Fantasy Football: 5 players who will see the biggest value increase in dynasty leagues

2WBCEJM Houston, United States. 08th Jan, 2024. HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 08: Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) celebrates during the CFP National Championship against the Washington Huskies on January 08, 2024 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Image of Sport) Credit: Newscom/Alamy Live News

• Is Arizona Cardinals rookie Trey Benson the next fantasy football star in waiting? Veteran running back James Conner enters the final year of his contract at 29 years old, with third-round rookie Trey Benson waiting behind him.

Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy steps into an optimal situation: Year 1, McCarthy will throw to a combination of Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and when healthy, T.J. Hockenson. Can it get much better than that?

• Get a head start on fantasy football: Use PFF's fantasy football mock draft simulator to create real live mock draft simulations to get ready for your live draft!

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

Every season, there’s an inevitable list of players whose fantasy football value rises tremendously either thanks to an improved situation, shakeups in the depth chart or newfound opportunity. The goal, especially for fantasy managers in dynasty fantasy football leagues, is to get “in” at the ground level – “buy low.”

Here are five players to target in dynasty fantasy football with the greatest potential to see an increase in value during the 2024 NFL season.

QB J.J. McCarthy, Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings selected Michigan prospect J.J. McCarthy with the 10th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft as the fifth quarterback off the board. Though there was a mixed bag of reviews for the Michigan prospect coming out, there’s no doubt that he’s in a prime position for fantasy production from the day he steps onto the football field. That will be thanks to both his own skills (accuracy and underrated athleticism among them) and the stellar group of skill position players he’ll be throwing to as a rookie.

McCarthy’s box score over the past two seasons isn’t overly impressive at face value, as he played in a pro-style, run-first offense under coach Jim Harbaugh. However, he made up for a lack of volume with a level of efficiency, ranking top-12 among Power Five quarterbacks with an 87.3 PFF passing grade, 8.8 yards per pass attempt and a 79% adjusted completion percentage. 

Despite earning a reputation as a game manager in Michigan’s offense, McCarthy wasn’t all about the safe throws, either, as 51.6% of McCarthy’s pass attempts went past the sticks (11th in the Power Five), with just 40.7% of his total yardage coming after the catch – the second-lowest rate among the quarterbacks drafted in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. 

McCarthy has above-average athleticism for the quarterback position to extend plays out of the pocket when need be, with a plethora of weapons to get it done. Don’t be surprised if he’s set up for more success than anyone is projecting in year one.

RB Trey Benson, Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals selected FSU running back prospect Trey Benson with the 66th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Though he’ll be competing for touches with veteran James Conner in Year 1, Benson’s certainly a name to watch as the year progresses. 

Conner is coming off his most efficient season to date, posting career highs with an 88.4 rushing grade, 5.0 yards per carry, 3.93 yards after contact per attempt and a 29% missed forced tackle rate. However, he’s also entering the final season of his three-year, $21 million contract with the Cardinals and some questions about his overall durability ahead of his age-29 season. Health has been an ongoing issue for Conner over the years, having played 13 or fewer games in all but one season dating back to 2018. 

That’s where Benson could come in. Coming out of FSU, Benson has the ideal size for an NFL running back at 6 feet and 216 pounds. Complementing his large frame is his 4.39 speed, which is more than evident once he finds his way to the next level; one missed forced tackle, and he’s gone, literally. His 12% breakaway run rate over the past two seasons ranks ninth among 226 qualifying running backs dating back to 2022.

Over the past two seasons, Benson has graded out as one of the best running backs in the NCAA. Expect him to have the opportunity to take over the Cardinals backfield as a perfect complement to rushing quarterback Kyler Murray in what projects to be a much-improved offense heading into 2024.

WR Marvin Mims Jr., Denver Broncos

After acquiring quarterback Russell Wilson in a blockbuster trade with the Seattle Seahawks, they were a little short on high-end picks during the 2023 NFL Draft – Sean Payton’s first draft with the organization after being hired. With his first pick as the head coach within the organization, Payton traded up to select Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims. Though he’s a generally undersized prospect at 5-foot-11 and 183 pounds, Mims more than makes up for a lack of play strength with his above-average athleticism, acceleration and burst. His rookie season was filled with flashes, including a 2-113-1 stat line in Week 2, but he failed to earn targets consistently despite averaging 17.1 yards per reception as a rookie.

Despite those inconsistencies as a rookie, Mims seems destined for a more significant role, as the Broncos traded wide receiver Jerry Jeudy to the Cleveland Browns this offseason, who’s accounted for a 17.5% target share in the regular season since he was drafted back in 2020. They’re also in the middle of a contract dispute with veteran Courtland Sutton, who was absent for OTAs. He accounted for 327 targets in that same span. He’ll have every opportunity to earn more opportunities in 2024 with Bo Nix under center, whose 71.5% accurate throw rate ranked second among Power Five quarterbacks in 2023 (min. 100 attempts).

Mims’ athleticism is especially conducive to his role as a deep receiving threat, with 34.4% of targets coming 20 or more yards down the field. If he earns himself a greater role within the offense, expect significant fantasy upside to be within the range of outcomes.  

WR George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t boasted the most impressive pass attack since the retirement of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at the close of the 2021 NFL season. Unfortunately, that means that soon-to-be third-year wide receiver George Pickens hasn’t had the luxury of excellent quarterback play. 

Since being selected by the Steelers with the 52nd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Pickens has caught passes from a combination of Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph, who have combined for just 27 total passing touchdowns in that span. Despite that, Pickens had a stellar sophomore campaign with 1,190 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He ranked second in the league averaging 17.5 yards per reception while also ranking top-10 among receivers with 6.1 yards after the catch per reception and 13th among receivers with 3.16 fantasy points per touch (min. 50 targets). 

Pickens enters Year 3 with a massive upgrade in quarterback in Russell Wilson, an upgrade in play-caller in Arthur Smith, and an opportunity for a significant increase in target share in the absence of Diontae Johnson. Don’t be surprised if a top-15 fantasy finish is in the works for Pickens this offseason.

TE Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers are heading into their second season under quarterback Jordan Love as a starter, the first of which was a very promising one where the team tied for fourth among NFL offenses with 0.086 expected points added (EPA) per play while ranking seventh in the league with 50 total touchdowns. Given the expectations that HC Matt LaFleur and Love will only continue to build on what they started in 2023, it only seems rational to expect a similar jump in production for their tight ends – in particular, Luke Musgrave.

Musgrave didn’t have the flashiest of rookie seasons, totaling just 352 receiving yards and a touchdown over 11 games in 2023. However, his usage while healthy in comparison to teammate Tucker Kraft speaks volumes about how the team envisions their usage. In their rookie seasons, Musgrave was more of a hybrid/receiving tight end, while Kraft spent a higher percentage of his snaps in a blocking role as opposed to running routes. If that trend continues, Musgrave will slot in as the primary receiving tight end for an ascending second-year quarterback, currently being drafted as the TE17, per FantasyPros.

Tucker Kraft Luke Musgrave
Yards/route run 1.08 1.35
Threat% 13.6% 17.2%
Average depth of target 4.9 7.3
Blocking % 51.3% 38.4%
PFF receiving grade 65.1 69.6

Unlock the 2023 Fantasy Draft Kit, with League Sync, Live Draft Assistant, PFF Grades & Data Platform that powers all 32 Pro Teams

$31 Draft Kit Fee + $8.99/mo
$89.88/yr + FREE Draft Kit