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2024 NFL Draft: Dream fantasy football landing spots for top rookies

The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here. With the final few days before Thursday’s big event, let’s do some wish-casting. Here, you’ll find some player-to-team matches that are based on some degree of realism — sorry, Rome Odunze won’t be matched with the Chiefs nor will Malik Nabers go to the Bills — but they’re made with a strong glance toward selfish fantasy football purposes.

We’re sticking with ultimate realism here as this will be and should be the pick come Thursday night. Williams will be set up for success in Chicago. The Bears have a strong starting receiver duo and an acceptable offensive line. Williams’ second-reaction playmaking gene will lead to some big weeks in Year 1, at the very least.

I’m generally a fan of Drake Maye but I can see the argument that his development will be torn asunder if he has to play early in a bad situation. The Vikings are an excellent ecosystem to develop a young passer with Kevin O’Connell at the controls and a strong supporting cast. They also may not be forced to play him early if Sam Darnold shows well in summer activities. Either way, this secures Justin Jefferson’s long-term outlook and a high-ceiling QB1 for the Vikings.

I don’t think this is the Commanders’ actual mindset but I question some of the media logic of pursuing Jayden Daniels at the top of the draft because he might fit Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Regardless, for this exercise, the fit is nice in Washington. Daniels would bring instant starting potential in fantasy with his rushing chops. His passing style maps well to Terry McLaurin as a vertical X-receiver and Jahan Dotson as a slot spear downfield.

Davante Adams headshot
Davante Adams
WR - LV - #17
2023 - 2024 season
1,144
Yds
67.3
Y/G
175
Targets
103
Rec
8
TD

I’m going with one non-chalky quarterback marriage. The Raiders trade up to acquire the services of J.J. McCarthy after the last regime tried the stopgap approach. McCarthy does have some upside but with Gardner Minshew in place, they can slow-play his development to give McCarthy the best shot at accessing that ceiling when ready. At least now we can hope for a high-end quarterback working alongside Davante Adams in his final prime years.

After so many episodes of Mock Draft Monday, I’ve finally been Nix-pilled and believe he can attain starting-level play in Sean Payton’s offense. He works the short and intermediate areas well and is an accurate passer. I’m not sure if this would require the Broncos to sacrifice future assets or players to get back into Round 1 or at least early on Day 2, but I’m quite confident that Payton doesn’t plan on wasting a year with his current quarterback stable.

In a “dream scenario” exercise, none of the top guys are going to New England. But it would still be pretty odd if Robert Kraft doesn’t insist they come away with no future at the position. Penix has the arm talent to attack downfield but has some flaws in his game. New England can allow Jacoby Brissett to take the early lumps with a rough supporting cast while Penix marinates.

Full disclosure: I’m buying what many are selling about Jonathan Brooks’ possible landing with the Cowboys:

Still, let me provide an alternative. Brooks is a sensible option for the Chargers because they added a competent player in Gus Edwards to take most of the early work this season. Edwards is a bruiser who can get loaded up with rush attempts and, if J.K. Dobbins is healthy, he can sprinkle in too.

Emphasis on if, of course.

With a plan in place, the Chargers can look to get the best out of Brooks as an explosive runner in their system later in the season. The Jets just pulled this plan off with Breece Hall last season.

Florida St. logoFlorida St. logo
Trey Benson
RB - FSU
2023 - 2024 season
905
Yds
69.6
Y/G
5.8
YPC
14
TD
85
Long

FSU’s fierce rusher doesn’t profile as a heavy-workload back, at least not early in his NFL days, but Trey Benson could be the best big-play option in this class. That reminds me a good bit of Tony Pollard's early years in Dallas, and the Cowboys have some competent rushers to mix in with him as the early-down grinders. Benson would make what was a stagnant 2023 Cowboys' rushing game legitimately scary. Dallas’ offense should remain pass-heavy and he can work in as an option on swing catches out of the backfield.

Kansas City already has an explosive back who can handle a big workload in Isiah Pacheco. Adding Jaylen Wright would give them a slasher element to work alongside him. Wright’s collegiate role does not map to the NFL at all, but the Chiefs offense creates spaces for backs and Wright could develop in this spot.

The Panthers got acceptable play from Chuba Hubbard last season after a disaster free-agent signing of Miles Sanders. Given how much Dave Canales and his staff have talked up the run game, I bet they are shooting higher than “acceptable” out of the backfield. Marshawn Lloyd runs with balance and brings some juice to a running back room that needs it. He could be a nice season-long sleeper.

Going to the Chargers is chalk for Blake Corum, but the Giants are another solid landing spot. Losing Saquon Barkley is a big blow and replacing him with Devin Singletary isn’t enough. Corum is a technically sound runner who should be able to start for this team sooner than later.

Ray Davis probably goes on Day 3 but that’s the area the Raiders should be looking for backs. Zamir White had some nice moments in relief for Josh Jacobs last season. Adding a solid and rugged presence like Davis gives them two players with similar skill sets. Let them compete and roll with the best option.

I firmly believe that the Chargers desire a trade-down that facilitates adding someone in the trenches for Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman to build around. But this is a dream scenario exercise, and Justin Herbert and Marvin Harrison Jr. working together for the next decade is a vision of joy. After starting his career with Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, Herbert has shown he can work with boundary X-receivers and high-quality separators. Harrison checks both boxes and is ready-made to hit the NFL field as a strong starter.

