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Bill Simmons’ 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Manifesto: Players to Target and Avoid

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As per usual Bill Simmons shenanigans, in his latest pod, he created several categories of players to draft for 2023 fantasy football. The guests on this pod include Danny Heifetz, Craig Horlbeck, and Danny Kelly. They are the ones making the selections for each category.

Bill Simmons’ 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Manifesto

Below are some of the categories created by Bill Simmons, and the responses from his guest hosts.

  • My One True Love – The player you just absolutely love and want on your team. All three guests picked Tony Pollard.
  • My Crazy Pills Guy – A player you have a contrarian opinion on, either liking someone no one else likes, or not liking a popular player. Picks included Christian Watson, Kyle Pitts,Brandon Cooks, and Najee Harris.
  • My “I Absolutely Hate Myself For Drafting This Guy” – A player you know you shouldn’t draft but can’t help yourself. Picks included Michael Thomas, Cooper Kupp, and Gabriel Davis.
  • My “Staying Away From That Whole Team” Team – An entire team you want no part of in fantasy. Choices were the Cardinals and Panthers.
  • My Shameless Homer Pick – Your hometown biased fantasy pick. Included Kendrick Bourne, Kenneth Walker, Darren Waller, and George Pickens.
  • My “I wouldn’t take him even if he was free guy” – Cam Akers, DeShaun Watson, Michael Pittman, and Kadarius Toney.
  • My “$1 QB” Guy – The cheap, backup fantasy QB you target late. Brock Purdy was mentioned.
  • My “Might Be Afraid To Look On Tuesday And See The Red Flag” Guy – Injury-prone players who constantly have you worried. Choices included Mike Williams and Darren Waller.

My One True Love

The Player You Absolutely Adore

This is the player that your heart desires each and every season – your fantasy ride or die. All three guests chose Cowboys running back Tony Pollard for this category, professing their undying devotion to the RB1 upside of this Ezekiel Elliott usurper.

Pollard showed flashes as a supremely efficient backup in Dallas the past couple seasons. But now with Elliott gone, Pollard is primed to explode as an unquestioned featured back behind an elite offensive line. The guests eloquently extolled Pollard’s virtues, claiming he moves like no other back in the league.

The infectious optimism and lyrical praise surrounding Pollard illustrates the unbridled passion you can develop for a fantasy darling. When you believe in a player’s limitless potential, they become your one true love.

My Crazy Pills Guy

The Contrarian Pick You’re Higher On Than Consensus

This player elicits raised eyebrows and confusion from your fellow league mates. Either you’re all-in on someone no one else believes in, or you’re shockingly low on a fantasy darling. The picks in this category represent going against the grain with your evaluations.

Christian Watson was one crazy pills selection – they see big things for the Packers rookie receiver despite concerns about the quarterback situation. Watson boasted an impressive yards per route run that put him in elite company with receivers like Justin Jefferson and AJ Brown. Though raw, he flashed big play ability that could explode alongside Aaron Rodgers. With his athleticism and potential for a second-year leap, Watson has the upside to make believers out of the skeptics.

Kyle Pitts was mentioned as a player the hosts are surprisingly down on. Though touted as a top tight end heading into 2022, Pitts massively underwhelmed last season. The Falcons offense suppressing his upside, a new quarterback, and competition for targets all lower expectations for Pitts. Sometimes players fail to live up to the hype and you have to adjust your perceptions accordingly.

Brandin Cooks was the final crazy pills pick – one host vehemently pushed back against the others’ optimism about Cooks’s potential production. Despite the hosts singing his praises and noting his quietly solid stats, Cooks’s extensive injury history was cited as a major red flag. The host just couldn’t buy into the rising Cooks buzz, standing firm as a contrarian voice against him.

Having a strong conviction that defies consensus opinion takes courage, but can yield huge dividends if you end up being right. Don’t be afraid to zag when everyone else zigs.

