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Round One Recap of the 2024 NFL Draft for Fantasy Football

Round One of the 2024 NFL Draft is in the books! It is THE most historic first round ever! We knew who the first overall pick would be, but from there, it was absolute madness. The first defensive player wasn’t selected until the 15th-overall pick! All in all, 24 of 32 picks in round one play on the offensive side of the ball.

As a result, the 2024 NFL Draft’s first round has a ton of fantasy football implications. I’ll be handing out grades and discussing each fantasy football relevant pick of every round throughout the weekend. Round one requires a bit more discussion, but I’ll still touch on every fantasy relevant pick on Friday and Saturday, too, so be sure to keep up! Like round one of the 2024 NFL Draft, I’m not ignoring defense here, but am going to focus on offensive players.

What!? Your fantasy football league wasn’t hosted on Fantrax last season!? Once you see how Fantrax stacks up to the competition, we think you’ll be singing a different tune in the 2024 season.

Grading the Round One Fantasy Football Relevant Picks of the 2024 NFL Draft

Round 1, Pick 1: Caleb Williams, Quarterback, Chicago Bears

Fantasy Grade: A+

This time last year we were concerned about the first overall pick, quarterback Bryce Young’s, size and how it could affect his ability to play at the pro level. This year the concerns about Caleb Williams are the color of his fingernails, the color of his phone, and even his public display of emotion after big losses during his final season at USC. What are we doing here? It’s hard to find much to criticize about Caleb Williams’ talent and he’s rightfully been the consensus top pick in this draft since last year.

Caleb Williams steps into one of the best offenses for a rookie quarterback in recent memory. He will have Keenan Allen, D.J. Moore, and ninth-overall pick in round one, Rome Odunze as his top receivers. D’Andre Swift will be running out of the backfield and he even has Cole Kmet at tight end. On top of Williams’ ability to create and succeed as a passer, with plenty of weapons at his disposal, he also has rushing upside, as well. In 26 games over two seasons at USC, Williams rushed 210 times, averaging 8.07 per game. This would rank fifth amongst NFL quarterbacks in 2022 and 2023.

The Chicago Bears are still looking for a quarterback to throw 30+ touchdowns and/or 4,000+ yards in a single season. Seriously. It’s extremely possible Caleb Williams does both as a rookie and finishes as a top-10 fantasy football quarterback. The best part? I doubt anyone will draft him as such.

Round 1, Pick 2: Jayden Daniels, Quarterback, Washington Commanders

Fantasy Grade: B

With the second pick in round one of the 2012 NFL Draft, Washington selected Robert Griffin III. This year, Washington selects the most exciting quarterback they’ve had since with the second pick in round one of the 2024 NFL Draft. That’s 2023 Heisman Trophy winner, Jayden Daniels.

The key to his fantasy football success is his rushing upside. Daniels has rushing lines of 186/885/11 and 135/1,134/10 in 2022 and 2023 respectively. Prior to, he rushed 125 and 138 times in two different seasons at Arizona State, as well.

Even better for Daniels’ fantasy value is the offense he’s stepping into. He could do a lot worse than Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Austin Ekeler, and Zach Ertz catching passes. Additionally, Kliff Kingsbury is the offensive coordinator. He most recently held the head coach position for the Arizona Cardinals with another mobile quarterback in Kyler Murray. Daniels is a bit reckless with his decision-making when it comes to taking off to run. If he can improve this aspect of his game and protect himself, Daniels will be an asset for fantasy football.

Round 1, Pick 3: Drake Maye, Quarterback, New England Patriots

Fantasy Grade: C-

It’s a new era in New England. This is the Patriots’ first top-10 pick in round one since 2008 when they selected linebacker, Jerod Mayo. Coincidentally, Mayo is their new head coach and successor to Bill Belichick. After their failed experiment with former first-round pick, Mac Jones, at quarterback, New England begins this new era with Drake Maye.

