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NFL Draft Fantasy Recap: Round 1

By Doug Orth | 4/26/24 |

1.01 - QB Caleb Williams, Bears (Draft Profile)

Team Fit: This pick was essentially set in stone the day Chicago traded Justin Fields to the Steelers. It is hard to imagine a team setting up a rookie quarterback for success any better than Chicago has this offseason after adding D'Andre Swift, Keenan Allen, Rome Odunze and Gerald Everett to an offense that already had D.J. Moore and Cole Kmet. The hope for the Bears is that new OC Shane Waldron will be able to build an offense that will not need to rely on Williams' improvisational skills nearly as much as USC head coach Lincoln Riley did. With the aforementioned supporting cast, the former Heisman Trophy winner should be able to pick defenses apart from the pocket and resort to "playground football" only a handful of times per game. Williams may not boast elite running ability, but he is certainly athletic enough to put a scare in defenses with his legs. Few things in life or football are guaranteed, but Williams figures to be the one who removes Sid Luckman's name from the top spot in several statistical categories in team annals and become Chicago's first-ever 4,000-yard passer as early as this season.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? The Bears have made it very clear with their offseason additions that they will throw the ball early and often in 2024. Williams will be the team's unquestioned starting quarterback as soon as he signs his contract and should be considered a reasonable low-end QB1 option in fantasy.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? In superflex leagues, the 1.01. In one-quarterback leagues, he figures to come off the board in the middle of the first round. With that said, the next player we will discuss arguably has a higher fantasy ceiling.

1.02 - QB Jayden Daniels, Commanders (Draft Profile)

Team Fit: Daniels is the only player in FBS history to throw for 12,000 yards and rush for 3,000 yards in a career. It is not a stretch to suggest he could eventually become what Washington once hoped Robert Griffin III would turn into or even someone as feared as Lamar Jackson is now. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner now heads to a pro offense that will probably be the most like the one he ran at LSU - a shotgun spread attack that will allow him to be the dual-threat playmaker he proved to be in 2023. Terry McLaurin is one of the most underappreciated receivers in the game - and an elite route-runner - and could easily be poised to set career highs across the board as Daniels represents a substantial upgrade to anyone he has had at quarterback since becoming a pro. Jahan Dotson also figures to rebound in a big way with a quarterback capable of utilizing his skill set. As for Daniels, new OC Kliff Kingsbury is no stranger to working with highly athletic quarterbacks after spending most of the last decade calling plays for Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech), Kyler Murray (Cardinals) and Caleb Williams (USC). As long as Washington continues to add talent to the offensive line in the draft and Kingsbury can rein in his new protégé's careless scrambles, Daniels should give this franchise the most stability it has enjoyed at quarterback since Joe Theismann was the team's unquestioned starter from 1978-85.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? Durability figures to be the biggest obstacle here, certainly as long as the Commanders have questions on the offensive line and Daniels takes unnecessary risks as a runner. As long as the expectation is that he might only play 10 or 12 games, fantasy managers should be thrilled if they can grab him as a QB2. When he plays, he could easily be a mid-range QB1.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? In superflex leagues, the 1.02. In one-quarterback leagues, he figures to come off the board late in the first round. With that said, no quarterback in this draft possesses more fantasy upside.

1.03 - QB Drake Maye, Patriots (Draft Profile)

Team Fit: New England is likely looking at a multi-year rebuild, so most of the weapons Maye will have at his disposal in 2024 probably will not be around when he should be more prepared to run a pro offense in 2025. As a result, it is hard to say with any certainty how he fits with the team right now because the players that will allow him to reach his potential down the road are not on the roster yet. It appears the Patriots will do right by Maye and ease him into the starting lineup while asking him to hold the clipboard initially for Jacoby Brissett, who figures to be under center until the team believes the 2022 ACC Player of the Year is ready. Some of Maye's weaknesses (check out the profile) were exposed in 2023 after Josh Downs moved on to the NFL, so a redshirt year - or at least a delayed start to his eventual rise to QB1 - is the right move.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? Brissett figures to be the Week 1 starter in what should be a low-upside offense, so Maye will likely go undrafted in most leagues.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? In superflex leagues, Maye will probably be drafted in the 1.05-1.07 range. In one-quarterback leagues, he figures to come off the board at some point late in the second round.

