5 most pleasantly surprising fantasy football players in 2023

  • Los Angeles Rams had two players that no one saw coming
  • Veteran receiver put in a huge year for Panthers
  • Rookie QB turned an entire franchise around
Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) high fives head coach Matt LaFleur after throwing a TD pass against the Bears.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) high fives head coach Matt LaFleur after throwing a TD pass against the Bears. / Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Looking back on a fantasy football season is always fun because it allows us to look forward at the same time. Which players hit and which players didn't? Who will we want to avoid next season and who should we have our sights set on?

Looking back at this season, who were some of the hits and misses on your roster? There should be some that come to mind immediately. The difference between a bad first-round pick and a terrific hit off of the waiver wire can be the difference in winning your league title or not even making the playoffs.

As we look back upon the fantasy football season that was in 2023, these five players were all guys who made managers quite happy this season.

Adam Thielen, Carolina Panthers
Dec 24, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) runs against the Packers. / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Thielen, WR, Carolina Panthers

After 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Adam Thielen's playing future was very much in doubt. His signing with the Carolina Panthers this offseason went largely under the radar and he was not seen as a guy who would be a key cog in their young passing attack that featured guys like Jonathan Mingo, D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault and Terrace Marshall.

Though Thielen had still posted respectable numbers in his last few seasons with the Vikings, being 33 years old left him unappealing to fantasy managers. But you still may have taken a shot on him in one of the last rounds of your draft when the familiar name was still sitting there on the board.

Thielen responded by having over 100 receptions this season (103), which was good for 10th in the entire league. He also had 1,014 yards and four touchdowns. That was the second-most catches he has had in a season in his entire career and the third-most receiving yards.

Not bad for a guy in his 11th season in the league who has long since stopped being considered a major fantasy weapon.