The Way-Too-Early Top 12 Positional Projections for 2023

Here are my way-too-early top 12 candidates for each skill position in 2023:


Patrick Mahomes
Jalen Hurts
Josh Allen
Joe Burrow
Justin Fields
Trevor Lawrence
Kirk Cousins
Tua Tagovailoa
Justin Herbert
Deshaun Watson
Bryce Young
Kyler Murray

Notable absence: Lamar Jackson
Dark horse candidate: Daniel Jones


Travis Etienne
Christian McCaffrey
Saquon Barkley
Ken Walker
Breece Hall
Jonathan Taylor (had forgotten him in the initial list)
Najee Harris
Javonte Williams
Bijan Robinson
Rhamondre Stevenson
Josh Jacobs
Jahmyr Gibbs

Notable absences: Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, Joe Mixon
Dark horse candidates: Rachaad White, Brian Robinson


Justin Jefferson
Ja’Marr Chase
AJ Brown
Tyreek Hill
Stefon Diggs
CeeDee Lamb
Jameson Williams
Davante Adams
Jaylen Waddle
Garrett Wilson
Tee Higgins
Amon-Ra St. Brown

Notable absences: Cooper Kupp, DeAndre Hopkins, Deebo Samuel
Dark horse candidates: Chris Olave, Drake London, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Brandon Aiyuk


Kyle Pitts
Travis Kelce
TJ Hockenson
Mark Andrews
Dallas Goedert
George Kittle
Pat Freiermuth
Darren Waller
Dalton Schultz
Evan Engram
Chig Okonkwo
Cole Kmet

Notable absences: Zach Ertz, Tyler Higbee
Dark horse candidates: Michael Mayer, Greg Dulcich, Trey McBride, Isaiah Likely, Daniel Bellinger

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Ohh. Interesting. There’s a receiver you left out I feel. Devonta Smith. That combo of him and Brown will be looked upon like Tim Brown and Jerry rice one day!!

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I’m not sure about that. The Eagles also use the TE a lot. But Goedert missed 5 games this season, which left 30 extra targets for Brown and Smith to pick up. That won’t necessarily repeat next year.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, but if Smith indeed checks in to the top 12, then Brown will probably not end up at #3.

Plus, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Eagles used one of their early picks on a top RB. Sanders is a free agent, and adding an upgrade for the backfield would make their offense almost unstoppable. But that would not only mean a slight shift towards the run game, but also that the backfield will soak up more passes than it did this year. Sanders, Gainwell and Scott only saw a combined 61 targets all season. That’s less than what Goedert saw alone, and he played only 12 games.

Btw, Smith was the #16 WR on a PPG basis. That he ended up ahead of Kupp, Chase, D-Hop, Keenan Allen, Evans, Higgins and Lockett is because all these players missed games.

What of RB Taylor not included?

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Damn it, I knew I would simply miss a player or two.
JT is definitely one. Of course, he belongs in the list.

Edit: I must have accidentally overwritten him, there were only 11 RBs on that list. Added him now.

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I would add Tyler Allgeier to your RB’s. During the last 4 weeks, aka the Desmond Ridder starts, Allgeier suddenly became a viable starter, almost a bellcow. I won’t call him a top 5 RB, but he could slip into the top 12.

Stranger things have happened in the NFL, but I don’t see it.

Allgeier finished as the #26 RB in PPR. #35 in terms of PPG. 4 admittedly good games at the end of the season (that are already included in those ranks) don’t turn him into an RB1 candidate.

By that account, we would have to add KJ Osborn to the top 12 WR list. He finished 4 of the last 5 weeks with 15+ PPR points. In 3 of those weeks, he outperformed Justin Jefferson. Including week 15, when JJ scored 31.3 to Osborn’s 33.7. Osborn’s average in those 5 weeks was 17.6. Had he done that all season, he would have been the #7 WR.

Yet still the very best I can see on the horizon for him is a low-end WR2 role.

As for Allgeier: he may have a chance to carve out a solid role as a fantasy RB2, but not more. Of the Falcons draft another RB and take away most of his upside. That Allgeier will fill a bellcow role that will move him into RB1 territory is something I will believe once I see it.

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The Cardinals announced they intend to trade Hopkins away this offseason.

I watched Allgeier at the beginning of this year, and the end of this year, and there was noticeable improvement. He was running much more confidently towards the end. In addition, Cordarelle Patterson was less of a factor in the running game towards the end, and I would speculate it was because the coaching staff was feeling a little bit more confident in Allgeier.

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Allgeier did look much better late with many touches. Next year, I fully expect more passing to London and Pitts with Ridder or another and adding a receiving RB to replace Patterson. Also seeing them behind in many games.