1.04 - WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Cardinals (Draft Profile)

Team Fit: DeAndre Hopkins was Arizona's clear alpha receiver for three seasons, but the Cardinals have not had a long-term answer at the position since Larry Fitzgerald was in his prime. Enter one of the most complete wide receiver prospects in recent memory, who just happens to be the son of a Hall of Fame wideout by the same name. Harrison just happens to be a faster version of Fitzgerald (albeit with less run-after-catch ability) and brings instant credibility to a passing game that lacked it without Hopkins last year. The 2023 Biletnikoff Award winner may not be able to dominate defenses right out of the gate - which is a tall order for any rookie - but it should not surprise anyone if he is considered one of the top 10 receivers in the league as early as the end of the 2025 season. With Trey McBride also commanding attention and Kyler Murray stressing defenses with his athleticism, Harrison may find himself attracting less attention - at least early on - than he did at Ohio State a year ago when he reportedly saw double coverage an average of once every six routes he ran.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? Harrison should be considered Arizona's top receiver as soon as he signs his contract. Fantasy managers can make a reasonable case to select him as a high-upside WR2 as early as the second round, although the third round would be more preferable.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? In superflex leagues, Harrison should be considered the 1.03 at worst. In one-quarterback leagues, he should be the 1.01.

1.06 - WR Malik Nabers, Giants (Draft Profile)

Team Fit: Darius Slayton (four times) and Kenny Golladay (once) have been New York's most productive receivers since Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Browns after the 2018 season. In Nabers, the Giants likely found their answer to the stud receivers that every other team in their division has. At his best, the LSU product will likely remind New York fans of a player they see twice a year in CeeDee Lamb. Like Lamb, Nabers should quickly prove to be one of the league's best receivers after the catch. His quick feet are on par with that of Justin Jefferson and Antonio Brown, which should finally give Daniel Jones the weapon he needs as he tries one more time to prove he is worth keeping around until the end of the contract extension he just signed last year. Nabers figures to spend most of his time on the perimeter with Wan'Dale Robinson around, but make no mistake about it: the rookie will be the first read for Jones more often than not.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? Nabers should encounter little resistance en route to becoming the team's primary option on most passing plays. Fantasy managers can make a reasonable case to select him as a high-upside WR2 as early as the third or fourth round.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? In superflex leagues, Nabers should be considered the 1.04 at worst. In one-quarterback leagues, he should be the 1.02.

Michael Penix Jr.

1.08 - QB Michael Penix Jr., Falcons (Draft Profile)

Team Fit: This selection figures to be the source of much consternation among Atlanta fans over the next two or so years since it figures to be that long before he sees the field if Kirk Cousins is ready to go as expected this fall. While it is not a pick I would have made, it is also not as bad as the majority of fans or the media think it is if Atlanta loved Penix's skill set. Green Bay's handling of Jordan Love almost certainly played a role in this decision, as the worst spot for a team to find itself in is to be desperate for a quarterback, which is where the Falcons have been ever since Matt Ryan's play began to decline. Let's also not forget that Cousins returning to form after tearing his Achilles is not a sure thing either regardless of how positive the reports on his recovery are. If the team got its medical staff to sign off on his previous injuries (obviously it did), then this pick takes most of the pressure off the 2023 Heisman Trophy runner-up to perform immediately, which should be the goal for most teams drafting quarterbacks.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? As long as Cousins is ready for the start of the season, Penix should not see the field much - if at all - in 2024. The same may hold true in 2025 as well.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? In superflex leagues, Penix should be considered a late first-rounder considering how long it may take for him to become a full-time starter. In one-quarterback leagues, he may not go until the third round.

