Fantasy: 12-team mock draft with analysis after every round

Fantasy: 12-team mock draft with analysis after every round
Fantasy: 12-team mock draft with analysis after every round

Get ready for your season with theScore’s 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit and subscribe to push notifications in the NFL Fantasy News section.

theScore staff took part in a 12-team, 12-round mock fantasy draft to offer some insight on what to watch for in each round.

This is a half PPR (point per reception) scoring league with the following roster spots: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, FLEX, BN, BN, BN, BN. We omitted defenders and kickers, as they’re normally selected in the final two rounds.

Draft participants: Justin Boone, Brandon Wile, Dane Belbeck, Gianluca Nesci, Gordon Brunt, Navin Vaswani, Caitlyn Holroyd, Branden Deeg, Caio Miari, Dan Wilkins, Taylor Rohaly, Mike Dickson.

Round 1

Pick
Player
Team

1
Justin Jefferson (WR1)
Boone

2
Ja’Marr Chase (WR2)
Wile

3
Christian McCaffrey (RB1)
Belbeck

4
Tyreek Hill (WR3)
Nesci

5
Travis Kelce (TE1)
Brunt

6
Austin Ekeler (RB2)
Vaswani

7
Cooper Kupp (WR4)
Holroyd

8
Bijan Robinson (RB3)
Deeg

9
Stefon Diggs (WR5)
Miari

10
Nick Chubb (RB4)
Wilkins

11
Garrett Wilson (WR6)
Rohaly

12
A.J. Brown (WR7)
Dickson

Round 1: There isn’t anything overly notable to discuss from the first round, other than Garrett Wilson sneaking in as the sixth receiver taken. It’s two WR spots higher than I have him ranked, but after a breakout rookie campaign and the addition of Aaron Rodgers, Wilson is on the verge of becoming the next superstar at the position. Would anyone be surprised if he’s mentioned in the same breath as Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase by the end of this season?

My pick: Like most of the opening-round picks here, I went with the chalk and took Jefferson first overall. The 24-year-old has had a storybook start to his NFL career and is the safest fantasy selection entering his fourth season.

Round 2

Pick
Player
Team

13
Saquon Barkley (RB5)
Dickson

14
Tony Pollard (RB6)
Rohaly

15
Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR8)
Wilkins

16
CeeDee Lamb (WR9)
Miari

17
Davante Adams (WR10)
Deeg

18
Derrick Henry (RB7)
Holroyd

19
Jaylen Waddle (WR11)
Vaswani

20
Patrick Mahomes (QB1)
Brunt

21
Jonathan Taylor (RB8)
Nesci

22
Chris Olave (WR12)
Belbeck

23
Jalen Hurts (QB2)
Wile

24
Calvin Ridley (WR13)
Boone

Round 2: Tony Pollard continues to be a first-round value who’s consistently available outside the top 12. Enjoy it while it lasts, because if this draft is any indication, his ADP could creep into the late first before the season arrives.

My pick: There’s a lot of risk in investing in a player who’s missed most of the last two seasons with injuries and a gambling suspension. However, to Calvin Ridley’s credit, he’s returned in peak form and is already establishing himself as Trevor Lawrence’s No. 1 receiver. While his ADP on some platforms says he’s going in the early fourth round, we can assure you the training camp hype is pushing his value much higher.

Round 3

Pick
Player
Team

25
Jahmyr Gibbs (RB9)
Boone

26
DeVonta Smith (WR14)
Wile

27
Josh Jacobs (RB10)
Belbeck

28
Josh Allen (QB3)
Nesci

29
DK Metcalf (WR15)
Brunt

30
Tee Higgins (WR16)
Vaswani

31
Mark Andrews (TE2)
Holroyd

32
Lamar Jackson (QB4)
Deeg

33
Deebo Samuel (WR17)
Miari

34
Amari Cooper (WR18)
Wilkins

35
Aaron Jones (RB11)
Rohaly

36
Keenan Allen (WR19)
Dickson

Round 3: There are some very interesting builds shaping up through three rounds, with Team Wile, Team Brunt, and Team Miari steering away from running backs. While you’d always prefer to be the only team waiting at a specific position, plenty of talented ball carriers are still available since only 11 have been selected so far.

