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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Draft Day Winners and Losers

Mon Apr 29 11:53am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Related photo caption below

White should be lead back


The draft is always so exciting, seeing where all the players get picked. But after the draft, the big issue is figuring out what it all means for their fantasy value. We thought it would be a good idea to look at some of the biggest fantasy winners and losers from draft day. These are some of the players that were picked but also some of the guys that were already on rosters, seeing their fantasy value get impacted from the draft. Adjust your rankings accordingly!

WINNERS

Bryce Young, QB, Panthers. The Panthers did a great job of getting Young some much needed offensive help. The team took a receiver, running back and tight end in three of the first four rounds of the draft. Carolina already added Diontae Johnson this offseason, so the receiver corps should be much better after getting Xavier Legette in the first round. The receivers got very little separation last year, so it was hard to gauge Young. He needed help and got some this offseason. Carolina also took a possible franchise running back in Jonathon Brooks and hopefully a solid starting tight end in Ja’Tavion Sanders. Things are looking up for Young and this offense.

Xavier Worthy, WR, Chiefs. Worthy could not have landed in a much better spot. He heads to one of the best offenses in football that has some openings at receiver, especially with the status of Rashee Rice a bit up in the air. Worthy has electric speed and the Chiefs should find plenty of ways to utilize that. He could be the new Tyreek Hill for this offense. Look for Worthy to make an impact right away.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys. Maybe one of the biggest surprises of the draft was the Cowboys not addressing their running back spot. Instead, the team signed Elliott after the draft. He is likely to be the starter in this top offense. He might not rack up the yards of past seasons, but has big touchdown potential in this offense. Elliott seems a pretty sure bet to get double-digit touchdowns. He could be a solid No. 2 for fantasy teams.

Jonathon Brooks, RB, Panthers. Brooks is returning from a major knee injury and could be slowed a little early in the season, but once he is back healthy look for him to the three-down back for the Panthers. He lands in a great spot for playing time, having little top talent to compete with for playing time. Brooks could really get the volume in this offense. He is our top rookie fantasy back.

Zamir White, RB, Raiders. Many thought the Raiders were another team that could address their running back spot during the draft, but that didn’t happen. They used a sixth-round pick on Dylan Laube, but he is not expected to challenge White for that starter’s job. It sure seems the Raiders are comfortable with White as their lead back. He has a chance to get a lot of touches in year two. His stock is going up.

Ladd McConkey, WR, Chargers. The Chargers need help at receiver and McConkey helps fill that need. It would not surprise if he quickly became Justin Herbert’s favorite target in the passing game. We really like his chances to rack up the weekly looks in this offense. Someone has to fill the Keenan Allen void and McConkey seems the best bet out of the options at receiver for the Chargers.

Keon Coleman, WR, Bills. Coleman is another rookie receiver that lands in a great spot for playing time. The departure of Stefon Diggs leaves a big opening for the Bills. Coleman could help fill that void. He has great size for the position and could be a top red-zone threat from day one for Buffalo. Coleman should get his chances from the get go, giving him a high ceiling for the coming year.

LOSERS

Raheem Mostert, RB, Dolphins. Mostert had a monster season last year and helped many fantasy teams to championships. He is going to have a very hard time repeating, especially after the Dolphins picked Jaylen Wright in the fourth round. Wright is a speed back similar to Mostert but a lot younger with less wear on his tires. Remember, Mostert is 32 years old. He might end up falling to third on the depth chart after the addition of Wright.

Rome Odunze, WR, Bears. Odunze is a super talented player that could be a star in the NFL. But for his year, you have to worry about him being up and down. He has two really good receivers ahead of him on the depth chart in DJ Moore and Keenan Allen. This is going to limit the ceiling of Odunze. He will be a much better fantasy player in a few more seasons. For now, expect erratic production from the talented rookie.

Kyren Williams, RB, Rams. Williams remains the lead back for the Rams and is coming off a breakout season. But the Rams picked Blake Corum in the third round. He is going to be a factor in the offense. He might get put a huge dent in Williams’ workload but the big concern is the goal-line work. Corum is more of a between the tackles runner that does well on short-yardage work. He could end up stealing some touchdowns from Williams, hurting his fantasy value.

