Mike’s Ultimate Value Hitsquad for 2023 (Fantasy Football)
This weekend was one for the ages. I’m absolutely exhausted from the Megalashow in Los Angeles.
— Mike Wright (@FFHitman) August 27, 2023
Beyond living like a rockstar for a night, it’s time to turn the page and focus on what is most imminent: “It’s Football Time!”… but for real this time.
Every year I break out this bad boy list of players before the season begins. My annual Hitman-themed article consists of an elite group of men with a special skill set to take down your fantasy opponents. These are my favorite players per round based solely on my projections in the UDK and the value that I see at their current average draft position per Sleeper ADP.
Here is my list for 2023:
Editor’s Note: Want more of Mike’s fantasy advice and takes? Make sure you check out the Ultimate Draft Kit for his official Breakouts, Sleepers, and Busts.
Round 1- Tyreek Hill, WR, MIA
While I’d obviously love to have Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, or Christian McCaffrey to start a draft, I put Tyreek in that category of players I’d love to exit the 1st round with. He is a difference-maker and different than any other player in the NFL. Beyond the big plays, we saw Tua actually elevate him as Tyreek hit career highs in targets (170), receptions (119), and receiving yards (1710). Guaranteed volume plus the opportunity to single-handedly win you a week is one of the key marks of an untouchable WR in fantasy. He can carry your squad.
Round 2- Tony Pollard, RB, DAL
Last year was just a foretaste of what Pollard can do when given the opportunity. Because I believe in tier-based drafting so much, every time I get near the 2/3 turn, Pollard is just staring at me as a value and a certifiable RB1 that I have personally ranked as a top-5 back. That may sound a bit spicy but consider if you throw out Week 1, he was the RB5 from Week 5 on last year. That was with Ezekiel Elliott still in the mix down and the team must’ve felt comfortable heading into the season with just Pollard because the backups shouldn’t scare anyone. If I went WR in Round 1, Pollard is the locked-in RB1 I want in Round 2.
Round 3- Chris Olave, WR, NO
My love for Olave has been well-documented all off-season in the My Guys episode and the early breakouts episode. Lost in the mix of the excitement of Garrett Wilson is his Ohio State teammate. Olave outpaced him in points per game yet he’s going a FULL round later on ESPN. His ADP might not be a screaming value but what if the market priced him appropriately? Second-year WRs with 1st Round Draft Capital + this type of potential volume crush for fantasy. Derek Carr always hyper-targets his main options (Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, Jared Cook, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, and Davante Adams) so expect a top-12 season as I shared in the Bold Predictions.
Round 4- Justin Fields, QB, CHI
It’s nice to see my colleagues slowly come around to what I’ve known to be true for years: Justin Fields is freaking awesome. From Week 6 on last year, he was a force for fantasy averaging 24.8 fantasy points per game. Jason laid it out in his Fields My Guy case as it is not hard seeing the path for Fields to absolutely crush. His rushing floor is so insanely high week-to-week that you might not need him to throw more than 20 passing TDs to justify this price. This is the best skill position group he’s had in the NFL including D.J. Moore, who is a legit WR1 in my opinion. I don’t love the cost of Mahomes, Hurts, or Allen in the 2nd. Fields in the late fourth give me a bonafide superstar with a real shot to end the year among those elites.
Round 5- J.K. Dobbins, RB, BAL
While Andy is completely out on Dobbins this year, I could not be more opposed to his smuggery. At the Megalashow, I unveiled my true feelings about Dobbins: he can be a top-10 RB this year. Over his final four games of 2022, Dobbins was the RB14 averaging 7 yards per carry. Maybe you’re scared off by Lamar thinking teams with a mobile QB affect their RBs. Over the last FIVE years, teams with a QB who rushed for 700+ yards had 15 total TDs on average for their RB room. 4 of those teams? Lamar-led teams & those Ravens RBs averaged 16 TOTAL TDs. We really only need him to get to double-digits… and to stay healthy.
Round 6- Darren Waller, TE, NYG
To no one’s surprise, the Wallerus is a coveted member of this year’s hit squad. You could try digging through the garbage heap of NYG WR corps looking for a WR1 but what if the clear answer is just Waller? He’s done it with Derek Carr as the TE3 & TE2 commanding oodles of targets. He submitted two of 18 TE seasons with a 24+ % target share since 2015 and he has a solid chance to do it again. That is guaranteed top-5 territory at the position and everything in Giants training camp this year is a resounding gong for Waller to be Daniel Jones‘ main target. I’m even willing to dip into the 5th round to secure him.
