In case you didn’t know, DLF has a YouTube channel! We post FREE video content over there at least five days a week covering dynasty trades, strategy, and player analysis. For my videos specifically, I write out a script to basically read when I record, but I realized that script could be turned into written content for anyone who doesn’t want to watch YouTube to read too! So, without further ado, here is an “article-ized” version of one of my recent videos covering way too early breakout candidates for 2023!
Trevor Lawrence, QB JAC
In 2022, Lawrence finished as the QB6 in total points and QB8 in points per game, averaging over 18.5 points per game. He’s finished with over 4,100 passing yards, 25 passing touchdowns, and a 66% completion percentage. Oh, and he rushed for an additional 291 yards and five touchdowns on the ground for an added boost of fantasy points every week.
So it’s no surprise that Lawrence is having a better sophomore season without Urban Meyer holding him back, but his third season will be his best yet. Because not only will it be year two in Doug Pederson’s offense, but he is also going to be getting Calvin Ridley as his alpha WR1 to pair with Christian Kirk, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jaguars draft another receiver on day one or two. I also haven’t even mentioned Travis Etienne’s receiving talent out of the backfield.
With the potential of all these weapons for Lawrence to throw to, we could be looking at next year’s version of Tua Tugovailoa as the big breakout QB in 2023, so buy him now before his price inflates for an early 2023 first and second, an aging but productive veteran, or upgrading your QB2 in superflex… just go get Lawrence.
Jared Goff, QB DET
But if you want a breakout quarterback who is way cheaper, take a look at Goff. Now I know what you’re thinking, Jared Goff?! But hear me out – what Goff has done for the Lions this year has been nothing short of amazing. He actually beat Lawrence in every passing statistic, with over 4,400 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, which is why he finished the QB11 in fantasy.
If you look ahead to next year, Detroit has four picks in the first two rounds, including a top-six pick from the Rams. Assuming they don’t draft a quarterback, that is firepower to continue adding to this offense with skill players or offensive linemen. Not to mention 2023 will be Jameson Williams’ first full season in the NFL completely healthy from his ACL injury in college. This offense has firepower everywhere you look and as long as Goff survives the draft, he could be in for another huge 2023 season that you can get ahead of now and purchase at a massive discount in your dynasty leagues.
JK Dobbins, RB BAL
But you know who else is going to have a breakout 2023 season and currently going at a massive discount? Dobbins – because we have punished him too hard for a completely lost fantasy season in 2022. In 2023, Dobbins will be fully healthy and ready to lead a potent Ravens rushing attack. We actually saw a glimpse of his upside at the end of the 2022 season, where he rushed for over 90 yards a game on 14 carries from weeks 14 through the Wild Card game, and even got a little receiving usage in the playoffs. It’s a small sample size, but that’s a 17-game pace of almost 1,700 rushing yards, a.k.a. what we just saw Josh Jacobs do this past season.
He is a player we loved coming out of college and had a fantastic rookie season where he was on pace for over 1,200 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns from week eight on in 2020. Unfortunately, injuries claimed his second and now third season, but a healthy Dobbins in 2023 will be a monster for fantasy, especially as his massively discounted prices in dynasty. Go get him now before his price skyrockets in the off-season.
Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE TEN
Speaking of skyrocketing, did you see what Okonkwo did during the last seven weeks of the season? 4.4 targets, 3.4 reeptions, 40 yards, and 0.3 touchdowns per game during that stretch – a 17-game pace of 58 receptions for 675 yards and five touchdowns on almost 80 targets. For context, that is basically the stat line that both Dalton Schultz and David Njoku had in 2022 as the fantasy TE9 and TE10.
It’s not often we see a tight end run a sub-4.55 at the Combine like Okonkwo. In fact, the last seven tight ends to do that were Kyle Pitts, Albert Okwuegbunam, Noah Fant, Mike Gesicki, Evan Engram, OJ Howard, and George Kittle. In the current tight end landscape, no stone can be left unturned in searching for the next breakout guy, and Okonkwo has the athleticism to be that guy. You can probably still get him as a throw-in in your next trade, or for a couple of fourths or a third straight-up.
Cade Otton, TE TB
Or, maybe you already have Okonkwo but still want to toss a third for another dart throw tight end, because that should be Cade Otton. Otton found great success as a rookie in this crowded Bucs offense, especially when Cameron Brate was on the sideline. As this Bucs team moves from contender to rebuilder with Tom Brady retiring and Byron Leftwich kicked to the curb, Otton could be a focal point of a younger offense for a couple years. He averaged 10.1 points per game in the six games he played without Brate, and if he averages that over an entire season, that will make him a top-ten fantasy tight end, who’s currently going at TE20 prices.
Drake London, WR ATL
We’ve talked about two rookies in a row, so we might as well make it three, because the most common season in recent years for a wide receiver to break out is in year two, which I’m betting will be London. As a rookie, he already saw a massive 29% target share, which was sixth in the entire league in 2022 – right there with Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, AJ Brown, and Tyreek Hill. But those targets have only translated to WR42 fantasy production (PPG) because his coaching staff and quarterback are well… incompetent.
But things improved for London to end the season because Marcus Mariota was benched for Desmond Ridder. The Falcons have a clear offensive scheme – they want to run the ball and throw it deep off play-action. Mariota was terrible at throwing deep, but that was one of Ridder’s strengths in his final year in college.
All London needs are more accurate passes coming his way on the same target volume he was already getting, and we’re looking at a top-25 fantasy receiver. Again, small sample size, but from weeks 15-18 when Ridder took over, London was the WR12 in fantasy. His dynasty price has cooled off a lot recently as other rookies emerged and left London in the dust – but not anymore and you should be buying as much London as you can before the community jumps on board.
Josh Palmer, WR LAC
But sometimes those sophomore breakouts don’t always pan out *as* much as we want, but we were just a year early on them, and that’s what I think happened with Palmer. See, he has already had a good sophomore season, finishing with 769 yards on 107 targets, but what if his third season in 2023 was even better? Keenan Allen could be a cap casualty at 31 years old to save $15m after battling injuries for the large majority of the last two seasons. Mike Williams will also be 29 and has had issues with injuries himself.
We have seen Palmer take over as the WR1 in games this season, with huge performances in week 9 and 11, plus five more games with eight or more targets. This Chargers offense could look a little different very soon and Palmer could be in line for a huge opportunity as one of Justin Herbert’s primary targets, in a Kellen Moore-led offense, which is why I think he could have a breakout 2023 season.