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Fantasy Football Mock Draft: 12-Team, PPR, Early Pick (2023)

Fantasy Football Mock Draft: 12-Team, PPR, Early Pick (2023)

It’s mock draft season, and there’s no better way to mock than with the FantasyPros Draft Wizard. Not only is it intuitive, but also super fast, so you can rifle through as many mock drafts as you want.

For this exercise, we mocked from the third position. Drafting here has its advantages (top-flight player) and disadvantages (it can be a long time between picks), but we did our best and analyzed why we did what we did.

Fantasy Football Draft Kit

Mock Draft: PPR, Early Draft Position (2023 Fantasy Football)

1.03: Christian McCaffrey (RB – SF)

After missing most of the previous two seasons, 2022 was vintage Christian McCaffrey. And while the trade to San Francisco certainly is a boost to Christian McCaffrey’s fantasy value, the fact is that he was back to his old, dominating self before the trade. Through the first six weeks of the season (which doubled as his last as a Panther), McCaffrey had rushed for nearly 400 yards, caught for nearly 300 more and was a top-15 fantasy point scorer. The trade to San Francisco only accelerated his return, rushing for 746 yards in those final 11 games and adding 464 more receiving yards. All told, he scored 10 times in that span. A whole offseason with his new team, surrounded by All-Pros at nearly every skill position, just solidifies him as a top-three pick and a player to build your fantasy team around.

2.10: Chris Olave (WR – NO)

3.03: Breece Hall (RB – NYJ)

At 2.10, there were a couple of potential-league-winning running backs (especially in PPR) available, including Tony Pollard and Josh Jacobs (who had already won leagues for many last year). But seeing a significant dropoff at receiver, I wanted to ensure I grabbed one of the best in Chris Olave. Coming off a sensational rookie season that saw him catch 72 balls for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns, Olave was a top-24 fantasy receiver and would have been top-20 if not for missing two games. If that’s his fantasy floor, watch out.

At 3.03, I ended up getting a potential league-winning running back anyway. Breece Hall was a top-10 running back for the seven healthy weeks he played. He totaled 680 yards from scrimmage, scored five times and was showing flashes of being a difference-maker. A torn ACL cut short that dream, but it may have just delayed it a season.

4.10: Chris Godwin (WR – TB)

5.03: Lamar Jackson (QB – BAL)

With not many attractive receiving options available, there was one player who I felt comfortable enough to be my WR2. Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin hasn’t turned in a full, healthy season in four years, but his ceiling is among the highest of any receiver, including the ones still available here. Admittedly, it’s a new era for the Tampa offense after the retirement of Tom Brad. But let’s not forget that Godwin had his best season – 86 receptions, 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns with Jameis Winston at quarterback. For a pick late in the fourth, I’ll take it.

With the core of my roster locked up, it was time to look at the fringes. There were a few options at quarterback that I would have been happy with. In hindsight, I probably should have passed on the position to instead fill my flex spot. But at the time, Lamar Jackson’s arms and legs were too tempting to pass up. Did you know Jackson has never rushed for less than 695 yards in a season? And even that was during his rookie season when he only started half the season. Now armed with a receiving unit that’s in the top half of the league rather than the bottom, the sky is the limit.

6.10: Darren Waller (TE – NYG)

7.03: Mike Williams (WR – LAC)

With the options dwindling, I took part in the tight end run at the end of the sixth round. With four taken in a span of six picks, it was the last chance for several teams before they’d be forced to punt on the position. Kyle Pitts went at 6.07, followed by Dallas Goedert at 6.09. When it was time for 6.10 it was either Darren Waller or a bunch of meh. In Waller, he’s one of the few tight ends who could legitimately lead his team in targets. It’s hard to get that kind of potential this late in the draft.

To fill the flex position, you’re looking for the best player available. Mike Williams is no slam dunk – otherwise, he’d be drafted much earlier – but he has the talent, a couple of 1,000-yard seasons and a very good quarterback. In this spot, you’re trying to balance potential with data points.

8.10: AJ Dillon (RB – GB)

9.03: Quentin Johnston (WR – LAC)

Despite never actually taking the starting job away from Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon has carved out a nice role for himself on the Green Bay offense and, by extension, our fantasy teams. He’s managed more than 200 touches in each of the last two seasons, plus at least 900 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns in each of them. In this scenario, he can act as a solid flex and backup running back. There’s also the added caveat that he would inherit an enviable workload if Jones does go down. With Quentin Johnston, I’m not only hedging against my Williams pick but also getting the upside that comes with a first-round rookie receiver.

10.10: David Njoku (TE – CLE)

11.03: Aaron Rodgers (QB – NYJ)

12.10: San Francisco 49ers (D/ST – SF)

With backups and flex options at running back and wide receiver, I like to ensure I’m covered at quarterback and tight end too. Yes, there will inevitably be options on the waiver wire throughout the season, but I’d rather draft a competent backup now to make sure I’m not caught empty-handed early in the season. I have that in David Njoku and Aaron Rodgers, both top-15 players at their respective positions, who could be starters on several other fantasy teams. They might make for some good trade bait as you get closer to the playoffs.

In taking a defense before it was needed, I end up with a top-ranked defense (and my favorite team). It did cost me an opportunity for some rookie/zero-RB options but picks like these often depend on your league settings – defensive scoring, how many waiver transactions you’re allowed, etc.

2023 Fantasy Football Best Ball Draft Advice

13.03: D’Onta Foreman (RB – CHI)

14.10: DJ Chark (WR – CAR)

15.03: Evan McPherson (K – CIN)

The best player available – that’s all this is at this stage in the draft. In D’Onta Foreman, I still end up with a zero-RB option that I like despite taking a defense one round before him. Foreman signed with Chicago and will spell incumbent starter Khalil Herbert after coming off a 900-yard campaign.

In DJ Chark, he’s hoping to carve out a role as a target for 2023 top overall pick Bryce Young. And for my kicker, look for the best offense available and go with that.

Overall, this team should contend for a championship. The running back duo is the best in the league and has players that are not far removed from being the best (fantasy-wise) at their position. If there is one weakness, it would be the quality of the receivers and depth. Hopefully, Olave continues to ascend, and Godwin won’t be affected by the potential dumpster fire in Tampa Bay.

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Michael Moore (@DLF_Moore) is a featured writer at FantasyPros, providing unique insights and in-depth analysis.

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