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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: Mike Dickson, Dan Wilkins, Caitlyn Holroyd, Brenden Deeg, Matthew Washington, Andrew Dixon, Caio Miari, Justin Boone, Navin Vaswani, Dane Belbeck, Gianluca Nesci, Brandon Wile.

Round 1

Pick Player Team
1 Justin Jefferson (WR1) Dickson
2 Christian McCaffrey (RB1) Wilkins
3 Ja'Marr Chase (WR2) Holroyd
4 Cooper Kupp (WR3) Deeg
5 Tyreek Hill (WR4) Washington
6 Travis Kelce (TE1) Dixon
7 Austin Ekeler (RB2) Miari
8 Bijan Robinson (RB3) Boone
9 Stefon Diggs (WR5) Vaswani
10 A.J. Brown (WR6) Belbeck
11 CeeDee Lamb (WR7) Nesci
12 Nick Chubb (RB4) Wile

Round 1: For the second straight mock, Jefferson goes off the board first overall as fantasy managers look for the stability of elite receivers over the risk of top running backs. That's a prevalent trend in drafts this year.

It's nice to see Chubb sneak into the end of the first round. With Kareem Hunt gone and the Browns' offense expected to take a step forward in Deshaun Watson's second year with the team, Chubb is positioned for a monster campaign.

My pick: While this might seem early to take a rookie running back, you just have to look at the first-year results of the previous five ball carriers taken with a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft. Todd Gurley (RB6 in 2015), Ezekiel Elliott (RB3 in 2016), Leonard Fournette (RB6 in 2017), Christian McCaffrey (RB14 in 2017), and Saquon Barkley (RB2 in 2018) all delivered immediately as fantasy starters. On a Falcons offense that ran the ball effectively with Tyler Allgeier last season, Robinson won't waste any time becoming a fantasy factor.

Round 2

Pick Player Team
13 Davante Adams (WR8) Wile
14 Saquon Barkley (RB5) Nesci
15 Jonathan Taylor (RB6) Belbeck
16 Garrett Wilson (WR9) Vaswani
17 Tony Pollard (RB7) Boone
18 Chris Olave (WR10) Miari
19 Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR11) Dixon
20 DeVonta Smith (WR12) Washington
21 Derrick Henry (RB8) Deeg
22 Josh Jacobs (RB9) Holroyd
23 Jaylen Waddle (WR13) Wilkins
24 Rhamondre Stevenson (RB10) Dickson

Round 2: Aside from a small surprise with Olave jumping St. Brown, there isn't much worth noting in the second round. Both receivers should be excellent picks this season, but St. Brown has more proven production and an easier path to significant volume - making him the safer pick between the two.

My pick: My usual instinct is to remain balanced in the early rounds in an effort to stay open to any values that might fall my way later. However, Pollard's ceiling potential was too enticing to pass up. He finished as the RB8 in fantasy points per game last year while splitting time with Elliott. The Cowboys have done nothing to replace Zeke in their backfield - meaning Pollard has a chance to crack the top five RBs this season.

Round 3

Pick Player Team
25 Calvin Ridley (WR14) Dickson
26 Jalen Hurts (QB1) Wilkins
27 Tee Higgins (WR15) Holroyd
28 Patrick Mahomes (QB2) Deeg
29 Najee Harris (RB11) Washington
30 Josh Allen (QB3) Dixon
31 Deebo Samuel (WR16) Miari
32 DK Metcalf (WR17) Boone
33 Breece Hall (RB12) Vaswani
34 Mark Andrews (TE2) Belbeck
35 Amari Cooper (WR18) Nesci
36 Travis Etienne (RB13) Wile

Round 3: This is a little early for Ridley to go off the board, but Team Dickson is a Jaguars fan. It's understandable why he might want to get his guy, especially after positive reports about Ridley's performance in practices came out of OTAs.

If you're looking to land one of the elite quarterbacks this year, this is likely the round in which you'll have to do it. While the price is steep, it's hard to argue with the advantage Hurts, Mahomes, and Allen provide in fantasy.

