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Fantasy football mock draft for 12-team online auction PPR league in 2023 NFL season

Here are the results of one mock draft in a 12-team PPR auction league.

Carolina Panthers v Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams react after a stop in play during a 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers at SoFi Stadium on October 16, 2022 in Inglewood, California.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Fantasy football season is here and that means plenty of fans flocking to mock draft lobbies to hone their skills ahead of the big day. Auction leagues, also known as salary cap leagues, have grown in popularity over the last few years. These leagues do not have a set draft order, and it allows managers to target any player they choose and not be at the mercy of their draft slot. Here’s a look at how my mock draft played out in a 12-team PPR auction setting on ESPN.

2023 Fantasy football mock draft review: Auction 12-team PPR

Auction rules

The salary cap is $200. This league has 16 roster spots and starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 D/ST and 1 K. ESPN, and most online auction formats, automatically slot at least $1 for each position and adjust your maximum bid based on that. This means that while you may have enough money to bid on a player, you wouldn’t be able to fill out a roster if you bid that high. In offline auctions, you can blow your entire $200 purse on one, seven or 12 players but in online auctions, you must select a full 16-player roster.

You can roster up to four quarterbacks, eight running backs, eight receivers, three tight ends, three D/ST and three kickers.


It’s hard to devise a great strategy going into an auction, since things largely depend on how much others bid for players. Usually, you want to spend big on a few top players while saving some cash in the later rounds to target your sleepers without having to be at the mercy of the maximum bid threshold.

How the auction played out

In my auction, I decided to spend big early. The first problem with this strategy was I could only make $1 bids after four picks, which meant sitting through the remaining 150+ selections. The second issue was I lost out on some sleeper picks like Skyy Moore, AJ Dillon, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Khalil Herbert because I didn’t have enough cash.

The four players anchoring my team are Saquon Barkley ($62), Cooper Kupp ($66), Jaylen Waddle ($35) and Deebo Samuel ($25). There are the obvious injury concerns with all four, plus Kupp and Waddle have the same bye week.

There were two managers who had their full purse until picks 29 (Chris Olave $32) and 37 (Najee Harris $25). One manager had a solid overall roster but ended up with $53 excess because he had filled up his spots after waiting things out early. This manager’s running backs ended up being Miles Sanders, James Cook and Cam Akers.

Justin Jefferson went first for $70, and the same manager got Austin Ekeler second for $69. Patrick Mahomes was nominated third and went for $35. Darren Waller was the first tight end nominated and went for $15, immediately followed by Travis Kelce being nominated and going for $70.

Best picks

Jaylen Waddle ($35) - Tyreek Hill went for $63, which is a $28 difference from Waddle. The fantasy projections on ESPN think Hill will outscore Waddle by 63 fantasy points over the season, or 3.7 points per week over 17 weeks. Those $28 saved allowed me to grab Samuel, who should have a season somewhere between his amazing 2021 year and sluggish 2022 year.

Jamaal Williams ($1) - The second running back spot is likely to be a concern for me all season, even if Barkley stays healthy. However, for at least three weeks, Williams should be the lead back in New Orleans and will continue to get goal-line touches in this offense. I was worried he would go earlier, but he fell into the area where every manager was left with $1 as the maximum bid. I waited until it was my turn to nominate a player and landed him.

Kenneth Gainwell ($1) - The same thinking for Williams applies to Gainwell. There’s a chance he could be the top running back in a great Philadelphia Eagles offense, which helps my situation for the position substantially. Even if he’s not the clear-cut top back, he’s likely to get more touches overall. For $1, he’s a steal.

Worst picks

Saquon Barkley ($62) - The injury concerns are there, and Barkley could regress after a big 2022 season. However, he’s in a contract year once again and the Giants are going to feed him the ball. I have Barkley’s backup Matt Breida in case there’s a long-term setback, but could I have been better off splitting this money up among two running backs? Aaron Jones, Rhamondre Stevenson, Rachaad White and James Conner were taken in the middle of the auction at about half the price point of Barkley.

Damien Harris ($1) - This was partially due to me running out of time to nominate a player and partially due to my focus on running backs. Harris could eventually make this Bills backfield a timeshare situation, but I really should’ve taken another wide receiver here. I’ll likely have to deal some backup running backs for backup wide receivers at some point.

Final thoughts

I took Stafford and Russell Wilson as quarterbacks. Stafford creates a great stack with Kupp, and Wilson could have a bounce-back season under Sean Payton. I can always stream quarterbacks without much trouble if these guys don’t pan out.

My running back depth is worrying for the RB2 spot, but I’ve got a couple weeks to sort things out. If there’s an injury to either Austin Ekeler or Christian McCaffrey, I’ve got their backups. Maybe Harris overtakes Cook in Buffalo. Maybe Gainwell takes full control of the backfield in Philadelphia. I just need one break for my RB2 spot to be more solid.

My receivers should be a strong point barring injury. I will have to get another one at some point, either via a trade or off the waiver wire. I’ll have a few weeks to make that move, and hopefully one of my bench running backs will gain some value. The good news is I know exactly who I’ll be starting every week without going too deep into the matchups and playing a guessing game.

Ertz is on track to play in Week 1 and is a solid tight end, especially in a Cardinals offense that’ll likely be more constrained until Kyler Murray returns. Defense and kicker are streaming candidates weekly, so I’m not overly worried about those spots.

Full mock draft results

QB - Matthew Stafford ($1)

RB1 - Saquon Barkley ($62)

RB2 - Jamaal Williams ($1)

WR1 - Cooper Kupp ($66)

WR2 - Jaylen Waddle ($35)

TE - Zach Ertz ($1)

FLEX - Deebo Samuel ($25)

D/ST - Bengals ($1)

K - Jason Sanders ($1)


WR Rashod Bateman ($1)

RB Kenneth Gainwell ($1)

RB Elijah Mitchell ($1)

RB Matt Breida ($1)

RB Joshua Kelley ($1)

RB Damien Harris ($1)

QB Russell Wilson ($1)