Sunday, May 26, 2024

2024 Fantasy Football Frenzy: Mock Draft Mayhem Shakes Up Player Rankings

HomeSports News2024 Fantasy Football Frenzy: Mock Draft Mayhem Shakes Up Player Rankings

The NFL season may still be months away, but for diehard fantasy football fans, the preparation never stops. That’s why a group of 10 Yahoo fantasy experts recently came together for their first official 2024 mock draft of the year. While mock drafts are always ridiculous affairs with no real consequences, they offer an early glimpse into how player values could shake out when drafts start for real.

The Action Gets Underway

As you’d expect, the big names came off the board quickly. Christian McCaffrey went first overall to Aaron Tan, continuing his reign as a premier first-round pick. But controversy struck right away when Dalton Del Don shockingly took Breece Hall with the second overall pick. The Jets running back is elite, but did Del Don reach too soon?

“Just a classic showboating look-at-me pick by Del Don right at the top,” said Andy Behrens, trying to make sense of the selection. While Hall had a monster 2023 with 994 rushing yards and 76 receptions, his numbers were inflated by playing with backup QBs for part of the year. With Aaron Rodgers now in New York, will Hall’s targets decline?

Other early picks included pass-catchers like Tyreek Hill, Bijan Robinson, CeeDee Lamb, and Justin Jefferson. But the real head-scratcher came when Collin Brennan panicked and took Puka Nacua way too early at 1.07. Apparently the big lights were too bright for the inexperienced Brennan.

“Nacua won’t go quite this early in most drafts, but Collin simply panicked,” Behrens said. “Don’t judge him too harshly. He was overmatched and reeked of fear throughout this mock.”

Young Talent Flies Off the Board

If round one featured familiar names, round two is where things got really interesting. We saw a run on incoming rookie receivers with Marvin Harrison Jr. going to Brennan and Nico Collins landing with Dan Harris.

“MHJ has no discernable flaws as a receiving prospect and he’s stepping into a situation in Arizona in which he can easily see 150 targets as a rookie,” Behrens explained of the Harrison pick. “I’d still take Brown over Harrison 1,000 times out of 1,000, but I do understand the enthusiasm.”

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Several elite running backs were also scooped up in round two, including Derrick Henry falling all the way to Tan at 2.10 – a potential steal. Behrens praised the value, saying “Henry might very well score 20 or more touchdowns this year as the unchallenged lead back in Baltimore’s offense.”

The Tight End Revolution Arrives

For years, Travis Kelce stood alone as the elite tight end worthy of an early pick. But with a new wave of talented rookie tight ends entering the league, that philosophy is shifting. We didn’t see a tight end taken until round three, when Mauricio Castillo pulled the trigger on Sam LaPorta at 3.05.

“It’s no great surprise to see LaPorta, last year’s TE1, selected as the first tight end off the board in 2024,” noted Behrens. “The more important detail is that we’re now waiting until the third round to draft the position, because the top tier is no longer just one guy.”

Malik Nabers kept the rookie receiver run going in round three as well, providing another reminder of this year’s absurdly deep class of incoming pass-catchers.

Rookie Rusher de’Vonvoy Achane a Polarizing Pick

When it came time for Behrens’ pick in round four, he raised some eyebrows by taking Dolphins rookie running back De’Von Achane. The diminutive speedster out of Texas A&M was extremely productive when given opportunities late last season, but does he have a clear path to a substantial role in 2024?

“Remember when Achane erupted onto the scene last fall like a glitch in the game, delivering 518 scrimmage yards and making seven house calls in a three-week stretch?” Behrens asked. “And remember how pretty much everyone was comparing him favorably to either Jamaal Charles or Chris Johnson or both?”

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Behrens is clearly still a big believer, saying “He’s pretty great, you guys. Personally, I remain a big believer in Achane — particularly this season’s beefier version. He’s definitely headed for double-digit weekly touches in an offense that maximizes speed and big-play ability.”

Only time will tell if Achane can live up to the early hype and prove Behrens right. His landing spot and potential usage remain a huge variable.

The QB Carousel Begins

With the emphasis on receivers and running backs early, we didn’t see our first quarterback come off the board until round five. Shockingly, it wasn’t Josh Allen – he went to Brennan at 5.07 in an obvious fear pick. Instead, Dalton Del Don took Jalen Hurts first at 5.02, followed shortly after by Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.

“In a draft with non-industry normals, the quarterback run will probably hit a round or two earlier,” said Behrens, “but these are definitely the right names.”

Waiting on a QB seems to have remained a viable strategy, even with the elite options going quickly once the dam broke. “If you think waiting at quarterback was still a viable approach, consider the options remaining for the two managers who did it in this mock,” Behrens pointed out, referring to the talented arms of Dak Prescott, Jordan Love, Tua Tagovailoa, and Kyler Murray still on the board.

Youth Movement at Receiver

After establishing their backfields and signal-callers, managers started loading up on pass-catchers in rounds six and seven. We saw a flurry of younger wideouts like Rashee Rice, Jayden Reed, Zay Flowers, and Dalton Kincaid come off the board.

However, Rice’s selection at 7.02 to Del Don came with a major caveat mentioned by Behrens: “None of us can speak with any authority about the legal and/or league discipline that Rice may face over his alleged role in the multi-vehicle high-speed accident that occurred in late March (or the more recent alleged assault). We’d only be guessing based on insufficient information.”

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Behrens admitted if Rice was having a clean offseason, he’d likely be a third or fourth-round pick based on his late-season production. But the legal cloud hanging over the talented receiver could drastically impact his fantasy value and availability.

Veteran Savvy on Display

While the early rounds were dominated by up-and-comers, the astute Aaron Tan constructed a roster filled with established veteran talent. He bucked the early QB trend by waiting until the eighth round to take Brock Purdy, after loading up on running backs and receivers in their prime like Derrick Henry, Mike Evans, and Keenan Allen.

“Aaron constructed a roster that likely has the league’s highest average age, but he also selected a group of dudes who remain extraordinarily productive into their dotage,” said Behrens. “I don’t hate the cost on any of his 30-somethings. It’s often good business to let other managers pay the tax on ascending players while you snatch up well-established stars with minimal buzz.”

In an ever-evolving landscape of fresh faces, Tan could be onto something by zipping his way contrarian and anchoring his roster with reliable veteran commodities.

As is always the case with early mock drafts, there were plenty of surprises, overreactions, and difficult evaluations to untangle. Inevitably, actual 2024 drafts will look significantly different a few months from now as the rookie landing spots and depth charts shake out.

But the mock draft festivities were fun while they lasted, with Behrens perhaps summing it up best: “Every fantasy draft is terrible and ridiculous in its own unique way.” When it comes to the zany first mock of the year, that was definitely the case. The true journey is only just beginning.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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