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Matthew Berry’s Love/Hate post 2024 NFL Draft

NFL Draft Round 1 recap: Fantasy takeaways
Matthew Berry, Connor Rogers and Jay Croucher recap the first round of action from the 2024 NFL Draft, giving their reactions from a fantasy football perspective.

The answer is always Derrick Henry.

In the days leading up to the NFL draft, every single year, I’m always asked what players I like, which ones I don’t, who are the sleepers this year.

And the answer is always Derrick Henry.

Coming out of Alabama in 2016, Derrick Henry was what he is now: A massive human being who should not be able to be that fast or agile at his size and a genetic marvel. He was my second favorite running back coming out that year, behind only Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott. I thought for sure Derrick Henry would be a fantasy star from moment one.

Then he got drafted by the Tennessee Titans. The same Titans team that had, prior to the draft, signed former Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray to a four-year, $25 million dollar contract including over $12 million guaranteed.

RELATED: Berry’s 2024 Dynasty Rookie Rankings

And that, my friends, was that. As expected with a contract that size, Murray went on to get the majority of the work in 2016, getting 346 total touches on his way to being fantasy football’s RB5 that year.

Meanwhile, Derrick Henry, star running back at Alabama, expected fantasy football rock star prior to the draft, averaged just over seven carries a game sitting behind Murray. He got a handful of goal line carries which helped, but ultimately, Henry finished his rookie year as RB39 in fantasy. It wouldn’t be until his third year in the NFL that Henry became a useful fantasy football asset, despite his immense talent.

At the most basic level, fantasy football success is really only about two things: talent and opportunity. Now, there’s obviously more nuance there – the talent needs to fit the opportunity. A player’s skill set needs to align with the team and his coach’s offensive philosophy (hence the opportunity) and I could go on and on, but truly, for our purposes here it really just boils down to this:

Fantasy success is a combination of talent and opportunity.

That’s why the answer is always Derrick Henry. He’s the best example. He had the massive talent, he just didn’t have the opportunity. He was RB39 his rookie year and honestly he shouldn’t have even been that high. Because you never knew when his five touchdowns were coming, he was completely useless that year as a start-able fantasy asset.

So, you ask me who is going to be a fantasy superstar out of college and I say not until you tell me about his opportunity.

Now, this is a little different in dynasty where generally talent will always win out even if they are drafted to what looks like an initially bad situation. But for re-draft leagues, which is what we are discussing in this column, the NFL draft either boosted or deflated the potential fantasy value of a number of players, rookies and veterans alike, based on where certain players were drafted. Or not drafted.

Which brings us to the 2024 Post NFL Draft Love/Hate. These are not players that I necessarily “love” or “hate” for this upcoming season. Rather, they are players whose value rose (“love”) or fell (“hate”) as a result of moves their NFL team made (or didn’t make) during the NFL draft. Got it? Good.

Before we start, a reminder to check out the updated dynasty stock watch tool, the rookie model for all positions and much more, all for free, at More draft analysis on the last few episodes of Fantasy Football Happy Hour, available wherever you get podcasts and on the NFL on NBC YouTube page.

Thanks as always to my producer Damian Dabrowski for his help at various points in this column. Let’s get to it.

Quarterbacks I Love More Post NFL Draft

Caleb Williams, Chicago

Caleb Williams says the next goal on his career plan is to achieve “immortality” by winning championships. Assuming he means fantasy championships, he could achieve immortality sooner than later. Because while it’s not rare for a quarterback to get taken No. 1 overall in the NFL draft … it is rare for a first overall pick QB to go to a team with receiver talent anywhere near the likes of Keenan Allen, DJ Moore, RB D’Andre Swift out of the backfield, above average tight ends like Cole Kmet and Gerald Everett and now fellow rookie Rome Odunze. Dude. The Bears also added offensive tackle Kiran Amegadjie in the draft to help shore up a line that was hit by injury last season. Remember, Justin Fields was QB13 in PPG last season. Yes, Williams doesn’t run quite as well as Fields, but he is a significantly better passer. There’s no reason Williams can’t be a fringe QB1 as a rookie which, in my book, is good enough for immortality.

