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Fantasy Football Forecast: Recap & Takeaways for 2024

Fantasy Football Forecast: Recap & Takeaways for 2024

Welcome to the grand unveiling of the 2024 Fantasy Football Forecast, a critical juncture for fantasy football fans, marking the end of 2023 with our sights set on next season!

As we reach the zenith of the 2023 season, I’m thrilled to present the latest edition of the 2024 Fantasy Football Forecast.

This guide is your key to navigating the endgame of fantasy leagues, offering vital insights for managers and enthusiasts alike, especially those looking to get ahead of the game for 2024 fantasy football drafts.

We will hit on all the usual suspects that make up the weekly forecast articles – air yards, target share, snaps, route participation, red-zone usage, etc. – but this time it will highlight how players/teams did from a season-long perspective (along with overlooked Week 18 contests) as we craft our rankings, takes and strategies for the 2024 fantasy football season. Because YOU can already draft fantasy football best ball teams for the 2024 season. What a world to be part of.

And don’t forget to sign up for PrizePicks!

Leverage our BettingPros PrizePicks Cheat Sheet, and use my special promo code: PR-REQ653D, to grab instant promotional funds of up to $25.

Now, let’s plunge into the first look at the fantasy football forecast for these teams and players for the 2024 NFL football season, aside from those playing in the Super Bowl. If want actin on that game, check out my two featured betting pieces below.

2024 NFL Draft Guide

2024 Fantasy Football Forecast

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers showcased a strong rushing game in Week 18, totaling 131 yards with Chuba Hubbard contributing 83 yards on 23 carries.

The passing game, led by Bryce Young, was less effective, totaling only 94 yards. Young completed 11 of 18 passes, with D. J. Chark being the top receiver, catching 2 passes for 46 yards (4 targets). Chark caught a long pass that was initially ruled a TD, but it was overturned to a fumble through the end zone. Woof. He is a free agent in 2024 and will likely land on a new team that has a complimentary deep threat who misses games with injuries.

Chark was the WR58 overall in 2023, averaging 6.5 points per game (65th). He led the Panthers in TDs (5) and posted over 1,000 air yards on a team-high 31% air yards share (33rd). No player had more air yards with fewer targets (66) than Chark despite two missed games.

Adam Thielen had 3 targets, and nobody else had more than 2.

Thielen’s 2023 season provided the full-body experience of an older veteran WR with zero competition for targets. He started off out of the gates red hot, as the WR11 overall through 11 weeks, scoring fantasy points per game at a top-15 rate at 13.7. But alas the 33-year-old could not continue his production with shoddy QB play from his rookie QB. WR51 from Weeks 12-18.

Overall, Thielen’s performance in the half-PPR format for the season placed him as a reliable WR2 or flex option for fantasy managers. With 103 receptions (10th) on 137 targets (25% target share, 14th), Thielen racked up 1,014 receiving yards, averaging 9.8 yards per reception, and notched 4 touchdown receptions running the 5th-most routes in the NFL. He ended the season with a 10.6 points per game average, securing him as the 25th overall wide receiver in half-PPR scoring. Per game, he ranked WR31. He’s under contract until 2026 and will be entering the offseason as the Panthers’ No. 1 WR until they add more WRs in the draft/free agency – the latter of which will likely happen based on the Panthers’ interest in the WR market before this past year’s trade deadline.

Let Thielen’s 2023 season be a learning lesson to drafters in 2024 for two reasons. No. 1. Take a shot on discounted/projected No. 1 WRs even on bad offenses. The price here is key. With older players, be aware that their production will almost certainly be more FRONT-LOADED. In certain roster builds, they can be avoided entirely, but rosters that need immediate production can benefit greatly from these veterans completely written off by the market.

Note this as well. Entering last season just four players finished as top-50 fantasy wide receivers in 2022 above age 30: Tyler Lockett, Adam Thielen, Keenan Allen, and DeAndre Hopkins.

Fast forward to 2023:

NINE players finished as top-50 fantasy wide receivers in 2023 above age 30: Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Lockett, DeAndre Hopkins, Thielen, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen and Mike Evans.

I’ve tracked this for a while, and this year is a MASSIVE outlier, considering it’s been exactly four 30-year-old WRs to be top 50 guys since 2020.

  • 2022 -4
  • 2021 – 4
  • 2020 – 4

Note that this inflated number might just be based on the sheer TOTAL of older WRs playing in the NFL. Because even though a bunch of older guys delivered, there were plenty that busted: Odell Beckham Jr., DeVante Parker, Robert Woods, and Michael Thomas.

The following WRs are already 30 years old (not already mentioned) or will turn 30 during the 2024 season: Tyler Boyd, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mike Williams, Demarcus Robinson, Amari Cooper and Tyreek Hill.

Miles Sanders has an out in his contract in 2025 but will be due $7.7 million next season. Dead cap hit would be $8.4 million. He likely sticks around, but who knows given the Panther’s likelihood of blowing up the roster in 2024. Especially with a new offensive playcaller coming in as the head coach.

Chuba Hubbard is in the final season of his rookie deal, and it would make sense for the team to just continue to feature him on a cheap deal. After fully unseating Sanders as the starter in Week 7, Hubbard finished the year onward as the fantasy RB23 averaging 10.9 points per game. 4th in total carries from Week 7 onward. Finished the season top-10 in total rushing attempts (11th in touches) and 20th in rushing yards while playing just under 60% of the offensive snaps (16th).

And maybe this is a bit of a trip down narrative street, but two of Hubbard’s best games against the Buccaneers’ elite run defense. As the Bucs OC, new head coach Dave Canales saw in -person what Hubbard could do against a strong defensive front. Think that bodes well for Hubbard to be the team’s RB1 to start in 2024.

As for the smallish elephant in the room…Nowhere to go but up for Bryce Young. The rookie year was an utter disaster for Young, but this roster could receive a massive overhaul to help him on the offensive side of the ball. This needs to happen quickly after Young took 62 sacks last season. NFL QB whisperer and new Panthers HC Dave Canales has resurrected two QBs in back-to-back season, between Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield. Be optimistic that Canales can help turn things around for Young in Year 2.

Canales taking over bodes well for WR Jonathan Mingo, after a disastrous rookie campaign. 18th in route participation with zero production to show for it. 16% target share. 4.2 points per game ranked 90th among WRs. Woof.

Chicago Bears

I can’t help but think the Bears move on from Justin Fields after he failed to get the win against the Packers in Week 18. Fields completed 11 of 16 attempts for 148 yards, with a long pass of 33 yards, and a quarterback rating of 97.9.

The team fired offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, along with other key offensive coaches. Again, if Fields was the answer, I am not sure that giving him another new offensive coordinator (third in the last four seasons) is the best approach. The team brought in Shane Waldron as the new OC.

With Fields traded, this will put a rookie QB under center for the Bears in 2024. Not ideal for the pass-catchers, historically speaking.

As for the Bears RBs…

Khalil Herbert spearheaded the backfield in Week 18. Snaps were essentially 50/50 between Herbert and Roschon Johnson. D’Onta Foreman was a healthy scratch (again) and will likely be on a team new in 2024 as an impending free agent.

  • Herbert: 12 carries for 28 yards, averaging 2.3 yards per carry, with a long run of 9 yards. 48% snap share.
  • Herbert: 2 targets, 2 receptions for 13 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per catch, with a long of 16 yards.
  • Johnson: 5 carries for 20 yards, averaging 4.0 yards per carry, with a long run of 8 yards. 50% snap share.

The debate between Herbert and Johnson as the Bears’ RB to own in fantasy will be something I am not looking forward to in the slightest this summer. RJ seems like he’s the most likely to just be handed the starting job after the current regime drafted him last season. Herbert is a carry over from the previous regime and didn’t do enough to separate himself as the trusted back in 2024. He will be a free agent in 2025, so it’s possible he could get traded in his final season under contract.

The most likely outcome is we get a two-way committee with Herbert operating as the primary rusher with Johnson being the main 3rd-down back. The rookie caught 34 of 40 targets (24% target rate per route run) in his first year. Can’t also forget that Johnson dealt with a concussion that hindered his growth in Year 1.

D.J. Moore in Week 18: 6 targets, 4 receptions for 64 yards, averaging 16.0 yards per catch, with a long of 33 yards.

Moore tied a bow on his first year with the Bears with career-highs across the board.

His final season statistics were robust: Moore finished with 96 receptions on 136 targets, accumulating 1,364 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns. These impressive numbers placed him as the 6th overall wide receiver in total fantasy points and 10th in fantasy points per game with an average of 14.0.

Moore’s usage in the Bears’ offense was substantial. He ranked 14th in air yards, indicative of his role in downfield passing attacks. More impressively, he captured a 43% air yards share within his team, the 4th highest in the league, and garnered a top-10 target share at 29%. His 6th place in weighted opportunity highlights his importance in the offensive scheme, combining targets and air yards to showcase his integral role in the Bears’ passing game.

A notable aspect of Moore’s season was his performance with quarterback Justin Fields over 12 games. During this stretch, Moore averaged 16.8 points per game, demonstrating high-end WR1 production. He amassed over 1,100 yards and 8 touchdowns, with an impressive 91 receiving yards per game.

Therefore, fantasy managers need to adjust expectations if Fields gets replaced by a rookie QB, which will likely hinder Moore’s fantasy upside in 2024. Only the 49ers duo of WRs between Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk score more fantasy points over expectation than Moore in 2023.

Cole Kmet: 4 targets, 3 receptions for 41 yards, averaging 13.7 yards per catch, with a long of 27 yards.

Didn’t log full snaps in Weeks 16-17. From Weeks 1-15, Kmet ranked 6th in snap rate (85%), 16th in route participation, 12th in routes, 11th in target share (18%), 8th in fantasy points per game and ninth in expected fantasy points per game. The classic definition of a low-end fantasy TE1.

Tyler Scott: 2 targets, 1 reception for 12 yards, averaging 12.0 yards per catch, with a long of 12 yards.

Darnell Mooney is coming off a horrible and injury-plagued season, but I can’t help but think he is going to be a STEAL in a very bad WR free agent class on a new team. The team drafted Scott in the 2023 draft to be Mooney’s replacement in 2024. Mooney finished the season 10th in yards after the catch per reception (6.0).

Washington Commanders

Brian Robinson Jr. totaled 9 carries for 25 yards, averaging 2.8 yards per carry with a long of 9 yards. 43% snap share in Week 18. Curtis Samuel had 1 carry for 15 yards, with a long of 15 yards.

Antonio Gibson had just 2 carries for 8 yards, averaging 4.0 yards per carry with a long of 6 yards. 51% snap share. He will be a free agent in 2024, and undoubtedly on a new roster. I for one, cannot wait to see what team he lands on after he’s been misused on the Commanders the last two seasons.

That will put Robinson in a position to be the team’s lead back in 2024, but to what extent under a new regime for what his role will be remains unknown. As of this writing, the team has hired former 49ers executive Adam Peters as GM. They are still searching for a new head coach at the time of this writing.

B-Rob missed 2 games with a hamstring injury. Finished RB22 overall. 21st in points per game (12.0). The carbon-copy fantasy RB2 that started hot – RB4 Weeks 1-11 and 11th in points per game (13.5) – just to crawl to the finish line (RB51 from Week 12 onward averaging 7.8 points per game).

In his healthy 14 games played, Robinson played 53% of the snaps. He ran a route on fewer than 31% of the dropbacks but still caught 36 passes on 40 targets. If the team doesn’t replace Gibson, he could see a three-down role in 2024.

Sam Howell completed 19 of 27 attempts for 153 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, with a long pass of 19 yards, and a quarterback rating of 65.8. Here’s the rest of Week 18 ‘s target distribution.

  • Terry McLaurin: 8 targets (29% target share), 6 receptions for 56 yards, with a long of 19 yards.
  • Antonio Gibson: 4 targets, 3 receptions for 28 yards, with a long of 13 yards.
  • Jahan Dotson: 3 targets, 2 receptions for 17 yards, with a long of 11 yards.
  • Curtis Samuel: 4 targets, 2 receptions for 15 yards, with a long of 9 yards.
  • Brian Robinson: 3 targets, 3 receptions for 10 yards, 1 touchdown, with a long of 11 yards.
  • Alex Armah: 1 target, 1 reception for 10 yards, with a long of 10 yards.
  • Logan Thomas: 2 targets, 1 reception for 9 yards, with a long of 9 yards.
  • Jamison Crowder: 1 target, 1 reception for 8 yards, with a long of 8 yards.
  • Sam Howell: 1 target, 1 reception for 4 yards, with a long of 4 yards.
  • John Bates: 1 target, no receptions.

Washington holds the No.2 pick overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. They also fired head coach Ron Rivera. Expect massive changes coming for this offense next season. Starting of course at QB. Armed with a high-draft pick, they will likely select a rookie QB. Again, not necessarily great for fantasy weapons.

Potentially another year of mediocrity for McLaurin, despite his immense talent.

With a final tally of 79 receptions on 132 targets, McLaurin accrued 1,002 receiving yards, averaging 12.7 yards per reception. His longest reception was a 48-yard catch, contributing to his total of 23 catches of 20+ yards. He found the end zone 4 times, finishing the season with 163.7 fantasy points in half-PPR scoring, which placed him at 32nd overall among wide receivers and 41st in points per game with 9.6.

McLaurin’s utilization in the offensive scheme was reflected in his air yards metrics – he held the 23rd spot in air yards share with 35%, emphasizing his role as a deep threat in the team’s offense. His total air yards exceeded 1500, ranking him 13th league-wide, a testament to the Commanders’ trust in him to stretch the field. Moreover, he held a substantial target share at 23%, ranking 19th in the league for total targets. These figures underscore his status as a focal point in the Commanders’ air attack.

For the 2024 outlook, McLaurin’s solidified role as a premier receiver suggests he will continue to be a vital part of Washington’s passing game. His proven ability to garner air yards and be targeted consistently gives him a floor that fantasy managers can count on, with the potential for more if the Commanders can increase their offensive efficiency – albeit with a first-year signal caller. While his touchdowns could see an uptick with better quarterback play or offensive scheme changes, his steady reception and yardage totals make him a reliable WR2/3 at worst in 2024.

Curtis Samuel is a free agent and could leave in free agency. This is important because it suggests that we could have a third-year bounce-back for Jahan Dotson in Year 3. Dotson broke out as a rookie but was a TOTAL BUST in 2023. And he ran all the routes you could ask for. Garrett Wilson and teammate Terry McLaurin were the only guys who ran more routes than Dotson did in 2023.

He was brutally inefficient – as was the entire Commanders passing game that was more volume over efficiency – finishing bottom-10 in yards per route run.

But Samuel missed or played very little in 3 games in 2023 – Weeks 8,9, and 11. These were by FAR Dotson’s best games. 15.2 points per game with a TD scored in all 3 contests. Still was narrowly out-targeted by McLaurin as the No. 2 WR. Samuel also led the team in red-zone targets.

McLaurin and Dotson need a C.J. Stroud-esque rookie QB impact for them to take any leap for fantasy football. Or they need an offensive mastermind to help Howell turn all of his passing volume into actual production, should Washington approach this year with a long-term outlook at QB.

Either way, don’t hold your breath.

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots struggled in their passing game against the Jets in Week 18, with quarterback Bailey Zappe completing only 12 of 30 attempts for 88 yards, and he was sacked 7 times for a loss of 57 yards. Zappe also threw 2 interceptions. The rushing attack was slightly more effective, with Ezekiel Elliott leading with 54 yards on 13 carries. Jalen Reagor made a significant 17-yard run. In terms of receiving, Jalen Reagor made the longest reception of 33 yards, but overall, the team’s receiving efforts were limited.

This team needs to get BLOWN UP on the offensive side of the ball. Other than Demario Douglas (4th in YAC/reception in 2023) none of these guys who played should be back in 2024. Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki are both free agents.

With Bill Belichick also gone, there’s major question marks about this team’s 2024 outlook. Given all the moving pieces, there’s not too much we can garner from just looking back at last season.

Douglas was essentially 2023’s version of Jakobi Meyers – a completely afterthought of rookie WR who made an impact but could not score a TD to save his life. Case in point, his team-leading 561 receiving yards were the most among all players to score zero TDs in 2023.

