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Dynasty Startup Mock
Fresh off the 2023 NFL Combine, rookie values are all over the board, and dynasty managers are getting ready for their own rookie draft. A great way to prepare for any draft is to try a mock beforehand. Mocks can be a great way to attach value to picks and players while getting a better understanding of what's going on around you. Another great way to prepare for your rookie draft is to download our Rookie Guide with 120+ prospect profiles updated with the testing numbers from the NFL Combine.
Remember, a mock draft is not the same as ranking players. Mocks can mean many different things, so I want to set the precedent before I get started - I will be mocking what I would do at each pick, not necessarily what your league mates might do. Okay, less talking, more mocking - here is my two-round 2023 Superflex rookie mock draft.
1.01 - Bijan Robinson (RB - Texas)
At this point, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that Bijan Robinson is not only the best running back in the class, but he's also the best skill-position player in this class. The Combine confirmed what everybody already knew - Robinson is a top-tier prospect, and his athletic testing - with a 9.81 Relative Athletic Score (out of 10) - matches his college production. I still believe that trading away the 1.01 pick for a haul could be the more valuable route, but if I'm stuck at the 1.01, I'll take Robinson 99% of the time.
1.02 - C.J. Stroud (QB - Ohio State)
There's certainly a case for a couple of other quarterbacks at this pick. But the safety of Stroud's floor, the likelihood of being a day-one starter, and the untapped potential of his rushing upside in the NFL are pretty tantalizing. When reporters at the Combine asked Stroud about his rushing ability, he said: "I'll be honest with you - I didn't do it a lot in college, and I feel like I should have. It's something I do regret. I feel like I could have done it a lot more." Remember when Justin Fields was strictly a pocket passer that didn't provide as much value with his legs? Yeah, I remember that too. We all saw Stroud's full spectrum of skills during his four-touchdown performance against Georgia in the CFB semifinal. After his impressive throwing session at the NFL Combine, Stroud has been getting a lot of comparison to Joe Burrow as a passer. With how well everything has gone for Stroud in the pre-draft process, it would not be surprising to see him selected in the first two picks of the NFL draft or rookie drafts.
1.03 - Bryce Young (QB - Alabama)
Young seems to have calmed a lot of concerns about his size after weighing in at 204 pounds at the NFL Combine. His weight still isn't ideal for the NFL, but his accuracy and ability to extend plays make him a top quarterback prospect in this class - maybe even the number one overall pick in the NFL draft. The durability concerns from NFL general managers will likely be echoed by dynasty fantasy football managers. Injuries are impossible to predict, no matter how hard we try, which is why I'm willing to bet on the talent and poise of Young winning out in the long run. He'll be a day-one starter that can command an offense and produce similarly to a young Russell Wilson at the next level.
1.04 - Anthony Richardson (QB - Florida)
If the NFL handed out awards at the Combine, Richardson would have been the gold medalist. He had a perfect relative athletic score (10.00 out of 10.00) after setting positional records in the broad and vertical jump while also posting the second-best 40-yard dash time by a quarterback since 2003. Richardson may have jumped into the top five of the NFL draft and even higher in Superflex rookie drafts. I'm fairly certain Richardson will go off the board within the first three picks in most Superflex rookie drafts. Dynasty managers love the potential of his athletic ability, but I'm not quite ready to put Richardson ahead of Stroud or Young... yet. We all knew that Richardson would be big, fast, and explosive - the Combine shouldn't have changed much for you. He does struggle a bit when he has to sit in the pocket and deliver a ball outside of the numbers - that's not enough to make me shy away from him and his potential. Now if Richardson does get top-five draft capital, his dynasty value will (and should) shoot to the moon.
1.05 - Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR - Ohio State)
I don't know that any prospect improved his draft stock more, without running a 40-yard dash, than Smith-Njigba. He showed off his incredible agility after posting the best 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle (3.93) times of any player at the Combine. To put these times in perspective, Smith Njigba's cone drill (6.57) was faster than Tyler Lockett's (6.89), and his shuttle time (3.93) was better than Odell Beckham Jrs (3.94). Many believed that Smith-Njigba would be limited by his speed, but it's important to remember that not all types of speed are created equal. This elite-level agility and the phenomenally smooth fieldwork certainly raised Smith-Njigba's draft stock. I don't believe that there's a player in this draft class with a better route-running ability or better hands, and after he proved his athleticism at the NFL Combine, I'd be shocked if JSN isn't selected in the top-15 picks of the NFL draft.
