2023 Fantasy Football Draft Landmine List

A Fantasy Football Landmine. What is it? How does it work? Are they safe for children? I will answer all of these questions and more. But first, a little intro…

I’m back! And I’m glad to see you here again too. It’s like students returning from summer vacation to their favorite teacher. How heartwarming! Just don’t mention “Back to School” around a teacher yet. They don’t like to hear that their summer is almost over. I don’t blame them, but summer coming to an end means one important thing: FANTASY FOOTBALL IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. It has been a long wait. 207 days will have passed between Super Bowl 57 last year and the kickoff to the 2023 season. But we are 17 days away (as of this writing) from the start of the 2023 Fantasy (and NFL) season. So you can see, I’m a big countdown guy.

Speaking of countdowns, today’s post will cover a fun Draft Day wrinkle my league implemented a few years ago that can get you into some trouble as the clock is winding down on your draft timer. I’m speaking, of course, about “Landmines”. No, they aren’t actual landmines. Think of it more like the desktop classic “Minesweeper”. Here is how they work:

  1. Before the start of the draft, everyone in the league gets a small strip of paper
  2. They write down (in secret!) a player’s name with an ADP outside of the Top 40, but who will wind up getting drafted. This player’s name is the landmine.
  3. They also write down the name of a manager in your league
  4. When the player is selected, you yell “Landmine!”. The manager who drafted said player takes a 3 oz swig of an adult beverage (If you catch my drift. Also, this is only for you 21 and older!)
  5. Double landmine for the manager if their name was written down on the piece of paper and they take said player
  6. This is what my league decided a landmine should be, but feel free to make it your own! It’s supposed to be a fun tradition to add to Draft Day. The basic idea is to punish someone in your league for making what you view is a horrendous draft pick. So you definitely do not want to write down a player you could see yourself taking if the price is right.

So now that you understand how Landmines work, I am going to give out players I am considering writing down on Draft Day. Think of it as a “Do Not Draft” List.

Alexander Mattison (Current 0.5 PPR ADP: RB21/OVR56)

I know the cost of everything is rising these days, but this is a step too far. Turns out the draft capital needed to acquire a career backup entering his 5th year in the NFL is higher than the cost of groceries! I am not denying that when Alexander Mattison got his opportunities over the last four seasons, he made the most of them. In 6 complete games without Dalvin Cook, Mattison has been given a full workload. He has averaged 19.5 carries for 79.5 yards on the ground, while tacking on 3.8 receptions through the air. He scored 5 total TDs in those six games.

If we extrapolate those numbers out to a full 17-game season, Mattison would theoretically have 331 carries for 1,351 yards rushing and 64 receptions with 14 total TDs. Or put another way, 14.7 PPG in half-point PPR formats, which would have been good for RB7 last season. Exciting prospects right!?

Well, hold on now, cowboy. That’s not how real football or fantasy football works. We take the stats of REAL players and translate it into our “FAKE” league scoring systems. Our players still have to go out there and produce over an entire NFL season. Unfortunately for those Mattison Truthers out there, he hasn’t surpassed 134 rushing attempts in a season. Taking a second look at his numbers, they look inflated. Minnesota knew in those games they wouldn’t have Dalvin Cook that Mattison was the bellcow back.

Despite him being the most talented RB on the Vikings roster this season, he probably won’t see that massive workload of ~300 carries. For reference, since the 2020 season, there have only been 7 instances of a running back eclipsing 300 carries in a season. I would be shocked if Mattison got enough work to return value at his current draft price. I will definitely be writing his name down as a landmine on Draft Day.

Brian Robinson (RB33/OVR90)

I love the comeback story from last season that was Brian Robinson. He made his NFL debut just over a month after being shot in the leg. This could have ended his season, or even worse. I’m happy he is now fully healthy and ready to contribute to the Commanders. However, players like him just don’t appeal to me from a fantasy standpoint. As of this writing (August 21st), Robinson is going off the board as RB33, or somewhere in the middle of round 8, in half-point PPR leagues. Last season, from Week 6 on (when he really started getting starters reps), he was RB34, averaging 9.4 points per game. That isn’t going to lose you your weekly matchups, but it certainly isn’t helping you win either.

Robinson isn’t involved in the passing game, which is a huge part of fantasy success at the RB position. In today’s NFL, you have to be receiving a Nick Chubb or Derrick Henry-level workload on the ground in order to negate a subpar involvement through the air. Last season, the former Alabama star totaled just NINE receptions. I would not expect that number to rise much higher this season with Antonio Gibson still splitting the backfield and likely taking on an even larger receiving role with the departure of J.D. McKissic.

