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 with my final tight end target.
There’s a lot that is working against Cade Otton in 2023. Tom Brady retired, leaving the quarterback situation in flux. The offense already has two premium wide receivers and doesn’t figure to be incredibly high volume. And it’s unclear what his role in the offense will be. However, for someone going as TE36 off the board, I think he has potential.
The Case For Cade Otton
Otton, as a rookie, made something of a splash for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He saw 65 targets, catching 42 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns. That was good enough to finish as TE26 in 2022. That was with more competition for targets at the position and in the offense, as the Buccaneers had Cameron Brate, Julio Jones, and a healthy Russell Gage. None of those factors are in place for the 2023 season.
Sure, the passing volume might be down, but the Buccaneers vacated 215 targets from the 2022 season between the loss of Brate, Kyle Rudolph, Jones, Scotty Miller, Breshad Perriman, and Gage, who injured his knee and is out for the season. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will still be target hogs, but that leaves plenty of opportunity for Otton, the starting tight end, who could well be the third option in the passing game. For a player who finished 10 spots higher than his current ADP a year ago, that seems like promising potential.
The Case Against Cade Otton
It’s not Brady standing back there this season. Baker Mayfield was finally named the starting quarterback after a duel with Kyle Trask. But his position is far from certain. Last season the Buccaneers threw the ball a ridiculous 751 times. That was, in part, due to struggles in the running game. It’s fair to assume that number will come down in 2023, which could reduce the opportunities for players like Otton.
In addition, while Gage being out leaves an opening, rookie receiver Trey Palmer has impressed in camp. He could step into that role and end up usurping some of the available targets that might have gone to Otton. The same is true in the backfield, where the Buccaneers have two strong pass-catching options in Rachaad White and Chase Edmonds. All of that leaves Otton with a far-from-certain target share.
The Bottom Line
Otton was TE26 a year ago as a rookie despite myriad competition. The change from Brady to Mayfield will impact offensive production, but the loss of Gage, along with the departure of a number of other targets, frees opportunities. Even if Otton sees just 15 more targets—to 80 for the season—he’ll increase his value, which makes him a steal at his current ADP of TE36.
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.