Now that the dust has settled from the NFL draft we can analyze how teams view themselves by not only who they drafted, but also by what positions they chose not to address. Here are a few players who qualify as 2024 NFL draft winners whose outlooks have greatly improved, but are still “buys” at their current prices.

The Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense

Although their once-promising 2023 season ended in the usual playoff disappointment, the Cowboys’ passing offense was once again spectacular – something that has been taken for granted since Dak Prescott’s sophomore campaign:

The Cowboys were not only a high-volume passing offense (8th-most attempts in the league in 2023) but were also quite efficient, finishing 3rd in passing yards (4,660) and 1st in passing touchdowns (36).

They started the year off more with a more balanced attack as they tried to establish 2023 fantasy bust Tony Pollard, but became much more pass-heavy after their bye week in Week 7 (shoutout to our friends at RotoViz and their Team Splits app):

The Dallas Cowboys' offensive 2023 splits before and after their bye

After the failed “Tony Pollard: Bellcow RB1” experiment came to a merciful end, the Cowboys were rumored all offseason to be a destination for Derrick Henry or a top running back in the draft (like Jonathan Brooks or Trey Benson). However, they emerged from free agency and the draft with the uninspiring Royce Freeman/old Ezekiel Elliott combo, who now form an unimposing “three-headed monster” with Rico Dowdle.

After last year’s success through the air, it’s worth betting that they aren’t going to feature a 29-year-old Ezekiel Elliott and will instead look to CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, and Jake Ferguson to carry the offense through Prescott. All can be considered legitimate 2024 NFL draft winners.

From Week 7 and on, the Cowboys’ pass catchers were valuable assets. CeeDee Lamb’s final 11-game pace (28.9 PPR points per game) was 2019 Christian McCaffrey-level production, but Brandin Cooks and Jake Ferguson were also beneficiaries of the change (again, thank you RotoViz for the Game Splits app):

Brandin Cooks' 2023 splits before and after Week 8

Jake Ferguson's 2023 splits before and after Week 8

Brandin Cooks’ points per game doubled from 6.4 to 12.9 from pre-bye to post-bye (a borderline WR2 pace), and he’s currently going in the 12th round as the WR63. Playing this season at 30 years old, he’s a boring but useful selection with almost no target competition to speak of outside of Ferguson and Lamb.

It’s TE Jake Ferguson who may be the biggest winner from the Cowboys’ (lack of) offseason moves. After the bye, he was on a 77/882/6 pace (203 fantasy points, which would have tied him for TE5 with George Kittle) and led all TEs in red zone targets (24). Even among all RBs, WRs, and TEs only Lamb, Davante Adams, and Calvin Ridley had more. Yet, he’s still only going as the TE10 at the 8th/9th round turn. He makes for a fine, albeit volume-based selection if you miss out on the top-end early TE targets:

They may even have to score more than last year – their defense proved to be opponent-specific and a “paper tiger” against good teams, especially after Trevon Diggs went down. Here are their splits when they played the Cardinals, Commanders, Giants, Jets, Patriots, Panthers, and Chargers vs. the rest of their schedule:

Dallas Cowboys' 2023 defensive splits analyzing them vs winning and losing teams

They gave up a head-turning 26.25 points per game against winning teams, and their 2024 schedule ranks as the 12th-hardest going into the season. The teams in their division improved offensively as well, with the Commanders adding Jayden Daniels and the Giants adding Malik Nabers with their top selections.

Besides for Lamb, the cost to acquire these players in fantasy drafts is somewhat lower than expected. Even Dak Prescott is going as the QB9 despite a QB3 finish last year (3rd in yards, 1st in TDs, only 9 interceptions). All of these players are worthy of a selection at their current price, as the Cowboys are set up once again to be one of the most pass-heavy teams in the NFL.

Editor’s Note: Looking to add Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Jake Ferguson, Chase Brown, or Rashid Shaheed to your Dynasty League portfolio at a discount? We have many excellent orphan dynasty teams available, which are half the price of a new dynasty startup and many orphans have been discounted even further! You can individually look at each team’s roster and 2024 rookie draft picks on our Orphan page, or you can view all of our orphans on a Google Sheets document to see all the orphans, their picks, and players in one place!

Chase Brown

With Joe Mixon gone and the only running back addition being journeyman Zack Moss, there’s a massive opportunity for RB fantasy points in Cincy.

Just how big of an opportunity does Mixon’s departure create? Mixon finished as the RB6 last year on pure volume (5th most rushing attempts, 9th most receptions among RBs) even though it was widely known the Bengals had been looking to move on from him for some time. He finished 2nd among all RBs in expected fantasy points but naturally, in Mixon-esque style, finished with -16.2 points over expected.

