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Who Should I Draft: Fantasy Football Decisions Explained

By Kevin English | Updated on Wed, 02 Aug 2023 . 2:22 PM EDT

Get the Logic Behind Each "Who Should I Draft" Fantasy Decision

PPR, half-PPR, or non-PPR?

Superflex?

IDPs?

Eight, 10, or 12 teams? Maybe more?

No matter the specs, your league rules will heavily influence your fantasy cheat sheet.

Below, we're assessing eight player pairs sitting back-to-back in ADP: two QBs, two RBs, two WRs, and two TEs. For this exercise, we'll assume full PPR scoring.

If that doesn't match your fantasy format, no sweat:

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Drafting Fantasy Football QBs

Who Should I Draft: Josh Allen, Bills vs. Jalen Hurts, Eagles

Allen’s Sleeper ADP: 22.3
Hurts’ Sleeper ADP: 23.5

Allen’s Fantasy Projection: 416 points (QB1)
Hurts’ Fantasy Projection: 382 points (QB3)

An Easy Decision?!

Not only is Allen our preferred pick. He’s a tier above Hurts.

Look under the hood and you’ll see why our award-winning projections produce this result.

Massive Volume Gap

The Bills are projected at a 58.5% pass rate in Year 2 under OC Ken Dorsey. That gives Allen 608 attempts, near where he finished in 2022 but way under his 2021 total (646).

Remember: Allen played through a partially torn elbow ligament from mid-season on. He’s now back to 100%.

We project the Eagles at a 51% pass rate, nearly repeating their 2022 tally. So with a gap of 110 attempts, it’s easy to see why Allen holds an edge.

We’ll keep an eye on Philly breaking in new play caller Brian Johnson. Philly also lost high-end guard Isaac Seumalo in free agency.

TIP

Read more about Johnson’s arrival (and others) in this article on NFL coaching changes.

What About the Rushing?

Sure, Hurts comes out on top. We have Hurts at 145.5 fantasy points solely from rushing; Allen at 109.

Looking at the past two seasons, Hurts beats Allen in rushing yards per game (51.1 to 46.2) and rushing TDs per game (0.76 to 0.39). 

But can you count on another 13+ rushing scores from the Eagle? Probably not. And unless he pops in that category -- while showing extreme efficiency as a passer -- the math favors Allen delivering superior fantasy value.

Who Should I Draft: Daniel Jones, Giants vs. Geno Smith, Seahawks

Jones’ Sleeper ADP: 122.6
Smith’s Sleeper ADP: 123.5

Jones’ Fantasy Point Projection: 305
Smith’s Fantasy Point Projection: 308

No Loser Here

Neither player is an avoid at QB15/QB16.

Not at all. Both guys posted their best numbers to date in 2022 and enter better environments this fall. 

And only two fantasy points separate this pair for 2023.

But this is why the Seahawk wins out …

Volume + Weapons Favor Smith

Current projections have Smith at 580 attempts, a slight bump up from 2022 and 73 more than Jones. The Seahawks roll out one of the league’s best WR trios:

  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Tyler Lockett
  • rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba

New York chose quantity over quality with its offseason approach, save for the Darren Waller trade. WRs Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, and Parris Campbell figure to play the most snaps early on.

O-line also favors Seattle. The Seahawks ranked eighth in pass-block win rate last year, well ahead of the Giants (29th).

Rushing Discrepancy

If your league awards bonuses for QB rushing, nudge Jones ahead on your cheat sheet.

He easily beats Smith in rushing projection:

  • 106 carries
  • 614.8 yards
  • 4.5 TDs

vs. Smith's ... 

  • 61 carries
  • 280.6 yards
  • 1.4 TDs

That’s an edge of 51.4 fantasy points.

But Jones’ numbers would also mark a decline from 2022 (120-708-7). We anticipate fewer scrambles, given the year of experience alongside HC Brian Daboll and his upgraded pass catchers.

Jones ranked third among QBs in scrambles last year at a ridiculous clip of one every 10.2 dropbacks (per Pro Football Focus).

Get The Complete Picture at QB

Drafting Fantasy Football RBs

Who Should I Draft: Derrick Henry, Titans vs. Nick Chubb, Browns

Chubb’s Sleeper ADP: 16.1
Henry’s Sleeper ADP: 18.3

Chubb’s Fantasy Point Projection: 269 (RB6)
Henry’s Fantasy Point Projection: 268 (RB7)

To be clear: Henry jumps ahead of Chubb in non- and half-PPR setups.

