Bold fantasy football predictions for the 2023 NFL season

For the start of the NFL season, we asked nine analysts to reveal their boldest fantasy football prediction for 2023. Which will come to pass?

Garrett Wilson is the WR1

Aaron Rodgers has no problem peppering an elite target off the bus — the Rodgers-to-Davante Adams show was beautiful viewing — and Wilson somehow posted a 1,103-yard season despite poor quarterback play. Wilson's going to get plenty of the layup targets, the stuff defenses really can't take away, and Rodgers excels at throws in space around the goal line, especially those pretty, back-shoulder throws that make us happy. Wilson's price steadily rose as draft season moved along, but wait until you see how expensive he is next year. We're ready for takeoff. — Scott Pianowski

Rhamondre Stevenson will finish as the RB1

Stevenson has everything it takes to finish as the top running back. To reach this upside, an RB must have the fantasy cheat codes: elite passing-game usage and a solid red-zone role. Stevenson earned a strong 17.3% target share in 2022, fourth among RBs, and his 230-pound frame gives him the ideal size for red-zone work.

Ezekiel Elliott signing in New England is noteworthy but doesn’t ruin Stevenson’s upside. Elliott signed for only $1.1 million in guaranteed money. This is similar to what Boston Scott and D’Onta Foreman were paid to be backups for their squads. Expect Elliott to operate largely as a straight backup to Stevenson. — Sal Vetri

J.K. Dobbins and Travis Etienne are both top-five fantasy backs

Dobbins has a career 5.9 YPC and is finally injury-free. He’s the clear lead back on a Baltimore offense projected to score among the most points this season, yet he isn't being drafted as a top-15 RB. Dobbins is also expected to catch a lot more passes this season, so he’s primed to finish as a top-five fantasy back if health cooperates.

Etienne enters with concerns regarding his pass-catching ability, as well as being a newcomer with a cool name. But Etienne ran for 45 more touchdowns in college than Tank Bigsby, who’s nowhere near the same level of prospect. As the feature back in an offense led by MVP candidate Trevor Lawrence with the addition of Calvin Ridley, Etienne’s range of outcomes this season includes being the top overall fantasy back. Dalton Del Don

Sam Howell is a top-10 fantasy quarterback

I feel like I’ve been making this case repeatedly for the past two months, so I’m no longer sure it’s bold. Howell certainly has the rushing upside necessary to emerge as an every-week fantasy starter; he ran for more than 800 yards and 11 touchdowns in his final collegiate season. This season, he finds himself at the controls of an Eric Bieniemy offense loaded with playmakers. Jahan Dotson and Terry McLaurin are an almost unfair receiving tandem, and Antonio Gibson has plenty of unrealized upside as a pass-catching back. As long as Howell stays healthy, he’s going to be a playable fantasy option. — Andy Behrens

Ja’Marr Chase Hits 2K Yards, Finishes WR1

Chase is about to give 2021 Cooper Kupp a run for his money. The Bengals have fully committed to the passing game and quarterback Joe Burrow, finishing seventh in the league with 610 team pass attempts in 2022. Chase is healthy and going to smash this season. His routes run per game (43.2) and targets (11.2) start to tell the story of his elite usage and how Burrow-to-Chase is the focal point of the Bengals’ offense. If Chase can replicate that target rate, he’s going to finish with 190 total, which is six more than Justin Jefferson’s league-leading total last season and one fewer than Kupp’s number in his historic season. With Chase getting more work in the slot (23%) last season, he will get plenty of short-to-intermediate passes that he can turn into longer gains with his great YAC ability.

Chase and Jefferson have openly talked about going after the first 2,000-yard receiving season. To get there, Chase will have to catch about 140 balls and average 14 yards per reception, which should not be a problem for someone who averaged 18 yards in his breakout rookie season. I’ll call it here: Chase will be the first 2K receiver in NFL history. And fantasy analysts who proclaimed Chase the 1.01 will be celebrating getting something right. — Jorge Martin

James Cook finishes as a top-12 back

Cook's ADP continued to rise throughout draft season, and we’re about to find out why. He dominated 79% of the starter snaps in the preseason — a pretty strong indication of how the Bills will use him as an every-down, workhorse-type back in his second NFL season.

Devin Singletary’s departure frees up not only more carries but also the crucial passing-game work. Singletary saw at least 50 targets in each of his past three seasons with the Bills, and if you combine that with Cook’s 30-plus in Year 1, you’re looking at some serious upside for the current RB22. Remember, pass-catcher extraordinaire Nyheim Hines is out for the season.

Let’s say Cook gets 75 of the 112 available targets from last season. Only six RBs saw at least 75 targets; four of that crew finished in the top 12 in fantasy. Couple that with the Bills adding Dalton Kincaid to run more 12-personnel sets (2 TEs, 2 WRs), and Cook will rack up enough scrimmage yards and receptions to crack the top 12 RBs this year. — Dan Titus

Drake London clears 1,200 yards

There's been some hesitance in the fantasy space to dive into the Falcons' offense. It isn't founded. Atlanta ranked 11th in offensive success rate last season, despite dubious quarterback play and an overall lack of offensive depth. Arthur Smith is a good coach, and it's a virtual lock the Falcons throw the ball more in 2023. While the fantasy community worries over Kyle Pitts' role or even whispers some fears that Bijan Robinson might split carries with Tyler Allgeier, you know the one player whose standing has never been questioned? Drake London, because he proved last year that he's their best player.

London's target share and targets per route run last year were top-five marks among all pass-catchers. He ran out as the team's X-receiver and got open at an extremely high rate. Everything about how he played as a rookie screams "buy." All we need out of his quarterback this season is to be functional. Desmond Ridder has a better shot to do that than Marcus Mariota last season. I'm all-in to the tune of a massive breakout. A 1,200-yard campaign would've ranked London eighth among wide receivers last year. That's the type of season I expect. — Matt Harmon

Nick Chubb finishes as the overall RB1

Browns RB Nick Chubb is no stranger to fantasy football production, but heading into Year 6 of his NFL career, he’s still chasing his first finish as the overall RB1. Chubb has a shot to see more opportunity than ever this season following the departure of Kareem Hunt in free agency. In Hunt’s four seasons with the team, he averaged 4.2 targets per game, and coming out of training camp in the preseason, the narrative has been swirling that Chubb’s set to see a good chunk of those targets.

Chubb is coming off his best season to date, posting 1,764 scrimmage yards (second in his career) and scoring a career-high 13 touchdowns. Don’t be surprised if we see Chubb exceed 65-plus targets this season to help him get to that RB1 finish. — Kate Magdziuk

Juwan Johnson will be a top-10 tight end

I want to predict that Johnson will be a top-five TE, but that feels aggressive, even for a bold predictions article. Instead, I’ll predict that Johnson, who will open the season on waivers in more than 50% of Yahoo leagues, quickly becomes someone who starts for most of his fantasy teams. New Saints QB Derek Carr knows a thing or two about throwing to talented tight ends, as he was the author of a pair of 1,100-yard seasons from Darren Waller. And beyond Chris Olave, the Saints' passing attack is full of questions, such as veterans Michael Thomas (609 total receiving yards from 2020 to '23), Alvin Kamara (suspended for weeks 1-3) and Rashid Shaheed (undrafted, 488 yards in 2022). There is an opportunity for Johnson to become a primary target earner and double the 42 catches he tallied a season ago. — Fred Zinkie