Bettings
article featured image background
Article preview

100 Questions: Fantasy Football 2023 (NFC East)

NFL Fantasy

Authors

Share
Contents
Close

(As we head toward training camp and the start of preseason, our own Daniel Kelley is asking — and attempting to answer — the most pressing questions around fantasy football for 2023. This is 100 Questions.)

 

NFC East

The last time there was the same winner of the NFC East was almost 20 years ago, when the Eagles won the division four straight years 2001-2004. DraftKings Sportsbook says, though, that the odds of that streak ending this season are -135, with the Eagles heavy favorites to repeat atop the division.

Dallas Cowboys

After being inactive Weeks 2-5 last year with a thumb injury, Dak Prescott was close in Week 6. He was listed as questionable up to Sunday, when he was finally scratched. Why does that matter now? Well, in Week 6, replacement starter Cooper Rush had his worst game, throwing three interceptions, and even then, the Cowboys only list by 9 … to the Eagles.

With Prescott, do the Cowboys win that game? If so, both teams would have ended up 13-4, and the Cowboys would have swept the Eagles and been the NFC’s 2 seed. Would that have changed the end of the season? Maybe, maybe not. But the team was very close to at least a season that looked different.

65. Does Tony Pollard Really Have Overall RB1 Ceiling?

The Issue

  • Pollard was PPR RB8 in 2022 despite being 16th in RB snaps played, 21st in RB touches, but sprained his ankle and fractured his fibula in the postseason
  • Ezekiel Elliott (231 carries, 23 targets in 2022) is currently a free agent
  • Backfield after Pollard is holdovers Malik Davis (44 touches in 2022) and Rico Dowdle (0 touches), free agent Ronald Jones (18 touches) and sixth-round rookie Deuce Vaughn (who can’t ride some roller coasters)

Best Answer

The Cowboys released Elliott March 15. March 27, Mike McCarthy said the door was open to Zeke’s return. April 29, Jerry Jones said “The ship hasn’t sailed there.” June 5, Jones said the team hadn’t ruled out re-signing him. June 23, Dak Prescott called Zeke his “best friend” and said he looks great. And again, the current backups — again, to a back recovering from a major postseason injury — had a combined 62 low-value NFL touches in 2022. So in short, I expect Zeke to land in Dallas again eventually, with the only holdup being his (vain) hope that he’ll get a starting job somewhere. Pollard will still be the RB1, and while he’s not much of a rusher anymore, he’s still one of the best blockers at the position and that’ll get him on the field.

Yes, if Pollard has the job to himself (and is healthy), he’s got an elite ceiling. But until Ezekiel Elliott is on another team, I’m proceeding with the assumption that the veteran will be back eventually and will undercut Pollard’s ceiling.

66. Has CeeDee Lamb Reached His Peak?

The Issue

  • Lamb targets per year: 111, 120, 156
  • Receptions: 74, 79, 107
  • Yards: 935, 1,102, 1,359
  • Touchdowns: 5, 6, 9
  • Yards per route run: 1.81, 2.06, 2.38
  • PFF receiving grade: 72.6, 84.6, 87.5
  • PPR points per game: 13.6, 14.6, 17.7
  • Fantasy finish: WR22, WR19, WR5

Best Answer

Most PPR Points, Receivers, 2020-2022
Player Team(s) PPR Points Ages
Davante Adams GB/LV 1038.2 28-30
Justin Jefferson MIN 973.3 21-23
Tyreek Hill KC/MIA 972.6 26-28
Stefon Diggs BUF 930.7 27-29
Cooper Kupp LAR 849.6 27-29
CeeDee Lamb DAL 752.1 21-23
Tyler Lockett SEA 744.1 28-30
DK Metcalf SEA 742.4 23-25
Mike Evans TB 736.5 27-29
A.J. Brown PHI/TEN 728.0 23-25

Only five wide receivers have more PPR points than CeeDee Lamb the last three years (Lamb’s first three in the league), and four of those were doing it in their late 20s (Davante Adams, age 28-30; Stefon Diggs and Cooper Kupp, age 27-29; Tyreek Hill, age 26-28). Only Justin Jefferson (also his age-21 to age-23 seasons) did this at a similar age to Lamb, who just turned 24. I would not be at all surprised to see him stay this efficient (or get even more efficient) over the next couple seasons. That said, his massive 28% target share in 2022 was only partly borne of his skill; it also came because of a lack of secondary receiving options in Dallas. Michael Gallup was slow to recover from his torn ACL, and the workaday Noah Brown was the only other receiver after Lamb and Gallup to top even 10 targets. Now, Gallup is another year removed from injury and Brandin Cooks is in town. Lamb is still the clear No. 1, but having more options should lead to more diversification in Dak Prescott’s targets. So Lamb could grow more efficient but still not improve for fantasy. And that means he’s pretty well placed at WR7 by ADP.