1.09 - WR Rome Odunze, Bears (Draft Profile)

Team Fit: Odunze is a luxury Chicago should not have been able to afford, but the mad rush of teams in front of the Bears who felt the need to scratch their quarterback itch likely allowed the Monsters of the Midway to secure the services of Keenan Allen's eventual replacement - whenever that day comes. Odunze was not a player that Chicago needed with Allen and D.J. Moore already on the roster, and there is little reason to expect he will serve as anything more than a contested-catch receiver for however long both veterans are playing at a high level. On the plus side, Odunze's arrival likely cements the Bears as an offense that will utilize 11 personnel at one of the highest rates in the league. This should allow Allen to play in the slot as often as he wants and enable Odunze to see enough playing time to avoid the same fate Jaxon Smith-Njigba suffered for most of 2023.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? Odunze will enter the 2024 season as a high-upside handcuff to Moore and Allen. If one of them were to go down, he would likely possess high-end WR3 upside. As long as both are healthy, the rookie is likely no more than a respectable WR5 option.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? In superflex leagues, Odunze should be considered a mid-first-rounder since it could be a while before he gets a real chance to be Chicago's top receiver. In one-quarterback leagues, he is worth considering in the 1.04-1.06 range.

1.10 - QB J.J. McCarthy, Vikings (Draft Profile)

Team Fit: McCarthy is reportedly a quarterback that HC Kevin O'Connell could not wait to coach, and Minnesota was probably one of the few landing spots in which the Michigan signal-caller should be expected to have success. That statement has nothing to do with his lack of pass attempts or meager college production, but rather some of the holes in his game that are mentioned in the draft profile. O'Connell has proven to be a very good influence on quarterbacks over his relatively short time as a play-caller, which is obviously a good thing for McCarthy. It is hard to get a much better supporting cast than Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson, so the rookie could not ask for a much better environment to begin his NFL career. Sam Darnold was signed to a one-year deal to serve as the bridge from Kirk Cousins to the new quarterback and should not represent much of a hurdle for McCarthy to clear once he has proven his readiness. While the Illinois native may not start Week 1, it is also not out of the question. Either way, he will probably be under center sometime in October. His mobility and experience in a traditional NFL offense (under former Wolverines HC Jim Harbaugh) only figures to speed up his learning curve.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? McCarthy starting Week 1 is probably no worse than a 50/50 proposition, so he has a shot to emerge as a fantasy QB2 at some point early in 2024. It may be too much to ask for him to replicate what Cousins was able to do in recent years as a rookie, however.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? In superflex leagues, McCarthy could go as early as 1.05. In one-quarterback leagues, he is worth considering in the third-round range.

1.12 - QB Bo Nix, Broncos (Draft Profile)

Team Fit: Nix reportedly blew Denver's brass away with how the recall he displayed of HC Sean Payton's offense less than one day after he was given a large chunk of the playbook following a workout. (The coach noted in a previous interview that he tries to tax and overload quarterback prospects with the amount of information that he gives them, so his mastery of such a task likely made quite an impression.) Payton undoubtedly saw shades of Drew Brees in the former Auburn Tiger given his modest height, ability to take care of the ball and quick decision-making. The biggest problem with Nix is that the Oregon offense that allowed him to flourish over the last two seasons rarely highlighted his ability to throw downfield. For example, 312 of his 470 pass attempts in 2023 were within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, including 131 behind the line. While Nix was technically a quick processor and got rid of the ball quickly, one could easily make the case that the scheme was the reason. Denver finds itself in the early stages of a rebuild - one that may be left with Marvin Mims as the top receiver if Courtland Sutton is traded in the offseason. Payton's presence gives Nix more of a chance to be successful than most coaches, but it could be argued Nix's supporting cast is only marginally better than Drake Maye's. At least the 2019 SEC Freshman of the Year does not face great competition at his position on this roster, with Zach Wilson and Jarrett Stidham serving as the only obstacles to him becoming a starter.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? Especially given his experience (FBS-record 61 career starts) and the lack of quality competition, Nix should be considered the favorite to start the regular-season opener for the Broncos. With that said, his supporting cast will make it hard for him to be anything more than a low-end QB2.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? In superflex leagues, Nix could go as early as 1.06 or 1.07. In one-quarterback leagues, the third-round range feels about right.

