Fantasy Football Sleepers 2023 (Updated August)
Is there a better feeling than nailing a fantasy football sleeper?
You get a few puzzled looks from your leaguemates when you draft the guy in August.
By November, that same guy is dumping fantasy points on your opponents.
There are lots of ways to define a fantasy football sleeper. We’re going with any player typically available in the double-digit rounds of drafts.
But the key point is -- these guys are set to return big value for your fantasy team – and make your opponents look silly in the process.
We nailed Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, Isiah Pacheco, Evan Engram, and David Njoku as sleepers last year.
Here are eight 2023 fantasy football sleepers from our rankings to know as you head into your draft:
Don't Miss The Next League-Winning Sleeper
Kenny Pickett, QB, Steelers
Primed for Year Two Leap
No QB had a better preseason than Pickett. Check out these numbers:
- 87% completion rate
- 13.3 yards per attempt
- 2 TDs
- 0 INTs
Pickett led all QBs in Pro Football Focus' preseason passing grades, with a 93.7 mark that would have easily topped the league last regular season.
Yes, it's the preseason. But it's also a continuation of a strong finish to Pickett's rookie campaign. He ranked No. 1 in PFF passing grade over the final five games of 2022.
It sure looks like the former first-rounder is set for a second-year leap.
And if that's the case, there's exciting fantasy upside here.
For starters, Pickett has a strong group of weapons at his disposal.
WR Diontae Johnson has topped 85 catches in three straight seasons. WR George Pickens tallied 801 yards as a rookie last year and should be better as a sophomore.
TE Pat Freiermuth ranked seventh among 43 qualifying TEs last year in both yards per route run and Pro Football Focus receiving grade.
And RBs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are both capable pass-catchers out of the backfield.
A Plus Athlete
Pickett also offers more rushing upside than you probably realize.
He averaged 363 rushing yards per season over his final four years in college. Then he clocked a 71st-percentile, 4.73-second 40-yard dash at the Combine.
Pickett averaged 19.0 rushing yards across his 10 full games last season. Only 11 QBs topped that mark last year (minimum five games). Eight of those 11 finished top-15 at the position in fantasy points per game.
Pickett is capable of reaching that level this season.
Bryce Young, QB, Carolina Panthers
Rookie QBs Are Solid Fantasy Bets
You don't need to squint too hard to find rookie QBs that have been fantasy factors lately. Here are all the QBs who have been top-10 picks over the last five seasons and where they've finished in total fantasy points and points per game as rookies.
|Rank in Total Fantasy Points
|Rank in Fantasy Points per game
No super high-end finishes there. But seven of the 12 rookies ranked top-20 in points per game; four of them ranked top-15.
That'd be a nice return from Young, who's currently QB22 in ADP.
(And if you look at the five guys who finished outside the top 20 ... three of them are -- to put it kindly -- busts.)
A Pro-Ready Rookie
Young seems unlikely to bust. He was a two-year starter in a pro-style Alabama offense and put up silly numbers:
- 65.9% completion rate
- 8.8 yards per attempt
- 302 passing yards per game
- 79 TDs vs. just 12 INTs
Young ranked third among 124 qualifying QBs in Pro Football Focus passing grade in 2021 and then led all 128 qualifiers in 2022 grade.
Supporting Cast Better Than You Think
Young landed in a fine spot in Carolina.
The pass-catching corps doesn't pop off the page. But WR Adam Thielen and TE Hayden Hurst are reliable veterans. And WRs Jonathan Mingo, D.J. Chark, and Terrace Marshall all boast big-play upside.
The offensive line is solid, too. The Panthers ranked 10th in Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade and 11th in ESPN's Pass Block Win Rate last year. They return all five starters in 2023. And none of them are older than 29.
HC Frank Reich is also a mark in Young's favor. Six of his nine NFL offenses have finished top-14 in pass attempts. Five of them have ranked top-13 in passing yards.
Sneaky Rushing Upside
Young totaled just 185 rushing yards and seven TDs at 'Bama over the past two years. But remember that college football deducts lost yardage on sacks from QB rushing.
Per Pro Football Focus, Young racked up 597 yards on 9.3 yards per carry on scrambles across 2021 and 2022. For context, that 298.5-yard per-season average would have ranked 10th among QBs last year.
Young clocked a 4.58-second 40 time at his Pro Day. And we've compared him to Russell Wilson, who's averaged 28.7 rushing yards per game for his career.
Young played 54 snaps this preseason (a little less than one game's worth) and ran four times for 22 yards.
With plenty of promise as both a passer and runner, Young is a nice QB2 target near the end of fantasy drafts.
And as a bonus in best-ball drafts, Young's pass catchers are all cheap stacking options.
Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Commanders
2022 Not As Bad As You Think
Gibson was a fantasy disappointment last year. He set career lows with:
- 149 carries
- 546 rushing yards
- 3.7 yards per carry
- 3 rushing TDs
Yet Gibson still finished 28th among RBs in PPR points. Because he racked up 46 catches for 353 yards and two TDs.
That’s the power of RB receiving production, and the crux of the argument for Gibson in 2023.
The Commanders return RB Brian Robinson and add sixth-round rookie RB Chris Rodriguez.
Robinson led Washington’s backfield in carries last year … but caught just nine of 12 targets.
Rodriguez TOTALED 20 catches across five seasons at Kentucky.
Strong Pass-Catching Resume
Gibson, meanwhile, played a bunch of WR in college and has tallied 124 receptions over the past three years, 10th most among RBs.
This past season, he ranked fourth in PFF's receiving grade and 11th in yards per route run among 43 RBs with 30+ targets.
So Gibson is clearly the best pass-catching back in Washington. And there’s an opportunity for him to be even busier in that facet this season.
Gone is RB J.D. McKissic, who out-targeted Gibson 40 to 35 over the first eight games of last year (before missing the final nine with a neck injury).
The Commanders also swapped out Scott Turner for Eric Bieniemy at OC. That could be good news for Gibson.
Bieniemy arrives from Kansas City, where his Chiefs ranked among the pass-heaviest attacks in the league over the past five years.
Those offenses were piloted by Patrick Mahomes, of course. We don’t expect Bieniemy to go quite so pass-happy in Washington. But we do expect the Commanders to pass more this year than last
In 2022, they ranked 23rd in pass rate, 27th in pass rate over expected, and 20th in pass attempts.
RB-Friendly Passing Game
We also saw RBs post big pass-catching numbers in Bieniemy’s offense the past two seasons:
- 47 catches, 452 yards, and two TDs from Darrel Williams in 2021
- 56 catches, 512 yards, and nine TDs from Jerick McKinnon last year
HC Ron Rivera said in mid-May that he’d like to get Gibson more touches this season and that he’s excited about how Gibson fits into “what Eric Bieniemy wants to do with the offense.”
A bit more action in the passing game – and perhaps better efficiency on the ground – could turn Gibson into a weekly fantasy starter in PPR leagues.
See where Gibson ranks in YOUR fantasy league
Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings
You can quibble with Jordan Addison’s landing spot from a dynasty perspective. (He’ll never be the lead WR as long as Justin Jefferson is around.) But it’s a nice spot for his 2023 fantasy value.
The Vikings quietly ranked third in both pass rate and pass attempts last year. That probably shouldn’t be a big surprise considering HC Kevin O’Connell is a former QB.
With O’Connell and QB Kirk Cousins back for this coming season, this should again be a pass-heavy attack.
Even with Jefferson commanding a big target share, there’s enough volume to go around for Addison to eat, too.
Just last year, a clearly declining Adam Thielen drew 107 targets – tied for 28th among WRs. And, despite subpar efficiency, Thielen finished 30th at his position in PPR points.
Those are certainly marks that Addison can reach in 2023. K.J. Osborn, a former fifth-round pick who’s totaled just 1,305 yards through three NFL seasons, is Addison’s only legitimate competition for that No. 2 WR job.
Ready To Make An Immediate Impact
Addison looks like a relatively NFL-ready prospect. His 173-pound frame is the knock. But he’s an explosive mover with impressive route-running chops.
Addison won the Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver in college football with a 100-1,593-17 line as a true sophomore at Pittsburgh. Then he averaged 80 yards and 0.7 TDs per game after transferring to USC last year.
With first-round draft capital on his side, Addison is a good bet to make an instant impact for the Vikings and your fantasy football team. He sits well ahead of Osborn in our WR rankings.
More importantly, Addison's PPR ceiling projection of 241 points would make him a top-15 WR.
3D Projections help you land the high-upside players you need to win your fantasy league.
Nico Collins, WR, Houston Texans
A Step Forward in Year 2
It didn’t necessarily show up in the stat sheet, but Collins had an encouraging sophomore season.
He drew a 20.1% target share in his nine healthy games, up from 13.4% as a rookie.
He averaged 1.68 yards per route run, up from 1.24 as a rookie and 37th among 96 qualifying WRs.
And he ranked 40th among those 96 qualifiers in PFF receiving grade.
Collins is a candidate to take another step forward in his third NFL season. We're talking about a 6'4, 215-pounder with impressive athleticism who's still only 24.
And Collins finds himself in a better situation heading into 2023 ...
Rookie QB C.J. Stroud should be an immediate upgrade over last year’s QB play that left Houston among the bottom eight in passing yards, completion rate, and yards per attempt.
