Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will be thinking about all aspects of the dynasty season. Those managers keen enough to look ahead will be the ones who can grab themselves an edge over the competition. Industry professionals and content creators will spend most of the dynasty off-season discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft. It is easy for us to fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver. But a manager in tune with the entire draft class will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can find ourselves at quite the advantage come April by building an entire picture of how the 2023 class will play out. Those who prepare ahead will not be often surprised at the outcomes.
Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to ProFootballFocus. Team needs are also generated from this site. Compensatory picks have not been assigned or included in this exercise.
2023 Season Recap
After trading the number one overall pick in last year’s draft, the Chicago Bears remained committed to Justin Fields. However, the same statement cannot be easily made today. Part of that trade package was the first-round pick for the Carolina Panthers in 2023. The pick would eventually become the number one overall pick in this year’s draft class. A situation that makes for a great debate.
The 2023 Chicago Bears were mediocre, with several highs and lows throughout the season. They finished with a 7-10 record but showed signs of improvement, winning five of their last eight games down the stretch. The defense improved from dead last in the league in 2022 to a top-twenty unit in 2023. Part of the reason head coach Matt Eberflus is being retained for 2024.
The one area where improvement could have been more apparent was at the quarterback position, specifically with Fields. According to PFF, he was the 25th-best passer in the league this year. This ranking, unfortunately, put him behind some notable backups, such as Jake Browning and Tyrod Taylor. This year’s performance doesn’t help the question of what to do with Fields and the number one overall pick. Let’s see which direction Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears go.
1.01 – Caleb Williams, QB, USC
In this scenario, the Chicago Bears take former Heisman winner Caleb Williams with the number one overall pick. Despite a rocky 2023 season, he is still the top quarterback on my big board. In recent memory, his 2022 Heisman campaign was one of the best seasons at the quarterback position. The 2023 USC team surrounding Williams was poor at best. Which led to many cases of him playing hero ball to save any glimmer of hope for a victory. This hero ball mentality led to many troubling traits, such as one of the longest times to throw and a pocket depth that exposes his tackles to bad angles of attack. All of these should be easily fixable at the next level.
1.09 – Olumuyiwa Fashanu, T, Penn State
This pick is Chicago’s own; they are fortunate enough to have two top-ten picks in this scenario. One of the most important aids to a young quarterback’s development is strong offensive line play in front of them. In this case, the Bears can draft one of the top two tackles in the class. They can pair Fashanu up with last year’s first-round pick, Darnell Wright, to hopefully form a strong young tackle duo for Williams. With some help along the interior, this offensive line can quickly turn into a top-ten unit across the league.
3.75 – Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan
Usually, the leading receiver for the reigning national champions would be in the conversation of a first-round pick. Unfortunately for Wilson, this Michigan team was one of the lowest passing volume offenses to win a national title in the past few years. He led the Wolverines with just 67 targets on the season. He was able to find a way to convert those into 12 touchdowns and 789 yards. His 2.68 yards per route run was good enough for 15th in this draft class. Wilson will make an excellent late-day two-pick and complement DJ Moore well in this Caleb Williams-led passing attack.
4.110 – Tyler Davis, DI, Clemson
With a defensive-minded head coach, I doubt Chicago will wait until day three to address the defense. However, with the players left on the board, this is the way this mock played out. The midseason trade for Montez Sweat has worked out favorably for the Bears. Sweat was able to come in midseason and lead the Bears in sacks. After a big extension, Sweat is in Chicago for at least a few more years, and it is time to get him some help. Davis is one of the best run-defending linemen in the draft, and getting him this late is a huge win. With such a big help in the run game, Sweat will better be able to concentrate on getting to the quarterback and putting up even bigger sack totals in 2024 and beyond.
4.122 – Max Melton, CB, Rutgers
With only four cornerbacks under contract in 2024, this is a position that Ryan Poles should attack at some point in the draft. Jaylon Johnson had a breakout season, and the team still hopes to get more from last year’s second-round selection, Tyrique Stevenson. Melton had a strong 2023 season at Rutgers and looks to join his brother Bo at the NFL level. An athletic corner on day three is the perfect addition to this Chicago Bears defense.
5.146 – Beaux Limmer, C, Arkansas
With only one center under contract in 2024 and the ones who did play in 2023 underperforming, this is a position I expect the Bears to address in free agency. However, planning for that free agent’s successor before they are acquired is always intelligent. The Bears take a shot on one here in the fifth. Limmer is a red-shirt senior who started for the Razorbacks for three seasons at the center position. He could serve a backup role in 2024, allowing him time to develop before taking over in 2025 and beyond.
6.186 – Frank Gore Jr, RB, Southern Miss
Taking a shot on a sixth-round running back is never a bad idea, especially when that player is Frank Gore’s son. It’s wild to think that Gore was still playing in the league just a few seasons ago, and we are already seeing his son entering the NFL draft. Kahlil Herbert and Travis Homer are entering contract years in 2024, and we could see a backfield of Roschon Johnson and Frank Gore Jr. in 2025 and beyond.
7.232 – Hayden Hatten, WR, Idaho
In the final round of the NFL draft, I always like taking shots at players from small schools. Hatten was a dominant wide receiver at the University of Idaho. He accounted for over 37% of the team’s receiving yards in 2023 and almost half of their receiving touchdowns. His 2.72 yards per route run put him near the top of this draft class at the receiver position. The knock on these players is always the level of competition they face, so the fact that Hatten played in the Hula Bowl was huge. He was able to snag in both of his targets for 31 yards and a touchdown. Next up for this young man is the Combine—a vital name to watch during the pre-draft process.
2024 Fantasy Impact
Obviously, from a fantasy football perspective, the prize of this draft class will be the pick at the top of the class, Williams. He will be in the talks of going first overall in our Superflex rookie drafts and will even argue for a first-rounder in 1QB leagues. Other names to watch out for would be UNC quarterback Drake Maye and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. Williams could start as early as week one, depending on how the Bears handle Fields or the signing of a veteran quarterback to help mentor Williams. With his mobility and arm talent, Williams has the ceiling of a top-five overall dynasty fantasy football asset.
From a fantasy football perspective, Wilson is the other exciting name to watch out for. He will easily be had in the late second to the third round of your dynasty rookie drafts. Sharing the field with DJ Moore and Cole Kmet will put him third in line for targets for this offense, but we hope to see an uptick in passing volume when transitioning from Fields to Williams. He can make a nice depth piece on your dynasty squad that can fill in as a Flex play during bye weeks and when dealing with injuries.
Gore and Hatten will clock in as late-round flyers for dynasty rookie drafts. Gore will initially find himself buried on a depth chart until at least 2025. However, injuries are all too likely at the running back position, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a fantasy-relevant week sometime in 2024. Hatten is a developmental prospect at the wide receiver position. He will likely go undrafted in dynasty rookie squads, but he could be an excellent addition to your taxi squad if he develops faster than anticipated.
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I hope you enjoyed this piece in our DraftNerds series. Be sure to check back often. For more content like this, follow me on Twitter @DanT_NFL. DMs are always open for questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!