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5 Teams Set to Improve in Fantasy in 2023

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The Atlanta Falcons went to the Super Bowl in the 2016 season. In what is unsurprisingly very related news, they were one of the top offenses for fantasy football that year, with only the Packers’ and Saints’ offensive players putting up more PPR points than the Falcons’ 1,745.2. It was a big jump over 2015, when they had put up 1,456.8 points. That’s a climb of 19.8%.

 

In 2017, with virtually the same cast of offensive weapons (unless you think switching from Jacob Tamme to Austin Hooper at tight end is an offense-shatteringly bad move), the Falcons’ fantasy output dropped by nearly 400 points to 1,360.1, a 22.1% drop.

They added rookie Calvin Ridley before 2018 but otherwise had the same core, and … it was back to the good, 1,678.2 points, back up 23.4%.

The point isn’t that the Falcons got markedly better or worse from 2015 to 2016 to 2017 to 2018. It’s that almost any time you see a team make a big jump or fall in production one year, you should expect that team to go the other way the next year. That’s true regardless of strategic changes, personnel additions or losses, or anything else. Regression is just powerful.

Since 2006 (excluding last year), 85 teams have seen their fantasy scoring change by at least 20% (better or worse) from one season to the next. Of those, 65 have gone back the other way the next year. Not always as dramatically, but still, the trend is there.

Check it out, dividing year-over-year change into 10% chunks. This is how teams have changed in Year 3 based on what they did from Year 1 to 2 since 2006:

Year 1-2 change # of teams Average change,
Year 1-2
Average change,
Year 2-3
up 30% or more 17 39.1% -6.8%
up 20-30% 42 24.2% -6.6%
up 10-20% 69 14.7% -2.7%
up 0-10% 132 4.8% 0.9%
down 0-10% 136 -5.0% 3.9%
down 10-20% 58 -13.8% 7.7%
down 20-30% 21 -24.0% 17.3%
down 30% or more 5 -34.7% 25.3%

It’s intuitive, of course, but we still have a tendency for ignoring it every year. So I’m taking a look at the teams who changed the most in 2022 … which means the teams most likely to go the other way in 2023. We look at this in an all-offense context, because a team can change its general offensive approach (pass-heavy to run-heavy, for example) that might change a single position’s output, but the overall total still tells the story.

Teams most likely to increase today; teams most likely to decrease was Tuesday. (PPR scoring, QB/RB/WR/TE production only.)

5 Teams Set to Improve in Fantasy in 2022

As mentioned Tuesday, scoring was down around the league in 2022 by 108 touchdowns and more than 600 points from 2021. A total of 23 teams offered less fantasy production than they did in 2021, a huge chunk of the league. Only one team fell off by more than 20% (and it came close to 30%), but another 10 teams dropped by between 10 and 20%.

The five teams listed in this space last year were the Saints, Texans, Falcons, Seahawks and Titans. Of those, only two (the Saints and Seahawks) ended up improving last year, a side effect of the leaguewide scoring decline that made it hard for any team to improve. It was my worst success rate in half a decade of doing this piece. (The Texans were close, declining by only 2.6%.)

 

1. Los Angeles Rams (-29.8%)

2021 fantasy points: 1,716.3
2022 fantasy points: 1,205.0

What went wrong

Everything? Cam Akers disappeared for part of the year, and his replacements didn’t do much. Allen Robinson was a big flop as a free agent signing. Cooper Kupp was as ridiculously good as ever but only played about half the year. Matthew Stafford missed the same amount of time and was less efficient when he was on the field. The biggest fantasy “success” for the Rams in 2022 was Tyler Higbee’s TE6 finish, and that was just 620 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Why they might improve

It will start with Stafford and Kupp returning healthy, but also the production we saw from Akers at the end of the year (he was the RB2 over Weeks 16-18), bodes well for 2023. We probably shouldn’t expect a return to 2021 levels, but an improvement over 2022 should definitely be in the cards.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-19.5%)

2021 fantasy points: 1,926.7
2022 fantasy points: 1,550.3

Mike Evans Tom Brady Fantasy Football 5 Teams Set to Improve

What went wrong

Not quite as much “everything” as the Rams, but still kind of “everything.” Tom Brady suddenly looked kind of old, at 45. Leonard Fournette did as well (at, uh, 27). Mike Evans had arguably his worst season (packing 21.6% of his season-long fantasy points into Week 17 alone), and Chris Godwin wasn’t quite his old self in his return from an ACL tear.

Why they might improve

I’m going to be honest: This is a tough one. Brady retired, Fournette was released, Cameron Brate is expected to follow him. The current QB depth chart in Tampa is “Kyle Trask.” There are very out-there trade rumors about Evans and Godwin. And, because they won a miserable NFC South, the Buccaneers don’t pick before 19th. This might be a “tank for Caleb Williams” season, which means a rebound is a tough sell.

3. Tennessee Titans (-19.3%)

2021 fantasy points: 1,449.9
2022 fantasy points: 1,169.8

What went wrong

The 2022 versions of the Titans and Bears were the first teams in the last five years to drop off by at least 10% in two straight years. There have been only six such teams since 2006. Basically, the Titans happened to succeed in 2021 despite the offense falling apart, and then it fell apart even further in 2022 and they couldn’t make it work, even with Derrick Henry rebounding. Trading away A.J. Brown and replacing him with [file not found] certainly didn’t help.

Why they might improve

There’s a lot of “TBD” here, because the only thing we know about the 2023 Titans is that Derrick Henry will be in the backfield (and depending on who you ask we don’t know-know that) and Treylon Burks will head into Year 2 as the team’s top receiver. Growth from Burks would help the team’s comeback, as will the mere fact that 1,169.8 points was the third-lowest team total in the league the last two years, and it’s hard to go that low again.

4. Baltimore Ravens (-17.6%)

2021 fantasy points: 1,533.5
2022 fantasy points: 1,264.3

Lamar Jackson Fantasy Football 5 Teams Set to Improve

What went wrong

Lamar Jackson missed five games for the second straight year. Rashod Bateman missed five games for the second straight year … and six more on top of it. J.K. Dobbins struggled in his return from an ACL tear, and Mark Andrews dropped by nearly 40% in his receiving yards and cut his touchdowns nearly in half. Really, it’s a miracle the Ravens got to the 1,264.3 they did.

Why they might improve

Will Lamar Jackson be back? If so, and if healthy, that’s the answer right there, along with another year of recovery for Dobbins and (hopefully) some health for Bateman. If Jackson isn’t in Baltimore … this gets harder.

5. Dallas Cowboys (-17.4%)

2021 fantasy points: 1,828.6
2022 fantasy points: 1,510.3

What went wrong

The Cowboys famously traded away Amari Cooper for a meager return, and Noah Brown and back-from-injury Michael Gallup didn’t come close to replicating his production. Ezekiel Elliott fell off, though he was replaced by Tony Pollard. Dak Prescott missed five games to injury, and he wasn’t as good as 2021 when he was healthy.

Why they might improve

Assuming Pollard is back (and healthy), he should solidly be the lead back in Dallas, and the less Zeke at this point, the better for fantasy. Give Gallup another year to recover from his ACL, though, and that could be the big one. This team needs a competent No. 2 receiver in a big way, and Gallup has that potential.

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