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2024 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Fallout: First look at rookie dynasty rankings

In Sports
April 29, 2024
Marvin Harrison Jr. leads an amazing group of rookie receivers ready to make an immediate fantasy football impact. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Marvin Harrison Jr. leads an amazing group of rookie receivers ready to make an immediate fantasy football impact. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

As soon as the NFL Draft ends each year, with the crowning of a new Mr. Irrelevant, we transition immediately and fully into rookie dynasty draft season.

It’s time, people. For those of you with fantasy football rookie drafts looming, here’s a first version of my ranks for the 2024 class (assuming a standard non-superflex fantasy setup). The top of these rankings were never really in doubt, but a few unexpected names made their way into the top-10. We begin with a player who should be viewed as a top-five receiver in dynasty startups…

Harrison is the most obvious No. 1 pick in rookie drafts since … well, OK, since Bijan Robinson last year. But if you happen to hold the 1.01, there’s no reason to hesitate. MHJ is a tier-of-one player in this rookie class. He’s the consensus top incoming receiver and he landed in a legitimate offense, tied to an exciting quarterback. Harrison cooked pretty much everyone on Ohio State’s schedule over the past two seasons, including the last two national champions; he gave Georgia 106 yards and two scores two years ago, then went 118-1 at Michigan last November.

Harrison is as close to unstoppable as any player in his draft class. Again, don’t overthink it. He’s capable of finishing among the WR1s in his first season.

Nabers is probably the only other first-year receiver who can possibly challenge Harrison as the target leader among the rookies. Like Harrison, he’s clearly the most dangerous receiving weapon on his team. Nabers led every Power 5 receiver in yards-per-route-run last season (3.81), an excellent indicator of talent and potential.

Ideally, Nabers would have found his way to a team with a more settled quarterback situation, not involving Daniel Jones and Drew Lock. The Giants haven’t managed to average even 200 passing yards per game in any season since 2019, but it’s been a little while since the team has had a guy like Nabers.

Will you just please look at this pristine route profile right here:

Odunze is obviously coming off a near-flawless season, clearing 100 receiving yards in 10 different games and topping 80 in four others. He’s exceedingly pro-ready, a terrific separator who can run the bread-and-butter routes while also delivering highlight plays. He and Caleb Williams are likely to re-write the passing section of the Bears record book.

Target competition is significant in Chicago, so we can’t guarantee Odunze will be a weekly fantasy contributor as a rookie. There’s little question, however, that his long-term outlook is excellent.

Brooks was only a one-year featured runner at Texas, but that was less about him and more about Bijan Robinson. He averaged 6.2 YPC for his collegiate career and 6.1 last season, catching 25 passes and gaining 1,425 scrimmage yards. The biggest concern here is his ongoing recovery from an ACL tear suffered in November, but all recent reports are full of positivity. Brooks finds himself in a terrific situation in Carolina’s retooled offense, needing only to leapfrog Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders.

When we did a little wishcasting about landing spots for Bowers a couple weeks ago, Las Vegas somehow didn’t make the list. But here we are. Working with the winner of the forthcoming Gardner Minshew-Aidan O’Connell position battle seems suboptimal.

Still, Bowers is an incredible do-it-all weapon and he was a filthy value at Pick No. 13 overall. Can’t blame the Raiders for taking the best playmaker on the board when he slipped. Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers are both complicating factors in the receiving hierarchy, so Bowers doesn’t have the cleanest path to a monster target share in year one.

I’m honestly not sure I’d have the discipline to pass on Williams if picking fourth or fifth in a rookie draft, but, with this being a hypothetical exercise, let’s give him a rank that doesn’t reflect my reckless Bears fan’s enthusiasm. As previously discussed, Williams has a setup that’s extraordinarily rare for any rookie QB, let alone the top overall pick. He’s inventive, hyper-aggressive, capable of ludicrous throws and a gifted runner. He clearly has a shot at a top-10 or 12 positional finish in fantasy. Williams and Odunze are gonna break a few franchise records before they’re finished (which is both a reflection of their talent and an indictment of the team’s record book).

Daniels is coming off an outrageous dual-threat season, with 50 combined touchdowns, 3,812 passing yards and 1,134 yards on the ground. His highlights were absolutely of the highest quality:

Just a ridiculous season, punctuated by a Heisman. He’ll need to find a way to not get himself obliterated by tacklers quite as often as it happened at LSU, but there’s no question about his upside. Washington’s receiving corps clearly has the talent necessary to support a top-10-ish fantasy QB.

McConkey didn’t have the greatest college production profile you’re ever gonna see, but it wasn’t because he didn’t get himself fantastically wide open. This is a versatile receiver who doesn’t exactly have the stiffest competition for Justin Herbert’s attention. He’s the guy who found his way to one of the draft’s best receiver landing spots and he has the necessary talent to feast.

When Matt Harmon is dropping Tyler Lockett comps, you know a guy is extra good.

