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2023 Fantasy Football Strategy for Sleeper Leagues

This article contains everything you need to dominate your 2023 fantasy drafts on Sleeper. We will walk through a few targets and fades for each round, along with a few strategy notes. 

“Targets” are players we are actively drafting on this platform. “Values” are players who go rounds later on Sleeper compared with other fantasy draft platforms. 

We’re using the default rankings for 12-team half PPR (half a point per reception) leagues, and our FREE color-coded, downloadable PDF Top-160 Cheat Sheet is designed for half and full PPR formats. If you want a more in-depth strategy guide that walks you through roster construction tips, we’d recommend the Fantasy Football Game Plan.

We have similar strategy articles for ESPN and Yahoo leagues, too.

Round 1 (Picks 1-12)

Target: Ja’Marr Chase (3)

Ja'Marr Chase is our No. 1-ranked player overall, so getting him with a top-three pick is enticing.

The Round 1 ADP on Sleeper is similar to most other sites, so there aren’t many picks we’d try to talk you out of.

Round 2 (Picks 13-24)

Targets: Amon Ra St. Brown (18), Tony Pollard (21), Garrett Wilson (22), Jaylen Waddle (23)

Round 2 has three talented, young receivers to target. If you want a running back in this round, Tony Pollard goes half a round later on Sleeper than most other places.

If you haven’t already, make sure you join our FREE Discord. Start-sit and trade advice in-season, along with player prop betting picks, can all be found within. We will be hosting some listener leagues soon, and joining Discord is the best way to draft with Josh Larky, Ryan Reynolds or Jordan Vanek.

Round 3 (Picks 25-36)

Values: Chris Olave (26), Tee Higgins (29), DeVonta Smith (30)

This is an excellent round to take a high-floor receiver with a high ceiling, as well. Our favorite pick in this range is Chris Olave, but Tee Higgins and DeVonta Smith are also solid options if Olave is off the board for your Round 3 pick.

Round 4 (Picks 37-48)

Values: Calvin Ridley (39)

Targets: Joe Mixon (37), T.J. Hockenson (46)

Treat Round 4 as a flexible round. We’ve identified players at each position we’d recommend. Justin Fields (44) and Justin Herbert (45) are solid picks if you want to lock in a high-end quarterback here.

Round 5 (Picks 49-60)

Value: Christian Watson (59)

Most of the Round 5 players are appropriately priced. If you have a running back-heavy start, target a receiver such as Christian Watson. If you took more receivers early, a running back such as J.K. Dobbins could make sense here.

We identified many Round 6 targets and don’t think it’s a bad move to slightly reach for one of them in Round 5.

Round 6 (Picks 61-72)

Targets: Chris Godwin (62), Darren Waller (65), Brandon Aiyuk (66), Mike Williams (67)

Value: Christian Kirk (72)

Depending on which position you need to fill out your starting roster, Round 6 has a multitude of solid options. Alvin Kamara is a strong running back pick in this range if you don’t want one of the above receiving options.

Round 7 (Picks 73-84)

Targets: Rachaad White (73), Marquise Brown (74), Mike Evans (75), David Montgomery (78), Diontae Johnson (80)

Values: James Cook (82)

Diontae Johnson is a Round 5 pick in most other places, so if you want exposure to him, this is the place to do it. James Cook is going in the 60s on several other platforms.

Round 8 (Picks 85-96)

Targets: Deshaun Watson (85), Pat Freiermuth (88)

Values: Treylon Burks (92)

This is the final round to fill out your team with a solid quarterback or tight end option.

Round 9 (Picks 97-108)

Targets: Quentin Johnston (97), Zach Charbonnet (98), Michael Thomas (99), Zay Flowers (100), Khalil Herbert (103), Jamaal Williams (104), Samaje Perine (108)

We’d be willing to take all the players listed here at the Round 7/8 turn. 

To get our in-depth thoughts on our top 160 players, this article is the place to go. Search a player’s name within it to read multiple paragraphs on that player’s 2023 fantasy outlook.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton

Round 10 (Picks 109-120)

Targets: Elijah Moore (112)

Value: Courtland Sutton (110), Rashod Bateman (116)

Jerry Jeudy’s hamstring injury opens up Courtland Sutton as an intriguing option here. Elijah Moore and Rashod Bateman are young receivers coming off down seasons, but both had strong prospect profiles and encouraging rookie seasons.

Round 11 (Picks 121-132)

Targets: Geno Smith (122), Skyy Moore (124)

Value: Justin Tucker (131), 49ers defense (132)

We generally don’t try to take an early kicker or defense. However, Justin Tucker and the 49ers defense usually go many rounds earlier on other platforms. If you want an elite kicker or defense, the Sleeper ADPs are the most palatable.

Round 12 (Picks 133-144)

Targets: Eagles Defense (133), Cowboys Defense (134), Evan McPherson (135), Harrison Butker (137)

This round contains only kickers and defenses by ADP. If you are waiting for another round to fill those spots out, look ahead to some of our Round 13, Round 14 and Round 15 targets.

We wrote up 11 of our favorite sleepers here to help you ace the later rounds of fantasy drafts.

Round 13 (Picks 145-156)

Targets: Daniel Jones (146), Rashee Rice (150), Tyler Higbee (152), Greg Dulcich (155)

Value: Jakobi Meyers (148)

Daniel Jones is available at a multi-round value on Sleeper. If you don’t have a premium quarterback, Jones is a dual-threat option with an improved group of pass catchers. We like pairing him with a quarterback such as Dak Prescott, where you have two strong options to play matchups with.

