Let's get this out of the way immediately: whom I find to be the 10 most interesting 2023 Dynasty Football Players is obviously a subjective measure.
In fact, I didn't even have any uniform criteria for any of the players I highlighted below. And just because they interested me, doesn't mean you will agree. But as this Kevin Nealon SNL Weekend Update segment shows, interest can increase and decrease very easily, but also sometimes be a little surprising.
Are there players that should have been included? Perhaps. But I actually started with about 20 players and whittled it down to these ten for one reason or another. And spoiler alert, some of these players I own in my various dynasty leagues, and others I don't.
I'm not suggesting you trade for any of the players below. Nor am I suggesting you put these players on your dynasty league's trade block to sell high. But if they are not on your radar, they should be.
Don't like my suggestions for the 10 Most Interesting 2023 Dynasty Football Players? Hit me up on Twitter (@MarkStrausberg) and let me know your choices. But here are mine.
10 Most Interesting 2023 Dynasty Football Players
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Tyson Bagent, QB, Chicago Bears
We start our 10 most interesting 2023 Dynasty Football Players tour with an extremely deep option. He probably isn't on your radar or 99% of the owners out there. And I'm not even suggesting you grab him. But do put him on your radar. We know Justin Fields is Chicago's starting quarterback. Bagent is not taking that title away. But like any running quarterback, Fields is at a higher risk of injury every time he leaves the pocket.
Meanwhile, the Bears' number two and number three quarterbacks, have done nothing to distinguish themselves. In fact, PJ Walker and Nathan Peterman might not make the team. Bagent meanwhile has looked fantastic. He's playing against third-string defenses, but he finished off a 92-yard 17-play drive with a 2-yard TD run.
It's crazy how the Bears went from not having a franchise QB for a century to having two at the same time with Justin Fields and Tyson Bagent.pic.twitter.com/FvtKVQHT1Z
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) August 20, 2023
If you are looking to "handcuff" Justin Fields, Bagent is the player you want. Bagent won the Harlon Hill Trophy last season, which is essentially the Heisman equivalent for D-II football. And oh yeah, this four year starter just happened to end his collegiate career with 159 touchdowns, an all-divisions record.
Certainly makes him interesting, no?
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, Cleveland Browns
Let's discuss another 4th-string QB who is surprising folks this preseason. Thompson-Robinson or DTR as he's affectionately called, might start at some point this season and unlike Bagent, could so without needing an injury to make it happen. Joshua Dobbs and Kellen Mond have played far better than their backup counterparts in Chicago. But again, neither has wowed anyone.
Meanwhile, DTR has not turned the ball over and has two TDs already on his way to a QB rating of 102.45 this preseason. But he has shown he could be the replacement should DeShaun Watson struggle. Will Watson return to his former glory? Opinions are split. But in Watson's limited sample size return last season, he compiled a mediocre 79.1 quarterback rating. The rating itself is not such a big deal, but the fact that he completed less than 60% of his passes and had a 7:5 TD-to-INT ratio could be.
If you think Watson fails to reach his former glory, go grab DTR now.
Sean Tucker, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) August 14, 2023
We are going to take a break from QBs to discuss a RB or two. Sean Tucker is this year's Justyn Ross, but even more important. Scouts were drooling at the talent displayed by Ross, but then some medical issues caused him not only to drop multiple rounds but to go completely undrafted. It is a very similar situation with Tucker.
Tucker was described by NFL analyst Lance Zierlein as "Compact, early down backup candidate with adequate size, good contact balance, and instinctive features that create opportunities outside the blocking scheme." That's a pretty strong scouting report for a player whose rookie draft ADP is regularly outside the Top 25 and often closer to the Top 50. And Zierlein's review might be one of the milder reviews.
I like Rachaad White this season, but just Tucker's 84 Athleticism score, which ranked him third of all RBs at the 2023 combine, has me nervous as a White owner. The good news is I have a ton of shares of Tucker on my dynasty teams too.
Deuce Vaughn, RB, Dallas Cowboys
When I highlighted Deuce Vaughn in my Taxi Squad Stashes nearly a couple of weeks ago, he was just another Tony Pollard handcuff I liked. Since then, all he's done is rush 13 times for 64 yards (a 4.9 YPC) and score two touchdowns!
Vaughn is interesting because he's definitely smaller than the average NFL running back. But I will also point out that this "diminutive" back shows up big on the field. For example, agaisnt powerhouse Alabama, Vaughn ran for over 130 yards and a touchdown. Vaughn has gone from a "nice little story" to a "must handcuff dynasty option" for Pollard owners.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Calvin Ridley caught both of his targets for 21 yards last night in the one series he played in pic.twitter.com/Jc3S6iSNpH
— The Fantasy Source (@FantasySource_) August 13, 2023
You're probably starting to get "rookied-out", so let's look at a few veterans. And one of the most divisive names right now is Calvin Ridley. If you ask a string of fantasy football analysts what they think Calvin Ridley will do this year, that range out of outcomes will simply continue to grow the further down that string you go.
Some fear that the year off after the suspension in addition to his previous injury and now with a new team will lead Ridley to be a major bust. They believe Ridley might be challenged to even match his nine yards per reception, two-TD season that he had in five games in 2021. I believe that's far too pessimistic. At the same time, others are extremely optimistic, expecting that he will exceed career highs in TDs (10), receptions (90), and receiving yards (1,374).
