2023 Fantasy Football Awards Predictions

2MHE67H Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) celebrates his touchdown with tight end Mark Andrews (89) in the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Baltimore, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

• QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (85.2 PFF 2022 offense grade): He is the No. 1 contender for fantasy football’s Most Valuable Player award.

• RB Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons (69.6 PFF preseason offense grade): He is the best bet to lead the 2023 rookie class in fantasy-point scoring.

• Fantasy draft approaching? Use PFF’s AI-powered Live Draft Assistant to win the draft and dominate your 2023 fantasy football league.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

With the NFL Week 1 kickoff arriving next week, it is time to look ahead to fantasy football awards predictions. The players detailed below offer actionable fantasy football information while outlining 2023’s likeliest winners and losers. 

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Most Valuable Player: QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Jackson (85.2 PFF 2022 offense grade) is poised for a career year playing under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, surrounded by his deepest pass-catching corps yet. The front office provided Jackson with the necessary personnel upgrades to transition the offense toward a pass-first style that is commensurate with today’s league-wide play calling. The 26-year-old is conveniently available behind the position’s 2022 top-tier as the ESPN QB4 with a 3.06 average draft position (ADP). 

As detailed in the “One Must-Draft Player From Every NFL Division” piece, Jackson’s downfield passing talents are perfect for Monken’s aggressive scheme. The deep routes run by Jackson’s pass-catching corps also helpfully facilitate wide-open rushing lanes for Jackson to scramble through. The dual-threat quarterback remains every bit the elite rusher he was coming out of Louisville in 2018. Among 33 NFL quarterbacks with at least 25 rushing attempts, Jackson produced top-two rushing rates in every major rushing category last year. His 31 explosive 10-plus-yard rushing plays (tied for No. 2) are particularly impressive considering his season ended prematurely, thanks to a Week 13 PCL sprain.

It is imperative for fantasy managers to secure an elite quarterback in today’s fantasy football landscape, with the position’s top tier separating comfortably from the back-end QB1s. Jackson will jockey for the overall QB1 spot by year’s end, wrecking games en route to a fantasy football Most Valuable Player season.

Rookie of the Year: RB Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta selected Robinson (69.6 PFF preseason offense grade) with the No. 8 overall pick. He will function as the offensive focal point in head coach Arthur Smith’s potent rushing attack, racking up gaudy yardage and touchdown sums behind PFF lead NFL analyst Sam Monson’s No. 7-ranked offensive line. The unit’s 89.3 PFF 2022 run-blocking grade led the league by 7.7.

Atlanta’s 2022 running back rushing data among NFL teams.
2022 NFL Team RB Rushing Atlanta Falcons
PFF RB Rushing Grade 91.5 (No. 2)
YPC 4.9 (No. 2)
1st-Dwn + TD % 25.8% (No. 4)
Regular Season Rush Att. 454 (No. 2)
Robinson’s 2022 rushing data among 41 Power-Five running backs with at least 150 rushing attempts.
2022 Power-Five RB Rushing  Bijan Robinson
PFF Rushing Grade 96.1 (No. 2)
YPC 6.1 (T-No. 8)
Missed Tackles Forced 104 (No. 1)
MTF/Rush Att. 0.4 (No. 3)
YAC/Rush Att. 4.2 (No. 4)
10+-Yd Run Plays 41 (T-No. 6)
1st-Dwn + TD % 30.7% (No. 13)

Robinson possesses the requisite pass-catching talents to be used in an Alvin Kamara-like (63.0 PFF preseason offense grade) role should general manager Terry Fontenot choose to influence Smith with the tactics used by Fontenot’s former team the New Orleans Saints

Robinson’s 2022 receiving data among 49 Power-Five running backs with at least 25 targets.
2022 Power-5 RB Receiving Bijan Robinson
PFF Receiving Grade 74.0 (No. 11)
YPRR 1.52 (No. 11)
Contested Catch % 100.0% (T-No. 1)
aDot – Yds/Rec. 6.8 (No. 1) – 16.5 (No. 1)
YAC/Rec. 10.6 (No. 5)
Explosive 15+-Yd Pass Plays 10 (No. 2)
20+-Yd aDot % 20.7% (No. 1)

Robinson’s 20.7% deep-target rate (20-plus-yard average depth of target (aDot)) was the only such frequency greater than 11.0%.

Robinson is the likeliest player to lead the highly talented 2023 class in points-per-reception (PPR) scoring. 

