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Fantasy Football Mock Draft 2023

Sam WagmanSports Content Editor
@swagman95
Last Updated: Aug 10, 2023

Wake up people, it’s fantasy football season out in these streets.

Last week, I hosted a fantasy football mock draft and invited 12 of the best minds that I know, compiled from both The Game Day’s staff as well as industry stalwarts from around the country. We also live-streamed the event. (Check the end of the article for the video embed from TheGameDayNFL Twitter account.)

We’re going to pull out some reactions from the mock draft, go over it round by round, and try to figure out why The Game Day’s Felipe Fontes took two Cowboys backups with his final two picks, so let’s dive into it right here.

The Mock Draft Results

The full photo of the completed mock draft is below on Sleeper.

The mock draft style was pretty standard. 14 rounds, you start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 FLEX, and fill out the bench from there. Below, we’ll summarize the first several rounds and talk about some of the eye-raising picks we saw, as well as direct quotes from the analysts who made them.

In order, the mock drafters were:

  1. Frank Ammirante (The Game Day)
  2. Lindellions (Reception Perception)
  3. Jordan Vanek (The 33rd Team)
  4. Herms (DraftSharks)
  5. Dave Kluge (Footballguys)
  6. Matt De Lima (The Game Day)
  7. Chris Allen (MBFantasyLife)
  8. Bob Harris (Football Diehards)
  9. Adam Tabatchnick (The Game Day)
  10. Felipe Fontes (The Game Day)
  11. Derek Brown (FantasyPros)
  12. Scott Engel (The Game Day)

Mock Draft Recap

Round 1

  1. Ja’Marr Chase - WR1
  2. Justin Jefferson - WR2
  3. Tyreek Hill - WR3
  4. Austin Ekeler - RB1
  5. Cooper Kupp - WR4
  6. Christian McCaffrey - RB2
  7. Travis Kelce - TE1
  8. Bijan Robinson - RB3
  9. Stefon Diggs - WR5
  10. CeeDee Lamb - WR6
  11. Amon-Ra St. Brown - WR7
  12. Saquon Barkley - RB4

Quite an interesting first round here, with a few eye-raising picks from the analysts.

The first surprise came immediately, with Frank taking Chase at the 1.01. There have been a decent amount of debates between Chase and Jefferson, but most people have sided with Jefferson this summer, especially with the recent calf strain from Joe Burrow.

Frank backed up his pick, stating that he “prefers taking Chase because this is an equally talented target hog but with more touchdown upside while catching passes from a superior quarterback in Joe Burrow. Chase averaged 11.17 targets per game last season, which led the NFL. According to PFF, the Bengals’ star led all wide receivers in expected fantasy football points per game.

At 1.04, Herms chose to take Ekeler, stating, “Going with Ekeler as the RB1 isn’t as nuts as it sounds. New OC Kellen Moore was the architect of a Cowboys’ offense that ranked top-ten in red zone scoring rate the last two seasons. Over that time frame, both Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott combined for 150 red zone opportunities and Ekeler stands to inherit much of that workload,"

The rest of the first round was pretty standard. Derek raised some eyebrows when he took St. Brown as the WR7 with names like A.J. Brown and Davante Adams still on the board, but the argument is strong enough that in this PPR format, St. Brown could have immense value as the primary pass-catcher for the Lions.

Round 2

  1. Garrett Wilson - WR8
  2. Tony Pollard - RB5
  3. A.J. Brown - WR9
  4. Jonathan Taylor - RB6
  5. Davante Adams - WR10
  6. Nick Chubb - RB7
  7. Derrick Henry - RB8
  8. Mark Andrews - TE2
  9. Najee Harris - RB9
  10. Chris Olave - WR10
  11. Josh Jacobs - RB10
  12. Jaylen Waddle - WR11

This round went pretty straightforward, in my eyes. Derek once again shook things up by taking Pollard at RB5, but other than that things are pretty normal here.

