NFL Draft News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Best post-reception producers in the 2024 NFL Draft

2T1XN37 October 14, 2023: LSU's Malik Nabers (8) tries to escape from the grasp of Auburn's Champ Anthony (25) during the NCAA football game between the Auburn Tigers and the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA. Kyle Okita/CSM (Credit Image: © Kyle Okita/Cal Sport Media) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

• WR Malik Nabers, LSU: Nabers’ exceptional post-catch skills are a key component of his top-graded 93.0 PFF offense grade, ranked among 29 Power Five wide receivers with at least 700 offensive snaps

• WR Tahj Washington, USC: Washington is more than just a product of his environment. His 82.2 PFF offense grade ranks 14th among 124 Power Five wide receivers with at least 500 offensive snaps.

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The incoming 2024 NFL Draft class offers a wide variety of skill sets for fantasy managers to pore over. Prospects who possess an elite ability to create yardage of their own accord hold an edge over their scheme-dependent classmates though, making the players detailed below five must-know names for the 2024 fantasy football season.

WR Malik Nabers, LSU

The PFF big board’s No. 4-ranked prospect, LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers makes his presence felt at all three levels of the field, boasting a top-ranked 93.1 PFF receiving grade, ranked among 36 Power Five wide receivers with at least 90 targets

Nabers’ post-catch production at all three levels of the field, ranked among Power Five wide receivers with at least 45, 25 and 25 targets, respectively:
Malik Nabers Post-Catch Production by aDot Missed Tackles Forced Missed Tackles Forced/Rec. Yards After the Catch/Rec.
Behind LOS-9 Yards 19 (No. 5) 0.38 (No. 5) 7.2 (No. 16)
10-19 Yards 7 (T-No. 2) 0.35 (No. 3) 7.4 (No. 4)
20+ Yards 4 (No. 1) 0.21 (No. 1) 4.3 (No. 11)

Nabers also excels on the NFL’s most explosive-pass-play-friendly throws, 10-plus yards downfield and between the painted numbers. Among 55 Power Five wide receivers with at least 15 such targets, Nabers ranks second in missed tackles forced (nine), third in missed tackles forced per reception (0.6) and 15th in yards after the catch per reception (8.3; YAC/Rec.).

The 6-foot, 200-pound player performed similarly as a 19-year-old in 2022. Among 34 Power Five wide receivers to earn at least 90 targets in 2022, Nabers ranks top five in both missed tackles forced (21) and missed tackles forced per reception (0.29) and in 11th YAC/Rec. (5.8).

Nabers’ dominant traits make him the rare rookie wide receiver to possess a potential top-12 points-per-reception (PPR) positional finish squarely within his range of outcomes.

WR Tahj Washington, USC

USC wide receiver Tahj Washington undoubtedly benefited from playing alongside quarterback Caleb Williams the last two seasons, whose 84.6 PFF passing grade ranks 12th among 35 Power Five quarterbacks with at least 350 dropbacks in 2023. Washington’s elite post-catch traits are all his own though, as was conclusively demonstrated in USC’s Holiday Bowl game against Louisville, with backup quarterback Miller Moss under center. Moss received an 83.9 PFF passing grade for the occasion while Washington secured seven-of-seven targets for 99 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 5.4 YAC/Rec. and forcing five missed tackles receiving. 

Washington’s 85.0 PFF receiving grade ranks 13th among 86 Power Five wide receivers to earn at least 70 targets

As a 21-year-old in 2022, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Washington produced a promising profile. Among 82 Power Five wide receivers with at least 70 targets, Washington tied for the 25th-most missed tackles forced (13), the 18th-best missed tackles forced per reception rate (0.26) and the sixth-best YAC/Rec. (7.76). He leveled up in all three categories the following season, tying for 12th (18) and finishing 11th (0.31) and second (8.59), respectively. 

Washington’s standout playing style should grab his new coaching staff’s attention early in training camp, potentially lining him up for a Week 1 three-wide-receiver set role. Washington is a decent candidate for matchup-based flex consideration in PFF’s annual WR/CB Matchups to Target & Avoid series.

TE Brock Bowers, Georgia

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers concluded his college career with an 84.9 PFF offense grade, ranking No. 1 among Power Five tight ends with at least 500 offensive snaps. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound player showcased an elite post-catch production profile all three years, that is best compared with all pass-catching positions. Bowers can be treated as a mid-to-high TE1 in fantasy football drafts. 