67. Brandin Cooks or Michael Gallup As the WR2?

The Issue

  • Gallup: 113 and 105 targets in 2019 and 2020, then 62 and 74 in 2021 and 2022 as he dealt with injury
  • Cooks’ 1.64 yards per route run in 2022 was the second lowest since his rookie year
  • Gallup is 27, entering the second year of a five-year extension
  • Cooks turns 30 in Week 3 and was acquired for fifth- and sixth-round picks

Best Answer

My most used saw in this series — and frankly, all offseason — is that I won’t rest until I convince everyone to invest in torn-ACL players a year after they return. That is very obviously more applicable to running backs than wide receivers (the last thing to return is the ability to cut and turn, and that’s a bigger deal for running backs), but for someone like Gallup, whose ACL didn’t come until Week 17 of the 2021 season, Year 2 is when I’m most interested, especially as it compares to a player like Cooks who is exiting his prime. Cooks will still be involved, and I’m not saying Gallup is going to blow him away, but right now Cooks is WR43 by ADP and Gallup is WR61, and at a minimum those should be way closer, and my scale tips toward the longtime Cowboy.

New York Giants

Spoiler alert: None of the Giants questions below are about Saquon Barkley. I can’t statistically analyze the question of “Will a player play for less than he thinks he deserves?” If Barkley’s on the field, he’s a first-round pick (or so). If he’s not … uh, good luck, Giants offense.

68. Is Daniel Jones Really a Fantasy QB1?

The Issue

  • As a passer: Career highs in attempts (472), completions (317), yards (3,205), career low in interceptions (5) in 2022
  • As a runner: Career highs in yards (708) and touchdowns (7) in 2022; previous career bests were 423 and 2
  • Fantasy finishes by year: QB23, QB24, QB27, QB9; fantasy points per game by year: 17.5, 13.6, 15.8, 18.4

Best Answer

Daniel Jones New York Giants 2023 Fantasy Football 100 Questions NFC East

There’s a fine needle to thread with Daniel Jones’ 2023 outlook. He (or at least his scheme — thanks, Brain Daboll) was better than ever in 2022, and now that the team actually has pass-catchers with a pulse, he could get even better … but that could all happen and he could still be worse for fantasy. That’s because his rushing was such a massive part of his 2022 performance. And yes, it wasn’t all scrambles — per PFF, he had 65 designed runs last year, as many as he had runs of any kind in a season before that. But last year, the best receiver on the team was [file not found], while this year the Giants have gone out and added about a dozen different could-be-goods, as well as trading for TE Darren Waller. Are they going to run Jones less now that he actually has targets? And/or will he tuck and run less now that he has people who can get open? You have to assume yes, at least a little bit, and whatever improvement he sees as a passer will be offset by a decline in rushing production. Jones will probably be a better quarterback in 2023. But he’ll be a worse fantasy player.

69. What Should We Expect Out of Darren Waller in New York?

The Issue

  • 2019-2020: 197 receptions on 262 targets for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns, played all 32 games
  • 2021-2022: 83 receptions on 136 targets for 1,053 yards and 5 touchdowns, missed 14 of 34 games
  • Turns 31 in Week 2

Best Answer

Darren Waller was a target monster for the Raiders (7.3 targets per game in 2019, 9.1 in 2020, 8.5 in 2021) … right up until they got an actual good receiver (Davante Adams arrived, Waller’s TPG went to 4.8). And yes, extremely obviously, there is no one on the Giants anywhere near Adams’ skill, but collectively, there are actual receiver targets in New York that Raiders teams of a few years ago could only dream of. That, combined with Waller’s increasing age and brittleness, scare me, and I’m only thinking of him as a high-end TE2 with upside, not a candidate to be the best non-Kelce TE in the game.

