NFL Draft News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: 15 winners and losers from the 2024 NFL Draft

2T4A9F8 Winston Salem, United States. 28th Oct, 2023. October 28, 2023: Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Keon Coleman (4) breaks for a touchdown against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the ACC football match up at Allegacy Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. (Scott Kinser/CSM/Sipa USA) (Credit Image: © Scott Kinser/Cal Sport Media/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa US/Alamy Live News

• Several surprises at running backs: The teams that prioritized running back in the draft were largely teams who already had a strength at running back, which was great news for players like Zamir White and Gus Edwards, and bad news for Kyren Williams and Chuba Hubbard.

Michael Mayer goes from fantasy sleeper to undraftable: The Las Vegas Raiders spent their first-round pick on star tight end Brock Bowers, pushing Mayer to a clear second on the depth chart.

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With the 2024 NFL Draft in the books, we saw the fantasy football stock of several players improve or decline. Some rookies landed in better spots for production, some veterans face a lot more competition and some others are grateful their team picked a player at a different position.

Winner: HB Zamir White, Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders spent the 44th overall pick on guard Jackson Powers-Johnson and didn’t take a running back

  • White was already a winner of free agency after the team didn’t re-sign Josh Jacobs and only added Alexander Mattison on a cheap one-year deal.
  • The Raiders seemed like an ideal landing spot for one of the better running backs, but instead, Las Vegas didn’t pick a running back until Round 6 when they added Dylan Laube.
  • Elijah Mitchell is the only sixth-round running back in the last decade with over 600 rushing yards, so Laube is unlikely to have much of an impact on White this season.
  • Instead, the Raiders spent their first pick of Day 2 on Powers-Johnson, who has the best run-blocking strength according to our offensive line superlatives.
  • Powers-Johnson had the second-best run-blocking grade over the last two seasons among Power-Five interior linemen at 91.7.
  • The Raiders already have a number of good run blockers on the offensive line, including Kolton Miller, Andre James and Thayer Munford Jr. Adding Powers-Johnson could make this one of the best run-blocking lines in the league.

Winner: Other running backs on teams that seemed likely to draft a running back

Our Nic Bodiford wrote about the four best landing spots for a rookie running back, and none of them addressed the running back position until the sixth round.

Winner: RB Bucky Irving, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Irving was selected with the 125th overall pick and had one of the best landing spots for a rookie running back.

  • Ten running backs were selected in the first four rounds, but some of the landing spots were the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams. All five teams had running backs who ranked in the top-10 of PFF offensive grade last season.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers added big-name running backs in free agency who were at one point top-three running backs by PFF grade.
  • This leaves Jonathon Brooks to the Carolina Panthers, Ray Davis to the Buffalo Bills and Irving to the Buccaneers as the only running backs drafted with anywhere close to a good landing spot.
  • Chuba Hubbard and James Cook were among the top-16 in rushing grade last season.
  • Rachaad White put up plenty of fantasy production last season but his 68.8 rushing grade was the 11th-lowest among the 53 running backs with at least 300 snaps. Most of the bottom 10 are set for a decline in snaps this season, including two unsigned free agents.
  • The Buccaneers other backups are Chase Edmonds and Sean Tucker, who didn’t play much better last season.
  • This means Irving could have the second-best odds outside of Brooks to win his team’s starting job without any injuries among the rookie class.

Winner: WR Xavier Worthy, Kansas City Chiefs

Worthy was picked by the Chiefs with the 28th overall pick and lands in the best-case scenario for him.

  • While some of the wide receivers drafted on Day 1 ended up with a solid option at quarterback, none of them ended up with Patrick Mahomes.
  • The Chiefs have plenty of players in the wide receiver room, but Worthy can certainly find a spot among the Chiefs starters.
  • Rashee Rice leads the depth chart but is in legal trouble. They added Marquise Brown, who will followed by Justin Watson, Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney and Justyn Ross.
  • None of those players have the speed that Worthy possesses.
  • Andy Reid is very familiar with incredibly fast receivers, including Tyreek Hill and DeSean Jackson. Those are big shoes to fill up to, but if Worthy hits, he could hit big in this offense.

Winner: WR Keon Coleman, Buffalo Bills

Coleman was selected with the first pick in the second round and could be the Bills' best outside wide receiver.

  • He is a bigger wide receiver who is very athletic for his size, which helped him score 18 touchdowns over the last two seasons despite beind held to under 800 receiving yards each season.
  • The Bills lost four of their five top wide receivers from last season and only brought in Curtis Samuel and Mack Hollins,
  • Buffalo has plenty of players who can make plays in the middle of the field, including wide receiver Khalil Shakir and tight end Dalton Kincaid, but Coleman should be the Bills top outside wide receiver this season.
  • The Bills were the best landing spot for any wide receiver in the draft given their loss of players, including Stefon Diggs, and having an elite quarterback in Josh Allen.
  • Coleman should be drafted ahead of some of the wide receivers picked in the first round in both redraft and dynasty leagues thanks to the landing spot.
  • Similarly, Ladd McConkey joining the Los Angeles Chargers, who lost Keenan Allen and Mike Williams is a great opportunity at Pick 34.

