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Fantasy Football: Busts That Will Bounce Back in 2024

Fantasy Football: Busts That Will Bounce Back in 2024

The 2023 fantasy football season has come and gone. Here at FantasyPros, we’re churning through all of the production left on the field to find players who are in store for a bounce back effort in 2024.

Bust is an over-used term in fantasy football but it’s an accurate way to label players who failed to return value based on their average draft position and fantasy manager expectations. For instance, a player can finish inside the top-24 of their skilled position and be called a bust compared to production from previous seasons. Conversely, a player who barely finished as an RB2, depending on ADP, may be called a stud, like Zack Moss (RB – Colts), who was hyper-efficient while filling in for Jonathan Taylor (RB – Colts).

Using half-PPR scoring and fantasy points per game data from 2023, this article analyzes several fantasy football prospects who underperformed but possess the skillset and potential usage to surge back into being a valuable asset on fantasy rosters in 2024.

Busts That Will Bounce Back in 2024

Austin Ekeler (RB – Chargers) – RB23

Austin Ekeler was arguably the biggest bust in fantasy football during the 2023 season. The arrival of OC Kellen Moore had many excited for Ekeler’s usage in a newly-schemed offense, but as it turned out, the check downs and screens weren’t as prevalent compared to former OC Joe Lombardi’s offense. Factor in Los Angeles’ inability to establish the run, which starts up front with its offensive line unit, and Ekeler’s 3.5 YPC average makes more sense.

Injuries hampered Ekeler from Week 2 – 5, after a dominant Week 1 outing where the Chargers’ RB1 finished with over 150 scrimmage yards and 24.4 fantasy points. From Week 11 onward, Ekeler fell under 10 fantasy points in six of his final eight games. Yes, he’s aging as far as running backs are concerned, turning 29 in May, but he’s still by far and away the best athlete in Los Angeles’ running back room.

A new coaching staff and general manager will add their own blueprint, but Ekeler is likely to remain a focal point. His lackluster finish as RB23, averaging 11.4 points per game, now has Ekeler sitting at RB30 at 83rd overall per FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings. This is entirely too low, as Ekeler will easily crush his RB3 value in 2024 with a new coaching staff and personnel in Los Angeles.

D’Andre Swift (RB – Eagles) – RB24

Philadelphia is another team experiencing turnover in its play-calling department. The epic collapse of the Eagles down the stretch, into the NFC Wild Card round, forced changes to be made in-house. Nick Sirianni is still head coach, but former OC Brian Johnson is out. D’Andre Swift’s arrival appeared to be promising early on in 2023, as the Eagles’ RB1 logged 175 and 130 rushing yards in back-to-back games. His role as a pass-catcher also diminished as the season progressed, drawing three or less targets in nine of his final ten games.

Swift’s burst and explosiveness demand more usage. Perhaps a new scheme will suit him well in 2024. Jalen Hurts’ (QB – Eagles) ability to convert goal-line carries for touchdowns effectively eliminated Swift from more scoring opportunities, which is a big reason why he finished with five total rushing touchdowns in 16 games played.

ECR has Swift valued slightly ahead of Ekeler as RB25, available in the sixth round, similar to his ADP this past offseason. Bringing in a new OC should boost Swift’s usage and, hopefully, get him more touches as a receiver, where he can consistently log mid-range to high-end RB2 production in 2024.

Chris Godwin (WR – Buccaneers) – WR38

A mid-season lull negatively impacted Chris Godwin in 2023. Tampa Bay’s resurgent year was led by Mike Evans (WR – Buccaneers) instead, with Godwin left picking up the scraps during the height of the fantasy football season. The Bucs’ WR2 became more consistent after Week 14, essentially logging 20, 10, and 15 fantasy points during the fantasy football playoffs.

Baker Mayfield’s (QB – Buccaneers) return will be key to Godwin’s success. He was establishing a strong rapport with Mayfield late in the year, and even back in Week 4 against the Saints, Godwin went 8-114 on 11 targets. If he continues to get double-digit targets in 2024, which happened five times during the Buccaneers’ regular season schedule, expect more consistency in an offense that remains one of the most pass-heavy in the league.

