Seven players, seven suspect projections set to sadden us

A lot of data gets taken into account when it comes to a player’s fantasy projection in a given season. Fantasy analyst Antonio Losada highlights some 2023 projections he thinks are too high.

Trevor Lawrence kicked off his professional career in 2021 to much fanfare and as hyped as you could imagine after wrapping up his college days early. He wasn’t even a remotely great fantasy player in his rookie season (he nearly missed the top-25 QB list that year) but last season was an entirely different story for the then-sophomore Jaguar.

Entering 2023, Yahoo projects T-Law to throw passes for a few hundred more yards than he did last year, to break the 30+ touchdown barrier, and to finish with 330+ fantasy points for an average of around 19+ FP per game next season.

Sorry, but I just can’t see such a jump happening this early in his career.

Lawrence will play his age-24 season in 2023. He should be years away from reaching his absolute prime. Even then, he’s already put up gaudy numbers so there might not be much room to grow in Jacksonville for him.

The sophomore QB threw the seventh-most passes last year (nearly 600 already), accrued the ninth-most passing yards and boosted his fantasy value with the fifth-best and 10th-best marks on rushing touchdowns (five) and yards (291).

We were told Lawrence was going to be a generational player, so hey, perhaps he can put up Yahoo’s projections. That said, the platform is expecting Lawrence to do something only the other 11 quarterbacks have done before him (baseline of 4,400+ passing yards, 30+ TDs, and 25+ rushing yards).

In the last five years only Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes reached those benchmarks in their third pro-seasons or earlier. However, Lawrence will need to reach those numbers with Calvin Ridley as his WR1, who’s coming off spending more than a year on the shelf. Not trusting this projection just one bit.

The Denver Broncos started a new era last season when they decided to trade their house away for the right of calling Russell Wilson one of their own. Denver decided to make another bold move this summer, the second in as many years, by hiring former Super Bowl champion HC, Sean Payton.

Will the Broncos’ offense suffer a sudden improvement and rise as a whole on their way to fixing their 2022 wrongs? Allow me to think that won’t happen — at least, not to the extent Yahoo is projecting it.

Wilson is coming off the worst season he’s ever played in the NFL. He posted his worst marks on total fantasy points, FP per game and FP per snap. Wilson threw his fewest touchdowns ever (16), the second-most interceptions through his career (11) and completed a measly 60.5% of his 292 pass attempts, another career-low.

The Broncos’ offense, barren of truly talented weapons, didn’t help. It won’t help this year, either, as Denver has already lost WRs Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler for the season and will need to ease RB1 Javonte Williams in as he’s coming off an ACL injury.

While the change of head coach might turn into a volume boost on the passing front, I’m not buying the overall improvement of this offense and therefore I think Wilson will fail to deliver for the second season in a row.

I wouldn’t even count on him jumping back into the QB1 tier in 2023.

The Lions used their first-round pick on a rusher after deciding to trade D’Andre Swift (an early second-round pick himself just two years ago) to the Eagles earlier this offseason. Swift leaves the Lions after getting 99 carries over 14 games last year while adding 48 receptions on 70 targets.

Yahoo projects Gibbs, who is expected to take over the RB1 role in Detroit, to earn a hefty 171 carries and 86 targets next year as a rookie. That could happen considering both Swift and former Lion Jamaal Williams are now out of Detroit, but Swift himself only got 114 carries and 57 targets as a rookie in 2020 through 13 games.

Even prorating the numbers to a full 17-game season, it looks like Yahoo is projecting Gibbs closer to his ceiling than his floor. In the last five seasons, only 10 rookies have played RB while getting 250+ opportunities. Of those, only four reached the 215+ fantasy points Yahoo thinks Gibbs will get. Betting on Gibbs instead of the field/past looks like risky business.

The Lions also brought David Montgomery from Chicago this offseason, and that’s another reason for concern. The hype is high when it comes to Gibbs and his skill set as he’s seen as a do-it-all type of running back, but I will need to see him do it at the NFL level before believing it.

We thought the same about Swift a few years ago and while he was good he was never great. I expect the same to happen to Gibbs, at least in his rookie season.

RB Zach Charbonnet, Seattle Seahawks — Yahoo Projection: 146.62 points

The Seattle Seahawks were adept at featuring top-50 fantasy rushers in the early aughts and into the 2010s. Since the likes of Shaun Alexander first and Marshawn Lynch later, though, things have changed for the absolute worst.

Chris Carson broke the 150-FP barrier three consecutive years in the 2018-2020 span but after injuries derailed his career nobody other than Kenneth Walker III stepped up to reach the levels of play of the aforementioned three. And even then, KW3 was just a borderline RB2 last year in half-PPR leagues.

