2023 Fantasy Football May Mock Draft

by Mark Strausberg

Here's hoping you had a great Memorial Day Weekend! While you were likely spending time poolside, doing yard work, or just munching down on something fresh off the grill, the F6P crew was busy finishing up our 2023 Fantasy Football May Mock Draft.

We will do this exercise again later this preseason. I mention that because one should always remember that a mock is a snapshot of a particular set of possibilities that occurred in a particular way at a particular time. It's often more valuable to see what changes from one mock to another. But we can still gain value from a mock, especially if we know what folks were trying to do. And perhaps you know some of these folks already.

The twelve folks involved in this mock and their respective draft positions were as follows:

  1. Garrett Ball (Twitter @GarrettBFF)
  2. Blake Gambino (@_BHG_)
  3. Nick Spencer (@NickBSpencer)
  4. Joe Bond (@F6P_Joe)
  5. Mike Bonni (@ike2121)
  6. Dylan Clemons (@dclemons2222)
  7. Dan Johnson (@DrjPsx)
  8. Mark Strausberg (@MarkStrausberg)
  9. Mike LaPlant (@BeLike_Miike)
  10. John LaPresto (@TheJohnLaPresto)
  11. Dennis Sosic (@CALL_ME_SOS)
  12. Eric Sonnier (@eric07294)

Our format was twelve teams, Half-PPR, 1QB/2RB/3WR/1TE/1Flex with five bench to give us 13 rounds total.

Let's see what everyone did and some of the group's reactions to said picks.

2023 Fantasy Football May Mock Draft

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The "Big" Takeaway

I think the biggest takeaway was based upon a conversation started casually by Joe when he commented, "I'm super surprised to see so many QBs go this early in an industry draft". I innocently responded, "The industry is shifting. The only thing constant is change! 😉" Next thing you knew, we were down the rabbit hole.

Mike then chipped in with "I told Joe, when it comes to that top tier of QBs, (Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, & Josh Allen) there is such a points discrepancy between those three guys and the next QB, that drafts will start to change and you are going to be getting those top tier of QBs going earlier than normal because of the margin of points that they score over the next"

Dan followed that up with "Yeah the draft QBs late strategy is great in theory, especially during the actual draft itself. but then you look at your opponent's schedule for the season and you see you've gotta face Allen, Hurts, and Mahomes at least once, and depending on your league size, one or two of them twice then you just have to swallow the knowledge that your opponent's QB is going to probably drop at least 25 on you, and with those guys, very likely more"

And we just kept going from there.

The point here is that wrong or right, QBs, especially those who give you a floor with their scrambling, are becoming more and more commonplace in the early rounds again. Keep it in mind.

And so your mind doesn't explode, let's go a little more micro and discuss some of the strategies employed.

Strategy

As expected,  a number of different owners employed different strategies. And as expected, a number of owners went with a WR-heavy strategy.

Mike Laplant said his strategy was "to stack WRs early to make sure I could get good depth in the back end of the mock. Because the market hasn’t corrected itself yet with RBs yet. I feel like you can get away with starting your drafts this year with 3 WRs right off the rip. Lots of RBs that could fit right into your lineup when it comes playoffs time."

Michael Bonni had a similar strategy, saying he "wanted to go heavy on WR to start, then find value at RB." In his modest opinion, he thought he "nailed it", citing "Four WRS that can be WR24 or better (potentially) and Aaron Jones in round 5!"

Both those strategies are pretty standard and from the results, it looked like it turned out well However, some other owners went a different way. Eric Sonnier said his strategy going in was to try something new by taking a TE early to see if he could build a decent roster. He felt he achieved that. Garrett meanwhile went with a "Hero-RB/Heavy WR" strategy" that was  "similar to how to draft a best ball team."

Of course, some like Dylan Clemons admitted they did not even have a strategy: "I did not have a strategy. I would normally like to get one of the top-3 receivers but they were gone so I pivoted. The stack with Mahomes and Kelce just fell into my lap as once again another tier drop at every other position before I picked Mahomes."