Michael Mayer, TE, Raiders. Mayer was a second-round pick for the Raiders last year and showed well at times his rookie season. The Raiders couldn’t pass on the talented Brock Browers in this year’s draft, though. This move absolutely kills the fantasy value of Mayer. He is going to play second fiddle to Browers, getting few weekly looks. Browers is the clear tight end to own in this offense.

Ricky Pearsall, WR, 49ers. Pearsall is a talented pass catcher that can get in and out of his breaks in a hurry. He is a really good fit for the slot and could fill that role for the 49ers his rookie season. The problem is he has some of the top talent in all of football to compete with for targets. He could really be up and down his rookie season. He will look better in a year or two when he has a more defined role and less to compete with at receiver. His rookie season could be a tough one to gauge for fantasy owners.

Malik Nabers, WR, Giants. Many considered Nabers the top receiver in this year’s draft. He is super talented with a high fantasy ceiling. The problem for Nabers is he got drafted by the Giants, a team that really struggled offensively last year. Plus, he has Daniel Jones throwing him passes. This is not a great landing spot for the talented Nabers. Jones needs to make some big strides this season if Nabers hopes to reach his potential. We aren’t sure that happens.

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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Player Notes
Mac McCain Jun 23 2:00pm ET
Mac McCain

The New Orleans Saints signed free-agent cornerback Mac McCain to an undisclosed deal earlier this week, according to executive vice president/general manager Mickey Loomis. In a corresponding move, the team waived defensive end Nathan Latu. McCain became a free agent last September when he was waived by the Carolina Panthers with an undisclosed injury. The 26-year-old defensive back entered the NFL in 2021 as an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina A&T. His only two games played in the NFL came in his first year in the league in 2021 with the Philadelphia Eagles. In New Orleans, McCain will merely be competing for a roster spot in training camp and the preseason for a Saints secondary that is already pretty stacked.

From RotoBaller

JuJu Smith-Schuster Jun 23 1:40pm ET
JuJu Smith-Schuster

New England Patriots wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) said his injured knee is much healthier than last year, but to the untrained eye, The Athletic's Chad Graff writes that it didn't appear as if Smith-Schuster had the same explosiveness that he did in 2021 or 2022. If he's going to make the 53-man roster out of training camp and the preseason this year, he's going to need to outplay both Kayshon Boutte and Tyquan Thornton this summer while hoping that Jalen Reagor loses the competition for the top kick-returner job. Demario Douglas, Kendrick Bourne (knee), K.J. Osborn and rookies Ja'Lynn Polk and Javon Baker appear to be roster locks at the position. The 27-year-old Smith-Schuster had just 260 receiving yards in 11 games in 2023 for New England and is well off the fantasy radar entering the 2024 campaign, even if he does somehow make the final roster.

From RotoBaller

Bailey Zappe Jun 23 1:40pm ET
Bailey Zappe

Toward the end of organized team activities this offseason, New England Patriots rookie quarterback Drake Maye overtook Bailey Zappe as the team's No. 2 QB behind veteran Jacoby Brissett. Nothing about that comes off as surprising, but with sixth-rounder Joe Milton III also in the fold in New England, is seems that Zappe's days with the team could be close to over. To earn the No. 3 job this year, Zappe would have to drastically outplay Milton, which didn't happen during spring workouts. The Patriots also have Nathan Rourke competing for a roster spot this summer. The most likely scenario at this point is that the 25-year-old Zappe is traded away to a team with more of a need for quarterback depth once training camp and the preseason begin.

From RotoBaller

Tank Bigsby Jun 23 1:20pm ET
Tank Bigsby

SI.com's John Shipley writes that Jacksonville Jaguars second-year running back Tank Bigsby had some issues with drops during offseason workouts and didn't have the standout offseason program that he had last year. The Jaguars have done nothing but insinuate that Bigsby will have a bigger role in the backfield in 2024 as they look to give lead back Travis Etienne Jr. more of a break, but nothing is guaranteed as training camp approaches. It's not like Bigsby really impressed in his rookie year, either, as he carried the ball only 50 times for 132 yards (2.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, adding only one reception for a six-yard gain in 17 games played. Still, Bigsby should have more of a role in his second year in the NFL, although it remains to be seen if it will be enough to give him standalone fantasy value in 2024.

