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In fantasy football, the month of May brings a fresh wave of excitement. With the NFL Draft behind us, dynasty rookie drafts are in full swing, and redraft enthusiasts are starting to emerge from their brief hibernation.
Whether you're playing Best Ball or simply getting a head start on your draft preparations, it's crucial to identify undervalued players who can deliver exceptional performances. Here are eight players who could exceed expectations and outperform their perceived value this season.
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
While concerns about Tua Tagovailoa's injury history are understandable, letting him slip to backup quarterback territory in your draft might be overly risk-averse. Despite missing four games last season and being forced to leave two other games early, Tagovailoa finished as the QB15 in fantasy. Factoring in those two truncated appearances, he averaged over 25 fantasy points per game, which would make him a top-5 fantasy quarterback. With the likes of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle as his receiving weapons, Tagovailoa should be considered a top-10 quarterback option, at the very least, with the potential for a stellar fantasy season in 2023.
QB Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
When Geno Smith re-signed with the Seattle Seahawks, initial reactions didn't anticipate a repeat of his breakout 2022 season. However, upon closer examination, Smith's performance doesn't appear unrepeatable.
He threw for 4,282 yards last year, just over 250 per game, and with talented weapons like DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and the newly-drafted Jaxon Smith-Njigba at his disposal, it's reasonable to expect similar production. With an improved supporting cast and offensive line in 2023, he has the potential to secure another top-five finish at the quarterback position.
RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Despite a turbulent offseason, Joe Mixon's role in the Cincinnati Bengals' backfield remains intact. The team allowed Samaje Perine to walk in free agency and waited until Day 3 to draft a new backup running back. These moves strongly suggest that Mixon will continue to be the bell cow back for the Bengals.
In just 14 games last year, Mixon finished as a top-10 running back and also had his best year as a pass-catcher. Surprisingly, many fantasy managers perceive Mixon as a risky RB2, which could make him a steal in your drafts. If he maintains his volume and sees an increase in touchdowns, he scored 16 in 2021, Mixon has the potential to return to the top 5 among fantasy running backs.
RB David Montgomery, Detroit Lions
David Montgomery's move to the Detroit Lions presents an exciting opportunity for him to revitalize his career. Over the past two seasons, Montgomery has delivered average performances with the Chicago Bears. However, his shift to the Lions, where he replaces Jamaal Williams, could inject new life into his fantasy prospects.
Last season, Detroit running backs had 59 carries inside the 10-yard line, a significant factor in Williams' 17-touchdown campaign. It was also 39 more carries than the Bears' running backs last year. While expecting Montgomery to replicate Williams' numbers is unrealistic, an improvement on his five touchdowns in 2022 is certainly possible. Jared Goff is far less likely to steal those valuable carries in the red zone than Justin Fields, elevating Montgomery's fantasy value. Currently ranked outside the top 20, Montgomery can easily exceed expectations in 2023.
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