The 2022 NFL season will come to an end Feb. 12, as the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles will battle it out in Super Bowl LVII. The game features the best quarterback and tight end in fantasy football in Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, not to mention another elite signal-caller in Jalen Hurts and a pair of high-end fantasy wideouts in A.J. Brown (WR6) and DeVonta Smith (WR9) in PPR formats.
Since it’s never too soon to look ahead to next season, I’ve taken it upon myself to post my first one-man, five-round mock draft for 2023. One thing you’ll notice in the results is that this is unlike most mocks I’ve done in the past. With some of the top running backs getting older and an influx of good, young wideouts in the league, the balance of power has shifted to receivers. I’ve also included six quarterbacks in the top five rounds, which is far different from what I’ve done in most recent seasons.
This mock includes 12 fantasy “teams” and is based on a PPR scoring system. Each team used different “strategies” with their first three overall picks, so you can see how the roster is built at the top. Notice, a lot of wide receivers have been drafted.
Teams 1, 9: Running back, wide receiver, running back
Teams 2: Wide receiver, quarterback, running back
Team 3: Running back, quarterback, wide receiver
Team 4, 5, 11, 12: Wide receiver, wide receiver, running back
Team 6: Wide receiver, running back, quarterback
Team 7: Running back, running back, tight end
Team 8: Running back, running back, wide receiver
Team 10: Running back, tight ends, wide receiver
1.1. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
1.2. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
1.3. Christian McCaffrey, RB, San Francisco 49ers
1.4. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
1.5. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
1.6. Tyreek Hill, WR, Miami Dolphins
1.7. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
1.8. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
1.9. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
1.10. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
1.11. Davante Adams, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
1.12. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills
Notes: The shift to drafting more wide receivers starts in Round 1, as half of the picks came at the position including four of the first six overall. Ekeler was the top-scoring running back in fantasy football, and he’s the lone player at the position to score 300-plus points in each of the last two years. I have Jefferson at No. 2, and he’ll be the top pick in plenty of PPR leagues. McCaffrey was the No. 2 fantasy back in 2022, and he’ll continue to thrive in San Francisco’s runner friendly offense. Kupp averaged 22.4 points for the Rams and was on pace to score 380.5 points before he was injured and missed the final eight games of 2022. That total would have put him ahead of Jefferson for the lead at wide receiver. Chase missed five games but was fourth in points-per-game average among wideouts. Hill finished second in points and proved he didn’t need Patrick Mahomes to remain a stud on the field and in fantasy land.
Taylor was a massive disappointment, finishing outside of the top 30 backs after being the top overall pick in fantasy drafts. Still, he’s just 23 and should rebound in 2023. Barkley and Jacobs are both slated to be free agents, but they’re both likely to be first-rounders. Henry finished as the RB4, but he’s had a ton of carries in his NFL career and will be heading into his age-29 season. Adams and Diggs are both top five players among wideouts and will be late first-rounders in most 12-team drafts.
2.13. A.J. Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
2.14. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
2.15. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
2.16. Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions
2.17. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
2.18. Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets
2.19. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
2.20. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals
2.21. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins
2.22. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
2.23. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
2.24. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Notes: Brown and Lamb are both coming off career-best years and will be surefire top-20 picks. Kelce will be a first-rounder in countless mocks (and he’s well worth it), but I have him listed as a second-rounder. St. Brown has moved up after posting his second big fantasy season, and I like Hall to bust out as an NFL sophomore (as long as he has no setbacks from an ACL tear). Chubb and Mixon will be second-rounders in most leagues. Hopkins could be traded in the offseason, but for now he’ll remain a low-end No. 1 wideout. Waddle and Higgins are also second-rounders in this mock. I have two quarterbacks, Mahomes and Allen, coming off the board in Round 2.
3.25. Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots
3.26. Ken Walker, RB, Seattle Seahawks
3.27. DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
3.28. Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboy
3.29. Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
3.30. Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
3.31. Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
3.32. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
3.33. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
3.34. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3.35. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
3.36. Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos
Notes: This round features several good, young running backs who definitely have RB1 upside. Stevenson was the RB7 this past season, and Damien Harris is slated to become a free agent. Walker could become a top-notch back as he enters his second NFL season, and Pollard is coming off a career campaign. As long as he’s recovered from a broken leg in time for training camp, Pollard should remain a very valuable fantasy asset. He is slated to become a free agent in 2023, however.
Hurts had a career season and belongs in the top 30 overall moving forward. He could be the first field general picked in many drafts, in fact. Andrews has fallen a bit after a disappointing second half of last season, but he’s still a top-3 option at a very thin position. Godwin is tough to rank after Tom Brady’s retirement, but he’ll likely remain a target hog in Tampa Bay. Harris fell from the ranks of the first round after a sophomore season that saw him average a modest 3.8 yards per rush and post just 41 catches. Williams is also tough to project coming off ACL and LCL injuries, but he'll be a top-36 pick for now. He could move up or down in future mocks based on reports about his recovery and what the Broncos do in their backfield rotation.
4.37. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
4.38. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
4.39. Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers
4.40. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4.41. Amari Cooper, WR, Cleveland Browns
4.42. Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets
4.43. Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans
4.44. Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
4.45. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
4.46. Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
4.47. James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals
4.48. Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints
Notes: This was a wide receiver-heavy round overall, as eight of the 12 picks were wideouts. That mirrors the move toward a heavier focus on that position in the early rounds of drafts. Metcalf and Lockett were better than projected with Geno Smith under center, but Samuel took a step back after a breakout 2021 campaign. Like Godwin, Evans’s stock could fall without Brady under center. On the flip side, I can see Wilson moving up in this round or even moving into Round 3 depending on what the Jets do at quarterback (maybe Aaron Rodgers?). The same goes for Olave.
Cook has long been a first-rounder and finished as the RB11, but he’s not getting any younger and was inconsistent in 2022. In fact, he scored fewer than 14 fantasy points 11 times. Pierce averaged almost 13 points per game as a rookie and should retain the top spot on the depth chart in Houston under new coach DeMeco Ryans. The lone quarterback in the round is Burrow, who is a step below the elite players at his position but has emerged into one of the most valuable QBs in fantasy drafts.
5.49. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
5.50. Christian Kirk, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
5.51. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
5.52. D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
5.53. Tyler Allgeier, RB, Atlanta Falcons
5.54. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts
5.55. Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Commanders
5.56. Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears
5.57. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Minnesota Vikings
5.58. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
5.59. Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5.60. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos
Notes: Jackson and Fields are the fifth and sixth quarterbacks in my five-round mock, which once again shows how the top players at the position have gained value. Kamara, who is a declining player and could be facing a suspension, has fallen all the way down to the fifth round after being a top-20 pick most of his career. Swift has also fallen, though his stock could rise if the Lions don’t keep Jamaal Williams (free agent). I do like Allgeier as a potential breakout candidate, and Dobbins should be in a great position to succeed in Baltimore’s running offense.
I also have Fournette coming off the board here, but that could change depending on what the Buccaneers do this offseason. It could ultimately become Rachaad White who earns a spot in the first five rounds. This round also included four wideouts, all under the age of 28, who will be seen as No. 2 or 3 options in drafts. Hockenson, who was the TE2 in fantasy this past season, also came off the board.
Total players drafted per position:
Running Backs: 24
Wide Receivers: 27
Tight Ends: 3
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business to help you win a fantasy championship!