Hard to believe we’re weeks removed from the Super Bowl and that much closer to the 2023 season. And with it, rankings and ADP to help inform our draft strategies. But what happens when those two data points diverge? Below are a few examples of players whose rankings by the experts and rankings by you, the drafter, have more space between them than others.
- NFL Draft Needs for Every Team
- Introduction to Best Ball Leagues
- Erickson’s Best Ball Positional Primers
Expert Consensus Rankings vs. Average Draft Position (ADP)
- ECR: QB25
- ADP: QB29
Heading into the 2022 season, it was fair to wonder if it was going to be Ryan Tannehill’s last in Tennessee. The Titans had drafted Malik Willis in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft just a day after they traded away Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles. If the Titans weren’t successful on the field, the stage was set for a lot of change.
But while the Titans did finish 7-10 and missed the playoffs for the first time in the Ryan Tannehill era, the quarterback position is still Tannehill’s to lose. Malik Willis was given a chance to prove himself but in his, admittedly, few chances he didn’t show any flashes of being a competent starter. It was so bad, the Titans turned to veteran Joshua Dobbs under center to finish the season.
So Tannehill gets to keep his job and he appears to have a solid supporting cast. Derrick Henry is still Derrick Henry; Treylon Burks looks like a potential A.J. Brown replacement; and the Titans seemed to have found value in fourth-round tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo. Tannehill has finished in the top-12 in fantasy scoring among quarterbacks when he’s healthy and there’s no reason to think he can’t again.
- ECR: RB16
- ADP: RB23
When it comes to Cam Akers’ fantasy value heading into 2023, it appears the experts are looking at a different part of Akers’s 2022 season than the rest of us. Most remember Akers being drafted reasonably high and expected him to lead the (at the time) defending Super Bowl Champion Rams’ rushing attack. Both Akers and the Rams got off to a rocky start to the season with LA’s offense sputtering and injured for most of it including quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp.
For Akers, he managed to salvage his season slightly with three 100-yard games to close out the season. He also undoubtedly won fantasy championships for those that had the luck/foresight to keep him on the roster. The experts are looking at his most recent performances rather than his earliest ones.
So what does that mean for 2023? All accounts indicated the Rams’ offense should be healthy again with both Stafford and Kupp expected to start the season. For Akers, there’s little-to-no competition on the current roster for touches. His main competition last year, Darrell Henderson Jr., was allowed to become a free agent. 2022 fifth-round pick Kyren Williams would be the next man up. The Rams may add a back via the draft or free agency as we get closer to the season, but Akers is looking pretty good right now and will have the opportunity to finish closer to where the experts have him.
- ECR: WR19
- ADP: WR25
It was a slow start to Christian Watson’s rookie season in 2022. Through the first nine weeks of the season, he totaled just 88 receiving yards and no touchdowns. However, he turned it on in the second half of the season, totaling over 500 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, and was a top-25 fantasy receiver in that span.
Drafted in the second round, Watson was widely viewed as the heir apparent to former Packers receiver Davante Adams who was traded to Las Vegas. Watson certainly looked like it in the second half of the season and if Aaron Rodgers were guaranteed to be back in Green Bay, Watson’s fantasy value would be all but assured.
Alas, Aaron Rodgers is not guaranteed to be back. The odds indicate he won’t and is headed to the Jets or the Raiders. Jordan Love, riding the bench for the past two seasons, is widely expected to be the starter in 2023. There isn’t a rapport, yet, between Love and Watson but it’s a good bet that there will be kinks to work out with such young players. The experts seem to think that Watson can power through it but there is pessimism on the ADP side.
- ECR: TE27
- ADP: TE20
Up to this point, the theme of the players we’ve looked at is that they tend to be regarded higher by the experts than by fantasy drafters-at-large. Not so with Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely. While the experts have him outside the TE2 conversation, drafters are making him a top-20 tight end.
The experts, they’re likely (no pun intended) concerned with his entire body of work throughout his rookie season. Yes, he finished with 36 receptions for 373 yards and three touchdowns in what would be universally accepted as a successful rookie season for a fourth-round pick. However, over a quarter of that production came in the last week of the season when Likely had a breakout game of eight receptions for 103 yards. There’s also the cloud hanging over the Ravens’ offense in the form of the Lamar Jackson contract negotiations. It’s gotten nasty between Jackson and the Ravens which could ultimately lead to a divorce. If that’s the case, it would dampen the fantasy prospects of not just Likely but the entire Ravens offense. Sadly, Likely’s 2023 fantasy outlook won’t be solidified for a while.