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


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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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