NFL Draft News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Winners and losers after Day 3 of the 2024 NFL Draft

2RYKTPX September 30 2023 Palo Alto, CA USA Oregon running back Bucky Irving (0) runs for a touchdown during the NCAA Football game between the Oregon Ducks and the Stanford Cardinal.Oregon beat Stanford 42-6 at Stanford Stadium Palo Alto, CA Thurman James/CSM


• The surprises continue at running back: The fourth round was full of teams that have good running backs adding new backups while teams that need a running back passed.

• The Pittsburgh Steelers re-build the offensive line: The Steelers picked an offensive linemen on all three days of the draft which will help their run game.

• Draft and trade for yourself: Try PFF's Mock Draft Simulator — trade picks and players and mock for your favorite NFL team.

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With Day 3 of 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: 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: 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: 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.

Winner: The Pittsburgh Steelers running backs

The Steelers added new offensive linemen on all three days of the draft.

  • Pittsburgh had an average offensive line last season but have made every effort to improve it.
  • Isaac Seumalo was a standout in his first year with Pittsburgh while 2023 first round pick Broderick Jones faced usual rookie growing pains on the offensive line.
  • The Steelers added Troy Fautanu in the first round, center Zach Frazier in the second and guard Mason McCormick in the fourth. All three graded well in run blocking during their time in college.
  • There is no guarantee these picks work out in their first year or Jones improves in his second year, but this line has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL.
  • A great offensive line would be a big benefit to both Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren.

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: The San Francisco 49ers running backs

The 49ers added a mid-round running back for the third time in the last four years and didn’t do much to help the offensive line.

  • The 49ers have arguably the best running back room in the NFL. Christian McCaffrey and Jordan Mason are tied for the best PFF offensive grades for a running back over the last three seasons at 93.0 while Elijah Mitchell’s 83.2 grade is 26th-best.
  • They added Patrick Taylor Jr. in free agency and Isaac Guerendo in the fourth round. These moves only make sense if they plan on trading Mitchell or Mason, which is possible considering the teams that might need a running back.
  • That draft pick could have been used to help the offensive line. The 49ers had the 21st-ranked offensive line to end last season. Most teams below them made multiple changes in free agency and earlier in the draft 
  • Their only free agent addition was Brandon Parker, who has never had a PFF offensive grade above 60 for a season.
  • Their younger offensive linemen haven’t broken out yet,while Trent Williams, Jake Brendel and Jon Feliciano will all be 32 years old or older by the start of the season. They are among the oldest offensive linemen in the league and well past the age where offensive linemen peak, and we’re in danger of seeing all three decline at their age. 
  • San Francisco spent a third round pick on Dominick Puni, who is a much better pass protector than run blocker, and a sixth-round pick on Jarrett Kingston. Both are much better pass protectors than run blockers.
  • The 49ers offense is used to some strong run blocking, but there is a chance it won’t be as strong this year.
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