Welcome to Monday Mocks, where I’ll bring you… you guessed it, a new mock draft every Monday during the off-season. In my opinion, drafting is the best part of fantasy football, so I do as much of that as I can. This series will be filled with all types of mocks. We’ll draft startups, rookies, devys, and more.
Free agency begins this week. In fact, by the time you’re reading this, Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport may have already reported about likely landing spots for some of the top names. Until those become official when the new league year begins on Wednesday, let’s dream a little.
I collected a few DLF contributors to join me in a unique mock draft this week. Thanks to Matt Price, Rich Cooling, John DiBari, Aaron St Denis, and John Hesterman for taking part in this week’s free agent mock draft.
I asked the group to draft a free agent and identify a realistic landing spot that would enhance the players’ dynasty value. I’ll let you be the judge on how realistic these player and team pairings are, but regardless, this was a fun and interesting process as a preview to free agency.
1.01 Lamar Jackson, SF
Technically not a free agent any longer, Lamar Jackson will be the most-watched and discussed player this week as he is eligible to negotiate with teams other than the Baltimore Ravens, who placed the non-exclusive Franchise Tag on their quarterback last week. Here, Matt suggests Jackson could land in the most quarterback-friendly system in the league via a trade for Trey Lance and picks. While this might be the ultimate long shot of this mock draft, it would have major ripple effects and offer a huge boost to Jackson’s fading dynasty value.
1.02 Jakobi Meyers, CAR
I was next up and went the more conventional route, sending the Carolina Panthers a new WR1 to replace recently-traded DJ Moore. Carolina has over $20 million in cap space following the trade but they do not have a legitimate WR1. Jakobi Meyers, one of the most underrated receivers in the league, has already been called this year’s version of Christian Kirk. Of course, Kirk left the Cardinals last offseason to sign with the Jaguars, serving as their top target and earning a surprisingly-high contract. In Carolina, Meyers could set himself up to be the top target for CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson, or whoever the team selects with their newly acquired top overall draft pick.
1.03 JuJu Smith-Schuster, CHI
After settling for an incent-laden contract with the Chiefs last year, Juju Smith-Schuster will surely be looking for a nice payday this year. Rich suggests he could find that with the Bears, who have the second-most available cap space in the league, with over $75 million to spend. Chicago did just acquire Moore, adding him to Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool, so it can be argued how aggressive the team will be when it comes to pass-catchers. Rich noted that adding Smith-Schuster would further the support of quarterback Justin Fields while adding a slot option who is also a reliable run blocker.
1.04 Miles Sanders, MIA
Although leaving an NFC champion’s potent offense may not seem like a good thing, this case is the exception. Miles Sanders had a solid year for the Eagles in 2022, but was also just one part of a three-headed backfield and all three backs often gave up short-yardage work to quarterback Jalen Hurts. DiBari offers Miami, who currently don’t have a running back under contract, as the ideal landing spot to boost Sanders’ dynasty value. The Mike McDaniel offense will ultimately help increase the value of multiple ball carriers through free agency and the NFL Draft.
1.05 Tom Brady, LV
Ooh, things are getting juicy in this draft! While Tom Brady himself continues to promise he is staying retired this time, reports linger that suggest just the opposite. Brady had been linked to the Dolphins, who recently committed to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa by picking up his fifth-year option. With that door seemingly closed, Aaron pivots and sends Brady out west to the Raiders, who need a quarterback for Davante Adams, Darren Waller, and company. Aaron also notes a reunion for Brady and Vegas head coach Josh McDaniels could be enough to seal the deal.
1.06 Alexander Mattison, CAR
Over the past few years, Alexander Mattison has served as one of the top backups in the league. While Vikings starter Dalvin Cook has been out of the lineup, the team inserts Mattison and he has answered the call. Mattison has played six career games with Cook out and has averaged over 20 fantasy points per contest. That small sample size could be enough to earn him a starting job with another team. Here, Hesterman focuses on the suddenly revamped Panthers. Although quarterback and receiver are obvious areas of need, the team also has no significant running back as D’Onta Foreman is also a free agent.
1.07 Mike Gesicki, LAC
After being assigned the Franchise Tag, 2022 was somewhat of a lost season for Mike Gesicki in Miami. Now, the two sides are ready to part ways and there are a number of landing spots in which Gesicki could see a major value gain, including Green Bay and Cincinnati, among others. Hesterman pegs Gesicki to go from east coast to the west coast, landing with the Chargers. Gerald Everett had a successful 2022 season, finishing as the TE13, and is under contract for one more season. Gesicki certainly has more upside though and would offer Justin Herbert another reliable target in the passing game.
1.08 Dalton Schultz, DET
Dalton Schultz was set to test the free agent market a year ago before being tagged by the Cowboys and remaining in Dallas for one more successful season. While the team has tons of cap space, it has been widely reported that the two sides are expected to part ways this time around. Schultz will have plenty of interest as multiple teams need an upgrade at the tight end position. Aaron predicts the improving Lions as a possible home for Schultz. Detroit traded their starter TJ Hockenson last season and the offense actually took off in the back half of the season and Aaron sees Schultz as a perfect fit in the Lions’ high-powered offense.
1.09 DJ Chark, NYG
Like Smith-Schuster, DJ Chark was also a free agent last offseason, taking the one-year “prove it” deal with the Lions. Although he missed time with an injury, Chark did have an overall productive season and in a subpar free agent receiver class, he’ll have interest on the market again. Last year, the Giants dealt with multiple injuries to the receiver position, piecing together a depth chart with other teams’ scraps. With Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley back for the 2023 season, the Giants can now focus on improving their receiving corps.
1.10 Damien Harris, LAC
Every year, the Chargers use a Day Three draft pick on a running back, hoping to find a capable complement to starter and fantasy beast Austin Ekeler. So far, they have been mostly unsuccessful in those attempts, cycling through Joshua Kelley, Larry Rountree, Sony Michel, Justin Jackson, and most recently, Isaiah Spiller. Rich suggests the Chargers should try the free agency route, specifically with Damien Harris. A solid early-down back, Harris missed most of the 2022 season with injuries and the Patriots seem content to move forward without the former Alabama back.
1.11 Kareem Hunt, PHI
With Sanders presumably gone, the Eagles will need to add some running back depth to go along with Kenneth Gainwell. In Cleveland for the past four seasons following his messy departure from Kansas City, Hunt has been part of a committee backfield and proved early in his career that he could serve as the lead back when given the chance. There are many teams around the league that could offer a boost to Hunt’s dynasty value, but the Eagles might be the best fit.
1.12 Odell Beckham, LAR
After taking the 2022 season off as he recovered from another ACL injury, veteran receiver Odell Beckham is back and reportedly seeking $20 million annually. That might just be enough to scare off interested teams, although there were many in attendance for Beckham’s recent workout. Over one-third of the league’s teams were represented as OBJ showed what he had left and among those Beckham’s most recent team, the Rams. Matt is hoping for a Beckham reunion in Los Angeles. The Rams tried to replace Beckham with Allen Robinson but that didn’t go well and ARob is now reportedly on the trade block. If Robinson is moved, it could open the door for Beckham in the Rams’ offense.
Enjoy free agency and we’ll be back with another mock draft next Monday!
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