70. If You Have a Dozen Receivers, Do You Have One?

The Issue

Best Answer

The more I look at the Giants, the more I see a team that could have an extremely competent offense and still give you virtually nothing for fantasy, especially if we get worst-case scenario on the Saquon Barkley side of things. I like this group of receivers — there are outside weapons, slot options, guys who can do both. What there isn’t is one guy who is clearly better than his teammates. It gives Jones and Daboll a lot of options as far as different looks and deployments, but it could be extremely frustrating for fantasy. Some of them won’t make the final roster, because there’s no way for all of them to do so, but regardless, I feel like the Giants are about to set the record for worst ratio of points scored to fantasy options. 

 

Philadelphia Eagles

As I noted in our 2023 roster rankings, the losing team in the Super Bowl at the ends of the 2020 and 2021 seasons both went all out the subsequent offseason in fixing their offensive lines, the teams’ Achilles heel in their losses. But that trend was destroyed this past offseason, with the Eagles losing the Super Bowl but already having the game’s best line. That’s one of the two or three biggest hurdles a team has to go over, and in Philadelphia it’s done.

71. Did DeVonta Smith Oversleep Week 1?

The Issue

  • A.J. Brown in 2022: 145 targets, 88 receptions, 299.6 PPR points
  • DeVonta Smith in 2022: 136 targets, 95 receptions, 254.6 PPR points
  • A.J. Brown without Week 1: 132 targets, 78 receptions, 274.1 PPR points
  • DeVonta Smith without Week 1: 132 targets, 95 receptions, 254.6 PPR points

Best Answer

A.J. Brown was better than DeVonta Smith in 2022. But if you take out the Week 1 game where Smith inexplicably had no touches on 4 targets (and sparked just oh so much panic), they were way, way closer to one another. Check out how their target totals went:

Basically, Smith spotted Brown a little target advantage in Week 1 and then kept pace almost exactly the rest of the way. Smith caught more of his targets (69.9% catch percentage vs. 60.7%), but Brown was more efficient (2.59 yards per route run vs. 1.98 for Smith, 11 touchdowns vs. 7). It wasn’t even necessarily a red zone thing — both had 7 receptions inside the 20 (Smith on fewer total targets), and Smith had 5 such touchdowns against 4 for Brown.

You don’t need me to tell you that they’re both elite receivers. Right now, Brown is WR8 in drafts, Smith WR12. That’s fair, and I wouldn’t fault anyone who wanted to give Smith a “What the hell happened in Week 1?” mulligan and bump him up even a little further.

72. Can Dallas Goedert Crack the Top Tier at Tight End?

The Issue

Not counting his rookie year in 2018, when he was firmly behind Zach Ertz in the target tree, Dallas Goedert has:

  • Averaged between 5.1 and 5.9 targets a game
  • Never scored fewer than 3 or more than 5 touchdowns
  • Missed at least one game every year (one in 2019, five in 2020, two in 2021, five in 2022)
  • Improved his yards and PPR points per game every year:
Year PPR Points Per Game Yards Per Game
2018 5.9 20.9
2019 9.6 40.5
2020 10.6 47.6
2021 11.0 55.3
2022 11.8 58.5

Best Answer

Dallas Goedert is about as good as any tight end as a real football player — other than his rookie year, he’s been a top-five qualified tight end by PFF overall grades every year of his career (and he was 10th as a rookie), but he’s never been higher than TE8 in PPR scoring. Even by points per game, his peak in 2022 was 11.8, an uninspiring TE5. Goedert is currently TE6 in ADP, and I’d argue he’s almost his very own tier, unless you want to lump him in with TE5 Kyle Pitts — Goedert isn’t likely to climb to the level of the top guys, but he is absolutely, firmly ahead of the guys below him. Maybe you want to draft for ceiling, but sometimes security has its value.

73. What Do You Do with This Backfield?

The Issue

Best Answer

The Eagles play the Giants in Weeks 16 and 18. Those weeks, Boston Scott is apparently a must-start running back. His career numbers, per our FTN Fantasy splits tool

That’s absurd, but it’s also really funny. But other than Giants games, Scott is firmly the No. 4 here. And we can’t forget that Jalen Hurts is going to get plenty of Tush Push TDs. So there might be less upside to this backfield than others, especially since we have a quasi-committee. Gainwell has the familiarity, Penny has the free agent contract, Swift has the benefit of being the most recent addition (and therefore the one that made them stop looking). The Eagles are either the smartest organization or almost the smartest; that tells me they’re going to cycle through backs in 2023. Swift is RB23 in ADP right now, Penny RB36, Gainwell RB50 — I think that should be closer, so Swift lower, Gainwell higher. And good luck figuring out who to use when.