1.06 - Jahmyr Gibbs (RB - Alabama)
Please don't overreact to Jahmyr Gibbs weighing in at 199 pounds. Gibbs is a speed demon, as confirmed by his 4.36 40-yard dash. It's important to note that Gibbs isn't your classic running back that will be given 20 carries a game right up the gut - he's a weapon and should be used as such. Luckily, the NFL has transitioned to a full-on committee approach, and receiving backs like Gibbs can be extremely valuable in PPR formats. A good pro player comparison for Gibbs is D'Andre Swift - a guy that can handle 15+ touches per game, but a good chunk of that work will be in the receiving game. He's easily the RB2 in this class and should be a top-six pick, even in Superflex rookie drafts.
1.07 - Will Levis (QB - Kentucky)
Will Levis has essentially become the Voldemort of rookie drafts - nobody wants him, and not many dare speak his name. Yeah he puts mayonnaise in his coffee and has a lot of mechanical issues to clean up, but Levis has the type of skill set that NFL general managers and coaches love. He's been widely regarded as a great locker room presence and strong leader with prototypical size and a "cannon" for an arm. Levis showed off that arm strength at the Combine in Indianapolis - a city many believe will become his future home on Day 1 of the NFL Draft. Levis doesn't make a lot of the easy throws that you'd expect him to, but every so often, he dazzles with a throw that nobody else in this draft class can make. He's a risky pick in the top-6, but most quarterback selections are. If Levis ends up in the right system with a QB-guru-style coach, like Indianapolis, he could be well worth this top rookie pick.
1.08 - Jordan Addison (WR-USC)
Addison is a guy who had a rough day at the NFL Combine. He came in at 5-foot-11 and 171 pounds while just barely getting under the 4.50 threshold on the 40-yard dash and turning in some average explosion numbers in the vertical and broad jumps. The good news is, Addison was never a guy that won his match-ups with his height, weight, long speed, or explosion - he did it with his route running. Combine testing tells a very small part of the story for these athletes. The numbers are relevant, but all they should do is compare to what you've seen on a player's tape. Addison had a lot of player comps to guys like DeVonta Smith and Calvin Ridley because of the smooth nature of his route running and his ability to manipulate defenders in open space. Don't let the Combine distract you from the fact that Addison is a smart player who will still likely be a top-20 pick in the NFL draft and a starting wide receiver on an NFL offense in 2023 and beyond - dude can ball, don't overthink it.</p
1.09 - Quentin Johnston (WR-TCU)
I struggled with this pick a little bit. I haven't been particularly high on Johnston throughout the draft process, but I'm starting to turn a corner on him. Every once in a while, in fantasy football, you have to be willing to take risks and see if those risks can pay off in a big way. Quentin Johnston (to me) is the Will Levis of this wide receiver class. He's got some excellent traits, but he's far from a finished product. Despite his size (6-foot-2 and 208 pounds) and vertical ability (a 40.5" vertical), Johnston struggles with contested catches - not something you want to see out of your alpha. It's no secret that Johnston is big and athletic. But if he can improve at the catch point and demonstrate a better route-running ability, he could certainly become a playmaking wide receiver in the NFL.
1.10 - Josh Downs (WR-North Carolina)
This is probably your first big surprise of the mock. I'm a big Josh Downs fan. Downs isn't very big (5-foot-9 and 171 pounds), but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in skill. Downs was an incredibly productive receiver at UNC, posting back-to-back seasons with at least: 90 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns. Downs is surprisingly great at contested catches, boasting the best contested-catch rate in the draft class (75%) in 2022. He showed off his explosive ability at the Combine with his 38.5" vertical jump and his 4.48 40-yard dash with a 10-yard split of 1.49 seconds, good enough for 5th best in the class. This athletic ability pops on the screen when Downs is running routes. He has the ability to win in all three levels of the field, but he thrives out of the slot, where he can be a target machine at the next level. Fantasy football has become filled with productive receivers like Christian Kirk, Chris Godwin, Jakobi Meyers, Keenan Allen, and CeeDee Lamb, who line up in the slot over 60% of the time in 2023. I get the concerns about Downs' size, but the league has been more comfortable veering away from the big-bodied prototype guys, which means Downs could very well be the next playmaker to thrive out of a slot receiver role in the NFL.
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