Fantasy Football 2023: Sleepers to Target from Jets vs. Browns Hall of Fame Game
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Football is back after the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns kicked off in Canton, Ohio for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Thursday.
Nearly every big name from both rosters sat this one, so fans weren’t treated with a showdown between Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Browns signal-caller Deshaun Watson. They’ll have to wait until Thursday, Dec. 28 when the teams play in a game that will count in the standings in Week 17.
So this wasn’t a game full of players that will be targeted in fantasy football drafts as that season heats up. However, there were still some players worth mentioning on that front, even if players such as the Browns’ Nick Chubb and Amari Cooper or the Jets’ Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall sat out.
We’ll take a look at three of those players at least worth mentioning here as the NFL preseason gets underway.
Jets RB Israel Abanikanda
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AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
There’s a lot of question marks surrounding the Jets’ running back position right now.
Breece Hall, who is returning from a torn ACL suffered last October, was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list and has not participated in training camp yet.
The Jets brought in free agent veteran running back Dalvin Cook for a positive visit last weekend, but he left without a contract, and it’s unclear if he’ll sign with the team.
Michael Carter is back in the mix, but he rushed for just 3.5 yards per carry last year and made way for Zonovan Knight in the latter portion of the season. Speaking of which, Knight is still aboard, but he too rushed for just 3.5 yards per carry.
Now there’s another player in the mix in rookie Israel Abanikanda, a fifth-round pick out of Pitt. The 20-year-old starred last year with 1,577 total yards and 21 touchdowns in 11 games. He notably amassed 320 rushing yards and six scores versus Virginia Tech.
Abanikanda didn’t light it up Thursday, totaling nine carries for 26 yards and one catch for five yards. But he did score a 10-yard touchdown to put the Jets up 12-0 in the second quarter.
Ultimately, Abanikanda is worth a look. There’s a lot of competition for touches amid the uncertainty of the position, but he’s a late-round flyer option in deeper leagues.
Browns WR Cedric Tillman
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The Browns selected Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman with a third-round pick in this year’s draft. He impressed on Thursday with two receptions for 35 yards.
Tillman’s time may not be in 2023, especially with the Browns set to roll with a top three of Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones on the outside and Elijah Moore in the slot. However, he’s listed as a direct backup behind that trio of starters on the depth chart and could see some looks here and there.
In addition, Tillman represents a big target for quarterback Deshaun Watson at 6’3″ and 215 pounds. His talent and size may force the Browns into giving him more playing time.
It’s hard to select him in your usual fantasy formats, but he’s certainly an option in dynasty formats or deep leagues.
FantasyPros lists him as the No. 25 overall player (and No. 11 wide receiver) in its rookie rankings. He’s 64th among wideouts in dynasty rankings.
The future opportunity in Cleveland could be there too. Peoples-Jones is a free agent after this season, and Cooper’s contract runs out after 2024. Tillman’s time may be around the corner.
Jets PK Greg Zuerlein
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The kicker position in fantasy football is by and large subject to massive variance, leading to many players streaming them on a weekly basis unless they land a player like the Baltimore Ravens’ Justin Tucker or, of late, the Las Vegas Raiders’ Daniel Carlson. Frankly, kickers aren’t worth selecting until the very end of drafts.
That being said, it may be wise for players to target some names who find themselves in better spots in 2023, and one of them took part in the Hall of Fame Game.
Jets kicker Greg Zuerlein looks ready to roll after nailing kicks of 54 and 44 yards in the first quarter. He may be called upon often for an offense destined to improve with four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers now running the show.
Still, Zuerlein enjoyed a strong fantasy season last year despite playing for a team that finished fourth-worst in scoring, amassing the 12th-most points per game among kickers.
At his best, he is an absolute weapon capable of drilling kicks 50 yards or longer. His career-long mark is 61 yards.
According to FantasyPros, no kicker had a better fantasy season in the past 10 years than Zuerlein, who averaged 13 points per game during the 2017 campaign when he played for the Los Angeles Rams. That’s not to say he’ll have a similar year in 2023, but it’s certainly conceivable he ends the year as one of the best kickers in football, fantasy or otherwise.
Source : Bleacher Report