Unfortunately for Maye, the weapons in New England are not nearly as good as the weapons of his peers ahead of him. His top receivers are Kendrick Bourne, K.J. Osborn, Demario Douglas, and Juju Smith-Schuster. Furthermore, there’s a chance the Patriots give Maye more time to develop. Veteran quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, could start a majority, if not all, of the Patriots’ games this season.

Maye has a large frame and a strong arm but could benefit from time as a backup learning to run a pro-style offense. He has the talent to be QB2 from this class, but given his situation, I’m comfortable ranking him as QB4 for fantasy football purposes, which is down one spot from my pre-draft rankings. If we get news that the Patriots trade the 34th-overall pick, or some other package, for a trustworthy veteran, or even use the pick on a top rookie receiver on their board, I’ll feel better about Drake Maye’s future fantasy outlook.

Round 1, Pick 4: Marvin Harrison Jr., Wide Receiver, Arizona Cardinals

Fantasy Grade: A+

NFL and fantasy football fans everywhere have been waiting for Marvin Harrison Jr. to enter the league for years. After letting Marquise “Hollywood” Brown walk in free agency, the Cardinals became a lock to draft Harrison Jr., assuming he was available four picks into round one of the 2024 NFL Draft.

He automatically slides in as Kyler Murray’s number-one wide receiver. Given the talent, role, and expected target share, we could be talking about Marvin Harrison Jr. as a round-one fantasy pick in 2025. As for his rookie season, he will be gone within the first three rounds. In dynasty formats, he is the clear-cut top pick in rookie drafts and arguably in Superflex leagues, as well. This is a player who could finish inside the top-five in targets as soon as this season.

Round 1, Pick 6: Malik Nabers, Wide Receiver, New York Giants

Fantasy Grade: B

The only reason I’m not giving the Giants’ round-one selection, Malik Nabers, an “A” fantasy grade is the questions surrounding their quarterback situation moving forward. It’s apparent now that Daniel Jones is poised to be the starter in 2024. However, he’s working his way back from a Week 6 season-ending ACL tear. Despite playing in barely six games, Jones was sacked a whopping 30 times. One could argue if he had better playmakers, he could get the ball out sooner.

Enter Malik Nabers. He is automatically the New York Giants’ WR1. The lead target amongst Giants wide receivers hasn’t logged more than 80 targets since 2020 (Darius Slayton) and no more than 100 since 2018 (Odell Beckham Jr.). Nabers should get them back on track in that regard. Not only should he draw a majority of the Giants’ targets, but plenty of them will go for big plays, especially deep downfield. If such a discount exists in rookie dynasty drafts or 2024 redraft leagues, I’ll gladly invest in Nabers’ talent and role without hesitation.

Round 1, Pick 8: Michael Penix Jr., Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons

Fantasy Grade: D

This is the biggest shock of round one and will be the biggest shock of the 2024 NFL Draft when all is said and done. One month after agreeing to a four-year, $180 million contract, including $100 million guaranteed, with Kirk Cousins, the Falcons spend a top-10 pick on a quarterback. This is concerning for SO MANY reasons. The biggest reason, of course, is that Michael Penix is 24 years old with an injury history that includes two ACL tears in his right knee. In theory, assuming Cousins plays out his contract successfully, Penix won’t have a legitimate chance at the starting job until he’s 28-years old.

If you had intentions of selecting Penix with a dynasty rookie pick, the idea of waiting is extremely unappealing. Now, the elephant in the room is Kirk Cousins’ own injury, his Achilles tear, that ended his 2023 season. In the event Cousins were to go down, for any reason, the Falcons clearly believe in Penix enough to keep this star-studded offense humming. If that’s the reason for the pick, maybe Atlanta shouldn’t have given Cousins $100 million guaranteed in the first place!

Penix can come in and run this offense without a hitch if needed. That is encouraging for Drake London, Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, and others. For that reason, I won’t give this round-one pick an “F” grade for fantasy football. It’s definitely an “F” for real football purposes, though. Atlanta would’ve greatly benefitted from a day one starter at plenty other positions to help compete in a very winnable NFC South.

