Is Khalil Shakir a Fantasy Football Hidden Gem in 2024?

Jul 04, 2024
Is Khalil Shakir a Fantasy Football Hidden Gem in 2024?

Fantasy football is all about finding value. Every year, we pore over stats and rankings in an effort to find the late-round draft targets who could become league winners. Just last year, guys like Raheem Mostert, Nico Collins, and Puka Nacua likely changed the course of your entire season. In this article, I will be making the case for why Bills receiver Khalil Shakir could become a massive steal in drafts this year at his ADP of WR55.

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A Promising 2023 Campaign

Shakir was mostly an afterthought to start his career. After being drafted in the 5th round of the 2022 NFL Draft, he averaged under 20 yards per game during the first 24 games of his career and saw more than five targets in a game just once. However, Shakir started to become more involved in the Bills offense during the back half of last season, namely once the Bills fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey for Joe Brady. From Week 11 on, Shakir actually led the Bills in receiving yards despite seeing 34 (!) less targets than No. 1 receiver Stefon Diggs. He got a lot more playing time after Brady took over, consistently playing at least 70% of the Bills’ offensive snaps. Shakir showed out in the playoffs as well, scoring touchdowns in both of the Bills’ playoff games.

Shakir’s underlying metrics confirmed his receiving talent. He ranked top-35 in both PFF receiving grade and yards per route run (YPRR) last year, and had the 10th lowest drop rate in the entire league. He demonstrated the ability to play both in the slot (77% of snaps) and outside (22% of snaps), and seems poised to take on a bigger role for the Bills in 2024.

Shakir in the Bills Offense

One of the biggest moves of the offseason was the Bills trading all-pro receiver Stefon Diggs to the Texans for a future second-round pick. The Bills did make an effort to address the vacancy that Diggs left behind, signing veteran Curtis Samuel and drafting Florida State’s Keon Coleman with the 33rd pick of the NFL Draft. With that being said, I’m not convinced that either of those two are better cut out for the No. 1 role than Shakir. Samuel has been a fine player throughout his seven-year career but has eclipsed 700 receiving yards in a season just once. His versatility makes him a nice second or third option, but I don’t think he has the upside of becoming a true alpha receiver at this point in his career — Samuel ranked well behind Shakir in both PFF Grade and YPRR last season. Coleman, on the other hand, profiles as a jump-ball-winning vertical threat in Buffalo. He certainly may have spike weeks, but even the best contested-catch winners who were poor route runners turned out to be fun but inconsistent fantasy options (guys like Mike Williams and DeVante Parker).

Buffalo does admittedly have a lot of mouths to feed on offense — besides Shakir, Samuel, and Coleman, tight end Dalton Kincaid and running back James Cook will both receive volume through the air. The Bills are, however, one of the pass-heaviest teams in the league. Josh Allen ranks third in the NFL in pass attempts since 2020, and the Bills have ranked top 10 in neutral down pass frequency in each of the last four seasons. With a quarterback as great as Allen, I’m confident that the Bills will continue to be a top-5 offense in the NFL and support several different fantasy-relevant players.

Assessing Shakir’s Floor and Ceiling

All things considered, I believe Shakir has a pretty high floor in fantasy this year, given his draft spot. I don’t think his usage down the stretch last season was by accident — the Bills made a point to get him the ball more, and turned their season around while doing so. Worst case, Shakir will be a safe PPR FLEX play who will serve as a reliable spot-start during a bye week or injury. That feels very reasonable to expect from someone going 130th overall in drafts right now. John Paulsen currently has Shakir projected for about 50 catches and 750 receiving yards, which feels like a very gettable baseline.

Shakir obviously doesn’t have a WR1 ceiling, but I’m certain he will provide a heavy return on investment. Back in 2019, Tyler Boyd put up 90 catches for 1,046 yards en route to a top-24 finish for a Bengals team that had seven other players with above 40 targets on the season. It obviously isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, but I could see Shakir having similar numbers on the back of heavy volume in a crowded offense. Add in the fact that the Bills have an elite offensive ceiling because of Josh Allen, and Shakir has more than enough upside to justify taking him in the later rounds. I would take him over complete question marks going around him like Xavier Worthy and Ladd McConkey, lower upside guys like Tyler Lockett and Jakobi Meyers, and his teammates Curtis Samuel and Keon Coleman.

The Bottom Line

  • Shakir had a slow start to his career, but finished 2023 off strong and was the Bills leading receiver down the stretch.
  • With Stefon Diggs out of the picture, the Bills have a crowded receiving room but one that lacks a clear No. 1 option.
  • Shakir has a solid combination of floor and ceiling for fantasy. He will see enough volume underneath to be a reliable PPR safety valve, but could become a weekly starter if he emerges as the top dog in a Josh Allen led offense.
  • I am happily taking Shakir as a depth pick at his ADP of WR55 and 130th overall.
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