Breakout players one year in fantasy football always carry inflated price tags the next. And while you never want to overpay for anyone, as long as the breakout is for real, a slight overpay isn't the end of the world. Where you can really run into issues is when you invest in a breakout that proves to be the player’s career year, and what you end up getting is a letdown year that can ruin your fantasy season.


Those are the “one-year wonders” of fantasy, players who pop to a previously unheard-of level of production but then fall back the next year. A year ago, that was Hunter Renfrow. He was the PPR WR59 in 2020, but a 2021 breakout carried him to WR10. He was a hot commodity in drafts last offseason, but injury, ineffectiveness and the arrival of Davante Adams hurt Renfrow, and he finished as only the WR92 (WR70 by points per game).

So who are the one-year wonders for 2023? Who will go for too much (price or draft slot) in drafts and disappoint?

Jamaal Williams, RB, Detroit Lions

2022 finish: RB13
Previous career best: RB32

Jamaal Williams Fantasy Football One-Hit Wonders

This one isn’t exactly the deepest of insights, but here we are. Even if Jamaal Williams re-ups with the Lions this offseason (he’s a free agent), it’s hard to envision a scenario where he repeats his league-leading 17 rushing touchdowns (one of only nine players to reach double-digits, the only player over 13). And since he had all of 16 targets all season, without 17 touchdowns or close to it, there’s no way Williams sniffs his RB13 finish again.

Christian Kirk, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

2022 finish: WR12
Previous career best: WR26

The Jaguars’ passing attack took several steps forward in 2022, mostly thanks to Trevor Lawrence coming into his own after a disastrous 2021. Christian Kirk led the way as the WR12, with strong supporting performances by Zay Jones (WR26) and Evan Engram (TE5). With Lawrence entering his third season and Kirk in his second under a big-dollar contract, it stands to reason he could build on his breakout season. Except for one thing: Calvin Ridley.

The Jaguars traded for Ridley at the deadline this season, planning to ride out his yearlong suspension and have him in the fold for 2023. Ridley struggled in 2021 before walking away from the game for a bit, but in 2020 he was the WR5. The Jaguars wouldn’t have added a player nearly a year before they could use him if they didn’t hope for that kind of production again. Ridley will get every chance to be the WR1 in Jacksonville, which slides everyone else down a slot in the pecking order.

Zay Jones, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Evan Engram, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars

2022 finish: Jones WR26; Engram TE5
Previous career best: Jones WR35; Engram TE5

Just read the paragraphs above this, same thing applies. (And that all assumes Evan Engram re-ups with Jacksonville this offseason, which seems likely but is no guarantee.)


Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks

2022 finish: QB5
Previous career best: QB20

It’s easy to forget now that Geno Smith actually didn’t come out guns blazing this season. Through Week 3, he was averaging 239 passing yards per game and had totaled only 4 touchdowns against 2 interceptions with 15 total rushing yards. He was QB19, sandwiched between fellow breakout Daniel Jones and … uh, non-breakout Baker Mayfield. We got the “I ain’t write back though” soundbite after Week 1, but he didn’t exactly light it up against the Broncos, instead just winning an emotional game. But in Weeks 4-5, he was the QB2 in fantasy, with 588 yards and 6 total touchdowns. He ended the season as QB5.

The downside is that Smith’s weekly ceiling wasn’t amazing. After that Week 4-5 stretch, he didn’t hit 24 fantasy points in a game the rest of the way. He was a top-20 fantasy QB every week but Week 2, but only had five finishes inside the top 10. But that was with QB scoring down; he’d have been QB10 in 2021 and QB12 in 2020 with the same point total. And he struggled down the stretch—after putting up a passer rating over 100 in nine of his first 12 games, he only topped 100 in one of his last six (counting the playoffs), topping at 103.1. And Smith isn’t a rusher, not scoring more than one touchdown on the ground since his rookie year in 2013. And all that assumes (a) he’s back in Seattle and (b) they don’t draft some competition for him, neither of which is a guarantee.

Taysom Hill, TE, New Orleans Saints

2022 finish: TE9
Previous career best: QB29 (look, Taysom Hill is complicated, OK?)

Taysom Hill Fantasy Football One-Hit Wonders

Taysom Hill is just about the unicorn-est football player we’ve seen come across in a long time. He put up 145.8 PPR points as a tight end despite only 13 targets; since 2000, 2012 Tom Crabtree is the only tight end with 13 or fewer targets to get with 100 points of that, and just barely (46.3). Of course, the reason for that is that Hill is just barely a tight end, basically designated as such because he is a man without a position and it would be weird for the fantasy sites to just have that number of fantasy points accruing in the ether, unusable to fantasy managers.

He set the all-time “tight end” rushing record in 2022, at 575 (second place: 176). He set the all-time “tight end” passing record as well, at 240 (second: 81). The Saints lost weapons all across the offense over the course of the season. With likely a new quarterback and new receiving weapons alongside Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed in 2023, Hill won’t get all that weird usage. And that’s if the host sites even maintain his TE eligibility, which they might not. A TE9 finish isn’t coming again. 

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

2022 finish: RB20
Previous career best: RB17, but it's been a long time

Jerick McKinnon left Minnesota for San Francisco in free agency after the 2017 season. His next regular-season game came in September 2020. He lost two years to a September 2018 torn ACL. And because he lost all that time, it’s easy to forget now that he was a hot fantasy commodity prior to the injury, with many expecting a breakout behind first Adrian Peterson and then Dalvin Cook/Latavius Murray in Minnesota. A highly paid back with receiving skill in a Kyle Shanahan offense? Exciting!

Of course, now he’s 30, and he’ll be 31 when the 2023 season starts. He set career-highs in 2022 in targets (71), receptions (56) and receiving yards (512) and scored 9 receiving touchdowns, more than double his career total of 7 entering the year. You can’t chalk all of his receiving success up to the Chiefs’ relative lack of receiving weapons after Travis Kelce, but you can chalk some of it up to that. And whether it’s a receiver or a running back upgrade, the Chiefs will be addressing that this offseason.