The 2024 Fantasy Football Fade List ... In June

Jun 6th 2024

Hayden Winks

Listing 30 players that are going to fail at cost... in June? What can go wrong? But I'm not scared to compete. Let's get to the hating.

WR Marvin Harrison Jr. (14th overall)

I'd rather draft: Drake London, Brandon Aiyuk, Nico Collins, Mike Evans, Jaylen Waddle.

He's going to be a great pro long term and even a quality fantasy asset as a rookie, but this is by far the highest a rookie WR has ever gone in drafts and he's still attached to an offense that's 21st in projected points this year in a likely balanced offense. From Week 8 on last year (primarily with Kyler Murray), the Cardinals were 27th in neutral pass rate, which aligns with the roots of the coaching staff (Eagles and Browns). Harrison has to be an absolute star to overcome this average environment at the Round 1/2 turn. Our Underdog Fantasy player projections agree. He's at 1,075.5 receiving yards and 7.5 TDs in Pick'em. Those numbers are closer towards my ranking (WR14 and 20th overall).

WR Stefon Diggs (27th overall)

I'd rather draft: DJ Moore, Malik Nabers, DK Metcalf.

The 30-year-old faces the most target competition of his career, and Diggs is not the incumbent in 3-WR sets. Nico Collins turned in the No. 2 man coverage composite score last year as a downfield X receiver, while Tank Dell dominated as the flanker on play action passes next to him. That duo simply moves better than Diggs does at his career, so the baseline role for Diggs with the Texans is trending towards the slot. It's an important distinction because the Texans do mix in 2-TE and 2-RB sets more than others to establish their lethal play-action offense, meaning Diggs could not be a true full-time player. It's also possible that Diggs isn't used downfield as often as he was during his fantasy prime because he's in the slot more often... Beyond that, Diggs has found himself in volatile situations and part of his trade to Houston included ripping up the future part of his contract. The odds are low of a full "where are my targets" meltdown happening, but they aren't exactly zero either.

TE Sam LaPorta (29th overall)

I'd rather draft: Travis Kelce, elite QBs, WRs, or RBs.

Another real life stud that is just priced at a point I can't pay. If we ignore the elite run Travis Kelce went on during the NFL Playoffs, then LaPorta technically was the TE1 overall per game last year, but he didn't necessarily separate from the field very often. He was the 47th overall player in fantasy points over replacement per game, which is my favorite way to compare players across positions in fantasy. He's going multiple rounds earlier than that. LaPorta is good enough to repeat that rookie season or slightly improve on it, but it'll be hard for him to turn in the same touchdowns. Unfortunately, LaPorta is a negative regression candidate with TDs. Even with running pure on them last year, he wasn't producing enough receptions and yards to compete with the WRs, RBs, and QBs available in Round 3. I also have seen Kelce and Mark Andrews reach a fantasy ceiling one tier above what LaPorta showed.

WR DeVonta Smith (30th overall)

I'd rather draft: DK Metcalf, elite QBs, elite TEs, or RBs.

He's gone from +6% to +25% all the way to +37% fantasy points over expected in his first three years as a pro. Smith was the 14th-best downfield player last year per completion percentage over expected (+15%), leading to 3.2 more TDs than expected. That was 7th best at the position. Those are very difficult to reproduce, and even with them last year, Smith was the 48th overall player in fantasy points over replacement per game. This isn't to say Smith can't be "the guy you need", but it's just a few spots too early for what his total production has been since the A.J. Brown trade. I'd rather have Jalen Hurts straight up, even if it means Dallas Goedert is my stacking option. I trust Hurts' fantasy value more.

WR Michael Pittman (31st overall)

I'd rather draft: DK Metcalf, Cooper Kupp, Tank Dell, George Pickens, Amari Cooper.