This year, Seattle will feature a backfield comprised (assuming both players make it to Week 1 after getting banged up in training camp) of Walker and rookie Zach Charbonnet. Yahoo projects the split to be quite balanced with the former getting 230+ carries and the latter 170+ and both RBs getting 26 receptions for 195 yards and a touchdown each.

The combined output yields a total of 335+ FP over the season, considering those projections. The Seahawks backfield (considering all RBs, not just the best two) has scored 351, 332 and 313 fantasy points in 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively.

Seattle added one of the best (if not the best) wideouts to the receiving corps this offseason in rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba; beyond that, nothing screams change in this offense. I’d lower the expectations for both Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet, and definitely cut the latter’s projection in at least a third of Yahoo’s numbers for a 100-FP finish in 2023 — in the best possible scenario.

The backfield of the Falcons has experienced one of the wildest developments since we entered this decade. Since the 2020 season, included, there have been three different top rushers on the franchise at the position: Todd Gurley, Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier.

In 2023, the depth chart of the Falcons will have a new RB1 in former first-round, eighth-overall pick Bijan Robinson. Feel free to go ahead and pencil Robinson in as the upcoming leader of Atlanta’s backfield, thus becoming the fourth different rusher in as many seasons to lead the team on that fantasy front.

Of course, that means 2022 151st-overall pick Tyler Allgeier will lose a ton of his production, let alone volume, this season. Yahoo is accounting for this in the projections, viewing Robinson as a QB1-level rusher (230+ total FP in half-PPR leagues) compared to his teammate’s 137+ FP outlook.

Keep in mind that Cordarrelle Patterson is still a member of the Falcons’ backfield and that he finished last season fewer than 10 fantasy points behind Allgeier while only enjoying 77% of the opportunities enjoyed by the rookie.

Yahoo’s projection feels closer to Allgeier’s ceiling rather than his floor or true/realistic expectations. Mike Davis was the RB2 of the Falcons back in 2021 and he finished the season with around 500 rushing yards and 260 receiving yards. It’s possible that the sophomore struggles to even crack those figures and the 115-FP barrier in 2023.

The Ravens can say that they have the Best-of-the-Rest tight end in the NFL. Other than Travis Kelce and George Kittle, nobody has been able to perform at the position such as Mark Andrews has done through the past few seasons. The only problem is that so far, Andrews has not really had any serious competition for targets in Baltimore — but that is about to change next year.

In the last four years, there have only been 44 player seasons by a tight end in which said player got targeted 85+ times. Four of those, the maximum in that span, belong to Andrews. Kelce is the only other tight end with four seasons of 85+ targets in the 2019-2022 span. Not George Kittle. Not anybody else.

The last Ravens WR not named Marquise Brown (2020 and 2021) to get 85+ targets in a single season was Willie Snead in 2018. Talk about a tight-end-favorable environment, isn’t it? Those sunny days might turn into dark nightmares for Andrews starting in 2023.

While Lamar Jackson will keep relying on Andrews on a per-play basis, the truth is that Andrews will have to compete for looks with the trio of Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman and rookie Zay Flowers next season (and productive veterans such as Nelson Agholor are also rostered). The Ravens also rely heavily on their backfield (yes, they have changed OC, but they won’t ditch such a productive unit entirely and all of a sudden).

I’m not saying that Andrews will suffer the yips. I’m not saying he’s going to turn into a pumpkin. I’m just saying that while he might enjoy a nice start to the year with Jackson and the rest of his new offensive weapons are still building a rapport, that might stop happening midway through the year when the offense gets more diversified.

It won’t surprise anybody to find Andrews failing to reach 140 half-PPR points in 2023 — and for the first time in his career.

There is a problem with Yahoo’s projection for Chris Godwin: the numbers are painting an encore of his 2022 season, which was already good for him, and adding even more wood to Godwin’s fire by handing him a bunch of bonus fantasy goodies by way of the touchdown column.

All of that has me a little bit scared.

Godwin has missed a few games every season for the past four years. The last campaign marked his worst year since he averaged fewer than 10 fantasy points per game back in 2018. Even then, he finished with 1,000+ receiving yards, scored three touchdowns and got a monster 142 targets as the slot receiver of Tampa Bay.

While the bulky targets are out of the question (they’ll inevitably be there), reaching 140 means matching last year’s number while the projection to reach 1,050 yards tops last year and two of the last three seasons put together by the wideout. I don’t think I need to mention the projection for six receiving touchdowns, which would be the most post-2020 (read: post Tom Brady).

It’s curious how QB Baker Mayfield is rostered in fewer than 10 percent of all Yahoo fantasy leagues … while fantasy GMs are banking heavily on Godwin and Evans (both above 90 percent). It takes two to tango in the quarterback-wideout game, and having Mayfield tossing the rock to your WR adds another reason for concern.

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