Fantasy Football 2023: AFC North Player Projections

An NFL projections model offers valuable insights, helping fantasy football enthusiasts analyze team outcomes based on data-driven analysis. You can think of these projections as a guide. Yes, Ja’Marr Chase is the consensus WR2, but why?

If you feel Chase will have more than 113 receptions, he’s likely your WR1. If you think there’s no way J.K. Dobbins scores 7.5 touchdowns, perhaps you’ll knock him down your draft boards. 

These projections look to provide a median output for all players without considering an entire range of outcomes. For example, my model projects Kenny Pickett for less than 4,000 passing yards. In the preseason, Pickett was impeccable. What if he takes a massive leap forward? It’s certainly in the world of possibilities but isn’t captured by this model.

You can use the breakdowns below to view likely outcomes and determine what you think is most likely for the 2023 season.

Note on methodology: The projections are built using machine learning (ML) algorithms in Python. Using historical player, team, and league stats/tendencies, an ML model can predict likely outcomes for NFL players. 

It’s nearly impossible to model with 100 percent accuracy. Injuries, breakouts and surprises happen in many shapes and forms every season. Each player is modeled as if the team stays healthy for 17 straight games. Of course, this is a pipe dream. 

All scoring is in .5 PPR

AFC North Projections

Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson, 374 fantasy points (22.0 PPG, QB3): 

511 attempts, 335 completions, 3,657 passing yards, 27.5 passing TDs

153 rushes, 1,031 rushing yards, 6.7 rushing TDs

Lamar Jackson has yet to put together a full 17-game season. With a healthy season and efficient numbers, Jackson has an easy path to QB1 and his best passing season ever. With injury risk, I can’t endorse taking Jackson as the QB3. He’s QB5 for me.

Mark Andrews, 186 fantasy points (10.9 PPG, TE2):

111 targets, 77 receptions, 940 receiving yards, 9.2 receiving TDs

Mark Andrews finished with 194 points in his TE1 season. He’s projected to finish just below that as the obvious TE2 in 2023.

J.K. Dobbins, 201 fantasy points (11.8 PPG, RB13):

175 rushes, 988 rushing yards, 7.6 rushing TDs

59 targets, 45 receptions, 315 receiving yards, 1.0 receiving TD

If healthy, Dobbins is a talented enough pass-catcher and rusher to do it all and finish as a top-12 back this year. He’s a solid target with lots of upside.

Rashod Bateman, 119 fantasy points (7.0 PPG, WR51):

86 targets, 56 receptions, 700 receiving yards, 3.9 receiving TDs

Odell Beckham Jr., 108 fantasy points (6.4 PPG, WR56):

76 targets, 49 receptions, 591 receiving yards, 4.4 receiving TDs

Zay Flowers, 104 fantasy points (6.1 PPG, WR58):

81 targets, 51 receptions, 600 receiving yards, 3.4 receiving TDs

If one wide receiver is going to run away from the competition, my guess is it will be Rashod BatemanOdell Beckham Jr. has historically produced in the red zone. My model projects that to continue with Baltimore.

Zay Flowers has more second-half appeal than first-half appeal, given historical rookie performances. He might be the best wide receiver to stash for the playoffs.

The Baltimore Ravens are a bit of a question mark. It sounds like the team wants to pass more, and without a doubt, this is the best-supporting cast Jackson has ever had. With Andrews being the offense’s obvious first target, it’s tough to predict who (if anyone) could break out. My model has the Ravens projected for 27 passing and 19 rushing touchdowns – the eighth-most offensive touchdowns.

Tee Higgins, WR, Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow, 352 fantasy points (20.7 PPG, QB5): 

625 attempts, 428 completions, 4,805 passing yards, 36.6 passing TDs

73 rushes, 252 rushing yards, 3.1 rushing TDs

These numbers will fluctuate if Joe Burrow misses time with his lingering calf injury.

Ja’Marr Chase, 284 fantasy points (16.7 PPG, WR2):

169 targets, 113 receptions, 1,527 receiving yards, 11.5 receiving TDs

Chase is the surefire overall WR2 in your drafts. I’d happily take him if he fell to me.

Joe Mixon, 208 fantasy points (12.3 PPG, RB9):

216 rushes, 841 rushing yards, 6.9 rushing TDs

83 targets, 58 receptions, 434 receiving yards, 2.1 receiving TDs

Though Joe Mixon is projected for 58 receptions, he had a career-high of 60 last season. With the departure of Samaje Perine freeing up approximately three targets per game, I expect Mixon to total more than 60 receptions. I’m drafting him as a low-end RB1 despite being the RB14 by ADP.

Tee Higgins, 185 fantasy points (10.9 PPG, WR20):

131 targets, 80 receptions, 1,094 receiving yards, 6.2 receiving TDs

Tee Higgins is catapulted into WR1 status any week Chase doesn’t play. This makes his upside way higher than WR21, especially considering his WR17 finish in back-to-back seasons. This makes his ADP of WR14 justified, though you’re banking on an injury to Chase.

