Skip to content

It’s Start Up Time! – Round 1 Mock Draft

By: Jay Pounds (@jaypoundsnfl)

Dynasty Owners, the NFL Draft has come and gone and while we still have our rookie drafts yet to come, it is officially time for 2023 Dynasty Owner startup drafts to begin here on the platform. As many of you already know, Dynasty Owner is unique because we use real NFL contracts and salaries. Therefore, we cannot give any rookie their correct salary until they have been drafted. If you are looking for more rookie draft content, be sure to check out the articles Steve Van Tassell and I did over the weekend about the first round and Day 2 and Day 3 to get your fix! We saw several wild landing spots in this year’s NFL Draft, and Steve and I touched on many of them.

In today’s article, I am going to be helping everyone gear up for startup drafts and, in particular, making your most important selection, your first-round draft choice. As in any other dynasty fantasy football league you play in, you want your first round selection to be a player you can build around for many years to come. In Dynasty Owner, players in the first round have a much different criteria than they do in your typical dynasty league and for me there are four major factors that come into play. The things I look at the most when making my first round selection are the following (in order): production; salary; years left on the player’s contract; and the player’s age. The biggest thing I try to stay away from in the front half of the first round are players with just one year remaining on their current contract as I want to have plenty of salary cap flexibility for at least two seasons if I am picking high in the first round. In the back end of the first round is where I tend to target players with one year remaining, followed by drafting nothing but win now players. Stay tuned for more startup draft content!

Pick 1.01 – Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN) – 2 years/$7,704,910

If I am being honest this selection is still very much up in the air but if I were picking today, I would be taking Ja’Marr Chase number 1 overall. Chase has been elite as well as consistent for the Bengals since entering the NFL two seasons ago. Chase has torched opposing defenses for 2,587 yards and 23 touchdowns which is good enough to score 580.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points despite missing multiple games with an injury. I am guessing some will see this as a reach, but I don’t think you can go wrong with Chase in this spot, especially if he stays healthy for a full season. In just his third season, Chase seems to be a lock for a top 10 WR finish. Another huge positive with Chase is the fact that he is likely going to be paired with Joe Burrow ($9,047,534) for many years to come and the chemistry between the two is already off the charts.

Pick 1.02 – Bijan Robinson (RB – ATL) – 4 years/$5,489,633

Dynasty Owner has been around long enough for me to know several running backs will be selected in the first round of startup drafts, with at least one rookie being included. We did not see any rookie running backs taken in the first round of Dynasty Owner drafts in 2022 (based on ADP), but I believe Breece Hall ($2,253,694) would have been had Michael Carter ($1,071,842) not finished 2021 on a strong note. Hall had a startup draft ADP of 15.1 last year, so he was likely picked in the first round in some startup drafts. In the years 2020 and 2021, we saw Jonathan Taylor ($1,957,287) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($2,705,393) come off the board very early in startup drafts and I expect that to happen again this season. My point with all of this is the fact that Bijan Robinson is more talented than either of those two backs coming out of college and it’s not particularly close. Bijan at pick number 2 does carry a lot of risk but if he hits, you will have a nice advantage every week for the next four seasons at the running back position.

Pick 1.03 – Najee Harris (RB – PIT) – 2 years/$3,261,862

I know this may seem like a homer pick after the struggles Najee Harris had in 2022, but the Steelers should have an improved offensive line and when you combine that with a healthy Harris, I am expecting a huge year for the 3rd year running back. At 25, Harris is a little bit older than what I typically look for in running backs to build around and I would suggest trying to win now if he is on your roster. With that said, I believe he is one of the safer picks in the 1st round of our upcoming startup drafts. Despite Harris’s struggles in 2022 he still managed to hit the 1,000-yard mark, but did have a foot injury that slowed him down quite a bit. Now that Najee is fully healthy, I am expecting a big year from him in fantasy.