Robinson is likely due for some positive regression in the touchdown department, which could be his saving grace. Per Fantasy Pros, Robinson’s 14 carries from inside the 10-yard line were the most of any player to score fewer than three rushing TDs. Okay, so let’s say he converts a few more of those into touchdowns this season. Is he really breaking out of that RB3 territory and making a difference on your team? Probably not – he would be “just fine”.

When taking a player in the middle rounds of your fantasy draft, you shouldn’t be looking for a player who is “just fine”, and that’s what I think Brian Robinson will be in 2023.

Damien Harris (RB40/OVR106)

I will write a little more for Harris, obviously, but see what I wrote above with Brian Robinson. This is a similar type of player with too high of a draft cost to waste on a player who isn’t involved in the passing game. Now, we aren’t sure what Harris’ role will be. We can assume he will be the early down back, but how do we know the coaching staff in Buffalo won’t involve James Cook just as much in that role? Then there’s the TD vulture extraordinaire himself, Latavius Murray lurking in that backfield.

And I haven’t even mentioned the Bills preferred goal-line back, Josh Allen. The one positive Harris has going is that he’s in a high-powered Bills offense. Damien Harris could stumble his way to double-digit rushing TDs, but will you be able to predict the weeks they come? I won’t, so he’s an easy landmine pick for me.


Michael Pittman (WR31/OVR76)

This one pains me to write, as I had high hopes for Pittman in 2022. But how last season unfolded, combined with his outlook for 2023, puts him squarely on my 2023 Landmine list. Pittman is a “fade” for me this season mainly because of his new quarterback. Indianapolis selected Anthony Richardson at No.4 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. While he is an insane athlete, he is going to be a bit of a “project”. That means Pittman is going to have to go through those growing pains with the former Florida Gator QB. While he may not trust his reads yet, you can be sure Richardson trusts his legs when things break down. This will lead to a lot fewer targets for Pittman in 2023.

Fewer targets are never a good thing for a player, but for Pittman, they could spell disaster. While he did command a career-high in targets with 141, he turned those into 99 receptions for just 925 yards. Put another way, that’s just 9.3 yards per reception, which was the lowest of his career by 3 yards per reception. That number ranked him outside the top 100 behind guys like Devin Duvernay, Curtis Samuel, and show-favorite Isaiah Likely.

Pittman has also never been a big touchdown guy, with his career-high coming in at 6 (with 2 of those coming in one game vs. the Titans. Touchdowns will probably also be hard to come by in this Colts offense with a rookie QB figuring things out on the fly. While I love the talent of Michael Pittman, I can’t bring myself to taking him in any fantasy drafts this season at this current price. There are plenty of higher upside options around where he is normally drafted that I would much rather prefer.

Dak Prescott (QB10/OVR84)

Training Camp practice INTs aside, Dak Prescott is not someone I am particularly high on this year, so he gets a spot on my 2023 Landmine list. Unlike the other players on this list, we have seen a ceiling season from Prescott – he finished QB2 back in 2019. But that was before his unfortunate and gruesome ankle injury in 2020. Injuries are something we factor in here at the Fantasy Injury Team, so let’s break it down. Well, not as extensively as we did here, but let’s take a look at pre and post-ankle injury Dak.

During his first four seasons in the league, Prescott was a model of health. He started and played all 16 games each year. He ran for 6 TDs in three of those years, and never dipped below 275 yards rushing or 3 TDs on the ground. Then, the aforementioned ankle injury happened in 2020. He was on his way to another stellar season, amplified by 3 rushing TDs in the first five games of the season.

He missed the rest of 2020, but played all of 2021. In that season, Dak lacked explosion, acceleration, and maybe even had some hesitancy taking off from the pocket. His rushing numbers reflected that. He only posted 146 yards rushing and found the end zone just once on the ground. Last season was more of the same. In just 12 games last season, the Cowboys QB only ran for 182 yards and 1 rushing TD.

So what am I trying to say with all of this? I think as we all know by now, unless you are Patrick Mahomes, you aren’t getting to fantasy QB1 with your arm alone. Not to say Mahomes is a statue back there, but he doesn’t have the same rushing prowess as Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, or Lamar Jackson. And when you’re drafting a top-10 QB by ADP, shouldn’t you be shooting for QB1 upside? Why draft the QB10 so he could finish as QB7? What good does that do you?

There are other factors at play here too. Mike McCarthy is now calling plays and his quote does nothing to instill confidence in a prolific aerial attack. The Cowboys defense is a top-5 defense in the NFL. This could lead to lower-scoring games, Dallas being up by a bunch and Dak not needing to throw, or what happened two seasons ago when the defense did a lot of scoring by themselves. For all the reasons above, unless Dak’s draft price falls considerably, he is a top landmine pick for me this fantasy football draft season.

How about you? Do you have any “Landmines” for the 2023 season? Let us know in the comments or on Social Media!

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