Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: 1 must-draft mispriced player for ESPN, Sleeper and Yahoo! leagues

2RGRAGA August 10, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Tank Dell (13) runs with the ball during the NFL pre-season game between Houston Texans and New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Anthony Nesmith/CSM

• TE Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions (80.1 PFF 2022 offense grade): He has TE1 upside operating as Detroit’s No. 2 pass catcher.

• RB Zach Charbonnet, Seattle Seahawks (91.5 PFF 2022 offense grade): His disciplined rushing style will appeal to head coach Pete Carroll’s sensibilities.

• Dominate your fantasy league in 2023: For up-to-date fantasy draft rankings and projections, check out PFF’s fantasy rankings tool!

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Fantasy football’s home-league season has arrived, with drafts taking place daily on ESPN, Sleeper and Yahoo! platforms. The three players listed below offer drafters significant average draft position (ADP) buy-low opportunities, qualifying as high-upside “must-draft” options in 2023.

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ESPN: TE Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions

Detroit selected LaPorta (80.1 PFF 2022 offense grade) with the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft’s second round, but ESPN fantasy football drafters are letting LaPorta slide to the TE19, 14.10 spot. LaPorta profiled as the best receiving tight end in the loaded 2023 class and waltzed into the No. 2 pass-catching role in Detroit’s highly efficient passing offense. Quarterback Jared Goff’s 7.6 yards per pass attempt tied for No. 8 among 36 NFL quarterbacks with at least 200 dropbacks.

LaPorta’s 2022 receiving data among 44 Power-Five tight ends with at least 35 targets.
2022 Power-Five TE Receiving Sam LaPorta 
PFF Receiving Grade 85.3 (No. 5)
Total Targets 90 (No. 3)
TPRR – YPRR 30.0% (No. 2) – 2.16 (No. 6)
aDot 7.1 (No. 31)
YAC/Rec. 6.3 (No. 11)
Missed Tackles Forced 20 (No. 2)
15+-Yd Pass Plays 12 (T-No. 11)

LaPorta primarily operated as a short-to-intermediate field-depth weapon but functions very well in both the pure intermediate and downfield ranges. Among 28 Power-Five tight ends with at least 10 targets with an eight-to-14-yard average depth of target (aDot), LaPorta ranked top four in both targets per route run (44.3%, TPRR) and missed tackles forced (three, MTF). Among 26 Power-Five tight ends with at least 10 targets on 15-plus-yard throws, Laporta’s 38.3 yards per reception ranked No. 1 and his 10.0 yards after the catch per reception (YAC/Rec.) ranked No. 5.

These talents pair well with short-arta slot receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (90.4 PFF 2022 receiving grade, 6.7-yard aDot), whose 82 targets with a one-to-nine-yard aDot ranked No. 2 among NFL wide receivers last year.

LaPorta crucially performed well as a blocker this preseason. It is imperative for LaPorta to push Nos. 2 and 3 tight ends Brock Wright (54.2 PFF 2022 offense grade and James Mitchell (66.9 PFF 2022 offense grade) off the field in blocking situations for LaPorta to assume full-time status.

The table below compares Detroit’s Nos. 1-3 tight ends’ blocking grades in the 2023 NFL preseason:
DET TE Preseason Blocking PFF Pass-Blocking Grade PFF Run-Blocking Grade 
Sam LaPorta 78.8 56.8
Brock Wright 72.8 64.7
James Mitchell 67.8 53.3

LaPorta projects for moderate-to-high PPR TE1 upside, thanks to his dual-threat profile and No. 2 pass-catcher status in an ascending Detroit offense.

For real-time expert advice during your ESPN fantasy draft, check out PFF's Live Draft Assistant!

Sleeper: RB Zach Charbonnet, Seattle Seahawks

Seattle general manager John Schneider drafted UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet (91.5 PFF 2022 offense grade) in the 2023 NFL Draft’s second round, one year after doing the same with former Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III (76.9 PFF 2022 offense grade) in the 2022 NFL Draft. Charbonnet offers head coach Pete Carroll a consistent, no-nonsense running style that pairs perfectly with Walker III’s big-play-chaser ways. 

Charbonnet profiles as a three-down player capable of taking over as the backfield’s 1A to Walker III’s 1B by year’s end. Sleeper fantasy football drafters must draft Charbonnet at his current RB37, 9.06 ADP.