Round 7- James Cook, RB, BUF
This might be the biggest 180 I’ve done on a player in a long time. When the Bills drafted Cook in the late second round last year, I thought there was no way he was going to have any fantasy football impact for a player his size. Devin Singletary was the primary ballcarrier for most of the year and I felt vindicated! But the steady drum beat this off-season is that Buffalo views him as their guy. We know he’s a solid pass-catcher and if he’s more than just a between-the-20s guy on a high-powered Bills offense, it’s not hard seeing him finish as a top-24 back. The best part is you don’t have to draft him in that territory.
Round 8- Antonio Gibson, RB, WAS
My champion has been done dirty recently. I likened him to Green Day at the LA liveshow as an underground band that came out with a bang. All Gibson did was show up and show out as an RB1 each of his first two years. Green Day’s 2nd album was pretty good – but it’s shaky, something seems off. Oh no! Calamity! Now there were other bands with the pop-punk sound taking the shine and glory and Gibson’s 2022 was not one to write home about. Just when it seemed over, boom American Idiot and we’re back baby! He is one of my favorite RBs to draft as a FLEX with benefits as I shared on the 10 Tips & tricks episode.
Round 9- Zay Flowers, WR, BAL
He was so close to being a My Guy for me. The Ravens are a rocket ship this year with Lamar Jackson healthy, new OC Todd Monken’s fast-paced scheme, and most importantly, actual NFL WRs on the field. Rashod Bateman can be a deep threat, Odell Beckham Jr. can settle in as a competent possession receiver but Flowers might be the true alpha on this team. He just moves differently out on the field and everything from the Ravens’ training camp and beat reporters was a resounding “this guy is special”. I want to take a shot on rookie WRs in the later rounds in my drafts knowing we could be talking about Flowers as a top-4/5 round pick this time next year.
Round 10- Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN
(Sheepishly begins this with a big gulp…) Listen, it didn’t work out so well for Sutton last year and I felt the pain of it. But the double-digit round draft cost this year along with a wide-open receiving corps makes him an intriguing upside pick. Jerry Jeudy‘s hamstring injury might be severe, Tim Patrick is sadly out for the season again (RIP Fireball Jones), and the only other notable receiver on the team is rookie Marvin Mims. The camp hype on Sutton feels measured this year with the expectation he is the clear WR1 for Russell Wilson.
Round 11- Geno Smith, QB, SEA
If you did miss out on the elites of the QB, I am totally comfortable waiting until the very end to snag Geno. The QB5 from last year is being disrespected despite the fact he led the NFL in completion percentage and finished with 30 passing TDs. The opening schedule is juicy at home against the Rams and a road matchup in Detroit for Week 2. Last year, Lions home games averaged 58 combined points and it further solidifies my deep love for dome games in the NFL.
Round 12- Raheem Mostert, RB, MIA
A starting RB in the 12th round? I’m always looking to build depth for my teams and while Mostert’s age is a bit concerning, the universe has finally moved in his favor after years of injury misfortune. De’Von Achane exited Week 2 of the preseason with an injury, Jeff Wilson Jr. is also banged up, and the team failed to add a veteran RB despite rumors of Dalvin Cook for months. He is a FLEX-worthy RB on an offense that produced the 7th most fantasy points per touch among RBs last year. Volume might never be his thing but he will give your fantasy team some useable weeks with his breakaway speed.
Round 13- Kendre Miller, RB, NO
I was all about Miller as a prospect coming out of TCU. He checked most of the boxes I look for during my scouting process with his speed and contact balance. It seemed odd that he was so low across the industry in rookie mock drafts before the NFL draft and the Day 2 pick by the Saints certainly helped confirm my beliefs. The early injury concerns seemed to be overblown as he showed out in Week 2 of the preseason with an insane wheel route reception and burst in the running game. With Alvin Kamara suspended for the first three weeks of the season, Miller has a window to show why this team chose him despite signing Jamaal Williams in the off-season.
Round 14- Romeo Doubs, WR, GB
Doubs was my pick recently on a late-round sleeper so it makes perfect sense to round out my hit squad with Mr. Doubs. You might’ve forgotten how solid he was as a rookie for the first half of 2022. Through his first eight games, he averaged 79 % of the snaps, a respectable six targets per game, and three finishes inside the top 25. He suffered a high ankle sprain and didn’t return until after their Week 13 bye. He was the clear starter opposite Christian Watson in the preseason as PFF’s highest-graded WR in the NFL with a sick TD on a 50/50 ball and a number of other big plays down the field. While Watson will be the big-play threat, Doubs has a solid chance to turn into a WR3/FLEX for your teams and you can use your last pick on him.