Friday, August 25, 2023

2023 Fantasy Football 12-Team Half-PPR Mock Draft - 1st Pick

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, 1st Pick

1.01 - Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Jefferson is an easy choice for me at 1.01. Not only has he improved his production in each successive season, but he broke Randy Moss's record for receiving yards through a player's first three seasons. During those three seasons, he's racked up a total of 324 receptions for 4,825 yards and 25 touchdowns.

2.12 - Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins

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 (in 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 and was 13th on a per-game basis (13.0).

3.01 - Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

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. Maybe this is a bit early, but Jones is undervalued heading into the 2023 season.

4.12 - James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Conner has missed multiple games in all six of his NFL seasons including four games in 2022. In his two years with the Cardinals, he has a total of 385 carries for 1,534 yards (3.98 YPC) and 22 touchdowns while adding 83 catches for 675 yards and four touchdowns. The good news is that he should dominate backfield touches, as long as he remains healthy, even if his number of scoring opportunities will likely be down (perhaps significantly).

5.01 - Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

Excluding his rookie season (2017), Williams has averaged at least 14.2 yards per reception every year. While he missed four games last year, his 4.8/68.8 per-game numbers in 2022 were nearly identical to his 2021 career highs (4.8/71.6). Per PFF, Williams averaged 1.93 yards per route run in 2022, and that was just shy of his 2021 career high (1.97). Within the team's new offense, Williams should be moved around more often including more opportunities from the slot.

6.12 - Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Johnson has more than 85 catches and 140 targets while leading the team in receiving yards in three consecutive seasons. Despite scoring 15 touchdowns in the previous two seasons (2020-21), Johnson set the NFL record in 2022 for most receptions (86) without a touchdown. In other words, some positive touchdown regression should be expected.

7.01 - Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

What a difference a year (and a new coaching staff) made for Lawrence! The 2021 NFL Draft's top overall pick completed 66.3% of his pass attempts for 7.0 yards per attempt, while throwing 25 touchdowns and only seven interceptions in 2022. (That compares to 59.6%, 6.0 Y/A and 12:17 TD-INT ratio in 2021.) In fact, Lawrence improved considerably as the season progressed — 69.7% completion rate, 7.4 Y/A and a 15-to-two TD-INT ratio from Weeks 9-18. Bigger things could/should be in store for Lawrence in 2023, as Calvin Ridley joins Christian Kirk, coming off career numbers (84/1108/8 in 2022), Evan Engram, and Travis Etienne.

8.12 - Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Commanders

Fumbling issues plagued Gibson's 2021 season, and he was inefficient last season (3.66 YPC) with career lows in both touches (195) and yards from scrimmage (899). Gibson has a minimum of 36 catches in each season with a career-high 46 last year and coach Ron Rivera referred to him as a "matchup nightmare for the opponent." With J.D. McKissic no longer on the roster, Gibson expects his role to include "third-down back, end-of-game situation, end-of-half situation and things like that."

9.01 - Khalil Herbert, RB, Chicago Bears

Chances are that Justin Fields will lead the Bears in rushing, but Herbert has been highly efficient — career 5.02 YPC on 232 carries — through his first two NFL seasons. Given the volume of rush attempts by Fields, it should come as no surprise that the Bears ranked last in the NFL in running back receptions and 31st in running back targets in 2022. Even if Herbert leads the Bears running backs in both rushing and receiving, which I currently project, it's possible that fantasy managers are left wanting a bit more.

10.12 - Evan Engram, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars

While Engram missed 14 games in his first three seasons (2017-19), he has missed only two games over the past three years. He posted career highs in receptions (73), yards (766) and catch rate (74.5%) in 2022.

11.01 - Jerick McKinnon, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

McKinnon had nearly as many targets (71) as carries (72) last season, and he was extremely effective as a receiver. He ended the year with 56 catches for 512 yards (9.1 Y/R) and nine of his 10 touchdowns were receiving scores. While I have projected McKinnon for considerably fewer touchdowns in 2023, he could be a solid bye-week fill-in for this team, at a minimum.

12.12 - Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers

Miles Sanders played a full 17-game last season, but he's currently dealing with a hamstring injury and appeared in only 12 games in both 2020 and 2021. While Sanders should be ready to go before Week 1, Hubbard would likely handle the largest share of the workload in the event that Sanders were to miss any time, and he averaged 4.9 YPC last season.

13.01 - Gus Edwards, RB, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens won't be as run-heavy as they have historically been, but Edwards has averaged 5.2 yards per carry on his 501 carries since entering the league in 2018. Especially if J.K. Dobbins were to miss any time, Edwards would have quite a bit of upside and immediately become an RB2.

14.12 - Buffalo Bills DST

15.01 - Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams

Higbee set career highs in targets (108, fourth-most among TEs) and receptions (72, fifth) in 2022. While Cooper Kupp missed nearly half of the season, Higbee's per-game numbers were actually better with Kupp (4.9/43 on 7.2 targets) than without Kupp (3.5/29 on 5.4 targets). At a position where volume is inconsistent outside of the elite options, there is value in the consistency of Higbee's volume.

16.12 - Jason Sanders, K, Miami Dolphins

- View Full Mock Draft Results

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