If you’re set at wide receiver, Rashee Rice is a high-upside bet in an elite offense, and Jakobi Meyers is more of a floor play who you may want to target if you want a flex-viable option. Tyler Higbee is a “safe” late-round tight end option, whereas Greg Dulcich is more of an upside play.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren

Round 14 (Picks 157-168)

Target: Jaylen Warren (157)

Value: Jonathan Mingo (161)

We want to target Jaylen Warren in the 14th round, if not earlier, because he’s a premium handcuff with standalone value who you can get at a discount on Sleeper. If Najee Harris were to miss time, Warren would instantly become a plug-and-play option at running back. Jonathan Mingo has a realistic path to being the Panthers’ WR1 before the season’s end. We want to draft Warren in the overwhelming majority of situations, but Mingo should be on your radar.

Round 15 (Picks 169-180)

Targets: Jeff Wilson (174), Zay Jones (175), Tyjae Spears (179), Chuba Hubbard (200), Marvin Mims (206), Jayden Reed (210), Jerome Ford (211), Ty Chandler (220), Chris Evans (604)

Values: Nico Collins (171), Kenneth Gainwell (187)

IR Consideration: Kyler Murray (176)

There are a ton of great options in the 15th round. Unless the Dolphins trade for Jonathan Taylor, Jeff Wilson could lead the team in opportunities. Tyjae Spears, Chuba Hubbard, Jerome Ford, Ty Chandler and Chris Evans each have value as handcuffs. Kenneth Gainwell has a wide range of outcomes and could have some standalone value in the Philadelphia Eagles’ elite offense. Wilson and Gainwell have the clearest paths to early-season playability.

Nico Collins, Marvin Mims and Jayden Reed have difference-making upside, while Zay Jones is more of a reliable bye week fill-in option. If you still need a kicker or defense in a league that has IR spots, taking Kyler Murray, putting him on IR, and then taking a kicker or defense off waivers is a sharp move.

For more comprehensive defense analysis, make sure you read through Ryan Reynolds’ top 15 fantasy defenses, along with which weeks he’s excited to play each one based on matchups.

Sleeper Fades

Patrick Mahomes (14): We don’t recommend taking a quarterback such as Patrick Mahomes in borderline Round 1 territory.

Jonathan Taylor (17): We have Jonathan Taylor ranked 22nd in a round where we want to target value receivers.

Josh Jacobs (19): After Josh Jacobs led the league in opportunities last season, we are fading him unless he slides.

Breece Hall (35): We generally like Breece Hall for fantasy football, but he’s a Round 4 or Round 5 pick on other sites.

Joe Burrow (36): Joe Burrow is a mid-to-late Round 4 pick on some other platforms. A quarterback such as Justin Herbert is a better pick going a round later.

Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker

Kenneth Walker (40): Kenneth Walker goes closer to Pick 50 on several other platforms.

Miles Sanders (51): Miles Sanders has been a two-down running back for the past three years and now goes from the Eagles’ elite offense to a subpar Carolina Panthers environment. His RB16 per game finish last year is almost certain to drop down significantly.

James Conner (61): The Arizona Cardinals may be the NFL’s lowest-scoring team until Kyler Murray returns. James Conner is second in the NFL in total touchdowns over the past two seasons, and he won’t have those scores as a fantasy points crutch in 2023. He should go closer to Round 7.

Dallas Goedert (64): Dallas Goedert in Round 6 is too early for a player behind two elite receivers in the passing game pecking order. We outlined the importance of elite fantasy football tight ends being the No. 1 or No. 2 target in their offenses here.

Dalvin Cook (70): We’d like Dalvin Cook a round or two later because he should be taking a backseat to Hall by October. We’re thinking of Hall as Aaron Jones and Cook as A.J. Dillon for the New York Jets’ backfield behind Aaron Rodgers. Long term, we’re worried Cook becomes more of a handcuff for the fantasy playoffs.

AJ Dillon (87): Dillon is the 1B committee back in what should be a bad offense. It’s tough to see him being a consistent fantasy starter this year.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (106): JuJu Smith-Schuster was 37th among wide receivers in fantasy points per game last year in Mahomes' offense. We’re not interested in paying the premium for a player whose most likely fantasy outcome is as a bye week fill-in.

Dalton Kincaid (113): We really like Dalton Kincaid for fantasy football, but if you’re playing on several different platforms, you can get him many rounds later elsewhere.

Sleeper Sample Draft

Round 1: WR Ja’Marr Chase (CIN)

Round 2: RB Tony Pollard (DAL)

Round 3: WR DeVonta Smith (PHI)

Round 4: WR Amari Cooper (CLE)

Round 5: RB Dameon Pierce (HOU)

Round 6: TE Darren Waller (NYG)

Round 7: RB David Montgomery (DET)

Round 8: QB Deshaun Watson (CLE)

Round 9: RB Khalil Herbert (CHI)

Round 10: WR Elijah Moore (CLE)

Round 11: RB Tank Bigsby (JAX)

Round 12: Eagles defense

Round 13: RB Jaylen Warren (PIT)

Round 14: K Jake Elliott (PHI)

Round 15: WR Marvin Mims (DEN)