Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Would you rather? Deciding between players with similar ADPs

2JT41W3 August 26 2022: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) before the 1st half the NFL Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Matthew Lynch/CSM

  • Borderline QB1s: Trevor Lawrence and Dak Prescott found themselves on opposite ends of the spectrum in 2022, but further elevation from the young star and positive regression for the veteran leaves a tough decision for those missing out on the elite QBs.
  • Alpha RBs: Josh Jacobs and Nick Chubb were fantasy darlings last season and offer a ton of single-season upside for 2023, but is there enough between them to decide a clear-cut winner?
  • Second-Year Wideouts: Rookie flashes from Christian Watson and Drake London offer a lot of promise for the future of their respective careers, but the decision between the two may not be as clear-cut as their opportunity or original draft positions may suggest.
 Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

It is always good to go into a draft with a bit of a strategy, but what happens when that player you were targeting gets sniped before you, necessitating a pivot on the fly?

Avoiding the dreaded panic pick that is instantly regretted doesn’t have to be a chore given the proper context, but it is a good idea to consciously consider your options each round based on how a draft is playing out.

In this article, we’ll have a look at several head-to-head matchups between players at very similar ADPs at each offensive position.

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Trevor Lawrence vs. Dak Prescott

  Trevor Lawrence Dak Prescott
Overall ADP 83.5 (QB8) 86.2 (QB9)
PFF Ranking QB8 QB10
2022 Fantasy Points Per Dropback 0.50 0.50
2022 Fantasy Points Per Game 18.56 17.97
2022 Fantasy Points vs. Expected -8.0 -5.6

If you miss out on the top-tier QBs this year, deciding between high-floor QBs, such as Dak Prescott and Trevor Lawrence (among others), will likely be an internal decision to toss around in the middle rounds of your 2023 fantasy draft. Their 2022 output was much closer than the total numbers suggest, as Prescott missed five games early in the season but had fairly consistent weekly performances down the stretch, averaging 20.68 points from Weeks 8-17. Meanwhile, Lawrence saw a bit more variation over an entire season, with a few dud weeks coming against the Philadelphia Eagles (6.66), Denver Broncos(8.82) and the Houston Texans (5.48)

Looking to 2023, Prescott boasts a strong supporting cast bolstered by the Brandin Cooks addition this offseason but will be facing his first season since 2017 without Kellen Moore in the building while Brian Schottenheimer slots into the offensive coordinator job in Dallas. Meanwhile, Lawrence enters his second year with Doug Pederson and Press Taylor on the headsets while the majority of his supporting cast returns and the savvy route runner Calvin Ridley is added to the WR room.

Both Lawrence and Prescott are strong candidates to outperform their 2022 outputs and slot in as mid QB1s, but the edge goes to Lawrence here for his projected next step following his 2022 breakout, continuity with Pederson and Co. and a more favorable schedule, particularly in the fantasy playoffs.  

Verdict: Trevor Lawrence

Josh Jacobs vs. Nick Chubb

  Josh Jacobs Nick Chubb
Overall ADP 10.5 (RB5) 11.9 (RB6)
PFF Ranking RB7 RB8
2022 Fantasy Points Per Snap 0.40 0.43
2022 Fantasy Points Per Game 19.43 16.55
2022 Fantasy Points vs. Expected +34.1 +48.5

This past season was a banner year for these two veteran backs, with both finishing inside the top six at their position and ranking at or near the top of the league in most major rushing categories due to showcasing workhorse abilities. Each averaged over 3.4 yards after contact per attempt while ranking first and second in avoided tackles. Josh Jacobs and Nick Chubb saw similar workloads near the end zone, as each tallied 12 carries inside the five-yard line, converting five (Jacobs) and six (Chubb) into touchdowns. Moreover, neither back is facing additional competition for snaps in 2023, but concerns exist.

The major discrepancy comes in the receiving game, where Jacobs saw nearly 30 more targets over the full 2022 season, averaging 6.55 yards per target while Chubb ceded many of these opportunities to Kareem Hunt in 2022. Now Hunt has departed, and the Cleveland Browns have made it known that they wish to get Chubb more involved in the passing game. Meanwhile, Jacobs has recently made it public that he wants a long-term contract, putting his early-season availability in a bit of doubt. Moreover, the Las Vegas Raiders‘ offense looks a lot less intimidating than the one in Cleveland.

When it comes down to it, there is really no wrong answer when choosing between the two — you will be hard-pressed to find running backs with more upside as every-down players than Jacobs and Chubb, and barring durability issues, both should be in line to remain in the top-eight fantasy backs in 2023.

Verdict: Tie

Dameon Pierce vs. D’Andre Swift

  Dameon Pierce D’Andre Swift
Overall ADP 39.3 (RB20) 38.3 (RB19)
PFF Ranking RB18 RB25
2022 Fantasy Points Per Snap 0.34 0.48
2022 Fantasy Points Per Game 13.11 13.51
2022 Fantasy Points vs. Expected -16.7 +19.5

Looking into RB2 territory, Dameon Pierce and D’Andre Swift present intriguing options for slightly different reasons. Pierce was a borderline workhorse when healthy in his rookie season, averaging 19.2 touches per game and posting a respectable 0.68 fantasy points per touch. Looking to 2023, the Texans RB room has seen Rex Burkhead depart and Devin Singletary step in, thus receiving down work is still in question for Pierce despite reports of his improved pass-blocking acumen. Pierce was a nice surprise as a rookie last season, and there is no reason to think he can’t repeat that success moving forward.