My “I Absolutely Hate Myself For Drafting This Guy”

The Player You Know You Should Avoid But Can’t Help Yourself

We’ve all been there before – falling prey to temptation despite our better judgment. This player calls to you like a siren song, luring you into a regretful decision.

Michael Thomas was cited as a siren who fantasy managers can’t resist, even though he’s only played 10 games over the past two seasons. His astronomical fantasy peaks cloud judgment from his current injury-riddled state. Thomas’s tantalizing upside obscures the factual warning signs, and makes him an irresistible yet dangerous selection.

Similarly, the name brand and upside of Cooper Kupp pulls fantasy managers back in, causing them to overlook concerns about the Rams’ deteriorating offense. Kupp’s historic 2021 campaign still dwells in the minds of fantasy owners, blinding them to all the red flags with both his injury history and team situation. Much like Michael Thomas, Kupp’s star potential masks the risk factors in play.

Gabriel Davis was highlighted as another enticing heartbreaker. Despite underwhelming last season, flashes of dominance in the Bills’ high-powered offense still spark temptation. Fantasy managers become seduced by the ceiling of a Josh Allen-connected deep threat like Davis, even when all signs point to likely disappointment.

Have the willpower to avoid these tantalizing traps – no matter how attractive the fantasy points may seem. Don’t allow name value and upside to pull you back into a toxic fantasy relationship you’ll come to regret.

My “Staying Away From That Whole Team” Team

An Entire Offense You Want No Part Of

Rather than identifying an individual player, this category avoids an entire team’s offense. The unanimous picks were the Cardinals and the Panthers.

The Cardinals have an unclear quarterback situation with Kyler Murray injured and veteran journeyman Joshua Dobbs and rookie 5th round pick Clayton Tune as the next men up. Their skill position groups are also muddled – at receiver they have injury risks like Marquise Brown along with unproven options like Rondale Moore. The backfield lacks high upside behind James Conner. With too many red flags and unknowns across the roster, the hosts wanted no part of this potentially woeful offense.

Similarly, the Panthers offense elicited universal avoidance. Their quarterback outlook is also gloomy, with Bryce Young and Andy Dalton comprising the least inspiring QB room in the league. Miles Sanders is the only established commodity at the skill positions. But question marks abound at receiver and no running back has emerged as a reliable sidekick to Sanders. Between iffy quarterback play and undefined roles for complementary weapons, the Panthers offense was deemed too murky to touch.

If you don’t believe in the foundation, stay away from every player tied to it. Don’t get stuck with the headache of wading through a murky depth chart all season long.

My Shameless Homer Pick

Your Biased Hometown Player Selection

We all have a soft spot for players on our favorite team. This category covers those unabashed homer picks that you gravitate towards each draft season.

The Patriots lover took Kendrick Bourne, citing rave reviews about the receiver all offseason. Despite lackluster numbers last season, the host believes Bourne is primed for a resurgence as Mac Jones’ safety blanket. With his fingers crossed, he’s hoping this former 49ers role player can flourish into the Pats’ WR1.

The Seahawks fan was all-in on Kenneth Walker III, touting him as far more dynamic and explosive than Rashaad Penny. While recognizing that Seattle will employ a committee, the upside and big play ability of Walker still elicits homer hype. Banking on Walker to emerge over Penny requires some wishful thinking, but that’s what shameless homer picks are all about.

The Steelers diehard already had visions of a George Pickens breakout campaign. His rationale stemmed more from general receiver scouting buzz rather than Pittsburgh-specific optimism. But nonetheless, he’s ready to dream about the Steelers unearthing a Justin Jefferson-esque gem in Pickens.

Though these choices let bias and fandom cloud judgment, having a hometown hero provides an extra layer of enjoyment – even if they ultimately disappoint.

I Wouldn’t Take Him Even If He Was Free Guy

Do Not Draft List

The topic of their “Do Not Draft” (DND) list are players they unanimously agreed to avoid, regardless of the circumstances.