Pick 1.04 – Justin Fields (QB – CHI) 2 years/$4,717,989

The first round is shaping up to be a doozy and we are only four selections in. You are reading that right folks, I am going with Justin Fields number 4 overall. I have said this many times before and I will say it again, quarterbacks that produce on rookie contracts are Dynasty Owner gold. Heading into 2023, I have Fields in a similar spot as Jalen Hurts heading into the 2022 season and we all know how that turned out. In the second half of 2022, Fields finally seemed to figure things out, especially for fantasy purposes as he eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark. In 2023, Fields should only be better as he will be throwing to D.J. Moore ($20,628,000) and Chase Claypool ($1,645,156) vs the band of misfits he threw to 2022, which should help him improve mightily as a passer. He is a bit risky this high, but if Fields improves heading into years 3 and 4, Dynasty Owners who draft him to their roster will be delighted with this selection over the next two seasons. Upside is king in fantasy football and Fields is sitting on an unlimited supply.

Pick 1.05 – Justin Jefferson (WR – MIN) – 1 year/$3,280,701

It really pains me to have Justin Jefferson this far down the board. I know it’s only five spots, but it seems like much more for a player of Jefferson’s caliber. However, when players get to that dreaded one year left mark on their rookie deals, it’s hard to spend a pick any higher than this regardless of the potential production. If you do happen to disagree with me and select Jefferson higher than this, I highly recommend going all in in this year and figuring out Jefferson’s massive new deal when the time comes. Over Jefferson’s first three seasons in the NFL, there has been no better player at the position or in fantasy, and I see no reason that changes with another year of experience. Jefferson has done nothing but shatter records since stepping onto an NFL field and I would expect him to shatter the highest paid receiver mark when it comes time for a new deal. You won’t find a better player to take anywhere in the draft, but can you win in year 1 and have a good team left after Jefferson’s new deal is in place is the real question.

Pick 1.06 – Trevor Lawrence (QB – JAC) – 2 years/$9,198,372

I have a feeling many will have Lawrence as their first quarterback off the board this season and I would not fault them one bit. I just feel Justin Fields has more upside because of his rushing abilities on top of the fact he is nearly half of the cost against your salary cap. With that said, it would not surprise me to see Lawrence finish better if Fields ends up missing a game or two with an injury as Lawrence will have another year of experience and more weapons in 2023 after finishing 2022 as a top 10 quarterback on the Dynasty Owner platform. Lawrence is locked up on his rookie deal for the next two seasons with a pending fifth year option contract in three years. I am sure some still have nightmares about Lawrence’s rookie season, but Jacksonville was an absolute clown show under Urban Meyer and Lawrence showed what he was capable of when he has a competent coaching staff. Lawrence finished 2022 with over 4,000 yards passing and a total of 30 touchdowns which should only improve in year 3, making him a lock to go in the first round of Dynasty Owner drafts this season.

Pick 1.07 – Rhamondre Stevenson (RB – NE) – 2 years/$1,057,264

I struggled placing the next five players and I will more than likely change their order once a week throughout the startup draft season. This week, I have my favorite 2022 breakout player, Rhamondre Stevenson, in the 7 spot. Stevenson has a great blend of talent when it comes to running the ball and working as a receiver out of the backfield and it should only get better now that he has an actual offensive coordinator in town. In 2022, Stevenson finished as an RB1 and barring injury, I see no reason he can’t finish inside of the top 5 at his position in 2023. If the entire New England offense takes a step forward with Bill O’Brien in town, Stevenson could be a steal when we look back at startup draft ADP at the end of the season. I know some still have nightmares about Bill O’Brien in Houston and while some of it was earned, he was not a bad coach. He was a terrible general manager. O’Brien would not be a good Dynasty Owner player is what I’m trying to say if you’re the kind of person that likes to read between the lines.

