We’ve all mistakenly reached on a player in our fantasy drafts. There are those guys we want to believe will finally show the world who they are, the ones we project are in a better situation and should improve, or the player due for a breakout. It’s easy to be blinded by the idea that talent always wins out, but while that sounds nice, we also know this isn’t true.
Eliminating bias and evaluating a situation can save you from making these mistakes come August. Here are two players I believe won’t live up to expectations in 2023.
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Fantasy Football Players to Avoid (2023)
ADP referenced using FantasyPros consensus Best Ball ADP
Devon Achane (RB – MIA) | ADP 131, RB43
As a general rule of thumb, unless a rookie running back is in a phenomenal situation with a clear path to significant volume, it’s best to steer clear. That is precisely the case with Miami rookie RB Devon Achane. The speedster out of Texas A&M has proven to play bigger than his size, standing just 5-foot-8, and has shown an ability to be a reliable pass-catching back. However, Achane isn’t alone in the Dolphins’ backfield. Head coach Mike McDaniel “put the band back together” last season, reuniting former 49ers RBs Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert. Both backs signed two-year deals this offseason so they will be returning to the Dolphins backfield.
The presence of two veterans alone doesn’t relegate Achane to be a fantasy afterthought. Mostert is 31 years old and has not played a full slate over eight NFL seasons, and Wilson is in a similar position. However, McDaniel runs a similar offense to his mentor Kyle Shanahan and what we know about Shanahan’s backfields is they are typically a committee approach.
While there is a chance Achane could become an asset in the passing game, that hasn’t been Miami’s bag. Mostert and Wilson combined for 66 targets in 2022 and unless both miss significant time, it will be hard for Achane to crack into their production in any meaningful manner. None of this is to say that the rookie doesn’t have a future as a reliable fantasy asset, but he won’t be one in 2023. Instead, you’re better off looking at RBs with a proven path to production, such as A.J. Dillon, Brian Robinson, and Damien Harris, all of whom are going in the same tier as Achane.
Deebo Samuel (WR – SF) | ADP 35, WR16
No one can argue against Deebo Samuel being a freakishly athletic and skilled football player. However, if that were all that mattered in the NFL, then he would be the WR1 every season. Samuel was able to translate his talent into results in one perfect season in 2021, but hasn’t looked the same before or since.
In 2021, with QB Jimmy Garoppolo behind center, Samuel had a season for the ages. His receiving stats alone were eye-catching, hauling in 77 passes for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns. However, Samuel’s ability to contribute to the 49ers rushing attack set that season apart. He added 59 carries, translating into 365 rushing yards (second on the team) and eight rushing touchdowns (leading the team). This all added up to an overall PPR WR3 season for Samuel.
Outside that stellar season, Samuel finished as the PPR WR96 in 2019, WR32 in 2020, and WR40 in 2022. He wasn’t used as much this past season in the rushing attack, and his efficiency took a dip. He averaged a full yard less per carry and managed only three rushing touchdowns. His receiving numbers also took a hit, catching only 56 passes for 632 yards and two touchdowns – hardly the same player who lit the league on fire in 2021.
The question heading into the 2023 season is simple: can Deebo Samuel replicate his 2021 season, or was it a flash in the pan? Unfortunately, it’s likely the latter. The role Samuel filled for the Niners in 2021 has now been filled by a combination of Christian McCaffery, a blooming Brandon Aiyuk, and a healthy George Kittle. So while Samuel will have fantasy value in 2023, it isn’t as the PPR WR16, which is where he’s being drafted. Players at a similar ADP, such as Keenan Allen, D.K. Metcalf, and Amari Cooper, are far more likely to live up to expectations.