Connect with us


Fantasy Football Boom-or-Bust Team 2023: Lamar Jackson, Alexander Mattison highlight risky draft picks

Every fantasy football season, you’ll expend early-to-mid-round draft capital on players you think are “set-it-and-forget-it” players but wind up being prime start ’em, sit ’em candidates each week. Despite these players garnering preseason hype and looking like ADP gems on the surface, their pronounced red flags ultimately doom your chances of achieving fantasy football greatness.

Every year, we highlight some of the league’s most volatile players in our Boom-or-Bust Team. Please note that we’re not solely picking on injury risks like Christian McCaffrey or Keenan Allen. Of course, injuries are part of the equation, but we’re trying to pinpoint players who could still disappoint even if they stay relatively healthy. We’re not necessarily saying you should avoid these guys entirely, but it’s worth pondering their pearls and pitfalls before ultimately clicking the “draft” button.

Below, we’ll break down our 2023 boom-or-bust team and detail why they’re included in this season’s list. All ADPs referenced are courtesy of FantasyPros (standard scoring formats).

Fantasy Football Boom-or-Bust Team 2023

QB Boom-or-Bust

Lamar Jackson, Ravens (ADP: QB4)

Jackson has his best cast of receivers yet with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken implementing an uptempo, pass-friendly scheme, so what’s the downside of drafting the 2019 MVP as the QB4?

Well, for starters, we might not see Jackson tote the rock at the same rate he typically does. Jackson’s already said he’s looking forward to “less running and more throwing” throwing this season, and considering how effective JK Dobbins was at the end of 2022 could see Jackson average fewer than 60 rushing yards per game. 

Yes, it’s low-hanging fruit, but Jackson’s played in just 12 games each of the past two seasons, so there’s merit in Jackson dropping back and hanging in the pocket more to mitigate injury risk. Baltimore’s receiving corps looks like a solid unit on paper, but Rashod Bateman’s yet to play a full season and was just recently activated off the PUP list, Odell Beckham Jr. averaged just 0.34 yards per route run in 2021, and Zay Flowers still has to prove he can produce at the next level. Mark Andrews will assuredly do his thing, but can Monken fix the offense’s red-zone struggles?

Baltimore ended ’22 owning the third-lowest red-zone TD rate (44.44 percent), and Jackson completed just 47.4 percent of his red-zone pass attempts (15th among QBs). That said, if Monken helps elevate the Ravens’ passing attack into a top-10 unit while significantly improving their red-zone efficiency, Jackson could easily finish as a top-five QB. However, given there are several speed bumps in his path, it’s probably best to avoid Jackson at his current ADP.

Honorable Mentions: Deshaun Watson, Browns; Dak Prescott, Cowboys

RB Boom-or-Busts

Alexander Mattison, Vikings (ADP: RB21)

Mattison’s in line for a significant job promotion after the Vikings cut ties with Dalvin Cook, and while history has shown that he’s likely to receive a hefty workload, he hasn’t been all that efficient given the heavy usage. Yes, he’s averaged 79.5 rushing yards on 19.5 attempts, but three of those six games came against a putrid Lions run defense during the 2020-21 and ’21-22 seasons. 

Is that type of workload really sustainable over a 17-game regular season? One has to think second-year back Ty Chandler sees a more prominent role, and Kene Nwangwu will factor in, as well. Mattison also put up those numbers under a more RB-friendly scheme with former offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak calling plays.

Under Kevin O’Connell’s reign last season, Cook averaged a career-low 4.4 yards per carry while ranking as one of the most inefficient backs relative to his expected points added (-53 EPA). There are ample reasons to believe Mattison isn’t quite as shiny of an ADP gem as you may think. If he’s still on the board in the middle rounds of your draft, by all means, draft him, but just know he’s a prime candidate to potentially have several 20-carry, 65-yard days, crushing his upside in standard formats.

D’Andre Swift, Eagles (ADP: RB24)

It’s unfortunate things never worked out for Swift in Detroit, but Howie Roseman and the Eagles are buying low on the former No. 35-overall pick becoming a key asset within Philly’s uber-efficient offense. Talent and efficiency aren’t issues for Swift, as he posted the second-highest yards per touch mark among RBs in 2022 (6.3). It’s his durability and need for a reliable workload that stands in his way of being a “set-it-and-forget-it” starter. 

Swift was utilized primarily as a receiving back with the Lions, averaging 5.1 targets over the past two years (fourth among RBs), but he’s now competing with Kenneth Gainwell as the Eagles’ primary receiving back. Swift likely gets the nod ahead of Gainwell as the season progresses, but will he see enough usage to justify his ADP as RB24?