My pick: Part of me wanted to swing for the fences and take another running back in Round 3, but fortunately, a receiver of value fell to me - getting Metcalf as the WR17. The arrival of first-round rookie wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba is more of a concern for Tyler Lockett. Metcalf had back-to-back double-digit touchdown seasons before underwhelming with just six scores in 2022. However, he was third in the league with 27 red-zone targets, so positive TD regression is likely on the way in what should be a very dangerous attack.

Round 4

Pick Player Team
37 Keenan Allen (WR19) Wile
38 Jahmyr Gibbs (RB14) Nesci
39 Lamar Jackson (QB4) Belbeck
40 Terry McLaurin (WR20) Vaswani
41 D.J. Moore (WR21) Boone
42 Aaron Jones (RB15) Miari
43 Drake London (WR22) Dixon
44 Kenneth Walker (RB16) Washington
45 J.K. Dobbins (RB17) Deeg
46 Jerry Jeudy (WR23) Holroyd
47 Mike Williams (WR24) Wilkins
48 Joe Mixon (RB18) Dickson

Round 4: There are several strong builds so far, but it's hard not to like what Team Belbeck has done through four rounds. After securing a top-level wideout in Brown and a potential top-five back in Taylor, he's now paired the league's second-best QB-TE tandem together in Jackson and Andrews. If you're chasing elite quarterback production and want to get a slight discount, Jackson is the one to target - especially if you can land Andrews.

My pick: With my top two running backs locked in and no quarterback or tight end worth taking in this area, I set my sights on Moore. Now that he's escaped the dreadful QB play during his last few years in Carolina, Moore has a chance to build chemistry with a young star in Justin Fields. With glowing offseason reports about his impact on the offense, there's no doubt Chicago will feature Moore heavily in its attack. A low-volume passing game might prevent him from challenging for top-12 fantasy numbers, but a solid top-20 finish is well within his range of outcomes.

Round 5

Pick Player Team
49 Christian Watson (WR25) Dickson
50 Kyle Pitts (TE3) Wilkins
51 Alexander Mattison (RB19) Holroyd
52 Christian Kirk (WR26) Deeg
53 Joe Burrow (QB5) Washington
54 Tyler Lockett (WR27) Dixon
55 T.J. Hockenson (TE4) Miari
56 Brandon Aiyuk (WR28) Boone
57 Miles Sanders (RB20) Vaswani
58 DeAndre Hopkins (WR29) Belbeck
59 Chris Godwin (WR30) Nesci
60 Justin Herbert (QB6) Wile

Round 5: Team Dixon is the only squad without a running back through five rounds. With nine teams already having two RBs, this could be setting up nicely for a zero-RB build. He's already secured elite options at QB and TE to go along with a quality trio of receivers - so we'll check back later to see how it all shakes out.

My pick: Coming off his first 1,000-yard campaign, the drumbeat surrounding Aiyuk is as loud as can be from teammates, coaches, and beat writers. Expect another leap forward in 2023 with Aiyuk emerging as a top-24 fantasy receiver and an excellent WR3 in my lineup. This is also the second straight mock draft I've ended up with Moore and Aiyuk.

Round 6

Pick Player Team
61 Diontae Johnson (WR31) Wile
62 Cam Akers (RB21) Nesci
63 Treylon Burks (WR32) Belbeck
64 George Kittle (TE5) Vaswani
65 Justin Fields (QB7) Boone
66 Mike Evans (WR33) Miari
67 Michael Pittman (WR34) Dixon
68 Dameon Pierce (RB22) Washington
69 Dallas Goedert (TE6) Deeg
70 Darren Waller (TE7) Holroyd
71 D'Andre Swift (RB23) Wilkins
72 George Pickens (WR35) Dickson

Round 6: Teams have made a run on tight ends over the last two rounds, with Team Wilkins making Pitts the third TE selected, chasing the upside he showed as a rookie. Hockenson and Kittle, who are normally drafted in this range, soon followed. But that scared Team Deeg and Team Holroyd into reaching a round early for Goedert and Waller. It's understandable given the tier drop at the position after this group, but a slight overpay nonetheless.