Tyler Boyd, 124 fantasy points (7.3 PPG, WR46):

81 targets, 57 receptions, 673 receiving yards, 5.0 receiving TDs

A common misconception about Tyler Boyd is he is a good handcuff. Interestingly, he performed best last year when Higgins and Chase also started. I like Boyd as an un-sexy flex option in deep leagues, but I don’t see a world where he has top-24 upside.

I have the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense projected as having the second-most offensive touchdowns (53) behind Kansas City’s (55). You can arguably get three players who will finish as a top option at their position from Cincinnati‘s offense. I’d happily take any handcuff or option from this offense as a late-round flyer. 

Week 5 NFL Running Back Power Rankings

Cleveland Browns

Deshaun Watson, 301 fantasy points (17.7 PPG, QB13): 

550 attempts, 360 completions, 3,961 passing yards, 23.3 passing TDs

103 rushes, 556 rushing yards, 3.6 rushing TDs

My model is discounting Deshaun Watson for his abysmal 2022 season. He likely performs much better than this, but his season might not be too far off from his QB9 ADP. I have preferred late-round targets to Watson in the fifth round.

Nick Chubb, 234 fantasy points (13.8 PPG, RB6):

265 rushes, 1,250 rushing yards, 10.8 rushing TDs

40 targets, 29 receptions, 239 receiving yards, 1.3 receiving TD

If Cleveland is rush-heavier than projected, Nick Chubb instantly becomes a top-five running back. Chubb’s 10.8 projected touchdowns are the third-most among running backs.

Amari Cooper, 194 fantasy points (11.4 PPG, WR16):

125 targets, 81 receptions, 1,078 receiving yards, 7.9 receiving TDs

Amari Cooper was a top option at wide receiver last year and should continue to produce safe numbers.

Elijah Moore, 138 fantasy points (8.2 PPG, WR39):

94 targets, 57 receptions, 874 receiving yards, 3.1 receiving TDs

Elijah Moore is one of the best late-round targets. 

David Njoku, 117 fantasy points (6.9 PPG, TE10):

96 targets, 65 receptions, 578 receiving yards, 4.8 receiving TDs

The only tight end with more red zone targets than David Njoku last season was Travis Kelce. Njoku is a solid option if you’re punting on the tight end position.

The Cleveland Browns’ offense stands on its quarterback’s shoulders. If Watson returns to form and becomes an elite quarterback, this offense will be filled with top-tier sleepers. If he can’t, you should stay away from any Browns players. With this much uncertainty, it’s fair Chubb is the only Brown projected to be an elite option.

Diontae Johnson

Pittsburgh Steelers

Kenny Pickett, 258 fantasy points (15.2 PPG, QB21): 

550 attempts, 337 completions, 3,904 passing yards, 20.7 passing TDs

62 rushes, 268 rushing yards, 3.1 rushing TDs

My model projects Kenny Pickett to take a small step in Year 2 but still fall shy of those coveted 4,000 passing yards. Pickett and the Steelers’ offense have looked stellar in preseason. Pickett is worth a flier in two-quarterback leagues.

Najee Harris, 204 fantasy points (12.0 PPG, RB11):

245 rushes, 986 rushing yards, 9.0 rushing TDs

51 targets, 37 receptions, 249 receiving yards, 2.0 receiving TDs

My model projects Najee Harris to continue being a workhorse back. Jaylen Warren will eat into that role, but Harris is still locked in as a low-end RB1, high-end RB2.

Jaylen Warren, 107 fantasy points (6.5 PPG, RB46):

158 rushes, 650 rushing yards, 2.7 rushing TDs

29 targets, 22 receptions, 169 receiving yards, 0.4 receiving TD

Diontae Johnson, 172 fantasy points (10.1 PPG, WR27):

130 targets, 78 receptions, 999 receiving yards, 4.7 receiving TDs

My model projects Diontae Johnson to lead Pittsburgh’s wide receiver room, but he’s not too far ahead of George Pickens. 

George Pickens, 150 fantasy points (8.9 PPG, WR35):

102 targets, 60 receptions, 834 receiving yards, 4.6 receiving TDs

George Pickens is definitely a deep flyer, but Johnson’s ceiling is much higher.

Pat Freiermuth, 143 fantasy points (8.4 PPG, TE6):

103 targets, 63 receptions, 764 receiving yards, 6.3 receiving TDs

Pat Freiermuth has become one of Pickett’s favorite targets. My model has Freiermuth projected to lead the team in touchdowns and locked in as a top-10 tight end option.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were last in passing touchdowns last season. This season, much of this offense depends on Pickett’s success. My model projects him to be 24th in passing touchdowns with 20.7, but if he proves to be a superstar, Pittsburgh could be filled with late-round sleepers. Johnson is one of my favorite mid-round WR targets.

Other Projections

AFC: South | East | West

NFC: South | North | East

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