The 2023 NFL Regular Season ended last week. While we’ll see how playoff games impact these performers, we saw enough over the last 18 weeks to find some regular-season winners and losers. In today’s edition, I’ll focus on winners. Below are two players at each of the four positions that helped themselves in 2023.
Stock Up: Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
About: The 2022 season wasn’t kind to Tua. He performed well on the field, but a series of concussions had fans and the team wondering about his long-term future. In fact, it played a factor in him not getting a contract extension. Instead, he played out 2023 as the Dolphins, and the rest of the NFL wondered if he would bounce back. This season, he played in all 17 games for the Dolphins, leading the team to an 11-6 record and another playoff berth. He also finished as QB9. That’s a good sign for the Dolphins and for those who roster Tua in fantasy. He figures to get that extension and provide fantasy players some security this off-season.
Stock Up: Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
About: The 2022 season was something of a nightmare for Mayfield, the former first overall pick. First, he was passed up in Cleveland, which dumped him to Carolina. He wasn’t good for the Panthers, ending up getting released mid-season. Fortunately, he got a soft landing with the Rams and played well enough in relief to earn a shot at redemption in 2023. Mayfield got a one-year deal with the Buccaneers, and many wondered how he would fare. Mayfield did well, guiding the Buccaneers to a 9-8 season, the NFC South Title, and a playoff berth. He also finished as QB10 in fantasy, giving him value in Superflex leagues. Whether with the Buccaneers or elsewhere, Mayfield did enough to ensure he’ll begin the 2024 season as a starter. Those who added him cheap this off-season lucked into a serviceable quarterback moving forward.
Stock Up: Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers
About: Let’s face it, no one was out on McCaffrey. His mid-season trade to the 49ers from the Panthers in 2022 was great for the player, the 49ers, and fantasy players. But there have been questions about durability and production for McCaffrey. He answered them all in 2023 with an MVP-like season. He finished as the No. 1 overall running back and No. 1 overall player in fantasy. He should be the first overall pick in startups and looks like an absolute beast in this 49ers’ system with Kyle Shanahan.
Stock Up: Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins
About: At age 31, Mostert had his best NFL Season. He was the Dolphins’ running back that stayed the healthiest, which helped. He was also insanely productive, finishing as RB5 in fantasy, thanks in large part to his 21 touchdowns. The Dolphins have a lot of backs, and I don’t expect Mostert to finish as a Top 5 running back in 2024. He also isn’t getting any younger. But Mostert showed his value to the Dolphins and fantasy players. His value is greatly improved heading into 2024. You could also flip him to a competing team and net some future assets if you’re rebuilding.
Stock Up: CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
About: We’ve been high on Lamb since he was drafted, but he hasn’t always provided the highest return on investment. That changed in 2023 as he produced like the Top 5 receiver we’ve long thought he would be. Lamb finished as WR1, offering a career-high 135 receptions for 1,749 yards and 12 touchdowns. Lamb delivered a great season and seems poised to lead the Cowboys’ passing attack moving forward.
Stock Up: Michael Pittman, Jr., Indianapolis Colts
About: Another receiver who quietly had a massive season was Pittman. He finished as WR13 on the season, just outside of WR1 levels. He is the best receiver on the Colts and the rock in the passing game. He also posted a career-high 109 receptions for 1,152 yards. He will be a great target to lead the passing game for second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson.
Stock Up: Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars
About: Things didn’t go as well for the Jaguars this season as they’d hoped. And yet, Engram showed why the team gave him the Franchise Tag and later signed him to a long-term contract prior to the 2023 season. He finished as TE2 and was a dependable rock for Trevor Lawrence. He responded with a career-high 114 receptions for 963 yards. Engram looks like a rock at tight end for years to come.
Stock Up: David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
About: Njoku is another player who finally delivered on his potential in 2023. That included going on a tear to close the season and looking like a rock for quarterback Joe Flacco. He finished as TE6 in the season. He also had a career-high 81 receptions for 882 yards and six touchdowns. Njoku looks like a fundamental part of an improved Browns’ passing game, which is good news for fantasy players moving into 2024.
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.