The Ultimate Fantasy Football Rookies Lineup for 2024

Jun 5, 2024; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) prepares to pass a ball during an OTA workout at Commanders Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 5, 2024; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) prepares to pass a ball during an OTA workout at Commanders Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Rookies can often be the difference between building a championship-caliber team and a squad that treads water. And in recent years, first-year players have made an even bigger impact. Guys like C.J. Stroud, Jonathan Taylor, Najee Harris, Puka Nacua, Ja’Marr Chase and Sam LaPorta among others) have changed the track of fantasy leagues, turning what might have otherwise been good fantasy teams into championship winners.

To help you in your quest to find the best Year 1 player for this season, here’s a fantasy starting lineup that’s composed only of who I project as the top rookies in 2024.  

Who knows, this squad alone could be a major contender in your upcoming leagues!

Quarterback: Jayden Daniels, Washington Commanders

I love quarterbacks who can run with the football, so it’s fitting that I have Daniels on my list of breakouts (and ahead of Caleb Williams, the top pick in the NFL draft). Daniels, the second overall pick, rushed for over 2,000 combined yards and 21 touchdowns in his final two years at LSU. He also completed over 72% of his passes in his final collegiate season, so Daniels isn’t a one-trick pony. He could become a top-10 fantasy asset.

Running back: Jonathon Brooks, Carolina Panthers

The first running back selected in the 2024 NFL Draft, Brooks will compete for a prominent role as a rookie. While he will have to contend with Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders, Brooks has a far higher ceiling … assuming he’s ready to roll coming off a torn ACL in his final collegiate season. Brooks is no lock for Year 1 success, but I’d be willing to bet he’ll become a fantasy asset. Maybe it won’t happen immediately, but it’ll happen.

Running back: Trey Benson, Arizona Cardinals

The rookie running back class isn’t tremendous, as no one Brooks (maybe) landed in a spot where he can take over a starting role in Week 1. That includes Benson, who will start his NFL career behind James Conner in Arizona. Conner hasn’t been the most durable runner in his career, however, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see Benson get a few starts and earn a bigger role in the running game. He’ll be worth a late middle round selection.

Wide receiver: Marvin Harrison Jr., Arizona Cardinals

I have to be honest … I love Harrison Jr. this season. How much do I love him? Well, I even have him ranked ahead of Davante Adams in my re-draft list. He was the best wide receiver in the 2024 class, and he landed in the perfect spot with a Cardinals offense that will use him as an alpha right out of the gates. With Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore now gone, Harrison Jr. will see plenty of targets in Year 1. He has top-12 wideout potential.

Malik Nabers
East Rutherford, NJ -- June 11, 2024 -- Wide receiver, Malik Nabers at the NY Giants Mandatory Minicamp at their practice facility in East Rutherford, NJ. / Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA

Wide receiver: Malik Nabers, New York Giants

Harrison Jr. wasn’t the lone rookie wideout who landed in a good spot from a real and fantasy perspective, as Nabers is a virtual lock to lead the Giants in targets this season. Sure, the quarterback is Daniel Jones or Drew Lock, but volume of opportunities can often overcome bad signal-callers. Nabers, who comes from the wide receiver friendly LSU offense, should push for weekly starting value in fantasy leagues in his first year.

Flex: Ladd McConkey, Los Angeles Chargers

McConkey’s fantasy stock rose in the offseason and culminated in him being picked near the top of the second round of the NFL draft. He ultimately landed with the Chargers, who traded Keenan Allen and released Mike Williams in the offseason. That opens almost 20 targets per game, some of which will no doubt be absorbed by McConkey. He could push for flex value as a rookie as a potential target hog for quarterback Justin Herbert.

Tight end: Brock Bowers, Las Vegas Raiders

Bowers is one of the most highly touted tight ends to come out of the collegiate ranks, so it’s no surprise to see him in this rookie lineup. I don’t love where he landed, as Bowers will contend with Adams, Jakobi Meyers and to a lesser degree, fellow tight end Michael Mayer. Still, he’s got the tools to stay on the field all three downs and become a trustworthy option for Adian O’Connell or Gardner Minshew. I have him ranked in the top 12 among TEs.

Kicker: Joshua Karty, Los Angeles Rams

Karty is the favorite to open the season as the starting kicker for coach Sean McVay, and kicking behind a high-octane Rams offense is quite an advantage. Last season, between Brett Maher and Lucas Havrisik, Rams kickers averaged eight fantasy points a game. Karty, who was a star at Stanford, is in a great position to make some noise in Year 1.


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Michael Fabiano

MICHAEL FABIANO

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Formerly of CBS Sports, NFL Network and SirusXM, Michael was the first fantasy analyst to appear on one of the four major TV networks. His work can now be found on SI, Westwood One Radio and the Bleav Podcast Network.