With only 43 days until the NFL regular season, fantasy managers wish they had a crystal ball to see how the 2023 NFL season will unfold. However, fantasy managers have a wealth of fantasy stats to comb through to forecast the future.
A deep dive into fantasy stats provide the most likely outcome on players’ production, which leads fantasy managers to queue up certain players over others and, more importantly, over other opinions of fantasy managers.
My deep dive resulted in three wide receivers to avoid for the 2023 season.
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3 Wide Receivers to Avoid (2023 Fantasy Football)
Ravens’ Odell Beckham Jr. dismisses the doubters ahead of return: ‘I know what I can do’ https://t.co/cX1ZZL75eV
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 22, 2023
Despite what Odell Beckham Jr. proclaims, fantasy managers must exercise caution with taking the plunge with Beckham Jr. this season. Currently, Beckham Jr. is being selected as the WR45, which is quite alarming considering Beckham Jr. missed the entire 2022 season after suffering a torn ACL in the Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams. Plus, considering the other players surrounding him that also present upside without the risk, such as Brandin Cooks, Elijah Moore, and even new Ravens teammate Zay Flowers.
Beckham Jr. has only 856 receiving yards and eight touchdowns over the past three years. He lands in a Baltimore Ravens offense that is projected to pass more than the run-dominant offenses of the Ravens’ past seasons with Todd Monken as the new offensive coordinator. Combine that fact with Lamar Jackson now content with his new contract and has something to prove so that we could see an uptick in the passing volume.
The Ravens’ wide receiver room is much deeper than it has been since Lamar Jackson arrived. Outside of Beckham Jr., the Ravens have Devin Duvernay, who led the receivers in touchdowns, and the return of Rashod Bateman, a former first-round pick returning after eight months removed from Lisfranc surgery. The 2023 first-round pick Zay Flowers has been impressive in camp and building chemistry with Jackson. And how could we forget Lamar’s favorite target tight end, Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely, who displayed a unique skill set and made substantial splash plays?
The Ravens will not abandon the run entirely, especially with a healthy J.K. Dobbins ready to be the featured back. Suddenly, the Ravens’ offense looks explosive on paper. Even if Beckham quiets the haters and stays healthy all season, his fantasy production will not warrant his selection as a top 50 wide receiver.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is healthy ahead of Patriots camphttps://t.co/A0cUJeJ4a7
— Patriots Nation (@PatsNationCP) July 18, 2023
The downgrade from Patrick Mahomes to Mac Jones should be sufficient enough of a reason to avoid JuJu Smith-Schuster this season. Of course, the comparison is not close to fair, but Jones’ efficiency numbers have raised some concerns. His numbers regressed last season with his 84.8 passer rating (92.5 in 2021) and 65.2 completion rate (67.6% in 2021). Some of the blame can be attributed to the stubbornness of Bill Belichick. Inexplicably, Belichick insisted that Matt Patricia continue calling the offensive plays. Patricia proved over and over again that he had no business being an offensive coordinator. However, Jones is not the only factor in upsetting JuJu’s fantasy production in 2023.
Smith-Schuster finished as the WR29 last season with the Chiefs and had 78 catches for 933 yards and three scores. Unfortunately, that’s his ceiling. He produced those numbers in a pass-heavy offense with Mahomes. Now he enters a ball-control offense with Bill O’Brien back to calling the plays for the Patriots offense. The wide receiver room in New England is below-average, with JuJu now the de facto WR1 replacing Jakobi Meyers, who ironically finished one spot above JuJu among fantasy wide receivers last season. Belichick could have resigned from Meyers but instead opted for Smith-Schuster. Fantasy managers and NFL fans alike witnessed the connection between Jones and Meyers. That was another massive miss by Belichick.
The Patriots are still not satisfied with the current status of their wide receivers, as they were one of the contending teams attempting to sign DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins eventually signed with the Tennessee Titans, but the Patriots are still looking to upgrade their wide receivers with the story that the Patriots were looking to trade for the Denver Broncos’ Courtland Sutton.
The confidence level of Smith-Schuster repeating last year’s numbers has to be relatively low and rapidly decreasing. Smith-Schuster will not be as productive without an upper-level quarterback leading the offense. They must feel the same way with the Patriots still pursuing another receiver. Smith-Schuster will not cost much draft capital but will also not provide much return on investment with limited upside.
Justin Herbert: “Mike Williams down there somewhere,” probably.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) December 19, 2022
The Chargers’ offense is led by quarterback Justin Herbert who is ready to explode this season. With Kellen Moore as the new play caller, the Chargers will undoubtedly exceed their top-13 offense ranking from last season. Moore will have the luxury of calling plays for a highly young talented offense filled with playmakers.
One of the critical offensive playmakers on the Chargers’ offense is Mike Williams, who provides plenty of high upsides and, at 6′ 4″, is a massive target for Herbert. The injury concerns places Williams where fantasy managers are nervous about drafting him. He has only played an entire season once in his six-year career. Willaims has missed eight games in the past two seasons, including four last year. Williams still produced 63 catches on 93 targets and four touchdowns last season.
Despite the injury concerns, there is also more competition for targets in the Chargers’ offense with the selection of first-round receiver Quentin Johnston. Johnston is a big-bodied playmaking wideout similar to Willaims. In addition, veteran wide receiver Keenan Allen returns after playing only ten games last season. Josh Palmer stepped up last season when Williams and Allen both went down and proved he can be a valuable weapon on the outside. Tight end Gerald Everett emerged as a TE1 option last season with 58 receptions for 555 yards and four scores. Of course, you can’t forget all-world RB Austin Ekeler, who was forced to carry this offense with many injuries the past few seasons.
Willaims has the opportunity to produce big numbers in Moore’s offense as he excels in big plays. He adds the explosive component to the offense, as does the rookie Quentin Johnston. However, Williams possesses the most significant values in the best ball formats. He is a solid fantasy target as a possible WR3 because of the multiple viable pass catchers in the Chargers’ offense, and he has to prove that he can remain healthy for an entire season.
Fantasy managers will see the upside and his 12.0 ADOT and rush to select Willaims. However, Herbert will thrive in this pass-heavy offense and have plenty of options to distribute the ball. Williams has the upside to explode and win you some weeks, which makes him a valuable receiver, but he will also be held down by the enormous talented surrounding pass catchers in this offense. You will love drafting Williams in the best ball; in redraft formats, Williams will not raise your team to the next level.