Round 1, Pick 9: Rome Odunze, Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears

Fantasy Grade: B+

The Chicago Bears could not have had a better first round. Pairing Rome Odunze with Caleb Williams for years to come could be an extremely special connection. For now, though, Odunze will have to battle Keenan Allen and D.J. Moore for targets. So, while this is a great actual football pick, it’s going to take time to blossom as a fantasy football pick.

Keenan Allen has one year left on his current deal. There is, of course, a chance that he signs an extension with the Bears, but he’s turning 32 years old with a few nagging injury issues of his own from past seasons. I see a legitimate path to Odunze developing into Caleb Williams’ top overall target, top red zone target, and top-12 wide receiver in fantasy football. I believe in this connection and I’m very much willing to invest as a fantasy football manager. I’m taking Odunze over Malik Nabers in rookie drafts if given the choice.

Round 1, Pick 10: J.J. McCarthy, Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings

Fantasy Grade: B+

If Caleb Williams heading to the Chicago Bears isn’t the best fantasy football scenario for a rookie quarterback, then J.J. McCarthy going to Minnesota definitely is. Justin Jefferson is ready to sign a multi-year extension, Jordan Addison is heading into only his second season, and T.J. Hockenson, though returning from a season-ending ACL tear, is a top tight end in the league. Consider, too, that Aaron Jones is one of the best receiving running backs in the league.

Now, there’s no telling when J.J. McCarthy will start for the Vikings. He’s 21-years old and could spend time behind Sam Darnold developing. However, when he does get going under center, he’s clearly got the weapons to throw to in a pass-heavy offense. The Vikings rank third and fourth respectively in the league in pass attempts each season in Kevin O’Connell’s first two seasons as the team’s head coach.

It’s easy to knock McCarthy for limited pass attempts in certain games at Michigan, however, most of those scenarios are a result of big performances by the young quarterback to get them into a clock management position to begin with. He has the traits, coach, and playmakers around him to challenge Caleb Williams as the QB1 of this class in both the NFL and fantasy football.

Round 1, Pick 12: Bo Nix, Quarterback, Denver Broncos

Fantasy Grade: D

It’s simple for me when it comes to analyzing the Bo Nix pick. Let’s just play a game of “Good News, Bad News.”

The good news: Sean Payton reportedly feels as strongly about Bo Nix as he did about Patrick Mahomes, who he missed out on selection in 2017, per Adam Schefter. He’s a five-year starter at the college level and really broke out in 2023 with career-high pass attempts (470), passing yards (4,508), and touchdowns (45) with just three interceptions. Just days after trading for former second-overall pick, Zach Wilson, the Broncos land Nix, who I would bet to start immediately. For dynasty purposes, I don’t see many scenarios where he isn’t the QB6 off the board in rookie drafts. He’s worth grabbing outside of round one if you have a quarterback-needy team at that value.

The bad news: The Denver Broncos offense threw the fifth-least amount of passes last season. Now, if Payton believes in Nix enough, I’m sure they will throw more in 2024, but to whom? Courtland Sutton figures to remain the WR1 and might actually have sneaky value if he gets peppered with targets. Marvin Mims hopefully sees more playing time as a deep threat for Nix. Beyond those two, it’s a bleak group of pass catchers. All-in-all, I see Nix as more of a game manager than a game changer. He’s a 24-year-old rookie that I’m not sure sees a signficant second contract in Denver when all is said and done.

Round 1, Pick 13: Brock Bowers, Tight End, Las Vegas Raiders

Grade: B

When trying to guess where Brock Bowers could end up going in round one of the 2024 NFL Draft, I bypassed the Raiders every time. They drafted tight end Michael Mayer with the 35th overall pick in last year’s draft. What’s important to note, however, is that while the Raiders selected Mayer, the current general manager, Tom Telesco, did not select Mayer. He’s new to the role in 2024 after spending the last 11 years in the same role with the Los Angeles Chargers.