RELATED: Williams could ‘thrive’ in loaded Bears offense

Jayden Daniels, Washington

The original plan was to publish this column three days ago, but after my Commanders took Jayden Daniels with the second pick, I streaked naked through my neighborhood celebrating all the way until the wee hours of Monday morning. So my apologies to you all for the delay … and to my neighbors for what must have been a very rough weekend visually. But you can understand my excitement. My favorite team landed a quarterback with a TON of upside … and one that I’m hopeful they don’t ruin thanks to this post-Dan Snyder reality I’m living in and enjoying to the fullest. Daniels steps into an offense with a strong group of pass-catchers in Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Austin Ekeler. Washington also landed TE Ben Sinnott and WR Luke McCaffrey in the draft. And new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury has shown he can do well with a mobile quarterback (remember Kyler Murray was QB5 in PPG from 2019-2022 under Kingsbury). I mean, I usually have to reach to come up with positive things to say about my Commanders in fantasy. But these are all legit! Daniels can be a top 12 guy out of the gate as a rookie. Okay, I’m going streaking again.

RELATED: Why Daniels is a fantasy fit with Washington

J.J. McCarthy, Minnesota

Yet another talented rookie quarterback landing in an offense with talented pass catchers. And J.J. McCarthy probably has the best of the bunch in Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson. After playing in a run-heavy system at Michigan under Jim Harbaugh, McCarthy now gets his home games indoors in a dome as the leader of a Kevin O’Connell offense that has ranked Top 5 in pass attempts and passing touchdowns in both of KOC’s two seasons as head coach. With Sam Darnold being on a one-year deal, and also with Sam Darnold being Sam Darnold, there’s every reason McCarthy can win the job and start Week 1 in an efficient Vikings offense.

RELATED: McCarthy lands in great fantasy spot

Others receiving votes: … With the Cowboys going Zero RB during the draft this year (more on that later) one thing is clear. Dak Prescott is gonna attempt even more passes than the 590 he threw up last year. Dak was first in completions and third in passing yards last year and that seems like the floor. ... New Jaguars receiver Bryan Thomas Jr. led FBS in TDs on deep passes last season. He also had the third-most yards on deep passes. Meanwhile, Trevor Lawrence ranked Top 6 in deep pass attempts last season. With both Thomas and Gabe Davis now in the fold as deep threats, Christian Kirk and Evan Engram should also see more space on underneath routes. Everything is in place for Lawrence to have a bounceback season in 2024. … While the Panthers did not have the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, which they rightfully earned by being terrible at football in 2023, they did use the picks they retained on offensive weapons to put around Bryce Young. With Diontae Johnson already added by trade, the Panthers used the draft to bring in WR Xavier Legette, RB Jonathon Brooks and TE Ja’Tavion Sanders. Legette and Brooks provide speed and a ton of play-making ability, while Sanders upgrades a tight end room that was headlined by Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas. Yikes, indeed. Add to that a new head coach in QB whisperer Dave Canales, who resurrected Baker Mayfield and Geno Smith’s careers the last two seasons and well, while we don’t know Young’s ceiling yet, I’m confident that 2024 will prove that last season was his career floor. ... Finally, don’t look now, but Daniel Jones, who people forget was QB 9 in 2022, added stud WR Malik Nabers, TE Theo Johnson, and Connor Rogers and I’s favorite sleeper running back in Tyrone Tracy who will be very effective catching the ball out of the backfield. Jones isn’t great but he has a lot more around him this year than last.