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Malik Cunningham Jun 23 1:20pm ET
Malik Cunningham

Baltimore Ravens quarterback turned wide receiver Malik Cunningham hasn't looked out of place as he makes the position transition in offseason workouts, although he still probably faces an uphill battle to make the final roster out of training camp. Cunningham made a few plays in just about every practice this offseason and has shown good awareness and quickness. The amount of one-on-one attention he's gotten from head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Todd Monken indicates that they see potential in Cunningham at his new position. The 25-year-old won't be a fantasy consideration entering the 2024 season, but the fact that Baltimore's receiving depth isn't all that great gives him a fleeting chance to make an impact this year.

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Breece Hall Jun 22 8:10pm ET
Breece Hall

New York Jets running back Breece Hall is eager to show what he can do this season. As such, he wants to play up to the level of San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey. "It's on me," Hall said in an interview with the New York Post. "To me, he sets the standard. I've gotten better this offseason. I'm a lot leaner, I feel a lot healthier. My knee feels a lot better. I just feel like I'm back to my old self." The 23-year-old was solid as a rookie before going down seven games into the season because of a knee injury. He finished last season by running for nearly 1,000 yards and totaling nine touchdowns. With that said, Hall will get a chance to showcase his talent immediately, with the Jets meeting the 49ers in Week 1 for Monday Night Football. If the 2022 No. 36 overall pick stays healthy, he may be on tap to have his best season yet.

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Ndamukong Suh Jun 22 1:40pm ET
Ndamukong Suh

The Athletic's Dan Pompei thinks Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea could have a career year in 2024. The seven-year veteran is entering the prime of his career at 29 years old after losing a significant amount of weight in the offseason while working out with former teammate Ndamukong Suh. Vea has been listed at 347 points but probably weighed closer to 367 pounds. The Buccaneers have wanted him to slim down for a while. Over the last three seasons, he has missed games with toe, groin, pectoral, calf, foot and knee injuries. In addition to being quicker and more explosive, Vea could also be healthier in 2024. The 29-year-old inside pass-rusher is hoping to play increased snaps on defense now that he's lighter after recording a career-high 43 tackles (28 solo) last year while picking up 5.5 sacks, one shy of his career-high.

From RotoBaller

Jaleel McLaughlin Jun 21 7:40pm ET
Jaleel McLaughlin

Denver Broncos running back Jaleel McLaughlin has reportedly looked more explosive during offseason workouts and mandatory minicamp. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has praised McLaughlin for his speed and explosiveness. It certainly appears that McLaughlin could earn himself a bigger role next season. However, he still has to compete in a crowded backfield with Javonte Williams, Samaje Perine, and rookie fifth-rounder Audric Estime. McLaughlin might be able to earn more snaps, but it probably won't be anything that will raise his draft stock by much.

From RotoBaller

Demario Douglas Jun 21 7:30pm ET
Demario Douglas

New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas has reportedly looked like the best and most explosive playmaker this spring. The former sixth-round pick was impressive during his rookie season with the Pats last season. He finished with 49 receptions and lead the team with 561 receiving yards in 14 games. The Pats failed to add much depth this offseason, which means Douglas should have a similar role once again. The hope is that the Pats offense is better under head coach Jerod Mayo and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. Douglas is worth a look in the later rounds of PPR fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Cedric Tillman Jun 21 5:00pm ET
Cedric Tillman

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Cedric Tillman had a quiet rookie campaign after being selected in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft out of Tennessee. He ran just 343 routes (74th) and hauled in 21 of his 44 targets for 244 yards and no touchdowns. However, Zac Jackson of the Athletic suggests he will get more opportunities in Year 2, despite the additions of Jerry Jeudy and rookie Jamari Thrash. "It's my belief that the Browns plan to open the season with Jeudy in the slot and [Amari] Cooper and Cedric Tillman out wide. Jeudy can play outside, too, and Elijah Moore will also see snaps inside and outside." Although Tillman could have limited upside if Deshaun Watson fails to bounce back to form from his time with the Houston Texans, this is an encouraging report for dynasty managers holding onto him. Tillman is usually available well into the late 200s in fantasy drafts, so he could be an underpriced sleeper candidate.

