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Fantasy Football: Players to avoid in 2023 drafts using PFF's fantasy projections

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (9) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson might be better than he was in 2022, but that doesn’t mean he’s worth the draft cost: Fantasy drafters appear confident Watson will return to his previous form based on his current ADP as the QB9. However, PFF’s projections tool predicts him at QB25.

Lions rookie RB Jahmyr Gibbs is sharing a backfield with David Montgomery, potentially limiting his consistency on a weekly basis: The Lions are lining Gibbs up all over the field, but Montgomery could pose a threat in the red zone that will limit his fantasy upside.

Christian Watson posted a statistically efficient 2022 season, but his WR24 ADP could set fantasy football managers up for disappointment: Projecting the new-look Green Bay Packers with Jordan Love under center has Watson making strides in overall production but taking a step back in touchdown rate, setting fantasy managers up for a potential disappointment at his current draft cost.

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

In case you haven’t spent much time combing around PFF’s 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit, it’s time to get reading. We’ve compiled the very best of our team’s offseason content (and tools) to get you prepped for your upcoming fantasy football drafts. One of those tools is the 2023 fantasy projections machine, where you can select your league’s scoring setting for customized fantasy rankings based on our projections for the season.

Here’s a look at five players to avoid drafting based on the 2023 fantasy football projections from PFF’s model relative to their current average draft position.

Editor's note: All fantasy football ADP data referenced comes courtesy of ESPN as of Thursday, August 10.

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QB Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns

Current ADP: QB9
Projected EOS rank: QB25

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson struggled in his return to football after a 700-day absence from game action, following up his career-high 91.1 PFF passer grade in 2020 with a career-low 51.6. That grade saw him ranked 46th among 48 qualified passers with a minimum of 100 pass attempts in 2022, while also ranking in the bottom 12 with a 4.1% turnover-worthy play rate. Fantasy managers are clearly hopeful he can return to form based on his ADP of QB9, but PFF’s projections point toward a different trajectory for Watson heading into his age-28 season.

Projected Finish Bye Games fantasyPoints passComp passAtt passYds passTd passInt passSacked rushAtt rushYds rushTd
QB25 5 17 239.1 283.7 464.5 3298.6 17.6 7.8 50.1 88.4 303.3 2.9

There were a lot of possible reasons for Watson’s decline in efficiency last season, whether that be the distractions he created for himself off the field, missed time in 2022 (and therefore missed reps within a new offense), missed time in 2021 after sitting out the season … so on, and so forth.

It's no guarantee Watson will bounce back as the quarterback we’ve seen in previous years. One of the more alarming signals last season was his work from a clean pocket, posting the second-lowest PFF passing grade in the NFL in those situations, including a 3.7% turnover-worthy play rate — the sixth highest among quarterbacks.


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