Quarterbacks I Hate More Post NFL Draft

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

So the Chargers had a chance to draft Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze. They instead drafted Joe Alt, who is going to be awesome… in run blocking. Or sure, he’ll be great in pass pro too, but will they ever throw? We know new Bolts head coach Jim Harbaugh and new offensive coordinator Greg Roman want to run the ball but after letting both Keenan Allen AND Mike Williams leave, the hope was LA would draft an elite wide receiver to help Herbert out. Right now, there is only one player on the Chargers with over 38 career receptions. ONE. Sure, the Chargers did grab Ladd McConkey in the second, along with Brendan Rice and Cornelius Johnson from Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines in the 6th and 7th respectively but COME ON. I like McConkey (more on this later) but he and Quentin Johnston / Josh Palmer are a far cry from Keenan and Mike. Herbert’s stock went down when Harbaugh showed up and Allen/Williams left and nothing the Chargers did in the draft changed that.

Michael Penix, Jr., Atlanta

Here was my live reaction to the Falcons using the No. 8 overall pick on Michael Penix, Jr. after giving Kirk Cousins $100 million guaranteed. And honestly, I’m still laughing. In fact, I might be laughing about this pick until 2026 or 2027 when Penix finally has an opportunity to start in the NFL. As I said in the video, with almost any other landing spot, Penix was likely to be a Week 1 starter – and one with a lot of fantasy upside. Now, unless Cousins gets injured or the Falcons decide to implement a rare two-quarterback offense attack, Penix won’t see the field until he’s 26 or 27 years old. At the earliest! Everyone is laughing at a decision an NFL team made … and it’s not at my Washington Commanders. What a time to be alive.

RELATED: Penix Jr.'s fantasy outlook is ‘murky’ with Falcons

Running Backs I Love More Post NFL Draft

Zamir White, Raiders

The Raiders entered the draft seemingly in need of a quarterback and a running back. Vegas left the draft like many people who leave Vegas do: with essentially nothing but regret and an expired buffet voucher. The Raiders didn’t draft a quarterback in any round and didn’t take a running back until selecting New Hampshire’s Dylan Laube near the end of the sixth round. Which means it’s either gonna be Aiden O’Connell or Gardner Minshew under center. Their lack of a big time QB and no real RB competition is great news for Zamir White, who last season under Antonio Pierce averaged 23.3 touches, 114.3 scrimmage yards and 15.2 PPG in four starts. The Raiders will once again try to win games by playing great defense and running the hell out of the ball, which means Cirque Du Zamir will once again be a must see show in Vegas. (What? It’s the off-season. I’m trying out new material. Calm down.)

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys

When Jerry Jones said he was “All-in” this year I’m pretty sure he meant “The bargain bin.” Hey man, I get it, times are tough. Gotta save bucks when you can. After letting Tony Pollard walk, the Cowboys went out and signed… Royce Freeman to join last year’s feel good draft day story in Deuce Vaughn and Rico Dowdle. Okay, fine, so Jerry is gonna draft a RB, right? Maybe some Jonathan Brooks? NOPE! Jerry went full-on Zero RB, hoping, just like many fantasy managers, to find a solution on the waiver wire. Which he did. After the draft, Dallas brought back Ezekiel Elliott on a fairly cheap deal. That’s as big a fantasy value swing as I’ve seen in a while. Zeke went from being unemployed to now the likely feature back for a team with 307 RB touches from last year up for grabs, not a lot of backfield competition and an offense that last season lead the NFL in red zone drives and was 7th in goal to go rush attempts. On draft day, no one will be excited to draft Zeke and he will once again be inefficient and volume dependent. But it’ll still add up to fantasy points. Zeke’s gonna be a borderline top 15 RB when all is said and done based on just pure opportunity and ability to fall into the end zone. Jerry’s waiver wire wonder, indeed.

