Fantasy football is a game of opinions, and often those opinions can be wildly divergent. The exercise here is to discuss some players who look polarizing entering the 2023 draft season — some are targeting them, some are fading them — and to give you food for thought to make your own wise decision.
Of course, I'll give you my leans and slants as well, but it's fine if you disagree. After all, that's why we have a game. And while you should always consider the viewpoints of those you respect, at the end of the day you have to make decisions you can live with.
Let's go under the hood.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Falcons (Yahoo ADP: 60.8)
Pitts came into the NFL with a glowing scouting profile, and there have been some hits — he did collect 1,026 receiving yards in his rookie year, heady production for a 21-year-old. But the Falcons have struggled to get Pitts going in the red area, resulting in just three touchdowns over 27 games. Heck, journeyman TE MyCole Pruitt found a way to spike four times last year, salt in the wound for Pitts managers.
Fantasy Spin: Pitts has the athletic profile of a receiver and he doesn't turn 23 until October, so there's plenty of time for him to justify the draft capital the Falcons used on him two years ago (fourth overall pick, 2021 Draft). But a bet on any pass-catcher is a bet on his offense's infrastructure, and I'm not confident that young starting QB Desmond Ridder and head coach Arthur Smith will be able to elevate Pitts. Unless Pitts' ADP comes down a bit, I'm unlikely to target him.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks (Yahoo ADP: 59.1)
Lockett's end-of-year finishes have been remarkably consistent the last five years (WR11, WR15, WR11, WR11, WR13), even if the week-to-week production has come with standard boom-and-bust fluctuation. But Lockett steps into his age-31 season, the Seahawks recognize DK Metcalf is the more talented receiver and rookie WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba is around to siphon targets. Some pundits are also skeptical about QB Geno Smith, who shockingly produced a Pro Bowl season in 2022.
Fantasy Spin: Lockett's Yahoo ADP is about a round higher than his national averages, so I understand if you're reluctant to cut the check. But even if the Seahawks use their three receivers liberally, the target tree is otherwise narrow — the tight ends and running backs aren't used much in this passing game. And I suspect Smith is more legitimate star than pumpkin, given that he was a second-round pick in his draft class and he played surprisingly well at the end of 2021, stepping in for Russell Wilson. Perhaps these are the boring veteran days for Lockett, but I'm going to be targeting him for at least another year. Better yet, in some leagues, I'll scoop him up cheaply while my opponents are more focused on the next shiny new toy.
Nick Chubb, RB, Browns (Yahoo ADP: 10.4)
Chubb has been priced up as a first-round pick in Yahoo rooms, while his national ADP settles more in the early part of the second round. Cleveland has never used Chubb much in the passing game, and the Browns offense sputtered last year when Deshaun Watson returned for the final six starts. Chubb steps into his sixth season and his age-28 campaign, which is sometimes a danger pocket for running backs.
Fantasy Spin: Chubb is never going to have Christian McCaffrey's passing chops, but Chubb's rushing production has been a steady drumbeat for five years. Chubb has never scored fewer than eight touchdowns in any campaign — he had 12 last season — and he averages a zesty 5.2 YPC for his career. With Kareem Hunt and D'Ernest Johnson gone, it's likely the Cleveland offense will steer into Chubb more than usual this year, perhaps even increase his pass-game work. And while Watson was dreadful in his return, it did come after a substantial layoff; it's plausible that his play will improve this year, perhaps significantly. I'd love to grab Chubb anytime he slips into the second round, but I can also consider him as a pick in the late first round, likely to start an Anchor RB roster build — my next few picks would surely be wide receivers.
Tony Pollard, RB, Cowboys (Yahoo ADP: 17.8)
Pollard finally has a starting gig entering his fifth season, exciting news when you consider how electric he was on a per-snap basis the last few years. The Cowboys offense is likely to be a top-five unit, and Pollard's odometer rests in a reasonable place, given that he was Ezekiel Elliott's backup for the last four years.
Fantasy Spin: Pollard is about nine picks more expensive in Yahoo rooms than he is nationally, and I wonder if the Yahoo ticket is a little too expectant. The Dallas offensive line is no longer fortified like it's been in recent years, and Pollard's build (6-foot-0, 209 pounds) will likely encourage the Pokes to find another prominent back to supplement the workload. No, that back is not on the roster currently, and if Dallas goes into Week 1 with the tailbacks we currently see, Pollard can easily justify a second-round ticket. But it can be dangerous to extrapolate a part-time efficiency darling into an upcoming full-time role, so I'll tread carefully when Pollard's name comes up this summer.
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Broncos (Yahoo ADP: 73.4)
Denver's offense was such a train wreck last year, I don't blame anyone who checked out for the final few games. But Jeudy's play came together nicely over his final six starts, returning from an ankle injury — he racked up a 37-523-3 line over that stretch, grading as the WR7 in standard scoring and WR6 in PPR scoring over that period. Yahoo drafters have been cool to Jeudy in the first run of results, pushing him outside the top 80 overall. In some other rooms, Jeudy's ADP lands 40 slots higher.
Fantasy Spin: I'm not ready to say QB Russell Wilson is completely cooked, especially with offensive wizard Sean Payton taking over. And say this for Jeudy, he was the only receiver who showed tangible rapport with Wilson last year. I don't know how long this juicy Jeudy discount is going to be available, but I'd like to get on board as he enters his fourth pro season. The timing is right for a breakout year.