Pick 1.08 – Jalen Hurts (QB – PHI) – 1 year/$1,506,292

Do you guys have any idea how painful it is to have Jalen Hurts this far down in the first round? It sucks, but that is life as a General Manager on the Dynasty Owner platform where salary cap space is extremely precious, and Jalen Hurts will be on a monster contract (5 years/$255 million, or $51 million per year) come 2023. While Hurts is 100% still a player I am expecting to see go in the first round, it likely won’t be in the top 5 unless we have some brave Dynasty Owners in the draft room. Hurts was the Dynasty Owner Value of the Year in 2022 and I am fully expecting him to do it again in 2023 at such a low salary for a player of his caliber. If you are spending this kind of pick on a player who will be making over $50,000,000 next season, you better win in year 1 or it may be a long road ahead. I can’t promise fitting Hurts under your cap in year 2 will be easy, but I can promise Hurts will be elite in 2023 if he is able to stay healthy!

Pick 1.09 – Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND) – 1 year/$1,957,287

I feel picks 7-13 will be the sweet spot for elite players with one year remaining on their deals and that is exactly where Jonathan Taylor slots in. Taylor had a wildly disappointing 2022 season, but it was due to injury and not poor play, which makes Taylor a prime candidate to be the Dynasty Owner Comeback Player of the Year in 2023. When Taylor is healthy, he is one of the top 3 running backs in all of football and the added presence of rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson ($8,498,507) should only help Taylor succeed. In 2021, Taylor was a beast rushing for over 1,800 yards and adding 20 touchdowns which was good enough for 389.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. As long as Taylor has a ton of potential, he will be going in the first round of Dynasty Owner startup drafts. In fact, had Taylor duplicated his 2021 success in 2022, he would likely be a top 2 selection despite being ready for a second contract.

Pick 1.10 – Travis Etienne (RB – JAC) – 2 years/$3,224,526

At the 10 spot, we have one of the stars on my favorite up and coming offense in the NFL, Travis Etienne of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 2022 season was essentially Etienne’s rookie year as he missed all of 2021 due to injury and the Clemson product did nothing but impress. I know injuries tend to scare some fantasy players away, but Etienne showed no signs of any long-term effects while he was shredding opposing defenses last season. Etienne had a fantastic 2022 and that was while he was sharing time with James Robinson ($2,000,000) at the beginning of the season. As I mentioned with Rhamondre Stevenson earlier, Etienne has an excellent blend of running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield and it does nothing but raise his Dynasty Owner ceiling. If you are expecting the Jaguars offense to be even better in 2023, there is no reason not to be extremely high on Travis Etienne.

Pick 1.11 – Joe Burrow (QB – CIN) – 1 year/$9,047,534

If you look back to 2022, you will find that Burrow’s ADP (7.1 in 2022) has not changed much despite being a year closer to that dreaded second contract. The reason for this is because Burrow is an elite quarterback, but he does not have the rushing upside as a player like Jalen Hurts which will make it tough for Burrow to finish as the top fantasy quarterback on the platform unless he has a “perfect” fantasy season. Burrow has been a model of consistency anytime he steps onto an NFL field, and I do not believe that will change anytime soon and it’s because of that reason that I have Burrow going in the back end of the first round this year. If you do decide to wait until after the turn to go after Burrow because of his looming contract I would not blame you one bit, but he is still definitely worth a top 12 selection.

Pick 1.12 – Garett Wilson (WR – NYJ) – 3 years/$5,138,502

With the final selection of the first round in the first Dynasty Owner startup mock draft of the season, I will take the surprise selection of Garett Wilson! I know many of you may be a little flabbergasted seeing Wilson this high but allow me to explain. Wilson was fantastic in 2023 winning the Rookie of the Year award despite playing with possibly the worst quarterback room in the NFL. As we all know, he will get a huge bump up in quarterback play with future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers ($50,271,667) now in town. If Wilson and Rodgers are able to gel early on, they could become one of the most dangerous combinations in all of football and with Wilson still having three years remaining on his rookie deal, I am taking a chance on him at this point of the first round. I know some would prefer CeeDee Lamb ($3,502,503) here, but if I have to choose one, I am taking the extra two seasons of cap flexibility that Wilson has left on his rookie deal. The one thing that would put Lamb ahead of Wilson would be if I did not believe Rodgers would play more than one season, but I see him playing for the Jets for at least 2 years.

Facebook Comments: Please enter a valid URL