As we move toward the 2023 NFL Season, I’m turning my focus to a series of sleeper candidates. I’ll be offering four players at each of the positions—QB, RB, WR, and TE—that I think can make a positive impact for you in fantasy. This will be a list of veteran players, as we already have our expectations set for the class of 2023. Today I conclude my look at wide receivers.
The Los Angeles Chargers are one of the most talented offenses in the league behind quarterback Justin Herbert. The big names include Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and now rookie Quentin Johnson. But it was a different receiver that led the receivers in targets and receptions in 2022. As we head into the 2023 fantasy season, Josh Palmer is being overlooked. But could he actually be the best value for the team?
The Case For Josh Palmer
Palmer was a third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. It was a pick that went under the radar, as did Palmer’s rookie season. He saw 49 targets and caught 33 passes. But in 2022, with Allen and Williams both missing time, it was Palmer who stood tall for the Chargers. He saw 107 targets, the most among receivers and second most on the team behind Austin Ekeler. Of those, he caught 72 passes, again the most among receivers and second most on the team. And he turned that into 769 yards and three touchdowns.
Palmer finished as WR37 in 2022. And yet, he’s being overlooked. With Allen and Williams still on the roster, along with veteran tight end Gerald Everett and rookie Johnson, Palmer isn’t anyone’s target. He’s currently going as WR103, which feels insane, given his last season and the fact that he’s heading into his third year in the NFL.
The Case Against Josh Palmer
The main reason he’s being overlooked is how crowded it is in Los Angeles. Allen and Williams are still there, and while Palmer outproduced them in 2022, that owes more to health than preference. Allen saw 89 targets in just ten games, and Williams saw 93 targets in 13 games. Both are healthy to start the season, and both figure to start for the Chargers.
The team also has targets in Ekeler—who saw a team-high 127 targets—and Everett, who saw 87 targets. In addition, Johnson adds a wrinkle. At TCU in 2022, Johnson caught 60 passes for 1,069 and six touchdowns. He’s a big target that can certainly be a weapon for the Chargers, particularly in the Red Zone. And scoring chances were part of what held Palmer back in 2022. While he led the receivers in receptions and targets, he caught only three touchdowns. That had him behind Ekeler, Allen, Williams, and Everett in touchdown receptions.
The Bottom Line
Palmer is going too low. I think there’s every chance he outplays his ADP in 2023. There is a strong likelihood that he and Johnson are the future at receiver for the Chargers, who looked at potentially releasing Allen even this off-season. Palmer isn’t flashy, but his strong production in year two is a sign of things to come. He’s shaping up to be a great value in 2023.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.