Payne's Perspective: Fantasy Impact of Offseason Moves

Payne's Perspective: Fantasy Impact of Offseason Moves

This article is part of our Payne's Perspective series.

With the 2024 NFL Draft in the books, it's a good time to go team-by-team and focus on significant changes this offseason that will impact fantasy leagues. Trust me, there's been a lot. 

I focused only on players who should be on the fantasy radar, so not every team has someone listed. As always, you can find every team's depth chart here on the site.

Let's go team-by-team and look at the most important fantasy changes.

Arizona Cardinals

Trey Benson, RB - The Cardinals used a third-round pick on Benson, who should see a few touches immediately as the backup to James Conner. While Conner is the clear-cut starter, he's played only 13 games each of the last two seasons. Benson is 6-foot-0, 216, with 4.39 speed. His power/speed combo makes him worth tracking.

Marvin Harrison, WR - It wouldn't be surprising to see Harrison, the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, get more than 30 percent of the targets this season -- he's that good. It doesn't hurt that the Cardinals don't have a lot of great options, though Michael Wilson is an interesting second-year player who should line up opposite Harrison.

Atlanta Falcons

Kirk Cousins, QB - Did you hear the Falcons may have flubbed their first-round pick, taking Michael Penix after guaranteeing Cousins $100 million? The real funny part was the explanation the team offered in justifying the pick. In any event, Cousins will be under center Week 1 and his

With the 2024 NFL Draft in the books, it's a good time to go team-by-team and focus on significant changes this offseason that will impact fantasy leagues. Trust me, there's been a lot. 

I focused only on players who should be on the fantasy radar, so not every team has someone listed. As always, you can find every team's depth chart here on the site.

Let's go team-by-team and look at the most important fantasy changes.

Arizona Cardinals

Trey Benson, RB - The Cardinals used a third-round pick on Benson, who should see a few touches immediately as the backup to James Conner. While Conner is the clear-cut starter, he's played only 13 games each of the last two seasons. Benson is 6-foot-0, 216, with 4.39 speed. His power/speed combo makes him worth tracking.

Marvin Harrison, WR - It wouldn't be surprising to see Harrison, the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, get more than 30 percent of the targets this season -- he's that good. It doesn't hurt that the Cardinals don't have a lot of great options, though Michael Wilson is an interesting second-year player who should line up opposite Harrison.

Atlanta Falcons

Kirk Cousins, QB - Did you hear the Falcons may have flubbed their first-round pick, taking Michael Penix after guaranteeing Cousins $100 million? The real funny part was the explanation the team offered in justifying the pick. In any event, Cousins will be under center Week 1 and his fantasy value this season likely won't be challenged by Penix.

Darnell Mooney, WR - Mooney signed a three-year deal in this offseason, and it might surprise some to learn he has a 1,000-yard season under his belt. Drake London is still the top dog and he'll get 1,000-plus yards and at least eight touchdowns with a healthy Cousins, but Mooney shouldn't be forgotten.

Baltimore Ravens

Derrick Henry, RB - Look, he's on the wrong side of 30 but still had more than 1,500 rushing yards last season. Playing with Lamar Jackson should improve last year's efficiency numbers, and despite his bruising style of running he's only had one season that was impacted by injury.

Buffalo Bills

Ray Davis, RB - A fourth-round pick, Davis had 1,452 scrimmage yards with 21 touchdowns in the SEC last season and could supplant Ty Johnson as the backup to James Cook.

Keon Coleman, WR - Coleman, the Bills' first draft pick this year, should be the defacto No.1 receiver with the departures of Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. A big target for Josh Allen, the 6-3 Coleman should start Week 1 and should be a fantasy factor.

Mack Hollins, Curtis Samuel, WRs - It will be difficult to count on Hollins and Samuel consistently in fantasy, especially with Khalil Shakir, Dawson Knox and Dalton Kincaid in the mix. Instead of drafting at least a couple wide receivers, the Bills signed free agents and used their top pick on Coleman.

Carolina Panthers

Jonathon Brooks, RB - Brooks is coming off a knee injury and seems unlikely to have any immediate impact with Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders on the roster. Still, he is second-round pick who should get some touches once healthy.

Diontae Johnson, WR - Johnson disappointed in fantasy the last two seasons and did not return his ADP either year. Being paired with Bryce Young could be an improvement over the recent quarterbacks he's played with and he should claim the top receiving role over Adam Thielen.