Washington Commanders

The Washington team (whatever we did, are or will call them) won the Super Bowl in the 1991 season after putting up a 14-2 record. Since then, it has four division titles and seven playoff appearances … but somehow zero seasons with more than 10 wins. They won the division in 1999 and 2012 at 10-6, in 2015 at 9-7, in 2020 at 7-9. That’s a hard trick to pull off.

74. Is There Room for Both Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson?

The Issue

  • Gibson, 2020 through Week 4, 2022: 14.1 carries per game, 3.3 targets per game
  • Robinson: Debuted Week 5, 2022, after preseason shooting
  • Gibson, Week 5, 2022, through end of season: 8.7 carries per game, 3.8 targets per game
  • Robinson: 17.1 carries per game, 1.0 target per game

Best Answer

Here’s something I didn’t expect: By current ADP, Antonio Gibson (RB32) is currently going ahead of Brian Robinson (RB38) in drafts. Yes, that ADP is PPR, but I still expected the drafting community to be higher on Robinson. Our FTN Fantasy rankings have it slightly flipped, with Robinson RB33 and Gibson RB35. And far be it for me to disagree with our experts, but … the drafting community is right here. With J.D. McKissic gone, Gibson gets to fill the role he basically was in college, when he was a receiver, and Robinson gets to be a ball carrier. I think there’s room for both to be reasonable, if not great, fantasy contributors, but if I’m choosing one, it’s the one who gets receptions and the value therein, and that’s Gibson.

75. Can Jahan Dotson Be Counted On?

Jahan Dotson Washington Commanders 2023 Fantasy Football 100 Questions NFC East

The Issue

Best Answer

Those two bullets counter one another — we can more or less bet that Dotson will score less often (the history of wide receivers this century who have repeated a 10%-plus scoring rate in consecutive seasons is basically a couple of 2012 Packers and Adam Thielen. But the flip side is that he’s only 23 now and entering his second season, and you’d expect a player with his profile to increase his target total in Year 2. So with some up, some down, you’d more or less think Dotson would end up around the same in 2023 as he did in 2022. Well, last year he was WR40 in PPR points per game, and right now he’s WR36 by ADP. That’s not a big gap. I might not take him right there, but it’s not a terrible slot.

76. Will Sam Howell Be the Starter All Season?

The Issue

  • Fifth-round rookie Howell played one game in 2022, beating the Cowboys in Week 18 with 169 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception, plus 35 yards and a touchdown on the ground, QB7 in fantasy
  • New backup Jacoby Brissett was the No. 6 QB in 2022 by overall PFF grade, a career-best 82.6

Best Answer

Jacoby Brissett has gone from being a fairly disastrous starter for the Colts in 2017 and 2019 to being maybe the best backup quarterback in football. It’s a fairly triumphant improvement. And I don’t really care, at least as far as his role in 2023 goes. He’s 30 (31 in December), and yes, we have Geno Smith having a mid-30s breakout, but we have a few hundred other quarterbacks who got to 30 without being a good starter and never got there. The Commanders are not a terrible team, but they are in a great division, so their division odds on DraftKings Sportsbook (+1600) are actually the second worst in football (the Cardinals are +2500). That tells us there’s a good chance the Commanders pick high in next year’s draft. If so, they’re going to really want to know everything they can about their quarterback situation. Brissett will not be the Washington quarterback the next time they are good. Sam Howell probably won’t be — he’s a fifth-rounder with one game, after all — but he could be; remember, he was forecast as a possible early first-rounder before his rough 2021 season at UNC. 

That’s a lot of words to say the Commanders have all sorts of motivation to roll with Howell unless he gets hurt or is a complete disaster, and very little reason to go to Brissett unless they have to. I wrote it in our Commanders Sleepers, Busts & Bold Predictions, but I’ll say it again here: Sam Howell will start all 17 games in 2023 (barring injury), and if he does, he’ll be a top-20 fantasy QB.

Previous Trust the Gut: Fantasy Baseball FAAB Guide (Week 18) Next 2023 Fantasy Coaching & Coordinator Breakdown: Green Bay Packers