One certainty in the NFL is turnover. Typically, only about half of the division winners repeat, teams that had losing records the previous year become winners, and undervalued fantasy players from those teams become unexpected lineup staples.
Last year, 12 NFL teams won 10 or more games – six in each conference. Of those, only three (Buffalo, Kansas City and Cincinnati) will repeat that feat. The other three (Tennessee, New England and Las Vegas) currently have losing records.
In the NFC, only two teams that had double-digit wins last season (San Francisco and Dallas) are going to repeat. The Green Bay Packers (13-4 in 2021) are 7-8 and on playoff life support. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4 in ’21) are 7-8 and only in the playoff hunt because the NFC South is so bad. The Los Angeles Rams (12-5) and Arizona Cardinals (11-6) have a combined record of 9-21 this year.
When you start your preparation for the 2023 fantasy draft, keep in mind which teams look to be on the upswing but not quite there yet – teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions. Given the up-and-down nature of the NFL, they could be in for big things next year and will likely garner more credibility than they had coming into this season – which was almost none.
Here is the Week 17 Fantasy Football Market Report.
Fantasy Football Risers
Buffalo Bills TE Dawson Knox – As the Bills have fought to keep the No. 1 seed in the AFC, suddenly Knox has emerged as a fantasy threat. In his first 11 games, he was invisible at times, catching just 33 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns – numbers that get you bounced from fantasy lineups. In his last three games, he has caught 13 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns, providing fantasy owners with points when they have needed them most.
New York Giants WR Isaiah Hodgins – Hodgins was on the Bills practice squad before being sniped by the Giants in Week 7. It wasn’t viewed as a big roster move, but, in the last four games, he has caught 21 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns. Considering that Daniel Jones has only thrown four TD passes in that span, he’s locked and loaded on Hodgins, especially in the red zone.
New Orleans Saints TE Taysom Hill – I was all over Hill last summer when it was determined he was a fantasy tight end. He is many things to the Saints – the least of which is a receiver. He has rushed 77 times for 505 yards and six touchdowns, completed 11-of-17 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns and caught seven passes for 66 yards and two TDs. In a down year for tight ends, with the exception of Travis Kelce, nobody has produced more consistently than Hill. If he is still viewed as a tight end next year, you’re welcome to join me on the Hill bandwagon.
Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins – The big argument about Cousins is who would you rather have than him? Every time I’ve posed this question, the answer always comes that Cousins would rank somewhere in the QB15-20 range. However, he is one of the most consistent fantasy QBs around. In eight years as a starter, he has missed two games, has never thrown fewer than 25 touchdowns, has 19 rushing touchdowns, and has thrown for 4,000 yards in all but one season (2019 when he had 3,603 in 15 games). In his last three games, he’s gone next level – throwing for 1,184 yards and nine touchdowns – the most in both categories among NFL QBs. Those are league title-winning numbers.
Seattle Seahawks TE Noah Fant – He was a throw-in player in the Russell Wilson trade and was very nondescript the first three months of the season. While he isn’t a big-play threat, Geno Smith has locked in on him in the red zone. In his last four games, three of Fant’s 11 receptions have gone for touchdowns. If you’re in a championship game and struggling at tight end, he is still available in most leagues on the waiver wire. Fant could be a plug-and-play option who is drawing the attention of the offensive coaching staff when looking to close out a drive.
Fantasy Football Fallers
Buffalo Bills WR Stefon Diggs – Just as Knox has seen a significant spike in his production, Diggs has been almost nonexistent. In his last three games, he has caught just 10 passes for 123 yards and no touchdowns. To put that in perspective, in his first nine games this year, he had three single games with numbers better than his last three combined. Nobody in the fantasy playoffs is going to bench Diggs, but his numbers haven’t contributed to anyone advancing.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady – For a guy who brings nothing as a runner (he has minus-five rush yards this season), Brady has needed to be lighting up the scoreboard with passing yards and touchdowns. He has thrown more than two touchdowns just twice – in losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals. He has one TD or fewer in 10 of 15 games and has thrown for 300 yards in just two of his last 10 games. We all know he’s the G.O.A.T., but age may finally be getting the best of him, and playing him now is done at your own peril.
Las Vegas Raiders WR Davante Adams – What has made Adams a fantasy stud for so long has been his consistency for scoring and big-yardage games. You rarely see a prolonged drought. However, he is currently on the worst three-game stretch since joining the Raiders. In those three contests, he has caught just nine passes for 114 yards and no touchdowns with diminishing returns each game. Like Diggs, nobody with Adams will bench him, but the numbers speak for themselves.
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones – It isn’t that Jones has been awful, but his selling point has always been his ability as a runner and receiver and scoring a lot of touchdowns. In his last eight games, he has 24 or fewer receiving yards in six of them and has scored two receiving TDs. In his last five games, he has rushed just 56 times for 224 yards and no touchdowns. Anyone who knows Jones understands that he is capable of huge, back-breaking games, but they just haven’t come this season with the frequency expected.
Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton – When Javonte Williams went down, I officially disowned all Broncos – that’s how I roll. Those who stuck with Jerry Jeudy have seen big games here and there, but Sutton has been a load all season. He has just one touchdown in 13 games and it came in Week 4. In his last eight games, he has caught just 28 passes and has 23 or fewer receiving yards in half of them. Not only has Sutton become a short-term liability, unless Russell Wilson snaps out of his funk, he’s going to drag all the Broncos skill position talent down with him long term.