My Strategy

As for yours truly, I knew some owners were going to go heavy on WR and light on RB. I wanted to see what would happen if I did the opposite. Therefore, I went with a "Zero WR" strategy by not taking any WRs in the first five rounds. I don't love the team I have, but it's better than I thought it would be.

I love George Pickens as a WR3. Plus, while I know the concerns about Mike Williams, but he could easily average half a TD a game again as I expect Justin Herbert to rebound this year. And likewise, I like what new Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton has done previously and expect a rebound from Russell Wilson. Rising tides lift all boats and I can easily see Cortland Sutton returning to the elite tier of WRs.

Are Pickens, Sutton, and MWill probably one of the weaker trio of WRs drafted? Perhaps. But given I didn't take a WR until the 65th overall pick, I'm pretty happy with them. Combine them with what I believe are at worst the top 3 options at RB, QB, and TE, I think the strategy can work.

Rounds 1 Through 3 Analysis

Round 1

Round 1 went off pretty much as expected. You should expect to see Christian McCaffrey, Jamar Chase, and Justin Jefferson all go within the top five picks, often the first three. The order might vary depending on whether those owners prefer to take a RB or WR early. Your first round will likely end with a workhorse RB like Derrick Henry or Nick Chubb, as did ours. In between there will be some variance, but very few surprises here.

However, Eric loved the start I got off to, and thought Jonathan Taylor was the steal of the draft given that Taylor "had a rough year last year because of injuries and horrific QB play but you just got the consensus 1.1 last year and he’s still very young."

Round 2

Round 2 brought a number of decent picks, including Mike LaPlant loving Joe's pick of Jaylen Waddle. Perhaps he's sucking up to the head honcho, but according to LaPlant, "Joe with Jaylen Waddle at the 2.09 pick. He finished as a WR1 last year with Tua in & out of the lineup. It’s a great follow-up to Ekeler at the 1.04."

I doubt Josh Jacobs will be the 9th RB off the board in your draft, as Nick Spencer modestly said, "I was thrilled to get Josh Jacobs at pick 2.10. He was the RB3 last season, and I currently have him ranked as the RB6 for this season. I am expecting more of the same for Jacobs this year." But those are the kinds of weird things that can happen in a draft! Will it happen in yours? That specific example? No, but something equally as surprising? Yes.

But some were less enthused about certain picks. LaPresto said that Najee Harris at 2.11 was the pick he liked the least. "I get it. The workload upside is there but so is Jaylen Warren. The Steelers aren't going to be a top-10 offense and there are plenty of offensive skill players who will see touches. That's a stay-away situation for me in round 2."

On the flip side, Eric, obviously a believer in the "late round QB strategy" said, "Not that Josh Allen is bad by any means, but that’s super early to take a QB, I’d much rather take an elite RB/WR or even a TE there over a QB any day. The gap between RB7 and RB15 is much bigger than the gap between QB7 and QB15".

Round 3

Eric would probably be happy to see the results of Round 3 in a real draft, three more quarterbacks came off the board this round in our mock. You should expect at least a third of your league to have QBs by the end of round three.

But the biggest criticism was not aimed at the QBs drafted, but more so at the RBs taken. There were a number of folks who thought one of the worst picks was in this round, specifically Travis Etienne. Michael Bonni summed it up nicer than most: "Worst pick? Travis Etienne as RB12. Way too pricey for a guy who won’t see the same workload in 2023."

But Etienne wasn't the only bad pick in this round in the eyes of some. Immediately after picking Kenneth Walker, Mike LaPlant expressed his regret in doing so, although didn't say why. But his bosom buddy Dylan was happy to step up for him saying, "Worst pick was Mike LaPlant forcing the pick of Kenneth Walker. He will be in a committee and was inefficient last season. I would have taken Pollard over him. After Pollard, there was a tier drop in my eyes". Not just spot-on analysis, but quite the pun-meister Dylan is!