Comeback Player of the Year: RB Breece Hall, New York Jets

Hall (69.8 PFF 2022 offense grade) was trending toward an overall RB1 2023 ADP before suffering ACL and meniscus injuries in Week 7. He ranked top two in three-of-four major rushing efficiency metrics among 65 NFL running backs with at least 55 rushing attempts and top three in all six major receiving metrics among 49 NFL running backs with at least 25 targets, as outlined in the “One Must-Draft Player From Every NFL Division” article. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Hall reportedly ran 22 miles per hour just six months post-ACL reconstruction (ACLR) and meniscectomy. He is expected to be ready for Week 1 and even resumed practicing ahead of new backfield mate Dalvin Cook (68.1 PFF 2022 offense grade), who remains at an elevated risk for shoulder re-dislocation in both shoulder joints following February surgery. Doctor of Physical Therapy Jeff Mueller remains bullish on Hall returning to 100.0% health by Weeks 5-6.

Hall’s 2023 offensive environment is far superior to 2022, helpfully raising his PPR potential. Monson moved up the offensive line eight spots in his rankings and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (81.4 PFF preseason offense grade) is a substantial upgrade on New York’s previously ineffectual quarterback trio.

Hall is likely to be eased into action through September but should compete for the No. 1 positional ranking by mid-October.

Mr. Green Zone: RB Zach Charbonnet, Seattle Seahawks

Charbonnet (65.5 PFF preseason offense grade) is primed for a hefty scoring-position workload that makes him a darkhorse candidate to lead the NFL in green zone rushing touchdowns. Charbonnet was identified as Sleeper fantasy football’s No. 1 must-draft player thanks to his affordable RB37, 9.06 ADP. ESPN (RB42, 12.05) and Yahoo! (RB40, 11.07) drafters are likewise accommodating easily exploitable ADP slides. Seattle’s high-powered 2022 offense ranked No. 9 in successful points-scored drive rate among NFL teams and the improved 2023 offense can again be expected to routinely set up shop in enemy green zones, contending for the league lead in total points scored. Between Charbonnet and incumbent Ken Walker III (76.9 PFF 2022 offense grade), Charbonnet’s disciplined rushing style makes him the superior option for the scoring-position role. Walker III’s hesitancy in committing to blocked gaps yields far too many unsuccessful plays for head coach Pete Carroll’s liking.

Charbonnet’s 2022 green zone rushing data among 24 Power-Five running backs with at least 20 green zone rushing attempts and Walker III’s 2022 green zone rushing data among 27 running backs with at least 15 green zone rushing attempts.
SEA RB Green Zone Rushing Zach Charbonnet Ken Walker III
PFF Green Zone Rushing Grade 71.1 (No. 12) 49.2 (No. 27)
1st-Dwn + TD % 46.2% (No. 11) 29.4% (No. 21)
Point-of-Attack Change % 0.0% (T-No. 1) 11.8% (No. 18)
Stuff % 19.2% (No. 7) 52.9% (No. 27)

Seattle’s offense should only improve on their strong 2022 performance with second-year tackles Charles Cross (71.9 PFF preseason run-blocking grade) and Abraham Lucas (64.1 PFF preseason run-blocking grade) continuing to develop and first-round rookie wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (77.0 PFF preseason receiving grade) taking the torch as the next great power-slot receiver. Charbonnet has a red-carpet path to a double-digit touchdown tally, operating as Seattle’s scoring-position running back.

Biggest Bust: RB Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

Akers (80.7 PFF 2022 offense grade) made the “5 Players to Fade in 2023 list earlier this summer based on his situational and player profile flaws. August backfield developments lower his ceiling even further; second-year running back Kyren Williams (67.2 PFF 2022 offense grade) performed exceedingly well over the last three weeks, prompting beat writer Jourdan Rodrigue to refer to the duo as “[t]he Rams’ tandem of first-string running backs”, indicating the pass-catching specialist Williams has carved out a robust role for himself. Head coach Sean McVay’s refusal to play Williams in the preseason, as is his tradition for all locked-in featured players, confirms the assertion. 

Akers now profiles as just a run-centric player lacking the passing game opportunity necessary for a PPR ceiling. Akers is also stuck playing behind Monson’s 28th-ranked offensive line against PFF’s fourth-hardest projected running back strength of schedule

Akers comes with a back-end RB2, Round 6 ADP on both ESPN and Sleeper and an even more untenable Round 5 ADP on Yahoo!. Fantasy managers drafting this weekend must avoid Akers at all costs. 


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