Top 10 Fantasy Football Players of 2023

Top 10 Fantasy Football Players of 2023

When drafting a top ten fantasy football player, they have to check a few boxes. Between opportunity, skill, individual value, and availability, a top 10 player can climb to the top of the mountain for you, similar to Cooper Kupp’s 2021 campaign.

On the other hand, a top 10 player might drive you to think about the next fantasy season too soon, as we witnessed with the consensus top pick Jonathan Taylor in 2022.

With a few players that might stick around on this list for the entire decade to a total newcomer, the top 10 fantasy players heading into 2023 are full of upside.

The “No-Brainers”

1. WR  Justin Jefferson

Minnesota Vikings   |   ADP: 1.1 (WR1)

It’s no surprise here. Similar to Victor Wembanyama’s emergence to become the consensus first-overall pick over the past two years, Justin Jefferson has cemented himself as the first overall pick for the next handful of Underdog drafts. A future Hall of Famer, Jefferson will look to build on three consecutive dominant seasons as a pro.

2022 Fantasy Season Recap

Minnesota will look to build on a successful 2022 campaign, led by Jefferson’s monstrous 1,809-yard season. At 24 years old, the former LSU wideout is unguardable inside the numbers, outside the numbers, and in the red zone.

Although he ended with the 6th-most receiving yards in a season in NFL history, JJ and the team left the season unsatisfied, dropping their Wild Card game at home to the New York Giants, where Jefferson caught the ball just 7 times for 47 yards.

Making the Case for Jefferson

While the new addition of Jordan Addison has caused some negative buzz for Jefferson, Dalvin Cook’s absence might improve the WR1’s production. Cook had 56 targets and 2 receiving touchdowns last season.

While Alexander Mattison will step into a greater role, there is a greater chance Jefferson starts to demand those targets his way, especially as a fourth-year wide receiver. With Justin already on track to become a legendary player at his position, look for positive stat chasing to become a real thing as he inches closer and closer to breaking the record books.

Remember, it took Randy Moss, Julio Jones, and Calvin Johnson 5 or more seasons to break that 100 YPG barrier. “18” did that in his 3rd. This guy is the future of the league, and at his position, the future of fantasy football.

2. WR Ja’Marr Chase

Cincinnati Bengals   |   ADP: 2.1 (WR2)

Chase actually regressed in 2022, yet still finished averaging just under 88 YPG. Ja’Marr is just one step underneath Jefferson’s pedestal but is easily the WR1 and WR2 in fantasy football for the time being.

While some might take a running back here, I’ll bank on Joe Burrow, the Bengals, and Chase’s big play ability to single-handedly win me weeks. Within the top 3 of a draft, that’s exactly what you’re interested in.

2022 Fantasy Season Recap

Although he missed 4 games, Chase posted top 15 numbers at his position alongside finishing strong with 220 yards and 2 TDs in his second playoff appearance.

While the Chiefs have ruled the conference since 2019, Burrow and the Bengals seem just one step away, or literally three points away if you think back to last season.

After two straight WR1 weeks before the injury, fantasy owners wondered if Ja’Marr would return to full strength. 82.3 YPG and 3 TDs post-injury scare should relax you when up to bat at the 1.02 in your Best Ball draft.

Making the Case for Chase

Similar to Jefferson, it’s only a matter of time until Ja’Marr starts to break records left and right. His big play ability while ball-hunting against a few defenders at a time is a spectacle of his own every single Sunday.

His 125 slot snaps should draw a lot of buzz as Cooper Kupp’s historic fantasy season came when in the slot for 52.4% of his snaps. Bengals Coach Zac Taylor helped “build” Kupp’s route tree and developed him in the slot, so I’m looking forward to Chase’s potential as more of a slot guy this season.

Without a big-name tight end and top-tier running back, Ja’Marr and Tee Higgins are really the only notable fantasy options on this squad. While Tee is more of a vertical runner, I’d expect his running mate Chase to have elite production in the middle of the field.

With the amount of “boom” potential these two LSU WRs contain, the top two picks should be implanted when heading into the draft room.

The “Opportunity-Giants”

3. RB Austin Ekeler

Los Angeles Chargers   |   ADP: 8.7 (RB2)

My RB1 is the reliable Austin Ekeler. While boom potential is a calculated factor for top 10 picks, so is reliability. The 28-year-old Chargers running back has played in 14 or more games outside of 2020 when his hamstring acted up.

So, let’s address the elephant in the room. What’s the biggest reason for selecting Ekeler ahead of McCaffrey? Certainty of availability and red zone touches. 

2022 Fantasy Season Recap

Although averaging just 12 carries per ballgame, Austin Ekeler finished as a top-three running back for the second consecutive season. Since dethroning Melvin Gordon as the Bolts lead running back, Austin hasn’t let go, becoming an elite receiving back and red zone savant.

His 128 targets and 68 red zone touches led the RB position in 2022. With just 7 of those 68 red zone touches being at the goal line, I’d actually expect that number to go up as LA didn’t draft or sign a meaningful running back this off-season.

Ekeler is the best in the league at evading tackles and creating extra yardage. Don’t expect that to discontinue.