Therefore, his final WR68 standing does a poor job of projecting him going forward. He was the best playmaker on the Patriots all season. 18% target share. Earned 7 targets in his first NFL game. 5-plus targets in his 9 games played, seeing 7-plus in over half of those contests. From Week 7 onward, Douglas produced a 21% target share (27th), 25% air yards share, 11 missed tackles and 12.6 expected fantasy points per game (31st). Slightly behind Rashee Rice.

Kendrick Bourne will also be a free agent after tearing his ACL.

As for Rhamondre Stevenson, he had essentially the worst run out you could ask for. Struggled immensely out of the gates with poor inefficiency marks as a rusher. He wasn’t breaking enough tackles and the offensive line was horrible.

In weeks 1-12 before he was placed on IR with an ankle injury, Mondre was the RB23 overall averaging 11.3 points per game. But after Week 6, the efficiency numbers as rushers boosted substantially. Averaged 5 yards per carry and 14.1 points per game (10th among scoring RBs).

With a dynamite role intact as a receiver, Stevenson will be a discount in 2024 drafts with the volume on his side in a “bad” offensive environment heralded by a potential rookie QB. Buy the dip. He played 66% of the snaps in Weeks 1-12 (11th), running a route at the 8th-highest rate in the NFL (53%). Fifth in total targets among RBs. Also, can’t forget that Elliott is a free agent.

And with defensive-minded head coach, Jared Mayo, being elevated to head coach, this team screams “play defense and run the football” at the forefront of the offensive approach. Not to mention, Stevenson is entering a contract year. Feed him till he throws up.

New York Jets

Don’t let anyone forget that Breece Hall totaled 39 touches for 190 yards and 1 TD in Week 18 to snap the Jets’ losing streak to the Patriots.

Hall rushed for 178 rushing yards against the No. 1 run defense in the NFL. He’s just that good. And he’s no doubt lock for me as a top-2 RB in 2024 fantasy football drafts.

Through 18 weeks of NFL action, Hall finished SECOND among all RBs in yards from scrimmage. 1st in receptions (76). And he did all of this production despite ranking second-to-last in rushing success rate (39.5%) on fewer than 300 touches (299, 7th). A reminder that he will turn 23 years old in May. 7th in points per game (14.9)

Buy. Buy. Buy. Buy.

Israel Abanikanda will be his handcuff in 2024. The team cut Michael Carter and Dalvin Cook, so I’d presume they feel comfortable with him as the RB2 entering his second season. Super young as well at age at 21 years old.

Garrett Wilson only had 5 targets in Week 18 but still commanded a 28% target share. Had a drop and also left the game after suffering a head injury.

Wilson’s 2023 peripheral metrics are tantalizing, with his actual production lackluster based on the horrible QB play in New York this past season. He finished with 95 receptions from a whopping 168 targets, amassing 1,042 receiving yards and averaging 11 yards per reception. Wilson only found the end zone three times. He wrapped up the year with 165.7 fantasy points in half-PPR formats, which placed him 31st overall among wide receivers, averaging 9.7 points per game (39th).

Wilson’s target and air yards metrics were particularly notable. His 95 catches ranked 13th in the NFL, and his 168 targets were the 4th highest, underscoring his status as the No. 1 option for ALL Jets quarterbacks. He also ranked 10th in air yards with 1,707, a testament to his role as a downfield threat. Wilson was targeted on 30% of the Jets’ passing plays, the 5th highest share in the league, and he led the NFL with a 46% air yards share. This dominance in air yards share demonstrates his significant involvement in the offensive game plan, especially on plays designed for large gains. Additionally, his 3rd place ranking in weighted opportunity highlights his consistent chances for high-value plays.

Looking ahead to 2024, Wilson is poised to build on his sophomore season. With the Jets likely to continue integrating him as a central component of their passing attack, his combination of a high target share and air yards share should keep him as a prominent fantasy receiver. Assuming the Jets’ quarterback play stabilizes and improves, Wilson’s ceiling could rise even further. His ability to generate big plays and his heavy involvement in the offense position him as a potential WR2 with a high upside, especially if his touchdown numbers increase with his projected growth and the team’s offensive evolution. Only Pittman had more red-zone targets (20) with fewer red-zone TDs (2) than Wilson in 2023.

The market will be sour on him based on last year’s lofty expectations. But with even a 75%-level Aaron Rodgers presumably under center for Gang Green next season, you want to buy these Jets’ uber-talented pieces.

As for anybody else on this roster, not much to report. Tyler Conklin is still TE1 but didn’t post any worthwhile usage metrics – outside top-15 in routes/snaps – this year that suggest he can be a fantasy TE1. He also scored zero TDs despite seeing 87 targets for the third straight year in a row. The guy has been a lock for 60 catches and 600 yards – give or take – in the last 3 seasons.

The team has potential out in his contract this offseason. Could make sense for them to move on with him being a FA in 2025. And perhaps they want to see more of third-year tight end, Jeremy Ruckert.

New York Giants

Saquon Barkley tallied 18 carries for 46 yards, averaging 2.6 yards per carry, with 2 touchdowns and a long of 11 yards. 70% snap share as one of the true bell cows RBs remaining in the NFL. 3rd-highest snap rate in the NFL at 80% behind only Kyren Williams and Christian McCaffrey. Missed only 3 games due to injury.

Rookie Eric Gray played ahead of Matt Breida, perhaps an indication that Gray would see a larger role in his second season. Breida is a free agent.

Tyrod Taylor completed 23 of 32 attempts for 297 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, with a long pass of 46 yards, and a quarterback rating of 98.0.

Receiver target details:

  • Wan’Dale Robinson: 6 targets, 5 receptions for 85 yards, with a long of 33 yards. Finished the season as the WR61 in points per game leading Big Blue in catches. Don’t be too quick to forget that Robinson came off a devasting injury last season, but only missed 2 games in 2023. He’s a fine slot receiver with a decently high target rate (21%), but he will only go as far as the Giants offense will go in 2024. Still, I’d expect him to improve in 2024 another year removed from injury as the forecasted catches leader for New York. 20% target share over the final 6 games of the season
  • Darius Slayton: 7 targets, 5 receptions for 62 yards, 1 touchdown, with a long of 19 yards. 2 red-zone targets. Finished the season as the WR55 in points per game leading the Giants in receiving yards with nearly 1,000 air yards with a 31% air yards share. It’s the same old song and dance for Slayton. WR4 finish with some spiked weeks trickled in due to his big-play ability. Steady late-round target for leagues that require a lot of WR starting spots.
  • Saquon Barkley: 2 targets, 2 receptions for 51 yards, with a long of 46 yards.
  • Darren Waller: 6 targets, 5 receptions for 45 yards, with a long of 23 yards.
  • Isaiah Hodgins: 3 targets, 3 receptions for 36 yards, with a long of 15 yards. He led the Giants in WR snaps played.
  • Sterling Shepard: 5 targets, 3 receptions for 18 yards, with a long of 10 yards.
  • Jalin Hyatt: 2 targets, 1 reception for 5 yards, with a long of 5 yards. Logged a 13% snap share in the final game of the season is not encouraging for his career outlook. But it appeared he hurt his hamstring which limited his final weekly output.

Daniel Bellinger out-snapped Waller 81% vs 51%.

I was high on Waller entering 2023, claiming if he could stay healthy he would be very productive. Well, guess what didn’t happen. He missed 5 games. Waller has missed an average of six games over the last 3 seasons. And because the Giants’ offense was so bad due to more injuries, that also held back his overall production. He scored once the entire season. Although, I was correct about was that Waller was the clear alpha in the passing game. 21% target share and 30% air yards share. Among tight ends, he ranked first in weighted opportunity.

Before his injury Weeks 1-7, he was 5th in routes run (74% route participation) ranking 3rd in receiving yards and 4th in expected fantasy points per game. With Waller likely falling more in drafts after another injury-ridden season – even though he still finished TE14 points per game – he’s all reward with the same low risk as all other late-round tight ends. But I get if you want to avoid an extremely injury-prone player at an injury-prone position entering his age-32 season. Not hard to paint a picture of him failing to fire, yet again.

Los Angeles Chargers

Austin Ekeler had just 10 carries for 11 yards, averaging 1.1 yards per carry, with a long run of 6 yards in Week 18. Also had 8 targets, 7 receptions for 38 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per catch, with a long of 9 yards. It was a sour way for Ekeler to end his career in LA. 4th-worst rushing EPA among all ball carriers. RB31 overall averaging fewer than 10 points per game.

The year was a disaster for Ekeler, and I can’t help but think he is on the major downswing of his football career.

He is going to be a free agent after career lows across the board. We saw the cliff hit REAL quick for Dalvin Cook. Ekeler might be next.

Joshua Kelley is also a free agent, making LAC a prime landing spot for a new RB in the draft or free agency. Rookie RB from Michigan Blake Corhum reunites with Jim Harbaugh in LA perhaps? Don’t rule it out.

Meanwhile, Keenan Allen (pre-injury) was a league winner. Third in points per game. WR8 overall. 3rd in target share at 31%. He will be 32 in 2024. In yet, he showed no signs of slowing down with Justin Herbert as his QB.

Allen’s consistency as a route technician and reliable pass-catcher was on full display throughout the season, solidifying his role as a key component of the Los Angeles Chargers’ high-volume passing attack. He racked up 108 receptions on 150 targets, totaling 1,243 receiving yards at 11.5 yards per reception. Allen’s ability to make big plays was evident with 24 receptions of 20+ yards, and he reached the end zone 7 times.

Despite missing some games, he played in 13 throughout the season and provided fantasy owners with a robust average of 17.3 points per game in half-PPR formats.

Until the Chargers add more legitimate receiving threats, why expect anything else from Keenan Allen leading this team in targets. Note that Mike Williams, after tearing his ACL in Week 3, will turn 30 this season. FWIW, Williams was productive before he got hurt. WR15 overall and WR17 in points per game.

But it’s the same story every year with Mike Williams. WR20 in points per game in 2022, but missed four games. At this point, it seems Williams will never fully put together a truly epic WR1 season that he has teased every year since 2018. He’s effective enough when healthy to post massive weeks that we know will not endure the length of the season. And to make matters worse, he is a logical cut salary cap candidate for the Chargers entering his age 30 season in October. Feel old yet?

Other receiving notes from Week 18.

Donald Parham: 6 targets, 5 receptions for 83 yards, averaging 16.6 yards per catch, with a long of 24 yards.

Josh Palmer: 10 targets, 6 receptions for 44 yards, averaging 7.3 yards per catch, with a long of 12 yards and nearly 100 air yards. Unlike Quentin Johnston. Palmer ONLY produced and earned targets with other key Chargers WRs injured. 58% snap share and he still got 10 targets.

During the year, Palmer posted an 18% target share.

Alex Erickson: 5 targets, 2 receptions for 29 yards, averaging 14.5 yards per catch, with a long of 25 yards.

Derius Davis and Quentin Johnston: Davis with 1 reception for 18 yards, Johnston with 2 receptions for 17 yards. He’s a bust. Don’t be swayed. He played all the snaps (87%) and had all the opportunities with Keenan Allen injured the last few weeks to step up. He didn’t.

Johnston finished 61st among 63 qualifying WRs in yards per route run (0.88) as a rookie. Josh Palmer caught as many passes (38) as Johnston in 7 fewer games.

Is it too soon to label Quentin Johnston a bust after his rookie season? Nope. Last we saw of QJ, he had 2 receptions for 17 yards in Week 18. He’s a bust. Don’t be swayed. He played all the snaps (87%) and had all the opportunities with Keenan Allen injured the last few weeks of the season to step up. He didn’t. Johnston finished 61st among 63 qualifying WRs in yards per route run (0.88) as a rookie. My long-lost brother Alex Erickson was out-targeting Johnston the last 2 weeks of the season. Palmer is the Chargers WR to draft not named Keenan Allen

Gerald Everett and Nick Vannett: Each with 1 reception, Everett for 4 yards (left the game with an injury) and Vannett for 3 yards. Everett will be a free agent. Usage never got to a point in LA, where Everett could fully be unleashed aside from occasional spiked weeks of production when other guys missed time. He was by far Easton Stick‘s No. 1 target after Herbert went down with injury. But he never had one game with 50 or more receiving yards. Logged a 55% snap rate on the year (33rd).

The Chargers hired Jim Harbaugh as their next head coach. Don’t believe for a second he will “gift” anybody a starting job as he looks to rebuild the culture in Los Angeles.

Denver Broncos

Javonte Williams totaled just 9 carries for 32 yards, averaging 3.6 yards per carry, with 1 touchdown and a long run of 11 yards in Week 18. Samaje Perine added 3 carries for 7 yards, averaging 2.3 yards per carry, with a long run of 5 yards.

Jaleel McLaughlin also had 4 carries for 6 yards, averaging 1.5 yards per carry, with a long run of 6 yards. He suffered a head injury and did not finish the game.

This backfield was a three-headed mess all season, with Williams leading the way especially after he looked FULLY back from his devasting knee injury suffered in 2023.

After Week 7, Williams was consistently playing above 50% of the team’s offensive snaps (53%). RB22 overall averaging 11.3 points per game (RB24).

But the issue is Sean Payton’s sheer commitment to using more than just Williams, who has never been a clear-cut bellcow at any point in his NFL or even collegiate career.

He ran fewer routes than Perine, who led the team in routes run out of the backfield. He does have an “out” in his 2024 contract, which does suggest the team might opt away from him next season. Also, his dead cap hit is low at $1.5 million. Williams desperately needs to increase his routes and third-down role to get to the next level for fantasy.

Because this offense features RBs in the passing game heavily. Williams posted a target rate per route of 37% in 2023. The only players that were higher were teammate McLaughlin (44%) and Chase Brown (43%). But considering Williams did it on 151 routes (more than the other two combined) it should be sticky yearly based on the sample size.

Williams also seems to have the stranglehold on the red-zone role, if we see an offensive boost from the Broncos offense. 8th in red zone carries in 2023.

So don’t write off Williams quite yet should this backfield go from 3 to 2. Because McLaughlin made a case to be the No. 2 RB in Mile High. Super-efficient as a rookie finishing second in the NFL in yards per carry at 5.4. He’s the handcuff to target behind Williams, not Perine.

Williams also tallied 264 total touches – 15th-most in the NFL even after a sluggish start. He only scored 5 times so he is a candidate for positive TD regression.

Jarrett Stidham completed 20 of 34 attempts for 272 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception, with a long pass of 47 yards, and a quarterback rating of 82.0.

Broncos Week 18 targets:

  • Brandon Johnson: 5 targets, 4 receptions for 88 yards, with a long of 36 yards.
  • Jerry Jeudy: 6 targets, 3 receptions for 79 yards, 1 touchdown, with a long of 47 yards. 116 air yards. Was featured more than normal, leading the team in routes run.
  • Javonte Williams: 9 targets (28% target share), 7 receptions for 43 yards, with a long of 12 yards.
  • Samaje Perine: 4 targets, 3 receptions for 23 yards, with a long of 11 yards.
  • Adam Trautman: 1 target, 1 reception for 21 yards, with a long of 21 yards.
  • Denzel Mims: 1 target, 1 reception for 16 yards, with a long of 16 yards.
  • Courtland Sutton: 4 targets, 1 reception for 2 yards.
  • Lil’Jordan Humphrey: 1 target.
  • Lucas Krull: 1 target.

Without any ideas about who the Broncos QB will be in 2024, it’s hard to make firm stances about Sutton, Jeudy and Mims. Also, can’t forget that Tim Patrick will return.

But to keep things brief, Sutton likely won’t benefit from the same TD production for 2 years in a row. This past season made a mend for 2022 when he was so horrible at scoring. But now that things have leveled out, after a back-to-back 2-TD season with 10 scores, we are looking more at him in the 4-6 TD range for 2024.

And that’s going to make things tougher for him because aside from TDs, Sutton’s usage wasn’t as great as the WR35 overall. In fact, it looks pretty similar to Jeudy’s aside from the TDs (10 vs 2). Both guys had 1,000-plus air yards (36% vs 37%), around 90 targets (21% vs 20%), 750-plus receiving yards and just under 60 receptions. Hard to see either breaking the WR3 mold unless we get elite QB play in Denver.