Blake Corum, Los Angeles Rams

As a seasoned internet writer, I know what gets the clicks, what gets the pageviews. It’s talking insurance. That’s right. And let me tell you, Blake Corum has instant value as an insurance back behind Kyren Williams. The fact is Corum was always likely to land on a team where he was behind an incumbent starter. So landing on a team with only Kyren Williams ahead of him is pretty good. Yes, Williams was terrific last year. He also missed a lot of time. In fact, Williams has missed at least five games in each of his NFL seasons. So yeah. Insurance! But beyond the exciting topic of insurance, Corum potentially has an immediate opportunity at FLEX value from the start if the Rams use him as their red zone back (remember, he led FBS with 27 rushing scores in 2023 at Michigan). And best case scenario is, either by injury opportunity or just pure talent, he straight up takes over the RB1 job for the Rams by season’s end. Sean McVay likes to stick with one back when he lands on a guy he likes so either way, there’s a lot to like here about Corum, almost as much as there is to like about the wonderful world of #insurance.

RELATED: Corum pick creates complicated Rams backfield

Jaylen Wright, Miami

I don’t know why Mike McDaniel is so infatuated with lightning-fast backs who can produce big plays. Maybe it’s because they are … lightning-fast backs who can produce big plays? Okay, yeah. I guess that makes sense. Wright – who clocked a 4.38 40 at the combine and averaged 7.4 YPC in 2023 – now joins a Dolphins running back group with fellow speed merchants Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane. But Mostert is 32 and Achane missed six games last season with injury. This is an incredible landing spot for dynasty purposes but there’s also an easy-to-see path to significant playing time this year for Wright in one of the NFL’s most exciting and efficient offenses.

Others receiving votes: At the NFL Combine this year, new Panthers head coach Dave Canales talked about how his philosophy is to run the ball NO MATTER WHAT. He spoke about how, when he was calling plays in Tampa Bay last year, they stuck with Rachaad White every single game, even when he was averaging like 3 yards a carry and being incredibly inefficient. That means Jonathan Brooks, who averaged 129 yards a game prior to his injury last year, landed in a great situation. The Panthers’ offense is not expected to be explosive, but a new coaching regime with no loyalty to Chuba Hubbard or Miles Sanders will likely give a full workload to Brooks on an improved offense as soon as he is ready. ... One of my favorite sleepers this year (and a Connor Rogers favorite as well) is Tyrone Tracy, the converted wide receiver out of Purdue. Landing on the Giants, where only Devin Singletary is in his way, is a great spot for Tracy as a pass catching back out of the backfield initially and maybe a larger role down the road. ... Given the fact James Conner has missed multiple games in every season of his NFL career, Trey Benson has a bright dynasty future on an improving Arizona offense. Plus, he will be a fantasy factor at some point this year and could easily be the third-down back from the get go (Benson averaged more than 11 yards per reception at Florida State). ... Seeing how much offensive coordinator Joe Brady wanted to the run the ball after he took over the play calling duties in Buffalo last year, coupled with the departures of Damien Harris and (as of this writing) Latavius Murray, means rookie Ray Davis should see a decent amount of work and potentially goal line opportunities next to James Cook in one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses. ... Other running backs that avoided significant carry competition out of the draft include Joe Mixon and Rachaad White, both of whom should once again get massive workloads.

Running Backs I Hate More Post NFL Draft

Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams

As you can guess from my write up on Blake Corum, the rookie’s arrival isn’t great for Kyren Williams’ fantasy stock. Williams’ value last year was less about game-breaking ability than it was volume: He led all backs with 21.7 touches per game. So a downtick in usage could significantly hurt his fantasy production. Yes, Sean McVay gave Williams a heavy workload last season … but that was when Ronnie Rivers was his only other real option to put in there. Corum will steal carries … and Williams’ managers may grow to hate Blake Corum almost as much as Ohio State fans do.

Chuba Hubbard, Carolina

Last season Chuba Hubbard ranked 51st out of 58 qualified running backs in fantasy points per touch. So it’s no surprise the Panthers made Jonathan Brooks the first back selected in the NFL draft with the 14th pick of the second round. Hubbard may still have value early in the season, but as I wrote above, I fully expect Brooks to take over the lead role before the fantasy playoffs. Brooks is a draft-and-stash type who ends up becoming a league-winner down the stretch. Now let’s hope no one in any of my leagues reads this.

