2023 NFL Underdog Best Ball QB and RB Sleepers

2023 NFL Underdog Best Ball QB and RB Sleepers

Heading into the Underdog Best Ball season, we know players such as Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Austin Ekeler, and Christian McCaffrey will help your squads immensely and be weekly starters.

However, let’s find some QBs and RBs that might not be weekly starters but will have some monster performances that elevate themselves beyond their respective ADPs.

From Tua Tagovailoa having a chance to finish as a top-5 quarterback to Antonio Gibson’s resurgence working with Eric Bieniemy, here are a few players to target prior to their average draft position.


Tua Tagovailoa: Miami Dolphins | 91.7 ADP (QB10)

Tua Tagovailoa has all the tools to finish as a top-five QB this season. Not only does he have an offensive-minded head coach, but the Dolphins possess two top ten wide receivers in the game in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

With their YAC ability, Tua’s quest to achieve career highs in TDs and yards would only be hindered by injury.

Tua’s Sleeper Case

Tua finished 9th last season in fantasy PPG at his position while playing through injury nearly all year. His 8.9 YPA skyrocketed from the two previous seasons mostly due to the arrivals of offensive game-changers Tyreek Hill and Mike McDaniel.

At the Quarterback position in Underdog Best Ball, you aren’t looking for a consistent 17 PPG guy in the middle rounds. You want someone who can give you a handful of 30-point outings sprinkled throughout the season.

With Miami’s home games being an ideal advantage for Tua over the winter months and the pass-happy offense benefiting Tua, Jaylen, and Tyreek, don’t let the Dolphins QB fall off your radar this draft season as a top 5 finish in this offense could be coming for the franchise play-maker.

Bryce Young: Carolina Panthers | 181.5 ADP (QB25)

Panthers Head Coach Frank Reich has always seemed to be a QB-whisperer. On top of this, both Frank and Bryce have similar personalities as low-key guys who never get too high or too low, whether winning or losing a ball game.

Defensive star for Carolina, Brian Burns, already stated that Young ‘put quite a stamp on the locker room’ during the minicamp. It would be one thing if the coaching staff or offensive players were stating this, but I’m buying stock that Young is actually creating a culture shift in Carolina as the face of the franchise.

As for his backup, Andy Dalton has a track record of summoning great fantasy play from the quarterback that replaces him. Joe Burrow and Justin Fields both finished as the QB7 in their first full season after taking over from Andy Dalton. While I’m not expecting Bryce to put up QB7 numbers, he could easily finish as the top QB in that division.

Young’s Sleeper Case

Bryce’s decision-making and pocket presence is what separates him from Anthony Richardson, C.J. Stroud, and Will Levis in this draft class. However, one of the key reasons he makes this “sleeper” list is due to the divisional foes he will face in his rookie campaign.

The Falcons, Saints, and Buccaneers are all projected to finish as below-average NFC squads with either young or aging quarterbacks and defenses that have seen brighter days.

Bryce Young will have Miles Sanders, Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, and Hayden Hurst to spread the ball around. These are all NFL veterans that have played on winning teams and can help Bryce early on in his season to get acclimated to the speed of the league. Not to mention, Laviska Shenault and Terrace Marshall are also a few breakout players that Young can go to weekly.

While rookie Anthony Richardson has more of a rushing upside, Young’s decision-making and scrambling ability puts him as a top-tier back-end QB option in your Best Ball draft that can step in and produce those essential 20-25 point games when your primary quarterback is on bye, out with injury or has a poor performance.


Antonio Gibson: Washington Commanders | 98.9 ADP (RB32)

Antonio Gibson, the Swiss army knife, has a chance to finish as a top 15 back this season. He’s been there before, if you can remember, averaging just under 15 PPG in fantasy his first two seasons.

Fighting for a big contract as a UFA, trust in Gibson’s playmaking ability and Eric Bieniemy’s transformation of this offense to get Gibson into the top 15 conversations as he will be 2023’s Tony Pollard and shock the fantasy community.

Gibson’s Sleeper Case

Antonio Gibson’s 3.7 YPC and 5 total TDs were an underwhelming sight last season, coming off of outstanding first seasons with Washington. Although Brian Robinson will take some of the share of carries, he’s coming off a serious injury last season after being shot and forced to miss the first quarter of games.

Gibson’s production and efficiency both dropped, with a limited snap share of just 46%. Expect Bieniemy to realize this as he takes the reins on an offense with hidden talents such as Gibson and Jahan Dotson.

Antonio is an elite pass-catching back and could replicate some of what Tony Pollard and Jerrick McKinnon produced last season, which would be a huge win at the RB32 for fantasy owners. In Best Ball formats, Gibson provides that big-play ability along with TD upside as his 52 red zone touches ranked 4th in the RB position in 2021.

With just 29 of those in 2022, his upside is obviously cut short due to Brian Robinson, but expect Gibson to get a slightly improved snap share due to his pass-catching ability to help ease Sam Howell into games.

Khalil Herbert: Chicago Bears | 118.9 ADP (RB40)

After averaging 5.7 YPC in his second season behind starter David Montgomery, the Bears have chosen to elevate Herbert to the RB1 role while maintaining a somewhat split backfield.

However, with Herbert’s ability to shed tackles and be a valuable safety asset for Justin Fields, an RB30 or better finish isn’t out of the question.

Herbert’s Sleeper Case

Coming 7th in YPC and juke rate out of all RBs, Khalil Herbert has that big play factor Best Ball owners should look for in their RB2 or 3.

Given the added responsibility in the receiving game, Herbert’s value as an RB40 becomes even more compelling, making him a must-draft option as a potential running back capable of handling around 13 touches per game.

With David Montgomery’s 201 carries and 40 targets up for grabs, Herbert emerges as the back to secure at least half of those opportunities. Considering he finished 37th in fantasy PPG last season, it’s inevitable he reaches at least 10 fantasy PPG.

He becomes an excellent RB3 option for your roster, and you can rely on him to make it to the starting lineup in some weeks, proving to be a valuable addition to your Underdog squad.

Elijah Mitchell: San Francisco 49ers | 123.4 ADP (RB41)

The bad news? Mitchell had 45 carries in just 5 games last season. The good news? If able to qualify, Elijah’s 6.2 YPC would have led all Running Backs in 2022.

Another statistic to keep your eye on. Christian McCaffrey had an unbelievable 2022 campaign with 329 touches and close to 2,000 all-purpose yards.

However, as the 49ers try and make another playoff push this season, I’d expect more Mitchell in this offense as Kyle Shanahan will want to preserve CMC for the postseason in an extremely winnable NFC. You should always bank on high yards per carry (YPC) guys later in the draft, and Mitchell is exactly that.

Mitchell’s Sleeper Case

When watching Mitchell play on Sunday, he seems to create yards out of virtually nothing at times. Behind one of the best offensive lines in football and alongside the best offensive mind in football, Mitchell isn’t just a “change of pace back”.

He is an above-average runner in one of the best offensive schemes designed for speedsters such as himself, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel. Only three non-quarterbacks touched the ball more often than McCaffrey last season.

With injuries being a constant concern for the former Stanford running back, I bet that GM John Lynch is in the coaching staff’s ear trying to limit the total touches CMC receives when Mitchell is one of the best backups in football.

Aaron White

Sports Betting Contributor

Aaron White graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Economics. His industry experience includes projects for the Chicago Cubs, The Sporting News, and QL Gaming Group. At Hello Rookie, he covers the NFL and NBA from a betting and DFS perspective.

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