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2023 Fantasy Football: Standard Mock Draft from the #3 Slot

My mock draft series continues as we get closer to the bookends of the draft, this time picking from the #3 slot. This mock draft is certainly less wild than last week’s draft but has its own uniquely aggressive moves and still results in a talented roster.

Previous Mock Draft Analysis

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Mock Draft from the #3 Slot

In this mock draft, I have to navigate some tough decisions with the quick turnaround with only two teams picking between my picks in some cases. One of my picks results in a controversial late steal that could give me some excellent trade bait that I could make available as soon as the draft is over.

As always we will be drafting for a hypothetical standard league where the roster consists of 1 quarterback, 2 running backs, 2 wide receivers, 1 tight end, and 1 RB/WR/TE Flex position. I drafted from the 3rd overall pick in this mock draft.

Once again I will be breaking down the first 12 rounds of selections of this mock draft. The full roster excluding the kicker and defense can be found below.


1.01 Austin Ekeler LAC – RB

1.02 Christian McCaffrey SF – RB

1.03 Justin Jefferson MIN – WR

1.04 Travis Kelce KC – TE

1.05 Ja’Marr Chase CIN – WR

1.06 Nick Chubb CLE – RB

1.07 Saquon Barkley NYG – RB

1.08 Cooper Kupp LAR – WR

1.09 Tyreek Hill MIA – WR

1.10 Jonathan Taylor IND – RB

MY PICK: Justin Jefferson

This may come off as a hot take but if you aren’t at least considering taking Justin Jefferson with the top pick in your fantasy draft you aren’t taking that pick seriously enough. Yes, I understand this is a standard mock draft and RBs still reign supreme in fantasy, but in my opinion, Justin Jefferson is quite possibly the safest top pick in fantasy this year. Christian McCaffrey, while healthy last year, still does come with some injury risk. Austin Ekeler got a ton of work in the passing game last season with over 100 catches and 700 yards through the air. In 2023 however, with a healthy WR trio of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and now Quentin Johnson he may not see that same workload. He’s also never surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in any of his six years in the league.

Jefferson is the top dog of the top dogs in fantasy. Only his former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase holds a candle to him and even with a healthy Joe Burrow most fantasy managers aren’t taking Chase over Jefferson. Even in standard leagues if CMC and Ekeler are both gone, take Jefferson and don’t think twice about it.


2.01 Bijan Robinson ATL – RB

2.02 Davante Adams LV – WR

2.03 Derrick Henry TEN – RB

2.04 Josh Jacobs LV – RB

2.05 A.J. Brown PHI – WR

2.06 Stefon Diggs BUF – WR

2.07 Amon-Ra St. Brown DET – WR

2.08 Tony Pollard DAL – RB

2.09 CeeDee Lamb DAL – WR

2.10 Jaylen Waddle MIA – WR

MY PICK: Tony Pollard

I’ll come clean, I caved to the pressure a little bit. With the way the board fell, I considered taking a certain WR here, knowing I might not see him again 5 picks later. More on that in a bit. First here’s why I chose Tony Pollard. He’s yet another player who has consistently caught my attention during this series. I’ve taken him on previous occasions and as I’ve laid out there he has tremendous upside.

With no serious competition for touches around him in the backfield, Pollard is set to be a key cog in a very explosive Cowboys offense. While I understand the pace is impossible, let alone sustainable, Pollard’s numbers in his career without Zeke average out to 2,306 yards from scrimmage and 34 TDs. Again, not sustainable but cut those numbers in half and I think most fantasy managers would be happy with a RB who averages just a hair under 12ppg. Especially when you land that RB as your top back after passing on one in the first round.

Now back to that receiver I was hinting at…


3.01 Rhamondre Stevenson NE – RB

3.02 Garrett Wilson NYJ – WR

3.03 Najee Harris PIT – RB

3.04 Patrick Mahomes II KC – QB

3.05 Josh Allen BUF – QB

3.06 Breece Hall NYJ – RB

3.07 Jalen Hurts PHI – QB

3.08 Joe Mixon CIN – RB

3.09 Deebo Samuel SF – WR

3.10 Amari Cooper CLE – WR

MY PICK: Najee Harris

I wound up missing him by one pick. As I laid out in this week’s episode of The Fly podcast, I am enamored by the prospect of landing Garrett Wilson this year. So much so after just missing him in back-to-back weeks, he may be a player you have to take in round two of your fantasy draft if you absolutely have to have him on your team. I’ll have to keep that in mind with my drafts moving forward.