My pick: I was close to joining the RB-less teams, with Josh Allen, Mark Andrews, and DeVonta Smith all being considered as potential options at 3.01. In the end, I went with a more balanced approach and bet on the upside of rookie Jahmyr Gibbs. Early-first-round running backs have a strong history of Year 1 production. The 12th-overall pick in this year’s draft will be the next success story, propelled by his usage as a receiving threat out of the Lions’ backfield.

Round 4

Pick
Player
Team

37
Travis Etienne (RB12)
Dickson

38
Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR20)
Rohaly

39
Najee Harris (RB13)
Wilkins

40
Joe Mixon (RB14)
Miari

41
Breece Hall (RB15)
Deeg

42
Rhamondre Stevenson (RB16)
Holroyd

43
Jerry Jeudy (WR21)
Vaswani

44
Christian Watson (WR22)
Brunt

45
DJ Moore (WR23)
Nesci

46
Mike Williams (WR24)
Belbeck

47
Alexander Mattison (RB17)
Wile

48
Brandon Aiyuk (WR25)
Boone

Round 4: Team Wile and Team Miari found their RB1s in this round, snagging a pair of worthwhile options in Joe Mixon and Alexander Mattison. That leaves Team Brunt as the only roster on a zero-RB trajectory.

The real story in the fourth round was Jaxon Smith-Njigba being selected 38th overall, which looks like a massive reach. It’s possible the first-rounder could emerge as the next star rookie wideout, but volume could be an issue in a receiving corps that already features DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. This is at least one round, and maybe two, earlier than you’ll need to take him in most drafts.

My pick: Going with a quarterback in this range was a difficult decision, but based on where we’re picking, we likely won’t have a shot at anyone from the current QB tier if we don’t act now. From Week 5 on last year, Justin Fields was on par with the elite fantasy quarterbacks, averaging the third-most FPPG (24.1). Even if he can’t match his impressive rushing numbers from 2022, the addition of wideout DJ Moore will help elevate the Bears’ passing attack and keep Fields as a weekly difference-maker in fantasy.

Round 5

Pick
Player
Team

49
Justin Fields (QB5)
Boone

50
Kenneth Walker (RB18)
Wile

51
Terry McLaurin (WR26)
Belbeck

52
Miles Sanders (RB19)
Nesci

53
Cam Akers (RB20)
Brunt

54
J.K. Dobbins (RB21)
Vaswani

55
DeAndre Hopkins (WR27)
Holroyd

56
Drake London (WR28)
Deeg

57
T.J. Hockenson (TE3)
Miari

58
Kyle Pitts (TE4)
Wilkins

59
Justin Herbert (QB6)
Rohaly

60
Christian Kirk (WR29)
Dickson

Round 5: Team Brunt finally broke the running back seal by drafting Cam Akers. Though Akers isn’t without flaws, his performance in the second half of last season provides hope he can get his career back on track. Over the last eight games, the 24-year-old averaged the eighth-most fantasy points among RBs and posted four straight outings with at least 100 yards from scrimmage. If he maintains that kind of usage, Akers will be a smash in this spot.

My pick: Another draft and another share of Brandon Aiyuk. It shouldn’t be a shock that I continue to select one of my favorite players, but it’s also understandable if people are sick of hearing me sing Aiyuk’s praises. Just note, getting him as your WR3 is the perfect scenario.

Round 6

Pick
Player
Team

61
Darren Waller (TE5)
Dickson

62
Zay Flowers (WR30)
Rohaly

63
Dameon Pierce (RB22)
Wilkins

64
D’Andre Swift (RB23)
Miari

65
Dallas Goedert (TE6)
Deeg

66
Chris Godwin (WR31)
Holroyd

67
Joe Burrow (QB7)
Vaswani

68
James Conner (RB24)
Brunt

69
George Kittle (TE7)
Nesci

70
Javonte Williams (RB25)
Belbeck

71
Diontae Johnson (WR32)
Wile

72
Alvin Kamara (RB26)
Boone

Round 6: George Kittle has been sidelined with an adductor strain, which must be why he’s fallen behind the likes of Kyle Pitts, Darren Waller, and Dallas Goedert. While all three of those tight ends are strong fantasy starters, you’re rarely going to see Kittle drafted as the TE7. A nice steal for Team Nesci.