1.13 - TE Brock Bowers, Raiders (Draft Profile)

Team Fit: After investing a second-round pick in one of the draft's most complete tight ends one year ago, Las Vegas seemed like one of the least likely places for Bowers to land. Kudos to the Raiders for making the decision to take the best player available on the board and putting off the future at quarterback for at least one more year. Bowers' fit in Vegas may not seem great when Gardner Minshew and Aidan O'Connell are vying for the starting quarterback job and new OC Luke Getsy needs to feed Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers. However, it is not a bad spot at all. Neither Minshew nor O'Connell has a cannon for an arm and will probably lean more heavily on shorter throws than most quarterbacks. Bowers has plenty of experience being detached from the line and Mayer's presence should allow him to play in the slot as often as Getsy wants. As a player who is worthy of being compared to George Kittle, Jeremy Shockey or Tony Gonzalez, Bowers should be the ultimate matchup nightmare in the slot since he is essentially a versatile alpha receiver with running back skills in a tight end's body. Adams already commands the defense's attention every week, so defenses will now have to pick their poison - allow Adams to win on contested catches downfield or let Bowers rumble through the heart of its defense on short throws.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? The thought of Minshew and O'Connell attempting to maintain Bowers' every week is a scary one, but the three-time All-American is such a great talent that he should be able to overcome it. Bowers should be considered a low-end TE1 option at worst.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? In superflex leagues, Bowers should be a strong consideration in the 1.05 or 1.06 range. In one-quarterback leagues, he could go as early as 1.03.

1.23 - WR Brian Thomas Jr., Jaguars (Draft Profile)

Team Fit: Jacksonville probably did not need to draft a wideout despite the loss of Calvin Ridley, but the temptation to add one of the most athletic receiver prospects in Combine history proved too tempting. His production on targets of at least 20 yards in 2023 was remarkable: 15 catches on 22 targets for 670 yards and 12 touchdowns. While the Jaguars should not need Thomas to contribute right away with Christian Kirk in the slot - Gabe Davis and Zay Jones are quality perimeter receivers when Jacksonville goes three-wide - Thomas should emerge as the primary outside option no later than the end of this season. Assuming he continues to improve his route-running prowess by the same leaps and bounds he did at LSU in 2023, he could overtake Kirk as the top option in the passing game sometime in 2025. In the meantime, the Jaguars will likely ask him to open up the short and intermediate passing game for Kirk and Evan Engram.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? So long as Davis and Jones emerge from training camp as the primary perimeter receivers in three-wide sets, Thomas will unfortunately be little more than a late-round stash. Given Jones' recent injury history, however, he could push for WR4 consideration relatively early.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? In superflex leagues, Thomas should be the fourth or fifth receiver taken and a late first-round pick, perhaps in the 1.08-1.12 range. In one-quarterback leagues, he is a worthy consideration starting around 1.06.

1.28 - WR Xavier Worthy, Chiefs (Draft Profile)

Team Fit: Worthy was reportedly the apple of Kansas City's eye in Round 1, and it is not hard to understand why after watching the Chiefs struggle to push the ball down the field in 2023. One of the easiest ways to fix that problem is by acquiring speed. It just so happens that Worthy is the fastest player to enter the league during the NFL Scouting Combine era (since at least 1987). Unlike previous Combine record holders in the 40-yard dash, the Fresno native is more than just a fast guy and has some route-running nuance to his game. That is the good news. The bad news is that he is a 165-pounder who offers little as a blocker and did not fare well as a vertical receiver in college, catching an unthinkably low 25.5 percent (24 of 94) of his career targets of 20 or more yards. Even if every one of the low-quality targets that contributed to Worthy's 40 percent uncatchable catch rate could be assigned to his quarterback, it still means he only caught 41.3 percent of the deep balls thrown his way. That is OK in the pros against some of the best athletes in the world, but it should not happen in the wide-open Big 12 where most of the cornerbacks have no prayer of hanging with his speed. The good thing for Worthy is that Patrick Mahomes should be able to highlight Worthy's strengths (and minimize his shortcomings) as well as any quarterback in the league. At least in 2024, the University of Texas product figures to operate mostly as a field-stretcher to open things up underneath for Travis Kelce, Marquise Brown and Rashee Rice (if/when his likely suspension is over).

