The key to winning fantasy football championships is getting maximum value out of your draft picks. One way to do this is to target potential bounce-back players; players who had down years in 2022 but seem poised to rebound in 2023.
Bounce-back players typically come from one of several situations. Players that were injured, receivers that had their QB get injured, or players dealing with bad coaching are all candidates. If you can’t find a reason for their bad season last year and there were no significant changes to their situation this year, don’t hope for a comeback no matter how much you like the player. It could mean they just started their decline.
5 Bounce-Back Players
Russell Wilson – Denver Broncos
Denver started last year with such high hopes and what we got was a car wreck that we couldn’t look away from. Russell Wilson was getting sacked 10.2 percent of the time he dropped back to pass and he had a coach that was fired before the season ended.
This year he has Sean Payton as his coach. We have a Super Bowl winning coach working with a Super Bowl winning QB. The Broncos improved their O-line and added another weapon for Wilson by trading up in the draft for another wide receiver in Marvin Mims Jr.
The Broncos are doing everything they can to set him up for a bounce-back season.
Najee Harris – Pittsburgh Steelers
After a rookie season in which he ranked fourth for all running backs, he fell to 13th. Everything seemed just a bit off.
This year the Steelers made one of the biggest improvements to their offensive line in the league. They also added tight end Darnell Washington in the draft to help with the blocking.
With the way that Mike Tomlin likes to run the ball, I expect Harris to bounce back to a top-five running back this year.
You can find my complete Steelers projection here.
Kyle Pitts – Atlanta Falcons
As a rookie Pitts finished the year with over 1,000 yards receiving and ranked as TE7.
Last year he played only 10 games and got double-digit points just once.
This year with a full year of Desmond Ridder, the best backfield in the league, and defenses focusing on Drake London, things are lining up for Pitts to have the bounce-back season we all know he can have.
J.K. Dobbins – Baltimore
Injuries are the only thing keeping Dobbins from becoming one of the top backs in the league. In 2020, he ranked 25th, missed all of 2021, and last year missed 8 more games and finished 47th.
All you need to know is in the last four games of 2022, he exceeded 90 yards rushing in three of them. During Weeks 14 through 17, he led the league with 397 yards.
Again, if he stays healthy, he will bounce back to being at least an RB2.
Darren Waller – NY Giants
After finishing TE5 and TE2 in 2019 in 2020, Darren Waller fell to TE18 and TE25 in the last two years. A big part of that was due to injuries.
This year he is with the Giants. PFF ranks the Giants receiving corp as the 25th best. It’s quite possible that, if he can stay healthy, Waller could finish the season as the Giants’ top pass catcher. Look for a bounce back into the top five tight-end rankings.
Targeting a few bounce-back players of your own? Don’t be greedy. Drop some names in the comments below. For more great rankings and analysis, make sure to check out our 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!
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