Rounds 4 Through 6 Analysis

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I often call these rounds the "balance rounds". So if you went RB-heavy, there is a very high probability that you will take a WR in one of these rounds. And if you went WR-heavy, very high probability you will take a RB in one of these rounds. Mike Bonni was the only one who went the same position in the first three rounds, but he and others began mixing it up, as more QBs and TEs also joined the party.

Rounds 4 through 6 saw many solid picks, but one pick that raised an eyebrow or two was Joe's pick of Christian Watson over other more established WR options like the 13-TDs-over-the-last-two-years Mike Williams or 1K+ receiving yards-per-season-average Terry McLaurin amongst others. Watson had an ok season, but will he be able to improve on last season's numbers with Jordan Love now under center?

But Joe's rationale was this: "Williams has been a very inconsistent player and often injured player over his career. Now he has to deal with rookie Quentin Johnston. McLaurin has been solid, but not spectacular, and now is dealing with arguably the worst QB of his career, Sam Howell. Christian Watson does not have a spectacular QB playing for him, but he is no doubt the No. 1 in Green Bay, and in the short time he and Love played together, they showed great chemistry. I wanted to take a chance at a bit of upside with my WR3 instead of playing it safe with Williams and Scary Terry".

Rounds 7 Through 9 Analysis

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I often call these rounds the "Champion rounds", as it is often the picks in these rounds that are the difference between champions and playoff pretenders. Nearly every player in these rounds has some sort of hazard sign around them, and safely navigating between them can be the key between winning and losing.  Thus, there are often some great picks made here.

Including Garrett loving Dylan's pick of Tyler Lockett saying, "Tyler Lockett in the 8th round was a steal. Lockett is a value pretty much every year, and this year is no different. I'm not fading JSN, but more than likely he'll take time to develop and get up to speed in the NFL. In the meantime, Lockett should thrive as a result of his experience in the NFL and in the offense, plus he's just a good player."

LaPresto however had a bit of buyer's remorse in Round 7. "Deshaun Watson at 7.10 is the pick I regret. I believe we'll see a bounce-back year from Watson but I should have taken some additional depth. Someone like Dotson, Burks, or Cooks would have solidified my WR group." LaPresto and I have known each other for over a decade and often disagree. But this is one of the few times I agree with him!

Rounds 10 and Beyond Analysis

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Here is where the "rubber meets the road", as there are no obvious picks and the better drafters find the better values.

One of the better picks was Tua Tagovailoa. As Blake said, "Best overall pick is 13.3 Tua. If he stays healthy no reason he can’t be a top 5 QB with his weapons."

Daniel Johnson for example loved his own pick of Anthony Richardson in the middle of the 12th round. He modestly commented on Richardson saying,  "Late-round lightning in a bottle? Please and thanks. I’ll gladly pay this price, even if it blows up in my face."

Winner of the Draft?

The most popular choice was Mike Bonni. As Dennis said, "And you have to be impressed with the starting lineup of three stud wideouts and the backfield of Jones and White. He also has Lamar Jackson at QB, who is a perennial MVP candidate."

My team interestingly brought out both high praise, but also some low marks (no pun intended, I swear!).

When asked, Michael Bonni said "Worst team: Sorry Mark, but I would say you. I’m gonna put this as nicely as I can, the WRs are not good. Big Mike as WR1 is brutal. You didn’t have to draft a 2nd QB, especially with Hurts. RBs are too risky for me, especially without having a stud wideout. JT could lose his TD prowess because of Anthony Richardson. Breece is recovering from ACL, and Sanders left a great team with a great o line to go to the Panthers."

However, Eric had quite the opposite reaction, simply lauding my team by saying, "I like Strausberg's team the best. They have elite players at every position and their lineup is the most pleasant to look at besides mine."

Different strokes for different folks I guess! So take a look at our mock. Who do you think had the best or worst in our 2023 Fantasy Football May Mock Draft?


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