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Lamar Jackson is primed for an MVP season

Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The draft has come and gone and it was all just so glorious. It had the action and drama that we needed before, during, and after. Many young men saw their dreams come true as they got to continue to compete in the sport they love. Some of those dreams, however, have become some veterans’ nightmares (obviously from a fantasy perspective). For me personally, I’m just glad I don’t have to have my timeline flooded with useless mock drafts and shot-from-hip football takes on prospects they probably didn’t even actually study. The draft does give and take opportunities, though. Here are some below. Let’s get it.

STOCK UP

Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens

This one is easy for me. It was announced a few hours ahead of the draft that Jackson had agreed to a five-year, $260 million ($185 million guaranteed) deal with the Ravens. A few hours later, the Ravens blessed Jackson again by drafting Boston College receiver Zay Flowers in the first round. Fans have to come to grips and stop using the term “run-heavy scheme” when talking about the Ravens’ offense going forward. They are about to let it fly. With the additions of Flowers, Odell Beckham, OC Todd Monken and a new contract in hand, Jackson is my MVP pick and fantasy QB1. The morale in Baltimore is too high to ignore. The Ravens are my Super Bowl pick, as well.

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Colts

How can a player who was the consensus number one fantasy pick in 2022 have stock that is rising? Easy. There are two things we should look at here. For starters, Taylor’s 2022 campaign, as we know, was less than desirable, finishing as RB23 on a points-per-game basis. The offense as a whole was a disaster, with a revolving door at quarterback (Matt Ryan, Sam Ehlinger and Nick Foles), but major improvements are on the way. Secondly, speaking of quarterback, the Colts have a new one named Anthony Richardson, who they drafted No. 4 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. Despite Taylor having an MVP-like season in 2021, having Richardson will help take his game to new heights. For the first time in his career, Taylor will have the luxury of facing defenses who have to play 11-on-11 football. Defenses will have to account for Richardson as a runner, much like teams do with Jalen Hurts, whom new Colts HC Shane Steichen coached up in Philly (Miles Sanders is also coming off his best season). Taylor and Richardson are going to be a deadly duo and are a fantasy stack you need to be targeting.

Cam Akers, RB, Rams

Akers walks out of the draft a safe man, and deservedly so. He ended the 2022 season on a tear after some hiccups early in the year. In Weeks 13-18, Akers racked up 611 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns, which was good for RB4 in that span. Many thought the Rams would prioritize the running back position with the lack of depth behind Akers. Instead, they did anything but. With their 11th pick late in the sixth round, they did select Ole Miss’ Zach Evans, but he’ll hardly be a threat to Akers’ usage. If anything, second-year back Kyren Williams could look to take some passing-down work, but Akers is the main man in town. The Rams did use their first draft pick on TCU guard Steve Avila in the second round to help an offensive line that struggled early last season. While the Rams’ overall roster may be a scary thing to look at in comparison to recent years, Akers, along with Cooper Kupp, will be leaned on heavily.

Rachaad White, RB, Buccaneers

Unless you feel like Chase Edmonds will be a major threat to White being an every-down back (he won’t), then you should feel pretty good about White post-NFL Draft. The Bucs’ staffers made it known earlier this offseason that they see White as a three-down back who can handle most of the workload, and they proved that by not selecting a runner in the draft. With the release of Leonard Fournette, White looks to expand on what he started doing last Week 10 (15.2 touches per game). The Bucs drafted offensive lineman Cody Mauch (North Dakota State) in the second round to help bolster the unit. While veteran receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin remain on the roster, the quarterbacks leave much to be desired. With Baker Mayfield (or Kyle Trask) under center, the team will surely lean on White more in 2023.