Pass Catchers I Love More Post NFL Draft

Xavier Worthy, Kansas City

Rashee Rice, the only wide receiver to catch 30-plus passes for the Chiefs last season, is facing a possible suspension. And Marquise Brown is on a one-year deal. Considering those two factors and that Kansas City traded up to get Xavier Worthy in the first round, there’s every reason to believe the rookie out of Texas will be utilized heavily from the start by the greatest quarterback in all of the land. Worthy, don’t forget, ran the fastest 40 in NFL Combine history (4.21). And Andy Reid says his physique reminds him of DeSean Jackson. (I’m not going to ask Andy Reid who my physique reminds him of. I’m afraid he’ll hurt my feelings and say it’s Patrick Mahomes.)

RELATED: Worthy finds ‘dream’ fantasy spot with Chiefs

Keon Coleman, Buffalo

The departures of Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis leave 241 targets up for grabs from Buffalo’s offense. At 6-foot-3, Keon Coleman provides size that Curtis Samuel and Khalil Shakir don’t have. Coleman has excelled at two different programs – last year at Florida State and in 2022 he was actually more productive than Jayden Reed at Michigan State. There’s a lot to like about his game. But considering the current state of the Bills WR corps, his greatest attribute is probably: “Is a human with functioning arms that can presumably catch footballs.”

RELATED: Bills fill need with perimeter WR Coleman

Ladd McConkey, Los Angeles Chargers

If you like the Bills vacating 241 targets from last season, then you’re going to love the Chargers and their more than THREE-HUNDRED vacated targets. As I mentioned above, Josh Palmer is the only WR on the roster with more than 38 career receptions. I like to think that Jim Harbaugh said before the draft: “Just get me someone who can play wide receiver … any lad will do.” And then Ladd McConkey, who is a great route runner and can play wide and in the slot, fell into their laps. Yes, we are all going to be down on Justin Herbert this year as the QB of a run-heavy team with unproven WR talent, but they are going to have to throw it SOME. And when they do, I say McConkey is the beneficiary. Lotta upside here for a talented rookie receiver who very likely will begin the season as Justin Herbert’s No. 1 option.

RELATED: McConkey can become immediate WR1 with Chargers

Jermaine Burton, Cincinnati

Off-the-field concerns caused Jermaine Burton to drop to the 16th pick of Round 3. And the Bengals, with legitimate on-the-field concerns at wide receiver, happily took him there. Tyler Boyd remains a free agent and Tee Higgins, playing on the franchise tag, has requested a trade. Burton averaged 18.0 YPR in his college career, providing Cincinnati with an opportunity to stretch the field from the slot. With a path to playing time, Ja’Marr Chase drawing the opponent’s best cover man, solid draft capital behind him and Joe Burrow as his quarterback, Burton has value out of the gate as a rookie.

RELATED: Burton can be ‘big-time player’ for Bengals

Others receiving votes: Russell Wilson, Roman Wilson, Payton Wilson … if your last name is Wilson and you haven’t heard from Steelers GM Omar Khan this offseason, I’m not sure what to tell you. While we wait to see if building an NFL team around one surname works, I do think Roman Wilson will work in an Arthur Smith offense. He’s great on crossing routes. After George Pickens, every Steelers wide receiver had fewer than 20 catches in 2023. (Yes, the Steelers obviously need to trade for Cedrick Wilson.) ... I’m not saying a Bo Nix-Troy Franklin stack is going to lead you to fantasy glory in 2024. But it sure doesn’t hurt Troy Franklin to be reunited with the quarterback who helped him to an 81-1,383-14 line last season at Oregon. After Courtland Sutton, it’s just Marvin Mims, Josh Reynolds and Tim Patrick standing in the way of Franklin and significant playing time. ... Entering the NFL draft, Washington’s tight end room was 33 year-old Zach Ertz, John Bates and Cole Turner. So it’s no surprise the Commanders used a second-round pick on Ben Sinnott. And don’t forget: Under Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona, Zach Ertz was TE8 in PPG from 2021-2022. I say that not to talk you into Ertz, but remind you that Kingsbury’s offense is very tight end friendly. … Theo Johnson is 6-foot-6, 259 pounds and can run a 4.57 40 despite his size. He’s in the NFL playing for a Giants team that may lose their starting tight end (Darren Waller) to retirement and for a quarterback (Daniel Jones) who loves to use the middle of the field. If Waller does step away from the game this offseason, Johnson’s re-draft stock shoots up significantly. ... I am uncomfortable with the amount of nice things I have said about the Panthers’ offense in this column, but 6-4, 245-pound Ja’Tavion Sanders has a clear path to being the starting TE for an improved Carolina offense and a big red zone threat for Bryce Young.

