10 Late-Round Players to Target in Best Ball Before the 2024 NFL Draft

Apr 16, 2024
10 Late-Round Players to Target in Best Ball Before the 2024 NFL Draft

Taking advantage of early off-season ADP, particularly before the NFL Draft can be beneficial in best ball formats. There isn’t too much movement in the early rounds with the exception of rookies, however, when we get to double-digit territory, players' draft value can shift - sometimes dramatically - once rookie squads are determined.

Additional Best Ball Resources: Never-too-Early Rankings | 5 Zero RB Targets Before the NFL Draft | 5 Rookies to Target in Best Ball Before the NFL Draft

Here’s a look at some of my favorite later-round players to target now before their ADP potentially spikes as a result of the NFL Draft.

Zamir White, RB - Raiders (Underdog ADP: 9.05, RB30)

Josh Jacobs is now a Packer and the RB torch will presumably be passed to Zamir White. The former UGA back served as the workhorse for Vegas from Weeks 15–18 last year with Jacobs on the shelf, and he averaged 23.3 touches and 114.3 yards per contest, which translated to an RB13 finish in half-PPR points per game in that timeframe.

White was tied for first with the most carries in those four weeks (84), tied for third for the most broken tackles, and sat seventh among all RBs in yards after contact per carry. The Raiders showed they are willing to use White in a high-volume position and backed it up by signing the underwhelming Alexander Mattison during the free-agency period. Mattison came to Vegas as insurance and to be part of this RB room, but he proved last season that he’s likely not lead-back material.

The addition of Mattison should be reassuring to fantasy managers that the Raiders are unlikely to dip into the RB pool during the NFL Draft as they already have their rushing tandem with other larger roster holes to fill. Right now White is still a bargain at ADP as he has the potential to produce fantasy RB2 numbers with plenty of upside in this Raider offense, and if there are no additional rushers of significance added to the roster during the NFL Draft, his ADP could spike closer to other lead backs in the NFL.

Curtis Samuel, WR - Bills (Underdog ADP: 9.08, WR51)

Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis are no longer in Buffalo leaving the second-most available targets in the NFL (317). In Curtis Samuel, the Bills got a Swiss Army knife of a receiver with a multilateral skillset to semi-replace both WRs. According to PFF, Samuel lined up in the slot 70.7% of his routes over the last two seasons, with an out-wide percentage of 25.9%, and 45 designed rushing attempts in that time frame.

Samuel’s best statistical year was in 2020 in Carolina under Joe Brady, who he’s now reunited with in Buffalo. Samuel saw 97 targets and 41 carries that year, which he turned into 1,050 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns. His utilization under Joe Brady in 2020 is something to consider when assessing the new-look WR room for Buffalo, as he saw 10.6% of snaps out of the backfield which resulted in career-high carries (41) and rushing yards (200).

The Bills will likely select a WR with the No. 28 overall pick but stranger things have happened and if they forgo a top-tier wideout and draft one later, Samuel could see higher volume than his ADP currently suggests. He currently sits as a fantasy WR5 in our early ranks (WR49) but has the ceiling of a WR3 based on offense and hybrid potential under Bills OC Joe Brady.

Bryce Young, QB - Panthers (Underdog ADP: 16.08, QB28)

Carolina HC Dave Canales has orchestrated QB miracles in the past with both Geno Smith in Seattle and Baker Mayfield in Tampa Bay. While drafters may be hesitant to click that button for Bryce Young after a brutal rookie campaign that ended with the Panthers dead last in passing offense, 2024 is shaping up to be a different situation. Last season, Young had Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark, and rookie Jonathan Mingo as his top targets, and now he gets Diontae Johnson to throw to with Canales in his corner.

He may not improve enough for seasonal leagues yet, but Young projects as a later-round best ball target as a QB2/3 due to potential spike weeks. Right now the sophomore is QB29 in 4for4’s rankings and a fantasy QB3 on Underdog, but may see a rise in ADP depending on how Carolina’s draft goes.

Joshua Palmer, WR - Chargers (Underdog ADP: 12.06, WR63)

He’s already risen about eight positional spots and 25 draft slots over the last few weeks, but Joshua Palmer is still a value ahead of the NFL Draft. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are wearing different uniforms in 2024 leaving Palmer at the top of the Chargers WR mountain.

With Jim Harbaugh at the helm of the team and Greg Roman as the new offensive coordinator, this offense figures to be one of the run-heaviest in the league this season, but Palmer will still be catching balls from Justin Herbert. Palmer was efficient in the contests he played in last season (10), averaging 9.5 yards per target and 1.71 yards per route run. His only competition in the WR room right now is Quentin Johnston, whose NFL debut last season wasn’t exactly intimidating.

With 395 targets available from last year, even if the Chargers decide to draft an elite WR in a few weeks, Palmer should see enough volume to outproduce his WR63 ADP. If LA goes in a different direction and fills another need early in the draft, his stock will likely rise post-draft.