I don't see how he should be going ahead of Anthony Richardson. If Pittman is worth anything near 31st overall, Richardson has likely gone to the moon, yet he's drafted multiple rounds later. Pittman was a perfect fit with Gardner Minshew in Shane Steichen's RPO-heavy system, but things won't be set up like that in 2024 with Richardson's dual-threat ability and downfield arm available. Pittman is a volume eater on underneath routes, but he isn't the potential top-12 NFL talent based on his total package, particularly his ability to work down the field. Against man coverage, he was in the 96th percentile in targets per route but only in the 66th percentile in first downs per route. The potential emergence of boom-bust X receiver AD Mitchell adds to the potential downside risk in the 3rd round. Pittman was the 42nd overall player in half point best ball scoring last year. That seemed relatively close to his ceiling.

WR Zay Flowers (37th overall)

I'd rather draft: Tank Dell, Tee Higgins, George Pickens, Amari Cooper, Christian Kirk.

I don't see how he should be going ahead of Lamar Jackson because of Flowers goes off, Lamar will go even more off. More importantly, Flowers is expected to compete with Mark Andrews again. From Week 2-10 last year (9 games), Andrews averaged 12.2 half PPR points per game on 10.1 expected half PPR points. Flowers was down at 8.2 on 8.6 expected, yet their ADPs are flipped on Underdog. He's a sweet fit in this offense, but Flowers is likely more of a No. 2 target than a go-to option based on his size and route consistency. He was the WR52 against man coverage last year, for example. It's a bit earlier for that type of player profile in an offense that was 24th in WR fantasy usage last year. What if that number drops with Derrick Henry in the mix??? Flowers was 74th in fantasy points over replacement per game as a rookie.

WR Jayden Reed (58th overall)

I'd rather draft: Xavier Worthy, Rome Odunze, Chris Godwin, Ladd McConkey, Brian Thomas Jr, DeAndre Hopkins.

There are two forms of regression to watch out for with Reed: target competition and big-play efficiency. Christian Watson missed half of last year. Without him, Reed averaged 10.8 expected half PPR points. That dropped to 6.4 with him healthy, including 4.7 and 4.6 expected half PPR outings in the two playoff games on 50% and 72% route participation. More Watson playing time would be bad news for Reed. Additionally, Reed had a bonkers +30% fantasy points over expected finish. He did so by ranking 16th in completion percentage over expected (+13%) on his deep targets and 15th in receiving TDs over expected (+2.4 scores). Reed also scored 2 times as a rusher. He's a very good player capable of breaking models and handling manufactured touches, but repeating last year's heat will be difficult. He was the per-game WR33 last year and is drafted as the WR32 right now.

WR Jordan Addison (68th overall)

I'd rather draft: Chris Godwin, Ladd McConkey, Brian Thomas Jr, DeAndre Hopkins, Diontae Johnson.

The Vikings found a legit No. 2 receiver in Addison, but year two expectations need to be realistic after what happened as a rookie. Addison only averaged 6.9 expected half PPR points per game in his 7 contests with Justin Jefferson healthy, versus 10.3 without his super-star teammate. Jefferson is very unlikely to miss as much time in 2024, and Addison's 1st, 3rd, and 4th best fantasy games of the year were without Jefferson and with Kirk Cousins. On top of that, Addison scored 4.2 more TDs than his usage would indicate, which is the 3rd-highest mark of the position. Even if he's a mini model breaker based on his route running ability, Addison has a lot to overcome at a 68th overall ADP on Underdog Fantasy.

RB Alvin Kamara (69th overall)

I'd rather draft: David Montgomery or the RBs priced a round earlier.

It's been 3-straight seasons of below-average fantasy efficiency for Kamara, who turns 29 years old this upcoming season. His -11% fantasy points over expected in 2023 was a career low for him. He scored 3.8 fewer TDs than his usage would indicate and set a new low in yards per touch. The Saints' offensive line is expected to be in an even worse situation after losing two potential starters to retirement, and Kamara is likely to face competition from Kendre Miller after the rookie was sidelined with unfortunate leg injuries last year. It's a good time to fade with the Saints projected for 54 fewer points than he did last year (somehow).

WR Keon Coleman (71st overall)

I'd rather draft: Brian Thomas Jr, DeAndre Hopkins, Diontae Johnson.

