Fantasy Football: Nathan Jahnke's favorite 2023 picks - my guys

2MNM4A8 Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) during an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vasquez)

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

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It’s “my guy” season at PFF — time for us to plant our flags on players we like more than most. For my list, I simply picked the players that I’ve been most happy when I’ve been able to draft this season.

Player Profiles | Depth Charts | 10 tips to win | Undervalued | Overvalued | 500 Stats
Rankings: PPR | Half-PPR | Standard | Superflex | Best Ball
Dynasty Rankings: PPR | Rookie | Superflex | Superflex Rookie
Position Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE
Sleepers: Top-10 | QB | RB | WR | TE
League Winners: Top-5 | QB | RB | WR | TE
Breakouts: Top-5 | QB | RB | WR | TE
Position Draft Strategy: QB | RB | WR | TE

 16-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy

 14-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy
12-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy | Picks 1-3 | Picks 4-6 | Picks 7-9 | Picks 10-12
10-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy | Picks 1-3 | Picks 4-7 | Picks 8-10

Preseason Recaps:  Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Hall of Fame Game

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys

Pollard has graded out as an elite runner in recent seasons and finally gets a chance to shine without Ezekiel Elliott in the offense.

  • His head coach Mike McCarthy has made it clear he wants to run the ball more this year.
  • His 92.0 run grade is the second-best among running backs over the last two seasons.
  • He has been among the best backs at making big plays. He gained at least 10 yards on 16.1% of his carries and averaged 3.8 yards after contact per attempt. Both ranked first out of 31 running backs with at least 175 rushing attempts since 2022.
  • This led to 0.802 rushing fantasy points per attempt, which ranked second out of the same sample of backs.
  • He finished at RB8 last season despite Ezekiel Elliott playing every game, taking 75% of the goal line carries and leading to 12 rushing touchdowns.
  • If Pollard can take those goal-line opportunities, he should rank even higher than this. There is still a chance the Cowboys add a bigger back or bring Elliott back, and Pollard doesn’t receive as many touchdown opportunities.
  • He should also benefit from a healthier offensive line, which ranks sixth overall heading into the season. Every projected starter was on the team last season, so they should also benefit from having worked together already.
  • Pollard should also benefit from running more routes. While he was a much better receiver than Elliott, he just barely ran more routes last season at 245-234.
  • His 1.51 yards per route run ranked fifth among running backs.
  • Pollard only needs to average 6.2 more PPR points per game this season compared to last to reach RB1. With his excellent rushing efficiency, receiving production and the Cowboys offensive talent, he doesn’t need to be a 20-carry-per-game back to get there.

Tank Bigsby, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars selected Bigsby with the 88th overall pick in the draft.

  • He is capable of being a bell-cow back according to our draft guide. The Jaguars have used him in every situation in the preseason, so it seems like Jacksonville also believes he’s capable of that role.
  • Travis Etienne remains the starter and is also capable of playing 80% of the team's offensive snaps.
  • Bigsby was the only rookie running back in the first week of the preseason to receive playing time with the normal starters, taking a short yardage snap.
  • This is a good sign he should at least see short-yardage carries this season which includes touchdown opportunities.
  • Training camp reports for him have been overwhelmingly positive, which could lead to more playing time as well.
  • Etienne and other starts didn’t play in Jacksonville’s second preseason game, but Bigsby started over JaMycal Hasty and D’Ernest Johnson, making it clear he is already second on the depth chart. This included taking passing down snaps over Hasty.
  • Doug Pederson has a long history of running back committee with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, so Jacksonville could be heading in that direction this season.
  • If Bigsby is seeing 30-40% of the work and running at the goal line, he could have fantasy value similar to Jamaal Williams this season and would be a fantasy starter if Etienne ever gets injured.
  • He played in 36% of Jacksonville's offensive snaps with the starters in team’s last preseason game, so 30-40% seems possible even in the early parts of the season.
  • It’s unlikely but not out of the question Bigsby overtakes Etienne as the starter at some point this season even without an injury.

D.J. Moore, Chicago Bears

Moore will have a fresh start after spending the first five years of his career with the Carolina Panthers.

