2024 NFL draft: Fantasy football analysis of Rounds 1-3

Fantasy projections for the 2024 rookie NFL pass catchers (1:26)

Check out Mike Clay's fantasy projections for Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze, Brock Bowers and Brian Thomas Jr. (1:26)

Our ESPN Fantasy Football trio of Liz Loza, Matt Bowen and Mike Clay offer their analysis of each skill position player selected in the first three rounds of the 2024 NFL draft, as well as projections for their rookie season. In addition, Stephania Bell provides pertinent injury analysis for a few first-rounders.

Will top quarterbacks Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye make noise in their maiden voyage through the league like C.J. Stroud did last season? Will Marvin Harrison Jr. make the biggest impression of this deep wide receiver class, or will Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze put up better numbers in Year 1? Could Brock Bowers match the impact Sam LaPorta had last season?

There's no better time than now to start thinking about the 2024 fantasy football season.

Round 1

No. 1: Caleb Williams, QB, Chicago Bears

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 324 of 497, 3,391 yards, 20 TD, 13 INT;
62 carries, 312 yards, 3 TD (15 games)

A natural creator with the ability to produce difference-making plays, Williams has the dual-threat traits to log viable fantasy numbers as a rookie. Keeping him on schedule as a pocket thrower will be a priority in Chicago, but with a proven pair of veteran pass-catchers (DJ Moore and Keenan Allen) and dynamic rookie Rome Odunze (taken ninth overall), Williams has the highest ceiling of any quarterback in 2024 class. He should be drafted as a high-end QB2, providing immediate returns in superflex formats. -- Bowen

No. 2: Jayden Daniels, QB, Washington Commanders

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 320 of 515, 3,447 yards, 15 TD, 14 INT;
106 carries, 578 yards, 5 TD (15 games)

Not dissimilar in playing style to Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, Daniels' throwing traits are a keen fit for Kliff Kingsbury's offense. Expect the Commanders' new offensive coordinator to employ plenty of spread passing elements, which should help the 23-year-old's transition to the pros. With Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson leading the receiving corps as well as a solid run game available to establish a rhythm, Daniels slides into a sneaky-productive situation. Add in his elite rushing instincts, and the rookie could potentially thrive as a QB2 in superflex formats as early as Year 1. -- Loza

No. 3: Drake Maye, QB, New England Patriots

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 325 of 511, 3,361 yards, 16 TD, 13 INT;
66 carries, 330 yards, 2 TD (15 games)

With a 6-foot-4, 223-pound frame, Maye has the physical tools to create fantasy production in his rookie season. He's a high-velocity thrower who can attack all three levels of the field, and he has the ability to post rushing totals on designed carries and scramble attempts. The Patriots signed veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett this offseason, so a camp battle looms this summer. If Maye wins the starting job, however, he brings value to superflex formats as an upside QB2. -- Bowen

No. 4: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Arizona Cardinals

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 82 receptions, 1,115 yards, 5 TD (15 games)

A polished playmaker with a Hall of Fame father, Harrison is arguably the most pro-ready player in this year's draft class, regardless of position. Kyler Murray might not be the most consistent passer in the NFL, but he has proven capable of supporting a top-15 fantasy producer at the position (DeAndre Hopkins was a top-15 WR in fantasy points per game in all three of his seasons as a Cardinal). Harrison should easily emerge as Murray's primary option, likely flirting with double-digit targets on a weekly basis and making him a priority rookie in redraft and dynasty formats. -- Loza

No. 6: Malik Nabers, WR, New York Giants

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 75 receptions, 982 yards, 5 TD (15 games)

Nabers is an explosive receiver. He can stretch defenses vertically from slot or boundary alignments, with the physical catch-and-run traits to create in open grass. In New York under Brian Daboll, Nabers will be schemed as a three-level, big-play target. The Giants will need to see a higher level of play from quarterback Daniel Jones this season, but there's no question about Nabers' ability to elevate the pass game. He should be drafted as a WR3, with the potential to produce lower-end WR2 numbers as a rookie. -- Bowen

