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Best Ball Targets, Fades for 2023 Start With Jaguars Pairing

best ball targets and fades

Josh Larky details his early round best ball targets and fades, with 12 polarizing players covered in this article. All referenced ADPs are from Underdog Fantasy, and all fantasy point metrics are referenced using half-PPR scoring.

For more best ball content, be sure to check out our rookie wide receiver primer, where we walk you through the top-15 rookie wide receivers and how to handle them in these early spring drafts. Ryan Reynolds released his own best ball targets and fades article, which is also a must-read. Early next week, Larky and Reynolds will release their full best ball rankings.


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Travis Etienne - ADP 30 (RB11)

Travis Etienne was inconsistent at times last season for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but this is the exact profile we should target in an early-round running back in February. He has Round 1 draft capital, so his role in the offense is secure. The offensive line likely continues to improve, Trevor Lawrence should take another step forward, and the injection of Calvin Ridley into this offense helps, too.

Etienne should improve upon his five total TDs on 255 touches, and despite incredibly frustrating receiving usage, he still managed to bring in 35 passes for 316 receiving yards, via The Edge. The potential for 1,200 yards rushing, 500 yards receiving, and a double-digit TD season is well within reach. I prefer Etienne to Kenneth Walker, Breece Hall, Josh Jacobs and Nick Chubb, all of whom go earlier based on ADP.

Christian Kirk - ADP 52 (WR24)

Looks like I'm going to be bullish on this Jacksonville offense in 2023. In his first season playing with Lawrence, Christian Kirk was the WR15 in Underdog scoring per game among wide receivers with at least 12 games played. There's reason to think he can exceed his 2022 performance, as Ridley will take defensive attention away, and chemistry between Lawrence and Kirk should improve heading into year two. This current ADP suggests a step back for Kirk in 2023, and I simply don't see that happening.

DJ Moore - ADP 57 (WR26)

DJ Moore is being drafted near his floor as if the Carolina Panthers will have a bottom-three quarterback starting in 2023. If even Sam Darnold were his quarterback in 2023, his ADP should be at least one round higher than this. Baker Mayfield probably hates Moore, and the proof is in the numbers. In 10 games without Mayfield, Moore averaged 12.2 fantasy points per game, which would have ranked WR14 among wide receivers with at least 10 games played.

The full splits are below, and those seven games played with Mayfield are likely the reason Moore's ADP is artificially suppressed. I'm comfortable drafting Moore in the fourth round, so you're getting a full-round discount on him at this stage.

Split Half-PPR/Game Tgt Rec RecYds RecTD
With Baker 6.5 6.9 3.1 35 0.1
Without Baker 12.2 7 4.1 64 0.6


Jerry Jeudy - ADP 57 (WR29)

Jerry Jeudy was pacing for 1,180 receiving yards (17-game pace) if we remove the game where he got injured on the first snap. He had at least 53 receiving yards in ten of his last 11 games and established himself as the clear WR1 in the Denver Broncos' offense by midseason. I'm expecting a decent bounce back from Russell Wilson, with Sean Payton stepping in for Nathaniel Hackett as coach.

The Broncos scored the fewest points in the NFL last season, and Jeudy was still fantasy relevant despite this. Draft Jeudy ahead of Michael Pittman and Terry McLaurin, both of whom are ahead of him by current ADP.

Jameson Williams - ADP 67 (WR31)

Jameson Williams was arguably WR1 in the 2022 class prior to the ACL tear. The Detroit Lions eased him along slowly to the end last season, but both of his touches went for at least 40 yards: A 41-yard TD catch and a 40-yard jet sweep. He has elite speed, should command 20%+ of the team's targets at a relatively high depth of target, and plays on the Lions, who should once again partake in a myriad of shootouts in their domed stadium. This is the wide receiver profile I'm willing to spend a Round 4/5 turn pick on, but he goes toward the end of Round 6.

