Yes, it’s only May, but aren’t you already pumped for the 2023 fantasy football season? I know I am. ADPs can and will shift between now and late August/early September, but based on the current landscape and a few projecting shifts, let’s take a look at a handful of early fantasy football breakouts for the upcoming season.
Fantasy Football Breakouts
The term “sleeper” in fantasy football has become a bit antiquated. Of course, there will still be articles discussing fantasy sleepers. But the real value in fantasy football comes from breakout players. These are guys we can pinpoint that we feel are going later than they should, who will provide a significant positive return on investment.
A breakout player is typically someone we haven’t really seen produce at a high level yet, or, at the very least, has never really produced above his ADP. Typically, these are younger players, but that doesn’t mean veterans can’t qualify. Here are five potential fantasy football breakouts for the 2023 season.
Jordan Love (ADP QB21, 146 Overall)
As the only quarterback on this list, Jordan Love really stands alone as a true fantasy breakout at the position. In recent years, fantasy managers have gotten exceedingly good at predicting who the top quarterbacks will be. The years of waiting on a quarterback or streaming the position appear to be over — at least for now.
So, if we’re looking for a late-round QB, he needs to be someone sufficiently slept on with a skill set and situation to potentially finish in the top 12. Now, I’m not saying Love is going to finish as a QB1, nor that he’s likely to do so. But if you’re looking for a QB with a chance, it’s him.
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Simply put, QB21 feels very late for Love. By all accounts, he’s improved considerably in his three years sitting behind Aaron Rodgers. For all the criticisms of the Packers’ pass-catching weapons, Christian Watson, Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs, and Aaron Jones are far from the worst.
Love looked good in limited playing time last season, and we truly don’t know his ceiling. That’s more of what makes Love appealing. With most QBs going this late, we know what they’re capable of. Love comes with zero risk relative to his ADP. He’s all upside, which is worth a shot taking if you’re in the business of drafting two QBs.
Zach Charbonnet (ADP RB32, 103 Overall)
It’s always difficult to trust anything the Seahawks — and specifically Pete Carroll — do or say, especially as it pertains to the running back position. But let’s break down what happened with this backfield and why Zach Charbonnet looks like someone with breakout potential.
Seattle drafted Kenneth Walker III with an early second-round pick last year. He opened the season as nothing more than Rashaad Penny’s backup, only getting a chance to lead the backfield after Penny got hurt.
Once he took over, Walker was a splash-play machine, but otherwise, he was quite inefficient. While Walker did run for 1,051 yards on 228 carries, he was a zero in the passing game, with just a 7.2% target share.
The Seahawks were so enamored with Walker’s performance that they used another second-round pick on Charbonnet. That already gives the rookie a great starting point.
Additionally, Charbonnet is an excellent pass catcher. He saw an 11.2% target share in his senior year at UCLA and projects to be Seattle’s passing-down back right out of the gate.
At an RB32 price, Charbonnet could just be the receiving back and likely be worth that cost based on the expected quality of the Seahawks’ offense alone. But what if he simply outplays Walker and earns more carries? What if Walker gets hurt? What if Charbonnet has an outlier touchdown year or gets more goal-line work than expected?
There are several ways in which Charbonnet ends up outperforming his ADP, but seldom few in which he falls well below it. Worst case, Charbonnet looks like a mid-to-low RB3. Best case, he’s a high RB2. That’s the exact type of player you want to draft.
Samaje Perine (ADP RB35, 109 Overall)
As I mentioned above, it’s May. Samaje Perine’s ADP is absolutely not going to hold up unless we get overwhelmingly positive news on Javonte Williams’ knee.
Recent reports indicate Sean Payton is hopeful Williams is ready for training camp and will avoid the PUP list. News like that will keep Perine’s ADP low for now. But as we get closer to the season, if it becomes clearer and clearer that Williams won’t be ready for the season opener, Perine’s ADP is going to skyrocket.
If you’re drafting soon or drafting early, now’s the time to get in on Perine. He’s already proven himself capable of handling a full workload after averaging 20.4 points per game in his two starts filling in for Joe Mixon.
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The Broncos don’t have any running back of consequence behind Williams and Perine. Currently, it’s inexperienced Tyler Badie and sub-replacement-level talent Tony Jones. For as long as Williams is out, Perine is poised for a three-down role.
Without Williams, Perine is a legitimate RB2 and may have standalone RB3 value even with him. He’s arguably the top fantasy RB breakout right now.
Jordan Addison (ADP WR34, 68 Overall)
It’s difficult to imagine a better landing spot for Jordan Addison than with the Minnesota Vikings. This is a team that needs a WR2, specifically one that plays the slot. Addison is just that.
The Vikings are a pass-first offense, as evidenced by their 63% neutral-game-script pass rate last season. They’re also a consolidated offense, with the bulk of their touches going to their RB1, Justin Jefferson, and their WR2.
Last year, a completely cooked Adam Thielen still commanded 107 targets, catching 70 of them for 716 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 10.6 ppg, and we can consider that Addison’s absolute floor. In reality, I think Addison’s floor is even higher.
At a WR34 ADP, Addison comes with almost no risk. In this offense, he can realistically catch 85 balls as a rookie, making him a monster in PPR scoring formats. Fantasy managers should highlight Addison on their draft boards and prioritize selecting him in the middle rounds.
Jakobi Meyers (ADP WR54, 117 Overall)
Here’s your veteran wide receiver breakout. Not every breakout has to wear a Superman cape. Sometimes, it’s enough just to get WR3 production at a WR4 or WR5 price. That’s what Jakobi Meyers has to offer…again.
It seems as if every year, fantasy managers sleep on Meyers. Although he’s a former UDFA, that ceases to matter once he proves himself as an NFL-caliber receiver, which he’s done.
Meyers is never going to be a league-winning player, but that’s okay. Last season, he had a WR45 ADP and finished as the WR29, averaging 12.9 ppg.
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Now, because he went from Mac Jones’ WR1 to Jimmy Garoppolo’s WR2, his ADP is somehow 25 spots lower than where he finished? Make it make sense.
Meyers is not finishing higher than a WR3, but he’s very unlikely to be worse than a WR4. He’s being drafted well below his floor and even further below his ceiling. It’s all upside with Meyers.
When you get toward the end of drafts, there aren’t really players that have extremely high ceilings. Finding a guy who can provide weekly startable value is a win, making Meyers a quality fantasy football breakout pick.