The Fantasy Footballers’ My Guys for 2023
Footclan! It’s the biggest, most anticipated episode of the year: My Guys 2023!!!
If you are new to the show, and frankly, living under a rock, a “My Guy” is someone who, no matter what their ADP is, you should be targeting, according to the Ballers. My Guys are players that the hosts are willing to “plant their flags on” for this fantasy season. Being a “My Guy” could mean roaring value or just someone who ought to be a positional advantage, factoring in all variables. Simply, the My Guys are Andy, Mike, and Jason’s favorites for 2023. You can find this episode here if you want to listen to it.
This show is always a ton of fun, so let’s recap it and review the 2023 My Guys!
Andy’s My Guys
Mike Evans, WR, TB
This name might surprise you, but this is Andy’s most confident “My Guy” for 2023. You probably feel like Mike Evans has been around forever because he kind of has (this will be his 10th season), and yet, Mike Evans is only 29 years old right now.
It may have been a bumpy ride last year, but, according to Andy, it wasn’t Mike Evan’s fault. Believe it or not, Mike Evans graded higher according to PFF in 2022 than he did in either of the previous two years with Tom Brady as his quarterback. Evans finished the year as the WR16, which is far higher than his WR33 ADP, and WR16 is one of his worst career finishes. All these variables suggest value.
The worry for Evans is, of course, his quarterback situation (Baker Mayfield). But guess what, Mike Evans has proven to be QB-proof over his career. Here is the list of quarterbacks he has played with: Josh McCown (2014-2015), Mike Glennon (2015), Ryan Fitzpatrick (2016-2017), Jameis Winston (2014-2020), Ryan Griffin (2018), Blaine Gabbert (2018), and Tom Brady (2020-2022). That’s not exactly a Hall of Fame listing. So is Baker Mayfield that much worse than the Ryan Griffins and Mike Glennons of the world?
But perhaps Baker isn’t even that bad for Mike Evans. Baker throws a surprisingly good deep ball: he ranked 6th in the NFL in terms of deep ball throwers in 2022 and had a 112.7 passer rating when throwing deep (better than Kirk Cousins, Justin Herbert, and Josh Allen). Mayfield actually had more 20+ yard TDs (four) last year than Mahomes (three), despite throwing half the deep yard attempts (32 to 63). All-in-all, Andy thinks Mike Evans has top-12 potential this year.
Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, DET
Jahmyr Gibbs has the precise recipe to be a huge ceiling player. Gibbs is an elite pass-catching running back, demonstrating as much when he had 44 receptions at Alabama – the most ever for a Crimson Tide RB!
We must remind ourselves that a running back target is worth 2.5x as much as a running back rush attempt. So, if Gibbs has 125 rush attempts and 70 targets, that is equivalent to 300 carries in a half-PPR league (even more in full PPR!). An RB set to receive 300 touches would normally be found in the 1st round, not where Gibbs is going now.
Plus, Gibbs plays for a great Lions offense that was 5th in PPG and 4th in yards last year. Plus, the Lions upgraded their offense with two better running backs and an exciting rookie tight end. Gibbs is a young, explosive, super athlete, which is usually a great pick in fantasy.
Jahan Dotson, WR, WAS
Context is important when evaluating Jahan Dotson‘s rookie season. He started off hot with a two-TD game in Week 1, putting him in elite company because the only other rookie WRs to score twice in their first game were Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin, and Marquise Brown.
Then, he missed the next five weeks with an injury, and he was slow to return, playing less than 100% (with Carson Wentz at QB).
But then, Dotson got hot again at the end of the season. He led the Commanders in target share (24%), and he out-targeted Terry McLaurin. Over the final five weeks, Dotson was on pace for 119 targets, 71 rec, 1170 yards, 10.2 TDs, and McLaurin was on pace for 115 targets, 78 rec, 1193 yards, and 10.2 TDs over that same span. So, you can draft essentially the same stats as Terry McLaurin four rounds after McLaurin’s ADP! Sophomore WRs drafted in rounds 4-8 almost always beat their ADP. Dotson has a real chance to break out and wildly beat his ADP.
Jason’s My Guys
Mark Andrews, TE, BAL
All offseason, Jason has been automatically drafting Mark Andrews in the 3rd round because, according to Jason, he’s “Discount Travis Kelce.” But Jason doesn’t stop there; Jason says Mark Andrews is a league-winning pick.
Before Lamar Jackson was injured, Mark Andrews was on pace for 161 targets, 110 receptions, 1289 yards, and 14 touchdowns! That would have been TE1, which Mark Andrews was in 2021, so we know he’s capable of those types of numbers. Thus, Mark Andrews really only needs to stay healthy to be a major winner in the 3rd round.
Jason acknowledges that there were some changes in Baltimore, which all seem to favor the Ravens’ WRs, such as the hiring of offensive coordinator Todd Monken and drafting Zay Flowers. So perhaps, Andrews will pass-block more…except Andrews has only pass-blocked 27 times in his career. Last year he only pass-blocked one time! Moreover, Andrews ran a route on 90% of the Ravens’ dropbacks last year (#1 among TEs), and he was targeted on 25.3% of his routes (#1 among TEs). Jason believes Andrews is still the number one pass catcher on the Ravens, and the new offensive coordinator may add more passing plays this season. Smash pick!
