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 flip over to begin a look at some wide receivers.
First up on the list is a sophomore receiver who didn’t do much in his rookie season—Treylon Burks. Coming out, there were some high expectations, especially after the Titans traded A.J. Brown to the Eagles and snagged Burks in the First Round. Despite opportunity and a dearth of competition, Burks had a middling rookie season where he struggled to stay on the field. Could it be different in 2023?
The Case For Treylon Burks
Burks was taken with the No. 18 overall in 2022. The team hoped it was getting another alpha receiver. But from the jump, he struggled out of the gate. But the traits that made him a top pick still exist. Burks has talent and ability, and the Titans most certainly have a need. They might even have a bigger need in 2023.
Last season, the team’s leading receiver was Robert Woods. He’s now a member of the Houston Texans. The Titans also had a tight end in Austin Hooper, that was second on the team in targets in 2022. He’s now in Las Vegas. Combined, the two vacated 151 targets from 2022. And it’s possible the Titans could be adding more targets in 2023, too. Ryan Tannehill was limited to just 12 games, and in his stead, the Titans’ pass offense wasn’t exactly robust under Malik Willis and Josh Dobbs. With Tannehill back healthy, it’s possible the team could pass more. In 2021, the Titans threw the ball 535 times, about 80 more passes than the 456 from 2022. An increase in the pass volume benefits all the receivers, of which Burks remains a prime target.
The Case Against Treylon Burks
It starts with competition. Up until a few weeks ago, Burks looked like, by far, the Titans’ best option. Then the team signed DeAndre Hopkins. Now, Burks is clearly the No. 2 option at best. Last year in just nine games, Hopkins saw 96 targets. But in six seasons from 2015 to 2020, he saw at least 150 targets a season. He’s a good bet to soak up most if not all, the vacated targets from Woods and Hooper.
And Hopkins isn’t the only competition. Young tight end Chig Oknokwo started to come on at the end of 2022. He saw 46 targets a year ago, but that figure could well go up. In addition, talent and profile doesn’t guarantee NFL success. Burks only had one 100-yard game and one touchdown in 2022. To improve for fantasy, he’d also need to improve on his 61.1 percent catch rate.
The Bottom Line
Many snagged Burks high in rookie drafts in 2022, hoping for some instant production. It was hard to come by. Now, he’s going around WR40, which shows some baked-in risk. The upside is still there, despite the questions about his role and the Titans’ offense in general. It’s a run-first team, but big, talented receivers have been able to thrive. For the right price, Burks is worth the risk heading into year two.
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.