Sutton pulled in 59 receptions on 90 targets, amassing 772 receiving yards, with an impressive average of 13.1 yards per reception. His ability to make big plays was evident by his 23 receptions of 20+ yards, and he was a red-zone threat with 10 touchdown grabs.

Jeudy, on the other hand, showcased his route running finesse and quickness, turning his 54 receptions on 87 targets into 758 receiving yards, averaging 14 yards per catch. He had a knack for significant gains with 21 receptions going for over 20 yards. However, finding the end zone was less frequent for Jeudy, with only 2 touchdowns to his name. Over the season, he accumulated 114.8 fantasy points, coming out to an average of 7.2 points per game to a WR50 overall finish.

Mims is the wildcard because his rookie year was tough due to lack of opportunity. He ran a route on 41% of the dropbacks – outside the top 100. And we did see flashes with a 100-yard effort in his second game, along with another 73-yard game when he earned a season-high 5 targets back in Week 3. Was also named Second-Team All-Pro as a returner. Leave the light on for Mims to take off in Year 2 should he play starting snaps…

Las Vegas Raiders

Zamir White had another productive game in Week 18, with 25 carries for 112 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, with a long run of 25 yards. White also had 2 targets, 1 reception for 9 yards. Played 73% of the snaps.

Aidan O’Connell completed 20 of 31 attempts for 244 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions, with a long pass of 47 yards, and a quarterback rating of 110.1. He will compete for the starting job in 2024.

Rookie Tre Tucker hauled in 5 targets (18% target share), 5 receptions for 79 yards, with a long of 47 yards. Air yards leader. To go along with a 64% snap share. He will be a big-play piece in the Raiders’ offense next season, after posting two spiked weeks in his final four games. He finished his rookie season 4th in yards per reception (17.4) in the NFL.

The team leaned into Tucker heavily as the WR3 in this offense, with Hunter Renfrow being a total cast-off in this Raiders offense. Have to imagine Renfrow is elsewhere in 2024, where he might be able to salvage his fantasy stock that has been on life support.

Jakobi Meyers commanded 5 targets (18% target share), 3 receptions for 61 yards, 1 touchdown, with a long of 33 yards.

Meyers’ underrated talent was on full display all season in 2023, as the first-year Raider scored 8 receiving TDs on a 21% target share and 15 red-zone targets (23rd). He also rushed for two scores and threw a TD. He was a do-it-all weapon for Las Vegas.

Meyers, after joining the Raiders, quickly became a vital part of their passing attack. He caught 71 passes from 106 targets, totaling 807 yards and achieving an 11.4-yard average per reception. Meyers proved to be a red-zone asset, tying with Adams for 8 receiving touchdowns. After failing comically to find the end zone as a member of the Patriots for most of his time spent there, Meyers couldn’t stop scoring in 2023. This will likely regress next season as he scored four more TDs over expectation. Although not likely enough to remove him from the fantasy WR3 conversation, given Meyers’ three straight finishes as a top-30 fantasy WR. He was also a top-36 WR in expected points per game.

Meyers accumulated 183.1 fantasy points over the season, resulting in an average of 11.4 points per game, ranking him 25th among wide receivers in points per game. Meyers was also the WR25 with O’Connell from Weeks 9-18, averaging 10.4 fantasy points per game (33rd).

Davante Adams corralled 8 targets (30% target share), 5 receptions for 46 yards, 1 touchdown, with a long of 17 yards. 3 red-zone targets.

Adams showed no signs of slowing down despite the QB carousel in Las Vegas. 45% air yard share (nearly 1,900 air yards, 2nd among all WRs) and a league-leading 33% target share with 103 catches on a whopping 175 targets, he notched 1,144 yards at an average of 11.1 yards per reception. Adams’ ability to find the end zone was on full display as he secured 8 touchdowns, with the second-most red-zone targets in the NFL (29).

In fantasy terms, Adams racked up 213.9 points, averaging 12.6 points per game, which placed him as the 18th wide receiver in points per game and WR11 overall. Even at 31 years old, he’s shown to still be QB-proof to be a high-end fantasy WR2.

The only concern fantasy drafters should have regarding Adams is that posted his worst YAC/reception since his second season in the NFL (3.3). That is a clear sign of a decline in his production that should not be completely ignored.

If O’Connell returns as the starter, that is where Adams will likely end up in 2024. Adams was the WR12 with O’Connell from Weeks 9-18, averaging 13.0 fantasy points per game (15th). It’s a pretty impressive feat given the fact that the Raiders essentially fired their offensive staff after letting go of Josh McDaniels earlier in the season.

Austin Hooper had 5 targets, 4 receptions for 39 yards, with a long of 21 yards. Hooper played a full-time role in all the games that rookie Michael Mayer missed.

Mayer will be firmly back in the TE1 chair next season, with Hooper and Jesper Horstead slated for free agency. From Week 5 until his injury in Week 15, Mayer was hovering around a strong 81% snap rate (top-10) while running a route on 56% of the dropbacks.

Fantasy TE21 over this span averaging 5.5 fantasy points per game. Essentially, Cade Otton (as a similar every-down player) who is not a focal point in his offense.

It was hardly a special rookie season for Mayer, especially considering how the other rookie tight ends did in 2023. But Mayer’s situation was by far the worst between elite target competition and rookie QB play. Essentially, he was fighting an uphill battle to produce in Year 1 as a tight end.

The fact that he carved out a starting role as the season progressed is a good sign, along with solid efficiency metrics. 6th in YAC/reception.

Still, Mayer will need some changes/injuries to earn more targets in 2024, and some upgraded QB play to be fantasy-relevant.

With Josh Jacobs hitting free agency, White has made his case to be the Day 1 starter of the Black Hole in 2024. In White’s four starts, he averaged 14.1 points and just under 100 rushing yards per game while logging just under 70% of the offensive snaps and 23-plus touches per game. Works in his favor that Antonio Pierce is returning as the head coach.

Arizona Cardinals

James Conner ended the 2023 season on an absolute HEATER. 27 carries for 150 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry, with a long run of 29 yards, and 1 touchdown in Week 18. 4 targets, 4 receptions for 54 yards, averaging 13.5 yards per catch, with a long of 34 yards.

Conner dominated the snaps in his final game at 73% as he had done all season. The sheer dominance of touches in 13 games, thrust Conner into an RB18 standing, averaging 14.5 points per game as the RB10 on 18 touches per game.

From Week 10 onward with Kyler Murray as his QB, Conner was the RB7 overall and the RB6 in points per game (16.6).

The injuries will always be a negative used against Conner, but there’s no denying he’s positioned for another strong season in 2024 with his starting QB back under center for the long haul. He’s entering a contract year and will be 29 at the start of the season.

The only concern is Conner’s lack of route participation influencing his receiving upside. Among RBs in 2023, Conner ran a route on just 36% of dropbacks (outside top-30 RBs). He was out-targeted by the combination of Michael Carter and Emari Demercado, who took snaps on third downs. From Week 10 onward, Conner played just 25% of the snaps on third down (outside top-60 RBs).

Kyler Murray completed 22 of 30 attempts for 262 yards, with a long pass of 34 yards, 1 touchdown, and a quarterback rating of 110.7.

The highlight of Week 18? Rookie Michael Wilson.

6 targets (21% target share), 6 receptions for 95 yards, averaging 15.8 yards per catch, with a long of 28 yards. 68 air yards and 40% air yards share.

The rookie posted a very under-the-radar campaign as a highly involved Cardinals WR. He ran a route on 80% of the dropbacks (35th among all WRs) which locks him into a full-time role in this offense next season, regardless of any additional moves they make. He also finished his season on an extremely high note, averaging 15.5 points per game after his last two contests with Marquise Brown out of the lineup. 10.1 expected points per game in his final four games. The fact that he was able to deliver spiked weeks with more opportunities matters for his long-term outlook. Also noteworthy is he was more efficient than Hollywood Brown, matching the veteran almost identically in total yards despite 25 fewer targets to go with just one drop.

Wilson, demonstrated his efficiency with 38 catches on 58 targets, amassing 565 yards. He averaged an impressive 14.9 yards per reception – second among all rookie WRs – indicating his big-play ability. Wilson totaled 95.5 fantasy points, which translated to an average of 7.3 points per game, placing him 56th among wide receivers in points per game.

Speaking of Brown…

The 2024 free agent had a year to forget in 2023. He struggled with bad Cardinals quarterback play before Kyler Murray returned to the starting lineup as the WR21 overall and as the WR34 in points per game (10.2). But after Murray returned, the Cardinals WR still didn’t produce. And he was worse. 5.8 points per game in three full healthy games before ultimately missing the remainder of the season due to injuries.

Overall, Brown hauled in 51 receptions on 101 targets, accumulating 574 yards at an average of 11.3 yards per catch. He found the end zone four times during the season. He scored 109.2 points over the season, averaging 7.8 points per game (53rd) in 13 games played. The lack of production was shocking, considering Brown posted nearly 1,200 air yards, a 25% target share, and 39% air yards share with the 16th-highest weighted opportunity rating.

Trey McBride: 6 targets (21% target share), 3 receptions for 34 yards, averaging 11.3 yards per catch, with a long of 25 yards, and 1 touchdown. He played 97% of the snaps.

The second-year tight end had a full-fledge breakout in 2023 after the team finally (FINALLY) elected to move away from Zach Ertz after an injury. McBride took over the starting TE1 duties in Week 8 and never looked back.

He ran a route on 81% of the dropbacks (3rd), commanded a 24% air yards share (3rd), earned a 26% target share (1st), boasted a 28% target rate per route run (2nd), ranked 7th in points per game (11.7) and 4th in expected fantasy points per game (14.1).

His 11.7 points per game average was BETTER than Sam LaPorta/Travis Kelce‘s league-leading 11.5 points per game averages…

Needless to say, McBride has firmly thrown his hat into the TE1 overall conversation for 2024, especially considering he only scored 3 TDs. The majority of his production was all yardage and receptions-based. More passing TDs for McBride, and we are COOKING with McDoubles folks.

The Arizona tight end was a full-time player for just half the season and still finished with 81 catches (5 fewer than LaPorta) and 825 receiving yards.

Other WRs involved in Week 18.

Rondale Moore: 5 targets, 4 receptions for 31 yards, averaging 7.8 yards per catch, with a long of 10 yards.

Greg Dortch: 4 targets, 2 receptions for 14 yards, averaging 7.0 yards per catch, with a long of 9 yards. Dortch does what he does every single year when the team puts him on the field. He produces when called upon. In yet, he doesn’t play more. Go figure.

From Week 11 onward, Dortch was WR50 overall averaging over 5 targets per game. He is an exclusive restricted free agent in 2024.

New Orleans Saints

Kendre Miller finally played a larger role in the offense in Week 18, with Alvin Kamara inactive and the rookie FINALLY healthy. The first-year RB has been plagued by injuries all season, but finally flashed with 13 carries for 73 yards and 1 TD, with 3 red zone carries to boot.

He played 36% of the snaps, and could take on a larger role in 2024 should the team move on from Kamara – who is due nearly $19M against the cap next season. They have an out in his contract.

Jamaal Williams also scored for the first time all season with 14 carries for 26 yards. He also saw three targets while playing 49% of the snaps. He is under contract until the 2025 season but was extremely disappointing in 2023. He was useless the first two weeks of the season with Kamara suspended before he got hurt. Williams wasn’t used until Kamara got hurt toward the end of the year.

Kamara finished the season as the RB14 overall despite 3 missed games. 5th in points per game (15) with his usage as a receiver and inside the red zone unmatched by the majority of RBs. He was targeted on 34% of his routes – No. 2 in the NFL among RBs. He also played 63% of the offensive snaps from Week 4 onward and averaged just south of 20 touches per game. Led all RBs in catches per game (5.8). Kamara will be 29 next season.

Derek Carr spread the wealth as his late success continued into Week 18. Carr was particularly effective in the passing game, throwing for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns on 22 completions out of 28 attempts. His strong finish (and contract) likely have secured his status as the team’s starter in 2024.

Season-long stats from Shaheed and Olave as we look ahead to 2024…

Receiving yards per game…Over the last 19 games played together

Rashid Shaheed (4 targets and 65 yards) and Chris Olave (3 targets and 56 yards) were key targets in the receiving game, each scoring a touchdown.

Shaheed’s status as an undrafted free agent means he is an exclusive rights free agent this offseason. That means he will likely be back in New Orleans barring anything crazy. He enjoyed a solid sophomore season, as a boom-or-bust option. He totaled over 1,000 air yards on just 75 targets (14% target share). Shaheed excelled in making big plays, as seen in his 31 catches of over 20 yards (14th). He scored 132.6 fantasy points, averaging 8.3 points per game. Shaheed was ranked 49th among wide receivers in points per game.

Olave left some to be desired after being pumped up all draft season as the next major WR breakout. Derek Carr people…The usage metrics were ALL there for Olave, who commanded a 25% target share and 40% air yards share (over 1,800 air yards, 8th).

Olave made a significant impact with 87 receptions from 138 targets (12th), and he amassed 1,123 receiving yards (17th), averaging 12.9 yards per reception. He was one of just two WRs with fewer than 100 catches and 135-plus targets. Wonder why….He found the end zone 5 times throughout the season and earned a total of 187.8 fantasy points, averaging 11.7 points per game. That ranked 21st among wide receivers in points per game.

Nothing about Olave’s talent suggests he should be a fantasy WR2, but that’s likely going to be the case in 2024 with Carr back at QB. However, the duo showed glimpses of improvement in the second half of the season after the bye week.

From Weeks 12-18, Olave ranked second in catchable target rate (89%) with a 12.0 Adot averaging 12.7 points per game(WR16). His ADOT was 14.0 before the bye week, to go along with a 76% catchable target rate (64th). WR20 in points per game.

Olave’s talent alone will make him a fantasy WR2. But if the chemistry with Carr can carry over into the start of next season, we can see Olave make the jump to fantasy WR1 status. His WR12 expected points per game solidify the projection.

A.T. Perry had 3 targets (2 in the red zone) as did Juwan Johnson. Taysom Hill earned 4 targets, catching all 4 for 28 yards.

Perry scored twice in his final game as a rookie and looks to be in the driver’s seat to be the starting No. 3 WR for the Saints in 2024. But as a sixth-round pick, he is facing an uphill battle especially with a new offensive coaching staff coming in. Pete Carmichael’s dismissal almost certainly spells the end of the Hill experience in New Orleans as well. A 15 million dollar cap hit ain’t going to fly against next year’s salary cap.

Too bad for the QB/TE hybrid. Don’t be shocked to see him reunite with Sean Payton in Denver. Those Greg Dulcich dynasty shares…

With Jimmy Graham gone we as well (hopefully) should see a more concentrated target share around Johnson as the TE1 in this offense. He finished 23rd in route participation and 24th in snap share which made him tough to trust. He was TE19 in points per game (6.1), with him buoyed by a strong backend finish as TE7 post-bye week (8.1 points per game).

Minnesota Vikings

In Week 18, the Minnesota Vikings showcased a strong passing game led by quarterback Nick Mullens, who completed 30 of 44 passes for 396 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

The leading receiver was Justin Jefferson, who made 12 receptions for 192 yards and a touchdown. 189 air yards (47%) and a 32% target share.

Justin Jefferson finished the season 5th in points per game (16.8) despite missing seven games and losing starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. Still, he had a standout season with 68 receptions from 100 targets, gaining a total of 1,074 receiving yards. Jefferson found the end zone 5 times, showcasing his ability to convert receptions into touchdowns. He commanded a 28% target share, and 41% air yards share and finished 8th in weighted opportunity. Before Cousins’ injury, he led all WRs in fantasy points scored (21.7 per game).

Rookie Jordan Addison was close behind with 148 air yards in Week 18 on an 18% target share. The first-year player finished as the WR28 in points per game and WR21 overall through 17 games played.

Addison ended the season with 70 receptions on 108 targets, amassing 911 yards at an average of 13 yards per reception. His long play of the season was a 62-yard catch. He was particularly effective in the red zone, scoring 10 touchdowns (5th) on a 17% target share. Totaled over 1,300 air yards.

He played in all 17 games, contributing consistently to the Vikings’ offense, with a total of 186.3 fantasy points, averaging about 11 points per game (WR28). Addison averaged slightly more points per game 12.2 (22% target share and 4 TDs) versus 10.1 (6 TDs) with Jefferson out of the lineup. Considering the team will likely be without T.J. Hockenson to start the 2024 season coming off a torn ACL/MCL, Addison is a strong bet to return early low-end WR2 fantasy value in Year 2.

