NFL Draft News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Winners and losers after Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft

2TB24DA INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) warms up on the field before the Big 10 Championship game between the Michigan Wolverines and Iowa Hawkeyes on December 2, 2023, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)


• Not many first-round winners: Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and Marvin Harrison Jr. all went to their expected teams and some of the best landing spots for fantasy purposes weren’t filled yet.

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 Day 1 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: 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 for down after today.

Winner: RBs Alvin Kamara and Kendre Miller, New Orleans Saints

The Saints drafted the best run-blocking offensive tackle in the class in Taliese Fuaga.

  • Fuaga was the highest-graded run blocker among Power-Five offensive tackles last season with a 90.9 PFF run-blocking grade. 
  • He was in the 99th percentile in both run-blocking grade on man/gap plays as well as on zone plays.
  • The Saints tackles combined had a 55.3 PFF run-blocking grade last season, which was ninth-worst, so Fuaga should be an instant upgrade in the run game.
  • The New Orleans running backs combined for 1.1 yards before contact per carry and were stuffed in the backfield on 19.0% of plays — both among the bottom half of teams.
  • It’s unclear how rushing attempts will be distributed next year with Kamara one year further from his prime and Miller entering his prime, but whoever is running the ball should have life an easier time than last season.

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.

Loser: QB Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers had a chance to pick Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze with the fifth overall pick or trade back and instead picked an offensive tackle.

  • Since Herbert was drafted by the Chargers in 2020, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, Austin Ekeler and Gerald Everett represented 60% or more of the Chargers receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. None of them are currently on the Chargers roster.
  • They didn’t add any wide receivers in free agency, with Hayden Hurst and J.K. Dobbins as the closest receiving replacements at tight end and running back.
  • The Chargers are bound to add a wide receiver on day two of the draft, but for now, their deph chart consists of Joshua Palmer, Quentin Johnston, Derius Davis and Simi Fehoko.
  • All four have 57.0-68.0 PFF receiving grades with the Chargers, which are all much lower than Allen (90.6) and Williams (82.2) since 2020.
  • Herbert was a top-10 fantasy quarterback each of his first two seasons, but he fell to QB11 in 2022, and QB11 in points per game last season. He likely won’t be a top-12 fantasy quarterback this season.

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: WR Rome Odunze, Chicago Bears

Odunze lands a team with a lot of depth at wide receiver compared to the other first-round wide receivers.

  • He should consistently be on the field in three-receiver sets, and the talented veteran receivers should take the pressure off Odunze, but there aren’t enough targets to go around. 
  • D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen are two of the eight wide receivers with at least 500 targets over the last four seasons, and both were already looking at a decline in targets before Odunze’s arrival. 
  • One bright note is that while the Bears were among the most run-heavy teams last season, new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron should be more pass-happy.
  • In dynasty leagues, Odunze should be a top-10 pick despite the potential low first-year value. 
  • In re-draft leagues, he should still be drafted like a high-end backup because the upside is there for him to overcome the competition for targets.

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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