From RotoBaller

Elijah Moore Jun 21 5:00pm ET
Elijah Moore

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Elijah Moore showed flashes of upside in his 2021 rookie season, but over the last two years, he has failed to make a significant impact. In his last 33 games with the Jets and Browns, he's hauled in 96 receptions for 1,086 yards and three touchdowns. Amari Cooper and Jerry Jeudy are likely locked into the WR1 and WR2 roles for quarterback Deshaun Watson, and Zac Jackson of the Athletic suggested Cedric Tillman will occupy the WR3 role. "It's my belief that the Browns plan to open the season with Jeudy in the slot and Cooper and Cedric Tillman out wide," Jackson wrote. "Jeudy can play outside, too, and Elijah Moore will also see snaps inside and outside." Moore is going well ahead of Tillman in 2024 fantasy drafts, and that might be a mistake based on offseason reports. Moore was once a potential top-24 dynasty wide receiver, but he is now trending toward fantasy irrelevance.

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Tim Patrick Jun 21 4:50pm ET
Tim Patrick

Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick (Achilles) has had an unfortunate run of injury luck. He suffered a torn ACL during the 2022 offseason before a devastating Achilles tear leading up to the 2023 campaign. However, the 30-year-old said he's feeling back to full strength this year. "I felt like myself," Patrick said after practice "I felt twitchy. I felt like I was running [full speed]. Honestly, I think I'm right there where I was three years ago, right now." Patrick was a decent fantasy football contributor in his last full season (2021), as he racked up 53 receptions for 734 yards and five touchdowns. He posted a WR42 finish in PPR leagues. The last time he was on the field for a regular season game, Teddy Bridgewater was his quarterback. A lot has changed since then, and it will be interesting to see if he has any ability left after two major injuries. All that said, Denver has one of the weakest wide receiver groups in the NFL, so he could make at least a small impact in 2024. He should be left on waivers in traditional fantasy leagues, but fantasy managers in ultra-deep leagues can get him in the late rounds of drafts, as he's being selected outside the top 130 wide receivers.

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CeeDee Lamb Jun 21 4:30pm ET
CeeDee Lamb

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb did not report to mandatory minicamp this month, and there's a chance he will hold out from all team activities until he reaches a new deal. However, Saad Yousuf of the Athletic believes Lamb could be extended before training camp. "Of the three contracts in question for the Cowboys, Lamb's is the most likely to get done before training camp," Yousuf wrote. "There are the least amount of questions with Lamb. There could be some discussion about a wide receiver's value if there's uncertainty for the future at quarterback, but Lamb will be an asset for years to come, whether it's for Prescott or his successor." This offseason, Justin Jefferson ($35 million APY), A.J. Brown ($32 million) Amon-Ra St. Brown ($30 million), and Jaylen Waddle ($28.25 million) all signed lucrative deals, and Lamb will likely be close to Jefferson's deal when the dust settles. The former first-round pick posted 135 receptions for 1,749 yards, and 12 touchdowns in 2023 and is one of the best pass-catchers in the league. He is the popular pick to be the first wide receiver drafted in 2024 fantasy football.

From RotoBaller

Jacob Copeland Jun 21 4:20pm ET
Jacob Copeland

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed free-agent wide receiver Jacob Copeland to a one-year deal, according to NFL.com. Copeland went undrafted in 2023 and has spent time with the Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings, and Kansas City Chiefs, but he did not appear in a game during his rookie year. He was a member of Pittsburgh's practice squad for nearly two months last year, so he has some familiarity with the organization. The former top-100 recruit in the class of 2018 began his college career at Florida before transferring to Maryland. Overall, he racked up 112 receptions for 1,742 yards and 11 touchdowns in 51 games before entering the NFL. While he's a longshot to make the Steelers' 53-man roster, the team has a glaring need at wideout behind 2023 breakout George Pickens.

From RotoBaller

Will Levis Jun 21 4:10pm ET
Will Levis

Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis is likely headed toward a make-or-break season in 2024. The Kentucky product was not a first-round pick, and head coach Brian Callahan was not a part of the staff when he was selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. So far, the soon-to-be 25-year-old has made improvements this offseason. "Levis changed things with his base, tweaking his footwork. He's trying to get the ball out better, and cleaner, with improved technique," Titans beat reporter Jim Wyatt wrote. "He's getting on the same page with his new receivers. In the six practices open to media, Levis was charted at completing 37 of his 57 attempts (64.9%) in 7-on-7 periods. He had some good days this offseason and others that served more as learning experiences." Levis should have an improved offensive line in Year 2 after the team drafted Alabama tackle JC Latham with the No. 7 overall pick and signed former Broncos center Lloyd Cushenberry III. He'll also have Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd to throw to along with DeAndre Hopkins, so the organization is trying to put the pieces together for him to be successful.