The Vikings’ rushing attack was less dominant in Week 18 than the passing game, with Ty Chandler being the top rusher with 69 yards on 12 carries.

Chandler took over as the team’s RB1 over the last five weeks of the season, playing at least 53% of the snaps in all contests. He averaged 10.9 points per game (RB27) and 4.5 yards per carry as the team’s starting RB. Note that his biggest game versus the Bengals came in the one game Alexander Mattison missed entirely.

I wasn’t right about everything last season, but I was correct by strongly fading Alexander Mattison into oblivion. Let this be a reminder that if a No.2 RB cannot get snaps UNLESS an injury occurs to the starter, there are massive red flags present that cannot be ignored. Even though Mattison struggled throughout the 2023 season he maintained RB1 duties Weeks 1-12. He had opportunities to deliver. In yet, he averaged an abysmal 7.6 points per game despite ranking top-10 in carries. He scored zero rushing TDs on 180 carries and 700 rushing yards. Second-to-last in fantasy points scored under expectation. The constant underwhelming led to Mattison eventually losing his job to Chandler over the final five weeks of the season. Even though is under contract with Minnesota next season, you know he’s just keeping that RB1 seat warm for the next better RB to come along in Minnesota. Speaking of Vikings RBs…

This one hit too close to home folks. Cam Akers fell out of favor in Los Angeles under Sean McVay, and he completely missed out on the Kyren Williams role in the Rams’ high-powered offense. Went from a potential RB1 candidate to the trade block.

He was traded to Minnesota for a 2026 7th-round draft pick and was so close to unseating Alexander Mattison. But before he got his chance, he tore his Achilles again. This time, it was his left Achilles. With him on the free agent market, we have finally hit the end of the road with Akers for fantasy football. Goodbye, old friend. I won’t ever forget your six-game stretch at the end of the 2022 season when you led the NFL in rushing yards.

Hockenson commanded a 24% target share in 2023 and was amid a very productive season before going down with a torn ACL/MCL. He was TE4 overall in 15 games played and was .1 points shy of tying Sam LaPorta and Travis Kelce as the TE1 in points per game.

Hockenson boomed the greatest when Jefferson was sidelined, commanding a whopping 28% target share and 13.7 points per game. From Week 6 onward, no tight end out did Hockenson in points per game (12.1). With Jefferson, Hockenson was at his worst, averaging 9.5 points per game. That would have ranked at TE8 last season.

Hockenson will undoubtedly be discounted during draft season coming off a major injury, but when he’s on the field he can offer elite tight end upside you can’t get from the majority of any tight ends. The guy has been a top-5 tight end in three of the last four seasons and will likely be back in that conversation in 2024 once he is deemed healthy enough to play. Typically, it’s a 9-12 month recovery window.

Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons’ rushing attack was modest versus the Saints, with Bijan Robinson Jr. leading with 28 yards on 11 carries. The passing game, however, was more successful – at least by the numbers. Desmond Ridder (benched late) threw for 291 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 of 30 attempts, achieving a long pass of 71 yards.

In receiving, Robinson had a standout performance, catching 7 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown (8 targets).

Robinson’s big-play upside and receiving ability have been on full display all season. And we are hoping/praying that a new head coach can further tap into the running back’s explosiveness.

Despite all the ups and downs of Bijan’s usage, the guy still showed an extremely high ceiling.

Outside Week 7 – when he didn’t play due to a migraine – Robinson finished second in route participation (68%, second among all RBs) with a 16% target share (3rd) and 13.8 points per game average (14th). 9th in expected points per game (15.8).

He also ranked 16th in yards after contact per attempt as a rusher.

Drake London‘s ability to command targets remains extremely high with another 9-target outing in Week 18. Alas, no efficiency can be found. 4 for 41 yards. 110 air yards. 26% target share.

London’s usage numbers were strong in 2023, commanding a 23% target share and 31% air yards share. Over 1,200 air yards, 69 catches and 905 receiving yards, but with just 2 TDs. The lack of TDs positioned London as the WR39 overall, averaging just 8.7 points per game (WR46).

Like many WRs, London’s ceiling cannot be realized unless the Falcons improve their QB play. Until that happens, he’s a talented real-life WR relegated to fantasy WR3 status. After the game, the team let go of head coach Arthur Smith. This is the best-case scenario for all fantasy pieces on this offense to perform at a higher level in 2024. The Arthur Smith era is no more, so fantasy gamers can breathe a slight sigh of relief.

And maybe that means Kyle Pitts can finally break free in 2024.

The third-year tight end played all 17 games for the Falcons, finishing as the TE14 overall and TE17 in points per game. He scored a career-high 3 receiving TDs matching his total scores from the two previous years combined. It was another year where he posted 1,000-plus air yards to go along with an 18% target share (13th) and 27% air yards share (1st among all tight ends). 10th in route participation and 1st in average depth of target (11.9).

Like London, great usage metrics but to no avail for Pitts. Worst catchable target rate for any tight end last season with at least 50 targets. Woof.

For Pitts to recapture his rookie year stardom – in full-blown Evan Engram fashion – he needs the Falcons offense to get fixed ASAP. Could be beneficial for a new OC to dial down Pitts’ average depth of target so he can get more lay-up receptions.

Raheem Morris is slated to be the new head coach of the Falcons. For those veteran fantasy gamers, Morris was the interim HC in Atlanta after the team fired Dann Quinn back in 2020. He was the HC in Tampa Bay from 2009-2011.

Zac Robinson was brought in for Atlanta for hire as an offensive coordinator. First order of business: Give more red-zone carries to Bijan Robinson (22) than Allgeier (35).

Robinson has spent his coaching career with the Rams since 2019 in various roles on the offensive side of the ball. I’m confident with a background at PFF as well, he can put the Falcons playmakers in a much better position to succeed in 2024. But ultimately, QB has to be fixed as a top priority before we can see this Falcons offense hit full gear.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks won the game in Week 18, but still missed out on the postseason.

Kenneth Walker led the backfield with 17 carries for 78 yards (49% snap share), while Zach Charbonnet carried the ball 5 times for 32 yards (53% snap share). In the first half, the touches were more split 10 vs. 5. Walker had one target to Charbonnet’s 2.

How this backfield shakes out in 2024 will be intriguing given that Seattle will have a new head coach and offensive coordinator next season.

Walker finished as RB19 and averaged 12.3 points per game (RB20) in 2023. But his production was extremely front-loaded. Weeks 1-7, Walker scored 6 TDs and averaged 15.3 points per game.

Charbonnet was also barely playing during the start of the season. But after Week 8, Charbonnet got more involved in the offense. And that hurt Walker, who averaged just 10.6 points per game over his last 8 games (RB22). They both hovered around a 50% snap share.

Both RBs saw decent red-zone roles during the season, but Charbonnet led the team in red-zone touches after Week 8. He scored one red-zone TD on 22 red-zone carries. Walker scored 7 on 38 red-zone carries.

In the games they both played after Week 8, Charbonnet was also the more involved receiver, dominating the routes run from the Seahawks backfield.

Charbonnet left a lot to be desired in his two spot starts for Walker in Weeks 11-12, but he showed enough in Year 1 to get playing time alongside a healthy Walker. He out-snapped Walker in five of their last 8 games played together.

He’ll remain a high-priority handcuff to target with an obvious three-down skill set behind Walker, who has missed at least two games in his first two years in the NFL.

Walker will remain a fantasy RB2, given his explosive rushing ability as PFF’s 11th-highest graded rusher in 2023. But he is accompanied by committee concerns with Charbonnet a very capable back in his own right.

D.K. Metcalf led the team with 6 targets (23% target share) but had one catch for 10 yards in Week 18.

Metcalf finished 2023 with 66 receptions on 119 targets (23% target share), accumulating 1,114 yards and over 1,500 air yards (40% air yards share, 14th), averaging 16.9 yards per reception as the WR16 overall. 22nd in weighted opportunity. His longest catch of the season was a notable 73-yard play. He demonstrated his big-play capability with 37 receptions of 20+ yards (10th) and finished 20th in points per game (12.0). Metcalf scored 8 touchdowns (5th in red zone targets), underlining his scoring prowess over 16 games with the 5th-most end-zone targets (15). He missed the first game of his NFL career in 2023. He’s an Iron Man and a staple of consistency as a high-end fantasy WR2.

Tyler Lockett caught 2 of his 4 targets for 71 yards and 1 TD. 37% air yards share in Week 18. The veteran wide receiver ended his disappointing season on a high note.

Because the veteran is past his prime and he showed it all year long with his very inconsistent play. 43rd in points per game (9.6) and WR33 overall despite a strong 22% target share and over 1,300 air yards. He failed to crack the top 30 WRs for the first time since 2017. It was also the first time he failed to match or exceed D.K. Metcalf in fantasy points.

Lockett recorded 79 receptions on 122 targets, totaling 894 receiving yards at an average of 11.3 yards per catch. His longest reception was 37 yards. Lockett found the end zone 5 times.

He is also a logical real-life cut candidate with him due nearly $28M against the salary cap in 2024 and 2025. Seattle has an “out” in his contract for 2024. Entering his age-32 season, you don’t need to squint to see the potential fall for Lockett in fantasy football.

But that could easily create more opportunities for another player in Seattle’s offense to break out in 2024.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba tied a bow on his rookie season with 5 targets, catching 3 for 14 yards (19% target share).

In his first season, JSN managed 63 receptions from 93 targets (17.5% target share), totaling 628 yards with an average of 10 yards per reception. His long catch of the season was 35 yards. Smith-Njigba scored 4 touchdowns, indicating his growing role in the Seahawks’ offensive scheme. 59th in points per game (7.0) and WR48 overall.

But it shouldn’t be forgotten that Smith-Njigba suffered a wrist injury that contributed to a slow start. He started to hit his stride more from Week 6 onward where he averaged 8.2 points per game. But still over this span, his route participation (74%, 50th) and high-end target competition made it tough for JSN to produce.

With more opportunities in 2024 at just 22 years old, Smith-Njigba is an easy breakout candidate. He flashed his YAC-ability as a short underneath target, with the 12th-highest YAC/reception (5.9) in 2023.

Seattle’s tight end room between Noah Fant, Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson could never be used for fantasy football, because of the team’s willingness to use all three guys at the same time. However, given that Fant and Parkinson are free agents, we could see more concentration around one tight end in 2024.

Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Mixon was the standout performer in Week 18, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown, including a long run of 44 yards.

Mixon has an “out” in his contract and looks primed to be released as a salary-cut candidate. Dead cap hit is $2.75 million compared to his salary cap hit at nearly $9M. Mixon was RB12 in points per game and RB5 overall through 18 weeks. He played all 17 games and finished 8th in RB snap rate (69%). Also ended the year fourth in red zone carries.

He was essentially a three-down bellcow from Weeks 1-12 until the Bengals started to feature Chase Brown more in the backfield. Mixon’s target share (11%) stayed the same, but his route participation (42% vs 48%) dipped with Brown in the lineup.

Brown could be pegged as the team’s starter heading into 2024 depending on how the backfield shakes out. At worst, he likely proved he can carve out a small role alongside Mixon (should he return to Cincy), especially as a receiver.

In the passing department, Jake Browning completed 18 of 24 attempts for 156 yards and 3 touchdowns, though he did throw an interception.

Rookie Charlie Jones was the leading receiver with 49 yards on 3 catches. Fellow Rookie Andrei Iosivas led with a 25% target share and 40% air yards share. 7 targets, 5 catches and 2 TD scores.

Ja’Marr Chase had a 21% target share. Tyler Boyd was buried in playing time in what might be his last game with the Bengals. Iosivas looks like he has shown enough to be a cheap starter in 2024.

Both Boyd and Tee Higgins will hit free agency in 2024. That along with the majority of the tight end room. Keep tabs on Tanner Hudson, who the team leaned on more down the stretch. From Week 9 onward, Hudson posted an elite 26% target rate per route run.

This Bengals offense could look very different in 2024, but one thing remains certain.

Chase is going to be the focal point. He finished with an impressive stat line: 100 receptions (career-high) on 145 targets (26% target share), amassing 1,216 yards at an average of 12.2 yards per catch. He had a long catch of 76 yards and was a deep threat with 28 receptions of 20+ yards. Chase scored 7 touchdowns while ranking top-10 in red zone targets. Over 16 games, he totaled 212.7 fantasy points, averaging a strong 13.3 points per game (WR13).

But we all know Chase left production on the table without his healthy star QB. Weeks 1-10 with Joe Burrow, Chase averaged 16.2 points per game (6th) and 19.6 expected points per game (fifth). He led the NFL in red-zone targets per game. Red-zone targets are the path of least to resistance to elite fantasy WR seasons.

The Bengals will turn to former Bengals QB coach Dan Pitcher as their new OC after Brian Callahan was hired by the Titans as their head coach.

Higgins recorded 42 receptions from 76 targets, covering 656 yards with a notable average of 15.6 yards per reception. He made a significant impact with a long reception of 80 yards. Demonstrating his big-play ability, Higgins had 14 receptions of 20+ yards to go along with a team-high 37% air yards share (17th) on just an 18% target share. He scored 5 touchdowns. Playing in 12 games, Higgins accumulated 116.6 fantasy points, averaging 9.7 points per game (WR40).

He dealt with injuries throughout the season and failed to finish as a fantasy WR2 for the first time in the last three seasons. Ergo, 2023 stands out as a complete outlier for the 25-year-old WR, who will likely sign with a new team this offseason as their new No. 1 WR. The command of air yards shows that Higgins is still a dominant downfield receiver, as are the 4 games where he scored 20-plus fantasy points.

Higgins also flashed efficient yards after the catch ability, finishing with his best YAC/reception mark (5.6) to date, despite a career-high aDOT.

Boyd had 67 receptions on 98 targets, totaling 667 receiving yards at an average of 10 yards per catch, with a long catch of 64 yards. Boyd found the end zone twice. Over 17 games, Boyd earned 112.3 fantasy points, averaging 6.6 points per game as the WR64 in points per game.

He will likely be a nice depth piece for a new team in 2024, and possibly provide some early in-season production as he turns 30 years old. Wouldn’t be awful to see him land in Tennesse as a solid check-down option for Will Levis.

Indianapolis Colts

In the Week 18 loss to the Texans, the Indianapolis Colts showcased a strong running game, with Jonathan Taylor leading the charge. Taylor carried the ball 30 times, amassing an impressive 188 yards and scoring a touchdown despite facing an elite Texans run defense. His longest run was for 49 yards on a 77% snap share.

The Colts also utilized Zack Moss, who added 30 yards on 6 carries.

Moss will hit free agency this offseason and will likely garner some interest on the open market after a career year in Indianapolis.

Regardless, JT will be back in the RB1 chair with rookie QB Anthony Richardson, something that fantasy gamers were robbed of in 2023 outside a few snaps in Week 5. Taylor finished the season as the RB8 in points per game (14.7, RB33 overall) after he missed 7 games.

After Taylor was reacclimated to the offense in Week 7, he went on a tear. Third in points per game (16.8).

With A-Rich’s mobility freezing linebackers in 2024, Taylor is going to have the chance to post absurd efficiency rushing numbers in the 2024 season. The “concern” is if Richardson bogarts all the red zone rushing attempts in true Jalen Hurts fashion.

But if the Colts offense hits overall, there will likely be more than enough TDs to go around.

Quarterback Gardner Minshew contributed 9 yards on the ground. Through the air, Minshew completed 13 of 24 passes for 141 yards.

The leading receiver was rookie Josh Downs with 3 receptions for 48 yards despite only running a route on 62% of the dropbacks.

Alec Pierce goose-egged on 4 targets. Pierce has been nothing more than a cardio king for two years in the NFL. He stretches the field and occasionally will convert on a deep throw. 84% route participation ranked 17th in the NFL last season. Perhaps with a better/more capable deep ball thrower in Richardson under center, Pierce can be more than a decoy in Year 3.

But Downs has major intrigue as a Year 2 leap candidate. His routes were limited as a slot WR in the Colts offense, but he flashed a lot of potential in an offense that can take a major leap in 2024.

