As fantasy managers prepare for their upcoming drafts, a sharp strategy is to account for players that could realistically come back down to earth after an incredible season. Last year, Jonathan Taylor was a consensus number-one overall pick, only for injuries and inconsistency to result in him finishing as RB29. Hunter Renfrow was considered a sleeper with an average draft position of 71, only for him to end up as WR102.
Every year there are players to fade no matter how high-profile they are, and these are a few names to be wary of as you plan for your fantasy football drafts.
Anthony Richardson, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Richardson has an ADP of pick 85 in a handful of mock drafts, with Deshaun Watson slightly ahead of him and Dak Prescott just behind him among signal-callers. You’d be investing a seventh or eighth-round fantasy pick on a quarterback that has immense athleticism, but will surely face a learning curve in facing NFL defenses. The number four overall pick may be worth a roster spot but don’t jump the shark and crown him as your starting QB.
Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans
Pierce was the early steal of fantasy football drafts for much of the regular season until a frustrating stretch late essentially made him irrelevant for managers at the most inopportune time. An ankle injury took him out for the last part of the season, and though he’ll be healthy for 2023, new head coach DeMeco Ryans seems to have a fondness for the San Francisco 49ers’ running back by committee approach, having brought in Devin Singletary and Mike Boone to help shoulder the carries.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans averaged 15.0 PPR fantasy points per game in 2022 and finished as WR17 in total fantasy scoring, but that came with a Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Tom Brady under center. Now, the four-time Pro Bowler will enter the 2023 campaign with Baker Mayfield as his starting quarterback, who ranked 32nd among all signal-callers with a 60.0 completion percentage. The uncertainty around Mayfield entering a new playbook leaves some cause for concern about how high Evans should be drafted.
Darren Waller, TE, New York Giants
The injury bug has limited Waller over the last two seasons as nagging injuries such as a hamstring tweak have kept him to just 20 games played in that period. He still averaged 9.4 PPR fantasy points last season, but that’s a far cry given that many have pegged him to be a top-five, maybe top-three tight end in the league.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons
One day, Pitts could live up to his potential with a consistent performance on the field. The reality in 2023 is that fantasy managers have been burned by drafting him high before, and it could be the same story this season. Not only was he limited to 10 games last season due to injury, but in those limited appearances he averaged just 5.9 targets per game.