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Fantasy: 10 bold predictions for the 2023 NFL season


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theScore's Justin Boone delivers some of his bold predictions for the upcoming fantasy season.

Daniel Jones is a top-5 fantasy QB

A year after finishing ninth in fantasy points per game among qualified quarterbacks, Jones will take his production to another level. Plenty of credit should go to Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka for their scheme, but the infusion of talent in the pass-catching corps (Darren Waller, Parris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt) should allow Jones to flourish. With his production on the ground (708 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs in 2022), Jones checks all the boxes for a star fantasy QB.

Jefferson, Kupp eclipse 2,000 receiving yards

For the first time ever, we'll witness a receiver hit the 2,000-yard mark, and it'll happen twice in the same year. Justin Jefferson was nearly on pace for it last season before seeing a decline in playing time in the final two weeks. If you take his per-game stats through 15 outings, Jefferson was on pace for 1,990 yards. Meanwhile, an injury derailed Cooper Kupp's chances at history last year, but he's one campaign removed from a 1,947-yard effort. Though he's working his way back from a hamstring injury at the moment, all signs point to him being ready for Week 1. Let the race to 2,000 yards begin!

Mattison, Pierce finish as fantasy RB1s

Volume is a key element for fantasy running back success, and the number of three-down workhorse ball carriers is declining each year. Enter Alexander Mattison and Dameon Pierce, who project to see as many touches as they can handle in their respective offenses this season. Mattison is taking over for a former bell cow in Dalvin Cook - and in the last five games in which Mattison played at least 50% of the Vikings' snaps, he averaged over 25 touches per contest. Pierce is coming off a strong rookie season as a runner, but his full-time usage in the preseason has boosted his outlook. If the Texans continue to deploy Pierce on passing downs, he'll push for a spot among the top-12 fantasy backs.

Multiple rookies crack top-12 tight ends

The trend of rookie tight ends coming up short for fantasy in their first season has begun to shift in recent years, and 2023 might put an end to it for good. Dalton Kincaid, Sam LaPorta, and Luke Musgrave are quality pass-catchers with strong athletic profiles and high draft capital backing them up. All three project to play significant roles in their teams' passing attack right out of the gate. With the current state of the low-end TE1 ranks, these three rookies have an opportunity to become immediate fantasy starters. If you're waiting on the position, don't take a boring veteran with a limited ceiling. Roll the dice on the unknown upside of Kincaid, LaPorta, or Musgrave.

Pollard takes home the fantasy RB crown

Tony Pollard's rise to fantasy stardom is reminiscent of Austin Ekeler's path with the Chargers. After playing second fiddle and sharing a backfield with Melvin Gordon, Ekeler was eventually given the starting role and became a top-three fantasy producer. With Ezekiel Elliott out of the way in Dallas, Pollard can build on his RB8 finish from 2022. The 26-year-old's skill set is ideal - with the potential to deliver elite yardage, reception, and touchdown totals. Don't be surprised when he's being mentioned challenging Ekeler and Christian McCaffrey for the top spot this year.

Dotson leads league in receiving TDs

Jahan Dotson averaged nearly a touchdown per game in the eight contests in which he played at least 70% of the Commanders' snaps last year as a rookie. Even though that kind of pace isn't likely to be sustained over a full season, it showcased the young wideout's ability to find the end zone. Multiple beat writers have documented his chemistry with new starting quarterback Sam Howell this offseason. That was on display over the team's first two preseason outings, with Dotson accumulating seven catches, 106 yards, and a score. Touchdowns can be a volatile stat to project, but Dotson is going to be crossing the goal line often enough to put him in the conversation for the league lead in that category.

Howell becomes a weekly fantasy starter

Dotson isn't the only playmaker in Washington's system. Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson, Brian Robinson, Logan Thomas, and Cole Turner form an underrated collection of skill-position talent who can help their sophomore quarterback thrive. We've seen evidence of that in the preseason, with Howell completing 76% of his passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns while adding another 25 yards with his legs in two appearances. The rushing numbers are particularly notable since it's something he relied on in college and did in his lone start as a rookie (35 rushing yards, TD). If that continues, Howell will have a shot to threaten for a top-12 fantasy finish.

Charbonnet outscores Walker

Kenneth Walker has returned to practice and appears on track for Week 1 after a groin injury sidelined him for part of August. However, his volume outlook this season could still be in danger with second-round rookie Zach Charbonnet flashing a physical running style and more competent pass-catching skills. A split backfield seems like the direction this is headed. With Charbonnet having a line on the more valuable touches, finishing above Walker in fantasy this year is well within his range of outcomes.

Skyy Moore finishes as a top-24 WR

Travis Kelce is the de facto No. 1 receiver in Kansas City, but Skyy Moore is making a case to lead the actual receiving corps in targets this year. After a disappointing sophomore campaign, the 22-year-old has drawn positive reviews this offseason and has distanced himself from the pack of rotation wideouts behind him on the depth chart. Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling appear to be close to full-time players, with Moore stepping into the slot role that JuJu Smith-Schuster previously held. Even while playing through nagging injuries, Smith-Schuster earned 101 targets a season ago. The stage is set for Moore to win back fantasy managers with a breakout in Year 2.

Dobbins scores double-digit TDs

With everyone focused on the Ravens' upgraded passing game, J.K. Dobbins has flown under the radar. But make no mistake, an improved offense will benefit him as much as anyone. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken is expected to increase the pace of play in Baltimore, leading to more opportunities for everyone. If that results in the success we're projecting, Dobbins will thrive - like Mark Ingram did during Lamar Jackson's MVP campaign in 2019 when the veteran ball carrier finished as the RB8 in fantasy on the back of 15 total touchdowns.

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