Dynasty Report: An Early Look at the 2024 Wide Receiver Class (Fantasy Football)
While August marks the beginning of preseason in the NFL, it also signals the imminent return of college football. Especially for dynasty managers in the middle of a rebuild, you might already be looking ahead to some of the top prospects set to enter the league in 2024. If you are one of those managers, then this article is for you! In this piece, I will provide you with an early look at some of the top wide receivers in the 2024 class. By using historical data as our baseline, we can assess how each of their career trajectories compare to some of the best prospects to enter the league in recent history.
Note: College football data referenced in this article was sourced and provided by cfbfastR.
While it was widely expected that Kayson Boutte would dominate in 2022, Malik Nabers instead assumed the WR1 role for the Tigers last season. A true junior who entered his collegiate career as a four-star recruit, Nabers was an immediate contributor for LSU as he averaged a respectable 14.9% receiving yards market share as a freshman. It was not until his sophomore year that he truly emerged, totaling over a thousand receiving yards and leading the team with 72 receptions. And while he only accounted for 13% of their receiving touchdowns (three total), his receiving yards market share of 27% was extremely impressive. In addition, one of the more predictive metrics for wide receivers is Receiving Yards per Team Pass Attempt (or RY/TPA). Anything above 2.00 would be considered a breakout, which Nabers clearly exceeded in his sophomore season. While he is on pace to be one of the top receivers in the 2024 class, there is still room for Nabers to elevate his game even further. For context, below is a list of all early-declare wide receivers drafted in the first round who finished their:
- Freshman season between 1.00 to 2.00 RY/TPA
- Sophomore season between 2.00 to 3.00 RY/TPA
This list consists of:
At first glance, this list casts some doubt on Nabers’ outlook, thanks to Treadwell, Harry, and Reagor failing to break out in the NFL. However, the two on this list that have been elite – Beckham and Lamb – well exceeded 3.00 Receiving Yards per Team Pass Attempt in their final collegiate campaign. In the best-case scenario, Nabers follows a similar career path and has a dominant junior year, putting him on track to become the next LSU wide receiver to be selected in the first round since Ja’Marr Chase.
Ohio State has produced multiple elite prospects over the last couple of years, and the 2024 draft will likely continue that trend. While many devy and dynasty players are excited for Marvin Harrison Jr. to join the NFL, we should not overlook just how impressive Emeka Egbuka’s career has been despite operating as the WR2 for the Buckeyes. Keep in mind, per 247 Sports, Egbuka was the number one wide receiver coming out of high school in 2021. And while he is not as athletic as his Ohio State teammate Harrison Jr., Egbuka is a savvy route runner who knows how to consistently manipulate the defense and get open.
From a production standpoint, he entered his freshman season as the fifth option in a stacked wide receiver room led by Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. As a result, his breakout would not happen until the following year, averaging an elite 2.81 Receiving Yards per Team Pass Attempt in 2022. To put this into perspective, his sophomore season ranks in the 92nd percentile among all drafted wide receivers since 2010. Because of his impressive breakout, per the NFL Mock Draft Database, Egbuka is currently trending as a top 10 pick in 2024. Naturally, his junior season could still drastically affect his dynasty outlook. But based on his early career numbers and projected draft capital, my wide receiver model has Egbuka graded as a borderline 90th-percentile prospect. In short, while Harrison Jr. is rightfully considered the WR1 of next year’s class, Egbuka should not be overshadowed as one of the best prospects of the 2024 draft.
The most successful wide receivers generally showcase elite production early in their careers, and Xavier Worthy clearly checks that box. Entering his collegiate career as a four-star recruit, Worthy quickly emerged as the WR1 for the Longhorns in his true freshman season. Keep in mind, Texas was a run-heavy team in 2021 with Bijan Robinson leading the offense in scrimmage yards and touchdowns. So while 981 receiving yards in 12 games may not seem as impressive, Worthy’s production equated to an elite 36% of the team’s receiving yards. His 2.84 Receiving Yards per Team Pass Attempt (RY/TPA) is equally impressive, ranking in the 99th percentile among true freshman seasons. To provide additional context, anything above +2.75 RY/TPA signals borderline elite production. However, most receivers do not pass that threshold until their second or third seasons. Very rarely do we see a prospect hit that mark in their first campaign.
After setting the bar high as a true freshman, we saw Worthy’s production decline in 2022 as Jordan Whittington and Ja’Tavion Sanders (potential day-two pick at TE) assumed a more prominent role in the Longhorns’ offense. In addition, Worthy played last season with a broken hand, limiting his production for part of his sophomore season. But even with the slight dip in production, Worthy continues to project as one of the top wide receivers in this class. Naturally, some might point to his slight frame at only 172 pounds. However, we have seen plenty of recent prospects enter the league with a similar athletic profile. DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and Garrett Wilson all weighed around 170 to 180 pounds entering the league, which did not prevent them from producing right out of the gate. And similar to Worthy, they were highly productive throughout their collegiate careers despite their smaller frames.
Lastly, to provide additional context, below are all early-declare, first-round wide receivers since 2010 to produce a +95th percentile freshman season:
If Worthy can regain his elite form and secure first-round capital in the 2024 draft, he would be the next prospect to join this successful list of NFL receivers.
Whether you follow college football or not, you likely have already heard of Marvin Harrison Jr, the son of former Colts receiver and Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison. Especially after an electric sophomore campaign, Harrison Jr. is regarded by many as the unquestioned WR1 of the 2024 class. In fact, the NFL Mock Draft Database has him going as high as the 2nd overall pick. While we have not seen a wide receiver selected that early since Calvin Johnson in 2007, Harrison has the profile and skillset to justify that high of a selection. When you watch him play, he simply stands out as one of the most dynamic athletes on the field, showcasing impressive speed, deceptive route running, and a wide catch radius at 6’4” and 205 pounds. From a production standpoint, his freshman season was very similar to his teammate Emeka Egbuka. Playing behind Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, he only averaged an 8% receiving yards market share in four games. However, Harrison Jr. did flash some upside towards the end of that season, totaling six receptions, 71 receiving yards, and three touchdowns against Utah in the Rose Bowl.
Harrison Jr. would only build off of that performance, breaking out with over 1,400 receiving yards in 2022. On a per-game basis, he averaged an elite 3.08 Receiving Yards per Team Pass Attempt and nearly 33% of the Buckeye’s receiving yards. In fact, his sophomore campaign would rank in the 95th percentile among all drafted receivers since 2010. So when we combine his production with his projected draft capital and athletic ability, it quickly becomes evident that Harrison Jr. has the profile to be one of the most accomplished prospects we have seen over the last decade. As for the Ohio State offense, there is some uncertainty at the quarterback position with C.J. Stroud declaring for the NFL. While that could ultimately affect Harrison Jr.’s production, the elite upside we have seen from him over the last two years should cement him as the WR1 of the 2024 class.