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10 keys to 2024 fantasy football using what we learned in 2023

In Sports
January 03, 2024

Fantasy analyst Sal Vetri provided his keys to victory every week of the 2023 season. Now, he highlights some intriguing findings that will help us succeed in 2024.

Finding No. 1: The best fantasy draft pick of 2023 was Raheem Mostert

Mostert was often taken outside the first 10 rounds of fantasy drafts this past summer. He was an aging back who dealt with plenty of injuries in his past. Not to mention, Miami had just drafted rookie RB De’Von Achane in Round 3 and re-signed Jeff Wilson for more money than Mostert was making. The concerns around Mostert were valid.

But he put these to rest as he was able to play 15 games and finish as a top-five fantasy RB. Mostert’s speed was still a weapon in this Miami offense. Mike McDaniel schemed him into beneficial spots. Mostert was efficient, too, ranking 14th in yards per touch and his 21 touchdowns helped him get on over 20% of Yahoo Fantasy championship-winning rosters.

Finding No. 2: The waiver-wire league winner was Kyren Williams

Kyren Williams surprisingly played 67% of the Rams’ snaps in Week 1 over Cam Akers. Akers was then cut heading into Week 2, making Williams the workhorse back. In Week 2, he totaled 100 yards and two touchdowns on 20 touches. This was the start of an elite year off the waiver wire, which resulted in Williams averaging 115 yards per game and ranking second in RB points per game heading into Week 18.

Williams did it all for the Rams in 2023. He was their early-down back, red-zone runner, primary pass protector and No. 1 pass catcher out of the backfield. He’ll likely go from waiver wire league winner in 2023 to first-round pick in 2024.

Finding No. 3: The middle-round RB league winner is Rachaad White

There were two main reasons White was a quality draft pick this summer. Reason No. 1 was he didn’t have any real competition in Tampa Bay with Leonard Fournette not being re-signed. The second reason was his elite ability to catch passes. As a rookie, White was top 10 in RB receptions despite splitting a backfield the entire season.

Both of these reasons ended up panning out as White became a league winner in his second season. White’s role was indeed strong as he ranked top five in RB opportunities, and the pass-catching role came through as well. White finished the year running the most routes of any running back and earning the fourth-most RB receptions. Often taken in rounds 5 or 6, White was one of the only middle-round RBs — the Dead Zone — to pay off with his top-10 finish at the position.

Finding No. 4: The late-round QB league winner is C.J. Stroud

C.J. Stroud went undrafted in most leagues this past summer. He was taking over the worst offense from 2022 as a rookie QB behind a bad offensive line. To make matters worse, he lost three starting linemen before Week 1 had even begun. The situation was not good.

Despite this, Stroud put up an incredible season.

He leaned on third-round rookie receiver Tank Dell and former Michigan product Nico Collins for most of the year. Stroud enters Week 18 ranked top 10 in passing yards and total TDs despite missing three games with injury. He went from waiver wire pickup to top-eight fantasy QB and was a big reason why many fantasy managers got to their league playoffs. Expect Stroud to go in rounds 8-10 next season, similar to where Daniel Jones and Geno Smith went this past summer.

Finding No. 5: The worst fantasy draft pick of 2023 was Miles Sanders

Sanders was someone we went back and forth on this past offseason. We ended up recommending him as a fifth or sixth-round pick. After a promising start to the season, Sanders suffered an injury and it was all downhill from there. The coaches liked what they saw more out of Chuba Hubbard, who was the better pass protector for their No. 1 overall pick, Bryce Young.

Sanders ended up becoming a backup for the second half of the season. We overrated his $25 million contract, his reunion with coach Duce Staley and we didn’t see the Panthers’ top-10 offensive line from 2022 becoming one of the worst units in the league this year. All in all, a brutal pick in rounds 5 or 6.

Finding No. 6: Breece Hall is trending up for 2024

Hall was a polarizing pick this summer. His 2022 knee injury was concerning for some drafters and this made him fall into the third round. When Dalvin Cook signed with the Jets for $7 million late in the summer, Hall’s stock dropped even further. But after a slow ramp-up period to begin the season, Hall was eventually given a full workload and he ended the year strong.

In the past two weeks, Hall has averaged 27 opportunities and produced 37.10 and 23.10 fantasy points at the most crucial time of the year, the fantasy playoffs. He finished the season with eight top-12 finishes and, overall, he was a top-10 RB.

Next year, he’ll be a first-round pick with QB Aaron Rodgers set to return to the Jets.

Finding No. 7: Austin Ekeler is trending down for 2024

Ekeler was a disappointing first-round pick in 2023. Over 12 games, he averaged just 80 total yards per game, a 17% decrease from last season. But the most disappointing part was his usual cheat-code ability. You drafted Ekeler due to his ability to catch passes and score touchdowns. In 2022, he earned a career-high 107 catches and posted 18-plus touchdowns for the second straight year. This wasn’t the case in 2023, as Ekeler enters Week 18 with just 43 catches and six touchdowns. He’s been a top-10 RB the past four seasons, but this year he ranks just 16th in points per game.

The lack of production isn’t all on Ekeler. His offensive line was injured most of the year and the offense in general struggled to move the ball. This only got worse when Justin Herbert went down for the season in Week 14. Ekeler will enter his age-29 season next year, and is trending down heading into 2024.

Finding No. 8: A player set to make the second-year leap is Jayden Reed

Reed was a sleeper option late in drafts this past summer. Thankfully, we were on him. The second-round rookie was a priority draft pick by the Packers, who needed receiver help after losing Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb in the offseason. In college, Reed was a do-it-all player for Michigan State as he led the team in target share and touchdown share. He also was a special teams’ weapon.

All of this carried over to his rookie season in Green Bay. Despite dealing with multiple injuries, Reed enters Week 18 leading the team in yards, receptions and total touchdowns. He’s done everything you want as a fantasy manager. He scores touchdowns, creates big plays and earns plenty of volume both in the air and on the ground. Reed will probably be drafted later than he should be in 2024.

Finding No. 9: The soon-to-be NFL rookie WR to watch is Rome Odunze

Odunze is a receiver for the Washington Huskies. He’s projected to be a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and he continues to rise each week. In the College Football Playoff semifinals, Odunze posted 125 yards on six catches against the Texas Longhorns. He’ll play in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 8 — a strong performance here could cement him as a top-20 pick in the NFL Draft.

Odunze has great size at 6-3 and 217 pounds. He uses this size to create separation in unique ways. He’s a big-play threat who typically wins in contested situations. If he’s paired up with a big-armed, accurate quarterback he could be an instant star in the NFL. Odunze’s landing spot is something to watch this spring.

Finding No. 10: Young play-callers with past success is a trend to watch

This year we saw multiple young play-callers change teams and make instant impacts with their new organizations. Shane Steichen left the Eagles and became the Colts’ head coach. After quickly losing starting QB Anthony Richardson for the season and not having Jonathan Taylor for a chunk of the year, Steichen managed to produce a functional offense that allowed Michael Pittman Jr. to put up over 1,100 yards and 100+ catches.

Dave Canales left Seattle this past offseason after he helped revive Geno Smith’s career, and took a job as the Bucs’ offensive coordinator. He turned Baker Mayfield into a top-half-of-the-league quarterback and has this team on the brink of the postseason. Canales simply knows how to maximize his QB’s strengths, which for Mayfield is playing through his best players. This translated into a massive year for Mike Evans.

Heading into 2024, let’s monitor any coordinator or coaching changes that feature younger play-callers who have had some recent success. If you were on top of this in 2023, you got great value picks in Michael Pittman Jr., Rachaad White and Mike Evans.

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