My pick: Fields turned the corner last season and started to look like a franchise quarterback in Chicago's offense. There's still plenty of development needed in the Bears' passing game, but that level of comfort is a great sign for his future. It's also promising that his rushing production helped him post top-five fantasy stats on a per-game basis. Pairing Fields with Moore on my roster was an obvious move, especially since both players are among the top five at their respective positions for easiest fantasy schedules in 2023.

Round 7

Pick Player Team
73 Isiah Pacheco (RB24) Dickson
74 Kadarius Toney (WR36) Wilkins
75 Trevor Lawrence (QB8) Holroyd
76 Jordan Addison (WR37) Deeg
77 Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR38) Washington
78 David Montgomery (RB25) Dixon
79 Marquise Brown (WR39) Miari
80 James Conner (RB26) Boone
81 Rachaad White (RB27) Vaswani
82 Dalvin Cook (RB28) Belbeck
83 Gabe Davis (WR40) Nesci
84 Javonte Williams (RB29) Wile

Round 7: The running back value stood out in this round, with some starter-quality options going off the board alongside No. 2 and No. 3 receivers. Williams and Pacheco are working their way back from injuries, Cook is still searching for his next team, White is unproven, Montgomery is splitting his backfield with a more talented rookie runner, and Conner is always a durability concern. But that list of backs all have top-24 fantasy potential, making them great values at this point.

My pick: It was shocking to see Conner fall to me here, despite the general public's view of him as a back who breaks down on an offense that could struggle while Kyler Murray is out. Conner missed four games last year, but he still finished as the RB10 in fantasy points per game. With Murray out, the offense will likely go through Conner - so what he loses in efficiency, he might gain in volume. Either way, he's an obvious selection this late.

Round 8

Pick Player Team
85 Jahan Dotson (WR41) Wile
86 Deshaun Watson (QB9) Nesci
87 Alvin Kamara (RB30) Belbeck
88 James Cook (RB31) Vaswani
89 Quentin Johnston (WR42) Boone
90 Brandin Cooks (WR43) Miari
91 AJ Dillon (RB32) Dixon
92 Michael Thomas (WR44) Washington
93 Rashod Bateman (WR45) Deeg
94 Antonio Gibson (RB33) Holroyd
95 Courtland Sutton (WR46) Wilkins
96 Evan Engram (TE8) Dickson

Round 8: The running back values continued into this round with Kamara, Cook, Dillon, and Gibson. Kamara settling his assault case should pave the way for the league to rule on a potential suspension, which seems more likely to be four games or less now. Cook is a breakout candidate in a high-powered Bills offense, Dillon is an Aaron Jones injury away from fantasy stardom, and Gibson is gaining buzz as perhaps the better-suited back for new offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy's system in Washington. If you're going zero-RB, these are some of the names you should be targeting.

My pick: The hope was that Kamara would fall to me here, giving me another strong running back option if/when Conner misses time. Instead, we went with the upside of the Chargers' first-round rookie Johnston. After impressing in OTAs, Johnston is locked in as a starter in three-receiver sets and playing next to two older wideouts who've been known to get banged up in the past. If Keenan Allen or Mike Williams are sidelined, Johnston will erupt as a fantasy producer.

Round 9

Pick Player Team
97 Tua Tagovailoa (QB10) Dickson
98 Rashaad Penny (RB34) Wilkins
99 Zach Charbonnet (RB35) Holroyd
100 Damien Harris (RB36) Deeg
101 Elijah Mitchell (RB37) Washington
102 Odell Beckham (WR47) Dixon
103 Samaje Perine (RB38) Miari
104 Elijah Moore (WR48) Boone
105 Anthony Richardson (QB11) Vaswani
106 Zay Flowers (WR49) Belbeck
107 Brian Robinson (RB39) Nesci
108 Jamaal Williams (RB40) Wile

Round 9: While Team Dixon got off to a very intriguing start, the decision to go with a receiver in this round seemed like an odd choice. With the elite starters at TE/QB and a quality receiving corps that was already four deep, the focus should be on running backs the rest of the way. Montgomery and Dillon were a nice start the last two rounds, but a player like Perine or Williams (who both went later in this frame) would've given Team Dixon a potential early-season starter. Javonte Williams is returning from an ACL tear and might not be ready for Week 1, and Kamara's suspension could boost Jamaal Williams' value in the opening month. If you go the zero-RB route, don't waste your time on depth WRs in this area, just stock your bench with backs.

