It has begun. The debate among Fantasy analysts over when to draft a quarterback in 2023 is here -- at least for our staff at CBS Sports.
We held a 12-team, 0.5 PPR mock draft this week, and a good portion of the conversation in the chat room centered around when the quarterbacks came off the board. Usually, most Fantasy analysts will wait to draft a quarterback, which has generally proven to be the smart move.
But based on the success of Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in recent years, there are some analysts advocating for those quarterbacks -- as well as Jalen Hurts and potentially Joe Burrow -- to get selected no later than Round 3. And that's what happened here.
Mahomes was drafted in Round 2 at No. 18 overall. Allen (No. 29 overall), Hurts (No. 32) and Burrow (No. 34) all went in Round 3. I see the pros and cons to both sides of this debate.
If healthy, you're getting studs who should produce at an amazing level, and Mahomes (28.3 Fantasy points per game), Allen (28.1), Hurts (27.3) and Burrow (25.5) were significantly better than the field. The next quarterback after Burrow was Lamar Jackson, who averaged 21.3 Fantasy points per game.
However, if you hit on the right quarterback on Draft Day with a mid- to late-round pick then you might get someone who can bridge the gap in Fantasy production and hopefully produce like Mahomes or Allen. For example, Justin Herbert was drafted at the end of Round 4, Jackson went at the end of Round 5 and I got Trevor Lawrence in Round 8.
Herbert averaged at least 26.2 Fantasy points per game in his first two seasons in the NFL before struggling in 2022 with just 18.6 Fantasy points per game. I expect Herbert to rebound in 2023, and if he returns to his form from 2020 or 2021 then he's an incredible steal.
Jackson, if he remains with the Ravens, which is a huge storyline this offseason, has two seasons in his career with at least 25.6 Fantasy points per game. And he also can be the best quarterback in Fantasy, which he proved in 2019 when he was the NFL MVP at 32.3 Fantasy points per game.
As for Lawrence, he seems poised to join the elite Fantasy quarterbacks after the way he finished his sophomore campaign. He averaged 19.5 Fantasy points per game for the season, but he had four games after Week 10 with at least 24 Fantasy points and should be amazing in 2023, including Jacksonville adding Calvin Ridley to its receiving corps.
Also in this draft, Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, Tua Tagovailoa, Deshaun Watson, Kirk Cousins and Daniel Jones went in Round 9 or later. While getting Mahomes, Allen, Hurts or Burrow is fantastic, I'm still more inclined to wait on a quarterback and get the better value at a deep position. And that's what I did with Lawrence.
My draft started with Jonathan Taylor and Breece Hall from the No. 6 overall pick, and I don't mind starting RB-RB in 0.5-PPR leagues. Taylor (ankle) should be fine after ending 2022 on injured reserve, and hopefully the new coach and quarterback in Indianapolis can help him rebound to be the No. 1 running back again like he was in 2021. Hall (ACL) is hoping to be ready for training camp, and if he's back on the field for Week 1 then I have two potential top-five overall players.
This is a three-receiver league, so I didn't want to draft another running back in Round 3, although Tony Pollard and Rhamondre Stevenson were appealing. I went with Tee Higgins instead, and I followed that up with DK Metcalf, D.J. Moore and Drake London with my next three picks. That should be among the best receiving corps in this league.
Dallas Goedert was an easy choice in Round 7, and then I drafted Lawrence in Round 8. If everyone is healthy, this starting lineup could be dominant in 2023.
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As for my bench, I went heavy at running back with D'Onta Foreman (Round 9), Zamir White (Round 11), Isaiah Spiller (Round 13) and Hassan Haskins (Round 14). There's a chance White could be the starter in Las Vegas if Josh Jacobs leaves the Raiders as a free agent, and Spiller and Haskins could be the top backups to aging running backs in Austin Ekeler and Derrick Henry. As for Foreman, he could return as the lead running back in Carolina, giving him appeal as a flex for my team.
My other reserves are Darnell Mooney (Round 10) and Josh Palmer (Round 12), and I like the outlook for both in 2023. Mooney, who should be fine from last year's ankle injury, will be one of the top three receivers for the Bears -- and maybe No. 1. And Palmer should continue to be a viable receiver for the Chargers, while maybe taking on a bigger role for the new offensive coordinator in Los Angeles next season.
In this league, all touchdowns are worth six points, and we award one point for every 10 yards rushing and receiving and one point for every 25 yards passing. We also award 0.5 points for every reception. We feature a starting lineup of QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, TE and FLEX (RB/WR/TE) with six reserves for a 14-round draft.
Our draft order is as follows:
1. Daniel Schneier, Fantasy Editor
2. Jack Capotorto, FFT HQ Producer
3. Meron Berkson, CBS Sports HQ Producer
4. Dave Richard, Senior Fantasy Writer
5. Robert Thomas, FFT Facebook Moderator
6. Jamey Eisenberg, Senior Fantasy Writer
7. George Maselli, Fantasy Editor
8. Adam Aizer, FFT Podcast Host
9. Thomas Shafer, FFT Podcast Producer
10. Zach Brook, FFT Social Media Coordinator
11. Chris Towers, Senior Editor, Fantasy Sports
12. R.J. White, Managing Editor, SportsLine and CBS Fantasy