I know, I know. This is not what you wanted to see.

However, Malik Nabers’ game as an intermediate-area route runner and explosive run-after-catch freakshow makes him uniquely able to survive the Giants' landing spot in the top 10. New York would simply ask its quarterback to find him early on outlet receptions and let Nabers do the rest. Nabers would be a target hog from Day 1 and, while last year was not promising, I still believe in Brian Daboll’s ability to get players in space creatively. In this scenario, Nabers may come at a slight discount in dynasty rookie drafts.

Rome Odunze is a polished and high-ceiling prospect at the X-receiver position, which is currently a gaping hole on the Cardinals roster. His ball-tracking, tight coverage chops and crafty route-running make him a safe and high-ceiling prospect. Kyler Murray worked well with a player who carried those skills in DeAndre Hopkins early in his career. Odunze could help revive that type of connection. He would moonwalk into 130-plus targets in Year 1.

The Falcons need one more threatening receiver on this offense, and Ladd McConkey would immediately step into the No. 2 role behind Drake London. McConkey would give the Falcons some flexibility with Darnell Mooney to move between the flanker and slot positions.

The Colts could add an alternative to Alec Pierce in the vertical X-receiver position on the offense. Brian Thomas Jr. would complete the room with Michael Pittman Jr. as the intermediate volume hog and Josh Downs in the slot. Anthony Richardson gets a lid-lifter and would be set up for success in Year 2.

This has been my favorite landing spot for Keon Coleman since I worked on his film because I think he needs to move to a power slot role in the pros. Coleman could provide the Bengals an immediate replacement for Tyler Boyd inside as a rookie and grow into the second target behind Ja’Marr Chase if Tee Higgins leaves after this season.

The Panthers continue to add separators to the offense to give Bryce Young what he needs to succeed. Ricky Pearsall is an excellent route runner and has reliable hands at all three levels of the field. He’s probably best as a flanker but can work inside and has the moves off the line to be a passable X-receiver. Pearsall and Diontae Johnson as the top receivers on the team is a massive leap from what Carolina rolled out as the outside receivers in 2023.

This one makes so much sense that it will not happen. In the Patrick Mahomes era, the Chiefs almost exclusively drafted and signed flanker, slot or gadget receivers. It’s time to get an X-receiver candidate to work the boundary. Mitchell isn’t a flawless prospect but he is a downfield ball-winner with the makings of strong route running against man and press coverage outside. The Chiefs could have used a player like this regardless but the legal situation hovering over Rashee Rice makes this a true “must” area to address.

Full credit to Jordan Vanek on this one. He got me to buy in:

Worthy would step into the role Tutu Atwell held down for the Rams early in 2023. Sean McVay and co. finally got the best out of Atwell by using him on the full-speed pre-snap motion plays. Worthy would file in and give them an upgrade. Worthy’s speed downfield would be maximized with Matthew Stafford and he’d clear out the field for Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp.

I don’t think Xavier Legette is refined enough as a receiver to run out as the X and win early in his career. With George Pickens in place, he wouldn’t have to. Legette could be something of a position-less wonder for the former Falcons head coach but is a real threat on the type of crossing routes Arthur Smith loves to deploy off play-action. His run-after-catch potential could actually incentivize Russell Wilson and/or Justin Fields to work the middle of the field. The Steelers desperately need to add juice in the receiver room.

Jacksonville has added pass-catchers every offseason the last three years and still needs a wideout. Troy Franklin could slide in as the flanker in this offense in 11-personnel packages with Gabe Davis holding down the X and Christian Kirk hogging volume in the slot. I’m mixed on the player but think Franklin would be best used off the line and as a vertical attack separator. That’s essentially the role they wanted Calvin Ridley to fill once they signed Davis.

If there weren’t character concerns around Jermaine Burton and Alabama had a functional passing game last season, I’m convinced he’d be in a tier with AD Mitchell, at the very worst. As it stands, Burton may slide to Day 3. Dallas needs more pop at the receiver position behind CeeDee Lamb. Burton can win on vertical routes and has the upside to develop into a high-quality target earner because he can run just about every route.

If the Bills aren’t able to secure a downfield X-receiver, they should look to Javon Baker on Day 2. Few receivers in this class ran more downfield routes than Baker, and he demonstrated the separation and route-running chops to be able to fill that role early in the NFL. There’s potential for him to develop into a fringe No. 1 type of target. For this exercise, he’s the deep-game merchant for Buffalo as it funnels targets to Curtis Samuel and Khalil Shakir as the flanker and slot.

My only concern with Brock Bowers is that he ends up with a coaching staff that tries to over-complicate his role and puts too much on his plate. Some popular landing spots in mock drafts send up those alarm bells:

Pairing Bowers with Sean Payton in Denver alleviates those worries for me. Payton has made great use of “joker” types at the tight end position and has gotten production from big slot receivers over the years. Bowers blurs the lines here. The 12th overall pick on a tight end is aggressive on paper, but Bowers is a top prospect and Denver’s toothless roster simply needs REAL players.