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Stefon Diggs’ connection with Bills QB Josh Allen will rack up fantasy points

Diggs is elite — and you should hope to draft “HIM” in 2023

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs is one of the NFL’s best, an alpha WR1 whose personality is a big as his on-field production. Diggs has strung together five consecutive 1,000-yards seasons, dating back to 2018. With the Bills, Diggs makes up one half of the team’s star-studded celebrity duo alongside star quarterback Josh Allen.

Diggs is capable of singlehandedly dismantling a defense from any position off the line. Whether operating on the outside or inside as a slot receiver, Diggs knows how to target a team’s weak point despite a lack of elite physical measurements at 6’ and 191 lbs. Since arriving in Orchard Park, NY, following a trade general manager Brandon Beane pulled off with the Minnesota Vikings, Diggs’ stock has risen, with multiple All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections to his name.

Not so coincidentally, Diggs’ arrival ushered in the ascendance of Josh Allen. The pair have formed a brother-like bond, with each allowing the other to reach their full potential in the NFL. Brandon Beane clearly understood the value that Diggs brought to the Bills, a team in urgent need of developing a franchise quarterback. But so, too, Allen did for Diggs. As if destined to play together, Allen and Diggs personify NFL greatness.

Since joining the Bills in 2020, Stefon Diggs has been a top-five NFL wide receiver, compiling 4,189 yards and 29 TDs. In his first campaign with the team, Diggs had a career-best season, with 127 receptions for 1,535 yards (12.1 y/r), adding eight touchdowns. Diggs’ 2021 slate saw him make 103 catches for 1,225 yards (11.9 y/r) with 10 TDs. Last season, Diggs pulled in 108 receptions for 1,429 yards with 11 TDs. According to Fantasy Life, “(o)nly Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, Tyreek Hill, and Justin Jefferson have averaged more PPR points per game during this span.”

And still, some within Bills Mafia and elsewhere find reason to complain about Diggs. Much of that in recent weeks stems from the very cryptic quote head coach Sean McDermott provided to the media, saying he was “very concerned, very concerned’ when asked how concerned he was with Diggs’ absence from the team’s first day of mandatory minicamp. In truth, all McDermott did was answer within the framework handed to him by a reporter.

But with fantasy football, the only thing that matters is on-field production. Let’s take a look at Diggs’ numbers last season, and what to possible expect in a best-case and worst-case scenario for 2023.

Stefon Diggs’ 2022 fantasy performance (started 16 of 16 games)

Per Fantasy Pros, the 2022 NFL season was Diggs’ third in a row of at least 100 catches, 1,225 yards, and eight touchdowns. Additionally, Diggs ranked as WR6 in fantasy points per game.

Stefon Diggs’ 2022 stats
154 targets, 108 receptions for 1,429 yards (13.2 y/r), 11 TDs / 74 1st-down catches, 6.8 rec/g, 89.3 y/g, 70.1% catch rate

(All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference)

The best-case scenario for Stefon Diggs’ 2023 fantasy numbers

Stefon Diggs’ best-case fantasy football scenario in 2023 probably resembles his All-Pro season of 2020 — only better. Josh Allen will of course be throwing Diggs the football, and Allen’s ceiling is still on the rise. So, too, should the team’s expectations of Diggs, even though he’s set to turn 30 during the season.

Statistically, Diggs’ best-case ceiling for 2023 could be around 1,600 yards — around 95 yards per game. If we compare against his 2022 numbers, Diggs would only have to average five more yards per game to reach that output in 17 contests.

In each of Diggs’ three prior seasons with the Bills, his TD output has increased. Considering that and Diggs’ otherworldly ability to create separation at all levels of the field, it’s reasonable to expect Diggs will catch 12 or more touchdowns over the course of the 2023 season.

Interestingly, Diggs’ reception total has dipped since his high of 127 in 2020, though he’s never been targeted less than 154 times by Allen. Last season Diggs managed a 70.1% catch rate, and I expect his efficiency to further improve. Diggs catching 125 passes on 165 targets may not be out of question in our best-case look. That would put his catch percentage at 76%, nearly exceeding his career-best 76.5% from 2020.

For this best-case, 17-game scenario, it’s possible Diggs’ numbers would look like:

125 receptions (165 targets) for 1,615 yards and 14 TDs / 77 1st-down catches, 12.92 y/rec, 7.4 rec/g, 95 y/g, 76% catch rate

Should Diggs manage to put together a 2023 season similar to the above, he’d likely earn his second first-team All-Pro nomination (third overall), and fourth Pro Bowl selection. Furthermore, such production should see Diggs on the winning end of the NFL formula.

