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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 be fantasy starters each week, and there aren’t 28 worthy of starting every week.
  • Generally, wait for wide receivers: There is so much depth at wide receiver that you can find fantasy starters in the middle rounds that fantasy managers can be happy with. That’s much harder at other positions.
  • Pick the best players available early: Ideally, you can find times early in the draft to pick a quarterback and tight end without reaching.
Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

The perfect 2023 fantasy football draft series combines current average draft positions from expert and casual drafts to see which players should be available at each pick, and 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. 

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Last updated: 7:15 a.m. Monday, August 14

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 more valuable later.

This pick will be highly dependent on where in the round you’re drafting, but there are more spots where a wide receiver makes sense than a running back, so we’re leaning wide receiver here. You probably need the first pick to add Justin Jefferson, where there are a few picks where you might be able to pick Kupp, so Kupp is the player highlighted here.

Top Target: Cooper Kupp

Kupp looks to rebound after missing the second half of last season with an ankle injury.

  • He was the best fantasy wide receiver when healthy in the past two seasons. He’s averaged 106.1 yards for 0.85 touchdowns and 24.65 PPR points.
  • It will be a little more difficult for Kupp to score touchdowns this season. The other receiving options aren’t as strong, the Rams' offensive line is a work in progress and the team's defense lost key members.
  • Usually, that combination could lead to increased targets for a wide receiver, but it will be harder for Kupp’s target share to be much higher than what it has been.
  • Kupp recently turned 30 years old while his quarterback, Matthew Stafford, is 35.
  • He would ordinarily be at No. 1 by a distance, but all of the factors potentially working against him this season drags him down to No. 2.

Possible Targets: Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Justin Jefferson, Cooper Kupp, Bijan Robinson, Saquon Barkley

Round 2, Picks 15-28: Draft a running back or Jalen Hurts

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