My pick: With just one running back on my roster after five rounds, we need to make up ground at the position. Alvin Kamara’s ADP is on the rise after he received just a three-game ban, but he still stayed on the board until the end of the sixth in this draft. With the short suspension and him apparently looking more explosive in practice this year, he’s an incredible value in this range.

Round 7

Pick
Player
Team

73
James Cook (RB27)
Boone

74
Marquise Brown (WR33)
Wile

75
Trevor Lawrence (QB8)
Belbeck

76
Tyler Lockett (WR34)
Nesci

77
Mike Evans (WR35)
Brunt

78
Rachaad White (RB28)
Vaswani

79
David Montgomery (RB29)
Holroyd

80
Khalil Herbert (RB30)
Deeg

81
George Pickens (WR36)
Miari

82
Rashod Bateman (WR37)
Wilkins

83
Elijah Moore (WR38)
Rohaly

84
Jahan Dotson (WR39)
Dickson

Round 7: The seventh and eighth rounds have become one of my favorite stretches this year thanks to all the value that remains on the board in the form of upside young players and underrated veterans. Every running back and receiver selected in this frame has a path to a top-24 fantasy season at their position.

My pick: We continue to fill out our RB depth chart with a breakout candidate in James Cook. The Bills’ lead back is another ADP riser over the last few weeks after a strong showing in training camp and a steady drumbeat about his involvement in the offense. There are still concerns about his TD ceiling with Josh Allen, Damien Harris, and Latavius Murray possibly vulturing goal-line carries, but that’s all baked into his current draft price.

Round 8

Pick
Player
Team

85
Isiah Pacheco (RB31)
Dickson

86
Zach Charbonnet (RB32)
Rohaly

87
Kadarius Toney (WR40)
Wilkins

88
Dalvin Cook (RB33)
Miari

89
Gabe Davis (WR41)
Deeg

90
Michael Pittman (WR42)
Holroyd

91
Brandin Cooks (WR43)
Vaswani

92
Skyy Moore (WR44)
Brunt

93
Jordan Addison (WR45)
Nesci

94
Michael Thomas (WR46)
Belbeck

95
AJ Dillon (RB34)
Wile

96
Quentin Johnston (WR47)
Boone

Round 8: As we mentioned in the last round, the eye-popping values continue well into the eighth. Seeing Isiah Pacheco drop to this point was odd considering his ADP is almost a full round earlier. The fact that he’s been rehabbing from offseason surgery might have made people forget what he accomplished down the stretch in 2022. Pacheco had at least 80 yards from scrimmage and/or a touchdown in his last nine regular-season outings. He’s a great value as the 31st running back taken.

My pick: Sadly, none of the players I was targeting fell to me at the end of the eighth round. But when in doubt, aim for upside, and a first-round rookie receiver attached to a franchise quarterback like Justin Herbert fits that description. Quentin Johnston is one Keenan Allen or Mike Williams injury away from vastly outproducing his ADP.

Round 9

Pick
Player
Team

97
Treylon Burks (WR48)
Boone

98
Antonio Gibson (RB35)
Wile

99
Courtland Sutton (WR49)
Belbeck

100
Brian Robinson (RB36)
Nesci

101
Devon Achane (RB37)
Brunt

102
David Njoku (TE8)
Vaswani

103
Anthony Richardson (QB9)
Holroyd

104
Odell Beckham (WR50)
Deeg

105
Tyler Boyd (WR51)
Miari

106
Rashaad Penny (RB38)
Wilkins

107
Dalton Kincaid (TE9)
Rohaly

108
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR52)
Dickson

Round 9: Anthony Richardson in the ninth round could be a league-winning pick given his dual-threat skills. Team Holroyd also did a nice job pairing him with Michael Pittman, who she got one round earlier.

My pick: The signing of DeAndre Hopkins mixed with an LCL sprain with a multi-week recovery timeline has pushed Treylon Burks down draft boards. With the option to take a luxury pick in the ninth, we’ll stash Burks on our bench and hope he can get back to 100% health early in the season and continue his anticipated sophomore leap.