Thomas was a tier-of-his-own receiver behind the position’s big three. He’s a size/speed combo player with 4.33 wheels, coming off a huge season at LSU (68-1177-17). If you’re looking for a comp, it’s fair to think of him as something like the Kirkland Signature version of D.K. Metcalf. Thomas is headed to an offense that just lost Calvin Ridley, so plenty of targets are available.

If Benson would have landed in Dallas as the presumptive lead back, he’d have been six or seven spots higher in these ranks, with a beefier blurb. Good size, good speed, good production over multiple seasons.

Benson has a James Conner problem at the moment, but that’s not an overwhelming concern for dynasty managers. He’s a decent bet for the featured role in 2025.

As the guy who gets to throw to Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson and Aaron Jones, McCarthy was a massive draft night winner. This requires very little analysis. The only open question is whether McCarthy will play behind Sam Darnold for any length of time in his first season. Whenever he takes the controls, he’ll have a silly collection of weapons surrounding him.

It’s not always a layup that a crazy-fast (and crazy-light) receiver will thrive in the NFL, nor that elite speed will actually translate to an in-game edge. But we have to place a certain level of trust in Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City’s quarterback seemed pleased with the Worthy selection. If the Chiefs feed him a share of the opportunities that previously belonged to Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore, he can make plenty of fantasy noise as a rookie.

Maye has a loaded toolbox, with rushing ability and arm talent included. After selecting Maye, New England then used its next four picks on receivers and offensive linemen, so this franchise is doing all it can to assist the first-year QB. The Patriots receiving corps remains in a rough place, which dims the short-term enthusiasm for Maye’s fantasy potential.

Look, there are real questions about Coleman’s separation ability and his likely usage in Buffalo’s offense. But after his generational introductory press conference, I’m certainly rooting for him. Coleman clearly landed with a receiver-needy team and he’s tied to the consensus fantasy QB1, so it’s tough to dislike his landing spot.

If the Niners don’t get around to dealing either Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel anytime soon, Pearsall won’t have a clean path to targets as a rookie. No one should have any doubts about his long-range upside, however. If you don’t believe some random internet fantasy goof, just watch and listen to C.J. Stroud’s reaction to the Pearsall pick. He’s a serious talent, responsible for one of the greatest catches in the history of humans catching things:

Corley earned the nickname “YAC King” as a collegiate player, which is a pretty decent sign. He’s behind Garrett Wilson and Mike Williams (and probably Breece Hall) in his new team’s receiving hierarchy, but we shouldn’t need to fret about Aaron Rodgers’ ability to support multiple fantasy assets.

Corum reached the end zone in every game for Michigan last season, usually twice and occasionally thrice. He’s excellent, a clear threat to poach carries from Kyren Williams. Corum has serious contingent value as a rookie, but we probably won’t be flexing him when Williams is fully operational.

Wilson was pretty clearly a pet player for Mike Tomlin, and the coach got his guy. The Steelers have assembled a probably-not-terrible receiving corps of complementary pieces. There’s a good chance Wilson will see volume in year one, although the QB situation is messy.

He has the traits we like, with 4.34 speed, leaping ability and good size. Indy wasn’t the dream destination, but Mitchell certainly doesn’t lack motivation following his draft slide.

Burton wasn’t a volume guy in any collegiate season, but he definitely passed the eye test and played much bigger than his listed size (6-foot, 196 pounds). He averaged 20.5 yards per catch last season at Alabama, so he’s plenty dangerous. The Burton pick was likely a life-after-Tee Higgins lookahead by Cincy.

It sounds as if Carolina intends to ask Legette to do a little bit of a lotta things, which could get fun. Give the Panthers credit for surrounding Bryce Young with playmaking weapons — a year late, but at least it finally happened. Legette may lack polish, but he brings a 40-inch vertical and 4.39 speed to the party.

At this point, we’re looking for backfield lottery tickets. Wright is of course a burner (4.38 speed), like every other Dolphins skill player, and he’s fantastically explosive. He averaged 7.4 YPC last season at Tennessee while topping 1,000 yards. Raheem Mostert is entering his age-32 season, so Wright has a plausible path to touches.

Davis topped 1,200 scrimmage yards in back-to-back years for two different SEC teams (Vanderbilt and Kentucky) and it’s not too difficult to imagine him in the Latavius Murray/Damien Harris role in Buffalo. He’s no significant threat to James Cook, but he can carve out a role for himself in an appealing offense.

Polk had a phenomenal season alongside Rome Odunze at Washington, delivering 1,159 receiving yards and nine scores on 69 receptions. He may not have been the chalk pick in the second round, but this is a skilled player with the potential to develop into one of Drake Maye’s preferred options.

Nix is a contender to start immediately for Denver. If the team intends to continue running last year’s near-the-line-of-scrimmage passing game, they found the guy to do it. The Broncos later drafted Nix’s college teammate Troy Franklin, offering a familiar face to the first-year QB.

Honorable mentions, unranked and without annotation: Theo Johnson, Javon Baker, MarShawn Lloyd, Troy Franklin, Ja’Tavion Sanders, Tyrone Tracy Jr., Michael Penix Jr., Spencer Rattler, Devontez Walker, Kimani Vidal, Ben Sinnott.

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