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Five 2023 Studs Who Are Here to Stay for Fantasy Football 2024
Every NFL season players outperform their ADP and help push fantasy managers to the playoffs. These players can be anyone from unknown rookies to overlooked veterans at the tail end of their careers.
Justin Jefferson entered the league in 2020 and ended his rookie season as the WR6.
In 2021, we saw Deebo take a huge step forward and end as the WR3 despite finishing as the WR32 and WR96 in the previous two seasons.
Many people wrote off Geno Smith in the 2022 season, but he wrote back. He went from being a journeyman QB for most of his career to being the QB5 in 2022.
This goes to show that fantasy stars can be made anytime in one’s career. Here are some players who surprised fantasy managers this season and will continue to do so come 2024.
🏈 Kyren Williams
Kyren Williams has been overlooked since being drafted in the 5th round of the 2022 draft. Coming out of Notre Dame, he was viewed as too small (5’9” and 194 lbs) and too slow (4.65 40-time) to be a true starting running back. On top of that, the Rams had already used a 2nd round pick on RB Cam Akers two years prior. Cam Akers didn’t work out and eventually got traded to the Vikings, giving Williams a chance to take the reigns of the Los Angeles backfield. He became a star almost immediately. Through the first six games, Williams was the RB4, rushing for 456 yards and 6 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he suffered an ankle injury, forcing him to miss weeks 7-11. Still, Williams ended the year as RB7 with:
-1,144 rushing yards (3rd in the league)
-12 rushing touchdowns (5th in the league)
-32 receptions (28th amongst RBs)
-206 receiving yards (32nd amongst RBs)
This season, Kyren Williams has proven to be more than capable of handling the workhorse role in Los Angeles. His 228 carries this season would put him in the top 15. Doing that while missing games is impressive. It shows how much faith McVay and the Rams have in Williams. He also wasn’t just a back that relied on volume, he was efficient as well. His 5 yards per carry would put him at sixth overall. In the 12 games Williams played this season, he’s had two games under 14 points and seven games scoring 20 or more. Williams has proven to have a high floor and high ceiling and will be a star in the years to come.
🏈 Puka Nacua
Puka Nacua just finished one of the greatest rookie seasons in history. He burst onto the scene with 10 catches for 119 yards in his first career game. That was just his warmup. He went on to set numerous rookie receiving records this season, breaking both the rookie receptions record and the rookie receiving yards record. He also set the single-game reception record for a rookie at 15 catches. The former 5th-rounder’s stat line was ridiculous:
-153 targets (7th in the league)
-105 receptions (9th in the league)
-1,486 receiving yards (4th in the league)
-6 receiving touchdowns (29th in the league)
This season, Nacua had seven 100-yard games, 4th most in the league. Many assumed Nacua wasn’t going to stay as hot as he was through his first few games, but he got even better as the season went on. He averaged 17.56 PPR points a game this season with his best outing being a 33.0-point performance against the New Orleans Saints. He is in such a great position to succeed. He is a part of a young and upcoming offense led by Matthew Stafford and can learn from fellow teammate, Cooper Kupp. There have been players in years past that have “teased” us in the fantasy realm. They’ve shown glimpses of greatness or had one good season that hasn’t come close to being reproduced. Nacua will not fall into that category. He had elite fantasy finishes more often than not and will be elite yet again in the 2024 season.