Rookie WR attached to Josh Allen. Sign me up... in the 80s and 90s overall. Not up here. Coleman has theoretical upside, but he's a player in development and caught between skill sets. He's physical, not explosive. He's a menace, not super technical. Coleman could end up being a long-term power slot type, but the Bills need him to play X receiver based on the rest of the tiny depth chart. It's essentially the Gabe Davis role without the playing time certainty, as the Bills likely transition into a more balanced and more 2-WR heavy offense. I'm hopeful our redraft leagues don't come with this price tag. I'm also leaving the door open to him later in August if there are reports that Curtis Samuel is the top target in the WR room.

RB Aaron Jones (75th overall)

I'd rather draft: Rhamondre Stevenson, Najee Harris, Jonathon Brooks, Zack Moss, James Conner, Raheem Mostert, etc.

From 2017 to 2022, Jones finished above-average in fantasy points over expected every single year. Then 2023 happened. His -18% points over expected were a career low and he battled injuries yet again. Jones' ineffectiveness was partially felt with a career-low 5.2 yards per touch, but the real culprit was a lack of touchdowns. He scored 3 times. My model thought he should've scored 8, so it was one of the worst discrepancies (-5.0 TDs over expected) at RB. His odds of a true bounce back are diminished by the Vikings' lack of RB usage:

TE Evan Engram (76th overall)

I'd rather draft: Jake Ferguson or the WRs.

Historically, this range of TEs has been awful. It's typically a volume-based play, similar to the RB Dead Zone of old. To me, that's exactly Engram. He's explosive enough to scheme targets to, but when there are other options in the pass game, his volume can be zapped because he's only averaged 6.8 yards per career target. We saw that last year. In 11 games with Christian Kirk (who is also used over the middle and underneath), Engram only averaged 7.7 half PPR points per game. Once Kirk exited with an injury, he jumped to an insane 15.5 across those 5 contests. Trevor Lawrence spoke to Josh and I in Las Vegas after the season, he kept geeking over how reliable, versatile, and fast Kirk is. If the Jaguars are going to beat expectations, the ball will filter through Kirk and explosive rookie Brian Thomas Jr. Another 143 targets to Engram would be insane behavior.

RB D'Andre Swift (85th overall)

I'd rather draft: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, James Conner, Raheem Mostert.

He had an ideal situation with the Eagles last year, but he underwhelmed. Swift finished as the 63rd overall player in fantasy points over replacement, while constantly tripping over himself in clear TD situations. His RB42 finish in fantasy points over expected was a sad outcome behind one of the best OLs in the NFL with a dual-threat QB around to open things up. While a schemed up receiver at times, Swift hasn't been a reliable third down option because of pass protection, something Roschon Johnson excelled at as a rookie. Throw in Khalil Hebert's better-than efficiency, and Swift could easily find himself in 3-RB committee on a likely average offense. There are too many other RBs in this range that have reached a fantasy ceiling Swift has been unable to hit in recent years. For example:

WR Jameson Williams (87th overall)

I'd rather draft: Courtland Sutton, Curtis Samuel, Tyler Lockett.

No ACL recovery. No off-field suspension. No Josh Reynolds. 2024 is our first year to take Jamo seriously in fantasy football, which hurts me to put him on this list again. The price is just steep. Williams is penciled into 2-WR sets. That's huge. He still has flaws to his game on tape, particularly dealing with physicality and routing up CBs in man coverage. Williams of course can fly by CBs and score long TDs (helpful for best ball), but he was the WR66 in man coverage composite score and has cleared 6 targets just once in 19 games so far. A pure "better in best ball" profile typically isn't priced this high. I'd happily take him in the early 100s.

RB Tony Pollard (97th overall)

I'd rather draft: Zack Moss, James Conner, Raheem Mostert, Trey Benson.

Committee member on an offense projected for 20 points per game during the fantasy playoffs (6th worst), and Pollard just might be gassed after a heavy workload and serious lower-leg injury. At the very worst, Tyjae Spears looked comfortable as a pass-catcher in what should be a fairly pass-heavy offense. I'm struggling to see upside in Pollard.

