Thanksgiving is upon us! It’s Week 12 of the fantasy football season, and that means most fantasy managers know whether their teams are contenders or on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. In any case, if you’re in a keeper league, now is the perfect time to make those final moves to set your team up for success, this year or the next.
Because fantasy value is as much about opportunity as it is about ability, it’s possible to predict a player’s future value exceeding this season’s by looking at each NFL team’s roster composition and contract situations. We dove into our NFL Nation’s (E+) first look at the 2023 NFL offseason and top 25 free agents and extrapolated the fantasy implications for some of the players who will be on your 2023 fantasy football draft lists.
If you are rebuilding or trying to bolster your fantasy team for a championship run and want to know which of your players might be most attractive to rebuilding teams, here are some players who could be shooting up the ranks this offseason.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers: A fractured right ankle prevented the 49ers from moving forward with Trey Lance under center this season. Garoppolo has scored at least 16 fantasy points in every game but one, including a season-high 25.4 fantasy points against the Cardinals on Monday night. No matter how the 49ers’ 2022 season ends, Garoppolo might look for a new 2023 home where he can be the unchallenged starter. Garoppolo has proven to fantasy managers this season that he can be productive with a stellar supporting cast. What if he landed with the Raiders or Commanders in 2023? Garoppolo is worth acquiring in deeper formats or superflex leagues.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants: Jones’ fifth-year option was not exercised, which allows him to become a free agent after the season. He has exceeded the expectations of fantasy managers on a Giants team without receiving playmakers. Jones has scored 18 or more fantasy points in three of his past four games. With games against the Commanders, Vikings, Colts and Eagles from Weeks 15 to 18, the Giants have a very fantasy-friendly schedule to close out the season. Jones’ turnover woes seem to be behind him, and if the Giants don’t re-sign him, a lot of teams will need new quarterbacks.
Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys: ESPN’s Todd Archer wrote, “The guaranteed money portion of [Ezekiel] Elliott’s contract ends after this season. The Cowboys can save $10.9 million next year by designating him as a post-June 1 cut, but that will still result in more than an $8 million cap hit in 2024.” Pollard is also a free agent, and Dallas might cut Elliott to re-sign him. In the past three games, Pollard has had 22 or more fantasy points, including two games with more than 33. A trade for Pollard now will benefit your fantasy team for the remainder of the 2022 season and for the 2023 season, regardless of whether he resigns with the Cowboys.
Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots: Damien Harris’ rookie contract will expire early next year. Harris has taken a back seat to Stevenson this season despite nearly 2,000 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns so far in his career. There is a strong chance Harris will find himself on a new team in 2023. Stevenson has averaged 18.5 touches and 14.2 fantasy points per game.
Jeff Wilson Jr., Miami Dolphins: Wilson’s reunion with Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, who helped build the 49ers’ running scheme along with Kyle Shanahan, has been great. Two games with the Dolphins have yielded 31 touches and 38.5 fantasy points. Wilson and Mostert are both signed to one-year deals. If I were to bet on one Dolphins running back returning in 2023, it would be Wilson.
Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Leonard Fournette will be in the final year of his contract next season, and White is expected to lead the backfield committee as soon as this week as the Buccaneers come off their bye. He had a career-high 105 rushing yards against the Seahawks in Week 10 and gave the Buccaneers’ running game a boost. He could gain value every week, so now is the time to trade for him.
Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire has a fifth-year option for 2023, so the Chiefs have a decision to make. CEH had been phased out of the offense even before a high ankle sprain sent him to the injured reserve list, while the rookie Pacheco had a career-high 107 yards on 15 attempts against the Chargers, becoming the first Chiefs running back to eclipse 100 rushing yards this season. Beginning in Week 12, Kansas City’s schedule is very favorable for running backs, and Pacheco could become the front-runner to lead the Chiefs’ committee in 2023 if he performs well.
Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears: David Montgomery is very capable as a runner and a receiver. He surpassed 1,000 yards in his first three seasons with the Bears, but fantasy managers have taken notice of Herbert this season as Montgomery is on the verge of becoming a free agent. Herbert’s stats reflect his explosiveness compared to Montgomery’s. Through 10 games, Herbert has rushed for 643 yards on 108 carries, which ranks him second on the Bears behind quarterback Justin Fields (749). Herbert is signed through 2024 to a very cap-friendly contract. Now is the perfect time to trade for Herbert, who is currently on injured reserve because of a hip injury, with expectations that he’ll be healthy, and a starter, in 2023.