Xavier Legette, WR - Depending on who you talk to, either taking Legette with the last pick of the first round was a genius move or has the potential for a bust. I tend to agree with the former. It'll be interesting to see how he's used considering his versatility.

Ja'Tavion Sanders, TE - Sanders would be more of a household name if Brock Bowers wasn't in this draft. The Panthers are a good landing spot for the fourth-round pick, as Tommy Tremble's use as a blocker should allow Sanders to run more routes. Like Bowers, he's more of a big wide receiver who can create mismatches for defenses. Being a rookie coupled with Bryce Young at quarterback likely means it'll be a year or two for a fantasy impact.

Chicago Bears

Caleb Williams, CHI - Watching the draft, the amount of time it took the Bears to pick Williams was super annoying. Don't be that guy if you have the first pick in you league's draft. Williams is set up nicely with a lot of weapons and the offensive line should be good. The upside might be something close to what C.J. Stroud did last season.

D'Andre Swift, RB - Swift excelled last season with the Eagles, getting the bulk of the carries and finishing with more than 1,000 rushing yards. There should be some type of committee with Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson will be in the mix as well.

Keenan Allen, WR - The good news with Allen is that he's had at least 992 receiving yards in six of his last seven season. The bad news is he turned 32 Saturday and has played only 23 games  the last two seasons. His heel injury shouldn't be a factor, and while he's on the field he'll be a reliable option for Williams.

Rome Odunze, WR - Drafted ninth overall, Odunze rounds out the best receiving corps the Bears have put on the field in years, adding to the potential value of Williams. However, there's only one football and with a lot of mouths to feed, I'm not sure he'll be a consistent performer. He definitely has the talent, though, and his stock hasn't stopped rising since the end of the college season.

Cincinnati Bengals

Zack Moss, RB - Following the release of Joe Mixon the Bengals were quick to find a replacement for him and signed Moss. While he should be the starting running back, both Chase Brown and Trayveon Williams figure to get work as well. 

Jermaine Burton, WR - A third-round pick out of Alabama, Burton essentially replaces Tyler Boyd while it's likely Tee Higgins should push for 120-plus targets. Burton has a ton of upside, but he'll be third (at best) on the depth chart to open the season.

Cleveland Browns

Jerry Jeudy, WR - The Broncos were a mess last season and Cleveland likely made a  good trade given Jeudy just turned 25 and showed a lot potential in Denver. He should line up opposite Amari Cooper while Elijah Moore occupies the slot most of the time.

Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott, RB - Zeke is back in Dallas after a one-year hiatus in New England. At 29 in July, Elliott's best days are clearly over. His rushing average declined from 4.2 to 3.8 to 3.5 the last three seasons, and last season he didn't break one 20-yard run on 184 rushes. 

Denver Broncos

Audric Estime, RB - Estime is skilled but has a tough path to playing time given his skill set is bit redundant with Javonte Williams in the backfield. At 5-11, 221, Estime is a load to bring down and profiles as an early down back who can run between the tackles and handle short-yardage/goal line work. It'll probably take more than one injury for the fifth-round pick to be fantasy relevant this season.

Josh Reynolds, WR - Reynolds is essentially a replacement for Jerry Jeudy after posting decent numbers in Detroit last season (608 receiving yards, five touchdowns) for a second or third wide receiver. 

Detroit Lions

None

Green Bay Packers

Josh Jacobs, RB - Jacobs replaces Aaron Jones and will be the featured running back for the Packers. AJ Dillon is still around to vulture some work but the Pack should rely heavily on Jacobs.

MarShawn Lloyd, RB - A third-round pick out USC, Lloyd likely is viewed as a project who likely won't see a lot of time unless Jacobs or Dillon gets injured.

Houston Texans

Joe Mixon, RB - The Texans may have somehow saved money by basically flipping Devin Singletary for Mixon as Singletary's contract with the Giants was for more guaranteed money. Dameon Pierce had a dismal 2.9 yards per carry last season and doesn't pose much of a threat to take significant touches away Mixon.  

Stefon Diggs, WR - C.J. Stroud now has one of the best sets of wide receivers in the league as Diggs joins Tank Dell and Nico Collins. Diggs is only on a one-year deal and probably has one chance left to get a decent contract after this season. Don't be surprised if Diggs has a star on his helmet for the 2025 season.