Al of the above will make Allgeiers a split the load RB at best.

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Allgeier will easily get the first 2 downs of work, which is what you want from most RB’s anyway.

I see you are favoring youth, but do you think that the 27 year old top fantasy scorer, at least in PPR, Austin Ekeler will actually drop out of the top 12? Not arguing, just wondering.


@ZakHH, I would second this. While Ekeler may decline, to expect him to drop out of the top 12 is a bit much. I would probably put him ahead of JT on your ranking.

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Jamey Eisenberg

  1. Christian McCaffrey
  2. Austin Ekeler
  3. Jonathan Taylor
  4. Saquon Barkley
  5. Kenneth Walker III
  6. Travis Etienne
  7. Joe Mixon
  8. Josh Jacobs
  9. Derrick Henry
  10. Breece Hall
  11. Tony Pollard
  12. Rhamondre Stevenson

Here’e one from CBS Fantasy I liked.

For Austin Ekeler, there are multiple factors that make me pessimistic for his 2023 outlook. And it’s not even so much his age. He is nearing the empiric age cliff for RBs, but the fact that he saw little usage in his early years and profiles more as a WR than an RB makes me optimistic that he may last 1-2 years longer than the average RB.

I should also add that I am not an Ekeler hater. To the contrary, he is one of “my guys” in fantasy. I added him prior to the 2018 season, when hardly anybody knew him, and held on to him ever since, as I was convinced back then already that he was better than Melvin Gordon.

I also predicted a “top 10, possibly top 5” season for him in 2021. In 2022, I did expect some regression, but still saw him as a top 10 guy. I’d never have thought that he’d become the #1 RB, though, gotta admit that.

Reason #1: in 2021, one big concern about him was if he could withstand the physical impact of playing in a bellcow role. He had hamstring issues before, when he still was in an RBBC with Gordon, so those concerns weren’t unreasonable.

He made it through 2021, and as usual, there was a certain amount of luck involved. But he said himself after the season that it had brought him to his absolute physical limits. And he asked for help in the backfield prior to 2022 season. Neither Larry Rountree nor Sony Michel proved capable of providing that help, though, so Ekeler was on his own again. And made through yet another bellcow season.

So, can he pull off a third one in a row? Will the Chargers even attempt to pull that off?

And that’s where my pessimism for Ekeler in 2023 stems from. I neither expect him to retain the bellcow role, nor do I expect him to play all 17 games.

Ekeler’s contract expires after 2023, he’ll become a UFA. His salary is pretty low for an RB of his caliber. His contract value barely makes into the top 10 among RBs, and 75% of that contract is behind him.

Will he want to play on that contract in 2023, knowing fully well he won’t get a substantial new one afterwards? Ekeler is a very humble guy, one of the reasons why I like him. But to be perfectly honest, I think he’d be ill advised if he did.

If the Chargers will give him a 2 year extension this offseason, I’ll have to review the situation. But I’m not sure they will.

Then, there’s the team outlook. Mike Williams and especially Keenan Allen are getting old, and it shows. Unless they get traded, both will be around in 2023, but both will hardly be any better than in 2022. Josh Palmer has proven that he cannot replace them. And Justin Herbert, talented as he is, struggles with getting the W home in key matches.

I’m not optimistic for the entire Chargers team in 2023. They haven’t developed much as a team in recent years, they are in the bottom quarter in terms of cap space, they don’t have a good draft position, and their key players are getting old.

In fantasy football, I call this the mediocrity trap. Too good for a good draft pick, but not good enough to be a contender. A team that’s on the playoff bubble every year, but even if they make it, they don’t survive the first round.

Either they will launch a full retool in 2023 already, which could mean that Ekeler might get traded. Or they will make another attempt with their current roster. And I don’t see why that should end any better, now that their already pretty old players are yet another year older.

And finally, even if the Chargers get it together, play another decent season, and Ekeler retains his role and shows no sign of ageing: can we really expect him to pull off a third injury-free bellcow season in a row? It’s not unheard of in the NFL, but it doesn’t happen very often, either.

If the stars align, Ekeler might well enjoy another top 10, possibly top 5 season. He has shown that he can do it, and his age alone doesn’t worry me too much yet.

But the combination of his contract situation, the team situation, and his usage in the last 3 seasos is enough for me to be concerned about his 2023 outlook, to a point where I’d not treat him as a top 10 prospect right now.

That may change, if the Chargers give him a new contract and pull off a strong draft. These are only the way-too-early projections. But in them, yes, Ekeler is absent from my top 12.

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