Scott chose to take Wilson over both Brown and Davante, opining that “when you are participating in expert leagues or high-stakes drafts, you have to aim for upside plays, and Wilson is one of the prime statistical ceiling options among the top 10 WRs this season".

I’ve viewed round 2 as the early round that is the hardest to screw up, given that there are plenty of solid options to choose from and you really cannot go wrong with any of the 12 picks here.

Round 3

  1. Jalen Hurts - QB1
  2. Keenan Allen - WR12
  3. Jahmyr Gibbs - RB11
  4. Tee Higgins - WR13
  5. DeVonta Smith - WR14
  6. DK Metcalf - WR15
  7. Calvin Ridley - WR16
  8. Amari Cooper - WR17
  9. Rhamondre Stevenson - RB12
  10. Patrick Mahomes - QB2
  11. Aaron Jones - RB13
  12. Josh Allen - QB3

Round 3 got spicy really quickly. Frank nabbed the top QB off the board at 3.01 with Hurts, so you knew the other two top QBs would follow behind somewhat closely, and they both went off the board in the back half of the round.

We had an interesting wide receiver run in the middle of the round, which is notable to me because I’m used to seeing a lot more RBs go in this range like Joe Mixon and Breece Hall, who didn’t go until later.

If I had to pick my favorite team through three rounds, it has to be Dave Kluge, who started with the Kupp/Andrews/DeVonta trio, or Jordan Vanek, who surprised people by taking Gibbs with his third-round pick but backed it up by emphatically stating “Gibbs has the ability to be a top-five RB in PPR this season. While Jameson Williams is suspended, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him be second on the team in targets. His draft capital should ensure heavy usage right away".

Round 4

  1. TJ Hockenson - TE3
  2. Jerry Jeudy - WR18
  3. Travis Etienne - RB14
  4. Christian Watson - WR19
  5. Lamar Jackson - QB4
  6. Deebo Samuel - WR20
  7. Breece Hall - RB15
  8. Justin Fields - QB5
  9. Joe Burrow - QB6
  10. DJ Moore - WR21
  11. Justin Herbert - QB7
  12. Drake London - WR22

Wooooo boy. A lot to unpack in this round.

For plenty of people, round 4 can make or break your draft. Most drafts that spiral out of control usually start here by going the wrong direction, as the top-end skill position talent has tended to become a lot more sparse around this range.

For that reason, you will often see people taking shots in this range.

Matt took a big shot here by drafting Hall at 4.07, which is later than Hall has tended to go but still carries plenty of risks. He told me “By taking McCaffrey and Henry in the first two rounds, an overachieving year from Hall gives me a consistent edge year-round. Expectations have fallen off and he’s tumbling down draft boards because the Jets are presumably signing Dalvin Cook. As my RB3 with two studs ahead of him, I can absorb any early missteps.

I certainly did not see a QB run happening this round, but we saw one with four signal-callers coming off the board. Seeing Burrow and Herbert go here was a bit unexpected, but with Herms completing his Bengals stack and Linda completing her Chargers stack, it makes a bit more sense.

Round 5

  1. Kenneth Walker - RB16
  2. Terry McLaurin - WR23
  3. Darren Waller - TE4
  4. Joe Mixon - RB17
  5. DeAndre Hopkins - WR24
  6. Chris Godwin - WR25
  7. Diontae Johnson - WR26
  8. Dallas Goedert - TE5
  9. George Kittle - TE6
  10. JK Dobbins - RB18
  11. Cam Akers - RB19
  12. Miles Sanders - RB20

This round was a bit like Round 2 in that there wasn’t an earth-shattering pick that shook the draft.

However, one pick did catch my eye as outside of normal ADP, and that was Waller getting picked at the 5.03. In fact, Chris was in my DM’s telling me that Jordan could have possibly gotten the pick of the draft, saying that he believes “Waller belongs in that valuation range. Despite the Giants possibly being a bottom 10 or 12 team in PROE (Pass Rate Over Expectation), few other TEs could see the target share that Waller will likely see in an offense headlined by a WR that was on the Bills practice squad a year ago."

