The best way to become good at something is to practice. So, what should you do if you want to draft a better fantasy football team?
Practice, of course!
Leading up to the start of the 2023 NFL season, we will use the Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator to complete fantasy football mock drafts.
We will use a variety of scoring formats — point per reception (PPR), half-PPR, standard scoring and even 2-QB leagues — and league sizes. The goal is to provide you with a good representation of the team that you may be able to construct given your league settings and the rationale of why we made the picks we did.
> Our mocks will be tracked here: Fantasy Football Mock Drafts.
That said, nothing beats practicing yourself so (check out the simulator) and complete a mock in a matter of minutes.
Half-PPR Mock Draft: 12 Teams, 3rd Pick
Ekeler's elite production is game-script independent as one of the league's best receiving backs and he has led the NFL in touchdowns in each of the past two seasons with a total of 38 during that span. Ekeler led all running backs in half-PPR fantasy points in 2022, and he finished second behind Jonathan Taylor in 2021.
With Tyreek Hill setting career highs in targets, receptions and yards, it's not a surprise that Waddle's targets dropped to 117 (in 2022) from 140 (2021). That said, he was utilized further downfield as his ADOT jumped to 12.7 (from 7.0), per PFF, and he led the NFL in yards per reception (18.1). He finished as fantasy's WR7 overall.
Other than perhaps the Dolphins with Hill and Waddle, no team has a better WR duo than the Bengals have with Ja'Marr Chase and Higgins. Entering his age-24 season, Higgins already has three years of consistent production with a total of 215 catches for 3,028 yards and 19 touchdowns. He has a minimum of three catches in 38 of the 41 games in which he played at least 50% of the offensive snaps.
Before last season, Jones had three consecutive seasons with double-digit touchdowns. That said, he set career highs in rushing yards (1,121) and receptions (59) in 2022. Transitioning from Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love adds some uncertainty, but Jones has 47-plus receptions in four consecutive seasons and 1,459-plus YFS in three of his past four seasons.
Based on his talent alone, Kittle should be targeted more than he will be. Even so, he has finished as a top-four fantasy tight end in four of the past five seasons. The exception was when he missed eight games in 2020, but he finished third on a PPG basis that season behind Travis Kelce and Darren Waller. The other concern with Kittle is he has missed multiple games in four consecutive seasons, but he has averaged 70.4/947.8/5.8 per 17 games over the past five years.
The obvious concern for Evans (and the passing offense) is replacing the retired Tom Brady with Baker Mayfield. Perhaps his streak of 1,000-yard seasons ends at nine, but I'm comfortable with him as my WR3 even if his week-to-week volatility increases.
MORE: Bucs draft a QB in our way-too-early 2024 NFL Mock Draft
Herbert set career lows in passing in part due to Keenan Allen (seven games missed) and Mike Williams (four) missing significant time. Through three seasons, however, Herbert has averaged a 17-game pace of 4,696 yards, 31.3 touchdowns and 11.7 interceptions with another 237 rushing yards and three touchdowns. TCU rookie Quentin Johnston adds a vertical weapon to this offense, and more shots down the field will boost Herbert's upside. Through three seasons, he has finished as fantasy's QB9, QB2 and QB11, respectively.
8.10 - James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills
Cook is one of Buffalo's biggest fantasy winners of the draft, as there was some projection that the Bills could target someone like Bijan Robinson if he slipped. (Of course, he didn't.) Topping the depth chart going into the 2023 season, there is a decent chance that Cook exceeds expectations.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Grades
9.03 - A.J. Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers
Even if I didn't already roster Jones (in this mock), Dillon would have stand-alone fantasy value. He has finished as a top-30 fantasy running back in back-to-back seasons. During that span, Dillon has 435 touches including 62 receptions on 80 targets for 2,092 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns.
Mitchell would be a fine bye-week replacement for this team, but his real value would come if Christian McCaffrey were to miss any time. While CMC deserves to be drafted as pick 1.01 in fantasy drafts, we've seen how productive non-CMC backs (including Mitchell) have been when given the opportunity.
Foreman had only 37 rushing yards through the first six weeks of the season, but following the CMC trade, he became one of the few bright spots for Carolina with 191/877/5 rushing over the final 11 games of the season and performed as a top-24 back (all scoring formats) during that stretch. At a minimum, he's worth a bench stash in the 11th round.
The duo of Doubs and Renfrow provide some depth as this team's WR4/5, respectively.
14.10 - Anthony Richardson, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Shane Steichen will cater Indy's offense to Anthony Richardson's skill set, similarly to how he put Jalen Hurts in position to thrive in Philadelphia. Ups and downs as a passer should be expected, but his elite rushing upside immediately puts him into the QB1 (top-12) mix. Justin Fields, as an example, finished 2022 as fantasy's QB6 (fifth on a PPG basis) despite ranking only 26th in the NFL in passing yards (2,242).
15.03 - Buffalo Bills DST
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