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, 8th Pick
Kupp pulled off the rare triple crown of receiving in 2021, finishing with 145 catches for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns. While he missed roughly half of his follow-up season, the 2021 NFL Offensive Player of the Year had a better season than maybe most realized.
Who led ALL receivers in half-PPR fantasy points scored in 2022 on a per-game basis? Yep, it was Kupp — not Justin Jefferson, or any other receiver.
There are certainly concerns — age, cumulative career workload, the team's offensive issues, etc. Even so, Henry has led the NFL in rush attempts in three of the past four seasons (including 349 in 2022) and he's guaranteed a massive workload, as long as he remains healthy. He set a career high in receptions (33) in 2022, but he actually averaged more receptions per game in 2021 (2.3) than 2022 (2.1).
Of course, it would be preferred for Henry to be more involved as a receiver, but his relative lack of involvement in the passing game has been an over-emphasized reason to avoid Henry (at least in half-PPR formats). Here is where Henry has finished on a points-per-game basis in half-PPR scoring over the past four years (min. 8G played): third in 2022 (17.9), first in 2021 (23.0), third in 2020 (20.2) and second (tied) in 2019 (19.0), respectively.
Hurts set career bests in passing — 66.5% completion, 8.0 Y/A, 4.8 TD%, 1.2 INT%, and 101.5 passer rating — in 2022. Despite his improvement as a passer, aided by the trade for A.J. Brown last offseason, it's especially the rushing production that makes him an elite fantasy quarterback. Over the past two seasons (30 games), the former Oklahoma (and Alabama) quarterback has rushed 304 times for 1,544 yards and 23 touchdowns. That's an equivalent to 9.75 fantasy points per game (from his rushing stats alone).
Ridley broke out in 2020 with 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns as he finished as fantasy's WR4 (half-PPR scoring). Since then, he served a year-long suspension in 2022 after posting career lows in yards per reception (9.1), yards per target (5.4) and catch rate (59.6%) while appearing in only five games in 2021. Ridley gets a chance to rebound with an ascending quarterback and offense.
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.
I'm comfortable with Johnson as my WR2, thrilled with him as my WR4/flex. For three consecutive seasons, Johnson has more than 85 catches and 140 targets and has led the team in receiving yards. Only four receivers — Davante Adams (498), Stefon Diggs (484), Justin Jefferson (476), and Tyreek Hill (464) — have more targets than Johnson (460) over that span. Despite scoring 15 touchdowns in the previous two seasons combined (2020-21), Johnson set the NFL record in 2022 for most receptions (86) without a touchdown. In other words, positive touchdown regression should be expected.
Pacheco generated some buzz last August as a seventh-round rookie, and then he delivered for fantasy managers who drafted the sleeper. He finished his inaugural season with 170 carries for 830 yards (4.9 YPC) and five touchdowns and added 13 catches for 130 yards (10.0 Y/R). Sitting atop the 2023 depth chart, Pacheco has a chance to improve upon his rookie numbers.
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."
After missing nearly all of 2020, Sutton has appeared in 32 of 34 games over the past two seasons and has averaged 61/803/2 over that time. Sutton should benefit from the offensive coaching upgrade, and the rash of injuries to the receiving corps will create more opportunities for Sutton.
Freiermuth followed up a strong rookie season (60/497/7) with 63 catches for 732 yards and two touchdowns. Despite scoring only twice in 2022, Freiermuth finished as fantasy's TE8 (half-PPR scoring). He had at least three catches in 13 of 16 games played.
Allgeier was a player I liked as a sleeper last year, and the fifth-rounder out of BYU eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark as a rookie. He finished 2022 with 210 carries for 1,035 yards (4.9 YPC) and three touchdowns and added 16 receptions for 139 yards and a score. With the Falcons drafting Bijan Robinson at No. 8 overall, it delivers a huge blow to Allgeier's fantasy stock but the Falcons will be one of the league's most run-heavy teams and he's worth drafting as an RB4 bench stash.
Following Wilson's midseason trade to Miami, both Raheem Mostert (Week 12) and Wilson (Week 15) missed one game each. In the games in which they both appeared, Wilson (82 touches) edged Mostert (80) in workload. Going into the 2023 season, I project Wilson to maintain a relatively slight edge, but the addition of De'Von Achane, their speedy third-round rookie, only clouds the outlook even further.
Miles Sanders played a full 17-game slate 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.
14.05 - New York Jets DST
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.
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