Downs made a notable impact in his rookie season with 68 receptions from 98 targets (17% target share), totaling 771 yards at an average of 11.3 yards per reception. Note that he was very unlucky when it came to scoring, with just two TDs. Only Drake London had more receiving yards and fewer than 3 TDs than Downs did in 2023.

As a result, over 17 games, he amassed 123.1 fantasy points, averaging 7.2 points per game (WR46).

But it should recognized that Downs’ production fell off after he suffered a knee injury that lingered. Weeks 1-8, Downs led the Colts in yards per route run (2.0), averaging 9.9 points per game with a 19% target share.

Michael Pittman Jr. followed closely with 44 yards on 5 catches on 6 targets in Week 18.

Pittman Jr. proved his alpha status all year long in the Colts offense with 109 receptions (7th) on 156 targets, accumulating 1,152 yards, averaging 10.6 yards per catch. Like Josh Downs, he had an equally bad TD production with only 4 TDs. Even so, in 16 games, racking up 195.7 fantasy points (WR15 overall), which averages out to 12.2 points per game (WR19). Nearly 1300 air yards (33% air yards share), with a 30% target share to boot – 4th-highest among all WRs.

Pittman comes with a super-high floor that could be further unlocked with better TD variance in 2024. No player had more red-zone targets (20) with fewer red-zone TDs (2) than Pittman in 2023.

Tennessee Titans

What a send-off for the Big Dog. Derrick Henry was particularly outstanding, rushing for 153 yards and a touchdown, including a long run of 69 yards in Week 18.

With a new coaching staff under Brian Callahan coming in, the Titans will surely be looking ahead to their backfield with Tyjae Spears at the forefront alongside Will Levis at quarterback.

In Week 18, Tyjae Spears and Chig Okonkwo (3 targets) were notable contributors in the receiving game, with Spears scoring a receiving touchdown (3 targets) and rushing TD.

Spears is a fascinating player to rank for this season, given that he proved he was good enough as a rookie to split snaps alongside Henry. Spears was consistently used as a receiver OVER Henry, which ensures he will be game-script-proof in what could be a bad season for the Titans’ W-L record in 2024.

Spears was 12th in route participation as a rookie (48%) and 29th in snap share (53%). And there’s no reason to think about how Brian Callahan used Joe Mixon in the passing game in Cincinnati, that Spears should feast as a receiver in an offense devoid of legitimate pass-catchers.

If there’s anybody who can be this year’s Rachaad White, it’s Spears.

DeAndre Hopkins had 10 targets catching 7 for 46 yards and 1 TD in Week 18. Hopkins was the one steady body in the Titans passing game in 2023. He showcased his elite receiving skills with 75 catches on 137 targets (28% target share), amassing 1,057 receiving yards, averaging 14.1 yards per reception.

He proved to be a deep threat with a long reception of 61 yards and 27 catches of 20+ yards. 1,934 total air yards (42%) – the most of any WR during the regular season. 7th in weighted opportunity.

Hopkins found the end zone 7 times, displaying his knack for scoring.

Over 17 games, Hopkins scored a total of 186.1 fantasy points, averaging 10.9 points per game (29th) marking him as a dependable WR2 in fantasy lineups. WR22 overall.

Specifically, with Levis under center, Hopkins posted a 27% target share, 46% air yards share and 13.4 fantasy points per game (WR13). And that came with a sub-50% catch rate.

In a friendlier QB system behind a bad offensive line, you can expect much quicker throws to dramatically boost Levis’s completion rate in 2024.

The Titans are also primed to add another WR through free agency or the draft. Treylon Burks has been a bust. Chris Moore/Nick Westbrook are impending free agents. Is Tee Higgins reuniting with Callahan in Nashville perhaps? The Titans have the cap space (second-most available) to make it happen.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Their running game totaled 82 yards, with Travis Etienne Jr. leading the way with 57 yards on 16 carries in Week 18. ETN caught 5 balls for 30 yards on 6 targets while playing 66% of the snaps.

Etienne’s strong start fizzled out as the season progressed, with the entire Jaguars offense regressing after their Week 9 bye week. This coincided with a lot of injuries across the Jaguars OL combined with a much tougher slate of opponents. Cam Robinson (entering a contract year) missed Weeks 12-16. Ezra Cleveland missed games between Weeks 7-14. Walker Little missed Week 14.

Etienne was the RB3 overall and in points per game (18.8) through the first 8 games of the season. 81% snap rate (3rd) and 54% route participation (seventh).

After Week 9, the Jags RB was RB16 averaging 11.4 points per game. Snap rate fell to 67% as did his route participation (47%).

Even so, the season-long usage was excellent for Etienne, ranking 6th in snap rate and 7th in route participation overall. His strong start still rewarded him as the RB3 overall, while finishing 8th in points per game.

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 29 of 43 passes for 280 yards, throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The receiving corps was led by Calvin Ridley, who caught 6 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown (10 targets). 150-plus air yards in typical Ridley fashion.

Calvin Ridley‘s 2023 season deserves a deep dive. It’s as bizarre as they come.

Ridley secured a pivotal role in the Jaguars’ offense, catching 76 passes on 136 targets for 1,016 yards, averaging 13.4 yards per reception. Nearly 1,800 air yards on a 22.5% target share and 36% air yards share. He scored 8 touchdowns, highlighting his red-zone effectiveness (3rd in red-zone targets).

Across 17 games, he totaled 191.9 fantasy points, averaging 11.3 points per game, making him a solid WR2 in fantasy formats. WR17 overall but WR26 in points per game.

But anybody who rostered Ridley knew this was a roller coaster season for a player who had missed so much time before this year. He and Lawrence were constantly not on the same page. Especially in high-leverage situations.

Ridley led the entire NFL in end zone targets (24). He was the WR10 in expected fantasy points per game. But he never fully took advantage of his elite opportunities to churn out a fantasy WR1 season, even though it was there for the taking.

When he and Christian Kirk were both healthy Weeks 1-12, Kirk was the target leader (21% vs 20%), while Ridley was the primary downfield threat. However, his fantasy points per game were the same at 11.3 versus Kirk’s 11-point average.

There’s no doubt that rhetoric around Ridley will be negative heading into 2024 after the human hype piece failed to deliver. But the only reason Ridley “busted” was because he was getting impossible expectations placed on him for a player who hadn’t played since 2021. He showed enough “good” in my estimate to acknowledge that the talent is still there and that we as a drafting community may have just been a year too early on Ridley. He won’t turn 30 until late December. I’d buy the dip. Assuming he returns to the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent.

Christian Kirk played an integral role in the Jaguars’ passing game, with 57 receptions on 85 targets (21% target share) for 787 yards, averaging 13.8 yards per catch. He showcased his deep-threat capabilities with a long catch of 57 yards and 23 receptions of 20+ yards. Kirk found the end zone 3 times during the season.

In 12 games, Kirk accumulated 121.8 fantasy points, averaging 11 points per game, positioning him as a reliable flex option in fantasy leagues. WR28 in points per game.

When he and Ridley were both healthy, Kirk posted the higher target share at 21%. 23% target rate per route run overall.

Zay Jones caught 6 passes for 47 yards on 9 targets in Week 18.

Jones had a moderate impact with 34 receptions on 64 targets, gathering 321 yards at an average of 9.4 yards per reception. He was hurt the entire season with three different injuries, so I’d call his 2023 campaign a wash. Jones only scored 2 touchdowns despite a 23% target rate per route run.

Playing in 9 games, he earned 61.1 fantasy points, averaging 6.8 points per game. WR62 in points per game.

But I’d look more at his final four games as a better representation of what we can expect from a healthy Jones. Without Kirk, Jones averaged 8 fantasy points per game and 17.3 expected points per game. Similar to Ridley, there is a stark difference between expected and actual production.

Evan Engram also contributed significantly with 10 receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown (13 targets). After missing chunks of games as a member of the New York Giants, Engram has been a bill of health in Duval County and was extremely consistent on the Jaguars in 2023.

He posted a team-high 23% target share, catching 114 balls for 963 yards and 4 TDs. TE6 in points per game (10.2) while finishing first in receptions and targets at the position.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

Cleveland Browns

The Browns fell to the Texans in the first round of the postseason, getting blown out on the road. But for those that have followed Cleveland closely this season, their defense had been a completely different unit playing away from Ohio.

The backfield struggled to run the football as it did all season. Kareem Hunt scored rushing and receiving TDs near the goal line but rushed for only 26 yards on 8 carries.

Jerome Ford was equally ineffective, rushing 9 times for 17 yards and zero scores. Hunt also caught 5 balls on 6 targets, while Ford caught all 4 of his targets for 15 yards.

In 2023, Ford posted the third-worst rushing success rate (40%). But he will likely be slated for the main receiving role in the backfield in 2024 alongside Nick Chubb. Finished the season 7th among RBs in routes run.

Joe Flacco attempted 46 passes for 307 yards and 1 TD but threw two pick-sixes.

David Njoku was the target leader yet again, drawing another 11 looks from his veteran quarterback (26% target share). 7 catches for 93 yards.

Amari Cooper remained quiet in Week 19 but might have banged up his ankle in-game. Still, his season-long statistics were impressive during the fantasy football season despite playing with 4 different QBs. 10th in yards (1,250) and tied for second behind only Tyreek Hill in 20 yards gains (42). 10th-highest air yards share at 41%.

17th in points per game (12.7) as the WR18 overall through 17 games.

But projecting Cooper ahead, we can look at his 5-game splits with Watson as his QB. Still, excellent numbers. 23% target share, 42% air yards share were in line with his full season-long usage numbers. Averaged just under 100 receiving yards per game. 14.8 fantasy points per game (6th) and 15.7 expected fantasy points per game (15th).

Elijah Moore was an afterthought with only 2 catches, while No. 3 WR David Bell stepped up with Cedric Tillman out of the lineup. Caught all 8 of his targets (18% target share) for 54 yards. Back-to-back strong games for Bell to close out the season, while filling in for injuries.

Moore was a disappointment for those hoping he could recapture his rookie form in a new city. WR55 overall. Outside the top-65 in points per game.

The Browns will look different on offense in 2024, with key offensive linemen, Chubb and Watson all returning.

I have the most confidence in Njoku retaining a highly involved role with Harrison Bryant hitting free agency. The last two seasons…Njoku is second to only Kelce in red-zone targets.

I’d also expect the team to move on from Hunt – and his ELEVEN TDs – with Chubb returning and younger guys like Ford/Pierre Strong Jr. on the roster.

Hunt and Ford COMBINED for 20 TDs scored for the Browns in 2023.

I’d also presume that the Browns return to a more balanced approach on offense versus the super pass-heavy unit they morphed into with Flacco. -a 12% pass rate over expectation in Watson’s last two starts. 0% PROE in his first 3 starts.

  • Weeks 1-12: -6% PROE
  • Week 13 onward: +8% PROE

For more on Watson along with other QB rankings…check out my article: Early 2024 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings, Tiers & Notes.

Miami Dolphins

Raheem Mostert led the Dolphins with 8 carries for 33 yards in the Wildcard Round. De’Von Achane had 6 carries for 9 yards. His 6 targets were a plus, but he only caught 3 balls for 21 yards.

The rookie had 3 touches in the first half of the team’s playoff game. Woof. He played a total of 23 snaps for a 38% snap share. Mostert played 44% of the snaps and only had 2 targets. As I have pointed out in every single version of this article throughout 2023, Mostert has never been an RB that McDaniel has tried to feature in the passing game over either Achane or Jeff Wilson Jr.

Jaylen Waddle returned but was not effective. 5 targets but just 2 catches for 31 yards with 86 air yards.

Tyreek Hill was the target leader, but it came all on one big TD score that was underthrown by his quarterback. 5 catches for 62 yards (53-yard TD catch) on 8 targets.

All the WRs behind Hill/Waddle are free agents, so there’s depth to be boosted in this WR room this offseason. Tagovailoa, Waddle, Mostert and Wilson will all be playing in contract years in 2024.

The team does have potential outs in both Mostert’s/Wilson’s contracts. Wilson could be a cap casualty with a sub $1M dead cap hit versus his $3.3M salary cap hit.

Hill will be at the top of nearly every single fantasy football draft, whereas Waddle will be drafted much later than in 2024 after his worst professional season to date. WR34 overall and WR24 in points per game (11.6). He still managed over 1,000 receiving yards in 14 games but he scored just 4 times. But his 24% target share was still excellent. He also posted his highest yards per route run (6th) and PFF receiving grade of his career (5th). 100% a sharp buy-low candidate as a projected breakout that failed to fire in 2023.

Dallas Cowboys

The Packers annihilated the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs, even though Dallas scored a few TDs in the fourth quarter to make the loss appear less bad.

Impending free agent Tony Pollard – 71% snap share – rushed 15 times for 56 yards and 1 TD, while Rico Dowdle had just 2 carries and 2 receptions. Pollard was also targeted a whopping 9 times (16%), with Dak Prescott attempting 60 passes, completing 41 for 403 passing yards.

Nobody can be sure whether Dallas will bring back Pollard as RB1 in 2024 after they franchised him this past season. The decrease in rushing efficiency and lack of TDs made Pollard an overall disappointment in fantasy football, but there’s reason to believe he can bounce back should he return to Dallas.

He is vastly overdue for positive TD regression after finishing second in the NFL in red-zone touches (71). He scored 5 red-zone TDs. Woof.

Jake Ferguson scored 3 TDs on 10 catches for 93 yards (12 targets, 21% target share). He led the NFL in red-zone targets.

CeeDee Lamb was targeted 17 times, catching 9 balls for 110 yards. Over 200 air yards and 29% target share. It was a bizarre game for the fantasy WR1 of the 2023 season, as I seemed like he and his QB were not on the same page. Still, Lamb got the job done in the box score, with a near 30% target share.

Over 18 weeks, Lamb finished as the top WR in half-PPR formats, amassing 335.7 fantasy points (19.7 per game, second-best). He had 135 receptions on 181 targets, totaling 1,749 yards with a long catch of 92 yards. Lamb scored 12 receiving and 2 rushing touchdowns, displaying versatility and consistency throughout the season.

Including the postseason, Lamb posted a 29% target share and flirted with nearly 200 total targets and 2,000 air yards. Ninth in weighted opportunity and 19th in air yards share. 1st in red-zone targets, which tends to be the No. 1 predictor of elite WR1 fantasy seasons.

Michael Gallup had his best game of the season in the last week of the postseason, catching all 6 of his targets for 103 yards. But only a 10% target share. Played a 66% snap share well above his normal rate.

Brandin Cooks commanded 8 targets, catching 6 for 47 yards. 14% target share in Week 19.

Cooks ended the season as the WR45 in points per game (9.1) and WR36 overall. After his sluggish start, Cooks was unlocked from Week 6 onward as we saw the Dallas offense start to click. WR22 overall and WR28 in points per game (11.2). The Cowboys have a potential out his in his contract in 2024 with him hitting free agency in 2025. However, Cooks posted his worst YAC/reception of his career (2.3). Also the worst yards per route run of his career (1.19). Cooks’ lack of efficiency was clouded by his lucrative red-zone role- commanding 15 end-zone targets.

Final note here on the Dallas offense. The receivers like Lamb and Ferguson performing so WELL above expectation were tied to their superior roles in the red zone. Both led their respective positions in red-zone targets. But the fact that Pollard never scored despite so much red-zone usage…led to the receivers getting BOTH boosted in TDs. We will almost surely see regression in both facets from pass-to-rush TD/ratio in Dallas for 2024.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams came up just short of a road victory in the Wild Card Round, falling to the Lions by 1 point.

Kyren Williams rushed 13 times for 61 yards against a top-tier run defense, while Ronnie Rivers added 3 carries. Rivers was also targeted thrice to Williams’ 1 target. However, needs to be noted that Williams did exit the fourth quarter with a hand injury.

Hence his 66% snap rate and his worst statistical game of his second season with just 6.6 fantasy points scored. But even at an updated 18.9 points per game, Williams was still by far the second-most productive running back in fantasy football in 2023. But the injuries that he has gone through the last two seasons at his size – under 195 pounds – are the biggest concern projecting him into 2024.

