Fantasy Football: Kate Magdziuk's must-draft list for the 2024 season

2T0PWPW Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) catches a pass in front of Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, left, and carries it into the endzne for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

• New Minnesota Vikings RB Aaron Jones ended his 2023 campaign on a blazing hot streak: Recency bias hasn’t inflated his average draft position one bit, though.

Pittsburgh Steelers WR George Pickens enters Year 3 as his team’s undisputed WR1 with plenty of upside for fantasy football managers: He’s currently being drafted as a WR3 with an average draft position outside the top-24 wideouts.

• Check out PFF's fantasy football rankings: PFF’s fantasy football rankings include ranks from our experts, projections and our strength of schedule metric.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

For the last year, PFF has been home for the bulk of my written fantasy football content, housing my spiciest opinions and boldest predictions. Now, it’s time that I deliver some bittersweet news, that this will be my last article with PFF Fantasy as I get ready to pursue the next opportunity in my career (more on that soon!). I couldn’t leave the team without a bang, however, so as my parting gift, here are seven of my “must-draft” fantasy players for the 2024 season. 

Average draft position (ADP) data comes courtesy of FantasyPros.

QB Jayden Daniels, Washington Commanders

Current ADP: QB11 (eighth round)

It’s not often that fantasy football managers can spot an opportunity to draft a quarterback with legitimate top-five upside in the eighth-plus round of drafts, but this is absolutely one of those times. Rookie quarterback Jayden Daniels is that dude.

It’s no secret that rushing upside has been a common theme among the league’s top fantasy scorers. After all, the overall QB1 in fantasy football has had 500 or more rushing yards in four of the past five seasons. Now, even as a rookie, it’s difficult to even consider five starting quarterbacks with more rushing upside than Daniels (Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Anthony Richardson, then…?). What those quarterbacks have in common, beyond their rushing upside, is the fact that they’re all being drafted, on average, in the top-four rounds of drafts.

In 2023, Daniels was the only quarterback in college football to post a 90.0-plus PFF passing grade (92.0) and rushing grade (92.4). He ranked second among all quarterbacks with 1,301 rushing yards, adding another 10 rushing touchdowns to the 40 he threw, with an 8.4% big-time throw rate to complement his 1.7% turnover-worthy play rate that ranked bottom 12 in the league. There’s no better value than Daniels for the upside he presents, in a Kliff Kingsbury system that yielded a career-best 819 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns back in 2020.  

RB Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins

Current ADP: RB28 (seventh round)

Though most fantasy managers have their sights set on second-year RB De’Von Achane, I still think the tea leaves read in favor of veteran Raheem Mostert, making his seventh-round ADP look like an absolute steal barring an unexpected development. Achane’s hype level is one that is well deserved due to his 93.1 rushing grade that led all running backs. He also averaged an absurd 7.4 yards per carry and achieved the single highest-scoring RB fantasy performance in all of 2023 with a 49.3-point outing in Week 3. 

However, the hype fails to acknowledge the many signs the Dolphins’ coaching staff have provided that point to Mostert as the primary back to roster in 2024. Consider the following:

  • Despite an incredible performance from then-rookie De’Von Achane, the Dolphins re-signed Raheem Mostert this offseason to a new two-year deal worth up to $9.075 million. 
  • Mostert, who led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2023, finished as the overall RB5 on the season, including four top-five weekly finishes. He ranked second in the league with a 91.7 PFF rushing grade, ranking top-10 in missed forced tackle rate (24%), yards after contact per attempt (3.3) and first down/touchdown rate (27%). So yeah, he was also pretty dang good.
  • HC Mike McDaniel himself acknowledged that their backfield is “pretty much led by Raheem [Mostert].” Mostert’s usage over Achane in critical situations spoke to that, especially inside the five-yard line, where Mostert saw 20 carries to Achane’s five. 
  • Many will point to Mostert’s health as a deterrent for a consistent workload heading into his age-32 season, however, he’s missed fewer games over the past two seasons (three) thank Achane did in his rookie season alone (six).

In summary, why should you draft Achane in the second round when you can draft Mostert in the seventh instead?

RB Aaron Jones, Minnesota Vikings

Current ADP: RB19 (fifth round)

When most fantasy football managers remember Aaron Jones’ 2023 campaign, they’re remembering a disappointing one. He missed six games over the year dealing with hamstring and knee injuries, as he's notched just a single top-five finish in the year that came way back in Week 1. However, they might be forgetting Jones' red-hot finish showcased from Week 15 on through the postseason, once he was finally healthy. 

Over that six-game span, Jones led all running backs with a 90.9 rushing grade, averaging 5.5 yards per rush attempt and a whopping 120 scrimmage yards per game (fourth-most). His 32.8% first down/touchdown rate led all running backs with 50-plus carries in that span, while also ranking top-five with 3.8 yards after contact per attempt and a 25% missed forced tackle rate. So no, Jones is indeed not washed, even heading into his age-29 season. With limited competition in the Vikings backfield for touches (Ty Chandler, Kene Nwangwu), Jones could be in for a significant workload that well out-performs his fifth-round ADP.