RB Javonte Williams (105th overall)

I'd rather draft: Trey Benson, Gus Edwards, Tyjae Spears, Blake Corum.

We'll see if Williams looks better in his second season back from a serious multi-ligament knee tear, but last year's numbers weren't good enough. He had -22% fantasy points over expected (one of the worst at the position), and the Broncos aren't good enough on offense for him to get there purely as a volume hog. In fact, Denver projects for 52 fewer points than they scored last year, leading them to the 2nd-worst projected team total across the league this year. In-charge Sean Payton didn't draft Williams, but he has brought in Samaje Perine, Audric Estime, Jaleel McLaughlin, and Blake Watson over the last 14 months. As Javonte heads into his contract year, Payton could be looking for production beyond 2024 once December roles around.

WR Khalil Shakir (109th overall)

I'd rather draft: Rashid Shaheed, Josh Palmer, Dontayvion Wicks, Brandin Cooks.

This has to be stacking related because Shakir has playing time and skill talent concerns. Shakir has been a slot-only player to date, which could be problematic if the Bills further commit to 2-TE sets or keep Curtis Samuel in the slot. Last year, Shakir was the WR84 out of 117 qualifiers in man coverage composite score. His targets per route were in the bottom 8th percentile. He's better against zone coverage if that moves your needle.

RB Nick Chubb (118th overall)

I'd rather draft: Gus Edwards, Blake Corum, Ezekiel Elliott, Zach Charbonnet.

This is a devastating multi-ligament to the same knee he already had a knee dislocation to. The Browns didn't make huge investments behind Chubb, but Jerome Ford was functional last year and the offensive identity is no longer as run-heavy as it was during Chubb's prime. Chubb is a PUP candidate with lower projected touch volume upon his return, which is at risk for setbacks. Cleveland kept him for just $2M more than what they would've lost in dead money if they would've fully replaced him. He should be viewed as a committee back in the second half of the season. If you want Chubb, the best time to draft him will likely be in the final weeks of best ball season once it's fully priced in that he's likely to miss regular season time.

QB Jared Goff (124th overall)

I'd rather draft: Jayden Daniels earlier, correlated QBs later.

He was the 126th overall player in fantasy points over replacement per game last year, and the betting markets believe the Lions aren't scoring more points this season. Goff will always lose fantasy points to the dual-threat QBs in the tiers above him, and the Lions' rushing presence in the red zone typically chops off a few passing scores from his box scores over the course of the season. The ceiling is capped. Not a fun sentence to write when we're talking about the best ball format.

TE Dalton Schultz (126th overall)

I'd rather draft: Pat Freiermuth.

You don't throw the ball to Schultz when you have Nico Collins, Tank Dell, and Stefon Diggs. Even if they do, his ceiling is proven mediocre. Schultz was the 108th overall player as the No. 2 or No. 3 target during Stroud's elite run in 2023. That's essentially the ceiling.

TE T.J. Hockenson (134th overall)

I'd rather draft: Pat Freiermuth.

It was a Week 16 injury, and it's even worse than that. He tore his ACL and MCL, meaning the return is more complicated. His surgery didn't happen until January 29th, so 9 months would be a Halloween return. The Vikings aren't in win now mode after dumping Kirk Cousins and already have Hockenson under contract long term. They're likely to slow-play him this year. Even if he's healthier than expected, the Vikings aren't going to be as good on offense with a rookie QB, and Jordan Addison is a target share threat.

QB Kirk Cousins (140th overall)

I'd rather draft: A correlated QB later.

The upside is limited even when he's fully healthy, but there are too many risks to ignore heading into 2024. The Falcons clearly value the idea of Michael Penix, so if anything goes off track with Cousins, they at least have a high-end backup plan. That becomes extra worrisome as we head into the fantasy playoffs. But even before then, Cousins is returning from a torn achilles and he's not a QB that can afford to lose any athletic ability. He's a rhythm passer who uses his entire body to make throws because he's not overwhelmingly strong. Cousins with 10% less zip on his passes doesn't sound great to me, especially if he's compromised moving in the pocket. There are simply too many dual-threat starting QBs nowadays to spend a pick on this profile. We only get 2-3 QB picks each best ball draft.