Puka Nacua is so clearly the alpha in the Rams passing game. 9 catches for 181 yards and 2 TDs on 10 targets (29%) with 100 yards coming after the catch in his final game of his rookie season, capped off a historic rookie campaign that saw him break the receptions and receiving yards records for a first-year player.

In his 18 games played, Nacua posted a 29% target share and 15.3 points per game (4th among all WRs). First in yards after the catch, 3rd in receiving EPA and 14th in weighted opportunity.

Cooper Kupp commanded a high target share (9, 26%) but left more lackluster production on the table. 5 catches for 27 yards in Week 19. Many will point to the injuries Kupp has dealt with throughout the season, as a reason to be concerned about him moving forward. He hasn’t looked like himself all season and he will be 31 in 2024. A lot of his production was salvaged by his 5 receiving TDs. Posted a career-low yards per route run (1.77). Kupp was WR27 in points per game in 2023 despite a 26% target share. He went over 100 yards four times, but was held under 55 yards in his 8 other games.

Nacua has taken over as the alpha in this passing game. Get out before things get worse for an aging Kupp. He’s missed an average of six games over the last two seasons.

The 2021 season seems like a distant memory.

Demarcus Robinson was the No. 3 WR, seizing 3 balls for 44 yards on 6 targets. He is a FA and could easily sign somewhere after a strong finish to the season. The Rams have Tutu Atwell on a cheap rookie deal for one more season, so he could be back in the WR3 chair in 2024, that has been productive for the Rams this season with a healthy Matthew Stafford. Robinson/Atwell combined for just under 10 points per game as the WR30 in fantasy.

Tyler Higbee is to believed to have torn his ACL in the team’s final playoff game. That could create an opportunity for Davis Allen to be the opening day tight end starter in 2024. He has filled in when Higbee has missed time during the 2023 season. Hunter Long will likely also be in the mix for starting TE1 duties. Higbee was TE21 in both points per game and overall in 2023 as a fringe streaming option.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers failed to come away with the win playing in Buffalo during the first round of the NFL playoffs.

The backfield was not able to run the ball effectively, with Najee Harris totaling 12 carries for 37 yards, and Jaylen Warren rushing 8 times for 38 yards. Warren only caught 2 passes for 16 yards (2 targets) while Harris caught 2 balls for 15 yards on 3 targets. Curiously Harris ran more routes than Warren and played 57% of the snaps to Warren’s 43% snap rate.

The Warren vs. Harris debate figures to be a hot-button topic among fantasy drafters in 2024, but the numbers suggest that this was as close as 50/50 split backfield in the NFL.

In just raw points per game, Najee finished with 10.4 (32nd) and Warren finished with 9.6 (34th) in 18 total games. With both guys healthy, neither was a top-30 RB in points per game in half-PPR scoring. In full PPR, Warren actually out-scored Harris.

And they remained consistent in their roles for the most part. Harris benefited from the majority of red-zone opportunities, while Warren saw the vast majority of opportunities as a receiver. 74 targets ranked 6th among all RBs, being targeted on 27% of his routes run.

And from a rushing efficiency standpoint, Warren was superior across the board by any advanced rushing metric. 4th in yards per carry (5.2) and 3rd in rushing yards per carry after contact (3.7).

2024’s discussion for this backfield will be less about Harris and his strong finish – RB9 from Week 9 onward and RB18 in points per game finishing second in rushing yards overall (722) – but more about how long Harris can hold off Warren for another calendar year.

Harris did this last year as well, finishing 3rd in rushing yards from Week 10 onward in 2022. Part of this is just general regression for an RB that sees volume, but it’s also very TD-based. In the second halves of the last two seasons, Harris has scored 13 TDs vs 2 TDs in the first halves.

But how many times should you be willing to draft Harris knowing he’s going to dig you a hole to start the season? RB33 and RB28 open to the first halves of the last two seasons. Woof.

Harris has been top-10 in touches the last two seasons but has not cracked the top-12 fantasy RBs overall as the RB15 (2022) and RB26 (2023) averaging the same points per game as Warren this past season (10) Weeks 1-17.

Considering all the question marks about the Steelers offense and quarterback play in general, Harris looks like an early avoid candidate. Should be noted that he is entering the last year of his rookie contract, but the team has the ability to pick up a fifth-year option because he is a former first-round pick.

Arthur Smith coming in as the new OC hardly instills confidence that this offense will find it’s footing after he failed to realize the potential of his playmakers in Atlanta. The one thing Smith did correctly in regards to his backfield was target Robinson in the passing game. I’d expect Warren to take over that role. But when it comes to red-zone usage, I’d be terrified that Harris doesn’t get the goal-line touches with a new OC in town.

As for the WRs, we saw a major bounce back for George Pickens in the playoffs after he posted a random zero-target game versus the Ravens in a weird rainy game. Saw 11 targets (29% target share) and 120 air yards, catching 5 balls for 50 yards. Diontae Johnson was also efficient, commanding 7 targets while hauling in 4 for 48 yards and 1 TD.

Tight end Pat Freiermuth was the team’s leading receiver, going for 76 yards on 8 targets and 5 receptions.

Freiermuth was 27th in points per game during the regular season (5.1) in 12 games, and 5.5 points per game including the postseason. Hardly moved the needle despite ranking 16th in route participation. He dealt with injuries, and the Steelers offense wasn’t good enough to support three viable pass-catchers, plus the RBs. His three spiked weeks suggest he can still deliver when called upon, but he will only go as far as the Steelers offense goes. His TE29 finish is the worst of his career, after finishing as the TE8 and TE13 the two previous seasons.

Again, how this WR corps shakes out in 2024, will be dependent on the quarterback under center. Mason Rudolph is a free agent but was by far the best QB the Steelers had under center.

In four games with Mason Rudolph, George Pickens averaged a 24% target share, 44% air yards share, 14.6 fantasy points (backend fantasy WR1 numbers) and nearly 100 receiving yards per game.

With Kenny Pickett (and occasionally Mitchell Trubisky in relief) in Weeks 1-13, Pickens had a 21% target share, 40% air yard share, 9.7 points per game and just 63 yards per game. Much more in line with his season-long averages.

In those same games from Week 7-13 (when Diontae Johnson returned healthy), DJ led the team with a 26% target share and 9.2 fantasy points per game.

After Johnson returned from his injury in Week 7, he was overall very effective regardless of the QB play. Led the team with a 23% target share (as he typically does) while scoring 5 TDs averaging 9.7 points per game and 14 expected fantasy points per game.

Specific splits aside with QBs and injuries, here are the final numbers for the Steelers’ top 2 WRs in 2023.

Pickens hauled in 63 receptions from 106 targets, accumulating 1,140 yards, which translated to a remarkable 18.1 yards per reception in Weeks 1-18. His prowess as a downfield threat was further highlighted by his 42 catches of 20+ yards (tied for second among all WRs) and a long of 86 yards. Scoring 5 touchdowns and even contributing in the run game with 18 yards on 3 attempts, Pickens closed out the season with 177.3 fantasy points, which gave him an impressive average of 10.3 points per game, ranking him 33rd among wide receivers in points per game. He finished as WR26 overall.

Pickens finished with a 24% target share (6.5 targets per game) and 41% air yards share (13th in total air yards).

Johnson (14 games) finished with a team-high 6 TDs after scoring zero last season. 23% target share and 41% air yards share (8th overall). 28% first-read target share.

He ended the year with 55 catches on 97 targets (7 targets per game), totaling 765 receiving yards and an average of 14.1 yards per catch.

Despite the Steelers’ offensive transitions and his own injuries to overcome, Johnson maintained his productivity, finishing the season with 127.2 fantasy points, averaging 10 points per game, and ranking 36th in points per game for wide receivers.

Pickens/Johnson finished with a near identical weighted opportunity inside the top-20 overall WRs. And like the RBs, they had a stronger finishes as the overall offense performed better down the stretch.

Week 9 onward, Pickens was WR22 while Diontae Johnson was WR30.

All in all, the Steelers WRs talent presents them with a fantasy WR3 floor every year. Pickens is a big-play machine and showed this season an ability to command targets after a lackluster rookie campaign saw him earn a 16% target share. Combine that with his propensity to create big explosive plays, and he offers a lot of upside if Pittsburgh can find the right guy under center.

This will no doubt lead to many up-and-down games, making him a tough start/sit click every single week. Better in the best ball-scoring format? You bet. Because his 90% route participation – second in 2023 – makes him capable of popping off any week.

Especially with Smith hired as the new offensive coordinator. Again, this shouldn’t be looked at as a good thing, but will cause the prices for all Steelers players to drop. At a certain price, they will eventually become values.

As for Johnson, it’s the same old song and dance. He’s a monster target earner, that thrives on volume. Super high-floor every single week, with his ceiling tied to TDs. His worst-case scenario is getting Pickett as his QB. In the last 2 seasons, he has caught 1 TD from Pickett.

Philadelphia Eagles

Not much else needs to be said about the Eagles’ exit from the postseason. Troy Aikman said it best on the live broadcast, suggesting this team was ready to pack their bags for the offseason.

A.J. Brown didn’t play, so it was another big game for DeVonta Smith. Smith caught 8 of 12 targets for 148 yards as the alpha in the offense. Smith converted nearly all of his air yards (160) and earned a 38% target share.

Over the last two seasons, Smith has FEASTED when Brown or Dallas Goedert has missed games.

He was the fantasy WR1 after Goedert got hurt last season. This season, Smith was WR16 from Weeks 11-18 after DG got hurt. Including the postseason, Smith averaged 13.6 points per game (backend fantasy WR1 numbers). But before Week 11, Smith was the WR25 overall averaging 10.9 points per game (WR29).

Again, Smith’s talent is undeniable, but it’s clear that for him to be a fantasy WR1, somebody else in the Eagles passing game has to take a step back.

Overall, Smith finished the year 20th in points per game (12.2) with a 24% target share.

During the 3-game stretch when Goedert missed time, Smith averaged over 100 yards per game.

Goedert didn’t benefit as much from Brown’s absence – aside from scoring in a very tight end friendly matchup. Caught 4 balls for 21 yards on 6 targets.

In points per game, Goedert was the TE13 despite running a route on 76% of the dropbacks (5th-most among tight ends). Even after missing 3 games, Goedert was STILL the TE12 overall. Unless we see drastic changes in this offense, Goedert will likely remain in that awkward low-end TE1 conversation as he has been throughout his career. Not elite enough to draft aggressively, but not cheap enough to be labeled a late-round fantasy tight end option.

Brown rounded out the top five fantasy WRs before his late-season injury scoring 237.2 points (14.8 per game, 6th). He had 105 receptions for 1,447 yards and 7 touchdowns, demonstrating his ability to make big plays with a longest catch of 59 yards. 4th in target share (29%), 3rd in first-read target share (39%) and 3rd in air yards share (45%).

Brown’s only blemish was he – like the Eagles’ entire offense – did not finish strong. In weeks 11-17, even with Goedert out of the lineup for a handful of games, AJB was out-scored by DeVonta Smith as the WR25 and WR35 in points per game. If the Eagles’ late-season collapse trickles over in 2024, Brown’s production might take a hit.

Give credit to Philly for looking elsewhere to find help on offense, after they hired Kellen Moore after a disappointing one-year stint with the Los Angeles Chargers.

D’Andre Swift struggled to run the football, going for just 34 yards on 10 carries on a 68% snap share in the Wild Card Round. He salvaged his outing with 4 catches for 32 yards. On the year, Swift was never fully emphasized as a receiver, being swapped for Kenneth Gainwell at times of third downs and inside 2 minutes. As a result, he only ran a route on 37% of dropbacks (29th) – although he posted a strong 21% target rate per route run.

Kenneth Gainwell was an afterthought as an ancillary piece with 4 carries for 3 yards.

Similar to last season, the entire Eagles backfield are free agents, aside from Gainwell, who will be entering the final year of his contract. Gainwell-stans had about the worst run-out possible in 2023, because Kenny G was the RB1 in Week 1, before getting hurt. And once Swift got the RB1 job and stayed healthy, he was the Eagle’s primary rusher all season, giving Gainwell no chance at getting the job back.

But the Eagles’ trust in Gainwell this past offseason should not be forgotten about, as they entered the year with Gainwell as the starter.

Regardless, Philly is a prime landing spot for a FA RB or rookie RB in the draft.

With how this run game struggled down the stretch, it’s beyond me why they never opted to give Rashaad Penny a chance to play.

Swift fell victim to the Eagles’ late-season tailspin. After starting the season as a back-end fantasy RB1, he fell to RB30 from Week 11 onward averaging under 10 fantasy points per game (9.3). He started the year (aside from Week 1 when he barely played) averaging 5 more points per game (14.3).

He finished the season as the RB17 and as the RB25 in points per game.

Only time will tell whether Swift will return to Philly, but there’s no denying that his career statistical year should not be overlooked by RB-needy teams. He was healthy the entire season, which allowed him to hit career-highs in offensive snaps, carries, yards (1,083 rushing yards, 5th in the NFL) etc. He proved he could handle a heavy workload – 282 touches – while maintaining high-end efficiency (4.5 yards per carry).

He’s only 25 years old and has plenty of gas left in the tank. Had it not been for the dreaded Eagles “tush push” Swift could have easily flirted with double-digit TDs instead of settling for just 6 scores (5 rushing).

Houston Texans

In the Divisional Round, Devin Singletary had 9 attempts for 22 yards, averaging 2.4 yards per attempt with a long of 16 yards. Singletary also had 6 targets (18.2% target share), 5 receptions for 48 yards, averaging 9.6 yards per reception with a long of 26 yards. 69% snap share. Dameon Pierce didn’t log an offensive snap.

Will be curious to see how Houston approaches their backfield this offseason. Pierce lost his job to Singletary. But Singletary will be a free agent. As will Dare Ogunbowale.

The journeymen running back took over the backfield in Week 8 after a Pierce injury and never let go of the starting gig. 11.6 points per game as the RB23.

Nico Collins commanded 10 targets (30% target share) with 5 receptions for 68 yards, averaging 13.6 yards per reception with a long of 29 yards.

Collins’ third-year breakout was truly remarkable. The former Michigan product had glimpses of potential in his first two seasons, but being paired with C.J. Stroud unlocked his fantasy ceiling in 2023. He was a YAC God. Nearly 1500 receiving yards with 1,370 air yards. 641 yards came after the catch. 24% target share and 29% target rate per route run. His 3.11 yards per route run ranked second among all WRs. And it’s a beyond elite number given how rare it is to exceed three yards per route run. Only three other players have accomplished this feat since 2017 – Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp and Julio Jones. Collins averaged 14.6 points per game in 17 games played in 2023 and 15.7 points per game in 15 games played alongside Stroud.

The question projecting him in 2024 will come down to his draft day price, and whether the return of Tank Dell will negatively impact Collins.

Because Dell in his own right was on his way to a possible historic rookie season before he went down with an injury in Week 13.

Dell posted an identical air yards share to Collins (31%) while falling just short in target share (21%). Note that Dell posted over 1,000 air yards in just 10 games played. Averaged over 100 air yards per game.

In those games, Dell posted a 20.5% target share, 33% air yards share and 14.2 points per game.

In the 8 games, Collins and Dell played together – each missed a game with injury – the production was nearly identical. 13.9 points per game for Collins and 14 points per game for Dell.

Can’t help but think Dell will end up being the better draft day value than Collins in 2024 drafts. The one thing fantasy drafters need to be wary of is how much above expectation Collins performed. Only Deebo Samuel scored more points above expectation than Collins did in 2023. Collins was WR21 in expected fantasy points per game.

Come to think of it, Collins/Dell looks the AFC’s version of the aforementioned Deebo Samuel/Brandon Aiyuk.

Dalton Schultz had 7 targets (21% target share), with 5 receptions for 43 yards, averaging 8.6 yards per reception with a long of 21 yards. If he’s not replaced, we could see Brevin Jordan operate as the TE1 in Houston.

Schultz will be a free agent in 2024. Noah Brown will also be a free agent.

John Metchie did essentially nothing despite playing 71% of the snaps. 0 targets. Woof. Robert Woods commanded 4 targets but only caught one pass for 6 yards. He will be 32 next year, and the Texans have a potential out in his contract next season.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers came up just short of victory against the 49ers in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.

Aaron Jones had 18 attempts, and 108 rushing yards, averaging 6.0 yards per attempt, with a long of 53 yards. 81% snap share. 6 targets (18% target share), 3 receptions, 8 yards, long of 6 yards.