Pass Catchers I Hate More Post NFL Draft

Rome Odunze, Chicago

Rome wasn’t built in a day and Rome Odunze’s ascension to a consistent fantasy contributor is likely to take a lot longer than that. Both Keenan Allen and DJ Moore ranked Top 12 in target share last season, and Cole Kmet, Gerald Everett and D’Andre Swift are all viable pass-catchers, as well. Basically: All the reasons that Chicago is a great landing spot for Caleb Williams is why it’s a tough fantasy spot for Odunze. There are a lot of weapons on the Bears and there will be competition for targets. I still like Odunze long term and in dynasty leagues, but he’s likely going to need an injury to provide consistent fantasy value as a rookie in re-draft leagues.

Adonai Mitchell, Indianapolis

After being drafted No. 52 to the Colts, Adonai Mitchell said: “I’m just kind of pissed. I don’t really know what other way to call it.” Most took this as Mitchell’s reaction to falling to the 52nd pick. But savvy observers knew the real reason: Mitchell could see that he would land on Matthew Berry’s 2024 Post-NFL Draft Hate List. And for good reason. In an offense that will rely heavily on the legs of Jonathan Taylor and Anthony Richardson, Mitchell likely starts the season as the No. 3 pass-catching option behind Michael Pittman Jr. and Josh Downs. Mitchell will also likely have to compete with Alec Pierce for some snaps in the field-stretching role. And don’t forget, in this Colts offense last season, Pierce saw just 65 targets despite playing 95% of snaps. Which means even if Mitchell gets 100% of snaps, it’s unlikely he sees a ton of volume. Sorry, Adonai. But I know you saw this Hate List inclusion coming.

Brock Bowers, Las Vegas

I guess we can call Brock Bowers the new Kyle Pitts. Because yet again, the draft’s top tight end has landed in a less-than-ideal situation. We don’t know who Bowers’ QB will be in Vegas … but in Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell, neither option is ideal. Vegas is a run-first offense and, with 2023 second-round pick Michael Mayer as an in-line TE, Bowers will likely come off the field in certain packages. Then there’s the fact that Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers combined for a 54% target share last season. They’re still going to get a lot of work in 2024. You can make an argument that because the Raiders didn’t draft a QB there’s a case for Davante Adams or Jakobi Meyers to be on the Hate List, but I’m not ready to go there. However, given Bowers talent the only saving grace for Bowers is at least Brock Bowers doesn’t have Arthur Smith as his coach.

RELATED: Raiders not the best for Bowers in fantasy

Gabe Davis, Jacksonville

Jacksonville’s selection of Brian Thomas, Jr. is good for the Jaguars and Trevor Lawrence … bad for Gabe Davis. Davis’s career target share is just 13.5%. And now Thomas - who is younger, a better prospect and athlete - has arrived. Worst of all, he plays a very similar role as a deep threat. Last season, 47% of Davis’s targets came on deep passes, while Thomas led FBS on touchdowns off of deep passes and had the third-most yards. The potential Gabe Davis breakout campaign is already over.