With Wilson gone, I still have to take somebody. Mahomes certainly drew my consideration again but I’m trying to build different teams each week, not the same team over and over. With that in mind, I take someone who I haven’t selected yet in Najee Harris. Harris last year didn’t take the leap many fantasy owners thought he would. In fact, he regressed quite a bit through the first half of the season. Harris and the Steelers seemed to figure things out through the back half of the season as Harris didn’t score fewer than nine points in the final nine games of the season. A high floor with a high chance of bouncing back to his 2021 form makes for a solid selection of Harris in round 3 to pair with Pollard.


4.01 Miles Sanders CAR – RB

4.02 Joe Burrow CIN – QB

4.03 Tee Higgins CIN – WR

4.04 Travis Etienne Jr. JAC – RB

4.05 Chris Olave NO – WR

4.06 Mark Andrews BAL – TE

4.07 Jahmyr Gibbs DET – RB

4.08 DeVonta Smith PHI – WR

4.09 Aaron Jones GB – RB

4.10 J.K. DobbinsBAL – RB

MY PICK: DeVonta Smith

Smith is someone I’ve considered in previous drafts but haven’t found him on my roster once the dust settles. Admittedly, Smith surprised me last season. He never struck me as an alpha WR in the NFL, even with his Heisman-winning season in his final year at Alabama. I thought he’d perform best as a Robin to another WR’s Batman. Batman arrived on the scene last season when the Eagles traded for A.J. Brown on draft night and I thought that was it for Smith’s chances of doing exactly what he did last season. Yet in spite of being the second WR on an offense with a running QB and a good receiving TE there was still enough of a role for Smith to finish with nearly 1,200 and seven scores. There is no reason to believe that Smith couldn’t do that again, or even go further if his development sees him draw some targets away from A.J. Brown. Now my roster currently consists of 2 RBs and 2 WRs. The core is set but the next two rounds provide major forks in the road for how the rest of my team will be constructed.


5.01 Kenneth Walker III SEA – RB

5.02 Dameon Pierce HOU – RB

5.03 DK Metcalf SEA – WR

5.04 Calvin Ridley JAC – WR

5.05 Keenan Allen LAC – WR

5.06 Lamar Jackson BAL – QB

5.07 Terry McLaurin WAS – WR

5.08 Justin Fields CHI – QB

5.09 Javonte Williams DEN – RB

5.10 Justin Herbert LAC – QB

MY PICK: DK Metcalf

I’ve got 3 choices ahead of me for how I build the rest of my team. I can choose to take my starting QB, my starting TE or my flex. I go for the third choice and take DK Metcalf to play my flex spot. There were good options for either of the two positions left in my starting lineup but Metcalf was too tempting to pass up. He is coming off another season in which he didn’t eclipse his 2020 season where he had over 1,300 yards and 10 TDs that had everybody thinking he might be one of the best receivers in football. Still, even with another year shy of that yardage he still has put up at least 900 yards in each of his first four seasons and at least 6 TDs. He also had career highs with 141 targets and 90 catches in 2023. In short, if DK can do more with the work he got last year, he can easily reach his WR1 potential.

With the selection of Metcalf, I am again heading into a round facing a crossroads. QB or TE?


6.01 DJ Moore CHI – WR

6.02 Dalvin Cook FA – RB

6.03 James Cook BUF – RB

6.04 T.J. Hockenson MIN – TE

6.05 Cam Akers LAR – RB

6.06 D’Andre Swift PHI – RB

6.07 Alexander Mattison MIN – RB

6.08 George Kittle SF – TE

6.09 Trevor Lawrence JAC – QB

6.10 Darren Waller NYG – TE

MY PICK: George Kittle

TE is my choice. It was a tough one but here is why. Looking at the draft board the two teams that pick after me both are in need of a TE and a QB. I knew whichever one I selected, the opposite would be thinner by the time round seven came back to me. I surveyed the drop-off in each position and knowing that Kittle offered more upside compared to the rest of the TE room drew me to him compared to Trevor Lawrence, Dak Prescott, and the rest of the QBs. So for strategy’s sake, I elected to take a TE. If Lawrence and Dak are both gone by my next selection I have a thought about how it may not be the worst thing in the world for my team.