Finishing as WR38 in fantasy points per game with 11.3, Godwin is being valued on his average at the moment, ranked WR36 via FantasyPros ECR. This puts him at the end of the seventh round in fantasy drafts, paired up with Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – Seahawks), Christian Watson (WR – Packers), and Diontae Johnson (WR – Steelers). Don’t sleep on Godwin in 2024.

Drake London (WR – Falcons) – WR46

One of the most physically gifted wide receivers taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, Drake London stands to benefit greatly from the departure of former Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith. He’s entering his third year, which is typically when alpha wideouts make their biggest stride in terms of development. While the coaching vacancy has yet to be filled, albeit rumors of Bill Belichick are swirling, London also needs a quarterback upgrade from Desmond Ridder (QB – Falcons).

London only saw eight or more targets in six games during 2023. When given that type of volume, the Falcons’ WR1 scored 15.7 points, 11.6 points, 17 points, 24.2 points, and 7.6 points. Both games with 11 or more targets earned, London recorded at least nine receptions for 125 receiving yards. His hands, big frame, and route running ability need to be catered to more frequently.

Depending on the next coaching staff, which will inevitably tweak the personnel on offense a bit, London should return huge value with even a marginally bigger pass-catching role in 2024. He’s available as the WR29 right now, putting him at the last pick of the fifth round, so others are certainly keyed in on London with changes looming in Atlanta. London should reach WR2 production with regularity next season, but most of it depends on pieces that have yet to fall elsewhere within the organization, so continue monitoring his situation during the offseason.

Chigoziem Okonkwo (TE – Titans) – TE26

It was difficult to stomach watching much of Tennessee’s offense in 2023. Now, the Mike Vrabel era is over, and the Titans have already hired the Bengals’ former OC to design plays in 2024. Tight ends were a staple in Cincinnati’s offense, and Chigoziem Okonkwo has the physical tools to emerge as a big value in a barren tight end landscape for fantasy football.

Okonkwo finished as a TE3 with the Titans this past season, his second in the league, failing to live up to expectations set in the offseason based on his hot run to end 2022. In a run-centric offense that had a young, inexperienced quarterback, with DeAndre Hopkins (WR – Titans) soaking up most of the targets, Okonkwo was relegated to under five targets in ten games during 2023. He only scored a touchdown once, meaning he’s due for positive regression, while also benefitting from new play calling and personnel upgrades.

Henry is all but gone from Tennessee, so we could see a much different offense under a new regime next year. Okonkwo is the TE21, going 180th overall right now, essentially free in fantasy football drafts. Turning a low-end TE2 into a TE1 is very much within the range of outcomes for Okonkwo’s future, so if you enjoy punting on tight end, the Titans’ TE1 may be the perfect late-round draft pick to fill your tight end vacancy.

Patrick Mahomes (QB – Chiefs) – QB14

Alright, calling a QB14 finish a “bust” is a bit aggressive, but it’s warranted when it comes to Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs’ signal caller has produced two overall QB1 finishes in his career thus far, so watching him struggle and grind out games with a stout defense and a run-centric approach was surprising to watch in 2023. Yes, Kansas City is still in contention for another Super Bowl berth, but Mahomes’ wide receivers let him down this past year.

Expect a lot of changes to be made in free agency and the draft to bolster the Chiefs’ wide receiving corps. It’s a loaded wide receiver draft class, and Kansas City appears to have hit on rookie wideout Rashee Rice (WR – Chiefs) from its 2023 draft, so adding one or two more high-upside pieces to the passing attack will vastly improve Mahomes’ stock in 2024.

Mahomes is still QB4 per ECR, but this can be considered a dip, based on him going as QB1 or QB2 in most fantasy football drafts this past offseason. We know Mahomes won’t stay down for long in fantasy football, he’s simply too talented and explosive, and we can expect the Chiefs to surround him with better weapons in 2024, so take advantage of his current availability at the 3/4 turn in fantasy drafts.

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Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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