Stroud racked up 8,123 yards and 85 TDs on a 69% completion rate and 9.8 yards per attempt over the last two seasons at Ohio State. He’s accurate at throwing to all levels of the field, which should boost Collins’ efficiency in 2023.
Brandin Cooks and Chris Moore, who finished top two on the Texans in targets last year, both departed this offseason. They leave behind a combined 29% target share.
Houston added WR Robert Woods and TE Dalton Schultz in free agency and spent a third-round pick on WR Tank Dell. WR John Metchie is set to return after missing his rookie season with leukemia.
But this is an underwhelming pass-catching corps, giving Collins a shot to match or even exceed last year’s 20.1% target share.
That alone would give him a path to WR3-level production. He could ascend beyond that level if this Texans offense takes off with Stroud.
Collins drew a huge 30% target share from Stroud this preseason. A small sample -- but encouraging nonetheless.
Elijah Moore, WR, Cleveland Browns
Let's be honest. Moore has been a disappointment through his first two NFL seasons, totaling just 984 yards and six TDs. He's rarely been a guy we could trust in fantasy lineups.
But there are reasons to be optimistic about Moore heading into 2023.
A Strong Prospect Profile
Moore was an excellent prospect coming into the league. He averaged 102.2 receiving yards and 0.7 TDs per game across his sophomore and junior seasons at Ole Miss.
He was an early declare (a good indicator of future fantasy success) and went to the Jets with the 34th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Flashes of Big Production
Moore's rookie season got off to a slow start. But from Week 8-13, he racked up:
- 34 catches
- 459 yards
- 5 TDs
Only three WRs tallied more PPR points over that stretch.
Unfortunately, Moore's rookie campaign ended with a quad injury. And then he had a massive falling out with the Jets’ coaching staff last year, resulting in a trade request and limited usage.
Blame Zach Wilson
And that was it for Moore's Jets tenure. Which we're sure he's not too sad about.
Moore dealt with some bad QB play in New York, particularly from Zach Wilson.
In fact, Moore mustered just 5.4 yards per target from Wilson over the last two years.
But from all other Jets QBs, Moore averaged 8.2 yards per target -- safely above the league-wide WR average of 8.0.
And it's not like those other Jets QBs were future Hall-of-Famers. The list: Joe Flacco, Mike White, Josh Johnson, and Chris Streveler.
HUGE QB Upgrade
It's safe to say that Moore will play with the best QB of his life in 2023. March's trade to Cleveland hooks Moore up with QB Deshaun Watson.
Watson struggled in his return from a nearly 2-year hiatus last season. But he was spectacular over his final three seasons with the Texans, completing 68.7% of his passes and averaging 8.3 yards per attempt. Those marks ranked fourth and second, respectively, among 42 qualifying QBs.
If Watson, who turns just 28 in September, bounces back to anywhere close to that level, this Cleveland passing game will take off.
A Buzzy Offseason
And it sounds like Moore will be a big part of that passing game. He was one of the buzziest players of the offseason, drawing praise from coaches and beat writers.
OC Alex Van Pelt lauded Moore's route-running ability and positional flexibility in June. WRs coach Chad O'Shea talked up Moore's ability to make big plays both downfield and after-the-catch.
And The Athletic's Zac Jackson called Moore "an easy pick as an early breakout candidate." He lined up all over the formation in June minicamp and was one of Watson's favorite targets, per Jackson.
Moore has continued to flash in training camp. And he's been deployed out wide, in the slot, and in the backfield this preseason.
Moore looks like a classic post-hype fantasy football sleeper.
Greg Dulcich, TE, Denver Broncos
The Impressive Rookie Season You’re Overlooking
A pair of hamstring injuries have Dulcich’s promising rookie season flying under the radar.
In 10 healthy games, he compiled:
- 55 targets
- 33 catches
- 411 yards
- 2 TDs
The targets, catches, and yards all ranked top-10 among TEs over that stretch. Dulcich ranked TE10 in both PPR points and non-PPR points.
And he did it as a rookie at a position at which first-year players rarely make significant impacts.
In fact, Dulcich’s PPR scoring average was the fourth best mark from a rookie TE over the last five seasons. The three guys ahead of him: Kyle Pitts, Pat Freiermuth, and Will Dissly.
Dulcich also put together that promising rookie campaign on a Broncos offense that was a mess under HC Nathaniel Hackett. Denver ranked dead last in points scored and in the bottom half of the league in total yards, yards per play, passing yards, and passing TDs.
New HC Sean Payton should be a significant upgrade. Payton spent 15 seasons as Saints HC, leading the team to 13 top-10 finishes in total yards and 12 top-10 finishes in points.
