With the end of the fantasy season comes a chance to reflect. Part of that reflection is looking back at preseason rankings to see where we went right, where we went wrong and where things went completely off the rails. Today we are going to look at players the experts got right back in August.
As you might imagine, the preseason running back rankings look vastly different than they do today. In fact, it might be easier to determine where the experts went wrong with running backs as Najee Harris, D’Andre Swift and Alvin Kamara all finished well outside of the top 10 at the position. However, there are some others that the experts got perfect, so let’s take a look at where things went right.
10 Players The Experts Got Right
Travis Kelce (TE – KC)
I don’t think there is anyone better to lead this article off with than Travis Kelce. The preseason TE1, his performance at the position is arguably the most dominant in history. He currently has 306.5 PPR points, which is nearly 100 points better than the current TE2, TJ Hockenson. Kelce’s 145 targets rank sixth in the entire league and his 1,300 yards rank eighth. Kelce is a tier of his own and, despite turning 33 in the offseason, he will be the shoo-in preseason TE1 once again next draft season.
Mike Gesicki (TE – MIA)
Miami added Tyreek Hill in the offseason, which put a damper on Mike Gesicki’s 2022 outlook. Despite coming off a season where Gesicki got 112 targets, he was ranked as the TE17 coming into the season. He actually underperformed that rank, finishing as the TE25 on the year. I still think the experts were correct here because their bearish stance on Gesicki foreshadowed his awful numbers this season. Since Miami’s bye week, Gesicki has just 10.7 total PPR points as he’s been completely phased out of the offense.
Justin Jefferson (MIN – WR)
Justin Jefferson was ranked as the WR1 during the draft season and he’s been that and much more. Arguably fantasy’s top asset, Jefferson has over 1,800 yards and could break Calvin Johnson’s record for receiving yards in a season with a big Week 18. Jefferson’s numbers are even more impressive considering Minnesota has plenty of other weapons on offense, including a 1,000-yard rusher in Dalvin Cook. He will be a top-five pick across all formats in 2023 and I think you can make a case for him going 1st overall.
Cooper Kupp (LAR – WR)
If not for a season-ending injury, Cooper Kupp would have been nipping at Jefferson’s heels for the top wide receiver in fantasy. Kupp was averaging over 22 PPR points per game, making him Jefferson’s 1B. That Kupp did this despite the Rams being broken on offense speaks to how elite he is. Recency bias should allow us to get Kupp at a bit of a discount next summer as he could slip into the latter part of the 1st Round or early 2nd Round of drafts.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – KC)
Despite landing in one of the best offensive environments in the NFL, experts pegged JuJu Smith-Schuster as the WR30 coming into 2023. This made drafting him a tipping point for managers who had to weigh the upside of his new surroundings with Smith-Schuster’s inability to blossom as a WR1 in Pittsburgh. As of today, Smith-Schuster is sitting at WR34 with 12 PPR points per game. While he did have three games of 20+ points, Smith-Schuster was largely a disappointment for anyone who drafted him higher than his consensus rank.
Christian McCaffery (RB – SF)
Running back was the most difficult position for our experts to predict and given the nature of the position, that should come as no surprise. Despite, lingering injury concerns, Christian McCaffery was the top-ranked running back by FantasyPros ECR coming into this year. Like death and taxes, however, he hasn’t disappointed. McCaffery finished as the RB2 on the season and, perhaps just as importantly, played in all 16 games. His mid-season trade to San Francisco has boosted McCaffery’s value as he’s totaled over 1,000 yards in nine games with the 49ers. Barring an injury-related disaster in Week 18 and the playoffs, McCaffery should again enter 2023 as the RB1.
Derrick Henry (RB – TEN)
Like Smith-Schuster, Derrick Henry’s preseason rank (RB5) was a tipping point for drafters. Coming off a season where he missed nine games due to injury, it was fair to wonder if this was when the wheels would finally fall off Tractorcito. Despite a slow start (He had just 16.7 total PPR points through two games), Henry finished as the RB4 with 19.3 PPR points per game and nine top-10 weekly finishes at the position. He turns 30 this offseason so he could hit a cliff, but for this season, he was his dominant self.
Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS)
Despite rushing for over 1,000 yards as a rookie, there was speculation that Antonio Gibson fell out of favor in Washington. His RB25 expert ranking coming into the year (and the Commanders’ selection of Brian Robinson Jr.) reflected that. Still, Gibson finished the season as the RB24 and had six games where he was a top-20 option at the position. Washington’s offense may undergo a facelift in the offseason, so Gibson’s role will be up in the air heading into 2023. I am still a believer in his talent and pass-catching ability, however.
Josh Allen (QB – BUF)
Josh Allen was ranked as the QB1 coming into the season and he currently sits second in total points at the position. Before Buffalo’s bye in Week 7, Allen was averaging 29.5 points per game and he finished as a top-five quarterback each week. He slowed down a bit coming off the bye, but still posted four games with over 25 points. Allen might have the best combination of ceiling and floor due to his rushing equity inside the 10-yard line. If that continues, there is no reason to rank him outside of the top three at the position heading into 2023.
Matt Ryan (QB – IND)
When the Colts traded for Matt Ryan, there was some optimism that he could rejuvenate his career. I thought his preseason QB20 ranking was on the pessimistic side, but Ryan is the QB22 in points per game. He will finish the season with a career-low in touchdowns and took 38 sacks in just 12 games. Ryan turns 38 this offseason, so unless he wants to sign somewhere as a backup, he could retire.
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Jason Kamlowsky is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @JasonKamlowsky.