Another stellar outing for Jones, who finished the season extremely strong with A.J. Dillon (2024 free agent) missing several games.

Jones is under contract until the 2025 season, after restructuring his deal in 2023. Hard to imagine he’s not a focal point of Green Bay’s offense plans to make sure he is retained with the Packers saving money not paying other offensive skill positions as other teams.

Jones will be 30 years old in December.

Romeo Doubs commanded 6 targets (18% target share) hauling in 4 receptions for 83 yards, averaging 20.8 yards per reception, long of 38 yards. He played the most WR snaps (81%).

Doubs followed up on decent rookie campaign with an improved second season. He was a consistent presence in the Packers’ passing game, recording 69 receptions on 105 targets for 908 yards.

Doubs found the end zone 9 times, proving to be a valuable red zone target. He finished 4th in the NFL in total end-zone targets (18).

Over 19 games, he averaged 9.4 points per game (WR47), making him a solid WR4 in fantasy leagues.

He benefitted greatly from TDs and injuries to other primary Packers pass-catchers. Worth noting that he also failed to take full advantage of the vast opportunity in the offense, scoring fewer than his expected output (11.1 per game).

Rookie Jayden Reed had 4 targets (12% target share), catching all 4 for 35 yards, averaging 8.8 yards per reception, long of 27 yards. He finished second with 61% of the snaps played among WRs.

I loved Jayden Reed coming out as a prospect and his rookie campaign makes me excited for what the future holds. He didn’t always play a full-time role as the team’s primary slot WR – sub 60% route participation – but he was always targeted heavily with a 25% target rate per route run. He also led all Packers WRs in fantasy points per game at 10.6 – good for WR31 status this past season. He averaged just under 2 yards per route run with ten total touchdowns scored.

Bo Melton had 1 target (3.0%), 1 reception, 19 yards, and 1 touchdown vs the 49ers. He also picked up a key defensive pass interference that set up his red-zone TD.

Christian Watson only had 2 targets (6%), catching 1 ball for 11 yards. 55% snap share.

Christian Watson‘s sophomore season was completely derailed by hamstring injuries. He missed the first three weeks of the season entirely and struggled to put together any consistent production until his last three games in the regular season when he hurt his hamstring again. Scored four TDs, while averaging 17.1 points per game. Watson has a high ceiling when healthy, but it cannot be realized until he solves his hamstring woes. He averaged 10.6 expected fantasy points per game. His 13 red-zone targets in 9 games are impressive. He also had a whopping 15 end-zone targets during the regular and postseason combined (6th).

While Watson missed time, 5th-round rookie Dontayvion Wicks stepped up. He caught 39 passes from 58 targets for 581 yards at 14.9 yards per reception during the regular season. He displayed big-play capability with a long catch of 35 yards and 14 receptions over 20 yards. Wicks scored 5 touchdowns (including postseason), adding value in scoring opportunities. Wicks scored 100.3 fantasy points over 15 games, averaging 6.7 points per game.

Luke Musgrave has 4 targets (12% target share), 3 receptions, 14 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per reception, long of 7 yards.

Tucker Kraft commanded a whopping 6 targets (18.2%) catching 3 receptions for 9 yards and 1 touchdown with multiple red zone looks. Musgrave was involved early on but was still drastically behind Kraft in snaps (85% vs. 28%).

The sample size we have seen from these two TEs both active has been Kraft dominating the snaps and playing time over Musgrave, so that’s the way I would rank them heading into the 2024 season. Kraft Singles Baby.

When it comes to the Packers receiving corps, it’s important to note that Jordan Love spread the wealth evenly to all his receivers. No one receiver posted a target share greater than 17% (Doubs).

Buffalo Bills

The Bills ended the 2023 season on a sour note, falling at the feet of the Kansas City Chiefs in another brutal postseason loss. Despite the best effort from fantasy’s No.1 overall QB, Josh Allen, the Bills didn’t have enough firepower to overcome KC.

Allen had 12 rushing attempts, 72 yards, averaging 6.0 yards per attempt, 2 touchdowns and a long of 18 yards.

Running back James Cook totaled 18 rushing attempts for just 61 rushing yards, averaging 3.4 yards per attempt, with a long of 8 yards. Cook commanded 5 targets (13.5%), 4 receptions, and 21 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per reception, with a long of 8 yards. He played 51% of the snaps and had 5 total red-zone opportunities. But alas, no TDs which has been the case all season with Allen under center dominating the goal-line touches in the Bills offense.

Because that’s the only issue with Cook, is a sheer lack of TD equity playing alongside Allen. Cook only scored two rushing touchdowns all season, nearly 4 under expectation.

The usage and efficiency are all there for him to be a productive fantasy running back.

  • 23rd in snap share (55%)
  • 21st in points per game (12.3)
  • 325 touches through 19 games (17 touches per game)
  • 4th in the NFL in rushing yards (1,122) averaging 4.6 yards per carry

After Week 11 when Joe Brady took over as the OC, Cook’s usage was even better even while his snaps remained the same. He got fed more volume.

  • Second in carries (17 per game) – 153 total carries
  • 4 targets per game, 3 catches per game (28 total receptions)
  • 181 touches from Week 11 onward (20 touches per game).
  • 15.8 expected points per game (9th)
  • 14.1 points per game (13th)

Even if Cook doesn’t find the red-zone role in 2024, he’s at worst a low-end fantasy RB1. And that’s exactly where he finished in 2023 as the RB11 overall finishing 18th in points per game.

Ty Johnson chipped in 7 attempts and 40 rushing yards, averaging 5.7 yards per attempt, with a long of 15 yards. He had 1 target.

Johnson, Damien Harris and Latavius Murray will all be free agents in 2024. If the Bills had nobody of consequence, we could see Cook inherit Murray’s 12 carries from inside the 5-yard line.

As for the Bills receivers, it was another disappointing effort in the Divisional Round.

Dawson Kincaid saw 5 targets (13.5% target share), 5 receptions, 45 yards, averaging 9.0 yards per reception, long of 14 yards. He played 62% of the snaps, and ran a route on 76% of the dropbacks.

Kincaid’s usage bounced back in a major way after Dawson Knox re-entered the lineup from IR. All in all, Kincaid finished as TE15 in points per game (7.1) in 19 games played. Although it should be noted that he had poor TD luck, with only 3 TDs despite 81 catches for 777 yards (18% target share). From Week 8 onward – after Knox was first placed on IR – Kincaid ranked 11th in route participation (70%) and 10th in fantasy points per game.

Khalil Shakir had 9 targets (24% target share), 7 receptions, 44 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per reception, 1 touchdown, long of 13 yards versus the Chiefs. Shakir tied a bow in his second season on an extremely high note. He showed up big in the absence of Gabe Davis, catching 16 of 17 targets for 180 yards and 2 TDs over the last three games of the season.

Shakir finished the season with the NFL’s highest catch rate (88%) and passer rating generated (141.5). He led the Bills in receiving EPA, and ranked 16th overall in that category among all NFL receivers. The Bills’ future starting slot WR has definitely “earned” a bigger role in the offense in 2024.

Latavius Murray: 4 targets (10.3%), 3 receptions, 27 yards, averaging 9.0 yards per reception, long of 15 yards.

Stefon Diggs: 8 targets (21% target share), 3 receptions, 21 yards, averaging 7.0 yards per reception, long of 15 yards. 80 air yards which came on one big downfield throw that Diggs was unable to haul in. The veteran played 90% of the snaps and ran a route on 41 of 45 Josh Allen dropbacks (91%).

2023 was a terrible year for Diggs. He was WR10 overall, but he averaged just 13 points per game as the WR15 in half-point scoring. And his lackluster finish is what had fantasy football gamers pulling their hair out.

From Week 10 onward, Diggs was the WR45 averaging a meager 7.3 points and 42 receiving yards per game. Khalil Shakir had more receiving yards than Diggs over this time frame.

This was right around the time the Bills swapped Brady as their new offensive coordinator as Ken Dorsey was fired after Week 10’s loss to the Denver Broncos.

And it’s not like Diggs wasn’t seeing opportunities. On the year, the Bills’ polarizing WR finished just below a 30% target share with over 1,800 air yards. 12th overall in weighted opportunity. Even during the bad finish, Diggs still had a 25% target share and strong route participation at 85%. He just wasn’t efficient.

And this isn’t the first time we have seen Diggs stumble across the finish line. In the last 6 games of the 2022 season, Diggs was under 10 points per game.

Given the Bills’ massive need for a No. 2 WR to replace Davis, there is going to be more competition for targets in this offense. And that makes it tough to draft Diggs confidently coming off career lows across the board entering his age 31 season.

Gabriel Davis did not play in the final two games of the Bills’ season. The 2024 free agent will hit the open market in a relatively weak WR free agent class, which will likely create the demand for the extremely boom-or-bust WR. He finished the season as the WR40 in total points, averaging 8.2 points per game as the WR50. Davis posted 5 games with 20-plus fantasy points in 2023 to go along with 7 TDs and 1,200 air yards (30th), but he also went completely catch less in four of his last 8 games played with Brady operating as the OC.

Even if he goes to a new team where he can improve on his 2023 15% target share (85th), Davis’ body of work as a boom-or-bust player will be hard to knock. One could argue that with a step back in potential QB play, his spiked weeks might also not be nearly as big even if he is slightly more consistent on a week-to-week basis.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rachaad White had 9 attempts for 55 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per attempt, long of 16 yards in the team’s loss to the Lions in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. He also had 5 targets (13% target share), 4 receptions for 36 yards, averaging 9.0 yards per reception, with 1 touchdown, and long catch of 12 yards.

Chase Edmonds totaled just 4 attempts, 19 yards, averaging 4.8 yards per attempt, long of 9 yards Edmonds also had 2 targets (5.1%), 2 receptions, 18 yards, averaging 9.0 yards per reception, long of 14 yards.

White was one of my biggest HITs this past season, even though the road started out quite bumpy. He was a touch monster, finishing the fantasy football season 2nd in touches per game. RB5 overall, 14th in points per game (13.8) and 4th in snap share (78%). White was everything you’d want in a workhorse RB and he delivered with his three-down skill set.

Now the questions regarding what he will do in 2024 are as follows…

Can he keep up with this heavy workload with some lackluster efficiency behind the league’s 4th-worst run-blocking unit per PFF?

There’s no doubt that White’s lack of backfield competition was a great aid to his workload, as the Buccaneers had nowhere to turn but White in the backfield. If they make no additions, I think they go right back to White. But be warned that Edmonds will be a free agent, so they may add another RB at some point in FA or the draft.

Baker Mayfield completed 26 of 41 passes, 349 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, long of 29 yards, passer rating of 94.5 in the team’s loss to the Lions in the playoffs.

Mike Evans finished his season strong with 12 targets (31% target share) going for 8 receptions, 147 yards, averaging 18.4 yards per reception, 1 touchdown, long of 29 yards.

Evans is slated to hit free agency in 2024, and it comes after a monster 2023 campaign.

He finished the fantasy regular season as the WR4, totaling 239.3 points (14.4 per game, WR8). He caught 76 passes for 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns, displaying his scoring prowess with a long catch of 75 yards.

He saw over 2,200 air yards (No. 1 among all players) through the season’s entirety commanding a 25% air yards share and a whopping 41% air yards share (8th).

Even at age 30, Evans showed zero signs of slowing down in the post-Tom Brady area. Goes to show that if you see enough air yards, there’s enough of a reason to believe production will follow. Brady must have given him the fountain of youth… considering Evans posted the best YAC/reception EVER in his career.

Chris Godwin had 8 targets (20.5%), 4 receptions, 40 yards, averaging 10.0 yards per reception, long of 17 yards in the team’s final game in the 2023 season.

Unlike Evans, Godwin did not experience the same type of resurgence with Baker Mayfield at QB. At least when it comes to scoring fantasy points. Godwin led the Buccaneers with 91 catches for 1,1109 receiving yards, but he only caught 3 TDs…in 19 games played. Meanwhile, Evans totaled 14 TDs.

Godwin’s target share (23%) was nearly identical to Evans (25%). But it was the lack of high-value opportunities that nuked Godwin in fantasy football. As a result, he finished with under 10 fantasy points per game (outside top-36 WRs).

No player scored fewer TDs with more receiving yards than Godwin. His expected points were closer to 13.2 points per game. And it’s back-to-back seasons where Godwin has dramatically underperformed in the TD column. Based on his usage he should be closer to a total of double-digit scores versus the 3 TDs he has the past two years.

The absolute kicker here is that Godwin and Evans saw the SAME number of red-zone targets (16).

Still, at 28 years old, Godwin could be in for a major bounce back if Evans leaves Tampa Bay in free agency. Or at worst, just general positive TD regression.

Cade Otton commanded 8 targets (20.5%), 5 receptions, 65 yards, averaging 13.0 yards per reception, 1 touchdown, long of 27 yards.

Otton was the king of snaps played among tight ends, playing the highest snap rate at the position (96%). He’s not a gamebreaker by any means but being on the field all the time has its merits. The second-year tight end was TE19 overall as the TE18 in points per game. The classic case of you could do worse at tight end in fantasy football.

Rookie Trey Palmer had 2 targets (5.1%), 2 receptions, 32 yards, averaging 16.0 yards per reception, long of 23 yards. He played a lot as a rookie, but never saw the target opportunities to be productive outside a few splash plays.

Baltimore Ravens

In a game that hardly showcased the Baltimore Ravens’ dynamic offensive capabilities, Lamar Jackson led the charge with his dual-threat prowess. On the ground, Jackson was the leading rusher, carrying the ball 8 times for 54 yards and averaging an impressive 6.8 yards per attempt, with his longest run extending for 21 yards. Gus Edwards also contributed 20 rushing yards on 3 carries, maintaining a strong average of 6.7 yards per carry. The Gus Bus played 33% of the snaps.

Justice Hill played a versatile role, catching 4 passes for 34 yards, and showing his ability to contribute in the passing game. He led the backfield with a 67% snap share as the Ravens were trailing the majority of the contest.

The Ravens inexplicitly didn’t run on the Chiefs, which was a bizarre move by OC Todd Monken.

Edwards finished the season as the RB32 in points per game (10.4) while Hill finished as the RB48 (6.2). Edwards entered the year with 13 career TDs and scored 13 rushing touchdowns in 2023 alone. No RB had more carries inside the 5-yard line than Edwards.

As we project this backfield into 2024, there are a few key things to address. Both Edwards and J.K. Dobbins (torn Achilles) are free agents. This backfield has the chance to look very different in 2024, with potentially Keaton Mitchell (torn ACL) and Hill the top 2 backs under contract.

Mitchell finished as the RB38 in points per game (9.3) as PFF’s second-highest graded rusher (92.5). Averaged 8.4 yards per carry.

But if the Ravens have taught us anything from the way they had addressed their backfield in past seasons, they love to build a stable and run a committee backfield. That was true even as the offense transitioned from Greg Roman to Monken.

Be aware that this rotation is often defined by roles – Edwards the closer/goal line back, Hill the change-of-pace pass-catching back – so don’t be overly confident that we see a clear-cut RB1 emerge for the entire season. Unless they make a splash move at the position in free agency.

The aerial attack in the AFC Championship Game was spearheaded by Jackson, who completed 20 of his 37 pass attempts for 272 yards. Despite being sacked 4 times for a loss of 17 yards and throwing 1 interception, Jackson managed to connect for a touchdown pass. His longest completion of the game reached 54 yards, contributing to his passer rating of 75.5.

Rookie Zay Flowers emerged as Lamar Jackson‘s top target, hauling in 5 of his 8 targets (24% target share) for 115 yards and scoring the Ravens’ lone receiving touchdown on a spectacular 54-yard play. As he has done all season, he was the clear-cut No. 1 WR for Baltimore. However, in the loss, Flowers made many mistakes. He picked up a personal foul penalty after a huge catch and fumbled as he tried to extend the ball into the end zone for what would have been his second TD.

Flowers still ended his rookie season on a high statistical note, and his first year would likely be highlighted more had it not been for the record-breaking season put together by Puka Nacua. Flowers led the Ravens in air yards/target share (24%), totaling over 1,000 air yards, 1,000 receiving yards and 6 receiving TDs (plus one rushing TD) on 86 catches in 18 games played in 2023.