RB Zack Moss, Cincinnati Bengals

Current ADP: RB25 (sixth to seventh round)

If you’ve been following my work for any amount of time, you probably know that I’ve been enamored with Zack Moss since his final year at Utah. He absolutely dominated in 2019, posting a 91.5 rushing grade for the year while ranking among the top of his class in key metrics like missed forced tackle rate (38%) and yards after contact per attempt (4.4). Things never got off the ground with the Buffalo Bills, however, and he found his way to the Indianapolis Colts via trade for his first real opportunity to lead a backfield thanks to an injury to superstar Jonathan Taylor.

In a four-game stint without Taylor in the lineup, Moss totaled 562 rushing yards and three touchdowns, adding another 128 yards and two scores through the air. That was enough to earn him a two-year, $8 million contract with the Bengals this offseason, and suddenly, the lead role on one of the league’s most productive offenses is Moss’ for the taking. 

Though second-year back Chase Brown showed some impressive flashes as a rookie, he never played more than 18 offensive snaps in a single game, failing to earn much work in the most crucial areas of the field, earning just seven total carries in the red zone to Joe Mixon’s 59 and didn’t log single carry inside the five-yard line (Mixon had 21). It seems likely that Moss will assume that “Joe Mixon” type of role and see the type of volume that will outperform his current draft cost of RB25.

WR George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers

Current ADP: WR28 (fourth round)

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and former second-round pick George Pickens enters 2024 poised with the opportunity for a true breakout season, and his ADP as the 28th wide receiver off the board doesn’t reflect it in the least. 

Pickens has made his mark with splashy, jaw-dropping plays, as four of his five touchdowns in 2023 were 40-plus-yard plays – the second-most such plays in the league. Despite having tied for the 27th most targets at the position, his propensity for big plays saw him ranked 16th in the league with 1,140 receiving yards, ranking top-10 in yards per target (10.96), yards per reception (18.1) and yards after the catch per reception (6.49). 

Not only does Pickens have the opportunity for a significant increase in target share absent Diontae Johnson, but he’s also now paired with a starting quarterback who complements his skillset better than any of those he’s played with to this point in his career in Russell Wilson. Pickens, who ranked 10th in the league with a 99.3 receiving grade on targets of 20+ yards, will now catch passes from Russell Wilson, who had a 6-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio last year on such throws, earning a 92.3 passing grade that ranked 11th among quarterbacks.

WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Current ADP: WR17 (third round)

Bucs WR Mike Evans has the highest average draft position of any player on my must-draft list, currently going in the third round as the 17th wide receiver off the board. Still, it seems as though there’s some value to be had there for the soon-to-be 31-year-old veteran, who hasn’t finished outside of the top 15 in fantasy points per game since 2017.

Evans is just about as safe a fantasy asset as you can find, looking to tie HOF-er Jerry Rice for the NFL record of most consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more receiving yards approaching 2024. His safe floor is just as exciting. He still possesses significant upside despite his age as the preferred target for returning QB Baker Mayfield. Evans led all Buccaneers receivers with a 23.8% target rate on routes run in the 2023 season while also leading the team in total targets, red zone targets and end zone targets.

It wasn’t just the sheer volume of opportunities that Evans saw in his first season with Mayfield at quarterback that made his 2023 campaign special. He was also incredibly efficient with those opportunities, ranking top-12 among wideouts (min. 25 targets) with 2.31 yards per route run, 26.7 yards per reception and 43 explosive plays.  Fantasy managers may be cooling on Evans due to his age, but his game was never based on athleticism – it’s been based on skill, refinement and play strength, which should translate to yet another year of value for fantasy managers.

TE Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys

Current ADP: TE9 (seventh round)

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jake Ferguson’s ascension to fantasy relevance hasn’t been as dramatic as that of Sam LaPorta or Trey McBride. However, there’s no doubt that his opportunity as a primary target for QB Dak Prescott could set him up for another leap in Year 3. 

Ferguson hasn’t been the most efficient tight end in the league last season. He ranked eighth in the league with a 76.6 receiving grade, 15th in the league in fantasy points per route run and 13th in fantasy points per target – not anything to write home about, even despite his end-of-year finish as the overall TE9. There was one area where he stood out, however, which was the number of high-value opportunities Ferguson saw in the red zone and end zone. 

Among all tight ends, Ferguson tied for the third-most red zone targets (24) while tying for the second-most end zone targets (nine). Though touchdowns are a largely volatile stat on a year-to-year basis, Ferguson is set to play what is effectively a WR2 role in an offense that ranked sixth in the league with 50 offensive touchdowns while leading the league in both red zone plays (247) and goal-line plays (68). Expect this high-powered offense to continue to funnel through Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb and their “WR2” Ferguson after neglecting the run game this offseason.


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