Bowers’ 2023, 2022 and 2021 post-catch receiving data among 89, 88 and 75 Power Five pass catchers with at least 70 targets, respectively. Bowers’ PFF receiving grades on screen passes are ranked among 65, 72 and 53 Power Five pass catchers with at least 15 screen-pass targets, respectively:
Brock Bowers Post-Catch Production 2023 2022 2021
PFF Receiving Grade 87.1 (No. 11) 90.0 (No. 4) 91.6 (No. 3)
MTF 18 (T-No. 12) 15 (T-No. 18) 11 (T-No. 32)
MTF/Rec. 0.32 (No. 8) 0.24 (No. 23) 0.20 (No. 34)
YAC/Rec. 8.7 (No. 2) 7.6 (No. 7) 9.3 (No. 3)
PFF Receiving Grade on Screens 90.6 (No. 4) 68.6 (T-No. 48) 81.2 (No. 20)

Bowers routinely routed linebackers and safeties, averaging 8.6 YAC/Rec. against them, the fifth-most among 42 Power Five tight ends to earn at least 25 targets against linebacker and safety primary coverage. His post-catch successes go beyond interior coverage defenders though. Among 19 Power Five tight ends to earn at least 15 targets against cornerback primary coverage, Bowers’ 9.3 YAC/Rec. ranks fourth-highest.

RB Jonathon Brooks, Texas 

Texas running back Jonathon Brooks erupted for a 91.5 PFF offense grade in 2023, after biding his time behind Bijan Robinson (95.3 PFF offense grade in 2022) and Roschon Johnson (82.1 PFF offense grade in 2022) the prior two seasons. Brooks’ PFF grade ranks No. 2 among 42 Power Five running backs with at least 400 offensive snaps

Brooks’ final college season was cut short by a November 11th ACL tear, causing him to miss two regular season games, the Big 12 Championship and the College Football Playoff Semifinal. Despite the multi-game absence, Brooks racked up gaudy counting stats that pair impressively with his sterling efficiency. Among 40 Power Five running backs to earn at least 25 targets, Brooks’ 332 yards after the catch rank sixth and his 13 missed tackles forced rank second. His 0.52 missed tackles forced per reception rank second and his 13.3 yards after the catch per reception lead the qualifying player pool by 0.8 yards. 

Brooks (11 targets) is one of 31 Power Five running backs to earn at least 10 screen-pass targets and his 93.0 PFF receiving grade on screens ranks No. 1. 

Brooks’ ACL reconstruction (ACLR) date is unknown, but his earliest possible return-to-play date falls in mid-August, expectedly nine months post-op, likely impeding his ability to secure his NFL team’s passing-down role. Fantasy managers should either target Brooks as a late-round bench stash or look to acquire him via trade after a potentially unproductive September ramp-up campaign.

RB Dylan Laube, New Hampshire

New Hampshire running back Dylan Laube enters the NFL as a 24-year-old pass-catching and return-game specialist whose college career was negatively impacted by the pandemic-derailed 2020 season. Much of Laube’s impressive counting statistics come from his 22- and 23-year-old seasons, however, he successfully showcased top-tier ball-in-hands talents as a 19-year-old redshirt freshman in 2019, when his 92.6 PFF receiving grade and 15.5 YAC/Rec. ranked first and second, respectively, among the 35 FCS running backs to earn at least 18 targets. Pending proper draft capital, Laube profiles as a rotational RB2 candidate for Zero RB teams playing in PPR formats. 

The 5-foot-10, 208-pound (29.8 body mass index (BMI) player’s enticing post-catch production is reinforced by his special teams successes, as the two roles share translatable open-field skillsets. 

Among 16 FCS running backs to earn at least 35 targets in 2023, Laube produced a second-ranked 90.5 PFF receiving grade, sidekicked by the class’ top-ranked missed tackles forced receiving sum (23) and third-ranked yards after the catch per reception (10.3). Laube’s 87.1 PFF return grade ranks second among 32 FCS players with a least 25 total returns. On kickoffs, he tops the charts with 33.9 yards and 0.7 missed tackles forced per attempt. On punts, he ranks 12th in yards per return attempt (10.9) and 18th in missed tackles forced per attempt (0.3). 

Among 94 NCAA running backs to earn at least 10 screen-pass targets, Laube’s 92.8 PFF receiving grade on screens takes the No. 5 spot behind the aforementioned Brooks. 

Laube should be treated as a high-end dart throw in fantasy football drafts, on the condition he is drafted in the NFL draft’s fourth round or better.

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