Winner: QB J.J. McCarthy, Minnesota Vikings

McCarthy lands in the best situation among the second-tier quarterbacks.

  • McCarthy’s only competition in Minnesota is Sam Darnold, so he should be an instant starter with the Vikings.
  • He will have Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, Jordan Addison and Aaron Jones to throw to, giving him one of the best receiving groups in the league.
  • That is a better supporting cast than Drake Maye with the New England Patriots or Bo Nix with the Denver Broncos while Michael Penix Jr. won’t start this year.
  • That means McCarthy will likely be the third quarterback off draft boards in redraft leagues and a likely fantasy starter in superflex leagues.
  • The Vikings only had to trade up one spot to get him, where most assumed they would have to trade much higher. This means the Vikings are retaining more of their draft picks which can help McCarthy and the team.
  • Note Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels aren’t considered winners for this article, largely because they went to their assumed teams, so their value isn’t going up or down.

Winner: QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys were the one team with a clear need at running back, but they opted not to take one with any of their picks.

  • Every team that lost a major running back in free agency also brought in a running back that had a lot of recent starting experience, except for the Cowboys.
  • Their only addition was Royce Freeman, who started eight games in 2018 but has only started one game since then while playing for four different teams.
  • This leaves Rico Dowdle penciled in as the starting running back despite having no career starts and less than 100 career rushing attempts.
  • There are talks that the Cowboys will bring back Ezekiel Elliott despite his career 2,065 carries. He averaged 3.8 yards per carry in his final season with Dallas and 3.5 yards per carry last season with the New England Patriots.
  • The Cowboys already passed a little bit more than league average last season after being a run-heavy team in 2022.
  • The Cowboys likely bringing Elliott back might not stop them from passing on over two-thirds of their pass attempts like they were doing to start 2020 when Prescott was averaging 27.9 fantasy points per game.

Winner: TE Ja’Tavion Sanders, Carolina Panthers

Sanders was the fourth tight end off the board but has a chance to be a Week 1 starter for the Panthers.

  • He was the second tight end on our big board as well as second on consensus big boards.
  • One of his big negatives was blocking, which shouldn’t hurt his fantasy football production.
  • The Panthers didn’t get much production out of their tight ends last season. They combined for 59 receptions and 561 yards, both ranked in the bottom six among teams. No individual tight end gained more than 25 receptions or 200 receiving yards.
  • They let go of former starter Hayden Hurst this offseason and didn’t bring in anyone new in free agency.
  • New head coach Dave Canales doesn’t necessarily have a history of getting tight ends involved in the passing game, but most other tight ends picked will be playing behind a veteran for at least 2024 if not longer.

Loser: RB Kyren Williams and Blake Corum, Los Angeles Rams

The Rams selected Blake Corum with a third-round pick.

  • Williams finished second last season in fantasy points per game by a running back at 21.3. That was three points per game higher than every other running back not named Christian McCaffrey.
  • Part of his success was volume, as he was on the field for 77% of more of his team's offensive snaps in all but three games he played. In more than half of his games, he ran the ball at least 20 times.
  • The other reason he was simply an excellent player. His 90.6 rushing grade was tied with McCaffrey for second-best among all running backs.
  • Prior to this pick, an argument could have been made for Williams to be the second running back off the board in fantasy drafts, but the potential threat of Corum taking a few of those carries per game will lower his draft stock.
  • The Rams have tended to have one clear workhorse running back in Sean McVay’s time. The chances remain pretty high that player will be Williams all season unless he gets injured, but the odds of Williams getting benched despite his good play went up with this pick.
  • It’s certainly possible Corum doesn’t cut into Williams’ playing time at all.
  • Tutu Atwell played only 10 offensive snaps as a rookie in 2021 while both Cam Akers and Van Jefferson played under 300 snaps each as rookies in 2020 and Darrell Henderson under 100 in 2019. All four were Day 2 draft picks by the Rams.
  • The two running backs were born within three months of each other, so this is not a situation where an older running back will start for a year or two before the younger running back can take over like in some other situations.

Loser: RB Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers

The Panthers were the first team to pick a running back with the Jonathon Brooks addition at No. 46 overall.

  • Hubbard took over the Panthers backfield from Miles Sanders last season and scored the 16th-most fantasy points over the second half of last season.
  • The Panthers made plenty of changes on the offensive line and on defense throughout free agency but didn’t touch the backfield until the draft.
  • Brooks was the top running back on our big board, top back on consensus board and top running back picked.
  • Second-round running backs have been no sure thing, as Zach Charbonnet didn’t contribute much for fantasy managers last season, and neither did Breece Hall or James Cook in their rookie seasons.
  • Hubbard could still have some fantasy value this season, but the odds of him being a fantasy starter any given week are a lot lower with Brooks in the backfield.