Indianapolis Colts

Adonai Mitchell, WR - Mitchell was one of the big fallers in the draft, finally taken off the board by the Colts at pick 52. His stock likely would have been higher had he not had his stats somewhat suppressed by playing with Xavier Worthy at Texas. Wide receiver is a bit crowded in Indy, but Mitchell is 6-2, 205, with a 4.34 40 and his Combine numbers were outstanding.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Gabe Davis, WR - Davis, who signed a three-year deal with the Jags, had at least six touchdowns  each of his four seasons with the Bills. While Davis has a ton of potential, there are a lot receiving options for the Jaguars, limiting his upside.

Brian Thomas, WR - Thomas is to Malik Nabers as Adonai Mitchell is to Xavier Worthy, at least in terms of college football. Thomas, the 23rd overall draft pick this year, faces the same crowded receiving corp as Davis, but long term it's possible he becomes the No.1 receiver.

Kansas City Chiefs

Marquise Brown, WR - Brown signed a one-year $11 million deal and should be motivated this season to earn a bigger contract. His injury should be completely healed (see what I did there?) and could begin the season as the No. 1 wideout depending on Rashee Rice's status. 

Xavier Worthy, WR - Does Patrick Mahomes have any experience playing with the fastest player in the NFL? The Chiefs got a huge steal despite having to trade up to get Worthy at 28th overall. The Andy Reid offense will figure out how to get him a few deep targets each game, and it's almost certain that Rice will miss time with a suspension looming.

Los Angeles Rams

Blake Corum, RB - I don't like Kyren Williams' ADP and the fact that he hasn't had the best health record. The Rams must have agreed, taking Corum in the third round. The former Michigan star scored a whopping 47 touchdowns his final two collegiate season, showing a nose for the end zone.

Los Angeles Chargers

Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, RBs - I'm lumping these two together since Greg Roman thought it was a good idea to raid the Baltimore backfield. Edwards was excellent in goal-line situations last season (13 rushing touchdowns) and Dobbins has a lot of upside if he can get past the injury red flags.

Ladd McConkey, WR - The Chargers needed to use a high pick (second round) on a wide receiver after losing both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen this offseason. McConkey might start out behind Joshua Palmer and Quentin Johnston, but his speed and hands show a different skill set than those two.

Las Vegas Raiders

Alexander Mattison, RB - A lot has changed for Mattison over the last year after he went from Vikings starter to a backup role with the Raiders. Mattison hasn't averaged more than four yards a carry in any of the last three seasons, so he won't pose much a threat to Zamir White.

Brock Bowers, TE - With Michael Mayer on the roster, one has to wonder if the Raiders went with the best player on the board with Bowers at No. 13. There figures to be a lot of two-tight end sets and Bowers is more a big wide receiver, similar to Kyle Pitts. He should be a top-6 pick in all rookie dynasty drafts.

Miami Dolphins

Jonnu Smith, TE - Smith has always shown flashes of potential and in 2020 he had eight touchdowns for the Titans. He should have plenty of room to work over the middle playing with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

Minnesota Vikings

Sam Darnold, J.J. McCarthy, QBs - It was an interesting offseason for the Vikings, who made some big changes. Darnold was likely brought in to bridge the gap until the team found it's franchise quarterback. The Vikings hope that's McCarthy, for whom they moved up to pick 10 to draft. It's possible he could impress enough to be under center Week 1.

Aaron Jones, RB - Alexander Mattison was a huge bust last season and the Vikings weren't about to hand over the starting role to Ty Chandler. So, Minnesota signed Aaron Jones who should get as many touches as he can handle both as a rusher and a receiver.

New England Patriots

Jacoby Brissett, Drake Maye, NE - Brissett was signed as a placeholder at quarterback for the Patriots but could find himself as the backup Week 1 if New England thinks third overall pick Drake Maye is ready. Brissett is on his fifth team in as many years and could serve as a good mentor to Maye given his vast experience in the league.

Antonio Gibson, RB - The Patriots brought in Gibson after they let Ezekiel Elliott walk, opting for a younger running back with less mileage on him. Gibson has no shot of supplanting Rhamondre Stevenson but is versatile and likely will assume the role of the pass-catching back.

Ja'Lynn Polk, WR - Polk was selected with the 37th pick by the Patriots and is the best receiving prospect they've had in a while. He might not make much of an impact this season given the quarterback situation but long-term could be the top Patriots target.