Zamir White, Las Vegas Raiders: Josh Jacobs is having a great season with 21.7 touches and 19.4 fantasy points per game, but it should be noted that the Raiders declined Jacobs’ fifth-year option earlier this year. He’s likely to leave in free agency to capitalize financially on his statistical production, allowing White to become the starter in 2023. The rookie ranks 15th on the University of Georgia’s career rushing list with 2,043 yards. It’s possible the Raiders add more running backs themselves through free agency or the draft, but White should be relatively easy to acquire right now, perhaps even as a throw-in in a bigger trade.
DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals: ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss wrote: “[DeAndre] Hopkins is due $19.5 million next season but comes with a $30.9 million cap hit, so something’s got to give. Either he’ll restructure his deal to lower his cap number, or the Cardinals could decide he won’t be worth the cash or cap space. Hopkins’ play this season — since his return from a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy — might make Arizona lean toward needing him again.” Hopkins has averaged 11.5 targets and 21.9 fantasy points per game. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that several teams tried to trade for the veteran receiver before the deadline. The Cardinals are 4-7 and unlikely to make the playoffs; they might have to rebuild, especially if they part ways with coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim. Hopkins will still see a huge target share whether he stays with the Cardinals or is traded to a contender. With Kyler Murray injured and the Cardinals in disarray, fantasy managers can consider trading for the 30-year-old receiver for this year and next, as he he has shown he still has a lot left in the tank and is practically quarterback proof.
Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this month that Ridley has been staying in shape and will be ready to return once reinstated in 2023. The 27-year-old missed most of the 2021 season for personal reasons before being suspended for the 2022 season for violating league gambling rules. Before that, he had caught 248 of 380 targets for 3,342 yards and 28 touchdowns and was a fantasy superstar. He ranked fifth in receiving yards per game (82.8) among players with at least 20 games played from 2020 to 2021. The Jaguars acquired the receiver at the trade deadline and, upon his return, Ridley will join Christian Kirk as a dynamic tandem with an improving Jaguars offense. Ridley has a strong chance to make a run at WR1 fantasy numbers in 2023.
Nico Collins, Houston Texans: The Texans are one of the worst offenses in the league ranking 30th in both total yards (290.1) and points scored per game (15.9). Brandin Cooks is not happy with the Texans’ 1-8-1 record. The disgruntled receiver wasn’t traded at the deadline, and the Texans have stripped him of his captaincy because of his comments. Houston can afford to spend the rest of the season evaluating its personnel. Collins has been targeted 17 times over the past two games since returning from a groin injury and is in position to continue to get more targets as a sort of audition for the No. 1 receiver slot for the 2023 season.
Drake London, Atlanta Falcons: Wide receivers from the 2022 draft class should be priority acquisitions for any fantasy manager looking for upside. I’m most intrigued by London because he wasn’t well positioned to succeed in a Falcons offense that has ranked fourth with 32.8 rushing attempts per game this season. London has averaged 5.9 targets per game but has shown enough that the Falcons need to prioritize him in the passing game next season as Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder battle for the starting job.
Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots: Meyers has a good chance of finishing this season as the Patriots’ top receiver. He leads New England in receptions (40), targets (52), receiving yards (457) and receiving touchdowns (three). Meyers is on track to finish with similar numbers to his career year of 83 receptions and 866 receiving yards in 2021. As he seeks a career-defining deal in free agency, Meyers will be a top wide receiver somewhere, and should see plenty of targets no matter where he ends up.
Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins: Gesicki has been an afterthought in Mike McDaniel’s Dolphins offense this season becauseTyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are each warranting a massive target share. He’s on pace for only 480 receiving yards in 2022 after surpassing 700 yards in the past two seasons. He is, however, on pace for a career high in touchdowns. As a free agent, Gesicki can select a team that will value his ball skills more than his grit.
Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals: Zach Ertz suffered a knee injury in Week 10 and was replaced by rookie McBride, one of Colorado State’s most decorated players. The John Mackey Award winner (for the nation’s top tight end) set school records for tight ends in receptions, receiving yards and 100-yard games during his 2021 season. The Cardinals’ offense prioritizes tight ends, targeting the position at the sixth-highest rate in the league. Ertz averaged 7.0 targets per game this season, but the veteran will be 33 next year and coming off the knee injury. Prioritize McBride if you need a tight end.