My thoughts on Brock Bowers remain the same. He’s unbelievable when the ball is in his hands, though he does not have prototypical tight end size. The Raiders got a flat-out playmaker which their offense could use. Adding Bowers into the mix is a near-death sentence to Mayer’s fantasy value. Bowers will likely challenge Jakobi Meyers as the second-leading target on the team behind Davante Adams. Unfortunately for all, Gardner Minshew is the quarterback. We’ll keep an eye on if the Raiders use their second or third-round pick on a quarterback, but it looks like “Minshew Mania” for 2024 and maybe 2025.

Round 1, Pick 23: Brian Thomas Jr., Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars

Fantasy Grade: B

One of the worst-kept secrets of the 2024 NFL Draft is that the Jacksonville Jaguars were looking for a wide receiver in round one. There are other positions of need, like cornerback, but losing Calvin Ridley in free agency leaves a big role behind on this offense. Thomas Jr. now joins Christian Kirk and Gabe Davis as the top three wide receivers, though tight end Evan Engram plays a massive role in the Jags’ passing attack, as well.

Thomas Jr. will act as a downfield option for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. That said, it’s a bit confusing why they signed Gabe Davis to a three-year free agency deal that includes $24 million guaranteed a month prior. Even so, the idea here is that Thomas is flat out better and makes Davis an afterthought. Thomas ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He’s also a strong threat to win in the red zone. It may seem like a crowded offense, and it is to some degree, but Jacksonville’s pursuit of a receiver and the use of their round-one pick on him speaks volumes for Thomas’ value.

Round 1, Pick 28: Xavier Worthy, Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs

Fantasy Grade: A

The Kansas City Chiefs traded up for some added speed in round one. That’s putting it lightly. Xavier Worthy holds the NFL Combine record for fastest 40-yard dash with a time of 4.21 seconds. He’s now catching [deep] passes from Patrick Mahomes. Could this have gone any better for Worthy or the Chiefs?

Worthy isn’t just a deep threat, boom-or-bust receiver, but he could be used in that role often, at least initially. Worthy will compete with Travis Kelce, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, and Rashee Rice for the majority of targets. Rice, of course, will probably miss some time due to a looming suspension for his recent legal issue. In his absence, Worthy should work onto the field more in two wide receiver sets. Depending on his role and success, it will be hard to keep him off the field even once Rice returns. Additionally, Hollywood Brown is only on a one-year deal. Worthy’s long-term success is easy to see especially given his quarterback.

Round 1, Pick 31: Ricky Pearsall, Wide Receiver, San Francisco 49ers

Fantasy Grade: B

This fantasy grade for the Niners’ round-one pick will improve if they do pull the trigger trading away Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel. If I had to guess, at this point, Deebo Samuel, if either, will be the one to move. In fact, drafting Ricky Pearsall in the first place likely indicates trade discussions could be progressing. Shall we revisit my idea above in which the Patriots trade the 34th-overall pick for a weapon for Drake Maye? Who says no?

If Aiyuk or Deebo are shipped off, Pearsall is plug-and-play ready to step in as a 24-year-old rookie receiver. Pearsall has 4.41 [40-yard dash] speed, but it’s his quickness in separating from defenders that make him worth this round-one pick. For Brock Purdy, a player like Pearsall should be an asset to keep drives alive, getting the ball out quickly, and moving downfield. He will have a ton of value in Points Per Reception fantasy football formatting. Consider this pick an “A-” if one of the current big-money receivers makes a big move elsewhere via trade.

Round 1, Pick 32: Xavier Legette, Wide Receiver, Carolina Panthers

Fantasy Grade: C

This round-one pick is a good lesson in evaluating draft capital on a pick-by-pick basis. Just because Xavier Legette earned round-one draft capital in the 2024 NFL Draft doesn’t mean he’s a round one receiver in dynasty rookie drafts. There are still a handful of wide receivers, like Adonai Mitchell, Troy Franklin, and Ladd McConkey, to name a few, that I would prefer over Xavier Legette depending on their landing spots. I flat out like those three players more than Legette to begin with.