No. 8: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Atlanta Falcons

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 42 of 65, 451 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT; 6 carries, 21 yards, 0 TD (2 starts)

Penix is a rhythm pocket passer who is accurate at the second and third levels of the field. He can also drive the ball with velocity. Just check out the tape from the Sugar Bowl win over Texas. He was dialed in. Penix is a strong fit for an Atlanta offense that features more play-action elements. He has the pocket mobility to reset his throwing window or attack the edges on bootlegs. With the Falcons signing veteran Kirk Cousins this offseason, however, Penix's fantasy value is limited to dynasty formats only. -- Bowen

Bell's injury analysis: During his collegiate career, Penix suffered four season-ending injuries: two to his shoulders and two to his knees. The shoulder injuries were not of concern -- an AC sprain to his left (throwing) shoulder that resolved fully without surgery and an injury to his right shoulder that was surgically repaired -- and Penix's throwing capability over his past two seasons certainly put any potential questions to rest. However, the two ACL injuries -- both to his right knee -- may have given some teams pause.

The fact Penix has played the past two years was a positive on two fronts: He was able to prove he had fully overcome both injuries to perform at his peak ability, and, being two years removed from his revision ACL surgery greatly diminished concerns about a re-tear. It's worth noting, however, that should he sustain another ACL tear, it could pose a greater challenge to return to pre-injury performance. In the short term, Penix is fully healthy with no limitations; long-term durability concerns may be where some teams hesitated.

The Falcons clearly felt the reward of Penix's talent outweighed any medical risk. They also noted that the plan for Kirk Cousins to be their starting QB this season is unchanged, reassuring everyone that their first selection in this year's draft class was not to signal any issues with Cousins' recovery from Achilles surgery.

No. 9: Rome Odunze, WR, Chicago Bears

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 55 receptions, 739 yards, 4 TD (15 games)

A former track standout with a 6-foot-3 and 212-pound frame, Odunze has the size and speed to win on the outside at the next level. Utilizing route savvy and a catch radius in the 97th percentile, the Washington product figures to round out the Bears' receiving corps, working opposite DJ Moore and as a complement to Keenan Allen in the slot. Given the crowded WR room and the presence of a rookie QB, Odunze is likely to start slow but could flirt with 60 grabs by the close of his first pro campaign. -- Loza

No. 10: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Minnesota Vikings

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 327 of 516, 3,535 yards, 19 TD, 13 INT; 45 carries, 197 yards, 2 TD (14 starts)

McCarthy fits in Kevin O'Connell's offense as a ball distributor who can produce off defined, play-action throws. McCarthy possesses high-end pocket movement to work in tight quarters and has the ability to make second-reaction throws, He can create for himself as a runner or thrower. With the Vikings signing veteran Sam Darnold this offseason, McCarthy will have to earn that No. 1 job in camp. If he is the starter this season, McCarthy has lower-end QB2 value in deeper, superflex formats. -- Bowen

No. 12: Bo Nix, QB, Denver Broncos

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 307 of 486, 3,076 yards, 16 TD, 15 INT; 47 carries, 154 yards, 1 TD (14 starts)

Nix broke out after transferring from Auburn to Oregon. As a Duck, he demonstrated stunning improvisational instincts, often delivering off platform. His playing style is exciting, but the pace of the NFL could lead to questionable decision-making, particularly when throwing deep, an area in which Nix struggled in college. He has a real shot of winning the starting gig in Denver, and his ability to extend plays with his legs could pad fantasy stats, but he's likely no more than a streaming option in 2QB and superflex leagues heading into 2024. -- Loza

Fantasy projections for the 2024 rookie NFL QBs

Check out Mike Clay's fantasy projections for Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, Michael Penix Jr., J.J. McCarthy and Bo Nix.