Treylon Burks, WR, Titans

I have to at least throw one receiver up here, right? First off, no, Burks’ stock being up doesn’t have anything to do with the Titans drafting Will Levis. It does, however, have to do with the fact that Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Kyle Phillips, Chris Moore, Reggie Roberson and Racey McMath are the receivers behind him. This will be a run heavy team (poor Derrick Henry), but when they do throw, Burks has to be the beneficiary. Chigoziem Okonkwo has some value, as well, after being the top fantasy rookie tight end in 2022. By default, Burks should be in line to be the Titans’ leading receiver. Mike Vrabel has made it known entering the season Ryan Tannehill is the team’s QB1, Malik Willis QB2, and Levis a QB3 who all will compete. That is the scary part for Burks.

STOCK DOWN

Tyler Allgeier, RB, Falcons

You hate to see this one, but that’s the game. Allgeier did everything he possibly could to show that he deserved to enter 2023 as the Falcons’ top back. Despite starting only seven games last season, he ran for over 1,000 yards at nearly five yards a clip. Bijan Robinson being drafted No. 8 overall cancels all of that. While we don’t know what exactly Allgeier’s role will be, we can count on the fact that it won’t be to the tune of the 226 touches he saw in 2022. Falcons’ coach Arthur Smith described Robinson as “more than a running back,” so there may be a slither of hope for some fantasy value with Allgeier. The Falcons were the third-best rushing team in football last season, so while Allgeier won’t go away, the breakout hopes are gone.

Nico Collins, WR, Texans

I’m not saying “it’s over” for Collins, but there should definitely be a fire lit under those hoping he breaks out in 2023. The addition of Robert Woods may not have scared off Collins’ believers, but the arrivals of rookie receivers Nathaniel Dell and Xavier Hutchinson should. Not to mention, John Metchie (essentially a rookie) is looking to make some noise in 2023. I would be remiss not to shout out Dalton Schultz, as well. Hutchinson, in particular, shouldn’t be slept on. His tape is much better than his sixth-round draft capital. Dell, on the other hand, will surely carve out a role in the slot early. No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud will have a plethora of young receivers to grow with, but will Collins be one of them? Early on it could be an all-hands-on-deck approach where no receiver in particular is favored. The offense and the team will be going through some growing pains. I’ll have to pass on Collins this year in fantasy.

Khalil Herbert and D’Onta Foreman, RBs, Bears

Herbert, Foreman and…Roschon Johnson are going to give defenses fits in 2023 as a committee-run backfield. Just a couple of months ago there were hopes that Herbert might get his shot as a true workhorse back, but the signing for Foreman quickly derailed that. With Johnson now added, this will probably be the most frustrating backfield to deal with in fantasy football because you now have three guys who could line up and be your starter. For Justin Fields you love it, since it’ll only impact him in a positive way. I’d be cautious choosing Bears’ running backs in fantasy this season.

Dawson Knox and Gabe Davis, TE/WR, Bills

I really liked the move the Bills made in trading up to draft Dalton Kincaid in the first round. Unfortunately, that’s doomsday for Davis and especially Knox. Kincaid has the talent and will get the opportunity to act as the pseudo WR2 for the Bills and, quite frankly, it’s what the Bills have been lacking on offense (other than the run game). Knox has posted a respectable 97/1104/15 over his past two seasons and was a spot fantasy starter, but Kincaid will surely cut into that. Davis was the apple of everyone’s eye (except mine) heading into 2022 as a potential breakout and it didn’t happen. The Bills brought Trent Sherfield into the receiver rotation and they expect Khalil Shakir to man the slot. For Knox at least it was a good run, we’ll miss him.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Eagles

I made a social media video after Round 3 of the draft talking about running backs who were safe so far (Penny was one of them). So of course on Day 3 the Eagles traded for D’Andre Swift. Not a shocking move by any means considering Swift became expendable after the Lions drafted Jahmyr Gibbs, and the Eagles, well, like making good football moves. That’s exactly what this is, but it’ll be frustrating from a fantasy perspective. The first question will be, who can stay healthy the longest? Penny and Swift both have been known to miss time due to injuries, but both are great talents when playing. The second question would be, do you think Kenneth Gainwell is going away? I don’t think so. The Eagles are going to punish people in the run game, but it’ll be a collective effort when Jalen Hurts scoring a lot of rushing touchdowns again.