My final three drafts for the 2023 Fantasy Football season were Tuesday, and that included two of my three most important leagues. And it wasn't ideal that, as we drafted, I really had no idea whether Travis Kelce is going to play in Week 1.
Kelce left practice early Tuesday with a hyperextended knee, and while reports suggest he's avoided the worst-case scenario of a torn ACL, we're still pretty short on details with the Chiefs set to kick off the season in about 36 hours. The Chiefs believe Kelce's ACL is intact, according to Adam Schefter, but he is believed to have a bone bruise and some swelling. He hasn't been ruled out for Week 1, but at this point, I'd say he seems like a longshot; the question in my eyes is more about how much time he'll miss than whether he'll miss any.
Look, maybe we'll get lucky and he'll be out there Thursday night. Maybe this is just a last-minute scare that'll be completely forgotten by Week 2. If so, that's going to be a pretty neat outcome for those of you who took the risk in Tuesday drafts. But, Mark Andrews was averaging 19.1 PPR points through his first six games, but then suffered a knee injury he was mostly able to play through, but averaged just 8.4 PPG from Week 7 on., it's entirely possible this ends up being a multi-week injury, or potentially one that lingers even after Kelce has been cleared. Remember, last season
Kelce is the biggest difference maker in Fantasy when he's right. The concern here is, he may not be right in 2023, at least not for a while. After all, we're talking about a soon-to-be 34-year-old. A soon-to-be 34-year-old who has shown no signs of that age yet, to be sure, but that's still a lot of risk all of a sudden. I don't feel great about the two leagues where I ended up with Kelce, that's for sure.
With that out of the way, let's continue to turn our sights to Week 1 and our first lineup locks of the week. Here's what the rest of today's newsletter has in store to help you get ready for Week 1:
- 🔍Week 1 Position Previews
- Week 1 Odds and Picks
🔍Week 1 Position Previews
Every Tuesday, Heath Cummings previews each position, providing injury insights, key stats to know, the best waiver-wire adds, DFS targets, and more for, , , and . Here's a brief rundown of each position, along with some key details you need to know before you go read Heath's full breakdowns:
"If you followed my advice during draft season, it's likely you drafted Anthony Richardson at least once. Same goes if you followed Dave Richard or Jamey Eisenberg. We all raved about Richardson's upside, which I'll recap here shortly:
"Richardson is the greatest athlete to ever test at the NFL Combine as a quarterback. He landed with a coach who coached Justin Herbert his rookie season and Jalen Hurts the past two years. We just saw Justin Fields finish as QB7 averaging just 149 passing yards per game. If Richardson is even decent as a passer, we should expect him to be a must-start quarterback. As long as he runs as much as Fields and Hurts did, Richardson is a low-end starter even if he's a terrible passer. If he's somehow good by the end of the year, he's unquestionably a league winner."
- Number to know: 26 -- Patrick Mahomes has scored at least 26 Fantasy points in every Week 1 start he has made.
- Matchup that matters: Jared Goff @KC (32nd vs. QB in 2022)
- Waiver add/streamer: Sam Howell, Commanders vs. ARI: "Howell is the only streamer I would consider starting over Anthony Richardson, and I understand if you can't quite get there. I expect big things from Eric Bienemy's offense in Washington and I don't expect Arizona to provide much resistance. Howell topped 19 Fantasy points in his lone start of his rookie season and rushed for 35 yards. Considering he ran for 828 yards and 11 TDs in his final season at North Carolina, there may be more upside here than his ADP suggested."
- Stash: Kyler Murray, Cardinals: "Murray should be rostered in every league that has an IR spot. You don't even have to drop anyone to add him. Go get him, stash him, and then wait and see. There has been some speculation that he will sit out the entire season, but I can't remember a precedent for a 26-year-old QB1 choosing to sit out so his team can tank and we have no reason to believe his ACL recovery will take that long. If Murray shows up Week 8 and is his old self you've got found money."
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"One of the most jarring things about building Week 1 rankings is how different the running back rankings can look from the pre-draft version. Part of that is because guys like Jaylen Warren, Tank Bigsby, and Roschon Johnson rank so much lower. Their late-season upside doesn't count for much this week. The other part is in those veterans who leap up in the rankings. The most obvious is Jamaal Williams.
"In terms of full-season projections, Williams is stuck in what looks like a three-headed timeshare with Alvin Kamara and Kendre Miller. What's worse is that Taysom Hill will likely steal a handful of touches each week and a handful of scores on the season. But in Week 1, Kamara is suspended and Miller is dealing with yet another injury, so it could be a 20-touch day for Williams."
- Number to know: 23.0 -- Christian McCaffrey led all running backs with 23.0 FPPG after he joined San Francisco. Don't let sharing concerns scare you away.
- Matchup that matters: JK Dobbins vs. HOU (32nd vs. RB)
- Waiver add: Deon Jackson, Colts vs. JAX: "As long as Zack Moss is out, we expect Jackson to lead the Colts committee against Jacksonville, though he'll share with Evan Hull. Expect something in the 10-15 touch range with a similar number of Fantasy points. If Moss is cleared from his broken arm, he would become our favorite to lead the backfield, but it will still be a committee."
- Stash: Sean Tucker, Buccaneers: "Tucker surprisingly won the RB2 job in Tampa and now is just one Rachaad White injury away from significant playing time. There are scouts who believe Tucker has more upside as a runner than White, so it's not entirely out of the range of possibilities that he takes this job by midseason even without an injury."