Round 10

Pick
Player
Team

109
Tua Tagovailoa (QB10)
Dickson

110
Samaje Perine (RB39)
Rohaly

111
Jameson Williams (WR53)
Wilkins

112
Dak Prescott (QB11)
Miari

113
Tank Bigsby (RB40)
Deeg

114
Jamaal Williams (RB41)
Holroyd

115
Jaylen Warren (RB42)
Vaswani

116
Elijah Mitchell (RB43)
Brunt

117
Kenneth Gainwell (RB44)
Nesci

118
Evan Engram (TE10)
Belbeck

119
Pat Freiermuth (TE11)
Wile

120
Raheem Mostert (RB45)
Boone

Round 10: We’ve officially hit the high-upside backup running back phase of the draft, as seven ball carriers get their names called in this round. Every one of them offers weekly flex potential while also providing a significant ceiling if their starter gets hurt.

My pick: Raheem Mostert is being overlooked in the Miami backfield and arguably should be selected a round or two before this. With the threat of Dalvin Cook gone, Mostert has as good of a chance as anyone to lead the Dolphins’ backfield in fantasy production this year. He could also be a nice early-season flex option for me, while Kamara serves his suspension.

Round 11

Pick
Player
Team

121
Roschon Johnson (RB46)
Boone

122
Nico Collins (WR54)
Wile

123
Jerick McKinnon (RB47)
Belbeck

124
Marvin Mims (WR55)
Nesci

125
Jonathan Mingo (WR56)
Brunt

126
Ezekiel Elliott (RB48)
Vaswani

127
Allen Lazard (WR57)
Holroyd

128
Damien Harris (RB49)
Deeg

129
Rashee Rice (WR58)
Miari

130
Jakobi Meyers (WR59)
Wilkins

131
Michael Gallup (WR60)
Rohaly

132
Tyler Allgeier (RB50)
Dickson

Round 11: Nico Collins and Jonathan Mingo stand out in this round as young receivers who could become No. 1 options in their passing attacks this year. Collins is already being billed as C.J. Stroud’s top target in practice. Meanwhile, the second-round rookie Mingo is consistently running with the starting unit and only has D.J. Chark and Adam Thielen to beat out. Finding an impact fantasy wideout this late would be a big win for your fantasy roster.

My pick: Non-first-round rookie running backs often don’t hit their stride until the second half of the season. Roschon Johnson is likely heading in that direction, with Khalil Herbert and D’Onta Foreman handling more work in the opening month. If you’re drafting Johnson, make sure you’re ready to wait for him to return value – which we can do since he’s the fifth RB on our roster.

Round 12

Pick
Player
Team

133
Aaron Rodgers (QB12)
Dickson

134
Jerome Ford (RB51)
Rohaly

135
Geno Smith (QB13)
Wilkins

136
Tyjae Spears (RB52)
Miari

137
Darnell Mooney (WR61)
Deeg

138
Zamir White (RB53)
Holroyd

139
Romeo Doubs (WR62)
Vaswani

140
Jeff Wilson (RB54)
Brunt

141
Zay Jones (WR63)
Nesci

142
Devin Singletary (RB55)
Belbeck

143
DJ Chark (WR64)
Wile

144
Sam LaPorta (TE12)
Boone

Round 12: After bypassing the position early, Team Brunt did well to fill out his RB depth with Akers and James Conner as his starters, as well as De’Von Achane, Elijah Mitchell, and Jeff Wilson on his bench. Achane and Wilson give him two shots at hitting on Miami’s lead back, while Mitchell when healthy has been a flex option even with Christian McCaffrey in town.

My pick: Waiting on tight end can be a dangerous game. While veterans like Tyler Higbee or Dalton Schultz might have a higher floor, we’re putting our chips down on Lions’ rookie Sam LaPorta in hopes he can catch lightning in a bottle and turn into an immediate producer while Jameson Williams serves a six-game suspension. If that doesn’t occur, we haven’t taken on much risk and there’ll be plenty of tight ends on the waiver wire to stream.

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