Student provides 2023-24 fantasy football guide to success

The Miscellany News.

Fall is my favorite season. As summer comes to a close this year and fall rolls around, there is much to look forward to: temperate weather, beautiful colors around campus and my sister’s birthday. But most importantly, fall is fantasy football season (sorry Hannah!). For the next four months, I will be entering my annual couch potato eraspending every single Sunday at my Townhouses watching football and tracking how my fantasy players are doing.

For those unfamiliar, fantasy football is an online game where you assume the role of an NFL general manager. You join an online league and construct a football team roster by drafting and adding real-life NFL players to your squad. After building your team, you and your league-mates’ teams face off every week. Your team’s success depends on the success of your NFL players in real life—anything they do on the field translates to points for you and your team. Whichever team has the most points each week wins. 

Fantasy football is pretty much a gambling game. You pick which players you think are going to play well, but there is no guarantee that a player who was good last year will be good again this year. But there is a generally agreed-upon hierarchy of value each player grants to your team, usually based on the position they play. Before each season popular online websites like ESPN and Yahoo provide rankings for players. Today, I am going to be providing my own. 

Presenting… Billy’s List™️ (0.5 Points Per Reception Leagues):

2023-24 Fantasy Football Draft Rankings

  1. Christian McCaffrey
    1. George Kittle said it best: “If Kyle Shanahan [49ers head coach] could build a player in a lab, it would be Christian McCaffrey.” The 49ers offense is built perfectly for CMC and vice versa. Barring injury as always, McCaffrey has both the ability and support around him to be this year’s most valuable fantasy player.
  2. Justin Jefferson
    1. Jefferson has broken just about every record possible in his first three years in the league. Last year, he led the league in receptions, receiving yards, yards per game and yards per touch, and he won AP Offensive Player of the Year—all as a 23-year-old. Undeniably a generational talent at the wide receiver position, Jefferson is further primed for fantasy success because of the Vikings’ pass-heavy offense and his established rapport with quarterback Kirk Cousins. The only reason I am not ranking Jefferson at number one is because running backs are typically more valuable than wide receivers as a position. 
  3. Austin Ekeler
    1. Last year’s top fantasy running back, Ekeler is primed for another electrifying year. Ekeler’s game lends itself perfectly to fantasy—he catches passes, scores touchdowns and produces big, point-earning plays.  But the Chargers brought in first round wide receiver Quentin Johnston, and Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are back healthy and are usually top receivers, so Ekeler could stand to lose some pass-catching opportunities. If this happens, Ekeler might not produce as much as fantasy owners are used to and could lose some of his value.
  4. Ja’Marr Chase
    1. Chase is another young, uber-talented and uber-productive wideout who has been placed in an ideal pass-heavy environment. The Bengals have one of the most prolific passing offenses in the league, and the Burrow-Chase connection is a big reason why. Though he disappointed last season due to injury, Chase is back healthy this year and will be a key player as the Bengals strive to reach another Super Bowl appearance.  
  5. Tyreek Hill
    1. Tyreek Hill is one of the most gifted players in the league. Even with some question marks surrounding Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins’ overall quarterback situation, Hill will still produce as an upper echelon wide receiver in fantasy.  
  6. Bijan Robinson
    1. It is a bit controversial to rank a rookie this high, but with the combination of Bijan’s talent, the Falcons spending high draft capital on him and their dominant run game last year, it is hard to project Robinson as anything less than a top five fantasy running back.
  7. Travis Kelce
    1. Travis Kelce presides in his own stratosphere of fantasy tight ends. Last year, he averaged 5.3 more points per game than TJ Hockenson, the next best fantasy tight-end. As the top receiver in a dynamic Chiefs offense and with an all-time talent in Mahomes throwing to him, only age and injury can stand in the way of Kelce finishing as the best tight end in fantasy once again.
  8. Nick Chubb
    1. In my opinion, the best pure running back in football—Nick Chubb—has finally been given the reins to the Browns backfield sans Kareem Hunt. Kevin Stefanski’s run-heavy offense in Cleveland perfectly plays into Chubb’s strengths as a rusher, and with both Deshaun Watson and the offensive line due for a bounce-back year, Chubb will be a top fantasy running back once again.
  9. Cooper Kupp
    1. With quarterback Matthew Stafford back healthy and no other established names on a depleted Rams offense for him to throw to, Kupp is poised to have huge volume and a bounce-back year. There are concerns over his age, but Kupp is still an elite talent and is a top five fantasy wide receiver when healthy.
  10. Saquon Barkley
    1. Barkley’s resurgence last year fulfilled fantasy owners’ and Giants fans’ dreams, as he finished as the sixth-best running back in fantasy. With marked strides of improvement from Daniel Jones and the Giants as a whole, Barkley will look to continue his success as the premiere offensive weapon he was last year for his G-Men.
  11. Stefon Diggs
    1. Stefon Diggs is nothing if not consistent. In the past three years with Josh Allen, he has finished as the third-, seventh- and fourth-best wide receiver respectively.  Talent breeds fantasy production for wide receivers, and the Allen-Diggs duo is certainly one of the most talented in the league. Look for Diggs to be a high-end wide receiver once again this year.
  12. Ceedee Lamb
