Draft This, Not That — Fantasy Football Draft Pivots for 2023


Nailing a fantasy football draft is about more than just finding good players. It’s about finding good value. 

Every year, certain players are grossly undervalued by fantasy managers because there’s another, flashier option who’s garnering all the headlines. It could be a No. 2 wide receiver who’s drafted later than a similarly talented No. 1, or maybe an unheralded running back who has an equal opportunity to emerge from a crowded backfield. Sometimes mere perception has a major influence on a player’s cost, and being able to look past all the noise can provide immense value on draft day.


In this piece, I’m not necessarily arguing the lower-ranked players will outperform those who are ranked higher — I’m simply saying they’ll return better value at cost. With that said, here are some pairings where it makes more sense to draft the cheaper option.

ADP source = Sleeper (0.5 PPR)

Draft Christian Kirk (ADP 71) Over Calvin Ridley (ADP 43) 

Christian Kirk finds himself on this list in back-to-back years due to a criminally low ADP. Many are afraid the arrival of Calvin Ridley will destroy Kirk’s fantasy value, but that’s likely not the case. This Jaguars offense looks ready to explode in 2023, and there’s more than enough passing volume for both receivers to feast. 

Last year, Kirk led the Jaguars with a 23% market share en route to a WR11 finish. Even with the addition of Ridley, Kirk should see enough volume to continue dominating out of the slot. Even if he’s only No. 2 in the pecking order this year, forecasting about a 20% target share feels reasonable. In this offense, that could lead to a lot of fantasy points.

Draft Trevor Lawrence (58) Over Joe Burrow (34)

Speaking of that dominant Jaguars passing attack, Trevor Lawrence looks poised to be the best value at quarterback in the entire draft this year. When doing a side-by-side comparison between Lawrence and Joe Burrow – a QB with a similar profile and noticeably higher ADP – it’s hard to comprehend why the two are priced so differently.

Both Cincinnati and Jacksonville should house dominant passing attacks this year. It’s not unreasonable to think both teams finish as top-five offenses this year, and it’ll be the passing game that leads them there. The statlines for both of these quarterbacks should look similar come season’s end, and the only major difference will be the opportunity cost you took when drafting them.

Draft Tyler Lockett (70) Over DK Metcalf (34)

Tyler Lockett Seattle Seahawks 2023 Fantasy Football Draft This, Not That

Every year — I repeat, every year Tyler Lockett is a screaming value in fantasy drafts. For some reason though, the fantasy community never wants to adjust their rankings. Yes, DK Metcalf has the more traditional look of an alpha WR1, but Lockett has consistently been the one putting up more fantasy points. In 2022 Lockett finished as WR13 and Metcalf as the WR18 in total points scored (and Lockett played one fewer game). If you get the temptation to draft Metcalf when you’re on the clock this year, feel empowered to look in another direction, wait a few rounds, and get better production from Lockett at a much cheaper price.

Draft Darren Waller (69) Over Mark Andrews (27)

The tight end position is always a tough one to nail. It sort of feels like it’s “Travis Kelce and then everyone else,” but in recent years Mark Andrews has made a strong push to be grouped into the same tier as Kelce. The problem with Andrews this year is his situation has changed. For the longest time, Andrews was the only reliable target for Lamar Jackson, but this year he’ll be competing with three former first-round picks for targets – Odell Beckham, Rashod Bateman and Zay Flowers

Enter Darren Waller.

Much of the appeal behind Andrews these past few years can now be said about Waller. He’s a proven talent who appears to be the clear-cut No. 1 option in his passing attack. The receiver room in New York doesn’t pose as much of a target risk as the one in Baltimore, and it wouldn’t be crazy to predict Waller finishes the season with more targets than Andrews. For a guy going 42 spots later in drafts, that’s an incredible value.

Draft Rashaad Penny (100) Over D’Andre Swift (63)

The buzz around Rashaad Penny hasn’t been great lately. Despite this, I stand by my claim that he’s the best value in the Eagles backfield. Yes, the Eagles are going to deploy a committee, but the role Penny should have is a valuable one.

A few times every game, the Eagles do this thing where they run the ball on every, single, play … and it works. Penny’s downhill running style makes him the perfect back for those drives. Even if it’s a low volume role, he should remain highly efficient (5.7 career YPC) behind this offensive line and have a few shots at a touchdown every game. He may start the season slow as he shakes off some injury rust, but Penny’s role in this offense is more valuable than D’Andre Swift’s – a pass-catching back on a team that rarely throws to RBs.

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