No. 13: Brock Bowers, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 56 receptions, 651 yards, 4 TD (15 games)

Bowers is the unquestioned top tight end prospect in the 2024 class. He has the route-running traits to uncover versus safeties and linebackers and the ability to stretch the seams. Plus, he's a skilled and rugged mover after the catch. While the Raiders drafted TE Michael Mayer in the second round last year, Bowers is the Raiders tight end you want to roster in fantasy. He'll be a fringe TE1 as a rookie with the ability to produce breakout games. -- Bowen

No. 23: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 57 receptions, 756 yards, 4 TD (15 games)

Thomas thrived as a consistent downfield playmaker at LSU and led the FBS with 17 receiving TDs in 2023. Thomas uses his speed (4.33-second 40-yard dash) and length (6-foot-3) to shine as a fluid route runner with an incredible catch radius (98th percentile). His arrival in Jacksonville signals a departure for Zay Jones. Assuming Thomas replaces Jones as the Jaguars' primary vertical threat, the rookie could post boom weeks for fantasy managers, particularly as a flex option. -- Loza

Bell's injury analysis: Thomas had a flagged shoulder issue according to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, but his selection in the first round proved this was not a limiting factor, especially given his talent. If it eventually gives him any trouble at the pro level, the Jaguars are confident they can address it.

No. 28: Xavier Worthy, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 44 receptions, 582 yards, 5 TD (15 games)

An electric mover with ridiculous 4.21 speed, Worthy can stretch defenses vertically or run away from coverage on crossers and over routes. And in Andy Reid's heavily schemed pass game, Worthy can operate as a multilevel target for quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs have some depth at wide receiver now, and tight end Travis Kelce remains Mahomes' top target. However, given Worthy's speed and big-play chops, he should be drafted as a WR3, with potentially more upside in non-PPR formats. -- Bowen

No. 31: Ricky Pearsall, WR, San Francisco 49ers

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 32 receptions, 430 yards, 3 TD (15 games)

Pearsall is a favorite among metrics mavens, presenting with elite testing numbers that include burst and agility scores above the 95th percentile. Pearsall gives off Christian Kirk vibes, likely best deployed in the slot but with the route savvy, strength and catch radius to successfully work all levels of the field. With Brandon Aiyuk rumors swirling, Pearsall could find himself in a starting role sooner rather than later. He's a wonderful fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense and is worth a flier for upside-seeking fantasy managers. -- Loza

No. 32: Xavier Legette, WR, Carolina Panthers

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 48 receptions, 633 yards, 3 TD (15 games)

Legette plays with speed (4.39-second 40-yard dash) and power. He's unafraid in traffic, using an impressive blend of balance and body control to regularly win in contested situations. The 23-year-old will join Diontae Johnson and Adam Thielen, likely working opposite Johnson on the outside. He's a solid catch-and-run target for second-year quarterback Bryce Young, but given volume restrictions and questions about Young's development, Legette presents as an unlikely starter for fantasy managers. -- Loza

Round 2

No. 33: Keon Coleman, WR, Buffalo Bills

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 52 receptions, 706 yards, 4 TD (15 games)

Coleman, a former basketball player who played for Tom Izzo at Michigan State, has size (6-foot-3, 213 pounds) and hops. The Florida State product uses incredible ball skills to regularly climb the ladder to make circus catches. His routes lack polish, but he'll be thrown into action with Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis no longer in Buffalo. An X receiver with downfield ability, Coleman figures to emerge as a primary red zone option for Josh Allen. His stat lines might be boom or bust, but he's deserving of top-40 consideration at the position for fantasy purposes. -- Loza

No. 34: Ladd McConkey, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 66 receptions, 849 yards, 5 TD (15 games)

The Chargers needed to add a receiving target in Jim Harbaugh's offense, and McConkey can uncover at multiple levels of the field, with the juice to create after the catch. There's detail to his game in the route tree. And given the depth chart in Los Angeles, McConkey could emerge quickly as a prime target for quarterback Justin Herbert. He should be drafted as a WR3 this season. -- Bowen

No. 37: Ja'Lynn Polk, WR, New England Patriots

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 34 receptions, 411 yards, 2 TD (15 games)

