One of the key events going into the NFL season is when they release the schedules of every team. It’s always a fun exercise to try and predict the records of each team. Sometimes, you can be pretty close; other times, you’re completely off-base. So, rather than predicting records, I’d like to look at 10 players that should really benefit from their team’s schedule.
Looking into these players, I am looking at who they play on a weekly basis and how their teams should use them and the different situations we could see. Here are five players that you should target for fantasy football this season.
- Dynasty Trade Value Chart
- Dynasty Rookie Primers: QB | RB | WR | TE
- Dynasty Rookie Draft Sleepers: QB | RB | WR | TE
- Latest Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft
Five Players to Target for Fantasy Football
Here are five players you should target in fantasy football drafts.
Continuing on my Joe Burrow for MVP Campaign, I think there’s a strong chance he will be the best quarterback in the league this season. On our FantasyPros QB rankings for fantasy football, Burrow is ranked fourth overall and is the leader of the second tier. However, we could see some regression from the Buffalo Bills this season, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Burrow gets the Bengals in position for another Super Bowl appearance.
Last season he threw for a career-high 35 TD passes. Over the last two years, Burrow has completed 69.3% of his passes, averaging 8.1 yards per attempt. Looking at the 2023 schedule, it’s very favorable for Burrow to find some early success on the season. He opens the season against a Cleveland Browns team that he’s 4-0 against with 10 touchdowns, five interceptions and an average of 295 yards passing per game. Meanwhile, he’ll also play against poor pass defenses from the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams during that stretch.
Further, along the schedule, the Bengals will play a stretch of games against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings. He’ll also play a Kansas City Chiefs team that he’s 2-0 against, has thrown six touchdowns to no interceptions, and averages 366 passing yards when playing them.
Per our FantasyPros strength of schedule (SOS) for 2023, Burrow’s schedule is ranked 15th in the NFL. Last season, Burrow exceeded his fantasy points expectations nine times. With a better offensive line in front of him, I think we can expect Burrow to exceed his expectations almost on a weekly basis for the 2023 season.
It was quite the rookie season for Chris Olave with the New Orleans Saints. As I said in my scouting report on Olave when he was coming out of Ohio State is that Olave was going to consistently record five receptions for 75 yards on a weekly basis. He did just that for the Saints last season. He finished with 72 receptions for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns. I do believe that Olave takes another step forward as he enters his second season in the NFL.
On our FantasyPros WR rankings for fantasy football, Olave is placed in the third tier of receivers and is ranked as the 13th overall receiver. But it wouldn’t be shocking if he outplays that ranking and secures a spot as a top-10 receiver in fantasy football this year. According to our strength of schedule model, Olave has the second easiest WR schedule. There’s been some debate on if Olave can beat out Michael Thomas for the top wide receiver spot in New Orleans. Health has been a concern for Thomas, and if I had to pick, I’d put all of my trust into Olave for this season.
When looking at the schedule, Olave has some very favorable matchups. For starters, he’ll get to play against teams such as the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams. Two teams that he feasted on last season with 31 targets and 19 receptions for 309 yards and two scores. In addition to that, he’ll play against teams such as the Colts, Vikings, Titans and Lions.
As you watch Olave play, you’ll see he’s an elite separator with how he runs his routes in the short areas of the field, but he’ll get more consistent quarterback play from Derek Carr. I expect Olave to take a leap into the top 10 for wide receivers in fantasy football. He should easily outplay his average draft position (ADP) of 35th overall.
Surprising us all by selecting Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Lions have been a serious amount of pressure on Gibbs. He will have to come in and perform better than previous running back D’Andre Swift. But the volume could easily be there for Gibbs as he enters his first season in the NFL.
With a projection of around 220 total touches, I’d expect Gibbs to meet that expectation, and there’s potential for him to exceed it. Much of that could be because the Lions will be looking for as many playmakers as possible, with Jameson Williams suspended for six games to start the season.
Gibbs is explosive and ranked third in receiving yards (444) for running backs in the NCAA last year. Despite only being 5-foot-9 and 199 pounds, he has shown he can carry the workload when needed. He’s got the ability to make one cut upfield and take it to the house. By having the speed needed to win in a foot race, there’s potential for Gibbs to be more productive than former Lions running back D’Andre Swift.
When looking at the schedule, our SOS model projects for Gibbs to have the easiest schedule of any running back in the NFL. For him, there are favorable matchups across the board. He could load the stat sheet against teams such as Kansas City, Atlanta, Green Bay, Carolina, Minnesota, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Last season, the Lions’ backfield of Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift averaged 26.4 touches per game. With a rejuvenated backfield of David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, there’s reason to believe that Gibbs can get close to 15 touches per game with about 90 to 100 total yards (rushing/receiving).
Similar to how I felt about Marshawn Lynch near the end of his career, you keep riding the train until it stops. That’s going to be the case for Derrick Henry this season. Two seasons ago, Henry dealt with injuries and only recorded 219 carries for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns. However, last season, it looked like the King had returned. He had 349 carries for 1,538 yards and 13 touchdowns. Meanwhile, he added a career-high 33 receptions.
I could see Henry duplicating his success from a season ago with a revamped offensive line (Andre Dillard and Peter Skoronski). He’ll need to stay healthy, but there’s potential for him to lead the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns as he did in the 2020 season. Currently, Henry is ranked on FantasyPros as the eighth overall running back, and his ADP is ranked 20th overall. It wouldn’t be shocking if he ended up being a top-five player at the position by the time we get to our fantasy championships.
Our SOS model shows that King Henry has the fourth easiest schedule of all running backs. He’s easily an RB1 when healthy every week, but there’s some potential for him to end the season on an absolute tear. His last four games are against the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks. There will be questions surrounding the quarterback play in Tennessee, but I’d keep swinging for the fences on Derrick Henry until I strike out. I don’t see this season being the year that he slows down.
Looking at another rookie receiver from a season ago, I would expect Drake London to pick up right where he left off. From Weeks 13 – 18, he finished as a top-20 receiver in fantasy football. During that time, he had 48 targets with 31 receptions. This was enough to generate 428 receiving yards. This production came from the Falcons turning the offense over to quarterback Desmond Ridder.
Last season, London finished with 72 receptions for 866 yards and four touchdowns. Despite some inconsistent quarterback play, London still had 117 total targets, and that’s plenty worthy of being in the WR1 conversation. When you look at the SOS for London, it’s ranked as the seventh easiest for wide receivers. Matchups against the Panthers, Lions, Colts, Titans, Cardinals and Vikings should generate pleasing performances for him. Meanwhile, he should see plenty of volume every single week.
When looking at where London is drafted, his ADP is 65th overall. Meanwhile, he’s currently ranked as a fifth-tier receiver on FantasyPros with a 27th overall ranking. That said, I project that London outplays his ADP and should be close to being a top-15 receiver by the time we make it to the fantasy football playoffs.