🏈 Jordan Love
The Packers can’t keep getting away with this. They have had elite quarterback play for the past 30 years! Brett Favre passing the torch to Aaron Rodgers is about as painless as it gets. Now after Rodgers' historical career in Green Bay, the Packers have the young, up-and-coming star, Jordan Love to take his place. There has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding Love since being drafted, but it appears it is safe to say that the uncertainty is gone. He has been BALLING. He finished the 2023 NFL season with:
-4,159 passing yards (7th in the league)
-More single-season passing yards than Jalen Hurts has had in his career or any Bears’ quarterback ever (Sorry Bears fans)
-32 passing touchdowns (2nd in the league)
-More than 2024 ProBowlers, Lamar Jackson and Matthew Stafford
-11 interceptions (Tied for 8th most in the league)
-247 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground (14.5 yards per game)
Those numbers propelled him to the QB5, vastly outproducing his ADP of QB20 (fantasypros). Jordan Love possesses the tools to be a very successful pocket passer in the league for quite some time. His rushing ability isn’t at the level of Lamar or Jalen Hurts, but that shouldn’t be a huge concern. We have seen many pocket passers have successful fantasy football careers, (Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, and Dak Prescott, to name a few). He has shown he has the talent to play in today’s game, and if he gets a bonafide #1 WR, watch out.
🏈 Breece Hall
Breece Hall was off to an incredible start in his rookie season. He showed a special blend of speed and power that made head coaches and fantasy managers drool. He only played 7 games during his rookie season due to his ACL tear, but through those weeks, he was the RB7! He had 468 yards on the ground, 218 yards through the air, and 5 total touchdowns. It was unfortunate to see his season cut short because he was playing at such a high level. Many people were excited to see Breece return from injury and play with a high-powered, Aaron Rodgers-led offense. We all know how that ended. The New York Jets were the 32nd-ranked offense in the league and were 29th in points scored. A lot of that is because of the abysmal offensive line play, ranking 30th in pass blocking and 27th in run blocking. A running back behind that offensive line isn’t supposed to have a good season. Luckily, Breece Hall is more than good. He finished as the RB2 in 2023 with:
-993 rushing yards (13th in the league)
-5 rushing touchdowns (Tied for 12th in the league)
-76 receptions (1st among RBs)
-591 receiving yards (1st among RBs)
Hall could very well finish as the RB1 in 2024. The numbers he put in such a bad offense were insane. Just imagine how good Hall’s numbers would be if the Jets’ offense were even middle of the pack. Breece Hall is as talented as any back in the league and we haven’t even seen his full potential. The return of Aaron Rodgers and a healthy offensive line should help make his 2024 season one to remember. Even if Rodgers is washed and the offensive line is banged up, Hall can still finish in the top 5, which we just saw. Managers, do yourself a favor and draft Breece Hall this next season.
🏈 Mike Evans
You may think Mike Evans shouldn’t be on this list since he’s been playing well for so long, but I’d argue that’s the exact reason he should be. Is there anyone in the league as consistent as Mike Evans? He has had ten straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, which is the second most in NFL history. He has looked great this season and shows no sign of slowing down, as he finished as the WR7. But, this was a surprise to most. There were valid concerns about how Evans would perform in 2023, which led to his eventual plummet to WR31 ADP. For one, the quarterback position was up in the air. Would Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask be the starter? Will either of them be good enough to support a top fantasy receiver? Those questions were answered fairly quickly. Baker not only became the starter, but he was also more than capable of keeping Mike Evans as a relevant fantasy option. Thanks to Baker Mayfield’s revival, Mike Evans would end the season with:
-127 targets (18th amongst WRs)
-79 receptions (18th amongst WRs)
-1,255 receiving yards (9th in the league)
-13 touchdowns (1st in the league; tied with Tyreek Hill)
Although those stats aren’t mind-boggling, they show two important things. First, Mike Evans can play at a high level even in his thirties. This shouldn’t be overlooked. It can be easy to dismiss older players because they aren’t as fun or flashy as some of the younger guys. These fun players are good to have, but so are the veterans who get overlooked due to their age. Secondly, Mike Evans is essentially QB-proof. He can ball out no matter who’s throwing the ball. Throughout his ten-year career, Mike Evans has played with six different starting QBs. He hasn’t finished outside the top 24 WRs once yet. As long as Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans continue to connect like they have been this season, there’s no reason Mike Evans shouldn’t be able to have his eleventh straight 1,000-yard receiving season and another WR1 season.
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