10 to Avoid in the First 5 Rounds of 2024 Best Ball Drafts


One of the classic television commercials from the late ‘80s was one from Domino’s Pizza. The character dubbed “The Noid” signified all the challenges of delivering a pizza in under 30 minutes. Domino’s always found a way to deliver their popular pizzas in under that allotted time, frustrating the Noid in each commercial. 

In fantasy football, our “Noid” are early-round disappointments. The majority of our fantasy points in redraft leagues are scored in the first few rounds. There are always exceptions, whether a late-round quarterback, rookie running back or surprise tight end value that helps guide your fantasy team to a championship. But the foundational scoring of any redraft team is always found in the early rounds. 

So today, I’m offering up my thoughts on players who are being drafted too high in best ball drafts as of late-May Underdog ADP. 

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

I am a habitual “wait on QB” drafter, and through 30 best ball drafts I have 0% exposure to Josh Allen. 

There are a lot of questions about the Bills offense entering the 2024 season, and Allen’s production is trending in the wrong direction. Over the past four seasons he has steadily decreased his passing touchdowns (from 37 to 29) while increasing his interceptions thrown (10 to 18). He will now operate without an elite WR1 in Stefon Diggs, and there are major question marks about the interior of Buffalo’s offensive line. Our own Dan Fornek has Buffalo with just the 25th-best offensive line in his post-draft rankings, needing to replace center Mitch Morse.

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 05: Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) looks to pass during the game against the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on November 5, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)
CINCINNATI, OH – NOVEMBER 05: Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) looks to pass during the game against the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on November 5, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

Allen saw a massive spike in rushing touchdowns last season (15), more than doubling his total from the previous year (7). He also rushed for 250 fewer yards, further spotlighting the unsustainable touchdown production. 

It will be difficult for drafters to fade a quarterback who has finished as the top fantasy option in three of the past four seasons, but his current 34.9 ADP as QB1 is too rich of a price tag. As I outlined last year, one of the top three quarterbacks by predraft ADP always disappoints. Last year it was Mahomes (QB2 ADP, QB12 FPPG). This year, it could be Josh Allen. 

Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Arizona Cardinals
Malik Nabers, WR, New York Giants

Call this the Puka Nacua Effect. 

After watching fifth-rounder Puka Nacua set a rookie record with 1,486 receiving yards last year, fantasy drafters are skyrocketing rookie wide receiver ADPs. Allow me to douse that flame and return expectations back to a reasonable projection. 

Marvin Harrison Jr. does not have as favorable a situation as recent successful rookie wideouts. Nacua, Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase all had the benefit of better quarterback play and a more successful offense than Harrison will this season. Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray has never thrown for 4,000 yards or 25 passing touchdowns in a season and has only guided one wideout (future Hall of Famer DeAndre Hopkins) to crest 1,000 receiving yards. Arizona’s offense was not particularly efficient last year, ranking just 21st in offensive DVOA. In the eight games Murray guided the Cardinals, he failed to throw for more than 260 yards until Week 18 and had six games with one or fewer passing touchdowns. 

Malik Nabers is even in a worse situation, catching passes from the uninspiring Daniel Jones. The Giants ranked middle of the league in pass attempts per game and failed to have a receiver reach 800 yards (Darius Slayton led the team with 770). While Nabers zealots will cite last year’s poor quarterback play as the reason for poor receiving production, the numbers were not much better in Jones’ career year. Jones finished as the overall QB10 in 2022, but that was greatly bolstered by rushing yardage. He threw for only 3,205 yards, and their leading receiver (Slayton again) only totaled 724 receiving yards. 

I can’t draft a first-year receiver anywhere near the overall WR9 for Harrison or the overall WR20 for Nabers in these types of offenses. I prefer established veterans such as Davante Adams (WR13), Mike Evans (WR16), DeVonta Smith (WR21) and Michael Pittman Jr. (WR22) over either player.

De’Von Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins

A 5-foot-9, 187-pound second-year running back coming off an injury-plagued rookie season? 

Not in this economy. 

Achane is an explosive rusher who made a massive impact in his inaugural campaign, while operating behind Raheem Mostert and sharing carries with Jeff Wilson. Miami also added another speedy rusher in Jaylen Wright from Tennessee in Round 4 of this year’s draft. Per our Jeff Ratcliffe, Achane is only projected for 804 rushing yards and 8.6 total touchdowns. While he is a huge value in the passing game, his RB8 ADP is assuming every possible variable goes in his favor. Will he stay healthy? Will he see an increase in volume or maintain his incredible rookie-year efficiency? Will Mostert cede touches and/or Wright have a minimal impact? 

I can’t pay this high of a price for a rusher who is still the clear second option behind Mostert’s league-leading 21 total touchdowns last season. Miami’s offense was the NFL’s best when Achane was healthy, but it’s hard to project Mike McDaniel increasing the workload for the brittle Achane enough to justify a top-10 RB selection. 

Stefon Diggs, WR, Houston Texans

Why, exactly, are we fading Nico Collins over Stefon Diggs? 