7.01 Dak Prescott DAL – QB

7.02 Alvin Kamara NO – RB

7.03 James Conner ARI – RB

7.04 David Montgomery DET – RB

7.05 DeAndre Hopkins TEN – WR

7.06 Rachaad White TB – RB

7.07 Christian Watson GB – WR

7.08 Isiah Pacheco KC – RB

7.09 AJ Dillon GB – RB

7.10 Rashaad Penny PHI – RB

MY PICK: James Conner

The first thing you probably noticed is that both Lawrence and Dak both did indeed come off the board before I can pick again in this mock draft. Here’s where a shift in strategy pays off for me. Looking at the draft board thus far, every other team has a QB on their roster but me. Since you can only start one, it’s highly unlikely that somebody will select a QB in the next couple of rounds. I don’t have to spend a mid-round pick on a QB and I will still have a pick of the litter later on. Now I have the opportunity to build the rest of my bench with players that usually are starters for their teams.

James Connor could be in line for a ton of work this season. While the Cardinals are certainly acting like Kyler Murray is going to play at some point this season, I’m not convinced he will. The Cardinals play five playoff teams in the first seven weeks of 2023. Do we really believe that if they come out of the gates 1-6 they’ll risk Kyler suffering another injury by playing him? I’m not so sure. If Kyler doesn’t see the field, that likely means the offense will run through James Connor. Since he’ll be the backup flex on my team, my ship isn’t sunk if he has a poor start to 2023.


8.01 Jerry Jeudy DEN – WR

8.02 Courtland Sutton DEN – WR

8.03 Mike Williams LAC – WR

8.04 Drake London ATL – WR

8.05 Brandon Aiyuk SF – WR

8.06 Antonio Gibson WAS – RB

8.07 Tyler Lockett SEA – WR

8.08 Christian Kirk JAC – WR

8.09 Michael Pittman IND – WR

8.10 Damien Harris BUF – RB

MY PICK: Christian Kirk

Still no QB taken eight rounds into this mock draft (don’t put money on one being taken next round either). Kirk is expected to take a step back this season with the addition of Calvin Ridley in Jacksonville. I’m not sold it’s as big of a step back as some people expect. Zay Jones last season had 121 targets, only a dozen fewer than Kirk. Do we really think Kirk will be that close to Jones again in target share in 2023? I do not. I expect similar production from Kirk in 2023, at worst only a slight downgrade from last season. At worst Kirk is my WR4 and this is simply an upside play that won’t hurt my team’s season outlook if he does take a serious backseat in the offense this year.


9.01  Marquise Brown ARI – WR

9.02 Chris Godwin TB – WR

9.03 Diontae Johnson PIT – WR

9.04 Brian Robinson Jr. WAS – RB

9.05 Zach Charbonnet SEA – RB

9.06 Mike Evans TB – WR

9.07 George Pickens PIT – WR

9.08 Gabe Davis BUF – WR

9.09 Michael Thomas NO – WR

9.10 Jahan Dotson WAS – WR

MY PICK: Dionte Johnson

Picture this. Eight rounds in and your roster consists of the WRs who received the 1st, 12th, 14th and 16th in the NFL in targets. That’s a pretty deep WR room. Now imagine adding a WR who was tied for 7th in targets last season. In round nine. Johnson had the worst bang for his buck on a points-per-target basis last season. He provides yet another upside selection further securing what will become my deepest bench of any draft I’ve done yet.


