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2023 Fantasy Football PPR Mock Draft 3.0 – Drafting from the #3 Slot

Even with a tidal wave of NFL action from training camp on the horizon, this weekend’s splash of news alters the fantasy football landscape ever so slightly. I’m talking, of course, about DeAndre Hopkins joining the Tennessee Titans and Alvin Kamara’s legal updates. This is a good, first taste of how news within the league can affect the values and decisions made in a mock draft.

Every Monday, I will continue completing a fantasy football mock draft on what I like to call “Mock Draft Monday.” This series is a favorite of mine and one of the articles I look forward to the most during fantasy football draft season. I encourage you to review these mock drafts and complete some of your own!

Each week, I will complete a mock draft selecting players from a different draft spot with an analysis as to why I picked each player where and when I did. As I break down the results of each mock draft, I guarantee my reasoning for every pick will help guide your own decision-making process when it comes time to select your teams for the upcoming fantasy football season. So, follow along all summer long!

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Picking Third Overall in the Third Mock Draft

The following mock draft was completed, simulating my strategy and results for a 10-team, 1 quarterback, Points Per Reception league.  The hypothetical roster consists of 3 wide receivers, 2 running backs, 1 tight end, and 1 RB/WR/TE Flex position.  I drafted from the third overall pick in this mock draft and will make selections from different draft positions each week.  For this mock draft, I will break down just the first 10 of the total 16 rounds as many Average Draft Positions, particularly for the later rounds, are bound to change once NFL training camps begin. As always, I spend my final two picks on a Defense/Special Teams and Kicker so they won’t be included as we focus on individual player analysis.


1.01-         Christian McCaffrey (CAR RB)

1.02-        Justin Jefferson (MIN WR)

1.03-       Austin Ekeler (LAC RB)

1.04-        Jonathan Taylor (IND RB)

1.05-        Saquon Barkley (NYG RB)

1.06-        Bijan Robinson (ATL RB)

1.07-         Ja’Marr Chase (CIN WR)

1.08-        Josh Jacobs (LV RB)

1.09-        Tony Pollard (DAL RB)

1.10-         Cooper Kupp (LAR WR)

MY PICK: Austin Ekeler

This mock draft is the first of my series where a wide receiver is taken in the top-three picks. We may even see a player like Justin Jefferson come off of the board first overall. He, and plenty others, are worthy of that pick. As it happens here, I gladly select Austin Ekeler with the third pick. He was my pick in Mock Draft 2.0 at the second overall spot so this is a no-brainer for me.


2.01 –      Tyreek Hill (MIA WR)

2.02-      Rhamondre Stevenson (NE RB)

2.03-      Travis Kelce (KC TE)

2.04-      Stefon Diggs (BUF WR)

2.05-      Nick Chubb (CLE RB)

2.06-      Breece Hall (NYJ RB)

2.07-      Derrick Henry (TEN RB)

2.08-    Ceedee Lamb (DAL WR)

2.09-      A.J. Brown (PHI WR)

2.10-      Amon-Ra St. Brown (DET WR)

MY PICK: Ceedee Lamb

I don’t feel any pressure to select a running back after four come off the board before me here in the second round of this mock draft. Especially for the first three or so picks, the name of the game is VALUE! Rather than try to do what everyone else is doing, build your best team. In this case, that means selecting wide receiver Ceedee Lamb. I like some of the running backs still available, but Ceedee Lamb is the better player among them. He has a better chance to finish inside the top-five or so at his position than the running backs still available do at theirs, especially in a PPR league.


3.01-      Garrett Wilson (NYJ WR)

3.02-     Davante Adams (LV WR)

3.03-    Jaylen Waddle (MIA WR)

3.04-     Najee Harris (PIT RB)

3.05-     Mark Andrews (BAL TE)

3.06-     Travis Etienne (JAX RB)

3.07-     Chris Olave (NO WR)

3.08-     Joe Mixon (CIN RB)

3.09-     Tee Higgins (CIN WR)

3.10-      DeVonta Smith (PHI WR)

MY PICK: Jaylen Waddle

Despite Tyreek Hill’s WR3 finish on a points-per-game basis, Waddle has a WR13 finish of his own from the 2022 season. In total points, Hill (WR2) and Waddle (WR8) are the highest-scoring pair of wide receiver teammates from last season. As we approach 2023, I think this duo can produce similarly.

Waddle’s numbers are even more impressive considering he is the 22nd-most targeted player from last season. Assuming a full season with a healthy Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, Waddle could take another step forward this season. Even if Tua isn’t available for every game, Mike White is joining the Dolphins as the backup which gives me the confidence to add Waddle to the core of any fantasy team I draft this season.