Polk is a wonderfully well-rounded receiver. His routes are precise and his hands are sticky. New England had a need at the position and, clearly, the Patriots' overhauled coaching regime valued Polk's consistency over a lack of elite testing numbers. Between questionable volume and the likely presence of a rookie quarterback, however, Polk doesn't figure to make an immediate impact in redraft formats. His rapport with Drake Maye will be something to keep an eye on, though. -- Loza

No. 46: Jonathon Brooks, RB, Carolina Panthers

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 195 carries, 871 yards, 6 TD; 35 receptions, 257 yards, 1 TD (14 games)

Brooks suffered an ACL injury in November, and he joins a crowded running back room in Carolina with Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders. However, Brooks has the traits of a three-down back in a pro offense. He's a slasher who has the vision to find daylight and second-level elusiveness to create big plays. Plus, Brooks has the receiving skills to produce out of the backfield. If he's ready to roll at the start of camp, look for Brooks to emerge as the lead back in the Panthers' offense. He's a flex/RB2 target in redraft leagues. -- Bowen

Bell's injury analysis: Brooks tore his ACL on Nov. 11, 2023, putting an early ending to his final season with Texas. At the NFL combine, Brooks informed the media he had begun light running in late February and hoped to be fully cleared for training camp. It stands to reason the Panthers will bring him along gradually into football activities as he ramps up toward any sort of game action. Between acclimating to football and transitioning to the pro level, it would not be surprising if Brooks' workload is limited early.

No. 52: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Indianapolis Colts

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 47 receptions, 566 yards, 3 TD (15 games)

A field stretcher with electric speed (4.34-second 40-yard dash) and dizzying change-of-direction skills, "AD" Mitchell projects to work primarily as an outside vertical threat. He figures to leapfrog Alec Pierce upon arriving in Indianapolis, working opposite Michael Pittman Jr., while Josh Downs mans the slot. Mitchell's explosive skill set is a fantastic complement to the corps. His yards per reception could be massive, assuming Anthony Richardson can stay healthy. That said, volume could be scarce, which would make him a better bet in best ball than redraft formats heading into 2024. -- Loza

No. 53: Ben Sinnott, TE, Washington Commanders

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 19 receptions, 193 yards, 1 TD (15 games)

With the route traits to work the middle of the field or stretch defenses at the third level, Sinnott is an easy mover from multiple alignments. He can rumble after the catch, too. Washington signed 33-year-old tight end Zach Ertz, so that impacts Sinnott's fantasy value as a rookie. However, new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury will deploy two-tight end sets in his game plan, which keeps Sinnott on the radar this season as a potential streaming option. -- Bowen

Round 3

No. 65: Malachi Corley, WR, New York Jets

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 39 receptions, 439 yards, 3 TD; 9 carries, 54 yards, 0 TD (15 games)

Aptly nicknamed the "YAC King," Corley racked up a jaw-dropping 694 yards after the catch (WR5) in 2023. At 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, the Western Kentucky product moves more like a running back than a wide receiver after the catch. He's been compared to Deebo Samuel throughout the draft process, though that's generous (and largely discounts Samuel's receiving skills). Still, the 22-year-old brings a physical element to the Jets' receiving corps. He could emerge as a top-35 fantasy player at the position given Mike Williams' injury history, and is worth a late-round flier in redraft formats. However, fantasy managers should temper immediate expectations. -- Loza

No. 66: Trey Benson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 115 carries, 495 yards, 3 TD; 22 receptions, 152 yards, 1 TD (15 games)

Benson has the pro frame (6-foot, 216 pounds), contact balance and home run ability to thrive in a gap scheme. Get him on a north/south track to attack the second level, and he has the 4.39 speed to burst into the open field. Benson can log numbers as a receiver, too, on screens and underneath throws. In Arizona, James Conner is still No. 1 in the Cardinals' backfield, so Benson will play a rotational role as a rookie. He's worth a late-round pick as an insurance option in redraft leagues. -- Bowen

No. 80: Jermaine Burton, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 43 receptions, 510 yards, 3 TD (15 games)

