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5 Middle-Round Fantasy Football Draft Picks to Avoid (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 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.

Fantasy Football Draft Picks to Target

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