4.01-       Patrick Mahomes (KC QB)

4.02-      Aaron Jones (GB RB)

4.03-      Drake London (ATL WR)

4.04-      Jalen Hurts (PHI QB)

4.05-      Keenan Allen (LAC WR)

4.06-      D.K. Metcalf (SEA WR)

4.07-      T.J. Hockenson (MIN TE)

4.08-    Amari Cooper (CLE WR)

4.09-      Josh Allen (BUF QB)

4.10-       Jahmyr Gibbs (DET RB)

MY PICK: Amari Cooper

If Amari Cooper is available to add as a WR3 to my fantasy teams in 2023, I’m going to take that opportunity 10 out of 10 times. Practice how you play. So, for this mock draft, I’m not going to pass up Cooper here even though Josh Allen and even Jahmyr Gibbs are tempting picks.

Cooper is the WR1 on the Cleveland Browns, a team I expect to pass more in 2023. With a fully-guaranteed contract commitment to quarterback Deshaun Watson, they need him to be the focal point of their offense. Trading for wide receiver Elijah Moore and drafting Cedric Tillman are also evidence of that. Cooper has an average of 121 targets per season over his last four. He’s never drawn less than 100 in seasons where he’s played 15 or more games. The value here is too good to pass on.


5.01-       Calvin Ridley (JAX WR)

5.02-      Kenneth Walker III (SEA RB)

5.03-     Deebo Samuel (SF WR)

5.04-      Chris Godwin (TB WR)

5.05-      Jerry Jeudy (DEN WR)

5.06-      Michael Pittman (IND WR)

5.07-      Alexander Mattison (MIN RB)

5.08-      Terry McLaurin (WSH WR)

5.09-      Marquise Brown (ARI WR)

5.10-       J.K. Dobbins (BAL RB)

MY PICK: Deebo Samuel

Following a WR3 finish in 2021, Deebo’s WR23 finish in 2022 is an obvious disappointment. That will sour a few managers in your league already. Then consider he’s entering a full season with Christian McCaffrey on the roster. Oh, and we still don’t have an idea of who San Francisco’s Week 1 starting quarterback is yet.

Still, Deebo as a flex on a 2023 fantasy football roster is a flex in of itself to all of your league mates. Deebo is a Yards After the Catch (YAC) monster. In his career, 2,132 of his 3,230 regular season yards (66%) are yards after the catch. He remains one of the most lethal threats in the league when the ball is in his hands. Deebo has already seen his fair share of quarterback changes in a short period of time. I’m not worried about that. He’s still going to draw his fair share of targets, enough to warrant coming off of the board as WR20 in this mock draft.


6.01-       Christian Watson (GB WR)

6.02-      Dallas Goedert (PHI TE)

6.03-      Cam Akers (LAR RB)

6.04-      DeAndre Hopkins (TEN WR)

6.05-      George Kittle (SF TE)

6.06-      Rachaad White (TB RB)

6.07-      D.J. Moore (CHI WR)

6.08-    Miles Sanders (CAR RB)

6.09-      Christian Kirk (JAX WR)

6.10-       Lamar Jackson (BAL QB)

MY PICK: Miles Sanders

After four straight wide receiver picks, it’s time to turn my attention back to running backs. The obvious choices here on the mock draft board are Miles Sanders and Dameon Pierce. These are quintessential picks to start as an RB2 on most fantasy teams to start the season.

It’s really a coin flip between Sanders and Pierce. Both are going to dominate touches out of their respective backfields. There is plenty of volume for each to invest in with this pick. I’ll lean Sanders here as a more experienced veteran coming off of a career year. He’s also joining the Carolina Panthers who have put together an incredible coaching staff that includes Duce Staley, whom Sanders has a successful history with.


7.01-       Mike Williams (LAC WR)

7.02-      Dameon Pierce (HOU RB)

7.03-     Joe Burrow (CIN QB)

7.04-      Diontae Johnson (PIT WR)

7.05-      Tyler Lockett (SEA WR)

7.06-      Trevor Lawrence (JAX QB)

7.07-      Kyle Pitts (ATL TE)

7.08-      Brandon Aiyuk (SF WR)

7.09-      Justin Fields (CHI QB)

7.10-      D’Andre Swift (PHI RB)

MY PICK: Joe Burrow

One of the rules for myself in 2023 fantasy football drafts is to draft one of my top-eight ranked quarterbacks. Joe Burrow, Justin Fields, Justin Herbert, and Deshaun Watson are the only four left on the mock draft board by this pick. It’s always best to look a round ahead to try and predict if certain players may be there by your next pick. Here, I’m not confident any of these four quarterbacks will be. In hindsight, I was right, with Dak Prescott coming off of the board, as well, before my eighth-round pick.