Although his final stat line as the WR29 overall and WR31 in points per game (10.7) suggests he left some production on the table. He finished 11th in route participation among all WRs (88%). Only 3 WRs with a route participation that high finished with fewer than 11 points per game.

When Andrews was active in the lineup (Weeks 2-10) Flowers averaged 8.2 points per game with a 22% target share. In the games that Andrews missed, Flowers posted a 24% target share and 12.6 fantasy points per game (WR18).

Nelson Agholor made a significant contribution with a 39-yard catch, his only reception of the game. He played 57% of the snaps but finished 3rd in the WR routes run.

Odell Beckham Jr. and Isaiah Likely also added to the passing attack, with Beckham Jr. catching 3 passes for 22 yards on 6 targets (nearly 100 air yards) and Likely adding 16 yards on 2 receptions. OBJ converted a few key receptions toward the end of the game, but was not involved. Likely played the majority of snaps as the starting TE.

Likely will remain one of the high-profile tight end handcuffs to roster in 2024, given how productive he has been when Andrews has missed time the last two seasons. But given that both OBJ and Agholor are also free agents, we could see the Ravens operate more out of 12 personnel to get both of their talented tight ends on the field more often.

Gus Edwards and Lamar Jackson themselves contributed to the passing game, with Edwards catching a pass for 16 yards and Jackson making a rare reception for 13 yards.

Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman were more involved than their statistics suggest, with Andrews catching 2 passes and Bateman adding a catch for 2 yards.

Andrews only played 31% of the snaps in his return from injury. Clearly not back to 100%. He played 11 games and commanded a sub-20% target share, taking a slight step back with Flowers a larger focal point of the offense. Before Andrews’ injury, he was the TE3 overall averaging 12.2 points per game – a mark that would rank first among all TEs in 2023.

Detroit Lions

In an impressive display of versatility and balance, the Detroit Lions put forth a strong performance in their latest game, but they ultimately fell short of a Super Bowl appearance.

The rushing attack was spearheaded by David Montgomery, who carried the ball 15 times for 93 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and scoring a touchdown. He played 43% of the snaps.

Jahmyr Gibbs complemented Montgomery’s efforts with 12 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown, showcasing the depth of the Lions’ backfield. He played 54% of the snaps and caught 3 of his 6 targets.

I’ve kept close tabs on the Lions’ backfield to see if there was any indication that the team was leaning more on Gibbs as the season progressed.

But from Week 10 onward, the duo was splitting touches and snaps nearly 50/50.

Gibbs averaged a 53% snap share to Monty’s 45%. Gibbs averaged 14.2 touches per game to Montgomery’s 15 touches per game.

However, from a production standpoint, it was no contest. Gibbs averaged 15.1 points per game over his last 12 games to Monty’s 12.9.

Considering Gibbs was already averaging nearly 15 points per game during his entire rookie season – placing him just outside the top-5 RBs – it foreshadows a big Year 2 if he can carve out an even larger role in the offense. Any discount you can get for Gibbs because of his perceived “lack of backfield dominance” or “red-zone role” you take to the bank. The fact that he is involved so heavily in the passing game (10th in route participation) makes him game-script proof in case the Lions regress as an overall team in 2024. That makes Gibbs one of the safest RBs you can draft in 2024.

A standout moment in the ground game during the NFC Championship Game came from Jameson Williams, who, on his lone carry, broke free for a 42-yard touchdown run, highlighting his explosive skill set. Williams showcased his dual-threat capability by turning one of his three targets into a 22-yard touchdown reception.

Williams has had a tumultuous two years in the NFL. His rookie year was lost because of a torn ACL, and this year started out slow because of a gambling suspension. And when he’s been on the field, he’s teased big-play upside with a lot of inconsistencies and injuries.

Entering Year 3, the former first-rounder will likely be viewed as a logical breakout candidate. After all, the WR2 job should be all his with Josh Reynolds slated to hit free agency. But JAMO is hardly without his warts with just a 10% target share earned, 15% target rate per route run and 6.4 points per game scored in 2023 (WR66, same as Josh Reynolds). He was never a featured red-zone asset and could never fully unseat Reynolds to operate as the clear-cut WR2 in terms of snaps/routes run.

I have a feeling that Williams is going to be overrated heading into 2024, because of his draft capital. But everything he showed in his second season suggests he still has a long way to go, especially as the “at best” third or fourth receiving option on the Lions.

Through the air, Jared Goff completed 25 of his 41 pass attempts for 273 yards, managing to keep a clean sheet with no interceptions and achieving a touchdown pass. His longest completion of the day went for 25 yards, contributing to an overall passer rating of 88.8.

Sam LaPorta emerged as Goff’s favorite target, reeling in 9 of his 13 targets for 97 yards, leading the team in receiving yards. The rookie tight end will be a strong favorite to be the TE1 overall in 2024.

Amon-Ra St. Brown also had a significant impact in the passing game, catching 7 of 11 targets for 87 yards.

During the fantasy football regular season, St. Brown finished third with 247.5 points (16.5 per game). He had 112 receptions for 1,371 yards and 9 touchdowns, proving to be a reliable target with a 12.2 yards per reception average.

In the season’s entirety, St. Brown commanded a 30% target share (6th) and 34% air yards share. He finished 4th overall in total receiving EPA and 11th in total weighted opportunity.

Other contributors in the passing game included Reynolds, who made a notable 25-yard catch to go along with some back-breaking drops in crunch time.

The original expectation in Detroit was that the team would lose OC Ben Johnson to an eventual head coaching job. Nothing was 100% confirmed despite rumors to certain teams, and Johnson ultimately opted to return to the Lions.

Before his return, the parallels were already being drawn between his potential departure and the departure of Kellen Moore from Dallas at the end of 2022.

Those that faded Dallas (as I did) after the team moved on from Moore got burned. But note that the Cowboys didn’t WANT to bring him back. The Lions have to be THRILLED to keep Johnson. Therefore, this looks much more like a situation we saw play out last season with the Eagles’ offense regressing after the loss of Shane Steichen. Something to keep in mind as we create expectations for the Buccaneers post-Canales, Bengals post-Callahan, Seahawks post-Waldron and Browns post-Alex Van Pelt.

San Francisco 49ers

Deebo Samuel was electric during the fantasy football season, finishing as the fantasy WR12 overall in 15 games played averaging 14.2 points per game as the WR9.
The dominant YAC receiver ranked second on the team in target share (22%) and second in total TDs (12) with his dual usage as both a rusher/receiver. If it wasn’t Christian McCaffrey scoring TDs for the 49ers, it was Samuel; he finished the year with the most total red-zone touches among all WRs.

Although he ended the season on a sour note, catching just 3 of 11 targets (30% target share) for 33 yards from Brock Purdy in the Super Bowl loss, while reportedly playing with a broken collarbone.
As we project Samuel into 2024, two things need to be strongly considered.

First, his injury history is based on how physical of a player he is. Second, is impending TD regression given he scored more fantasy points above expectation than any other WR from Weeks 1-17. He was the WR26 in expected points per game (10.9).
His rushing production is difficult to rely on year-to-year, and Brandon Aiyuk is continuing his ascent into the top-tier WR conversation entering a contract year.

Brandon Aiyuk operated as the more traditional WR1 in the 49ers offense in 2023, leading the team with nearly 1,500 receiving yards and 8 TDs in 19 games played despite a mediocre role in the red zone. He led the 49ers offense with a 24% target share and 39% air yards share (15th). 20th overall in weighted opportunity.
Aiyuk averaged 12.4 fantasy points per game (WR19) finishing with career highs across the board in his fourth season.

Entering a contract year at age 26, we still may not have seen the best to come from Aiyuk fresh off a second consecutive top-15 WR finish in half-PPR. His efficiency numbers are off the charts as a top-5 finisher in yards per route run this past season.

I was not the highest on George Kittle entering the 2024 season, citing his inconsistency as a reason to avoid him at his price tag. He ended the year as the TE7 in points per game (10.1) despite finishing with 9.7 expected fantasy points per game (TE12) with him overly reliant on efficiency to score points in a heavily crowded 49ers pass-catching room.

Case in point, Kittle finished fourth on his team in target share (18%) behind Aiyuk, Samuel and CMC. Tied for 3rd in catches (73), but second in yards at 1,132 (60/game).

As FantasyPros’ own Pat Fitzmaurice points out in the Tight End Player Notes: “Kittle had seven games in which he produced 16 or more PPR points and six games in which he produced 6 or fewer PPR points. The drawback with Kittle is that he doesn’t see as many targets as other top tight ends. Over the last three seasons, Travis Kelce has averaged 8.5 targets a game, Mark Andrews has averaged 7.8, and Kittle has averaged 6.0. Kittle’s well-rounded skill set can actually be a hindrance, since the 49ers like to leverage his exceptional blocking ability. But Kittle is quite a pass catcher, too. He’s topped 1,000 receiving yards in three of the last six years and has averaged 9.8 yards per target for his career — almost a full yard better than Kelce’s career average of 8.9 yards per target. The TE5 in fantasy scoring last season, Kittle will again be a good bet for a top-five positional fantasy finish in 2024. Just realize it might not always be a smooth trip.”

Kittle also has an elite role that supplements his efficiency, with the second-highest route participation among tight ends in 2023. Considering he’s been a top-5 tight end in five of his last 6 seasons, hard to imagine he gets away from the status quo even as he enters his age 30 season. But like Fitz said, just know that the ride will be extremely bumpy.

I’ve saved the best for last with my forecast for Christian McCaffrey. And chances are nobody is going to like my take on the consensus 1.01 in 2024 drafts. I’m going to be lower on CMC. Here’s why.

McCaffrey finished first in touches last season at 339. Including the postseason, the number was 417. Holding this accolade is great the year that it happens, but dear lord does the history of RBs after leading the NFL touches create major concern for McCaffrey after his best fantasy season since the 2019 season…

Leading the NFL in touches is essentially the kiss of death for running backs the following year. The results are in the table below. To summarize quickly, only two RBs finished as RB1s the following year after leading the NFL in touches since 2013. Ezekiel Elliott is the only one over that period to finish inside the top 5. The other eight running backs were essentially all season-long busts for one reason or another. Many of them got hurt, and the ones that stayed healthy underwhelmed dramatically.

Historically speaking, the odds are not stacked in CMC’s favor to return fantasy RB1 value in 2024 as the consensus 1.01. Note that RBs at CMC’s age (27 and older) that have led the NFL in touches have happened only four times. Zero of them finished as top-5 fantasy RBs the following season. And the 400-touch threshold? RB53, 2 DNPs, RB17, RB6, RB17, and RB2. The only RB to return to glory after seeing 400-plus touches was 24-year-old LaDainian Tomlinson. We’ve seen more RBs straight-up NOT PLAY than return a top-5 fantasy finish after leading the NFL in touches with at least 400.

Year Player (Age) Touches Following Year RB finish following year
2023 Christian McCaffrey (27) 417 2024 RB??
2022 Josh Jacobs (24) 393 2023 RB25
2021 Najee Harris (23) 381 2022 RB14
2020 Derrick Henry (26) 397 2021 RB14
2019 Christian McCaffrey (23) 403 2020 RB53
2018 Ezekiel Elliott (23) 381 2019 RB4
2017 Le’Veon Bell (25) 406 2018 DNP
2016 David Johnson (24) 373 2017 RB118
2015 Adrian Peterson (30) 357 2016 RB126
2014 DeMarco Murray (26) 449 2015 RB17
2013 LeSean McCoy (25) 366 2014 RB12
2012 Arian Foster (26) 391 2013 RB44
2011 Maurice Jones-Drew (26) 386 2012 RB53
2010 Arian Foster (24) 393 2011 RB4
2009 Chris Johnson (23) 408 2010 RB6
2008 Adrian Peterson (23) 384 2009 RB2
2007 LaDainian Tomlinson (28) 375 2008 RB16
2006 Larry Johnson (26) 457 2007 RB17
2005 Tiki Barber (30) 411 2006 RB7
2004 Curtis Martin (31) 412 2005 RB28
2003 Ricky Williams (26) 442 2004 Retired
2002 LaDainian Tomlinson (23) 451 2003 RB2
2001 LaDainian Tomlinson (22) 398 2002 RB2

Kansas City Chiefs

 

Rashee Rice’s impact on the Chiefs’ run for back-to-back championships cannot be understated. The rookie WR caught 105 balls for 1,200 yards in 20 games played in 2023 with 8 receiving TDs with a 19% target share. Finished 12th in yards per route run (2.35). The former standout from SMU averaged 10.9 fantasy points per game – 29th among all WRs.

But that included a sluggish start out of the gates as Kansas City slow-played Rice’s role. His role grew substantially after Week 6, and the rookie delivered averaging 12.1 points per game – placing him firmly inside the top 20 in per-game WR production (22% target share). And even before his routes/snaps increased, Rice was already being hyper-targeted from his debut. Finished the year with a 28% target rate per route run – 13th among all WRs last season. Rice was Patrick Mahomes’s primary underneath option with the lowest average depth of target in the NFL among WRs (5.2). This helped him rack up receptions in a hurry given he had at least 6 catches in 8 of his last 11 games played during his rookie campaign. His appeal in 2024 will be higher in PPR formats but don’t view him only as a “surplus-catch” wideout. Rice finished the season 6th in targets inside the 10-yard line – more than Travis Kelce.

He’s got plenty of UPSIDE attached to a QB that could lead the NFL in passing TDs next season.

The only “concern” for the Chiefs WR entering Year 2 is that Kansas City will be a favorite team to add more competition at the WR position during the offseason. Marquez Valdes-Scantling could be a salary cap casualty given his $14 million cap hit compared to his $2 million dead cap hit. He is entering the last year of his three-year contract.

Speaking of which, additional competition makes it much more likely we see a steady decline from Kelce as he enters his age 35-season. Kelce finished the season (including playoffs) 6th in route participation and 1st in half-point fantasy points per game (12.8) due to his late-season surge in the postseason. This was his worst fantasy points-per-game output since 2017. Averaged just over 70 yards per game.

As I discussed ad nauseam in the 2023 Busts Guide – most tight ends in fantasy football bust. If you want to avoid busting tight ends, your best bet is to just go with a late-round approach. Kelce will be discounted compared to last season, but he will still be viewed as an “elite” tight end who gives you a weekly advantage. But based on his decline in production and the field closing the gap on his TE1 supremacy, it’s a risky proposition to invest too high of draft capital in Kelce, while considering he is more likely to sustain injuries at an older age.

PPR scoring 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Travis Kelce

18.1 16.9 22.1 16.6 18.6 15.1
Fantasy TE2

16.7 14.6 17.5 16.6 13.5 14.9
Differential 1.4 2.3 4.6 0 5.1 0.2

As for the Chiefs backfield, Isiah Pacheco expanded his role after a breakout rookie season that saw him usurp Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the clear-cut starter. Pacheco finished as the RB13 in points per game (14.1) and RB16 overall in 14 games played during the regular season (18 including playoffs). Ninth overall in expected fantasy points per game (15.7) with his pseudo-bell-cow role averaging 19 touches per game (11th in RB snap share at 64%).

He also answered the major question facing his role as a receiver, with 56 catches for 304 yards while running a route on 41% of the dropbacks (21st). He was targeted on 20% of his routes run which ranked third on the Chiefs offense. And he got fed down the stretch for the Chiefs finishing 10th in rushing yards per game (69).

From Week 3 onward, Pacheco was averaging nearly 15 fantasy points per game (RB9) with over 20 RB opportunities per game. And during the crunch time of the postseason run, Pacheco was relied on even more with touch totals of 20, 20, 21, 15, 25, 25, 16, 28 and 24 in the team’s final nine games. 66% RB rush share averaging 16.5 points per game (top-5 RB numbers).

He had the volume on his side all year and followed it up with strong efficiency numbers. 14th in PFF rushing grade and top-10 in rushing yards over expectation.

Pacheco is firmly in the RB1 chair for the Chiefs next season with both CEH and Jerick McKinnon free agents. The Chiefs will likely add a backfield teammate either in FA or the draft to shore up the position, but it likely will not be a household name. The only slight concerns with Pacheco are injury-related after he missed two games in 2023. He is a violent runner, but the injury card can be played for all RBs.

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