Legette is the type of wide receiver the Carolina Panthers need, though. He’s got a large build and surprisingly fast speed to go with it. This pick reminds me of LaViska Shenault, who the Panthers had on their roster a few years ago. They are similarly sized players and, like Shenault, Carolina could look for creative ways to get Legette the ball, sometimes out of the backfield. Legette still has some competition for targets on the Panthers with question marks surrounding quarterback, Bryce Young. We’ll see if head coach, Dave Canales, can turn things around but he did indicate Legette would be a Panther during the pre-draft process. I’m just not selecting him over other players drafted later in potentially better situations.

Honorable Mentioning of Round One Offensive Line Picks:

Round 1, Pick 5: Joe Alt, Offensive Tackle, Los Angeles Chargers

This is the right move for a team that seems intent on running the ball more. Not only did they hire run-first offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, but they let go of their top two wide receivers, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

Round 1, Pick 7: J.C. Latham, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee Titans

I think the Titans wanted Joe Alt in round one. Instead, they get 345-pound Latham who is arguably the best run blocker in the 2024 NFL Draft. New head coach, Brian Callahan, is known more for his passing offense so it’s a bit surprising Latham is the selection. This is good news for both Tony Pollard and Tyjae Spears who will only benefit from running behind an improved line.

Round 1, Pick 11: Olu Fashanu, Offensive Tackle, New York Jets

The Jets have done all they can do to surround quarterback Aaron Rodgers with weapons. After losing him last season to a torn Achilles four plays into Week 1, the priority now is protecting him. In the event newly signed veteran lineman, Tyron Smith, succumbs to injury, which he has before, Fashanu can fill in, and will, in the future regardless.

Round 1, Pick 14: Taliese Fuaga, Offensive Tackle, New Orleans Saints

Another simple solution to a glaring problem. The Saints offensive line has it’s issues, especially with Ryan Ramczyk’s knee. He’s missed 13 games over the last three seasons. If the Saints offense is going to go, protecting Derek Carr up front is a priority that this round-one pick addresses.

Round 1, Pick 18: Amarius Mims, Offensive Tackle, Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals do a very good job of letting veterans go with their replacements already on the roster. They let safety Jessie Bates hit free agency after drafting Dax Hill with the 31st-overall pick in 2022. Here, they snag big-bodied Amarius Mims with the expectation of Orlando Brown moving on after the 2024 season. When you pay your quarterback big money, this is where the focus lies.

Round 1, Pick 20: Troy Fautanu, Offensive Guard, Pittsburgh Steelers

Is there any doubt that the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to run the damn ball in 2024? Not only did they hire former Titans offensive coordinator and Falcons head coach, Arthur Smith, but here they are bulking up their offensive line. The big story with this team is the quarterback position. I don’t think they want Russell Wilson throwing a ton. If Justin Fields ends up getting the start, blocking up front goes a long way for him to develop as a passer, but also take off as an exceptional runner.

Round 1, Pick 26: Graham Barton, Center, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ryan Jensen is out. Graham Barton is in. Jensen joined the Bucs as a free agent in 2018. His deal made him the highest-paid center at the time. After signing an additional extension in 2022, he unfortunately suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp and was activated for just one more game before retiring this February. This round-one pick is a massive need for the Buccaneers who just paid Baker Mayfield to be their quarterback of the next few seasons.

Round 1, Pick 29: Tyler Guyton, Offensive Tackle, Dallas Cowboys

After trading their pick to the Buccaneers, the Cowboys grab an offensive lineman of their own in round one. I still think we’re waiting to see who the lead back for this offense will be. That could be answered before the end of round two. Regardless, if Dak Prescott is going to keep supporting one of the top offenses in football, they need to win in the trenches up front.

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