The first name that surfaced on the “DND list” was Cam Akers, a player who once held significant promise. As a running back for the Rams, Akers showcased his talent on numerous occasions. However, concerns about his injury history, personality dynamics within the team, and a potentially weak Rams defense have led the experts to advise against selecting him. While there was a time when Akers was a coveted fantasy asset, the current landscape demands a more cautious approach, given the plethora of red flags surrounding him.

Deshaun Watson, despite his undeniable talent, has become a player to avoid due to the legal and ethical concerns that cloud his career. While fantasy football is meant to be a source of enjoyment, having Watson on a team comes with a moral dilemma that many are unwilling to bear. The uncertainty surrounding his situation and the potential for negative publicity make Watson a liability, even if his skill set could be a game-changer on the field.

Michael Pittman, once considered a rising star, has landed on the “DND list” due to a combination of factors. Despite flashes of brilliance, concerns about his injury history and doubts surrounding the offensive strategy of the Colts have overshadowed his potential. Additionally, the unpredictable performance of quarterback Anthony Richardson further complicates the decision-making process. The risk of investing in a player who may not consistently deliver casts a shadow on Pittman’s allure.

Kadarius Toney, with his unique skill set and occasional dazzling performances, finds himself in a peculiar situation. While his potential is unquestionable, the experts unanimously share concerns about his consistency and reliability. Toney’s erratic availability, coupled with off-field issues, mirrors a familiar pattern seen in players like Josh Gordon. The temptation to chase after his upside is balanced by the fear of rostering a player who might become more of a liability than an asset.

While the allure of a breakout star is enticing, considering factors such as injury history, team dynamics, ethical concerns, and consistency is paramount to making informed decisions. The “DND list” serves as a reminder that navigating the intricacies of fantasy football requires strategic analysis, prudent decision-making, and the ability to resist the siren call of tempting yet risky players.

My $1 QB Guy

The Cheap Backup You Target Late

Fantasy rosters are often made or broken by the attenuating cheap picks in the late rounds. Here, you identify the $1 quarterback to target as your backup plan with upside.

The shrewd choice this year is 49ers rookie Brock Purdy, who already has sleeper buzz growing in training camp. The hosts spoke glowingly about Purdy’s stellar preseason performance, where he showed poise and playmaking ability beyond his years.

Commanders’ Sam Howell was also brought up in this category.

Rather than shelling out a big auction bid or high pick for an elite QB, devote those precious resources to high-upside RBs and WRs. Then grab a lottery ticket quarterback like Purdy who could pay dividends beyond his bare bones price tag. Having a $1 QB gives you financial flexibility to grab pricey stars at other positions.

My “Might Be Afraid To Look On Tuesday And See The Red Flag” Guy

Players With An Extensive Injury History Who Give You Anxiety

Some players seem trapped in an endless cycle of nagging injuries, constantly in and out of the lineup. Monitoring their status becomes a weekly chore that induces dread instead of excitement.

Mike Williams is Bill’s red flag guy. He says every year with Williams there is a rollercoaster of emotions as you find out new things about yourself and learn to dread Tuesdays when the injury reports come out. Williams always seems to have some random injury pop up that puts his status in doubt.

Craig’s red flag guy is Darren Waller. He says if there’s ever a flag next to Waller’s name during the season he will lose his mind. Craig has too much emotionally invested in Waller as both a fantasy player and a Raiders fan. Any injury with Waller would be too painful for Craig to deal with.

DK Dobbins has been a perplexing figure in the fantasy football world. Despite his undeniable talent, the last few years have been a rollercoaster ride of disappointment for his owners. His sporadic appearances in training camp and uncertainty surrounding his status have made him a risky proposition. The love-hate relationship with tantalizing players like Dobbins is a reminder of the fine line between personal fan interest and fantasy success.

Looking at your lineup and seeing one of these ominous red injury flags next to a star player immediately deflates your outlook for the week. If you draft too many of these attrition risks, your fantasy season may be one of perpetual disappointment.

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