The 2023 fantasy football season is in full swing and it's time for another NFL player debate! If you haven’t had your fantasy football draft yet, then you are probably looking over the fantasy football player rankings. You’ve already printed out and studied the Ultimate Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet, right? Good. What about doing some fantasy football mock drafts? Fantastic.
But even with all of that research, you are probably still staring at certain players, wondering if drafting them at their current fantasy football ADP is, not just giving you the proper value, but if they are even right for you or your team. Is the juice worth the squeeze?
This is where we come in with our all-new Fantasy Football Player Debate series where two analysts go head-to-head and give you the pros and cons to help with your decisions.
Why You Should Not Draft Darren Waller in Fantasy Football
By Justin Vreeland
I did a Darren Waller break down for the Fantasy Football Busts article in the Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide, so to no surprise, I am on the against side of drafting Waller. Waller has a lot of hype around him as a new addition to the Giants offense (and based on what I have seen on Twitter, it seems to only be growing), but should he? There are a ton of negatives with Waller in my opinion, and it will have me staying away from him.
Let’s start with his recent play. He has been pretty bad over the last two years, racking up just 83 receptions for 1053 yards and five touchdowns across 20 games, which equates to fewer than 11 fantasy points per game in FULL PPR. A full point less per game than Dallas Goedert had last year, who gets picked after Waller for some reason, and nearly identical to the amount David Njoku averaged last year, who goes 40 picks later in the draft.
The next part is the fact that he has only played 20 games over the last two years and health issues have been a factor for Waller in his career. Injuries happen and I don’t love the “injury prone” label, but Waller is one of those guys who has kind of earned that label. And he’s not getting any younger, as he will be 31 when the season starts, so this isn’t a kid we are talking about.
Next (and most importantly) we have to look at his new team as he is now a member of the New York Giants. The Giants averaged 50 LESS passing yards per game last season than the Raiders did and it’s a team that had a QB (in Daniel Jones, who sucks) who threw just 15 touchdowns on the year. Is that a passing attack that excites you? Because it doesn’t excite me at all. To make matters even worse, the Giants starting tight end last year (Daniel Bellinger) had just a 30-268-2 line across 12 games (an average of 5.7 PPR points per game), so it’s not like Jones was really looking his way. In fact, Daniel Jones has never really looked towards his TE in his whole career. We have evidence of that with Evan Engram, who had three awful years with Jones before breaking out last season on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Sure, Jones will mostly like look to Waller more than he did Bellinger, but how much more? Because it would need to be A LOT more for Waller to get anywhere near his ADP value and Jones’ history tells us that isn’t going to happen. Players don’t always have immediate game chemistry either, Jones could look to the players he has spent more time with in the early going.
With his ADP being around 69, I would rather spend a bit more on guys like Mark Andrews and T.J. Hockenson or spend less and risk less draft capital and get someone who carries just as much risk/upside as Waller does. Easy fade for me.
Why You Should Draft Darren Waller in Fantasy Football
By Andrew Cooper
Let’s address the elephant in the room right away. Folks are trying to predict that Darren Waller will get hurt this year because he’s been hurt in the past. We actually just wrote an entire article on why you should account for potential injuries when it comes to upside of OTHER players, but you shouldn’t try to guess which healthy players get hurt. But let’s say you did want to play that game - who are you going to draft instead? George Kittle or Dallas Goedert, neither of which have played a full season in four straight years? Mark Andrews and Kyle Pitts got hurt last year too. Evan Engram obviously hasn’t been the picture of health and Pat Freiermuth has had a scary string of concussions. There’s not a lot of options for the Dr. FortuneTellers of the world.
And here’s the truth about the tight end position - the floor doesn’t matter. The difference from TE7 to TE15 was only 13 PPR points. All we care about is upside. And the VAST majority of tight ends that offer consistency or difference making upside, are top two targets on their team. This article tells you everything you need to know about elite tight ends but the short and sweet is that every top five tight end for about 20 years now has had either 90+ targets or 10+ TDs. Guys like George Kittle and Dallas Goedert are not likely top two targets on their team and Vegas has their over/under TD lines set at 5.5 and 3.5, respectively. I’d rather just bet the over on the TD total for a guy like Goedert than bet my fantasy season on him.
The reason we are betting on Waller this year is the same reason we used to bet on him back when Antonio Brown got kicked off the team for bringing a fake helmet to practice and freezing his feet. He once again has the chance to be the top target on his team. His competition is Wan’Dale Robinson coming off a knee injury, a rookie Jalin Hyatt, a UDFA Isaiah Hodgins who had only two good games (both vs. the Vikings), and a million meaningless slot receivers. Last year Waller had the second most end zone targets per game behind only George Kittle and he joins a team desperate for someone with some skill in that portion of the field.
But you don’t have to take it from me. Everyday there’s a new report that Daniel Jones is “gelling” with Darren Waller in practice. Or Daniel Bellinger calling him a unicorn while also suggesting that he’s not worried about his role because the team will be using a lot of two tight end sets with Waller out wide (which is great news for Waller, of course). And, among the daily reports of Waller crushing in joint practices, there’s even one that says he’s explicitly taken a leadership role with the team, even in his first year. So it’s not just me that likes Darren Waller - it’s everyone.
Other Player Debates:
- Are you Drafting Colts QB Anthony Richardson?
- Are you drafting Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley?
- Are you drafting Lions RB Jahmyr Gibbs?
- Are you drafting Giants QB Daniel Jones?