He was also horrific in the red zone, leading all RBs in carries inside the 10-yard line with 35 but finishing with only 7 touchdowns on such carries. For context, the other four RBs to have 30+ had at least 11 touchdowns on those carries, and two of them had 13. With a hopefully healthy season from Joe Burrow and Co., their offense will likely find itself in scoring position even more often than last year.

Now that we’ve established the touch vacuum – both on the ground and through the air for RBs – that Cincinnati needs to fill, let’s look at Chase Brown himself. Brown was a very intriguing prospect. He did not earn great draft capital, but he is an extraordinary athlete and had a top-notch 93rd percentile dominator rating in college to go with a solid 67th percentile target share (credit to PlayerProfiler), confirming his pass-catching prowess:

Chase Brown's college metrics and combine stats

Admittedly, he started his NFL career slowly. But by midseason, Brown had surpassed incumbent backups Chris Evans and Trayveon Williams en route to earning meaningful offensive snaps (8 total offensive snaps from Weeks 1-12, then 85 snaps from Weeks 13-18 including 7 as a wide receiver).

In minimal action, he made an immediate and noticeable impact. Of all RBs who played at least 90 offensive snaps, only Breece Hall, Christian McCaffrey, Jaleel McLaughlin, and Keaton Mitchell earned a higher PFF receiving grade. Few RBs can make plays like this:

As you can see above, Brown’s excellent speed metrics translate to the NFL gridiron. You may be surprised to learn that the top ball-carrier speed measured in 2023 did not come from a Miami Dolphin:

In current drafts, Chase Brown is going as the RB36 at the 10th/11th round turn. This is a good price, as it doesn’t bake in his upside if he steals early-down and/or goal-line work from presumed starter Zack Moss, who is going 1.5 rounds earlier than Brown as the RB30. Don’t be fooled: Chase Brown could certainly carry the mail as a lead back, evidenced by his 328/1,643/10 rushing line during his final year at Illinois.

Moss was serviceable as Jonathan Taylor’s understudy last year but is turning 27 this season and finished with -8.9 points above expected. There’s a lot of uncertainty regarding this backfield, but Brown will compete for the starting role and should at least have some passing-down work early in the season.

We want to target the young, exciting backups on high-scoring offenses whose only competition is older, unimpressive veterans like Moss. The uncertainty and contingent value of this situation make Brown a low-risk, high-reward selection. As Joe Mixon has shown, you don’t need to be that good to produce in this offense – if Brown can grab even 50% of the work in this backfield, he becomes a screaming value at his current price. He has to be considered among the most intriguing 2024 NFL draft winners in his area of the draft.

Rashid Shaheed

On a per-route basis, there may not be a more underrated player than Rashid Shaheed:

After it was clear that Michael Thomas was not part of the future, many analysts wondered who the Saints would acquire to step up behind Chris Olave during the 2024 offseason. But after the whirlwinds of free agency and the draft, the only wide receiver additions to New Orleans’ roster were ex-Bear Equanimeous St. Brown, ex-Dolphin Cedrick Wilson, and 5th-round rookie Bub Means. With such acquisitions, the Saints are signaling their belief in Rashid Shaheed.

For Shaheed, a breakout was unlikely during the past few years playing behind Olave and Thomas. But when Thomas has been injured, Shaheed has stepped up and maintained his efficiency even with increased volume:

Rashid Shaheed 2022-2023 splits with and without Michael Thomas

With the Saints not adding another meaningful pass-catcher through either free agency or the draft, Shaheed will be a starting WR for the Saints this season. It comes at a good time, as the Saints have replaced dinosaur OC Pete Carmichael with Klint Kubiak, who comes from the Shanahan coaching tree.

Kubiak was the Vikings QB coach (2020) and then offensive coordinator (2021), where he helped oversee multiple top-10 WR seasons from the Justin Jefferson/Adam Thielen combo. He then spent 2023 in San Francisco, where Deebo Samuel continued to thrive and Brandon Aiyuk emerged as one of the premier intermediate/deep threats in the entire league.

Most importantly, offensive innovation is coming to New Orleans – they ranked 31st in the NFL in the percentage of their offensive plays that used pre-snap motion (33.6%), whereas the 2023 49ers ranked 2nd in the same metric (75.4%).

Shaheed’s multi-year elite efficiency means his production is unlikely to be fluky, as he has produced on an elite level whenever he receives the opportunity. Surely, Klint Kubiak will bring some of the deep-passing concepts that made Aiyuk flourish, also known as Shaheed’s bread and butter:

Currently going as the WR57 in the 13th round, Shaheed is likely to have a WR4 floor and explosive WR2 upside as one of the non-obvious 2024 NFL draft winners.