😨 The Scariest Fades of 2024

They're going to haunt me...

Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by the Fantasy Life Magazine

Thirteen days until the start of training camps. My body is ready.

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by the Fantasy Life Magazine:

  • Two players I’m fading that I don’t feel great about

  • Watercooler: A random sideline convo turns into a blockbuster trade

  • The 2024 Fantasy Landscape: What’s changed?

  • It's 7/3. Take it away, Chris Allen…

The inherent upside of drafting multiple best ball teams is betting on your convictions. Through exposure rates, we can confirm we are, in fact, putting our money where our mouths are.

I wrote up Demarcus Robinson as an ideal sleeper candidate, and through 50 drafts, he’s on 16.0% of my teams. However, hyping up a player has its drawbacks.

While targeting my guys, I’ve developed blind spots for other players at similar ADPs. My preferred builds and stacks drive me away from otherwise reasonable options. And a couple of the guys I’ve been naturally fading have me a bit worried about my portfolio’s outlook for 2024.

 🏁 Zay Flowers, Ravens (ADP: 35.8)

Zay Flowers took his first-round draft capital and turned into an instant hit for the Ravens. Only Flowers and Puka Nacua earned more than 20.0% of their team’s targets as rookies, and Zay’s 12.9 PPR PPG sits at 16th amongst all first-year WRs over the last five seasons. But I hesitate to click on him for a few reasons.

Flowers accrued 27.4% of his yards on broken plays (pass attempts with a time to throw over 3.5 seconds), which was the fifth-highest rate of all WRs with a target share above 20.0%. No other WR with triple-digit looks had a higher rate of screen passes (24.0%). Plus, with a 1.64 YPRR and TPRR similar to Zay Jones (both at 0.21), the math ain’t mathin’ for me (as the kids say).

Regardless, it only took three weeks for Flowers to soar to a 33.3% target share. And when Lamar Jackson did attempt a pass in the red zone, only Mark Andrews saw more passes thrown his way. Flowers’s explosive ability while being the WR1 on an offense piloted by our QB4, along with being a high-end piece in BAL-HOU game stacks, justifies his ADP. Despite my preference for Tee Higgins (ADP: 39.4), I’m rethinking my stance on Flowers along with my approach to the 3/4 turn.

🐦 James Conner, Cardinals (ADP: 93.7)

Admittedly, Conner’s lengthy injury history has been a partial reason for me to look at Zack Moss or last year’s TD king, Raheem Mostert, at about the same time in the draft. Arizona spending a Day 2 pick on Trey Benson didn’t allay my concerns, either. Benson graded out as the second-best rookie RB in the Super Rookie Model.

But I forgot about Conner’s dominance over the Cardinals’ backfield.

  • Team Carry Rate: 57.9% (pre-injury), 61.1% (with Murray)

  • i5 Carry Rate: 100.0%, 60.0%

  • Target Rate: 8.3%, 10.0%

From PFF Rushing Grade to routes per team dropback, Conner posted top-20 marks in most of the RB stats that matter for fantasy. And with an eighth-round cost, his (likely) absence from a game or two mitigates most of the risk of having him on your roster.

Critically, Conner fits almost any draft strategy. Pairing him with an early-round rusher in a hero RB build sets you up with a potent RB2, as Conner was the RB7 after Murray returned. On the flip side, having a ball carrier with goal line and receiving opportunities in a zero RB construction gives you the runway to swing for the fences at the position in later rounds.

Somebody should put together a bunch of articles on more players we should look out for or what to expect on draft day. Does anyone know where I could find something like that?

Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by the Fantasy Life Magazine

📺 The Giants took center stage last night. Hard Knocks is back, baby!

🧀 Is another leap in store for Jordan Love? Packers outlook for 2024.

🥺 The Seahawks send a gift to their QB1. Forever grateful.

🦁 Is 2024’s TE1’s ADP TOO high? Ian and Dwain weigh in.

🙃 A glimpse into Carolina’s war room on draft day. Seems normal to me.

👀 Baltimore looks to maximize their TE duo in ‘24. This offense will be unstoppable.

😢 The Browns say goodbye to their mascot. The goodest boy.

🤔 Trey Sermon offseason hype? This train ain't never late.

Risers and Fallers

We're just over two months away from the start of the NFL season, which means that drafts for our home, work, and/or friend leagues will be here before we know it. Understanding the ADP landscape from a high level is just as important (if not more important) to navigating your draft and building the best possible team. To help, Jonathan took a look at what’s changed since last year, where we can find value and mispriced players.

We want to understand how the draft landscape has changed from last year, how positional scarcity develops based on current ADP, and which players are clear values right now by comparing Fantasy Life rankings to current ADP. 

Of course, it's barely July, and very few drafts have actually been done on platforms like ESPN and Yahoo. As the summer rolls on and we get more live draft data, I'll be giving regular updates on how the ESPN ADP landscape is shifting and explaining what opportunities create for us in drafts.

🗺 How has the draft landscape changed in 2024?

The biggest difference at the top of draft boards in 2024 is that you won't have to take the TE1 or QB1 in the first or early second round this year. In 2023, Travis Kelce was a mid-first-round pick, and Patrick Mahomes went off the board at the Round 1-2 turn. Kelce now goes late in Round 2 (ADP of pick No. 21.7 overall), and Josh Allen (27.2) and Mahomes (27.6), the top QBs off the board, generally aren't drafted until the early third round.

The top five QBs are all a bit less expensive this year, likely due to some disappointing performances from the highest-drafted QBs in 2023. This year, the QB5 (C.J. Stroud) is being taken at pick No. 45.7 overall, which is nearly a full round later than last year's QB5. If you like building a roster with an elite QB, the cost to do so is lower than it has been in recent seasons.

Interestingly enough, the WR mania from best ball drafts hasn't impacted ESPN ADP much, at least not yet. Whether or not drafters will push the WR position up the board as we get closer to Week 1 is a potential key trend that I'll be on the lookout for as we get more live draft data in the coming months. If that doesn't happen, later WR ADP could be an opportunity to exploit for those playing in PPR formats.

🔎 Where are some pockets of value?

Based on the current ESPN ADP, my favorite section of the draft board right now are the WRs available in late Round 3 through the end of Round 5.

This group usually consists of the WR15 through WR24 and is littered with tremendous talents. I would be happy to add any of these players to my roster at their current cost.

The other thing I love about this group is that there are many different player archetypes to choose from. If you want to take a swing on a potentially elite breakout WR1, you can draft Drake London, Nico Collins, or Zay Flowers. If steady veteran production is more your style, guys like Cooper Kupp and Deebo Samuel are available.

Meanwhile, DK Metcalf, D.J. Moore, Brandon Aiyuk, and DeVonta Smith are all proven studs available at a discount due to target competition in their offense. You really can't go wrong with the WRs in this range, especially when you compare these players to the RBs being drafted around them. Alvin Kamara, Rachaad White, Kenneth Walker, and Rhamondre Stevenson are all being drafted from pick No. 36 to pick No. 60 overall, and I'm pretty sure that I prefer every single WR shown above over that RB tier.

Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by the Fantasy Life Magazine