Each NFL Draft is different. Yet, somehow, they’re always the same. There will be “chalk” picks, like Caleb Williams to the Chicago Bears, Jayden Daniels to the Washington Commanders, Drake Maye to the New England Patriots, Marvin Harrison Jr. to the Arizona Cardinals, and Malik Nabers to the Giants. Even the Chicago Bears taking Rome Odunze, the Minnesota Vikings taking JJ McCarthy, and the Denver Broncos taking Bo Nix were telegraphed, to some degree. But then there will be twists and turns, surprises and trades. 

The 2024 NFL Draft, of course, was no different. Let’s take a moment here to do an NFL Draft update with the picks made so far, especially in terms of what surprised us and what matters for fantasy football. And then we can look at the next “best available players” before round two kicks off this evening at 7 PM ET, while we’re at it. 


2024 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Surprise Landing Spots

Michael Penix JR, QB Atlanta Falcons

There is no doubt this one caught everyone by surprise. The Atlanta Falcons made a big splash this offseason signing the top free agent quarterback in Kirk Cousins. And they spent nearly $200 million dollars on him with a deal that virtually guarantees that he will be the starting quarterback for multiple years. And Cousins himself expressed shock and even disappointment with the pick. The Falcons brass justified the selection by pointing out that it’s the “most important position in football” and that they are going to “win for a long time”. There is a reason the regular season and Super Bowl MVPs are both quarterbacks virtually every year, after all.

I do understand it in theory - quarterbacks like Jordan Love and Aaron Rodgers sat for a while before becoming the starters. And they panned out just fine. Not to mention, plenty of teams have been able to turn around and trade quarterbacks for a decent return after the fact. The Falcons once spent a second round pick on Brett Favre only to trade him for a first to the Packers before he really even played. The Patriots traded away a number of backup quarterbacks behind Tom Brady for decent return after he continued to play at a high level. I just can’t help but feel like they are drafting an older prospect here and setting themselves up to waste not only prime years of his career but also prime years of his rookie contract. Especially at time when they could have gotten an immediate impact player at pick 8. Not to mention, as we pointed out in our recent quarterback draft study, the hit rates for the third, fourth, and fifth quarterbacks off the board aren’t incredible - unless you truly believe this is an all-time great quarterback draft class. Maybe it is, like the 2020 class.

Brock Bowers, TE Las Vegas Raiders

We’ve done extensive research on What Makes An Elite Tight End in fantasy football. And the number one most important factor is opportunity - specifically, being a top two target on the team. So the Raiders, who have Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers, were not necessarily at the top of our ideal landing spots for Brock Bowers. Especially with Gardner Minshew or Aiden O’Connell at quarterback. But all that is burying the lede to a certain degree considering the Raiders just drafted a tight end in the second round last year with Michael Mayer.

Brock Bowers is a generational tight end prospect. So you have to take “best player available” when you can. And Bowers does profile as more of a “big slot”, as we discussed in our Rookie Tight End Breakdown. So what we likely see here is the Raiders running 12 personnel but mostly with Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, and Brock Bowers all lining up at wide receiver with Michael Mayer as the inline tight end. Davante Adams is going to get his targets no matter what so basically, for fantasy football, this means that we likely only get one other fantasy-relevant asset out of Meyers, Bowers, or Mayer at best. Or, perhaps even more likely, the ball is spread around and the upside is capped for all of them. At least over the short term. 

Brian Thomas Jr., WR  Jacksonville Jaguars

Unlike the first two, this one wasn’t a “surprise” at least. We had Brian Thomas Jr ranked as the fourth ranked wide receiver. And that’s where he was drafted. His athletic profile is ideal at 6’3” 210 with a 4.33 40 yard dash. His production wasn’t outlandish in college but he was also playing alongside Malik Nabers and there’s only one football. Thomas can play all over the field but, at his size, he’ll likely play a lot of split end.

And that’s just what the Jaguars needed after losing Calvin Ridley in free agency. They have Evan Engram and Christian Kirk who can dabble at slot/flanker. They have a field stretcher in Gabe Davis. They needed the big-bodied outside man. And they got there guy. I love this pick for the Jaguars and I love it in fantasy football as well. 


Xavier Worthy, WR Kansas City Chiefs

I posed this question on Twitter yesterday - why do AFC teams keep helping the Chiefs?

ESPECIALLY the Buffalo Bills. They have had success with speedy outside guys in Emmanuel Sanders and John Brown in the past. They just moved Stefon Diggs. Xavier Worthy ran the fastest forty time in the history of the combine. And we have seen what Patrick Mahomes can do with a guy like Tyreek Hill. This pick makes all the sense in the world for the Chiefs, especially with Marquise Brown on a one-year “prove it deal” where he’s likely to get paid by someone else next year. What doesn’t make much sense is the Buffalo Bills serving Worthy to them on a silver platter. But the Bills have a lot of picks of their own left to make. Especially now that they also traded back out of 32, a pick the Panthers ALSO used on a wide receiver. The Bills do make the very first selection of the day today at 33 at least - if they decide to make it.

Ricky Pearsall, WR San Francisco 49ers

I like Ricky Perarsall. He has the floor of being a great slot wide receiver with the ceiling of playing slot in three wide receiver sets and moving to flanker for two wide receiver sets. The question in fantasy football land is WHEN he will become fantasy-relevant based on the current offense they run and the weapons they have. And the key to that is what happens with this Brandon Aiyuk pseudo-holdout.

Right now the 49ers offense is set up to have two wide receivers, a tight end, and a running back that play virtually every down. Unlike many teams, George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey are playing nearly 100% of the snaps in some games. And, unlike many teams, the 49ers use fullback Kyle Juszczyk for nearly half the snaps. That limits the snaps for the WR3 drastically. Which is the short-term concern for Pearsall. But, if the rumors of a Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel trade end up panning out, Pearsall could be fantasy-relevant right from the jump.

Xavier Legette, WR Carolina Panthers

Of the wide receivers taken in the first round, this is the riskiest pick. Xavier Legette did flash in college but he virtually ONLY flashed in his fifth year. Seriously - his next best year tot he 1,255 yards he had last year was 167 in 2022. There is some data that shows that late breakouts actually have a NEGATIVE correlation in fantasy. That is some scary stuff.

And it’s even more scary for the Carolina Panthers, who just took a quarterback that folks are unsure of in Bryce Young and took a similarly risky wide receiver last year in Jonathan Mingo. When you take a pick like this it could pay off in a big way but, if they miss again on a high end wide receiver, this fan base could be in a lot of pain for years to come. So we’re rooting for Legette, for their sake. 


2024 NFL Draft Best Remaining Players