My pick: Upside is always my goal in the later rounds, and Moore's move from New York to Cleveland could restore his fantasy outlook. If offseason reports are true, Moore is soaking up targets in practice and is expected to be a major part of the Browns' passing offense. He flashed as a fantasy difference-maker down the stretch of his rookie season, so let's see if he can recapture that production with a fresh start.

Round 10

Pick Player Team
109 Pat Freiermuth (TE9) Wile
110 Jameson Williams (WR50) Nesci
111 Devon Achane (RB41) Belbeck
112 Skyy Moore (WR51) Vaswani
113 David Njoku (TE10) Boone
114 Allen Lazard (WR52) Miari
115 Jerick McKinnon (RB42) Dixon
116 JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR53) Washington
117 Romeo Doubs (WR54) Deeg
118 Jakobi Meyers (WR55) Holroyd
119 Khalil Herbert (RB43) Wilkins
120 Zay Jones (WR56) Dickson

Round 10: Moore is one of my favorite late-round picks, so it was disappointing to see him go one spot before my selection. Last year's second-rounder has been getting some hype in a wide-open Chiefs receiver room and could slide into the starting role vacated by JuJu Smith-Schuster. Don't give up on him yet.

My pick: The time to take a tight end finally arrived with Njoku being the last player left in this tier. The 27-year-old was the TE9 in fantasy points per game last year and has a clear path to return to that range. Though he's never going to push for high-end fantasy numbers, Njoku is a quality mid- to low-end TE1 in an ascending Browns offense.

Round 11

Pick Player Team
121 Tyler Allgeier (RB44) Dickson
122 Adam Thielen (WR57) Wilkins
123 Rondale Moore (WR58) Holroyd
124 Jaylen Warren (RB45) Deeg
125 Chigoziem Okonkwo (TE11) Washington
126 Tyler Boyd (WR59) Dixon
127 Dak Prescott (QB12) Miari
128 Tyjae Spears (RB46) Boone
129 Nico Collins (WR60) Vaswani
130 Jonathan Mingo (WR61) Belbeck
131 Greg Dulcich (TE12) Nesci
132 Kendre Miller (RB47) Wile

Round 11: If you're going with a receiver at this stage, you should be chasing breakouts rather than veteran depth. Moore, Collins, and Mingo are younger wideouts with the opportunity to carve out big roles in 2023. That's far more enticing than a late-career Thielen or a player who needs an injury to excel like Boyd.

My pick: With all my starting spots secured, it's time to load up on lottery-ticket running backs. Spears is one of the best examples of this as a rookie RB who appears to already have the No. 2 role in his offense. The Titans' coaching staff have talked him up and may even use him as a passing-down weapon next to Henry. Spears would assume the starting job if Henry, 29, breaks down or gets traded to a contender.

Round 12

Pick Player Team
133 Tank Bigsby (RB48) Wile
134 Devin Singletary (RB49) Nesci
135 Roschon Johnson (RB50) Belbeck
136 Geno Smith (QB13) Vaswani
137 Chase Brown (RB51) Boone
138 Raheem Mostert (RB52) Miari
139 Ezekiel Elliott (RB53) Dixon
140 Darnell Mooney (WR62) Washington
141 Van Jefferson (WR63) Deeg
142 Michael Gallup (WR64) Holroyd
143 D'Onta Foreman (RB54) Wilkins
144 Aaron Rodgers (QB14) Dickson

Round 12: When you compare the running backs taken in this round versus the receivers - in terms of what they can provide in fantasy - there's no contest. It's too hard to justify using a bench spot on a WR who's unlikely to ever see enough volume to impact your lineup when the RBs in Round 12 have far more paths to production.

My pick: One of those backs is Brown, who's competing for the No. 2 role in Cincy behind Joe Mixon, who has a court case to sort out before the season. There are also reports the Bengals want Mixon to take a pay cut, which hasn't been addressed yet. Even if Mixon overcomes those issues, Brown could still be a one-injury-away back for fantasy.

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