Loser: RB Trey Benson, Arizona Cardinals

Benson was the 66th overall pick in the draft by Arizona.

  • Benson was the second running back off the board, but he probably won’t see as many opportunities as some other running backs picked after him.
  • James Conner was among the best running backs last season. His 89.8 PFF rushing grade was fourth-best among the 36 running backs with at least 150 carries.
  • He avoided 0.29 tackles per game, which was the best among those running backs.
  • Conner averaged 4.2 yards per carry or better in all but one of his games last season. The one exception was a game where he caught five passes for 67 yards and a touchdown to make up for his only sub-par rushing game.
  • Conner is also getting old for a running back. He turns 29 years old in a week, and he’s one of 10 running backs on NFL rosters with 1,100 career carries or more.
  • Benson might only serve as a change of pace back or injury insurance as a rookie but could be the team’s top running back by 2025 if Conner’s play takes a step back.

Loser: WR Adonai Mitchell, Indianapolis Colts

Mitchell was picked 52nd overall as the 11th wide receiver off the board, but he was expected to be picked higher.

  • He ranked 22nd on our big board as the fourth-best wide receiver and consensus big boards also had him as a first-round talent.
  • He was a frequent mock draft target of the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, both teams that didn’t have much depth at wide receiver but have elite quarterbacks.
  • Instead, he joins the Colts, who have one of the most run-heavy quarterbacks in Anthony Richardson along with a run-heavy offense in general with Jonathan Taylor.
  • Roughly half of the wide receivers picked ahead of him have a chance to be the top wide receiver on the depth chart by the end of this season. That won’t happen anytime soon in Indianapolis, as the Colts had just signed Michael Pittman Jr. to a three-year, $68 million contract just two weeks ago.
  • Indianapolis also has Josh Downs who had a 74.9 receiving grade over the first eight weeks of his rookie season, which ranked 23rd overall and second among rookies. Injuries derailed his season, but he finally returned to form by the last two weeks of the season.
  • Mitchell at least has a chance to be an every-down starter in his rookie season, but it will be harder for him to find a high volume of targets as it would in other offenses.
  • Similarly, Troy Franklin was a borderline first-round prospect based on our big board and a high second-round option on consensus big boards, but he wasn’t selected at all in the first three rounds.

Loser: WR Troy Franklin, Denver Broncos

Franklin was selected with the 102nd overall pick by Denver.

  • Franklin was 29th on our big board and top 50 on most big boards, so falling to the top of the fourth round was very surprising. The fall in the draft alone moved him down multiple tiers in my fantasy rankings.
  • On the bright side, Franklin is reunited with his college quarterback Bo Nix, which should help him be productive in Year 1.
  • On the downside, he joins a Broncos offense that is expected to be one of the worst in the league and likes to rotate their wide receivers.
  • Denver had an average offense by PFF grade last season but lost Russell Wilson and Jerry Jeudy, who were two of the six highest-graded players on the offense.
  • While the Broncos lost Jeudy, they brought in Josh Reynolds and re-signed Tim Patrick. They also have Courtland Sutton and Marvin Mims Jr., so Franklin will likely be the fifth wide receiver on the depth chart. Almost everyone picked above him has a solid chance for top three on the depth chart in Week 1.
  • Franklin can carve out a role in the offense, but it would likely take a trade or injury to Sutton for Franklin to be a fantasy starter anytime soon.

Loser: QB Michael Penix Jr., Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons had the opportunity to improve their offense with Rome Odunze or add to their defense to help the team win now, but they instead added a quarterback of the future.

  • Kirk Cousins will be 36 years old before the start of the season so if anything, it seemed like Atlanta was all in on winning right now.
  • Cousins signed a four-year deal with $100 million guaranteed. The contract is structured in a way that Cousins will be on the team for at least the next two seasons.
  • Penix will be turning 24 years old in two weeks and won’t start this year or next if Cousins is healthy. That means his first potential year as a starter will be at age 26.
  • Penix could have landed on a team like the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos or Las Vegas Raiders, where he could have been in contention to start this season.
  • He might not have been drafted in single quarterback leagues but would have been a pick in superflex leagues if he was drafted on one of those three teams.
  • Now he will only have value in dynasty leagues, but it probably won’t be as high in dynasty leagues as it was before considering his spot on the depth chart.

Loser: TE Michael Mayer, Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders drafted Brock Bowers with the 13th overall pick, which destroys Mayer’s redraft and dynasty value.

  • Mayer is a well-rounded tight end who became a full-time player last season but was still losing some passing downs to Austin Hooper.
  • He averaged 8.1 PPR points per game over the second half of last season, which ranked 19th. With another year of experience and less competition, he would have been among the top sleeper tight ends this season.
  • Instead, Bowers will be the top receiving tight end on the team. The Raiders will likely use plenty of 12 personnel this season, but it’s extremely rare for two tight ends to have fantasy value on the same team at the same time.
  • This also isn’t ideal for Bowers, considering the Raiders situation, and the fact they have a viable backup option to ease Bowers into action.
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