Making the Case for Ekeler

With Kellen Moore hired as the new offensive coordinator for Los Angeles, expect the same 3-WR sets we are accustomed to seeing at SoFi Stadium alongside an extremely involved Ekeler.

The Charger running back room isn’t talented nor developed enough for Moore to go back to his one-two-punch of Zeke and Tony Pollard. However, Moore should use Austin similarly to Tony Pollard, who just came off a breakout season for the Cowboys.

With Austin’s target share due to drop slightly with newcomer Quentin Johnston set to link up with Herbert, the workhorse shouldn’t see his red zone touches nor TD rate drop.

4. Christian McCaffrey

San Francisco 49ers   |   Underdog ADP: 4.3 (RB1)

Although CMC carries his injury concerns at all times, the best running back in the league shouldn’t drop past 4th overall. While the 49ers’ QB situation is less-than-ideal, McCaffrey is among the few players that are quarterback-proof.

2022 Fantasy Season Recap

McCaffrey’s career was saved last season after a trade to the San Francisco 49ers. After getting injured in two consecutive seasons, doubt surrounded CMC and his fantasy outlook until he absolutely tore it up with San Francisco, playing in every game and dominating in at least half of them.

Enjoying a fantastic playoff run, the team ultimately fell short against Philadelphia. However, Christian’s talent cannot seep out of the top four, even with injury concerns.

Making the Case for McCaffrey

Although I’m a huge fan of Elijah Mitchell and what he brings to Kyle Shanahan’s offense, if the 49ers want to make another playoff run with either Brock Purdy, Trey Lance, or Sam Darnold, the offense has to be catered toward Christian McCaffrey.

As the most prolific player at his position, there is a case to be made that CMC is the “Justin Jefferson” of running backs, as both are noticeably more dominant than other top-tier players at their respective positions.

5. Travis Kelce

Kansas City Chiefs   |   Underdog ADP: 6.3 (TE1)

Travis has put together seven straight seasons of finishing as a top 2 tight end. With or without Tyreek Hill, Mr. Kelce is absolutely dominant, as it seems like the playmaking keeps improving throughout his career.

At 33 years old, Travis Kelce sits just inside the top 5 of our fantasy rankings as the two-time Super Bowl Champion isn’t done producing for Underdog owners just yet.

2022 Fantasy Season Recap

Similar to McCaffrey and Jefferson, this guy is just off the charts and noticeably a better player than anyone else at his position. In five of the past six seasons, including 2022, Kelce ranked 3rd or better at red zone targets at his position.

While he may not be the quickest player on the field or position at his older age, the playmaking ability and game-winning mentality he showed last season was truly remarkable.

Kelce finished with 4 TDs alongside 27 receptions and 257 yards in the postseason… no signs of slowing down just yet.

Making the Case for Kelce

Although his Underdog ADP is hovering around the 5th or 6th pick, Kelce might display the best opportunity and lack of bust potential in the entire league.

Travis is bound to command anywhere from 90 to 110 receptions, which automatically makes him a first-round lock for yet another fantasy season. Don’t overthink this one, as Kelce is a literal “week-winner” at the tight end position.

6. Cooper Kupp

Los Angeles Rams   |   Underdog ADP: 4.3 (WR4)

The Rams are either going to go 12-5 or 5-12. It’s that simple. However, whether winning or losing ball games, Cooper Kupp is bound to be the focal point of this offense once again.

While there is a slight concern that the Rams could go full tank mode shipping McVay, Kupp, Stafford, and other older talent out after their Super Bowl triumph just a year ago, Kupp’s value should sit in the middle of the first round from now until the end of the regular season.

2022 Fantasy Season Recap

Although Cooper Kupp had a down year for many, his 22.4 fantasy PPG in PPR leagues led all players in his loaded position. Similar to Kelce, it seems as if Kupp hasn’t gotten physically stronger over his career, just mentally.

A smart route runner that proves to be a quarterback’s safety blanket is exactly the type of player Cooper has been for both Goff and Stafford. That shouldn’t change unless the Rams implode mid-season, which is my main concern due to ownership and the abysmal 2022 campaign.

Making the Case for Kupp

The Rams’ offensive weapons outside of Kupp? Van Jefferson, Ben Skowonek, Tutu Atwell, Puka Nacau, and Cam Akers. If that was a headlining band, I wouldn’t watch them for free, even at Madison Square Garden.

However, if we add Cooper Kupp to that list, all of a sudden, we are playing Coachella. A receiver that has mastered every route in the book deserves to sit inside the top 10 yet again, and due to the amount of opportunity he will see this season, Kupp is still a threat to finish as the WR1.

7. Jaylen Waddle

Miami Dolphins   |   ADP: 15.8 (WR11)

Due to concerns over Tyreek Hill’s mindset heading into this upcoming season, Jaylen Waddle’s breakout season is coming to theaters by you. With two consecutive seasons over the 1,000-yard mark, the next Tyreek Hill might be on the same team at the moment.

2022 Fantasy Season Recap

For three consecutive seasons, it seems as if Waddle’s ADP has been too low during the Underdog drafting season. With Tua playing last season, the Dolphins were virtually unbeatable, as the offense was just too powerful for AFC defenses.

