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2024 NFL Draft: Team Needs & Fantasy Football Outlook

2024 NFL Draft: Team Needs & Fantasy Football Outlook

As the 2024 NFL Draft approaches, fantasy managers must hallmark skill players set to join teams with offensive upside.

These players can impact fantasy lineups during their rookie year and typically require less capital in a fantasy draft. Teams in the market for skill players at the draft have some certainty at quarterback, on the offensive line and defense.

Take a look at the teams below that fit this profile, where they will be drafting and the skill players projected to be available.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

2024 NFL Draft: Team Needs & Fantasy Football Outlook

(Unless otherwise noted, stats re courtesy of PFF)

Baltimore Ravens: Running Back

With J.K. Dobbins going down to a torn Achilles and rookie Keaton Mitchell tearing his ACL in the back half of 2023, Baltimore will look to add depth at RB after leaning heavily on Gus Edwards, now an unrestricted free agent. The quality of the Ravens’ defense was well-advertised on their road to 13 wins, and they should make do with Lamar Jackson at quarterback. Pairing this with an offensive line that graded in the top six last season in both run and pass blocking opens the door for the Ravens to go with an RB as early as the third round, considering this year’s class. 

The Ravens pick at No. 93 overall in the third round in the range of two RB prospects: Blake Corum of Michigan and Bucky Irving of Oregon. Corum is the natural fit to replace Edwards as the heavier of the two players, but Irving is the one to watch if he lands in Baltimore. Irving’s ability to run the ball inside could be overlooked at 195 pounds. Among FBS RBs last season, Irving scored in the 93rd percentile on gap runs and finished tied for sixth overall in yards after contact per attempt at 3.99. Additionally, Irving has potential in the passing game on a team like the Ravens. He led the FBS in targets at RB last season with 61 and forced 21 missed tackles after the catch. Irving is a balanced prospect with the ability to make defenders miss.

Placing this type of dual-threat in a backfield with Jackson would offer fantasy upside to the rookie, with so much attention being drawn to the reigning MVP. The Ravens would likely be reaching for Irving at No.93, but if they do, he will project as an impact fantasy player with the pieces they have in place.

2024 NFL Draft Guide

Los Angeles Chargers: Wide Receiver 

The Chargers have options to move on from veteran pieces of their roster this offseason, including WR Mike Williams. With Jim Harbaugh being a “run-first” coach and the Bolts needing help up front in the run game, they may jump at one of the top offensive line prospects in the first round at No. 5 overall. An attempt to backfill Williams with a younger, less expensive WR likely comes in the second or third round with the No. 37 or the No. 69 overall pick.

At No. 37, Los Angeles will be in range of WRs Keon Coleman of Florida State, Adonai Mitchell of Texas and Xavier Legette of South Carolina.

Legette was the sole member of this trio to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving last year in his breakout season for the Gamecocks. He also outgraded both Coleman and Mitchell in overall receiving and in receiving vs. man coverage in 2023. Legette went on to finish in the 87th and 85th percentiles across FBS in those categories, respectively. At 6-3, 227 pounds, Legette mirrors Mike Williams physically and bolsters a similar skill set catching the ball on deep routes. The South Carolina star cracked the top-15 WRs in the FBS last season in both deep catches and deep yards. This downfield production was built from his aDoT of 13.8.

Williams has a career aDoT of 14.4. If the Chargers elect to go younger on the outside, Legette would plug into a role that Williams produced 2,041 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in his last two complete seasons.

Ricky Pearsall of Florida and Brenden Rice of USC (son of NFL legend Jerry Rice) may be available and worth taking when the Chargers pick in the third round at No. 69 overall. Pearsall played most of his college snaps from the slot, but it seems unlikely the Chargers would go in that direction having one of the premier slot threats in the NFL in Keenan Allen on the roster. 

Rice fits the Williams mold, standing 6-3 and specializing on the outside. Rice proved to be a touchdown threat for the Trojans in 2023, scoring 12 times on just 70 total targets (PFF). Most of these came on deep throws, but Rice was also utilized in the red zone, tallying five of his 12 scores on routes of 10 yards or less. Rice would be a formidable option to replace Williams but not as intriguing as Legette. 

Indianapolis Colts: Wide Receiver

The Colts are looking for help on defense and in the passing game after a strong performance from their offensive line in 2023. Using last year’s fourth-overall pick on QB Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis may need to replace now-free agent WR Michael Pittman Jr. It will pick at either No. 15, No. 46 or No. 82 overall across the first three rounds. 

If Indianapolis does not fortify its defense in round one, WR Brian Thomas Jr. of LSU is a prospect to consider at No.15. His 6-4, 205-pound frame is similar to Pittman Jr’s. If Pittman Jr. returns to Indianapolis, Thomas Jr. will be a less likely pick for the Colts. Nonetheless, Thomas Jr. is a productive deep threat. He scored 12 of his FBS-leading 17 touchdowns on routes over 20 yards last season. The LSU WR would be a rookie to target in fantasy drafts if paired with the arm strength of Richardson.

However, It seems more likely the Colts will go defense in the first round and add a dimension to their offense with a receiver later in the draft. The Colts have a shot at the aforementioned  WRs Coleman and Mitchell in the second round, along with WR Jermaine Burton of Alabama. Coleman and Mitchell also fit the frame of Pittman Jr., but Burton is a smaller player with a similar upside for downfield production. Burton grades out better than Coleman and Mitchell in overall receiving, drop rate and contested catch rate heading into the draft. At 6-0, 194 pounds, Burton would supplement Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce and slot specialist Josh Downs.

The balance of speed and receiving skills Burton offers the Colts is intriguing alongside Richardson, especially with Burton being targeted deep downfield last season. He posted the fourth deepest aDOT at WR in FBS at 20.2 (PFF). Burton in Indy could result in him catching bombs from Richardson.

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Kansas City Chiefs: Wide Receiver

When the Chiefs pick at No. 32 overall, we could see an example of the rich getting richer. Coming off consecutive Super Bowl wins, one of the team’s biggest needs is another weapon for Patrick Mahomes

Rashee Rice paced the Chiefs at WR in targets last season and can play from both the slot and outside. There are two WR prospects projected to go late in the first round, both of whom are specialists on the exterior. They are Troy Franklin of Oregon and Ladd McConkey of Georgia. If Franklin is available at No.32, Mahomes would be getting a  6-3 receiver with elite speed who was productive on short, medium and deep routes last season. With this type of skillset and playing with Mahomes, Franklin’s fantasy ceiling would be sky-high in Kansas City. 

McConkey’s season was limited to just nine games in 2023 due to an ankle injury, but his efficiency still stood out. McConkey converted 30 of his 37 targets to receptions, a conversion rate of 81.1%. He also produced 3.26 yards per route run, good for eighth-best at WR in the FBS last season. With the bulk of these receptions coming on routes between 10 and 20 yards, McConkey would be a high-floor fantasy player able to rack up receptions in the middle of the field for the Chiefs, similar to their All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce.

2024 NFL Mock Drafts

Here are a few early predictions for the 2024 NFL Draft. We’ll continue to add our 2024 NFL Mock Drafts leading up to the start of Round 1.

2024 NFL Draft Coverage

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