Burton has the strength to work through contact at multiple levels of the field and the ability to separate at the third level to get loose over the top. He's a strong, hands catcher who can work on the boundary. Burton joins a highly talented (and crowded) wide receiver room in Cincinnati. He will be in a position to compete for the No. 3 role in the Bengals' offense, and has plenty of upside in dynasty formats with Tee Higgins slated to play this season on the franchise tag. -- Bowen

No. 82: Tip Reiman, TE, Arizona Cardinals

Reiman was a track and field standout who played defense in high school in South Dakota before converting to tight end as a senior. That versatility shows in his ability as a receiver and blocker. Reiman is a better blocker than he is a receiver, though he does have potential as a pass-catcher in the short-to-intermediate levels of the field. He will be behind Trey McBride on the depth chart, which suggests the Illinois product will work as an inline option. Reiman offers little value to fantasy football managers, barring an injury to McBride. -- Loza

No. 83: Blake Corum, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 110 carries, 453 yards, 4 TD; 18 receptions, 130 yards, 1 TD (14 games)

Corum led the Wolverines' run-centric offense all the way to the national championship, regularly shimmying his way past defenders and through holes. While he proved he can handle a large volume of touches (he rushed for 1,245 yards and 27 touchdowns on 258 attempts in 2023), he likely won't emerge as the Rams' primary ball carrier, since Kyren Williams holds that honor. However, Corum could flirt with double-digit touches on a per-game basis and is likely to eat into Williams' snap count. Corum is worth a late-round pick in redraft leagues with deep benches, but his value would experience a sizable bump if Williams were to be sidelined. -- Loza

No. 84: Roman Wilson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 28 receptions, 368 yards, 2 TD (15 games)

Wilson is an inside target who has 4.39 speed in the 40 to stress defenses on deep over routes and vertical concepts. He should man the slot for the Steelers in their three-wide receiver sets. He'll work the underneath levels, too, but I really like the idea of Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Arthur Smith scheming up play-action targets for Wilson to create big-play opportunities. Considering the expected volume for George Pickens and Smith's run-heavy approach, Wilson can be targeted as a late-round flier in deeper redraft leagues, but he has much more upside in dynasty formats. -- Bowen

No. 88: MarShawn Lloyd, RB, Green Bay Packers

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 74 carries, 305 yards, 2 TD; 17 receptions, 119 yards, 1 TD (14 games)

Lloyd is a polarizing prospect. When he booms, he booms hard, as evidenced by his ability to regularly rip off long runs. Nearly 21% of his carries went for 10 yards or more in 2023. Unfortunately, ball security has been an issue for the Trojan, who committed eight fumbles on 289 career carries. But his diverse skill set -- which includes pass-catching potential -- is abundant with upside. He has an opportunity to learn (and bring the juice) behind Josh Jacobs in Green Bay. The landing spot, however, stunts Lloyd's ability to make an immediate impact in redraft leagues. -- Loza

No. 92: Jalen McMillan, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 29 receptions, 349 yards, 2 TD (15 games)

McMillan has playmaking ability from the slot. He can get vertical, create in space and turn underneath throws into big gains. The route running is pro-ready, too. He faces strong competition for targets in Tampa with established veterans Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, which lowers his projected totals. While McMillan has more value in dynasty formats, Baker Mayfield's aggressive throwing mentality opens the door for fantasy managers to use a late-round flier on him. -- Bowen

No. 100: Luke McCaffrey, WR, Washington Commanders

Mike Clay's 2024 projection: 28 receptions, 325 yards, 1 TD (15 games)

The younger brother of Christian McCaffrey boosted his draft profile by running a 4.46 40-yard dash at the combine. He's a taller slot target (6-foot-2), who is willing to work the dirty areas of the field, and he has the savvy route traits to manipulate coverage and get open. McCaffrey will have a shot to win the starting slot role in Kliff Kingsbury's offense as a rookie. However, with Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson commanding a large share of the targets, McCaffrey is more of a dynasty play. -- Bowen