Honestly, I keep changing my projection on Ridley, but I definitely lean more toward the optimistic side. I don't think he exceeds any of his career highs, but is eight TDs, 75+ receptions, and over 1K yards so bad? Because that's what I am projecting....as of today. I'm sure you can find at least a dozen other viable and well-supported projections. And that's why I find him one of the most fascinating dynasty options this season. But perhaps one of the more fascinating options this year is the "poor man's" Calvin Ridley, Jameson Williams.
Jameson Williams, WR, Detroit Tigers
Expect a lot of Williams and Ridley comparisons this year. Dare I say you can bet on it? Because both players received multiple game suspensions for gambling on infractions. I'm not going to discuss the morality/hypocrisy of the NFL here because that won't change the fact in either direction that Williams is out for the Lions first six games this regular season.
But whenever we know exactly how long a player is out, it is always interesting to see how said player is handled in dynasty leagues. Did his owner who drafted him last season already trade him? Is he holding him in hopes that he not only is a future dynasty anchor but also a key cog in the latter half of this season? Can you get Williams for a discount in your league? Again, the answers to these questions run the gamut.
Williams oozes talent and could easily be a key cog for any dynasty team starting in 2024 and for many years after that. But unlike Ridley, I refuse to pay for that potential. Williams is injured...again. Nothing major that won't be healed by the time he returns. Yet I need to see Williams play a full season before I pay market value or higher for him. But many dynasty owners not playing for this season but future seasons are grabbing him now while they can.
Clayton Tune, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Speaking of injuries causing more questions than answers, Clayton Tune is a fascinating question for dynasty owners. We know Tune won't be the starter for the Cardinals most of the year, but we also know that most of the Cardinals beat writers are projecting Tune to be the week 1 starter. Include me in that camp.
So if we are in a dynasty league, especially a Superflex one, do we take a quarterback we KNOW will start only while Kyler Murray is out. Do we take a chance that Murray doesn't make it back or when he does, he fails? Or do we take a chance that Murray does look good when he returns but in the meantime Tune looks good in his stead? Will the Cardinals then trade either Tune or Murray, opening up a starting position for Tune in 2024?
Or is Tune simply a placeholder and nothing else? He's definitely a HOLD for now. (Holding a Tune--get it? Haha). I guarantee you that no dynasty owner is going into the season with Tune as their number one QB expecting to compete this year. But I also guarantee you there are number of dynasty owners who have Tune as their third or fourth QB on their dynasty roster. And that latter set is smiling quite smugly.
Desmond Ridder, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Arthur Smith isn't masking anything—Atlanta's 52% run play rate in neutral game script was the highest for any team in the last 12 years.
— John Daigle (@notJDaigle) August 21, 2023
But you know who isn't smiling smugly? Desmond Ridder fans. Because, unlike the Tune owners, the Ridder owner in your league likely paid a substantial price for him whether it was draft capital or in a trade. It's a perfect reminder of how key cost and value are in dynasty football. Because Ridder's four-game regular season audition did not exactly draw rave reviews. In four games, he had just two touchdowns and those came against Tampa Bay at the end of the season, when the Bucs were already locked into a fourth-place divisional finish.
But I am on Ridder as a dynasty sleeper for a reason. Since I included him in that piece, Ridder continues to look good. But don't take my word for it, take the word of popular Falcons blog, Blogging Dirty:
"...Ridder flashed his athleticism using it to the Falcons' advantage. Ridder scrambled for seven yards something the quarterback will need to do more often in the 2023 season. Whether it was the scramble or the throw to Drake London the first Atlanta drive had plenty of moments to choose from that stood out....Ridder looked like the starter he is supposed to be....it was a building block to use heading into the season."
You are now going to move Ridder up your rankings, aren't you? And that brings us to one last quarterback for our 10 most interesting 2023 Dynasty Football Players.
Caleb Williams, QB, USC Trojans
Those of you in Devy leagues likely saw this coming. And this is also a reminder that we will have Devy coverage here at F6P this upcoming season. But Williams is the proverbial frontrunner to win the Heisman and be the top pick in rookie drafts for dynasty leagues next season. If you don't think all dynasty owners' eyes' will be on Williams this upcoming season, you're not playing dynasty correctly.
Just as Bijan Robinson was likely going to be the number one pick in '23, plan on Williams being the number one pick in '24. I said "plan" not "expect" as crazy things happen. But most had Robinson atop the charts last season, which impacted all kinds of trades in dynasty leagues this past season. As Williams goes in '23, so too will activity in your dynasty leagues.
And we might as well finish the 10 most interesting 2023 Dynasty Football Players the aforementioned Robinson.
Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
I'm not going to analyze Robinson's chances of success this season and how he will or won't swing dynasty leagues. Whatever your opinion is, I doubt I will dramatically change it. But like it or not, Robinson is going to be one of the more interesting stories in the NFL this season.
The hype is out of control. And that also means the defending, the justifications, and the chest-beating on Robinson are going to be out of control this season. Robinson will be the poster boy for every single fantasy analyst's "fresh take" this season. If he succeeds, every analyst who supported trading down in the first or supported some sort of Heavy RB theory will be saying "I told you so". And if Bijan gets injured or can't find enough running lanes behind Atlanta's suspect OL, every "Zero RB" theorist will be there saying "I told you so".
Forget his ability. The media coverage around Bijan will be captivating to watch. That alone makes an easy choice for one of the 10 most interesting 2023 Dynasty Football Players.
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