 10-yard line last season (thrice) despite being out-carried in that area of the field 19 to six.
In 2022, former Bills RB Devin Singletary totaled just four rushing TDs inside the 10-yard on 16 carries. QB Josh Allen is frequently deployed as a goal-line rusher which might limit Harris’ touchdown totals in 2023. However, we have seen quarterbacks run less at the goal line as they get older, so there’s still a chance that Harris flirts with double-digit scores should his arrival mean the team leans on him more as their preferred rusher near the pylon to protect their franchise quarterback in the long term.
Denver signed ex-Bengals running back Samaje Perine — two years, $7.5 million, $3 million guaranteed — after releasing Chase Edmonds (Buccaneers) and moving on from Mike Boone (Texans). With Javonte Williams potentially delayed in return from his knee injury, I’d suspect that Perine (RB 46 ADP) picks up the slack to open the year if he stays in the Mile High City. The Broncos have zero other RBs of note currently under contract.
Therefore, Perine has the chance to provide immediate fantasy value to start the year after carving out a role in the Bengals’ offense alongside Joe Mixon last season. He served as the primary third-down back for the entire season. And when Perine got the starting nod from Weeks 11-13, the 27-year-old went OFF, averaging 23.6 fantasy points per game. Perine is a legitimate threat to Williams’ workload as he could easily earn the passing-down work after finishing last season sixth in PFF pass-blocking and 14th in RB targets.
The 2022 season was another sad year of D.J. Moore suffering through the “Allen Robinson” experience as one of the league’s most talented receivers whose being held back by mediocre quarterback play. Moore was the WR33 in fantasy as he dealt with a target quality rating and catchable target rate outside of 90th among receivers. Moore still managed to rank 27th in PFF receiving grade and 32nd in yards per route run (minimum 50 targets per PFF).
We witnessed his floor last season as Moore was 12th in target share (27.7%), 17th in target per route run rate (26.8%), and fourth in deep targets. Justin Fields will be the best passer that Moore has worked with to this point. While the target volume concerns are justified for Moore in Chicago’s offense, he has already displayed the ability to earn targets at a high rate. If the Bears’ passing volume surprises with the receiving upgrades this offseason, Moore will happily pay off his ADP. He is a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 in 2023 who could easily finish as a top-15 receiver.
Josh McDaniels took another step in making the Raiders “Patriots west” as they inked Jakobi Meyers to a three-year deal. This is a welcome addition to a Raiders’ wide receiver room that was looking thin outside of Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow. The dominoes might not be done falling, though, as this could also signal a Renfrow departure. Renfrow can be cut, and the Raiders can save 1.5 million against the cap.
The likeliest outcome is that Renfrow remains in Vegas this year and is cut bait next year when the team can save 8.2 million against the cap by kicking him to the curb. The Raiders are surrounding their new starting quarterback with underneath weapons. Meyers will rotate slot work with Renfrow. Meyers played 69.5% from the slot last year (Renfrow 86.0%), drawing a 22.0% target share (29th), a 25.8% target per route run rate (22nd) and a 27.4% air yard share as the Patriots’ number one option.
He was 29th in PFF receiving grade and 23rd in yards per route run (minimum 50 targets per PFF). Meyers has been the WR29 and WR35 in fantasy points per game over the last two seasons. Meyers’ signing could signal the Raiders’ plan to deploy more 11 personnel this season after ranking 18th in the use of three-plus wide receiver sets last year. Meyers will compete with Hunter Renfrow for second in line at the target water fountain. Meyers is a low-ceiling WR3/4 who gets a small boost in PPR formats.
Mike Gesicki is one of the most athletic tight ends in the league, but he was a complete nonfactor in fantasy last season. After a 73-catch, 780-yard season in 2021, Gesicki was franchise-tagged by the Dolphins last year, only to become an afterthought in head coach Mike McDaniel’s offense. Gesicki averaged just 3.1 targets per game in 2022 and finished with 32 catches for 362 yards and five touchdowns. Gesicki has since signed with the Patriots, where he’ll be reunited with his college coach at Penn State, Bill O’Brien, who’s now the Patriots’ offensive coordinator. Gesicki could become a more appealing fantasy option in 2023 if O’Brien is committed to better utilizing Gesicki’s impressive skill set.
After catching 26 passes for the Falcons in 2021, Hayden Hurst had 52 receptions for the Bengals in 2022, but he averaged a career-low eight yards per catch and scored only two touchdowns. Now with the Panthers, Hurst will be entering his age-30 season. The change of venue improves Hurst’s target outlook, but those targets will probably be coming from a rookie quarterback and won’t be as valuable as targets from Joe Burrow.
Dalton Schultz signed a one-year deal with the Texans, where he should have ample target opportunity but figures to be paired with a rookie QB. Schultz was TE3 in fantasy scoring in 2021, catching 78 passes for 808 yards and eight touchdowns. But his production tapered off in 2022. He finished with 57-577-5 and dealt with an early-season knee injury that cost him a pair of games. Schultz isn’t particularly athletic, and he averaged just 6.5 yards per target last season, suggesting that his 2021 numbers aren’t likely to be repeated.
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