"When it's all said and done, 2023 may be the year of the wide receiver duo. It's already the consensus view that Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, A.J. Brown, and DeVonta Smith should all be top 15 wide receivers. I have Christian Kirk and Calvin Ridley in my top 20. Jahan Dotson and Terry McLaurin (when healthy) are just outside that. And it wouldn't be that surprising to see duos from Pittsburgh or New Orleans emerge.
"In contrast, three veteran duos have largely taken a step back, at least in terms of draft rankings. Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Quentin Johnston were two of the responsible parties, Baker Mayfield was the third. But those draft rankings are not fully reflected in the Week 1 rankings. We don't expect Smith-Njigba to play after his wrist surgery while Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are boosted due to their projected shootout with the Vikings."
- Number to know: 281.5 -- Calvin Ridley finished as WR5 with 281.5 PPR Fantasy points in his last full season, which was 2020.
- Matchup that matters: Chris Godwin @MIN (30th vs. WR)
- Waiver add: Rashod Bateman, Ravens vs. HOU: "Bateman played three healthy games with Jackson last year and scored more than 40 Fantasy points in those three games. Lamar Jackson said earlier this offseason that Bateman is his WR1. Todd Monken's offense should be more receiver friendly and the Texans defense should not provide much resistance."
- Stash: Nathaniel Dell, Texans: "Dell won't start Week 1 and his size is a concern, but he has elite separation skills and the favor of his quarterback C.J. Stroud. Dell flashed those skills in the preseason and it shouldn't surprise anyone if he forces his way into the receiver rotation very early in the season. He's the only wide receiver on this roster who I could see producing truly elite target numbers."
"As of Wednesday morning, we're still ranking and projecting as if Travis Kelce is going to play Week 1 against the Detroit Lions. The Kansas Chiefs' star tight end hyperextended his knee at practice on Tuesday and is officially listed as questionable. Of course, Fantasy managers with Kelce on their roster need to make other plans, or at least know what their course of action will be if Kelce is ruled out. That largely depends on your waivers settings.
"If you're allowed to make add/drops on Thursday evening, then I would suggest waiting until then to make a decision, assuming you're not in a league deep enough to where Noah Gray has already been picked up. Does that mean Gray is the best Kelce replacement? Not in shallow leagues. Tyler Higbee is still available in 32% of leagues and he's a top-10 tight end this week. Gerald Everett is available in more than half of leagues, and Trey McBride is still available in 88% of leagues."
- Number to know: 28.6% -- Mark Andrews led all tight ends last year with a 28.6% share of his team's targeted air yards. Watch that share in Week 1 to see how Todd Monken impacts that.
- Matchup that matters: Tyler Higbee @SEA (31st vs. TE)
- Streamer: "The Dolphins struggled mightily against tight ends last year, allowing the fifth-most Fantasy points to the position. Kellen Moore's offense has traditionally had a big role for the tight end. It's possible you add Everett as a Week 1 streamer and just keep starting him. At the very least, he's an excellent stream in a game with an over/under of 51. There should be plenty of touchdown opportunities."
Do as I say, not as I do? I never want to give advice that I wouldn't follow myself, and I like to think I do a pretty good job of following my own advice when I do my drafts.
For example, if you've been reading this newsletter throughout draft season, you probably won't be too surprised to learn that my most drafted player in 2023 leagues is Josh Jacobs. I was drafting him in the second round of nearly every draft I did back before he signed his contract for 2023, and I was drafting him pretty much anytime I had a pick near the back of the first round afterwards. All in all, I ended up with him on 10 of my final 19 drafts, which is a shockingly high number. That's just a ton of exposure to one player, especially an early-round pick, and it means my success or failure this season will be inordinately impacted by how Jacobs fares this season.
Here's who else I drafted the most in my 2023 drafts:
Josh Jacobs – Times drafted: 10
I ranked Jacobs as a first-round pick before he signed his contract and reported to the Raiders, and I've still got him as a first-rounder now. Actually, that's not entirely true – I took him in the second round of a draft Tuesday, after snagging Amon-Ra St. Brown with the No. 10 pick – I have Jacobs ranked higher, but it was a calculated bet that Jacobs would still be there at 15th overall, and it was a bet that paid off. I probably ended up taking Jacobs more often in the second round than the first, which is just fine in my eyes. Josh McDaniels' offense has been top-five in PPR points by running backs in eight of the past 11 seasons, so there is room for Jacobs to dominate touches less than he did last season and still be an elite Fantasy option. I am, quite literally, counting on it.
Nathaniel Dell – Times drafted: 9
Dell was a very productive player at Houston, racking up over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons, and he landed in a spot with the Texans where he could play a pretty significant role pretty early on. He'll likely open the season as the No. 4 wide receiver here, but given that Robert Woods and Noah Brown are two of the three WR ahead of him on the depth chart, it probably won't take much to move up quickly. Dell had a strong preseason and training camp, and I loved making a bet that he can emerge as a viable Fantasy option outside of the first 10 rounds in most drafts.
Tyler Lockett – Times drafted: 6
Lockett is one player I actively targeted in most of my drafts, though even he was someone I ended up settling for after he fell farther than I thought he should. He's been a top-50 pick in my rankings since the start of draft season, but I usually ended up taking him outside of the top 60. Lockett gets dinged for perceived inconsistency, as well as concerns about the Seahawks adding Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the first round of this year's NFL Draft, but I still think he's going to be a big part of this offense. As a No. 3 WR, it's hard to do any better.