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Fantasy Football Draft Picks to Avoid in Each Round (2024)

Every round of fantasy football drafts will contain mines detrimental to long-term success. These “busts” can be particularly frustrating due to injury or unforeseen off-field issues. The unfortunate reality is these situations cannot be avoided and will occur to all managers at some point.

That being said, certain fantasy profiles have alarming traits that are more predictable and should serve as a sign of caution to drafters. Among the players who have failed to live up to the offseason hype, there are a number of recurring themes. For one, players who are past their primes tend to be unwise investments in fantasy. While this may seem trivial, these players tend to be overpriced based on name-value and potential for volume. The dip in production tends to happen much faster than we predict, especially at the RB position.

Another important red flag to consider is touchdown dependency. We see players over-perform in fantasy due to an anomaly season in the touchdown department. This will result in them flying up draft boards in the subsequent year. Nevertheless, it’s essential to acknowledge the potential for touchdown regression and the resulting decrease in fantasy production.

For this exercise, we will analyze players available in each round of a 12-team, half-PPR league. Here are fantasy football draft picks to avoid in each round.


Fantasy Football Draft Picks to Avoid

Round 1: A.J. Brown (WR – PHI)

Admittedly, it was quite difficult to pinpoint a player with significant holes in their fantasy profile in Round 1 of drafts. With that said, A.J. Brown’s WR7 finish in 2023 was slightly misleading. Outside of an absurd six-game stretch during which he broke the record for consecutive games with 125 receiving yards, he struggled to find consistency. He failed to tally more than 10 yards on two different occasions. With the arrival of Saquon Barkley in Philadelphia, there are plenty of mouths to feed in this offense. At times, the Eagles will lean on the likes of Barkley, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert to see games out. This will lead to more fantasy inconsistency for Brown.

Round 2: Davante Adams (WR – LV)

As incredible as Davante Adams has been over the years, he is a player on the tail-end of his career. By all accounts, he showed significant signs of regression in 2023. He posted his lowest marks in Pro Football Focus (PFF) receiving grade, passer rating when targeted and yards after the catch per reception since 2017. The uninspiring QB tandem of Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell is unlikely to help reverse this trend. What’s more, target volume will be limited in this slow-paced offensive system. Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce has repeatedly expressed the desire to run the ball at an incredibly high rate.

Round 3: Stefon Diggs (WR – HOU)

Like Adams, Stefon Diggs is a household name on the wrong side of his prime. He’s now part of a Houston WR core where, according to nearly every statistical metric, he is the third-best option at C.J. Stroud‘s disposal. In 2023, Nico Collins and Tank Dell outperformed Diggs in PFF receiving grade, yards per route run and yards per reception. He will inevitably lose the competition for targets against the younger and more explosive weapons on this roster. For all three WRs to return value, C.J. Stroud will need to have a historic season. As much promise as the latter showed in his rookie season, predicting that level of production is simply unsound. Dell and Collins are much better investments to make in 2024.

Round 4: Josh Jacobs (RB – GB)

Josh Jacobs was one of the worst RBs in the league last season. Among 49 RBs with at least 100 carries, he ranked 40th in PFF rushing grade. He also posted career lows in yards after contact per attempt and missed tackles forced, per PFF. Packers head coach Matt Lafleur has consistently opted for an RBBC approach in Green Bay. Jacobs will therefore cede touches to the the likes of A.J. Dillon and MarShawn Lloyd throughout the season. He’ll struggle to provide the efficiency or volume required to be worth the fourth-round investment in drafts.

Round 5: Tee Higgins (WR – CIN)

Tee Higgins might have a case for boasting the most impressive highlight reel of any WR in the NFL. His contested catch ability is among the league’s best. That said, there are no additional fantasy points awarded for making impressive catches. Despite his undeniable talent, Higgins has yet to put together a consistently productive season. His career-best season output is 74 receptions for 1,061 yards and six touchdowns. What’s more, this offseason has been tumultuous for the former Clemson WR. Contract negotiations have broken down and it appears his 2025 departure from Cincinnati is imminent. The Bengals also drafted Jermaine Burton in the third round of this most recent draft. He will presumably be Higgins’ heir apparent. Burton has the talent to eat into Higgins’ volume as soon as his rookie season.

Round 6: Chris Godwin (WR – TB)

Chris Godwin’s 2023 line of 83 receptions for 1,024 yards is slightly misleading. His respectable counting stats were mostly a product of him staying healthy for a full 17 games. That said, he failed to be a true difference-maker every week. He never developed a strong rapport with QB Baker Mayfield as he adjusted to being used primarily as an outside WR. The speculation around Bucs camp is that Godwin will return to the slot. That said, the offseason acquisitions of slot WRs Sterling Shepard and Jalen McMillan will certainly limit Godwin’s snaps from his preferred position.

Round 7: Jordan Addison (WR – MIN)

Jordan Addison provided great fantasy value in his rookie season. He showed flashes of great downfield route-running and big play ability. However, Addison’s fantasy success was largely contingent on touchdowns. A staggering 32.2% of his fantasy points came from touchdowns. Touchdowns will be much harder to come by in an offense with a sizeable downgrade at the QB position. It remains to be seen whether the QB duo of J.J. McCarthy and Sam Darnold will keep this offense ticking. Regardless, we can comfortably say that they will not be able to accumulate yards at the same rate as Kirk Cousins did in years past. From a volume standpoint, Addison will struggle to see a high target share as he competes with Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson and pass-catching specialist Aaron Jones.

