Fantasy Football Rookies: The Top 10 First-Year Players to Target in Drafts

May 10, 2024; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) catches a pass during rookie minicamp at the teams Tempe Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
May 10, 2024; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) catches a pass during rookie minicamp at the teams Tempe Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Rookies have become a bigger part of the fantasy football landscape in recent seasons. In years past, rookie running backs typically made the most significant statistical impacts. But nowadays, we’ve seen an increase in quarterbacks and most notably, wide receivers, and even some tight ends, who have come right in and produced solid totals.

In 2023, C.J. Stroud, Bijan Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs, Puka Nacua and Sam LaPorta finished among the 10 best players at their respective positions based on PPR points. Other rookies such as De’Vone Achane, Jordan Addison, Jayden Reed, Rashee Rice and Dalton Kincaid (among others) were regular starters and became valuable fantasy assets.

With that in mind, here’s my top-10 rookies to target in your 2024 fantasy redrafts. Who knows, some of these first-year players could lead you to a league championship!

1. Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Cardinals

Harrison Jr. landed in a terrific spot for fantasy purposes, as he’ll be the projected top option in the passing game for Arizona. The team has plenty of available targets with Marquise Brown now in Kansas City, and Harrison Jr. has the kind of upside to make a huge impact as a rookie. He will be a top-36 pick in most re-drafts.

2. Malik Nabers, WR, Giants

Like Harrison Jr., Nabers landed in a great spot to make an immediate impact, at least from an opportunities standpoint. The Giants wide receivers leave much to be desired, so it would be a shock if Nabers didn’t lead the team in targets by a wide margin. The quarterback situation is a concern, but Nabers could shine.

3. Jonathon Brooks, RB, Panthers

Brooks projects to be the most valuable rookie running back in this class. There is some uncertainty about his status for the start of this season coming off an ACL tear, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he led the Panthers in carries ahead of Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders. Long term, Brooks has the skills to make a real impact.

4. Ladd McConkey, WR, Chargers

McConkey’s draft appeal increased in the offseason, which led him to be the second pick in Round 2. He isn’t a slot receiver either, as McConkey ran around 69% of his routes out wide in college. The Chargers offense will be predicated on the run, but I can see McConkey easily becoming the top receiver for Justin Herbert in 2024.

Brian Thomas Jr
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. (7) talks during the second day of a mandatory minicamp Tuesday, June 11, 2024 at EverBank Stadium’s Miller Electric Center in Jacksonville, Fla. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union] / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA

5. Brian Thomas Jr., WR, Jaguars

Thomas Jr. could be the next LSU prospect to become a fantasy asset, but I’m not sure if that will happen immediately. The Jaguars released Zay Jones, but their team still boasts Christian Kirk, Evan Engram and newly signed Gabe Davis. I can see Thomas Jr. finishing third in targets, but I still worry about his ceiling in Year 1.

6. Brock Bowers, TE, Raiders

Bowers is considered one of the best tight end prospects to come out of college in decades. I know, the last time we said that it was about Kyle Pitts, but Bowers’ skill set is hard to ignore. He didn’t land in a great spot for his rookie value, but you have to think the Raiders will use him prominently. He has top-12 re-draft potential.

7. Jayden Daniels, QB, Commanders

Daniels isn’t a perfect prospect, but fantasy managers are excited about his skills as a runner. He rushed for more than 2,000 yards and a combined 21 scores in his final 16 games at LSU. If he can rush for 700-plus yards and four to six touchdowns as a rookie, he’s almost guaranteed to be a top-12 fantasy quarterback in Year 1.

8. Keon Coleman, WR, Bills

Coleman landed in a good spot to make a first-year impact, playing for a Buffalo passing game that traded Stefon Diggs and lost Gabe Davis to free agency. That leaves a boatload of available targets, at least some of which Coleman should absorb. He'll be a fine WR4/WR5 in re-drafts and well worth a look during the late rounds.

9. Rome Odunze, WR, Chicago Bears

Odunze has the tools to become an alpha receiver at the next level, but he’s going to struggle to make a consistent rookie impact in Chicago. That’s because the Bears are loaded at wideout with DJ Moore and Keenan Allen ahead of him. Odunze could still push for WR3 value, however, so he’ll be an intriguing mid-round pick.

10. Caleb Williams, QB, Bears

It’s hard to remember a quarterback being picked No. 1 overall who has this much talent around him. The Bears loaded their offense with the likes of Allen, Odunze and D’Andre Swift, so Williams has no excuse to not make a positive impact, at least on some level, in Year 1. He has high QB2 potential at a pretty deep position.

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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.