But in PPR, Chubb’s receiving work proves just enough …

Backfield Competition Favors the Brown

Cleveland’s expected to roll out Jerome Ford as the No. 2 back.

Despite an offseason with some hype, he’s ultimately a fifth-round pick in his second year ...

With 14 total offensive snaps behind him …

And zero in a pass route.

Ford gathered just 31 college catches in three seasons. 

Tyjae Spears, Elite Handcuff?

Compare that to the Titans’ Tyjae Spears, whose tape we loved. The Round 3 rookie notched 41 grabs over his final two college campaigns. If the buzz on him continues, Spears could cut into Derrick Henry's receiving work. 

DeAndre Hopkins' arrival – plus Year 2 of Treylon Burks and Chig Okonkwo – also could challenge Henry's target volume.

Who Should I Draft: D’Andre Swift, Eagles vs. Alexander Mattison, Vikings

Swift’s Sleeper ADP: 60.1
Mattison’s Sleeper ADP: 61.1

Mattison’s Fantasy Point Projection: 221 (PPR RB19)
Swift’s Fantasy Point Projection: 181 (PPR RB29)

It’s surprising to see these two side-by-side ... six weeks after Dalvin Cook’s release.

As usual, volume makes the difference.

No Contest

Cook leaves behind 264 carries and 56 targets. We project Mattison to absorb 86.7% of the carries; 87.5% of the targets. 

Is that on the aggressive side? 

Maybe.

Couldn’t the Vikings add a low-cost veteran, like Kareem Hunt or Leonard Fournette (who recently visited New England)? 

Maybe.

But for now, this depth chart behind Mattison only includes Ty Chandler, (rookie) DeWayne McBride, and Kene Nwangwu. Their collective resumes include just 28 carries.

Compared to Swift, Mattison’s backfield competition looks like a breeze.

Crowded in Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Rashaad Penny at the start of free agency. While health remains a red flag, he took part in OTAs. 

Penny should be 100% for camp. And if that's the case, he should be the favorite for early-down work.

Beyond Penny, Swift needs to contend with receiving back Kenneth Gainwell. Eagles insider Geoff Mosher recently tabbed Gainwell a “breakout” candidate on the Inside The Birds podcast.

It’s an aggressive call, sure. But Gainwell quietly saw more playing time late last year, with three of his six highest snap counts popping in the postseason.

Fourth In Line

Let’s say Swift earns the receiving-back role, while adding a change-of-pace element on the ground.

This passing game will still move through A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert. The Eagles only targeted RBs at a 12% clip last year – second-lowest league wide. It’s tough to expect a significant leap.

In total, Swift lags behind Mattison by 92 carries and 3 catches.

See How ALL RBs Stack Up

Drafting Fantasy Football WRs

Who Should I Draft: Cooper Kupp, Rams vs. Tyreek Hill, Dolphins

Kupp’s Sleeper ADP: 6.0
Hill’s Sleeper ADP: 7.0

Kupp’s Fantasy Point Projection: 323 (PPR WR4)
Hill’s Fantasy Point Projection: 328.7 (PPR WR3)

Can we just draft the guy who’ll play the most games?

Such a tight gap shows you’re not taking one guy over the other 100% of the time.

(Keep that in mind for your best ball strategy.)

Kupp No Longer Ahead

Kupp used to edge Hill in DMVP, our fantasy value metric, 94.6 to 91.7.

But now that Hill's legal situation has come to a close, we're no longer concerned about a potential suspension.

Plus, Kupp's August 1 hamstring injury puts him at risk for in-season aggravation.

Nearly Identical Projections

Their projected targets and catches are very similar.

We forecast Miami as the slightly more pass-heavy offense. Current projections have them at 604 attempts; Los Angeles at 590.

Kupp’s projected for a larger target share – 29% vs. 25.5% – and the Ram comes out slightly ahead in raw targets.

Hill’s projected for one fewer game, yet 100 more yards. Kupp – who tallied 16 scores in his healthy 2021 – carries the TD edge (10.6 to 8.9).

Who Should I Draft: Elijah Moore, Browns vs. Rashod Bateman, Ravens

Moore’s Sleeper ADP: 111.0
Bateman’s Sleeper ADP: 112.5

Moore’s Fantasy Point Projection: 185 (WR41)
Bateman’s Fantasy Point Projection: 180 (WR50)

Roughly 4 targets, 5 catches, 25 yards, and 0.5 TDs separate these two.

