2024 Second-Year Scouting Report: Puka Nacua


The new rookie class around the NFL gets all the attention over the summer. They’re the flashy new pieces for fantasy football, and of course they can be anything.

But last year’s rookies aren’t fully formed yet. The players entering their second season aren’t the fancy new thing anymore. That can open up some value in fantasy drafts for players still due to break out, and it can lead to fantasy mistakes for players who had a good first season that turn out to be a mirage. Everyone knows Year 1 to Year 2 is one of the biggest jumps an NFL player can make, but this still happens.

To try to head this off, over the course of the summer we’re going to revisit last year’s rookie class in our Second-Year Scouting Report series, looking at the incoming sophomore NFL players to see what went right in their rookie season, what went wrong and what we can expect from them going forward.

Puka Nacua, WR, Los Angeles Rams

The term “league-winner” is thrown around way too hastily in fantasy football, yet that’s precisely what Puka Nacua was in 2024. A third- or fourth-round rookie draft pick in dynasty (if he was even drafted), and a waiver-wire gem in redraft, the fifth-round NFL draft pick out of BYU produced a historic season, breaking rookie receiving records for receptions, receiving yards and multiple others. However, his production was tied to a teammate’s health, but you may be surprised which one. 

What Went Wrong

In all seriousness, anything you consider that “went wrong” Nacua would be nitpicking. Puka’s production slightly dipped when he shared the field with Kupp, but that’s to be expected. The main concern is the dip in output without Matthew Stafford, dropping from 19.4 points per game to 10.2. 

What Went Right

Everything. He had the greatest rookie wide receiver season of all time, broke numerous records and got to join Kupp and Stafford’s breakfast club. While his production expectedly took a hit in games Kupp played, he still averaged 17.1 points per game. Narrowing it down to games started by Stafford, Nacua’s average points per game jumps to 18 with Kupp and 19.3 without. Sean McVay did typical Sean McVay things and got creative with how he used Nacua. Pre-snap motion, lined up in the backfield, slot, outside, everywhere. I think I saw Puka line up at kicker once. 

Prognosis Entering 2024

Nacua is a WR1 regardless of whether Kupp is in the lineup. At 31, Kupp is closer to retirement than returning to his 2021 Triple Crown form. And I expect Nacua to become the Batman to Kupp’s Robin in 2024. Stafford is the teammate whose health is crucial for Nacua to maintain his elite wide receiver status. 

His fantasy production fell off a cliff without Stafford under center; both targets and receptions dropped by more than three, receiving yards dropped by over 60 yards and fantasy points per game were cut in half in every format. As long as Stafford is under center, Nacua will anchor the wide receiver corps of any fantasy team lucky enough to roster him. But considering Stafford’s age and injury history, the threat is real. Strictly speaking, in redraft I’m a bit weary of his first-round price tag. Nacua would have to repeat or improve on his record-breaking rookie season to justify spending that type of draft capital. I’m not a fan of drafting players at their ceiling. 

Dynasty Outlook

I recently wrote about my struggle with evaluating Nacua’s dynasty value in my “Dynasty Moves to Make” series. There could be a severe shakeup in team makeup for the Rams over the next few seasons and a number of variables to consider before locking in Nacua as a long-term dynasty WR1. Stafford is 36; how many seasons does he have left? Even if he’s able to stay on the field, what’s the production look like? McVay has been rumored to retire for what feels like every season since winning the Super Bowl. Can Nacua continue to produce WR1 numbers without the genius of McVay? Regardless of whether Nacua continues to dominate or takes a step back into more of the solid WR2 range, considering the draft capital it took to add him to your roster last season, you’ve already won the lottery. Is he a buy, sell, or hold? Find out in my series. 

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