10.01 Dallas Goedert PHI – TE

10.02 Raheem Mostert MIA – RB

10.03 Zay Flowers BAL – WR

10.04 Jamaal Williams NO – RB

10.05 Treylon Burks TEN – WR

10.06 Jaxon Smith-Njigba SEA – WR

10.07 Jameson Williams DET – WR

10.08 Deshaun Watson CLE – QB

10.09 Samaje Perine DEN – RB

10.10 Khalil Herbert CHI – RB

MY PICK: Deshaun Watson

Finally,I take a QB in this mock draft. DeShaun Watson was once considered a great fantasy QB and an MVP contender. There’s no reason to believe now with a full offseason and no suspension that he can’t regain that form in Cleveland. Watson is playing behind a vastly superior offensive line than what he had in Houston. Amari Cooper is back as is Nick Chubb. The pieces are there for Watson to bounce back. If he does, he’s a steal in round ten. If not, well I’ve got a plan for that too. My plan to wait for a QB paid off. I still get the one I would’ve taken back in round seven. Waiting for a QB worked out great. Maybe it went unnoticed up until this point but a couple of teams had a similar approach to another position. I’m about to make them pay for it.


11.01 Skyy Moore KC – WR

11.02 Jordan Addison MIN – WR

11.03 Kyle Pitts ATL – TE

11.04 Elijah Mitchell SF – RB

11.05 De’Von Achane MIA – RB

11.06 Quentin Johnston LAC – WR

11.07 Kadarius Toney KC – WR

11.08 Elijah Moore CLE – WR

11.09 Michael Gallup DAL – WR

11.10 Dalton Schultz HOU – TE

MY PICK: Kyle Pitts

Kyle Pitts in round 11? How? Here’s how. Similar to how I waited for a QB, a couple of teams waited to take their TE. In my opinion, they waited too long and I could no longer justify allowing one of them the satisfaction of landing Pitts any later. It’s a risk, waiting on a position. Pitts will slot in as a backup TE unless he proves that he can outperform the always-reliable George Kittle. If he does, I can afford to trade him for maybe an upgrade at QB or package him with some of my WR or RB depth for a star. The options are endless with Pitts on my bench.


12.01 Brandin Cooks DAL – WR

12.02 Odell Beckham BAL – WR

12.03 Devin Singletary HOU – RB

12.04 Jerick McKinnon KC – RB

12.05 Rashod Bateman BAL – WR

12.06 JuJu Smith-Schuster NE – WR

12.07 Tyler Allgeier ATL – RB

12.08 Jaylen Warren PIT – RB

12.09 Allen Lazard NYJ – WR

12.10 Kirk Cousins MIN – QB

MY PICK: Jaylen Warren

Foreshadowing here but this is my final addition to my RBs and WRs collection. Warren may not be necessary with the depth I have but it’s hard to not take a handcuff RB, especially on a team that relies so heavily on whichever RB sits atop their depth chart like the Steelers do. Warren gives me the last bit of depth I could use should the absolute worse case injury scenario arise.


QB – Deshaun Watson

RB – Tony Pollard, Najee Harris

WR – Justin Jefferson, DeVonta Smith

TE – George Kittle

FLEX – DK Metcalf

Bench: James Conner, Christian Kirk, Dionte Johnson, Kyle Pitts, Jaylen Warren, Daniel Jones, (13.03), Anthony Richardson (14.08)

Mock Draft 6.0 CONCLUSION

I mentioned it a couple of times in the later rounds but it’s worth saying again, this is the deepest team I’ve drafted thus far.

Five WRs who were top 20 in targets last season is a tough group to assemble in even an eight team league, let alone ten.

A pair of bell-cow RBs at the top, followed by Conner and a handcuff in Warren give me solid depth if both Pollard and Harris were to get bit by the injury bug.

I’m still wrapping my mind around how Kyle Pitts landed in my lap in round eleven. Having him behind Kittle is the ultimate insurance policy, high upside and trade bait you can find that deep in a draft.

Lastly the QB position. It may not seem kosher to take three QBs in fantasy but why not? The more lotto tickets you take out the greater your chance of winning. I triple my odds of finding a great QB by drafting three instead of taking Watson and calling it a day. Daniel Jones has looked great in camp so far with Darren Waller as his new favorite target and Anthony Richardson just might get named the starter before week one. All I need is to strike gold with one of those three and this team could be a championship squad.

For more great rankings and analysis, make sure to check out our 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!

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