Fantasy Football

Fantasy football rankings: Top 10 sleepers to draft in 2023

These 10 players are poised for a better-than-expected season in 2023.

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One of the most difficult, but also most important, aspects of fantasy football is identifying players who are flying under the radar -- also known as "sleepers."

These players typically get selected in the middle and later rounds of your fantasy league's draft, often without much fanfare. And yet time and time again they prove to be crucial parts of your team's success.

Which players are primed to take a step forward and contribute more yards, receptions and touchdowns than expected? Here are 10 players with sleeper potential for the 2023 fantasy football season.

Sam Howell, QB, Washington Commanders (Bye week: 14)

Howell is worth a look in two-QB leagues as a late-round flier. He threw just 19 passes last season, so he's still very much an unknown at the NFL level. That said, he is the most likely Week 1 starter for the Commanders, and he has plenty of good targets in the passing attack.

Terry McLaurin is a top 15 wide receiver in the league. Jahan Dotson is primed for a breakout season. Curtis Samuel and Byron Pringle are solid veterans. That's four good wide receivers for Howell to rely on.

Let's not forget highly respected offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy joined the Commanders coaching staff over the offseason. Bieniemy played a key role in helping Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense reach an elite level over the last five-plus years, so we know Howell will receive good coaching and should be put in plenty of positions to succeed in 2023.

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Bye week: 6)

Pickett had a decent rookie season. He completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,404 yards with seven touchdowns and nine interceptions. This experience should help him tremendously in Year 2, which is when a lot of quarterbacks take a meaningful leap forward in their development.

Another positive for Pickett is the talent around him. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren represent a solid running back tandem. Allen Robinson, George Pickens and Diontae Johnson make up a pretty good trio at wide receiver, too. Pickett struggled in his five games last year and threw eight interceptions during that span. He made adjustments and threw only one interception over his last eight appearances. He should be able to build on that momentum in 2023.

Jordan Love, QB, Green Bay Packers (Bye week: 6)

Love could actually surprise this season. He has plenty of quality weapons on offense. Aaron Jones is a very good pass-catching running back who has tallied at least 47 receptions in each of the last four seasons, in addition to a total of 16 receiving touchdowns during that span. He will be a trusted check-down target for Love. The BYU product has a huge arm, too, which could produce some deep throws to Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs -- two young wideouts who also could have a breakout season in 2023.

The Packers' offensive line is healthy and should be able to protect Love, which could lead to him improving his accuracy. Opposing teams don't have much film on Love, either, particularly at the NFL level. There will be plenty of ups and downs for Love this season, which is normal for a young player with very little experience, but he has a lot of physical talent and good players around him at the skill positions. The pieces are in place for a good first season as Green Bay's starting quarterback.

Samaje Perine, RB, Denver Broncos (Bye week: 9)

Perine was a solid backup with the Bengals over the last three seasons, and he could get a starter's amount of touches early in the season if Javonte Williams isn't ready to return in Week 1 or has his workload managed a bit as he recovers from a torn ACL.

The 27-year-old veteran is a receiving threat out of the backfield, too, evidenced by his career-high 37 receptions and four receiving touchdowns last season. Perine is reliable on the ground, as well, having ran for more than four yards per carry over the last three seasons despite Cincinnati having a lackluster offensive line for most of that stretch.

Even if Williams is healthy, there should be enough touches for both him and Perine to be successful in Sean Payton's offense, which relied heavily on running backs when he coached the Saints for 15 seasons from 2006 through 2021.

Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans (Bye week: 7)

The Texans struck gold by selecting Pierce in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The University of Florida product ran for 939 yards with four touchdowns in 13 games, while also tallying 30 receptions for 165 yards and another score despite playing for an awful team.

Pierce is primed to take a leap in Year 2 as a focal point of a Texans offense that should be much improved with rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud at the helm. He also arrived to Texans camp in better shape.

Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings (Bye week: 13)

Addison could be one of the safest picks of the rookie wide receivers from the 2023 class based on his own talent and the high level of skill around him. He should get plenty of favorable matchups with defenses putting most of their attention on elite wideout Justin Jefferson and starting tight end T.J. Hockenson. Kirk Cousins isn't the kind of quarterback you win a Super Bowl with, but he puts up strong stats in the regular season and ranks among the most accurate passers in the league.

Addison has the potential to be the WR2 in the Adam Thielen role for what should be a prolific Vikings passing attack. That's enough to make him worth drafting in every kind of fantasy league.

Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers (Bye week: 6)

Watson is the most likely WR1 in Green Bay this season. He had a strong rookie campaign with 41 receptions for 611 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games. He also ran for 80 yards with two more touchdowns.

Watson's excellent speed and size (6-foot-4 and 210 pounds) make him dangerous in the open field after the catch. The Packers will look for ways to get him the ball early and often each week, whether that's running the football or catching passes.

Elijah Moore, WR, Cleveland Browns (Bye week: 5)

A change of scenery should benefit Moore tremendously. He showed flashes of exciting potential in two seasons with the Jets after they selected him in the second round of the 2021 draft, but it didn't happen consistently enough.

The Browns need someone to step into the No. 2 wide receiver role behind top target Amari Cooper. Moore has the best chance to win that battle in Cleveland's receiving corps as someone who can play on the outside or in the slot. And let's not forget that Deshaun Watson was an elite quarterback for many years with the Houston Texans. This upcoming season will be Watson's first full campaign with the Browns, and if he returns to the form we saw from him in Houston, Moore should benefit quite a bit.

Isaiah Hodgins, WR, New York Giants (Bye week: 13)

Hodgins could be the top wideout in the Giants passing attack in 2023. He put up career highs of 33 receptions, 351 yards and four touchdowns in just eight games after signing with New York in the middle of last season.

Hodgins was particularly effective late in the 2022 campaign, tallying five touchdown catches in his last seven games (including the playoffs). He caught eight passes for 105 yards and one score against the Vikings in the NFC Wild Card playoff matchup despite suffering a fracture in his foot the Friday before the game.

Juwan Johnson, TE, New Orleans Saints (Bye week: 11)

Johnson tallied career highs with 42 receptions (more than three times his 2021 total), 508 receiving yards and seven touchdowns last season. He caught a pass of 20-plus yards in eight of the 15 games he played.

Johnson began his pro career as a wide receiver but was moved to tight end before his second season. He is a very good route runner and also has impressive size at 6-foot-4 and 231 pounds. Saints quarterback Derek Carr loved throwing to tight ends during his Raiders career, especially when Darren Waller was healthy. Carr and Johnson could be a fantastic combo this season.

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