We also saw the so-called ‘RB deadzone’ really start to get targeted, with Dobbins, Akers, and Sanders coming off the board. I personally think Dobbins is a great pick here, as his contract issue should get figured out by Week 1, whether he gets paid or he just shows up to camp.

Round 6

  1. Brandon Aiyuk - WR27
  2. Dameon Pierce - RB21
  3. D’Andre Swift - RB22
  4. Alexander Mattison - RB23
  5. Tyler Lockett - WR28
  6. Trevor Lawrence - QB8
  7. George Pickens - WR29
  8. Marquise Brown - WR30
  9. Christian Kirk - WR31
  10. Mike Williams - WR32
  11. Kyle Pitts - TE7
  12. Jaxon Smith-Njigba - WR33

Starting off of Round 6, we saw the other half of the RB deadzone come into play, with Pierce, Swift, and Mattison coming off the board in quick succession. Of these three, I like Pierce the best, as he is a value at this ADP range and I like him as a talent more than Mattison.

There were some really good wide receivers that went off in this range. I think all of them have weekly WR2 upside, especially Kirk, who is my WR18 and is a genuine steal by Herms here.

Round 7

  1. Rachaad White - RB24
  2. Mike Evans - WR34
  3. Javonte Williams - RB25
  4. Jordan Addison - WR35
  5. Alvin Kamara - RB26
  6. Michael Pittman - WR36
  7. James Conner - RB27
  8. James Cook - RB28
  9. Dalvin Cook - RB29
  10. Evan Engram - TE8
  11. Quentin Johnston - WR37
  12. Isiah Pacheco - RB30

Again, the wide receivers in this range still are pretty strong, with Addison, Evans, and Johnston all making it onto my list of favorite receiver values this season. Evans has never finished lower than WR25 in fantasy points per game, and even with Baker Mayfield (or Kyle Trask) as his quarterback should be borderline QB-proof

Addison especially is up there as he should step into Adam Thielens old role which netted him over 100 targets last year. Kirk Cousins should be throwing the ball a ton as well, so Addison could be the rookie WR1 this season.

Kamara intrigued me here, and when asked about the pick, Dave said “A three-game suspension isn’t too concerning. Looking at the backfield, Kendre Miller and Jamaal Williams both project for rushing down work, leaving Kamara to return from his suspension as the team’s primary passing-down back, a role he has thrived in over his career. He fits very well in the build I went for here, a ZeroRB build".

Speaking of intriguing, look at the passing of the torch with James going ahead of older brother Dalvin. :eyes:

Wrapping Things Up

The rest of the draft, things went pretty smoothly. Everyone filled out their teams with whatever positions they needed to grab, with the rest of the quarterbacks and tight ends coming off the board in value spots.

Felipe decided to grab all of his sleepers at the end of the draft, taking Simi Fehoko and Deuce Vaughn with his final two picks. When pressed for a comment, Felipe replied, “This is the Cowboys’ year!"

Something I noticed in this draft was a distinct lack of Robust RB builds, with numerous teams electing to only draft one RB thru the first four or five rounds. Wide receiver is quickly becoming the necessary position to snap up assets at, with most people preferring to build a solid WR room and grab one RB to build a Hero RB team.

Author

Sam Wagman

Sam is the Sports Content Editor for The Game Day. He has been in the sports media industry for 4 years, with stints at VegasInsider, Footballguys, and Fantasy Points. Sam specializes in fantasy football content creation and strategy as well as sports betting content strategy with an NFL and PGA focus. Originally from Philadelphia, he enjoys all Philly sports despite now living in Florida. He enjoys playing tennis, pickleball, and golf -- while constantly struggling to break 80 on the course.

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