  • Moore spent 2019-2021 consistently gaining between 1,150 and 1,200 receiving yards and averaging four touchdowns per season.
  • His receptions and receiving yards declined in 2022, but he posted a career-high seven touchdowns.
  • Moore has finished as a top-25 fantasy receiver in each of the past four seasons.
  • He has excelled at making players miss after making a catch, avoiding 0.8 tackles per game in his career — the 11th-best rate among wide receivers in the past five seasons.
  • Moore has also been good at making big plays, with 27% of his receptions gaining at least 20 yards last season, which ranked fifth out of 73 wide receivers with at least 345 routes.
  • Moore excels against man defenses. His 0.578 receiving PPR points per route run against man defenses last season ranked 10th.
  • Moore has accomplished all this despite his quarterbacks combining for a 55.8 PFF passing grade over the past five seasons, the second-lowest team mark.
  • He has caught touchdowns from six quarterbacks in his career. Two are free agents and two are clear backups, leaving Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield as his best two quarterbacks.
  • His new quarterback Justin Fields’ 53.2% accuracy percentage last season wasn’t great, but it was better than Baker Mayfield’s 52.8% mark.
  • Moore should be able to succeed even if Fields doesn’t improve. It will be similar pass accuracy to what he’s been used to.
  • Fields scrambles more than most quarterbacks, but from Moore’s perspective, that won't be all that different than his quarterbacks dumping off passes to Christian McCaffrey.
  • Generally, pass accuracy can improve over a quarterback’s first few seasons. Those increases are more dramatic against man defenses than against zone.
  • There is even more optimism that Fields can improve his accuracy, as he was the most accurate college quarterback in the PFF College era.
  • Over the offseason, Fields has worked on his accuracy, particularly on deep passes, which should help Moore the most out of the Bears' receivers.
  • He will have less competition for targets in Chicago than he did in Carolina, so even if efficiency doesn’t get much better, he has a chance to see more volume with the Bears. 

Jayden Reed, Green Bay Packers

Reed is a rookie wide receiver who should already have a major role in the Packers offense.

  • He’s taken every snap out of 11 personnel with the starters over the Packers' first two preseason games.
  • He’s played 19 snaps from either the slot or among the tight ends compared to four snaps on the outside. That slot percentage is a bit higher than past Packers slot receivers.
  • The slot wide receiver role has been a very important one in Matt LaFleur’s offenses in the past.
  • Packers slot wide receivers have been targeted 550 times for 392 receptions and 4,738 yards since 2019 when LaFleur became head coach, which all rank among the top-six among all teams.
  • Most importantly, they have caught 46 touchdowns, which are nine more than any other team in that span.
  • Green Bay has been below average in targets, receptions and yards to outside wide receivers in that time despite how much the Packers have preferred passing the ball.
  • His competition for targets all comes from either rookie or second-year wide receivers and tight ends, giving him less competition than most other wide receivers.

Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans

  • The fourth-round rookie was one of the few bright spots for the Tennessee Titans last season.
  • Okonkwo started his career third in the Titans' tight end rotation. He averaged 12 snaps a game over his first month, with nearly 40% of his snaps coming in three tight end sets.
  • He caught three passes for 38 yards and a touchdown in that fourth game, leading to an increased role over the rest of the season.
  • Okonkwo spent the rest of the season as the primary tight end in 21 personnel, as well as one of the primary tight ends in 12 personnel.
  • He remained third on the depth chart in 11 personnel, including just 16.8% of possible snaps on third downs in 11 personnel from Week 6 on.
  • He was the most efficient tight end on a per-play basis.
  • Out of 55 tight ends with at least 150 routes, he ranked second in targets per route (0.26), first in receptions per route (0.19), first in yards per route (2.61), fifth in touchdowns per route (0.017) and fourth in avoided tackles per catch (0.219)
  • Austin Hooper and Geoff Swaim were the two players ahead of him on the depth chart at times, and neither one is on the roster.
  • Tennessee added run blocker Trevon Wesco, who will not be a threat to Okonkwo on passing downs.
  • The big concern for Okonkwo is if the Titans don’t expand his role in a significant way. Austin Hooper, Anthony Firkser and Jonnu Smith have all been sleeper tight ends in recent seasons, and none have worked out for fantasy managers.
  • Tennessee has had a different tight end lead the team in snaps on first and second downs compared to third down in each of the last four seasons.
  • The Titans drafted Josh Whyle in the fifth round, and he is likely to be more of a receiver than a blocker.
  • Okonkwo has graded better as a receiver than any Titan tight end in the Mike Vrabel era, so ideally, he can be an exception. 
  • This also isn’t a black-and-white issue. He can see a slight increase in snaps and be a fantasy starter, but ideally, he becomes an every-down player, in which he has top-five potential.
  • The Titans used Okonkwo in one preseason game, in which he played 100% of snaps in 11 personnel with the starters after playing less than 20% last season, which is a good sign for his expanded role.
  • They still rotated him in and out of 12 personnel so this still isn’t the most ideal situation, but it looks like a big step in the right direction.


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