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The Hater’s Ball: Everything that’s wrong with the Top 50 players in fantasy football 2023

Okay, Hater’s Ball time. These are the Top 50 picks in September fantasy drafts, according to NFFC ADP (127 drafts).

A good method for fantasy is to draft players based on what can go right and then flip your mindset once the season starts to thinking about what can go wrong. This way, you can temper expectations, nip problems in the bud and be more objective about what you have and what you need. So there is something useful to take from these blurbs beyond confronting all of our post-purchase anxieties.

1. Justin Jefferson, MIN, WR — (1.17 ADP): Practically allergic to touchdowns for a No. 1 overall pick (one every 16 catches vs. one every 14 for an average WR).

2. Ja’Marr Chase, CIN, WR — (2.38): Air yards per target fell 3.5 yards from 2021 to 2022. Needs to find a happy medium in 2023 to command expected market share.

3. Christian McCaffrey, SF, RB — (3.32): Now has played 27 games in the past three seasons combined.

4. Tyreek Hill, MIA, WR — (4.21): Starting QB is a hit away from handing over the reins to Mike White, who has concussion issues himself.

5. Austin Ekeler, LAC, RB — (6): The offensive coordinator was let go because Ekeler was too involved in the passing offense and because the running game lacked physicality. New OC Kellen Moore targeted RBs 17.1% of attempts vs. 25.9% for LAC in 2022.

6. Travis Kelce, KC, TE — (6.45): Hyper-extended knee (status unknown) puts the issue of when the circus is going to leave town for Kelce into sharp relief.  Would age 34 be a shock, or should we have seen it coming?

7. Stefon Diggs, BUF, WR — (7.65): The last time we saw him, he was yelling demonstrably at his QB and then he reportedly asked to be traded.

8. Bijan Robinson, ATL, RB — (10.32): First round fantasy pick sight unseen — with major uncertainty at quarterback — seems like a dicey recipe for a championship-level draft.

9. CeeDee Lamb, DAL, WR — (10.48): More branches on the passing tree now and arguably fewer targets given Dak Prescott’s turnover woes/expected transformation into a game manager.

10.. Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET, WR — (10.72): Really, REALLY hates touchdowns — one every 24.3 targets in 2022.

11. A.J. Brown, PHI, WR — (11.69): Not a lot of expected passing attempts and passing touchdowns in this offense and has two elite receivers competing with him for targets.

12. Garrett Wilson, NYJ, WR — (11.9): When have the Jets ever been allowed to have nice things?

13. Saquon Barkley, NYG, RB — (12.17): RB7 in the second half of 2022 in PPR with five more points than Joe Mixon and Najee Harris, who are available way later.

14. Nick Chubb, CLE, RB — (13.93):  A fabulous player who has averaged a meager 16 carries a game for his career for some reason.

15. Davante Adams, LV, WR — (15.64): The football gods are conspiring to make Adams prove he’s impervious to the vagaries of QB play and coaching. “Here are your millstones, Davante. Carry them!”

16. Tony Pollard, DAL, RB — (15.73): Has never done it, but we’re paying a “he’ll do it” price. Can he be a bell calf even, never mind an actual bell cow?

17. Patrick Mahomes, KC, QB — (17.45): Taking a QB this early is the way you feel a player short for the rest of the season, but in the end at least you’ve secured the most fungible commodity in our game.

18. Cooper Kupp, LAR, WR — (19.28): Meet the new ADP. So many reasons to run away from the player — age, injury, injury history, QB uncertainty, bad team going nowhere.

19. Jaylen Waddle, MIA, WR — (19.95): Fell so woefully short of Tyreek Hill in targets — 30% less last year. So you’re betting on continued monster efficiency with a QB the league seemed to figure out when we last saw him.

20. Chris Olave, NO, WR — (21.18): Funny how Davante Adams was punished for Derek Carr at QB and now Olave is expected to break out with Carr. A TD every 30 targets in 2022.

21. Jalen Hurts, PHI, QB — (22.18): Quarterbacks just flying up the draft boards like Game Stop stock in the 2021 short squeeze, forcing all the lemmings to buy at inflated prices.

22. Derrick Henry, TEN, RB — (22.2): 6-foot-3+ running backs who had 200-plus PPR fantasy points at age 30: Chuck Muncie 1983, 40 years ago. (Henry misses 2023 being his age 30 season by five days). That’s it.

23. Josh Allen, BUF, QB — (22.55): The teams that draft these QBs this high have no QB advantage against seven other teams and a decided disadvantage at RB/WR against four other teams. The Bills expressed frustration with Allen’s frequent (reckless) running, the lynchpin to his fantasy scoring.

24. DeVonta Smith, PHI, WR — (22.67): The second head of a receiving Hydra in a passing offense expected to be bottom third in target volume.