Deshaun Watson - ADP 79 (QB10)

I always need to clarify: I can hate Deshaun Watson as a person, but still believe it's logically sound to have him on my best ball or fantasy rosters. Prior to last season, Watson averaged 24.1, 20.7, 21.3 and 23.1 fantasy points per game. In contrast, Patrick Mahomes has averaged 20.5, 25, 21.3, and 24.5 fantasy points per game in the past four seasons. Watson, prior to 2022, profiled nearly as well as Mahomes for fantasy football before he averaged a shocking 14.3 points per game this past season.

Watson was away from NFL action for about two years, and rust was to be expected. Also, the Cleveland Browns likely draft a wide receiver early in 2023, so Watson will have a better offensive line and supporting cast in 2023 than he ever had with Houston. Watson should be getting drafted near quarterbacks like Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Lawrence, who are more stable but possess a lower ceiling. Instead, Watson goes several rounds later.


Cooper Kupp - ADP 5 (WR3)

Cooper Kupp will be 30 years old before the next NFL season kicks off, and he's recovering from a season-ending injury. Matthew Stafford has an outside chance at retirement due to back issues, and the offensive line is still in shambles. The Los Angeles Rams scored the fewest points among NFC teams last year, and I do not want to spend a top-5 pick on Kupp's profile at this stage of the offseason.

Deebo Samuel - ADP 30 (WR14)

Deebo Samuel scored 18.8 fantasy points per game in 2021, when he averaged an unsustainable 18.2 yards per reception and 6.2 yards per carry, scoring eight rushing TDs on just 59 carries, via The Edge. In his other three seasons, he's been under 11 fantasy points per game. He'll be contending with Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle for targets, and he has a lengthy injury history. I'm comfortable fading him, knowing that the chances of another season like 2021 are next to nil.

Joe Burrow - ADP 25 (QB4)

Burrow averaged 21.9 fantasy points per game last season, and his ceiling isn't much higher than that after he punched in five rushing TDs on just 75 attempts. Even if he recreates his 2022 fantasy season, he's still not paying off his current ADP. Justin Fields and Lamar Jackson both go a full round later and possess better spike week upside than Burrow.


George Kittle - ADP 46 (TE4)

While Kittle does play TE, raw fantasy points do matter in best ball, and that's where Kittle struggles. He's averaged 13.4, 12.9, 12.6, 11.6, and 11.4 fantasy points per game the past five seasons, and he's missed multiple games due to injury each of the past four years. He's likely behind McCaffrey, Samuel and Aiyuk on the target totem pole, and he doesn't provide enough raw fantasy points to make it worth the Round 4 investment.

Kittle scored 11 TDs in only 15 games last season, and that masks the concerning peripherals, as his target share was only 19% for the season, via The Edge.

Joe Mixon - ADP 51 (RB16)

Joe Mixon's snap share was below 70% in every game from Week 11 onward (including the playoffs). In the playoffs, he never reached a 60% snap share in any of the three games and was at 45% or lower in two of them. He's a likely cap casualty unless the contract is restructured, and there was a warrant for "aggravated menacing" that came to light in early February (chargers have since been dropped).

He was inefficient in all areas, and he only topped 18 fantasy points in one game last season. Mixon's 2022 season would probably be worth his current ADP, but the downsides of him getting cut or continuing to decline as he ages are not factored into this current price.

George Pickens - ADP 72 (WR35)

George Pickens was targeted on 15.2% of his routes, via The Edge. Among 131 WRs with at least 250 snaps last season, this ranks 107th. Kenny Pickett at quarterback is still a wild card, and Diontae Johnson is still the best wide receiver at commanding targets on this roster. Pat Freiermuth was targeted on 23.6% of his routes, so Pickens is really the WR3 on a team with Pickett at quarterback.

You're paying for a couple of insane highlight catches, but unfortunately, those don't score any more fantasy points than regular receptions. He should be going about two rounds later in best ball drafts.

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We hope you enjoyed reading through these 12 best ball targets and fades. For more best ball content, be sure to check out our rookie wide receiver primer and Ryan Reynolds' best ball targets and fades article. Make sure to revisit The 33rd Team site early next week for full best ball rankings, too.