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? Brown has not proven to be the most durable player, so there is a very real chance Worthy will be very useful in fantasy at some point this season. Worthy could become the team's top receiver very quickly if an injury strikes before Rice returns. For those reasons alone, the speedster makes a lot of sense as a high-upside stash. However, it is also entirely possible managers get frustrated and drop him before the bye-week crunch if Hollywood is healthy and Rice's suspension is minimal.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? Worthy's landing spot figures to affect his draft stock - in a positive way - as much as any player taken this weekend. In superflex leagues, Worthy could go as early as 1.06 or 1.07 as the fourth or fifth receiver off the board. In one-quarterback leagues, he might come off the board as early as 1.03 or 1.04, although 1.06 is a more likely (and reasonable) starting point. He should not be treated as the second coming of Tyreek Hill.

1.31 - WR Ricky Pearsall, 49ers

Team Fit: This is a fit that will be hard to analyze accurately until San Francisco decides to trade or keep Deebo Samuel and/or Brandon Aiyuk. With both stud receivers around, Pearsall gives the 49ers a highly athletic slot option to go along with "power slot" Jauan Jennings. If Samuel is traded - which seems to be the most likely outcome right now - then Pearsall should move into the starting lineup almost immediately. The Florida product is a bit on the small side at 6-1 and 191 pounds, but he is already a crafty route-runner with very good hands - two qualities that likely made this selection an easy one for the 49ers. One thing is for certain with any offensive skill-position player that HC Kyle Shanahan & Co. drafts: there is a very distinct reason why he is joining the team. With his 4.41 speed, 42-inch vertical jump and high-end ball-tracking skills, Shanahan likely sees him as a vertical slot receiver in the Christian Kirk mold.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? This answer can change drastically based on what happens with Samuel and/or Aiyuk. If one of them is moved, Pearsall likely is a Day 1 starter. Even in that situation, he would fall behind the remaining 49ers receiver, George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey, likely making him a fantasy WR5 option at best. If Samuel and Aiyuk stay put, there is a real chance Pearsall is not worth drafting in most leagues.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? Once again, much depends on what happens with Samuel and/or Aiyuk. Working under the assumption that one of them is moved, Pearsall makes sense in the early part of the second round in superflex leagues. In one-quarterback leagues, he could sneak into the late part of the first round.

1.32 - WR Xavier Legette, Panthers

Team Fit: Among Carolina's many problems last season was an inability for any of their receivers to get open quickly or scare defenses vertically, which will happen when 33-year-old Adam Thielen is by far the best wideout on the team. With one of the best in the business in creating separation (Diontae Johnson) and a player that is cut from a similar mold as DK Metcalf (a less freaky version) now on the roster in Legette, Bryce Young now has a chance to prove he was worthy of the No. 1 overall pick a year ago. At 6-1 and 221 pounds with 4.3 speed, Legette offers the Panthers a more athletic version of the player they wanted Jonathan Mingo to be last season. The South Carolina product should see the field early given his ability to block in the running game and the vertical threat he should provide. He should also offer some utility as a ball carrier on jet sweeps and screens. It seems unlikely he will see much time in two-receiver sets to begin the season, but that could change very quickly if Thielen begins to feel his age at some point.

What does it mean in redraft (12 teams)? Legette seems unlikely to see more work than Johnson or Thielen in 2024, so there is a good chance he will not be drafted in most leagues.

Where should I expect him to go in my rookie drafts? In superflex, Legette will probably settle into the mid-to-late part of the second round. In one-quarterback leagues, he will probably last until the early-to-mid part of the second round.

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today's hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, including Sirius XM's "Fantasy Drive". Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.