It’s borderline impossible to go through an entire summer mock drafting, ranking, and projecting without becoming particularly attached to a handful of players in fantasy football. Whether they present some incredible draft value or you see them capitalizing on favorable situations, we all have those players who we would prefer our opinions of to stay unshared.
Fortunately, I’m sharing my thoughts on some players you must draft in your fantasy football league this summer. Below, we will highlight two veteran running backs and two young wide receivers with favorable situations to break out this season and provide outstanding value.
1. David Montgomery, RB, Lions – ADP of 76.5 on Underdog, RB23
Remember when Jamaal Williams scored 17 touchdowns and recorded 57 red zone touches last year? Me too. Detroit handed David Montgomery a notable three-year, $18 million contract with $11 million guaranteed back in March to replace Williams, who signed with the Saints. Williams leaves behind 262 carries for Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs to compete for.
Though, if you are listening to the offseason chatter surrounding Gibbs, it’s clear that his presence should be felt more so in the passing game. Montgomery will monopolize those vacant carries, while Gibbs gives Jared Goff some help in the receiving game. Detroit has mostly retained an offense that ranked third in yards, fourth in touchdowns, and fifth in PPG last season. There’s no reason to pass on the projected leading rusher in an elite offense in the sixth round.
Jahmyr Gibbs had four (4) carries inside the 5-yard line and ten (10) carries with 2-or-fewer yards to go for a first down last year…
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) January 27, 2023
2. Miles Sanders, RB, Panthers – ADP of 63.9 on Underdog, RB20
Beating out Montgomery for the biggest contract signed by a running back in 2023 free agency was Miles Sanders, who inked the fifth-largest deal in total value in the NFL. Now in Carolina, Sanders reunites with Panthers assistant head coach and RB coach Duce Staley, who was responsible for the Eagles’ running back room in 2019 when Sanders was a rookie and set a career-high in receptions with 50.
Behind Sanders on the Panthers’ depth chart are Chuba Hubbard and Raheem Blackshear, who have a combined 290 career carries. Meanwhile, Sanders registered 259 last season alone with the Eagles. The former Eagles RB will try to fill in the void left by D’Onta Foreman, who had 914 yards and five touchdowns for 203 carries.
According to PFF, the Panthers hold the 16th-best offensive line in the NFL, a unit responsible for the league’s 11th-ranked 4.6 team yards per carry mark last season. There’s no doubt that Sanders is the most talented player in the Panthers’ offensive arsenal – and they certainly paid him as such. If rookie QB Bryce Young and head coach Frank Reich can engineer even an average offense, Sanders has a real chance of being a coveted three-down back.
3. Jerry Jeudy – ADP of 38.8 on Underdog, WR20
From Weeks 7 to 18 last season, Jerry Jeudy played at least 88 percent of offensive snaps in seven games. He finished, at worst, as the WR27 and showed out with WR1 and WR3 performances in Wks. 14 and 18. Considering the dumpster fire state of the Broncos last year, Jeudy had a great 2022.
I believe Sean Payton will turn Denver’s fortunes around and inject some much-needed juice and consistency into the offense. Between Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks, and Michael Thomas, Payton has overseen plenty of 100-reception or 1,000-yard seasons – and Jeudy is as talented as any of them; hence his draft position of 15th overall just three years ago.
With Tim Patrick sidelined for the second-straight year, Jeudy will share the bulk of Russell Wilson’s pass attempts with Courtland Sutton, who caught one TD and topped 70 yards just twice in that 11-week timespan. Jeudy carries immense upside with relatively little target competition in an offense that can only improve.
Last season after Nathaniel Hackett’s departure…
Healthy Weeks 14-18:
– Averaged 6+ Tgts, 90 Rec Yds
– Three Top 15 WR Finishes
– Two Top 3 WR Finishes
– WR3 in FPts per Game
Jeudy had a Career High 154 Rec Yards in Wk 18.
High End WR2.pic.twitter.com/VHE6thFwb6
— Joe Orrico (@NoExpertFF) August 3, 2023
4. Zay Flowers – ADP of 87.8 on Underdog, WR45
There isn’t a single player I am more excited to draft than Zay Flowers this year. Fantasy managers would be foolish to count on Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr. to play an entire season. Even if they do, I expect Flowers to be the next in line behind Mark Andr
New Baltimore OC Todd Monken’s offenses are what fantasy players’ dreams are made of. His 2020-22 Georgia Bulldogs ranked fifth in the nation in PPG, and his 2016-18 Buccaneers ranked second in passing yards per game and a league-high 10.3 air yards per attempt. Monken’s offenses are built on speed, pace, and the deep ball. Fittingly, Zay Flowers boasts a 4.4 40-yard dash and recorded 13.8 yards per reception as a senior at Boston College.
The doubts about Flowers’ size are fair, but consider that Marquise Brown, who is the same size as Flowers, averaged 105 targets in three seasons with Lamar Jackson in Greg Roman offenses which ranked 32nd, 32nd, and 17th in pace of play and 29th, 32nd, and 9th in pass attempts per game from 2019-2021.
With the combination of high draft capital, a superstar QB, a chance to step on the field as the WR1, and a fantasy-friendly OC, Flowers is about as good of a fantasy rookie WR as you could hope to draft.
[Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier — USA TODAY NETWORK]