Fellow RB Rashaad Penny might have the upper hand to lead all Philly RBs in snap share this season, so if Swift isn’t his team’s RB1 and doesn’t post an elite TD output, he’s unlikely to finish the season as a top 24 back in standard formats. 

Honorable Mentions: Cam Akers, Rams; Brian Robinson Jr., Commanders

WR Boom-or-Busts

D.J. Moore, Bears (ADP: WR23)

Moore’s expected to emerge as Justin Field’s go-to receiving option as Chicago’s in dire need of a legit WR1, but do we really trust a Fields-led offense to have a 1,000-plus yard receiver in it? Sure, there’s a chance Fields averages fewer than 10.7 carries per game in 2023 now that the Bears have an improved offensive line, but he’s still the best bet to lead all QBs in rushing yards, capping Moore’s ceiling in standard formats.

Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy will find creative ways to get the ball in Moore’s hands, but can Fields take the next step as a passer? Fields’ true completion percentage of 64.9 percent sat as the 32nd-best mark among QBs in 2022, so if he’s still struggling to throw his receivers open, Moore could be an aggravating asset to own (like last year). Fields likely vultures away Moore’s TD upside, as well, after totaling the second-most red-zone carries (28) among QBs last season.

If you buy into Fields taking the next step as a passer, Moore makes for a decent pick, but if not, it’s best to let one of your leaguemates endure his volatility this season.  

Mike Evans, Buccaneers (ADP: WR34)

Evans sees a significant ADP drop now that the GOAT is onto greener pastures, which presents an opportunity to draft Evans at his floor price. Your leaguemates will probably gloss over Evans in the early-middle rounds considering either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask is his new QB, but despite some shoddy QB play, Evans is still a real threat to reach 1,000 receiving yards for the 10th straight year. 

Sure, starting Evans during his down weeks is infuriating, as he posted fewer than eight standard points eight times in 2022, but he’s not being viewed as a borderline WR1 anymore. He draws the third easiest strength of schedule for WRs per FantasyPros and he’s always found a way to produce despite enduring plenty of QB turnover.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a good chance the Buccaneers pass at a much lower clip this season after leading the league in pass attempts the past two seasons. Trask is a relatively unknown commodity, while Mayfield’s struggled immensely as a passer the past two years, so Evans’ “bust” potential is undoubtedly there.

Gabe Davis, Bills (ADP: WR41)

No one player fits the bill as a boom-or-bust player more so than Davis. Sitting as the Bills’ WR2 behind Stefon Diggs, Davis garnered a 16.8-percent target share, finishing as a top-15 weekly fantasy WR just twice. At the same time, he ranked outside the top 35 eight times, and a decent chunk of his overall fantasy output came from his 29.1-point outburst against Pittsburgh in Week 5. 

Buffalo’s lone noteworthy addition to their receiving corps this offseason was their first-round draft selection of Utah TE Dalton Kincaid, and while Kincaid shouldn’t cut into Davis’ workload too much, he’s still another able body who can limit Davis’ ceiling. Yes, the high ankle sprain Davis suffered early last season probably hindered his chances of being a top-20 WR in standard formats, but it’s hard to get too amped up about a guy who scored fewer than four standard points seven times.

Honorable Mentions: Michael Pittman Jr., Colts; Courtland Sutton, Broncos

Darren Waller, Giants (ADP: TE6)

Injuries crushed Waller’s hopes of producing as a TE1 the past two seasons, but if the newly acquired Giant avoids a major setback in ’23, he has an outside shot to finish top three in his position. There’s not much competition for targets with Daniel Jones still in search of a go-to passing-catching option, and with Jones taking a step in the right direction in year one of the Brian Daboll era, there’s reason to believe the Giants can support a clear-cut TE1.

After returning from a hamstring ailment that cost him nine games last year, Waller clearly wasn’t in the best shape, resulting in just 3.1 receptions per game. With Jones and the Giants likely passing at a higher rate in ’23, Waller could potentially post 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since 2020. However, if it takes time to gain a strong rapport with Jones and deals with injuries again, Waller will be a wasted mid-round pick.

Honorable Mention: Kyle Pitts, Falcons; Irv Smith Jr., Bengals

Defense/Special Teams Boom-or-Bust

Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST (ADP: D/ST10)

Jacksonville’s defense ended 2022 as the overall D/ST6 (8.2 FPG) but could potentially end outside the top-15 in 2023. Jacksonville’s D/ST finished the regular season as the overall D/ST1 from Weeks 14 to 18, with 70 of its 139 total points coming over that stretch. 

However, from Weeks 1-13, the Jaguars D/ST sat as the overall D/ST21 (5.8), so while Mike Caldwell’s defense is on the up and up, their top-six finish was largely because of a simply unsustainable four-week sample.

Honorable Mention: Baltimore Ravens D/ST

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement here

Must See

More in Football