Round 8: Austin Ekeler (RB – WAS)

Long gone are the days when Austin Ekeler was a perennial fantasy superstar worthy of a first-round selection. His rushing efficiency decreased at an alarming rate throughout the 2023 season. Among 68 RBs with at least 50 carries, Ekeler ranked 50th in PFF rushing grade. He now finds himself on the Commanders where he will be reunited with former offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. During their time together in Los Angeles, Lynn refused to give Ekeler a full work-horse role. It was not until Lynn was relieved of his duties Ekeler saw elite volume and achieved immense fantasy success. In 2024, he’ll likely be limited to a third-down pass-catching role. Brian Robinson will earn the bulk of the early-down work. With rushing QB Jayden Daniels under center, his target volume will also take a hit. Daniels will opt to scramble rather than check down to his RB when under duress.

Round 9: Brock Bowers (TE – LV)

Historically speaking, rookie tight ends have been a horrible investment in fantasy. These players take longer to come into their own in the NFL. Sam LaPorta‘s impressive rookie campaign was an anomaly. It should not be used as a reference for rookie TEs, even those who are as talented as Brock Bowers. Bowers will need to overcome sub-par QB play on behalf of Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell. In 2023, neither QB eclipsed a PFF passing grade of 65. In addition, Bowers finds himself firmly behind Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers in the pecking order for targets in this offense. Keep in mind this will be a run-heavy unit, therefore volume will be at a premium.

Round 10: Justin Herbert (QB – LAC)

Much has been said about the Chargers’ new regime and their desire to run the ball at a high rate. Given Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman’s respective track records, it’s clear the ground game will be the primary focus in this offense. Herbert will not throw the ball nearly as often in 2024. The underwhelming WR core at his disposal will make it challenging to maintain a high level of efficiency on this limited volume. We’ve already seen Herbert struggle to deliver for fantasy when his surrounding group of weapons is depleted. During the 2023 season, both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams struggled with long-term injuries. Per PFF, this resulted in Herbert posting the lowest adjusted completion percentage (74.7%) of his career.

Round 11: Dalton Schultz (TE – HOU)

The offseason additions of Stefon Diggs and Joe Mixon will have a huge impact on Dalton Schultz’s receiving volume. At best, he is currently the fourth receiving option behind the Texans’ electric trifecta of receivers. Over the years, Schultz has earned a reputation for being a fantasy-viable asset mostly due to touchdown production. He’s scored an impressive 22 touchdowns in the past three seasons. That said, it’d be unwise to bank on something as unpredictable as receiving touchdowns. If and when touchdown regression comes into play, Schultz will not be worth his current 11th-round price.

Round 12: Gabe Davis (WR – JAX)

Like Schultz, Gabe Davis is the fourth receiving option in his offense. He’ll play a secondary role behind Christian Kirk, Brian Thomas Jr. and Evan Engram. Across his entire career, Davis has primarily been used as a deep threat. His career average depth of target (aDOT) of 15.9 yards, per PFF, is indicative of this. However, the team invested first-round draft capital in Thomas Jr. to play the field-stretching role. This would suggest Davis was signed as a depth piece rather than an integral part of the offense. Another red flag in Davis’ fantasy profile is the touchdown dependency he showed during his many seasons in Buffalo. Trevor Lawrence, Davis’ new QB in Jacksonville, is yet to surpass 25 passing touchdowns in his career.

Round 13: Adam Thielen (WR – CAR)

The 2023 season was a tale of two halves for Adam Thielen. He surprised many and got off to a scorching hot start, averaging 72.6 receiving yards per game in the first eight weeks. From then on, Thielen started to show signs of age and attrition. His production declined drastically as he averaged 43.3 yards for the remainder of the season. The Panthers’ organization thus felt the need to bolster the WR position. Xavier Legette and Diontae Johnson were brought in to reduce Thielen’s workload. Thielen’s early 2023 fantasy success was entirely dependent on incredible volume. These targets will now be distributed elsewhere in this offense.

Round 14: Derek Carr (QB – NO)

Derek Carr was extremely ineffective as a passer in 2023. Among QBs with a minimum of 200 dropbacks, he ranked 28th in PFF’s big-time throw percentage. Carr never seemed to find his form in New Orleans, whether it was due to a lack of weapons or a porous Saints offensive line. At 33 years old, it’s fair to question whether Carr’s days as a bona fide franchise QB are numbered. Once more, he’ll be tasked to move the ball downfield despite having a very underwhelming group of pass-catching options. The departure of Michael Thomas and the continued decline in Alvin Kamara‘s efficiency certainly won’t help his case.

Round 15: Bucky Irving (RB – TB)

Bucky Irving may seem like an interesting hand-cuff as the primary backup RB on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, it’s hard to envision Irving being a fantasy-viable asset at any point during his rookie season. He’ll struggle to earn a role alongside Rachaad White. Irving’s calling card in college was his ability as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Unfortunately for him, this is also Rachaad White’s biggest strong suit. Even if the starter were to get injured, Irving’s slender frame suggests he won’t be able to withstand a full workload. At 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, the Bucs are likely to employ a tandem with the likes of Chase Edmonds and Sean Tucker if White gets injured.

Fantasy Football Draft Picks to Target

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