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 begin the journey looking at Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff.
Will 2023 be the year for the Lions? It certainly feels like a couple of seasons of learning to bite kneecaps with Dan Campbell at the helm is going to pay off big in 2023. After all, the Lions narrowly missed the playoffs in 2022 and were one of the most fun teams to watch. They have a great, young roster of skill position players on offense, all held together by veteran Goff at quarterback. Should we be buying in more for Goff in 2023? Let’s look at the evidence.
The Case for Jared Goff
Goff has seven years of experience and was once a first-overall draft pick. Yet, most don’t think of him quickly when it comes to fantasy. Goff was the forgotten player in the blockbuster trade that brought Matthew Stafford to the Rams. Stafford led the Rams to a Super Bowl title in the 2021 season, and the Lions got a boatload of draft picks. They also got Goff, who has been their starter and a good one since arriving.
Goff has had some of his best years in Detroit. In two seasons, he’s thrown for 7,683 yards, 48 touchdowns, and just 15 interceptions. That was the case last season, when he threw for more than 4,400 yards, his third-best career mark, and 29 touchdowns, his second-highest career total. Goff was QB10 last season and QB24 in his first year with the Lions despite lacking weapons. Now, as he enters this season, he’s got two good running backs in Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery, a strong core of receivers led by Amon-Ra St. Brown and second-year man Jameson Williams and a solid rookie tight end in Sam LaPorta.
The Case Against Jared Goff
All that above sounds pretty good, so why are people not as high on Goff? Well, history plays some role there. After all, the reason the Lions got Goff was that Sean McVay and the Rams gave up on him, believing he couldn’t win them a title. Can he prove them wrong? Perhaps, but it’s also not clear that the Lions view him as the long-term answer. During the draft, the Lions grabbed Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker. Hooker is a rookie recovering from an injury, so Goff seems like a safe bet for 2023. But what about after that? You have to acquire or deploy him knowing you don’t have long-term security.
There’s also the matter of playing Goff being something of a roller coaster, depending on where the Lions are playing. Goff was QB10 last year, but that was thanks to being incredible at home, making up for being pedestrian on the road. Goff has a big disparity in his home/road split the last two years with the Lions. He’s throwing 36 of his 48 touchdowns at home and nine of his 15 interceptions on the road. That gives you some good weeks and some tough weeks for fantasy, which can come at the worst time for your team’s needs.
The Final Word
Goff has Top 10 upside, as he showed last year. Yet, he’s currently going as QB16. I’m not selling the farm or the future to get him, thinking I’ve got a starter in my lineup for the next five years. In fact, it’s very possible Goff’s time as a starter for the Lions is coming to a close. But he’s been good for Detroit, and the Lions are a team poised to make a move in 2023. While most aren’t focused on Goff, I think he’s the ideal under-the-radar veteran that could help a contending team make a title run. If you can get him at a good value, especially in a Superflex league, he’s a guy I’m plugging in and riding to the fantasy playoffs. Conversely, if you have a young team, he could be a solid veteran starter to provide your lineup stability or an asset to move to a contender as you re-build.
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.