Given the move to the perimeter of the offense due to Tyreek’s arrival last season, Waddle never stumbled or missed a beat. Alongside all the WRs on this list so far, it is essential that the 2022 version of Jaylen Waddle showed the ability to play in the slot and on the outside.

Making the Case for Waddle

Another wideout that is bound to see more slot targets this season, Waddle’s big-play ability should allow for the Tua/Jaylen Crimson Tide connection to reach new heights.

With very few catchable balls and red zone targets thrown by Tua and the other Dolphins QB, expect Mike McDaniel to make Waddle a point of emphasis as he continues to grow into one of the most prolific speedsters in the league.

Miami let go of Mike Gesicki this offseason, leaving red zone opportunities and yardage up for grabs. If Waddle even gets a taste of that share, a top-10 finish is in the clear.

The “350 Touch Halfbacks”

8. Bijan Robinson

Atlanta Falcons   |   Underdog ADP: 10.2 (RB3)

The consensus first-overall selection in rookie drafts winds up on the top 10 list as well. Notable running backs to finish the top 10 in their inaugural season include Saquon Barkley, Najee Harris, and Ezekiel Elliott. However, if Bijan truly is used as a runner and pass catcher, we could be looking at top 3 upside.

Making the Case for Robinson

Bijan’s Longhorn tape is enough to draft him inside the top 10. The combination of speed, power, and agility is unlike something scouts and front offices have seen from the running back position, which led Atlanta to take the gamble on the position that “can’t get paid” early in the first round of the draft a few months ago.

While Tyler Allgeier tore it up for the Falcons last season in a part-time role, a 15-TD season alongside over 1,200 total yards might be an undersell for Robinson’s first season with the Falcons in an extremely easy division.

9. Nick Chubb

Cleveland Browns   |   Underdog ADP: 17.2 (RB5)

With the absence of an elite backup (Kareem Hunt), the 350 touchmark is a figure Nick Chubb should have no issues reaching this season.

As one of the most consistent backs in the game, using a late first-round selection on Chubb isn’t a reach at all. Compared to Ekeler and McCaffrey, there’s very minimal concern about injury history.

2022 Fantasy Season Recap

Chubb’s YPC regressed last season, but the receiving yards and TDs reached an all-time high. The former Georgia Bulldog plays a vintage type of game in the backfield as a head-down runner who has elite agility but doesn’t celebrate 1st downs or touchdowns. He’s all business. 

Making the Case for Chubb

The one trait that separates Nick Chubb from the average running back is the ability to make something out of nothing. When thinking about first-rounders that you want to target in an Underdog draft, you want guys who will fight for that TD or first down and bounce off tackles for big plays.

Chubb’s 8.9 YPR last season ranked 6th out of all running backs. Even though he isn’t a pass-catching back, the ability he’s shown to play out of any scenario and succeed is second-to-none. A player that continuously outperforms his ADP, Nick Chubb’s next breakout season is upon us.

10. Rhamondre Stevenson

New England Patriots   |   Underdog ADP: 26.7 (RB9)

Over the past two seasons, there hasn’t been a guy that has finished inside the top ten in fantasy football that has completely blown your mind. Sure, Deebo Samuel’s “do-it-all” 2021 and Josh Jacob’s impressive 2022 campaigns may have caught you off guard.

If you were paying attention during those draft seasons, the number of touches they each received may not have been shocking due to the amount of opportunity in each offense.

If we realize Rhamondre Stevenson’s maximum amount of opportunity this season and mentally subtract that by his minimum, taking a swing on the New England running back at the back end of the first round could turn into a league-winning investment.

2022 Fantasy Season Recap

My draw to Stevenson isn’t only this season. It’s long-term. A 4th-rounder out of Oklahoma, Stevenson had 193 total touches in his two collegiate seasons.

This makes him extremely fresh and durable for the next few years of his career, unlike some of the running backs drafted in the first two rounds. While Stevenson should get over the 100-target mark this upcoming season, his 38 red zone touches actually came well short of his expected number in that category.

With New England’s offense stalling with Mac Jones the past couple of seasons, expect Rhamondre to be more of a contributor in red zone and goal-line touches.

Making the Case for Stevenson

Rhamondre runs, cuts, jumps, and hits like he has fresh legs. With the snap share skyrocketing from 33% to 65% last season, I believe the 75% mark is the sweet spot for the Patriot running back this season, which should land him as the RB5 or better in fantasy football.

With his current ADP inching closer to 30, the time to invest in the potential 350-touch player is now before it is too late. While I may sound like a used-car salesman here, Rhamondre is in total control of this Patriot backfield.

Belichick and Mac Jones feel comfortable with him, and more importantly, the front office seems to think the same way. The Damien Harris departure to Buffalo prompted absolutely no meaningful movement from the New England staff and front office.

While they might make another move for a playmaker on the outside, that 30-touch, 200-yard game will come for Stevenson in the winter wonderland of Foxborough this season. You will thank yourself for taking a chance on what could become the next elite AFC running back.

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.