Joe Burrow has arguably the best group of wide receivers to throw to in the league. Cincinnati also added Orlando Brown Jr. in free agency for added protection on the offensive line. The Bengals were sixth in pass attempts per game last season with a great chance to finish inside the top five, if not number one, in 2023. Talent plus volume will simply lead to success. That’s definitely the case with Joe Burrow.


8.01-       Mike Evans (TB WR)

8.02-      George Pickens (PIT WR)

8.03-      Justin Herbert (LAC QB)

8.04-      David Montgomery (DET RB)

8.05-      Jaxon Smith-Njigba (SEA WR)

8.06-      Deshaun Watson (CLE QB)

8.07-      Dak Prescott (DAL QB)

8.08-    James Conner (ARI RB)

8.09-     Jahan Dotson (WSH WR)

8.10-      Treylon Burks (TEN WR)

MY PICK: James Conner

I’m now starting to build the bench in this mock draft. James Conner is a volume-based addition behind Ekeler and Sanders. If either of those players were to become unavailable, Conner can keep this team competitive week-to-week. Plain the simple, the Arizona Cardinals are going to be awful this season. Without Kyler Murray under center, Conner should see a high number of carries this season, especially early on. I don’t think he’s going to push for RB1 numbers, but the volume should warrant a solid RB2 floor.


9.01-      Kadarius Toney (KC WR)

9.02-     Jordan Addison (MIN WR)

9.03-    Darren Waller (NYG TE)

9.04-      Courtland Sutton (DEN WR)

9.05-      Brandin Cooks (DAL WR)

9.06-      Juju Smith-Schuster (NE WR)

9.07-      Isiah Pacheco (KC RB)

9.08-      Rashod Bateman (BAL WR)

9.09-      Rondale Moore (ARI WR)

9.10-       Gabe Davis (BUF WR)

My Pick: Darren Waller

This pick is a steal and probably only happens in a mock draft. Maybe I’m just higher on Darren Waller than others this season? If he’s still on the board in the ninth round of your drafts, go get him. Instead of drafting or signing a big-name wide receiver, the New York Giants traded for Darren Waller this off-season. That’s after giving quarterback Daniel Jones a four-year extension after he threw just 15 touchdown passes last season. A healthy Darren Waller will lead the Giants and targets. Who else this late in the mock draft is a lock for 1,000+ yards with a chance at double-digit touchdowns?


10.01-     Quentin Johnston (LAC WR)

10.02-    Jameson Williams (DET WR)

10.03-    Jakobi Meyers (LV WR)

10.04-    Dalvin Cook (Free Agent RB)

10.05-    Elijah Moore (CLE WR)

10.06-    Michael Thomas (NO WR)

10.07-    Nico Collins (HOU WR)

10.08-  Alvin Kamara (NO RB)

10.09-    Zay Flowers (BAL WR)

10.10-    Javonte Williams (DEN RB)

MY PICK: Alvin Kamara

Alvin Kamara is going to soar up draft boards after a recent update to his 2021 off-the-field criminal court case. Let this just be a lessen in value, though. If a player like Kamara is available this late in a draft, you have to take him regardless of what you think your team needs are. Taking the best player available is oftentimes the best move. So much can happen during a fantasy football season, including injuries, trades, suspensions, byes, that having a roster of really good players, regardless of position, is a good way to handle all of the madness.


QB – Joe Burrow

RB – Austin Ekeler, Miles Sanders

WR – Ceedee Lamb, Jaylen Waddle, Amari Cooper

TE – Darren Waller

FLEX – Deebo Samuel

Bench: James Conner, Alvin Kamara, Darnell Mooney (11.3), Pat Freiermuth (12.8), Jamaal Williams (13.3), K.J. Osborn (14.8)

Mock Draft 3.0 CONCLUSION

I like this team the best of the three mock draft teams drafted thus far. It’s the first mock draft where I don’t start with an RB/RB build in the first two rounds. Being able to land a player like Miles Sanders in the sixth round has me leaning toward investing in this sort of strategy toward the end of the summer. Knowing a player like Sanders is available when he is, I’ll likely look to add stud wide receivers early on.

As I look at my bench, Freiermuth isn’t totally necessary when I already have Waller on my roster. However, drafting the best player available is a key concept for any fantasy football manager to grasp. Freiermuth was the best value in the 12th round and serves as a strong alternative to Waller. At the very least, I can trade him to a tight end needy team.

Overall, the decisions at the third overall draft spot were fairly straightforward. I foresee tougher choices to be made as this mock draft series moves along and my draft spot continues to drop.

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