Both guys play alongside QBs with similar passing outlooks. And both play in an offense we expect to be around a 57% pass rate.

So, like most of the other pairings, this isn’t a slam dunk.

Health a Deciding Factor

Our proprietary injury predictor algorithm forecasts 2.9 games missed for Bateman; 1.8 for Moore.

Bateman has missed 16 games since entering the league in 2021. We’ll need to monitor the left foot issue that kept him out for part of the offseason. Back in November, he opted for Lisfranc surgery on the same foot.

Moore, meanwhile, has two quad strains and a concussion behind him. Still, he stayed injury-free last year and was among the stars of Cleveland’s offseason program.

If Deshaun Watson rebounds – as we anticipate – Moore could deliver weekly WR3 totals.

We Go Deep -- Nearly 200 WRs Deep

Drafting Fantasy Football TEs

Who Should I Draft: Kyle Pitts, Falcons vs. Dallas Goedert, Eagles

Pitts’ Sleeper ADP: 59.5
Goedert’s Sleeper ADP: 62.1

Pitts’ Fantasy Point Projection: 190 (TE4)
Goedert’s Fantasy Point Projection: 185 (TE6)

You could call Goedert the safer pick. In fact, he beats Pitts in floor projection by a few points:

Using 3D projections to help decide the question: who should I draft?

(Dallas Goedert's 2023 Projections)

But Pitts wins out in ceiling projection by a larger margin. And that high-end upside has us leaning toward the Falcon:

Using 3D projections to help decide the question: who should I draft?

(Kyle Pitts' 2023 Projections)

Low-Volume Attacks

We project Philly for 532 pass attempts. Atlanta's only at 450.

Pitts, however, comes out with clear edges in target share (23.5% to 16.7%) and raw targets (106.1 to 88.5). It’s enough to surpass Goedert in the ranks.

Neither guy is likely to pop as a TD scorer, though. 

Goedert must contend with A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith – plus the legs of Jalen Hurts. He has yet to top 5 TDs in a single season.

Pitts owns only 3 TDs on 96 career catches.

Still …

Talent Favors Pitts

Goedert’s no slouch. Despite shoulder and head injuries, he leads all TEs in yards per target over the past two seasons.

Pitts’ athleticism simply puts him in another tier. The fourth overall pick in 2021 has tallied 52.1 yards per game over his first two seasons.

That figure ranks 10th among TEs since the NFL merger.

Only 23 (in October), Pitts should continue to ascend. We'll just need to monitor the health of his right MCL, which required surgery in November. Pitts missed the offseason program but said he’ll avoid the PUP list.

Who Should I Draft: Greg Dulcich, Broncos vs. Tyler Higbee, Rams

Dulcich’s Sleeper ADP: 128.5
Higbee’s Sleeper ADP: 134.6

Dulcich’s Fantasy Point Projection: 152 (TE11)
Higbee’s Fantasy Point Projection: 149 (TE12)

Higbee tops Dulcich in projected targets by 10.

He leads the Bronco in catches by nearly 10.

So why draft Dulcich first?

Explosive Potential

Dulcich posted an 11.5-yard average depth of target last year, decent for a WR.

His 12.5 yards per catch ranked third among 27 TEs with 50+ targets.

Remember: Dulcich excelled at the 2022 combine, finishing with a strong Relative Athletic Score of 8.30. 

Dulcich actually ran 58.1% of his routes from the slot. HC Sean Payton touted the 23-year-old as a mismatch weapon this offseason, so similar usage is likely. 

At bottom, Payton’s scheme should lift the entire offense.

Regression For the Ram

It’s easy to see the source of Higbee’s 2022 career highs in catches and targets.

Cooper Kupp, who handled a stunning 32.4% target share, missed the final nine games.

Van Jefferson looked to be ascending after a mini breakout in 2021 (50-802-6). But he missed the first six games.

Higbee’s fine as a TE1 streamer. But between a declining YPC and a low career TD rate, it’s tough to forecast a difference-making ceiling for the 30-year-old.

Kelce, Andrews, and Hockenson a Clear Top-3

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Kevin English Author Image
Kevin English, Senior Analyst
Kevin brings 15 years of experience as a fantasy analyst and mid-stakes competitor across various formats (redraft, best ball, dynasty, DFS). His work has been featured on The Mercury News, Rotoworld, and FantasyPros.
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