TE Cole Kmet (142nd overall)

I'd rather draft: Pat Freiermuth.

You don't throw the ball to Kmet when you have D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen, and Rome Odunze.

WR Quentin Johnston (144th overall)

I'd rather draft: Darnell Mooney, Ja'Lynn Polk, Jermaine Burton, Roman Wilson, Adam Thielen, Rashod Bateman.

Most of the time a former 1st rounder attached to a top-5 passing quarterback is a solid buy-low candidate, but Johnston's rookie tape was such a disaster that he's a skip again. He was an unpolished prospect without route nuance, and then he didn't look like a difference-making athlete in the pros. He couldn't threaten vertically, beat press, or get out of his breaks. QJ ultimately checked in as the WR105 out of 117 qualifiers in man coverage composite score. The Chargers have to view him as a low-volume asset only. The hope for 2024 should be that he can prove to opposing CBs that he can run right by them on go balls occasionally.

TE Ben Sinnott (160th overall)

I'd rather draft: Pat Freiermuth, Luke Musgrave, Juwan Johnson, Hunter Henry, Tyler Conklin.

Consensus NFL Draft rankings had Sinnott as the TE3 and 87th overall player. Do we really want to fully re-set expectations because the (checks notes) Washington Commanders drafted him far earlier than expected? Plus, Sinnott had some Irv Smith H-back and fullback vibes in college. It wouldn't be surprising if he needed grooming time as a rookie. It's a big leap for him, and even if he's ready, the Commanders project for the 26th-most points in 2024.

WR Troy Franklin (164th overall)

I'd rather draft: Adam Thielen, Rashod Bateman, Demarcus Robinson, Darius Slayton.

A 4th-round rookie on an offense projected for bottom-5 numbers is being drafted every single time? Really? It sounds silly, but the Broncos do have "names" to mix into the rotation: Courtland Sutton (good at football), Josh Reynolds ($4.2M guaranteed), Tim Patrick ($7.2M guaranteed), and Marvin Mims Jr. (2023 2nd rounder) at the very least.

WR Malachi Corley (166th overall)

I'd rather draft: Rashod Bateman, Demarcus Robinson, Darius Slayton, Greg Dortch.

Is Aaron Rodgers going to trust a gadget-based rookie from Western Kentucky when he can simply give the ball to Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall, and Mike Williams? Coreley has shown nearly zero proof he can run real routes after being utilized on screens, whip routes, mesh routes, and hitches (3.8 air yards per catch). If that's his role and is only playing in 3-WR sets, then it'll be hard for him to matter in half PPR best ball. Corley also isn't the athlete some think (17th percentile forty).

WR Marvin Mims (169th overall)

I'd rather draft: Rashod Bateman, Demarcus Robinson, Darius Slayton, Greg Dortch.

Awful as a rookie. Against man coverage, Mims was the WR98 out of 117 qualifiers. Size will always work against Mims' path to full-time opportunities, especially if it's proven that he needs to work from the slot to get away from physical corners lining up on the line of scrimmage. For now, that's the most likely scenario.

RB J.K. Dobbins (179th overall)

I'd rather draft: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Elijah Mitchell, Braelon Allen, Audric Estime.

His $50k guaranteed from the Chargers this offseason is less than or equal to the top-40 finishers in Best Ball Mania V. Dobbins essentially had his moving expenses paid for during his training camp tryout.

RB Isaac Guerendo (213th overall)

I'd rather draft: Elijah Mitchell.

I was catching up on OTAs news, and this 49ers column from the respected Matt Maiocco went over their plans of slightly reducing Christian McCaffrey's workload this upcoming season. The entire column failed to bring up the 4th-round rookie's name. It was all about Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason, both of whomsth know the offense. Kyle Shanahan also noted that Guerendo is generally inexperienced. I've seen how this story ends as a rookie, which is why I'm heavily targeting Mitchell in the last rounds.