2024 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

2024 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

Jody Smith has been a mainstay in the accurate fantasy rankings world for well over a decade. His consistency in the field has accrued numerous accolades, highlighted by winning Fantasy Pro’s Most Accurate Expert Award in 2012 for in-season football rankings.

He has also been a consistent draft ranker, with a top-10 finish in 2021 and overall for the past four year’s accumulative. Jody has been involved in fantasy football for over 30 years and is a mainstay in the industry. His season-long and weekly rankings can be found at FullTime Fantasy and he is frequently on X @JodySmithNFL.

Because Jody is considered to be one of the preeminent fantasy football analysts and rankers, he is often included in many industry and expert drafts. That experience of competing against the world’s best gives Jody unique insight and the ability to adjust his strategy with a proactive approach.

This is Jody’s fantasy football draft strategy and process for the 2024 season. No two leagues are alike or can be predicted from pick to pick. But using these tips as a general guide should net you the core pieces of a strong lineup and the building blocks for a championship-contending roster.

Although this strategy transcends all scoring and formats, it is catered around a PPR league that starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 2 Flex options, 1 PK, and 1 DST.

 

Quarterback Strategy 

 

Undoubtedly, the most important position on the field is quarterback. And that also applies to fantasy football, where the leading scorers are typically the signal-callers. However, the abundant depth at the position devalues the strategy of taking one of the elite QBs early in drafts.

In 2023, the difference in fantasy points per game for the overall QB1 and QB12 was 5.2 points. That’s a 22.5% difference but the gap is far more glaring at each of the other positions. Therefore, I will prioritize opening my draft with elite wide receivers and running backs and try to target value quarterbacks in the mid-to-late rounds.

That means bypassing safer options like Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes and using my tiers to determine who are the best available signal-callers in Rounds 6-9. This second and third tier of passers offers reliable weekly scoring from multiple options who have a good shot at posting QB1 numbers in 2024.

Quarterback Values to Target: Kirk Cousins, Jordan Love, Brock Purdy, Jared Goff, Jayden Daniels

 

Running Back Strategy 

 

I’m an old-school guy and it is difficult for me to fully embrace the #ZeroRB strategy of ignoring the position until the fourth or fifth rounds. Admittedly, the results over multiple years of embracing a WR-heavy strategy have played out well. It’s also been exasperated by injuries to so many early-round running backs.

Still, having an elite, three-down workhorse in your lineup might be the single biggest edge in fantasy. Teams that selected Christian McCaffrey last season can attest to that, as McCaffrey was the top-scoring player regardless of position. Having that kind of production in your lineup is like a cheat code. It also makes investing in a “hero” running back a good idea.

Hero RBs are defined as high-volume rushers who stay on the field, accumulating most of their team’s rushing attempts while racking up receptions and valuable touchdowns. Having a plug-and-play weekly starter is invaluable and remains the ultimate goal of every drafter. Even the ZeroRB truthers.

Of course, your draft position will dictate how viable selecting a stud RB will be. It might make sense to open your draft WR/WR from a late draft position rather than reach for whoever is available after a draft that opened with a lot of emphasis on running backs. Regardless, I prefer to have that three-down running back locked up by Round 3. In a perfect draft scenario, I would have both RB slots secured by the fourth.

After that, the emphasis is on targeting mid-round running backs who contribute in the passing game. These backs may not see lead-back carries initially. However, they have a consistent weekly role and are an injury or benching away from developing into reliable fantasy starters.

Finally, I’ll conclude my drafts by targeting high-volume running back handcuffs. Not necessarily my own staters, but youngsters that have strong analytics profiles buried on depth charts. Think Zamir White down the stretch last season. Those are the kinds of players to emphasize when filling out those final roster spots.

Early-Round Hero Running Backs: Kyren Williams, Rachaad White, Travis Etienne

Middle-Round Targets: Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, Aaron Jones

Sleepers: Zamir White, Jaylen Warren, Raheem Mostert

 

Wide Receiver Strategy 

 

In today’s high-octane PPR leagues, wide receivers have become the primary focal point in many drafts. Not only are wideouts far less likely to miss time than running backs via injury, but elite receivers can produce like three-down backs. Over the last three seasons, seven running backs have averaged over 20 fantasy points per game. During the same stretch, 13 wide receivers have eclipsed that mark.

Also, many fantasy leagues have embraced a starting lineup of two RBs and three wide receivers. Many more allow for a pair of flex spots. That further allows savvy fantasy managers to load up their rosters with pass-catchers.

It would take real discipline to pass on Christian McCaffrey in Round 1. But after he’s off the board, a case can be made to prioritize wide receiver with the majority of the picks in Round One. Having a later draft slot makes it entirely possible to open with two WR1s and still land a top-10 running back at the tail-end of Round 3.

After securing my two running back spots, I generally bypass tight ends and try to target starting wide receivers. The middle rounds (5-9) are often where fantasy titles are won and loading up on as many starting wideouts as I can is my preferred strategy. Chris Godwin, Nico Collins, Adam Thielen, and Puka Nacua were all excellent examples of high-upside starting receivers targeted in the middle round of drafts in 2023.

Keeping abreast of current depth charts throughout the summer is essential. Knowing the top three or four options in each team’s receiving corps will give you an edge in identifying those unheralded players who will outplay their average draft position.

I also like to take late-round stabs under-the-radar rookies that landed in favorable spots. Teams with an undetermined depth chart can often be a good source of sleepers. Staying up-to-date on news and identifying these opportunities is a brilliant way to top off a draft.

Elite WR Options: Ja’Marr Chase, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Puka Nacua

Mid-Round Values: Chris Olave, Amari Cooper, Mike Evans

Sleepers: Christian Kirk, Zay Flowers, Jayden Reed

 

Tight End Strategy

 

Before last year, landing Travis Kelce at tight end was the biggest edge in fantasy. However, that no longer appears to be the case as Kecle numbers dropped off dramatically across the board. Meanwhile, a new crop of young tight ends fortified the thinnest position in fantasy.

Although landing a top-notch option like Kelce or Sam LaPorta provides a statistical edge, it generally comes at the expense of other more valuable positions, like wide receiver and tight end.

Anytime a draft goes sideways on me and I pivot to snagging an elite tight end, I’m never happy with my depth.

Last year, Evan Engram, David Njoku, and Dalton Schultz all produced TE1 production and were available in Round 7 or later. None of these players was their own team’s first or second option. However, they still saw enough target volume to be reliable weekly starters.

That’s the kind of role I prefer to attack. I would rather be the last drafter to nab a tight end on draft day than the first. Building a strong core of RBs and WRs is far more valuable in my overall approach. And quite often, streaming tight ends off the waiver wire can be an effective strategy.

Safest Bets: Mark Andrews, George Kittle

Mid-Round Values: Dallas Goedert, Jake Ferguson

Sleepers: Hunter Henry, Tyler Conklin

 


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About Jody Smith 488 Articles
With over a decade of winning experience, Jody is a well-known fixture in the fantasy football community. He was named Fantasy Pros’ **Most Accurate Ranker** previously and was the site’s Top NFL over/under totals picker with a record 65% accuracy in 2020, while also ranking 5th in the country with a 55% against-the-spread hit rate. Jody has written for many sites over the years including Pro Football Focus, FantasyPros, CBS Sportsline, FantasyData, and is a regular contributor to the Fantasy Index magazine expert’s poll, draft, and auction. Jody’s experience ranking and projecting player performance will help prepare the Fulltime Fam for their big draft days as well as answers they can trust on Sunday for those ever crucial Who Do I Start questions.