Justin Fields, QB, CHI
We need to remember just how dominant Justin Fields was at the end of 2022. After Week 6, Fields saw a philosophy change involving more designed runs (going from 2.1 runs per game to 5.33). He averaged 7.1 yards per carry and 10.6 rush attempts per game, including posting the most “scrambles” by a QB of all time. Of all the recent QBs to have this type of rushing baseline (Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson three times, Josh Allen, and Jalen Hurts twice), here are the fantasy finishes of those players: 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 2, 3, 1, 5, AND 5 for Fields (last year). A QB with this much rushing is as safe a pick as they come.
Even better, the Bears have improved Fields’ ability to pass! The Bears have better weapons this season, particularly with the addition of DJ Moore, and Fields is showing improvement in the passing game throughout camp. Recent reports from training camp say “You can see the difference in how he runs the offense. This is his team.” He feels like 2022’s Jalen Hurts, which was a My Guy who worked out really well for Jason last season.
Jordan Addison, WR, MIN
When it comes to drafting young players in fantasy football, we generally look for three things: high draft capital, a skillset that fits in the modern NFL, and the opportunity to step into an immediate opportunity. Jordan Addison checks all those boxes. Addison was drafted in the first round, and Jason loved him throughout his scouting process, so Jason believes the talent is there. As for his opportunity, Addison joins a team that lost Adam Thielen, who ran the second-most routes in the NFL last season but only finished as the WR30. Thielen was dead last in TRPP and YPRR among WRs with 100+ targets. Addison is sure to be better than 2022 Thielen with the opportunity to take most of Thielen’s routes. That’s an amazing opportunity to demonstrate his talent.
Since 2014, WRs drafted in the 1st round historically average 100 targes and 1.8 YPRR, which are really strong numbers. The average first-round WR generally falls at about WR30, which would significantly beat Addison’s ADP.
Mike’s My Guys
Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
Much like Mike Evans, Tyler Lockett is being disrespected in ADP. Lockett has finished top 15 each of the last five years, but he’s being drafted at WR30. And Lockett doesn’t even have a quarterback problem! (Geno was the most accurate QB in 2022).
Sure, Seattle drafted Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but Lockett and JSN do not play the same position. Lockett is a big play, deep threat, whereas JSN is an underneath, slot guy. Lockett’s career numbers prove this, as he has historically been a long-distance TD wide receiver (11 TDs of 20+ yards over the past two years – tied with Davante Adams for most in the NFL over that span).
Also, Lockett is a big-play WR on a big-play offense. Seattle was 8th in explosive pass rate last year, and 71% of Seattle’s TDs came from outside the 10-zone.
Believe it or not, over the last five years, Lockett is the most valuable player per target. So, arguably the most valuable per-target WR in fantasy is going in the 6th or 7th round? That makes him an automatic pick for Mike.
Chris Olave, WR, NO
Believe it or not, Olave outpaced Garrett Wilson in points per game, and yet he’s going a full round later in ADP.
Looking at all rookies since 2014, only Tyreek Hill had a better TPRR than Chris Olave. The buzz around Olave is undeniable, and we are not talking about beat writer puff pieces. Nick Underhill tweeted that Olave “looks like a damn superstar” and “looks unstoppable.”
Plus, Olave got an upgrade at QB, going from Andy Dalton/Jameis Winston to Derek Carr. Derek Carr may not be Patrick Mahomes, but he has undeniably supported great receiving options in the past. Look no further than Davante Adams last year (WR3) and Darren Waller in 2019 and 2020 (TE3 and TE2, respectively).
Olave’s ADP doesn’t make him a screaming value, but as a 2nd year WR with this much buzz and talent, Olave has the potential to crush for fantasy. He’s an emerging superstar.
Darren Waller, TE, NYG
Darren Waller has not been spectacular over the past two seasons, but that fact is primarily due to injury (playing only 20 games over the past two seasons). Now, Waller gets traded to the New York Giants, who seem to lack a clear primary receiving target among the WR corps. What if the #1 receiving option is Waller?
Historically, teams without a clear WR1 see boosted TE targets. Daniel Jones historically doesn’t throw to the WR position very often (59%, 56%, 57%, and 51% last year). That opens the door for more TE targets if history is any indication. Since 2014, teams having a WR target share below 60%, on average, pass to the TE1 position 24% of the time. When TEs see 24% of the team targets, they always finish in the top five at the TE position.
Waller is now 31 years old, but age matters far less for TEs who have performed at the elite level Waller has. According to Marvin Elequin, “As long as the player produces multiple top-five seasons before the age of 31, regardless of draft capital or athleticism, they possess a higher likelihood of producing into their mid-30s.” Waller is in line to be a top-five TE, but he isn’t being drafted as such.