Walker III’s 2022 assigned-gap rushing data among 45 NFL running backs with at least 100 rushing attempts and Charbonnet’s 2022 assigned-gap rushing data among 92 Power-Five running backs with at least 100 rushing attempts. 
SEA RB Assigned-Gap Rushing Kenneth Walker III Zach Charbonnet
PFF Rushing Grade 84.8 (T-No. 11) 93.6 (No. 3)
Point-of-Attack Change % 16.5% (No. 32) 6.2% (T-No. 13)
Stuffed % 23.1% (No. 44) 9.8% (No. 5)
Yds/Rush Att. 4.6 (No. 18) 7.0 (No. 2)
10+-Yd Run Play % 11.9% (No. 14) 22.7% (No. 2)

Walker III relies heavily on his 4.38-second 40-yard-dash jets in ripping off chunk gains. While his 11.9% explosive run plays rate is impressive, his irresponsible style results in Walker III being stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage far too frequently for Carroll’s liking. Charbonnet’s disciplined rushing style also yields more explosive results despite his slower 4.53 speed.

Charbonnet excelled on passing downs and is built to brick-wall defenders at 6-foot, 214 pounds. Among 92 NFL running backs with at least 30 preseason snaps, Charbonnet’s 83.1 PFF pass-blocking grade ranks No. 3.

Charbonnet’s 2022 receiving data among 45 Power-Five running backs with at least 25 targets.
2022 Power-Five RB Receiving Zach Charbonnet
PFF Receiving Grade 77.2 (No. 7)
Total Targets 44 (T-No. 12)
TPRR – YPRR 18.0% (No. 25) – 1.31 (No. 17)
Catch % – Contested Catch % 84.1% (No. 20) – 66.7% (t-No. 8)
YAC/Rec. 10.4 (No. 10)
Missed Tackles Forced 15 (T-No. 4)
15+-Yd Pass Plays 7 (T-No. 8)

Charbonnet is an extreme value on Sleeper and fantasy football managers should aggressively exploit his ADP

For real-time expert advice during your Sleeper fantasy draft, check out PFF's Live Draft Assistant!

Yahoo!: WR Tank Dell, Houston Texans

In a move backed by Houston’s No. 2 overall pick quarterback C.J. Stroud (66.4 PFF preseason passing grade), the front office drafted the Power-Five’s most prolific 2022 wide receiver Tank Dell (83.5 PFF 2022 offense grade, 1,399 receiving yards) in the 2023 NFL Draft’s third round, yet Yahoo! fantasy football drafters are allowing Dell to fall to a WR83, 20.02 ADP. The 23-year-old wide receiver offers extreme value, possessing a potential WR4-or-better profile.

Dell lit up the NFL preseason Week 1 game against the New England Patriots before hamstring and back tightness caused him to sit out Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins and play sparingly in Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints. The 5-foot-8, 165-pound spark plug flashed as both a wide receiver and punt returner when on the field though, just as he did as a dominant three-year college player. 

Dell’s 19.5 yards per punt return ranked No. 4 among 97 NFL players with at least two total kick returns.

Dell’s 2023 NFL preseason receiving data among 96 NFL wide receivers with at least eight targets.
2023 NFL Preseason WR Receiving Tank Dell
PFF Receiving Grade 80.3 (No. 9)
TPRR – YPRR 40.9% (No. 1) – 2.95 (No. 8)
aDot 12.8 (No. 29)
YAC/Rec. 6.8 (No. 10)
Slot Target % 13.6% (T-No. 24)
20+-Yd aDot % 22.2% (T-No. 31)

Dell ranked top five in both missed tackles forced receiving (19) and 15-plus-yard pass plays (31) generated among 23 Power-Five wide receivers with at least 100 targets, lifting the defense’s lid with an 18.4% (No. 14) 20-plus-yard aDot rate. Dell also promisingly excelled in the return game, producing a top-ranked 93.7 PFF punt-return grade among 88 players with at least nine total returns, accurately reflecting his open-field talents.

Dell’s path to two-receiver sets is weakly impeded by the washed-up Robert Woods (66.0 PFF 2022 receiving grade) and the never-was Noah Brown (61.2 PFF 2022 receiving grade). Woods (31 years old) produced a dreadful 1.14 YPRR rate last year, coming off a 2021 ACL tear. Despite playing in the NFL since 2017, Brown failed to produce even 200 receiving yards in a single season prior to 2022 (594 yards). 

At worst, Dell should ascend to the No. 2 wide receiver spot behind Nico Collins (72.4 PFF 2022 receiving grade) by the time Houston’s Week 7 bye rolls around, but rising even higher is firmly in play as Collins has yet to clear 500 receiving yards through two NFL seasons. Surpassing Collins and assuming the team’s No. 1 wide receiver role, operating in an inside/outside field-stretcher is well within Dell’s 2023 range of outcomes. He is a must-draft player at his egregiously mispriced Yahoo! ADP.

For real-time expert advice during your fantasy draft, check out PFF's Live Draft Assistant!

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