25. Josh Jacobs, LV, RB — (24.38): It’s just a medical fact that 400-touch RBs turn into fine porcelain the next season.

26. Calvin Ridley, JAC, WR — (26.83): If you loved the after-effects of the Deshaun Watson layoff, you now get to see what happens with a WR who hasn’t had a snap since October of 2021.

27. Tee Higgins, CIN, WR — (26.93): 101-target pace in the 12 games he shared the field with Ja’Marr Chase.

28. DK Metcalf, SEA, WR — (29.05): Geno Smith’s first 12 games of 2022: 8.1 yards per attempt, six picks. Last five games of 2022: 6.2 yards per attempt, five picks. Has the clock already struck midnight?

29. Keenan Allen, LAC, WR — (31.91): Energy vampires drain their victims by regaling them with Keenan Allen game logs.

30. Jahmyr Gibbs, DET, RB — (33.16): The new C.J. Spiller, RB64 in PPR points per game as a rookie (2010). Spiller was the ninth overall pick in the real NFL draft and is Gibbs’ top comp on Player Profiler. Bon appétit!

31. Mark Andrews, BAL, TE — (33.8): Averages 11.2 points per game if we remove the 2021 season, and has his most crowded receiving room on paper in his career.

32. Rhamondre Stevenson, NE, RB — (34.58): Hilariously has not moved in ADP after the team imported name-brand veteran Ezekiel Elliott to share carries. Few have done less to earn as many targets as Stevenson in 2022.

33. Najee Harris, PIT, RB — (34.73): The new Ezekiel Elliott to Jaylen Warren’s Tony Pollard. Enjoy!

34. Deebo Samuel, SF, WR — (35.83): By far the most expensive 49ers receiver, so logic would say he’s by far the best in real life, except he decidedly is not (George Kittle).

35. Joe Burrow, CIN, QB — (36.46): “What if everyone drafts a QB in the first three rounds?” mom asks after asking what would we do if everyone jumped off a bridge.

36. Travis Etienne, JAC, RB — (37.15): First drive of the season. It’s first-and-goal at the three-yard line. What RB is on the field for Jacksonville, Etienne or Tank Bigsby? Maybe the TD regression isn’t going to be positive.

37. Lamar Jackson, BAL, QB — (37.53): Another QB? Has everyone gone crazy? We’re all going to have starting QBs, kids.

38. Amari Cooper, CLE, WR — (37.65): The Rodney Dangerfield of wide receivers. If QB Deshaun Watson played in a sandbox last year, the cat would have kept covering him up.

39. Joe Mixon, CIN, RB — (38.95): A Kirkland-level talent sporting a name brand.

40. D.J. Moore, CHI, WR — (39.19): The broad side of the barn that Justin Fields will be trying mightily to hit.

41. Justin Herbert, LAC, QB — (40.05): Mr. Small Ball. The proverbial home run hitter who steps to the plate every at-bat gunning for a single.

42. Christian Watson, GB, WR — (41.97): Has been in the league for five minutes and already has torn a knee, a torn hamstring and been concussed. Also had hamstring issues in college.

43. DeAndre Hopkins, TEN, WR — (43.21): Hard to take a WR in the Top 50 when no one drafts his QB in the Top 30. It may be unprecedented, actually.

44. Drake London, ATL, WR — (45.6): 30.5% target share with Desmond Ridder, so 3.05 targets per game is guaranteed.

45. Aaron Jones, GB, RB — (47.05): We dream about 300 carries for RBs, but even 200 is a question for Jones. He’s also a below average receiver (5.7 yards per target) on a team that is going to probably score a lot less than 2020-2022, given the unknown at QB.

46. T.J. Hockenson, MIN, TE — (48.23): Mr. Inefficiency for Minnesota (6.0 yards per target). His Y/T is 20th out of 23 MIN TEs in the target era (min. 50 targets). Between Jermaine Wiggins and Visanthe Shiancoe — elite company!

47. Trevor Lawrence, JAC, QB — (50.75): Early-round QB is an indictment of the entire industry. Everything dumb is dumb again. Hey, the QBs score the most, so they should be the first 30 picks — amirite!?

48. Darren Waller, NYG, TE — (50.9): The Giants are moving on from Kenny Golladay by acquiring a TE whose star has faded similar to Golladay’s when the Giants signed him. Waller: 9.8 yards/target in 2019 and 8.0 since.

49. Justin Fields, CHI, QB — (51.68): QB inflation is an indictment of Bidenomics, yet no one talks about it! Two thirds of teams set an early-round pick on fire at QB. I see a path to dramatically increasing win probability. Maybe draft QBs based on 2000-2021 and not 2022?

50. Diontae Johnson, PIT, WR — (53.03): Combines terrible overall efficiency with horrible touchdown efficiency. How can we say no? Johnson would have needed 167 targets last year to reach 1,000 yards and a multiverse to have scored a TD.

(Top photo: Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

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