Top 2023 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Miles Sanders, Zay Flowers, More!
Now that it is finally May, we are approaching an exciting and rewarding time of the year – no, I am not talking about summer, graduations, or weddings. As memorable as those are, how about a highly anticipated celebration because you just won your fantasy football league? While there is no magical formula to guarantee a victorious season, fantasy managers like you can best position themselves for success by researching strategically ahead of time to gain a competitive advantage. We can’t predict injuries, off-the-field issues, or performance. But as all sports general managers or fantasy owners know, the players drafted in the later rounds can dictate a team’s overall success. With that said, below are my five league-winning sleepers you must know about before draft night.
Top 2023 Fantasy Football Sleepers
1. RB Miles Sanders, Carolina Panthers
Sanders is a solid RB2 with an upside surpassing that of a “sleeper.” However, his current draft value is an overall RB23 in a half-PPR league. I understand he’s new to the Panthers and may need time to acclimate himself in a system with a new coach in town with Frank Reich – Carolina is a significantly younger and inexperienced team than the Philadelphia Eagles, coming off a Super Bowl run. But let’s not forget the Running Backs Reich coached while with the Colts: Jonathan Taylor and Marlon Mack. Here are their numbers as starters under Coach Reich:
According to NFL.com, Colts running back Jonathan Taylor’s rookie stats
According to NFL.com, Colts running back Marlon Mack’s stats under Frank Reich
I’m not saying that Sanders plays like Taylor or Mack, as they play differently and differ in stature. But Reich has proven his ability to develop running backs into a key part of the offense and elevate their skillset. If the former Running backs that Reich has coached are any indication of what lies ahead for Sanders and the Panthers, sit tight because the rewards will pay dividends.
2. WR D.J. Moore, Chicago Bears
Those that had Moore last year are cringing seeing him on this list. But I’m excited for the Chicago Bears organization and the direction they’re going. In addition to adding Moore to the roster, the front office added veteran Running Back D’Onta Foreman and upgraded their offensive front to protect their franchise Quarterback Justin Fields. More on this at a later point. But let’s look at Moore’s numbers with Carolina throughout his career:
Moore has shown flashes of exciting playmaking with the ball in his hands. Despite his decreased production last year, he still averaged 14.1 yards per reception, ranking 10th among receivers in 2022 with at least 100 targets. This was despite the QB carousel in Carolina, starting with Baker Mayfield to P.J. Walker and finishing the season with Sam Darnold. While having Fields at quarterback is not a massive upgrade, it is a leap nonetheless; a leap that will pay dividends for DJ Moore’s first campaign with the Panthers.
3. WR Allen Lazard, New York Jets
There has been quite the commotion about the Jets now being super-bowl contenders with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. They certainly have pieces to make quite a run. But a meaningful postseason rally? Let’s pump the brakes for now. Something that isn’t getting talked about enough is Lazard’s expectations. As crowded and deep the Jets receiving core is with Garrett Wilson, Mecole Hardman, and newly acquired Randall Cobb, future Lazard owners should be excited.
At 27 years old, Lazard is now a WR2 on a high-octane offense, assuming Running Back Breece Hall is a healthy start come Week 1. The New York Jets’ offensive scheme favors Lazard from both a coaching and personnel perspective compared to the play-calling in Green Bay
According to teamrankings.com, NFL Team’s Pass Attempts per Game in 2022
For the Green Bay Packers, Lazard was their WR1 and led the receiving core with 788 yards. Given the limited depth at receivers, defenses could key in on Lazard and matchup against Green Bay against their weaknesses. Game planning wasn’t as taxing, with the only other threat in Running Back Aaron Jones. Lazard’s previous success and synergy playing with Rodgers in Green Bay will help his cause for an effective campaign being in New York now.
4. RB David Montgomery, Detroit Lions
Montgomery is one of those players whose skills aren’t as appreciated because of the lack of talent around him. Otherwise, he would be an early 2nd-round pick every year. Now in Detroit, he is in line for a breakout season. With the departure of De’Andre Swift, Montgomery will be competing for the starting job against rookie Jahmyr Gibbs. Here’s why I’m excited for David Montgomery’s first year in Detroit.
NFL QBs sacked leaders in 2022
First, Montgomery has eclipsed 840 rushing yards in his last three seasons and has suited up in at least 15 games in three of his four years. While not known for his top-end speed, his production is no easy feat considering Chicago’s porous offensive line. For context, quarterback Justin Fields tied the league among Quarterbacks sacked in 2022 at 55 times total. The next closest Quarterback is Kirk Cousins, being sacked 46 times; This shows how productive Montgomery was with how little he had.
Widely considered one of the best offensive lines in the league, Detroit is a perfect place for Montgomery to thrive. They are returning four of their five starting linemen from last year; it was an impressive season that Coach Dan Campbell put together. Unlike in Chicago last year, David Montgomery finally has a unit that can create wider running lanes, a receiver that can open more space because of his playmaking in Amon-Ra St Brown, and a system that will leverage his skillset to put him in a position to succeed.
5. WR Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens
Raise your hand if you’re tired of a Ravens receiver not being fantasy relevant or trustworthy. Trust me, I’m right there with you. But hear me out. This 2023 season will be a pivotal year for Quarterback Lamar Jackson – he won the negotiation and received his extension after all. Whether he deserves the money and can live up to it will hinge on his accuracy and decision-making.
Baltimore Ravens Wide Receiver Zay Flowers’ college stats
Other than Mark Andrews, the Ravens don’t have a consistent and reliable pass-catching option: Odell Beckham hasn’t played in over a year coming off his ACL tear, Rashod Bateman can’t seem to stay healthy, and Devin Duvernay hasn’t panned out as the Ravens had hoped. This spells the perfect recipe for success for Flowers. He has a 4-year sample size that proves what he’s capable of accomplishing. As a matter of fact, with his breakout season during his 4th-year at Boston College, Flowers now holds the school record in touchdown receptions (29), receiving yards (3,056), and touchdowns in a single season (12). Listed at 5-foot-9 inches, he plays much bigger than his size. I love the energy and excitement he plays with each play. With Mother’s Day coming up, you can’t go wrong with Flowers.
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