    1. Lamb is one of my favorite fantasy players this year. He finally broke out last year as the seventh best wide receiver, and that was with Dak Prescott missing several games at the beginning of the year. With Prescott under center, Lamb will be a primary focus in this offense. I ranked Lamb at twelfth overall only because the wide receivers ranked ahead of him are more proven, but it would not surprise me at all if he finished as a top three fantasy wide receiver this season.
  13. Davante Adams
    1. Adams has dominated the fantasy world for the past three years, finishing as the best, third best, and second best wide receiver the past three years. This year, however, he is paired with the worst quarterback he has had in his career. Jimmy Garoppolo is a below-average NFL starter—trust me, I am a 49ers fan. Adams’ age may begin to catch up with him, but more importantly, his quarterback play will negatively impact his fantasy production for the first time in his career.
  14. Tony Pollard
    1. The Cowboys moved on from long-time franchise running back Ezekiel Elliot this off-season, which means Pollard is primed to build off of his career-best season last year. Pollard made his presence felt for the Cowboys last season, finishing as the seventh best running back despite ranking outside the top 25 in touches per game. This year, the backfield is all Pollard’s with no Ezekiel Elliot to steal goal-line touches. As the true feature back in a prolific Cowboys offense, Pollard could very well exceed this projection, just like teammate Ceedee Lamb.
  15. Amon-Ra St. Brown
    1. St. Brown’s breakout last year powered the Lions’ offensive surge. As a bottom-of-the-barrel team for the past half-decade, the Lions made waves last year as one of the most dynamic offenses in the league, much of which can be attributed to quarterback Jared Goff and St. Brown’s connection. And St. Brown finished as the eighth best wide receiver last year despite having one of the lowest touchdown-to-reception efficiencies in the league. Touchdown rate is one of the most volatile statistics in football, so look for St. Brown to produce with the same volume but higher touchdown upside this season.
  16. Derrick Henry
    1. King Henry is a fascinating case. His reign as an elite running back has been questioned for the past two offseasons. Concerns over his unsustainable rushing volume, injuries, age and team situation have all been brought up year after year, and this year is no different. To be fair, they would be valid concerns for your average running back. But Henry is not average. Last year, Henry finished as the fourth best running back despite all these concerns and he is just a couple of seasons removed from his historic 2000-yard rush year. In my opinion, this year will be more of the same. If there is any lesson I have learned from fantasy in recent years, it is to never bet against Derrick Henry.
  17. Garrett Wilson
    1. So…the Jets are good now? I am old enough to remember the Mark Sanchez butt-fumble Jets, so it feels a little weird that they are now contenders. Jets fans should be over the moon with the arrival of their savior: franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But nobody should be more excited than Wilson. He managed to produce as a top 20 wide receiver as a rookie last year even with a quarterback carousel of Mike White and Zach Wilson throwing to him. Now, with a more-than-capable starter in Rodgers, look for Wilson to break out in a similar way to how Stefon Diggs did with Josh Allen back in 2020.
  18. AJ Brown
    1. Brown is a certified monster. He has played for two run-heavy teams and has still managed to produce elite fantasy numbers in spite of it. The Eagles’ offense is arguably the best in the league, and will look to continue its high-scoring nature this next season. Though Brown has to compete for targets with other talented pass-catchers in Devonta Smith and Dallas Goedert, he will find a way to produce as always.  
  19. Jonathan Taylor
    1. Taylor is easily the hardest player to rank on this list. On the one hand, Taylor and Colts owner Jim Irsay got into a widely documented feud this off-season which has led to Taylor sitting out from training camp and preseason. On the other hand, Taylor finished as the best running back just two seasons ago. Nobody knows what the future holds for the All-Pro back, but one thing is for certain: he puts up huge fantasy numbers when he plays (and this season, it is IF he plays). An exceptional talent who was given the reins to the Colts’ anemic offense, Taylor is arguably the best all-around back in the league. He is young, explosive and skilled, and though his play situation is messy, he cannot be ranked any lower due to his electrifying talent.
  20. Jaylen Waddle
    1. Last year, when Tyreek Hill took his talents to South Beach, many questioned if the Dolphins’ offense could sustain two high-volume wideouts in Hill and Waddle. A year later, the answer to that question has proven to be a resounding yes. Hill and Waddle finished as the third best and seventh best wide receiver respectively, and that was with Tua Tagovailoa out for multiple games. Waddle is still a young developing talent, so barring any more injuries to Tagovailoa, Hill and Waddle can both be trusted as elite fantasy wide receivers once again this year.
  21. Josh Jacobs
  22. Rhamondre Stevenson
  23. Chris Olave
  24. Joe Mixon
  25. Tee Higgins
  26. Devonta Smith
  27. Mark Andrews
  28. Jalen Hurts
  29. Patrick Mahomes
  30. Josh Allen
  31. Travis Etienne Jr.
  32. Najee Harris
  33. Kenneth Walker III
  34. Breece Hall
  35. Aaron Jones
  36. Jahmyr Gibbs
  37. Miles Sanders
  38. Lamar Jackson
  39. Keenan Allen
  40. Calvin Ridley
  41. Amari Cooper
  42. Justin Fields
  43. TJ Hockenson
  44. Joe Burrow
  45. Deebo Samuel
  46. Cam Akers
  47. Christian Watson
  48. Justin Herbert
  49. Drake London
  50. James Conner

 

Now if you want to get into fantasy football this season, all you have to do is grab a few friends, join a league and draft!  

 

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