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Perfect 2023 fantasy football draft strategy, round by round for 14-team leagues

2H5G36P Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) runs with the ball after a catch during a NFL game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Inglewood, the Titans defeated the Rams 28-16. (Jon Endow/Image of Sport/Sipa USA)

• Focus on running backs early: In a 14-team league, 28 running backs will fill starting spots each week, and there aren’t 28 worthy of that.

• Wait for wide receivers: There is so much depth at wide receiver that you can find productive fantasy starters in the middle rounds. That’s much harder at other positions.

• Fantasy draft approaching? Use PFF’s AI-powered fantasy mock draft simulator to fine-tune your draft strategy and dominate your 2023 fantasy football league.

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

The perfect 2023 fantasy football draft series combines average draft positions from expert and casual drafts to see which players should be available at each pick. Then, we make the best picks given that information.

To try out a draft strategy for specific picks in different league sizes, check out our new mock draft simulator. For help in other formats, rankings or for more details about the players, check out the rest of my summer content below. 

Player Profiles | Depth Charts | 10 tips to win | Undervalued | Overvalued | 500 Stats
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Dynasty Rankings: PPR | Rookie | Superflex | Superflex Rookie
Position Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE
Sleepers: Top-10 | QB | RB | WR | TE
League Winners: Top-5 | QB | RB | WR | TE
Breakouts: Top-5 | QB | RB | WR | TE
Position Draft Strategy: QB | RB | WR | TE

 16-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy

 14-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy
12-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy | Picks 1-3 | Picks 4-6 | Picks 7-9 | Picks 10-12
10-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy | Picks 1-3 | Picks 4-7 | Picks 8-10

Preseason Recaps:  Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Hall of Fame Game

Last updated: 3:50 p.m. Saturday, September 2

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Round 1, Picks 1-14: Draft a wide receiver or running back

The first round is for picking a running back or wide receiver. Travis Kelce is an option, but it’s generally harder to find running backs that you’re happy with if you don’t take them early, and the value at tight end is generally greater later on.

This pick will depend on which pick you hold, but there are more spots where drafting a wide receiver makes more sense than drafting a running back, so we’re leaning toward wide receiver here.

You probably need the first pick to get Justin Jefferson. There are a few picks with which you might be able to pick Kupp, so Kupp is highlighted here.

Top Target: Tyreek Hill

Hill was the most efficient wide receiver in fantasy football last season, and he can build on his success in 2023.

  • Hill produced a 31.3% target rate, leading to a catch on 22.3% of his routes. Those both ranked first out of 73 wide receivers with at least 345 routes last season.
  • All of those receptions helped him average just more than 100 receiving yards per game, which ranked second among wide receivers.
  • The biggest concern for Hill’s fantasy potential is how the Dolphins rotate their wide receivers. Hill played every game in 2022 but ranked only 32nd in number of routes run.
  • Hill was on the field for just 76.1% of offensive snaps. That includes 84.2% of pass plays and 59.4% of run plays.
  • For comparison, Justin Jefferson was on the field for 94.4% of the Minnesota Vikings’ pass plays and Ja’Marr Chase was on the field for 98.8% of the Cincinnati Bengals’ pass plays in games for which he was healthy.
  • This helped Hill stay efficient because he was more rested compared to other elite wide receivers.
  • This makes it less likely he sees significant regression in his quality of play, but it also puts a ceiling on his potential.
  • Hill’s production will partially rely on Tua Tagovailoa staying healthy all season.
  • He still produced a high targets-per-route-run figure when Tagovailoa was out, at 27.0%, but his yards per route run fell to 2.08 and he didn’t score a touchdown in the five games Tagovailoa missed, including the playoffs.
  • In comparison, his targets per route figure with Tagovailoa was 33.2% and he averaged 3.51 yards per route run.

Possible Targets: Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Justin Jefferson, Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard

Round 2, Picks 15-28: Draft a running back, quarterback or Amon-Ra St. Brown

The second round is likely for picking a running back. So many wide receivers are getting picked earlier than usual this season that it’s possible to add a top-10 fantasy running back in the second round. Having one of those 10 players is helpful since you will be able to start them every week regardless of matchup, and injury is the only thing to worry about.

If the good running backs are getting taken, picking one of the top three quarterbacks, like Jalen Hurts, is also an option.

Top Target: Tony Pollard

Pollard has graded out as an elite runner in recent seasons and finally gets a chance to shine without Ezekiel Elliott in the offense.

  • He has been among the best backs at making big plays. He gained at least 10 yards on 16.1% of his carries and averaged 3.8 yards after contact per attempt, both of which rank first among the 31 running backs with at least 175 rushing attempts since 2022.
  • He's also generated 0.802 rushing fantasy points per attempt, second out of the same group of backs.
  • He finished at RB8 last season despite Ezekiel Elliott playing every game, taking 75% of the goal-line carries and scoring 12 touchdowns.
  • Pollard should rank even higher than this if he takes those goal-line opportunities.

Possible Targets: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jalen Hurts, Josh Jacobs, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen

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Round 3, Picks 29-42: Draft a quarterback, running back, Mark Andrews or Keenan Allen

You can’t go wrong in the third round, as there are valuable players at every position at this point of the draft.


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