The stats on veteran wide receivers changing teams is mediocre at best, and Diggs now joins a Houston passing attack that has an established rapport with quarterback C.J. Stroud and leading wideout Nico Collins. Per FTN Fantasy, the Texans only lost 49 targets from last season, the fifth lowest among all NFL teams. Currently, Diggs’ ADP has almost reached Collins, separated by just 4.3 spots on Underdog. To summarize, Diggs is switching teams, joining a crowded receiving depth chart with Collins, Tank Dell and tight end Dalton Schultz, and is being drafted as the overall WR18?

Diggs struggled to reach WR1 fantasy status as the primary target on an explosive Buffalo Bills offense. Buffalo ranked sixth overall in NFL points per game last season, yet Diggs struggled to produce as an elite wide receiver over the last half of the season. 

Fantasy drafters are valuing Diggs talent and past production over the reality of a new place in an established Texans offense. He will have his boom weeks but will lack the necessary consistency to justify his lofty ADP. 

Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

I despise taking a tight end early in fantasy drafts, but I really despise taking old tight ends early. 

Travis Kelce is a legend and one of greatest positional pass-catchers in NFL history. However, Kelce saw a decrease in overall production, highlighted by 31 fewer targets, 17 fewer receptions, 354 fewer receiving yards and seven fewer touchdowns. He turns 35 years old in early October, and his new two-year contract also hints at an upcoming retirement

I expect Kelce to finish inside the top five fantasy tight ends again, and possibly even top three. But he’s being drafted at his ceiling and coming off his worst statistical season since 2015. The best statistical season by a tight end 35 years of age or older? 

  • Tony Gonzalez: 80 receptions, 875 yards, 7 touchdowns
  • Shannon Sharpe: 62 receptions, 770 yards, 8 touchdowns
  • Pete Retzlaff: 40 receptions, 653 yards, 6 touchdowns
  • Antonio Gates: 56 receptions, 630 yards, 5 touchdowns

None of those seasons would justify taking Kelce at a massively optimistic ADP of 37.5. 

Kyren Williams, RB, Los Angeles Rams

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Los Angeles Rams running back Kyren Williams (23) in a game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire)
CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 25: Los Angeles Rams running back Kyren Williams (23) in a game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire)

This one is easy, right? 

Kyren Williams is a former fifth-round pick, with limited workout metrics on his profile. He has below-average speed, burst and agility, yet plodded his way to the overall RB2 in fantasy football last year. Once Cam Akers faltered, Williams dominated the touches for a Rams team that vastly exceeded expectations. Despite being just 23 years old, coming off a breakout season, the Rams felt compelled to select Michigan running back Blake Corum in the third round of this year’s draft. 

Williams broke his foot during OTAs as a rookie, and then injured his ankle on the first play of that season, leading to the injured reserve. He missed four games last year with another foot injury and is now out again with a foot injury during OTAs

Is this the profile of a player being drafted in the second round of best ball contests? Williams is a hard pass for me in 2024. 

Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers

If both Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel match their predraft ADP, Brock Purdy is having a helluva season. Both Aiyuk and Samuel are being drafted inside the top 15 wide receivers, which signals to me that one of them is overvalued. 

My choice is Deebo Samuel, who really isn’t a pure wide receiver. 

Samuel’s fantasy value is bolstered by an outlier 2021 season where he caught 77 passes for 1405 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns. He carried the ball 59 times for 365 yards and eight rushing scores. Over the past two years, Samuel’s carries have dropped by 37 percent and his rushing yardage by 38 percent. 

The other huge variable is the presence of running back Christian McCaffery. Per our FTN Fantasy Splits Tool, Samuel’s numbers plummet across the board with McCaffrey on the field. 

Samuel had just one touchdown over the first nine weeks of last season, then exploded for five touchdowns during a three-week span across the fantasy playoffs. I’ll fade that level of volatility every single time at ADP 20.7. 

Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

I love Justin Jefferson, but I love other wide receivers much more in Round 1. 

Jefferson will need to adjust to a new quarterback in either journeyman Sam Darnold or rookie J.J. McCarthy. He also will contend for targets with dynamic second-year receiver Jordan Addison, and elite pass-catching back Aaron Jones. The loss of ultra-consistent Kirk Cousins will certainly matter, putting enough doubt in my mind to fade Jefferson as the fourth player taken overall in current best ball drafts. 

I prefer drafting Amon-Ra St. Brown, A.J. Brown and Garrett Wilson ahead of the Jefferson in Round 1. 

Saquon Barkley, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

First, there’s the Tush Push. Second, there’s the Eagles fascination with Kenneth Gainwell. Third, there’s the presence of fourth-round running back Will Shipley from Clemson. Fourth, there’s the retirement of center Jason Kelce. 

Need I continue? 

Barkley is a wonderful running back but is being drafted as the overall RB6, right behind Jonathan Taylor. If the Eagles offensive line remains strong and the Eagles run efficiency stays elite (fifth best per DVOA), Barkley will certainly be among the top five running backs in fantasy. However, the Eagles only gave D’Andre Swift a 58% snap share, and Barkley has operated with almost an 80% snap share in each of the past two seasons with the Giants. 

It’s certainly reasonable to project limited goal-line scoring opportunities with Jalen Hurts under center, as well as a reduced workload to keep Barkley fresh for the playoffs. I’m passing on Barkley at his current cost. 

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