Twelve of Payton’s 15 Saints teams ranked top-7 in passing yards. (Those teams were, of course, quarterbacked by Drew Brees.)
The “Joker” Role
Payton sounds excited about what Dulcich can do in his offense.
“He’s got a unique skill set. He’s got traits,” Payton said during June OTAs. “He can run. He’s got good ball skills. … I think his menu (of routes and formation spots) is going to be lengthy in the passing game.”
Payton went on to say that Dulcich will play some of the “Joker” role in the offense – a player that can line up anywhere and run any type of pattern.
Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles, and Alvin Kamara have previously played the “Joker” spot in Payton’s offense – and put up big receiving numbers.
Will Russell Wilson Rebound?
The big question in Denver is whether QB Russell Wilson can bounce back from an ugly 2022 season that finished with career lows in completion rate (60.5%) and Pro Football Focus passing grade. He turns 35 in November.
That adds some risk to Dulcich’s sleeper candidacy. But with an ADP well outside the top-12 TEs, it’s a risk worth taking on a guy who could score among the top eight at his position.
What to Make of Dulcich's Preseason
It's admittedly been a slightly worrisome preseason for Dulcich.
He played fewer snaps, ran fewer routes, and was out-targeted 3 to 0 by TE Adam Trautman in the opener.
Things got better for Dulcich in Week 2. He ran a route on six of Wilson's eight dropbacks and caught his only target for 18 yards.
It looks like Dulcich's usage might be a bit game plan-dependent, which would lead to volatile fantasy scoring. But he's the type of explosive playmaker who can put up big numbers on limited volume.
Luke Musgrave, TE, Green Bay Packers
Glimpses of College Dominance
We didn’t see a ton of Musgrave in college. He totaled just 47 catches across four seasons at Oregon State.
But Musgrave closed his junior campaign with 10 catches and 129 yards over his final two games. And it sure looked like he was on his way to a breakout 2022 campaign.
Musgrave racked up 11 catches, 169 yards, and 1 TD over the first two games of this past season. He drew a massive 30% of Oregon State’s targets in those contests and averaged a gaudy 3.38 yards per route run.
But Musgrave suffered a season-ending MCL tear late in that second game.
Strong Draft Capital + Athleticism
That didn’t stop the Packers from using the 42nd overall pick of this spring’s draft to add Musgrave.
What’d they see in him, beyond the flashes of dominant production at Oregon State?
An elite combination of size and athleticism.
Musgrave checked into the Combine at 6’6, 253 pounds and registered a 4.61-second 40 time and 36-inch vertical. He earned a 9.78 Relative Athletic Score – the ninth-best mark from a TE over the last 10 draft classes.
So Musgrave checks the draft capital and athleticism boxes.
Weak Target Competition
He also finds intriguing 2023 opportunity.
The Packers boast the youngest WR corps in the NFL, led by sophomores Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs and rookie Jayden Reed.
At TE, Musgrave is joined by fellow rookie Tucker Kraft, plus non-factor Josiah Deguara.
Simply put, there are tons of targets up for grabs in Green Bay.
Ready to Capitalize
Based on everything we’ve heard and seen this summer, Musgrave is ready to claim a large share of those targets.
He was already getting first-team reps and drawing raves from his teammates in June.
“He’s going to be a great player," QB Jordan Love said. "He’s a lot faster than I think anybody thought. He picked up the offense really fast. He’s getting a lot of reps right now, which is great for him. He’s making the most of it.”
Musgrave has continued to shine in camp and was Green Bay’s clear lead TE in the preseason.
Musgrave was targeted on eight of Love's 33 passes through two exhibitions -- a big 24.2% target share.
And he ran a pass route on 89% of Love's dropbacks.
How good is that?
Here are the route rates from last year’s top-5 fantasy TEs:
- Travis Kelce - 83.1%
- T.J. Hockenson - 83.9% (9 full Vikings games)
- George Kittle - 89.0%
- Mark Andrews - 94.1%
- Evan Engram - 80.0%
An 89% route rate is elite at TE.
If Musgrave maintains anything close to that rate in the regular season, it’ll be tough for him not to be a major fantasy factor.
See where Musgrave sits in the 2023 fantasy football TE rankings.
Don't Miss The Biggest 2023 Fantasy Football Sleepers
There's a lot going on during your fantasy football draft.
The Draft War Room is ready to make sure you don't miss a thing, including 2023's league-crushing fantasy football sleepers.
The Draft War Room includes icons to highlight every sleeper, as well as breakout candidates, value picks, injured players, risers, fallers, and more.
All on a fully customized fantasy football cheat sheet with dynamic player values to help you make the best pick each time you're on the clock.
Get serious about winning your fantasy league:
This 6-minute video gives you all the key details ...