Chase Brown, RB - Bengals (Underdog ADP: 10.09, RB35)

Chase Brown looked solid last season in limited opportunities, particularly in the passing game where he nabbed 14-of-15 targets for 156 yards and a score. They signed Zack Moss to assist in filling in for Joe Mixon who’s now in Houston, but he’ll likely not see lead-back volume, leaving plenty for Brown.

The addition of Moss ensures that another RB of significance won’t be heading to Cincinnati via the draft and Brown’s ADP may spike once fantasy drafters realize the potential for the 24-year-old in the Bengals’ offense in 2024.

Jaleel McLaughlin, RB - Broncos (Underdog ADP: 13.10, RB45)

Last season Jaleel McLaughlin was productive when called upon. With just 76 carries on the year, the Bronco RB was third in yards before contact per carry and tied for 11th in yards after contact per carry among RBs with at least 50 rushing attempts. When his number was called, it tended to be important, as McLaughlin’s high-value touches as a percent of total opportunities (HVT%) was seventh among RBs in that same category.

Samaje Perine didn’t exactly live up to expectations last season and was third in the team’s touches, averaging just 6.1 per contest. With either Jarett Stidham or a rookie QB under center for Denver, their run game should be heavy and Sean Payton loves himself an RB tandem. Javonte Williams is still their starter, but McLaughlin could be a sneaky pick if Williams doesn’t return to the form we were hoping for and didn’t get last season.

The Broncos have other pressing needs to address during the draft so this RB room will likely stay as is. If something were to happen to Williams, McLaughlin could produce RB2 numbers, and even with a duo in this offense, the 23-year-old is primed to outperform his current ADP.

Aaron Rodgers, QB - Jets ( Underdog ADP: 12.11, QB20)

Assuming he plays for more than three minutes in 2024, Aaron Rodgers is a value right now in early best ball drafts. The Jets added three offensive linemen via free agency to ensure he stays clean, plus they also acquired former Charger WR Mike Williams as another deep-field weapon for the 40-year-old to complement star Garrett Willson.

The combination of Williams and Rodgers is dreamy for a Jets team that lacked dynamic playmaking. According to Next Gen Stats, Rodgers posted the most passing yards targeting vertical routes in the NFL from 2018-2022 (6,387), while Williams gained the third-most receiving yards over expected on those routes (+421) in that same time frame.

UGA TE phenom Brock Bowers has been mocked heavily to the Jets which would add another set of reliable hands for Rodgers, and even if they go the O-line route which is a possibility, that only helps the signal caller’s fantasy value.

Tucker Kraft, TE - Packers (Underdog ADP: 18.12, TE30)

Fellow sophomore TE and teammate Luke Musgrave is being drafted ahead of Tucker Kraft by 13 positional spots and five-and-a-half rounds, which seems like too big of a gap based on last year’s production. Musgrave won the starting job in camp, and was highly productive, but missed six contests due to a lacerated kidney.

Kraft started the season being used primarily as a blocker but showed what he could do down the stretch when called upon, catching 24-of-31 targets for 297 yards from Week 13 -Week 18. Even more exciting for what could be coming is that during the postseason when both Musgrave and Kraft were on the field, the latter received more targets (9) including a few red zone looks, which he turned into 24 yards and a score.

In 4for4’s early ranks, Kraft is the TE16 with Musgrave as TE21. Both are draftable in best ball formats considering this offense lacks a true alpha WR and if they take a second-year jump along with Jordan Love, buckle up.

D.J. Chark, WR - FA (Underdog ADP: 20.12, WR127)

Tyler Boyd, WR- FA (Underdog ADP: 17.01, WR81)

Neither of these WRs are sexy picks but both offer best ball appeal, particularly now before the NFL Draft. These guys will find homes ahead of the 2024 season and if teams don’t get the receiving help they want next weekend, free-agent phones will start ringing.

D.J. Chark has been underwhelming and has suffered his share of injuries over the last few years, but he did lead the Panthers in touchdowns last year and boasted the highest air yards per game (72.57) with the largest air yards share (27%) on the team. Chark’s aDOT was third among WRs with at least 50 targets last year (15.39) and all we need is a few big play games, and he’s worth that final-round stab. Grab him now before he signs with a WR-needy squad.

Tyler Boyd has been a decent fill-in in redraft formats and a best ball staple in recent years with the Bengals but is still unemployed. He’s finished as a WR4 in three of the last four years in half-PPR scoring per contest which isn’t bad for his current value. Never the bride, this bridesmaid should find a job fairly soon as the Steelers, Chiefs, and Jets have been sniffing around. When the dust settles after the NFL Draft, Boyd’s ADP could rise a bit once he gets signed. As a current 17th-rounder, he’s worth a few shares.

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