The worst-case scenario for Stefon Diggs’ 2023 fantasy numbers

Father Time. Discontent. These are the biggest obstacles to Stefon Diggs’ 2023 fantasy football production.

What would a worst-case, 17-game scenario look like for Diggs? It would probably resemble that of a very productive WR2 in a prolific passing offense. Think Tee Higgins for a recent example. Such an idea is possible should the Bills’ current WR2, Gabe Davis, have himself a career year that resembles the production of a WR1. That’s of course a big “if” at this point. But Davis isn’t the only harbinger of truth staring Diggs in the face. Buffalo drafted tight end Dalton Kincaid in Round 1 of this year’s NFL Draft. While his role says “TE,” Kincaid is seen as much more than just that — likely to act as a jumbo slot receiver, hopefully filling the role vacated by receiver Cole Beasley. If Kincaid succeeds in Year 1, that could come at the expense of Diggs’ production this season.

Just as frustrating would be offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey’s inability to find complementary production to help take pressure off of Diggs. Such an issue could be magnified if the team isn’t able to meaningfully replace wide receivers coach Chad Hall. In that case, it’s possible that defenses are able to further clamp down on Diggs’ ability to separate, and worse yet — manage to take him entirely out of the game at times.

Concerning time? Yes, Diggs turns 30 on Nov. 29, 2023. There’s a well documented history about age and production in the NFL going in opposite directions, especially for receivers and running backs. If Diggs falls victim to the age-30 cliff, he could cede snaps to others on the roster who manage to pick up his lost production.

In this worst-case, 17-game scenario, it’s possible Diggs’ numbers would resemble:

80 receptions (115 targets) for 980 yards and 7 TDs / 45 1st-down catches, 12.25 y/rec, 4.7 rec/g, 57.6 y/g, 70% catch rate

Finding a handcuff to Stefon Diggs for your fantasy football roster

Like Josh Allen, there’s no bright side to game days without Stefon Diggs. In Buffalo, Diggs is the team’s clear-cut WR1. There doesn’t appear to even be an understudy to his position, though the most likely candidate is Gabe Davis given his experience in the system. Beyond him, perhaps it’s Dawson Knox. The dropoff from Diggs to Davis is sizeable, most notably concerning dropped passes. And with Knox, he’s one of the most TD-dependent tight ends in fantasy football. Of course, with so many unknowns on the team’s roster, anything’s possible as it relates to the idea of a handcuff.

It’s important to remember that the wide receiver position is one of the deepest in fantasy football, and finding a handcuff for your top WR1 might come via another team’s lower-rated WR1 or WR2.

Other Bills players who could benefit from Stefon Diggs in 2023

Quarterback Josh Allen. But beyond Allen, it’s possible that every receiver in 2023 benefits from Diggs’ presence on the football field. Ken Dorsey is likely to once again lean heavily on both Allen and Diggs, and for good reason: They create magic together.

Stefon Diggs’ 2023 fantasy football outlook

Stefon Diggs is a likely top-five receiver in every fantasy football league. He’s a player who should come off the board early or midway through Round 1. There are those ready to fade Diggs, given his age, the sideline/postgame situation during last season’s playoff loss, and the still-obscure situation that materialized during mandatory minicamp.

The minicamp “drama” has all outside parties on high alert, convinced this is a re-run of what transpired with Diggs and the Vikings. We’re likely never to know what the real truth is, nor is there any obligation for us to be given such information. When the pads go on, Diggs lights it up, including the scoreboard.

Some worry that Diggs is upset about his target share, his involvement, or other similar issues related to the offense — and that adding players who could steal some of his spotlight will sow a great deal of discontent within Diggs. A professional, Diggs is bigger than this, and has said time and again that it’s not about stats, it’s about winning.

Though the team has added several receivers and an x-factor at TE, it’s arguable that none of those players possess the ability or opportunity to supplant Diggs as the team’s top receiver.

But Stef Diggs will tell you that all he wants to do is win, that it’s the most important thing to his career. The lasting image of Diggs watching the Kansas City Chiefs celebrate winning the AFC Championship is proof-positive that winning is his ultimate goal. For that, Bills Mafia should be thankful.

At the end of the day, Diggs knows that winning requires stats, but he’s well aware the game is bigger than his numbers alone. Diggs can have both, and the team is going to need him to produce in spades if they hope to reach their very lofty goal. Should that come to pass, fantasy football players will celebrate his addition to their rosters.

Put worrying about Diggs’ age to bed. He’s shown no signs of slowing down yet, and it’s quite possible his career arc resembles that of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

If you have eyes on winning your fantasy league(s) in 2023, then you’re probably targeting Stefon Diggs.