2024 NFL Draft: Ranking 5 quarterbacks I like before the draft

When we’re assessing fantasy football rookies, so much of our analysis depends on a player’s landing spot. Thus, grading rookies before the NFL Draft can often be an exercise in futility.

Nevertheless, it is still helpful to watch video of the incoming class of rookies and assign preliminary rankings to these players based on production, talent, and how you think they will transition to the NFL.

Here are five incoming quarterbacks I like, in order, before the 2024 NFL Draft plays out and shakes things up.

1. Caleb Williams, USC

The comparisons to Patrick Mahomes are both unfair and undeniable at the same time. Mahomes is one of the best to ever play the position and has logged seven seasons as a pro, six as a starter. To immediately say that Williams can become the next Mahomes is unfair to both players. However, the traits that make Mahomes great have been exhibited, at least in part, by Williams at the college level — the arm angles, the improv, keeping plays alive, and the accuracy and touch with which he tosses it effortlessly downfield. Williams may never reach Mahomes’ heights, but his fantasy prowess is a good bet.

2. Jayden Daniels, LSU

There’s a lot to like about Daniels’ game, if you can look past the slender frame and the massive hits he took when scrambling out of the pocket. Daniels could be one of those players where landing spot forces a massive swing of the pendulum in his fantasy success. Although much taller than last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Bryce Young, Daniels’ slender frame might cause fans to wince every time a massive defensive end comes barrelling down on him. Having a well-stocked offensive line is uber-important. But given time and support, the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner’s command in the pocket and ability to read the field makes him an attractive option in fantasy.

3. Michael Penix Jr., Washington

Every quarterback prospect has his pros and cons, and for Penix it appears to be his injury history, which reads like a WebMD chart. Penix suffered significant injuries in 2018, ’19, ’20, and ’21, ranging from torn ACLs to separated and dislocated and separated AC joints in his shoulders. Since then, not only has he been healthy but he has looked very impressive as a starter with a strong arm and good pocket awareness. Counting his redshirt season in 2018, Penix has been in college for six years, so he enters the league as a seasoned, 24-year-old prospect. Between his age and injury history, that might scare some NFL teams away, but it shouldn’t bother you as a fantasy owner. He’s already pro-ready and if he can land in a formidable situation, he could have quick success.

4. Drake Maye, North Carolina

I may be in the minority here, but I was not among those heavily impressed with Maye’s film. Let’s start with the good: he has the ideal size and frame for a quarterback prospect. He throws a good ball at times. He showed some good mobility and playmaking chops. But I was less impressed with his consistency and accuracy, especially on timing routes on intermediate throws. He looks like the type of quarterback that can be rattled by a clever defensive coordinator who throws a mix of looks at him. He’s still worth selecting in your dynasty fantasy drafts, but he might struggle early in his career and he could have a capped ceiling.

5. J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

I still included McCarthy on my list of quarterbacks I like, but it comes with a cautionary tale. If he lands in the right situation in the NFL — think: a winning program with lots of assets around him and in which he’s not asked to do a whole lot — he might have a successful fantasy career as a spot starter and a dependable backup. He came from a winning program which focused a lot on the run game. Thus, if he lands with a good run game he just might be able to pick up where he left off as a college champion, a strong leader, and a player you can ask to come through and make plays in the clutch. He might not have the best traits of all the quarterbacks in this draft, but being a winner has a habit of following players — for the most part — and McCarthy is worth adding to fantasy rosters at some point, TBD.