Fantasy football mock draft season is here: See results, analysis from 12-team PPR mock

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Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) celebrates his touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Fantasy football draft season is right around the corner, and one of the best ways to prepare is by participating in mock drafts.

While mock drafts aren’t perfect considering fantasy managers tend to try out different strategies that they normally wouldn’t follow in an actual draft, getting familiar with how players are being valued is an important step toward having a successful draft.

Myself and 11 other experienced fantasy players completed a 12-team PPR mock draft recently through Sleeper, with round-by-round analysis down below.

Round 1

The first round began with former LSU stars Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase going first and second overall, which was somewhat surprising considering at least one running back usually goes in the top two. Christian McCaffrey was the first running back off the board at third overall, and Austin Ekeler slipped to sixth as the third running back off the board behind McCaffrey and ascending rookie Bijan Robinson. Ekeler finished as the top scoring running back last season, and while he’s due for some regression this season, I was more than happy to select him in the middle of the first. A total of six wide receivers were selected, with the only reach I saw being Cooper Kupp at fourth overall considering he’s getting up in age and is on a Rams team that doesn’t have much support around him. Travis Kelce was the only non-running back or wide receiver to go in the first round at ninth overall.

Best value pick: Austin Ekeler (pick 1.06)

Biggest reach: Cooper Kupp (pick 1.04)

Round 2

The second round was very similar to the first as far as the amount of players selected at each position. Derrick Henry in the middle of this round seemed like an excellent value pick considering he still performed at an elite level last season, and Mark Andrews at the end of the round also appeared to be a value with how explosive the new-look Ravens offense is set to be. The Tony Pollard hype train has left the station, and while I can understand why people are jumping on it, I’m personally avoiding him in drafts since he’s yet to prove he can handle an every-down workload for a full season. I’m also avoiding Davante Adams at his current price even though he’s a proven All-Pro, as the Raiders quarterback situation could prevent him from delivering his usual elite statistics.

Best value pick: Derrick Henry (pick 2.06)

Biggest reach: Davante Adams (pick 2.02)

Rounds 3 and 4

These rounds continued the theme of wide receivers and running backs flying off the board, but there were a pair of quarterbacks selected along with a pair of tight ends. Patrick Mahomes kicked off the quarterback run and rightfully so, but I personally wouldn’t have selected him and Josh Allen quite as high as they went considering how deep the position is in single-quarterback leagues. Najee Harris and Travis Etienne were nice value picks in the third round considering they both have RB1 upside, and there were several receivers that were value picks in the fourth round such as Deebo SamuelAaron Jones went a big too high for my liking, as the Packers offense is set to take a step back without Aaron Rodgers while also likely involving younger running back AJ Dillon more.

Best value pick: Deebo Samuel (pick 4.05)

Biggest reach: Aaron Jones (pick 3.09)

Rounds 5 and 6

This is where quarterbacks began to fly off the board, as a total of four were selected beginning with Lamar Jackson, but Joe Burrow ended up being the best value falling all the way to the eight pick of the fifth round. Wide receivers also were prevalent in this round with only running backs selected, and Drake London ended up being a steal in the middle of the fifth as someone who should continue to build upon his rookie season in which he established himself as a go-to target. The sixth round saw mainly running backs go off the board, with wild cards Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara being scooped up, which made sense considering this was around the point in draft where the running back position dries up. While most of the receivers taken here made sense, Tyler Lockett felt like a reach in the sixth considering the Seahawks added significant competition for targets by selecting Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Best value: Drake London (pick 5.06)

Biggest reach: Tyler Lockett (pick 6.01)

Rounds 7 and 8

This is usually where the dreaded running back dead zone begins, with wide receivers and tight ends making up the majority of the picks. Marquise Brown ended up falling to the end of the seventh round and should easily return value at that price as the clear top target for the Cardinals, and Kyle Pitts in the beginning of the eighth round was refreshing to see now that the hype surrounding him has died down significantly. Pat Freiermuth going above Pitts was a head scratcher, and Odell Beckham in the eighth seemed very risky considering his age and extensive injury history.

Best value: Marquise Brown (pick 7.09)

Biggest reach: Odell Beckham (pick 8.05)

Rounds 9-14

Teams were either filling out their bench at this point or selecting a quarterback and/or a tight end if they had decided to wait on the position. A favorite late-round target of mine is Skyy Moore, who I was able to secure in the 11th round in hopes that he can have a breakout season, and the path is there considering how thin the Chiefs receiving room is outside of Travis Kelce. Jared Goff is a perfect example of why waiting on a quarterback usually works out, as he slipped to the 13th round and should be a borderline top-12 quarterback on the ascending Lions offense. While taking a second quarterback is recommended, gambling on an unknown such as Jordan Love usually isn’t worth it considering how many upside running backs and wide receivers with upside are available. While it’s good to take a shot on a rookie or two, several rookies that get selected in these rounds are best left to the waiver wire considering their roles within the offense are unclear at this point, with second-year players such as Rashid Shaheed being nice value picks considering Shaheed carved out a significant role with the Saints down the stretch. I also tend to avoid players with injury concerns such as Wan’Dale Robinson, as he’s coming off a torn ACL and will be fighting for reps in a crowded Giants receiver room.

Best values: Skyy Moore (pick 11.06), Jared Goff (pick 13.04)

Biggest reaches: Jordan Love (pick 13.09), Wan’Dale Robinson (14.05)

Good luck with your fantasy football draft prep! Looking to mock draft? Follow @spencertheguru on Instagram for live mocks every Monday.

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