Most fantasy managers have a strong opinion on Swift, but his talent is undeniable. His 1.29 fantasy points per touch ranked below only Jerick McKinnon among RBs in 2022 while his yards per touch numbers were quite respectable. Now in Philadelphia, durability concerns remain and workload is to be determined with strong rushers like Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Gainwell in the RB room, not to mention the threat of Jalen Hurts, especially in short yardage and goal-to-go situations, as well as a bevy of strong receiving options.

There is no doubt that Swift can singlehandedly carry a fantasy team in a given week, but the consistent workload of Pierce coupled with his stronger TD upside gives him the edge.

Verdict: Dameon Pierce

Amon-Ra St. Brown vs. Jaylen Waddle

  Amon-Ra St. Brown Jaylen Waddle
Overall ADP 22.3 (WR9) 24.8 (WR10)
PFF Ranking WR9 WR11
2022 Fantasy Points Per Snap 0.32 0.33
2022 Fantasy Points Per Game 17.29 15.36
2022 Fantasy Points vs. Expected +11.0 +41.4

Right on the borderline of WR1 territory in 2023 drafts, St. Brown and Waddle both have fantastic cases to follow up their strong 2022 performances. St. Brown finished as the WR7 last season, receiving 139 targets in 16 games and finding the end zone six times, while Waddle finished at WR8 on 114 targets (17 games) and eight touchdowns. It is no question that Waddle's efficiency reigns supreme in this matchup — his 11.89 yards per target topped the league among players with at least 35 targets and his 3.35 fantasy points per touch put him top five in that category as well while St. Brown’s numbers were a bit more pedestrian in these statistics at 6.68 yards per target and 2.33 fantasy points per touch.

However, St. Brown’s sheer volume gives him a floor that many fantasy wide receivers cannot attain. Make no mistake, at nine targets per game, he is a target hog and there are no major concerns that this will change moving forward, as his rapport with Jared Goff should only grow in 2023. After facing some adverse touchdown luck in 2022, positive regression in this category along with his target numbers should put him in line to exceed his draft position.

Waddle is a fantastic player to be excited about this season, but if his efficiency takes a step back, St. Brown is a clear-cut favorite in this matchup.

Verdict: Amon-Ra St. Brown

Drake London vs. Christian Watson

  Christian Watson Drake London
Overall ADP 79.5 (WR34) 72.7 (WR32)
PFF Ranking WR24 WR25
2022 Fantasy Points Per Snap 0.32 0.22
2022 Fantasy Points Per Game 11.72 10.74
2022 Fantasy Points vs. Expected +30.4 -35.5

Hovering in WR3 territory, London and Watson could both be potential league winners if the dominoes fall correctly. Uncertainty is the name of the game in this matchup, as both had their rookie season growing pains in opposite directions and have new(ish) faces at quarterback this season. Watson turned heads following a slow start to his rookie campaign, finding the end zone seven times and posting an impressive 2.28 yards per route run and 17.2 average depth of target from Weeks 10-17. With Jordan Love now at the helm, Watson is in line to establish himself as the go-to receiving option for the Green Bay Packers, almost certainly putting him in line to improve on his 65 targets in 2022.

London suffered from major inconsistencies at quarterback in 2022, and despite posting 114 targets, he failed to crack 900 yards and accounted for just four touchdowns, essentially underperforming based on his role, as evidenced by his 35.5-point deficit versus expectations. Looking to 2023, the Atlanta Falcons have revamped the QB and RB position, and London looks to be a major benefactor because more overall offensive success should lead to increased red zone opportunities while his target share should remain relatively stagnant.

Watson and London are both wildly popular breakout candidates for 2023, and both should exceed their 2022 outputs, but Watson’s projected bump in usage along with his explosive profile and relatively better QB situation give him the edge in this head-to-head.

Verdict: Christian Watson

Dallas Goedert vs. Darren Waller

  Dallas Goedert Darren Waller
Overall ADP 60.9 (TE6) 68.7 (TE7)
PFF Ranking TE6 TE7
2022 Fantasy Points Per Snap 0.20 0.25
2022 Fantasy Points Per Game 11.93 9.42
2022 Fantasy Points vs. Expected +22.7 -8.1

Hovering just beneath the top tier of TEs — such as Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson, and Kyle PittsDallas Goedert and Darren Waller are both appealing options for those not looking to attack the TE position super early in 2023 drafts. Both Goedert and Waller had their 2022 seasons take a hit due to injury but were relatively on par with one another in efficiency, with Waller posting 3.03 fantasy points per touch and 13.86 yards per reception compared to 2.6 fantasy points per touch and 12.76 yards per reception for Goedert. Despite playing in a more well-rounded offense and often taking a backseat to the WR duo of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, Goedert received almost one more target per game (5.58) in his 12-game season than Waller (4.67 targets per game) in his nine.

Goedert has his role, so his usage and production should remain relatively stable looking to 2023, but Waller finds himself in a new environment after leaving Vegas for the New York Giants and is primed to be a significantly featured part of their passing game with little competition for meaningful targets coming from the WR room, as Darius Slayton (70 targets) and Parris Campbell (85 targets for IND) are the only incumbents with over 50 targets last season. We’ve seen what Waller is capable of as the primary option only two years removed from back-to-back TE2 seasons, and barring health setbacks, he has the potential to sneak into the top tier of TEs.

The upside here would be the deciding factor in Waller’s favor, but Goedert’s consistency and floor may be more appealing, so pick your poison.

Verdict: Tie

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