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Michael Penix Jr. Jun 21 4:00pm ET
Michael Penix Jr.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has agreed to terms on a four-year, $22.88 million deal that includes a $13.46 million signing bonus, according to Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report. If things play out the way the Falcons hope, the 24-year-old will see limited action for at least the next two seasons while Kirk Cousins leads the offense. The No. 8 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft is coming off two monster collegiate seasons that included over 9,000 passing yards and 67 passing touchdowns. He should at least be one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL right away, and he is worth stashing in dynasty leagues and Superflex formats in 2024.

From RotoBaller

Ricky Pearsall Jun 21 3:00pm ET
Ricky Pearsall

The San Francisco 49ers announced on Friday that they signed first-round wide receiver Ricky Pearsall to his four-year rookie deal. The 49ers now have all eight of their 2024 draft picks under contract before the start of training camp at the end of July. San Fran surprisingly selected Pearsall at the tail end of this year's NFL draft despite not training Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk leading up to the draft. While the 23-year-old is an intriguing option for fantasy managers in dynasty/keeper formats in head coach Kyle Shanahan's system, his playing time in his rookie year in 2024 is probably going to be limited as long as Samuel and Aiyuk stay healthy. The Florida alum would immediately become fantasy relevant in redraft leagues if Samuel or Aiyuk are injured or traded this season.

From RotoBaller

Geno Smith Jun 21 2:40pm ET
Geno Smith

Seattle Seahawks new offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said the offense won't be as pass-happy as his offense was with the University of Washington, and he also plans to use fewer pre-snap motions and shifts, but Grubb wants to put a lot of responsibility on quarterback Geno Smith. The 33-year-old veteran signal-caller has welcomed more responsibility, but the results have so far been mixed in offseason workouts. Head coach Mike Macdonald has been impressed with Smith's plan, and the offense will have an extra opportunity to test itself during the preseason in joint practices with the Tennessee Titans. Smith had a career year in 2022 and was the QB5 in fantasy, but he predictably fell to QB15 in 2023. Nobody is saying Smith is a QB1 in fantasy, but a bounce-back is entirely plausible in what could be a more dynamic offense. Target him as a low-end QB2 in superflex formats.

From RotoBaller

Roman Wilson Jun 21 2:30pm ET
Roman Wilson

The Athletic's Mark Kaboly writes that the biggest surprise of the Pittsburgh Steelers' offseason is that they seem perfectly satisfied watching how the WR2 position plays out in training camp among middle-of-the-road receivers Van Jefferson, Quez Watkins, Calvin Austin III, Scotty Miller, Marquez Callaway and Dez Fitzpatrick behind George Pickens. Whether they address the position before the season could hinge on the play of rookie Roman Wilson, but the entire group has been underwhelming enough that a big swing seems imminent. Receiver depth is severely lacking in Pittsburgh after they traded away Diontae Johnson this offseason. Austin, a fourth-rounder in 2022, could be the most intriguing option for an increased role in deeper fantasy leagues if the Steelers don't make a splash addition at the position. Training camp will give us a better idea of how the receiver depth chart will shake out.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Jun 21 2:20pm ET
Patrick Mahomes

Entering training camp this summer, The Athletic's Nate Taylor writes that quarterback Patrick Mahomes appears to have a lot more viable passing options than he did in 2023. Last year, the Chiefs started the season with Kadarius Toney as their No. 1. But this year, Toney will likely be fourth or fifth on the wideout depth chart. Mahomes showed promising chemistry with new pass-catcher Marquise Brown in OTAs and minicamp, and rookie Xavier Worthy should give the team a strong deep passing attack. Rookie tight end Jared Wiley has shown strong receiving skills behind Travis Kelce. Even if Rashee Rice is suspended as expected, Mahomes should have plenty of receivers that he trusts enter the regular season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. As the Chiefs seek an unprecedented third straight championship, Mahomes is an easy top-four fantasy QB.

From RotoBaller