New Orleans Saints

Spencer Rattler, QB - This might end up being the steal of the draft as apparently appearing on TV shows in high school could cost you draft position. At pick 150 it made a ton of sense for the Saints to gamble on Rattler, who at one point was considered one of the top prospects coming out of high school. Derek Carr just turned 33 and Rattler could take over the starting spot in a year or two. 

New York Giants

Devin Singletary, RB - Singletary reunites with coach Brian Daboll and will start for the Giants with Saquon Barkley now in Philadelphia. Singletary has had more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each of the last three seasons and has shown a good ability to stay healthy.

Malik Nabers, WR - Many expected the Giants to draft a quarterback, but they instead chose to give Daniel Jones a huge weapon in Nabers, the sixth overall pick. Nabers is a unique talent who excelled last season at LSU with more than 1,500 receiving yards and has big-play ability downfield and after the catch.

New York Jets

Mike Williams, WR - The Jets realize the window for having an effective Aaron Rodgers is closing, so they acquired Williams to start opposite Garrett Wilson. Both Rodgers and Williams should be 100 percent healthy to start the season.

Malachi Corley, WR - With Wilson seeing so much attention last season, the Jets knew signing Williams wasn't enough, so they drafted Corley in the third round. The presence of Wilson and Williams will give Corley soft coverage and he could be penciled in start if he picks up the offense, and gets the approval of Rodgers.

Philadelphia Eagles

Saquon Barkley, RB - For years, Barkley tried to get a big contract out of the Giants. Finally, he jumped ship to a division rival. This is a great move for the Eagles as Barkley has more upside than D'Andre Swift and his presence should lower the rushing workload and somewhat preserve Jalen Hurts for the full season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Russell Wilson, Justin Fields, QBs - I can't remember a team acquiring two starting quarterbacks from the previous season. Mike Tomlin seems to be leaning toward starting Wilson, but Fields has the most upside and plenty of time to take the role.

Seattle Seahawks

None

San Francisco 49ers

Ricky Pearsall, WR - I have to admit, I was a bit surprised the 49ers drafted Pearsall in the first round given his pedigree and that he'll be 24 in September. There have been a lot of rumors about Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel (I'd think the former) possibly being dealt and this could be a pick to replace one of those two.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucky Irving, RB - Tampa Bay likely doesn't view Chase Edmonds as an adequate backup to Rachaad White, so it drafted Irving in the fourth round. Irving had more than 2,000 rushing yards in the prolific Oregon offense the last two seasons, but a sub-par showing at the Combine suggests he might be more in line for a pass-catching specialist at the pro level. He'll look to take some of the workload off White's hands this season.

Jalen McMillan, WR - Rarely do three receivers from the same school get drafted in the same draft, let alone all in the top 92. McMillan's knee injury likely cost him a round or two as his pre-injury stats suggested he might have gone in the first round. Look for him to be the third option behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin if healthy.

Tennessee Titans

Tony Pollard, RB - The Titans said goodbye to Derrick Henry and hello to Pollard. It's a bit of a questionable signing (three-years, $24 million) given that Tyjae Spears appears capable of being an every down back. As a result, look for the two to split the work pretty evenly.

Calvin Ridley, WR - The addition of Ridley gives young Will Levis another weapon especially as there's a likelihood that DeAndre Hopkins will decline soon, if he hasn't already. Brian Callahan appears to give Ridley a lot of targets and it's a decent gamble he gets a second 1,000-yard season in a row.

Washington Commanders

Jayden Daniels, QB - The Commanders almost completely overhauled their offense this offseason and drafting Daniels second overall almost assures him the starting role come Week 1. Daniels is an interesting fantasy prospect due to his rushing ability, though it's hard to tell if his gaudy passing numbers at LSU were due to his elite receiving corps.

Austin Ekeler, RB - Ekeler waited years for a big contract from the Chargers and is now on the opposite side of the country. Unfortunately for Ekeler, he didn't get the big money he was looking for and that was likely in part due to averaging only 3.5 yards per carry last season. Playing with a running quarterback should help his numbers, though it's likely Brian Robinson will see a fair share of touches as well.

Luke McCaffrey, WR - McCaffrey's name likely helped him get drafted 100 overall. He's something of a project for the Commanders given he went to college as a quarterback and only played two seasons as a wide receiver.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin Payne
Kevin has worked for RotoWire over a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. You can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.
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