2024 Fantasy Football Early Top 12 Picks

by Mark Strausberg
2024 Fantasy Football Early Top 12 Picks

I say it every year, "fantasy football is a cruel, cruel mistress". I crushed most of my leagues this year, finishing as a top-three seed in more than half of them but have zero championships to show for it as I got Amari Cooper-ed and CeeDee Lamb-ed right out of the playoffs. Therefore, there might not be anything more therapeutic than an early Top 12 2024 Fantasy Football Picks.

Will it eliminate the pain? Probably not, but perhaps it will dullen it. Because we all know I will return to that mistress. Might as well start getting myself prepared now.

For clarification purposes, consider this countdown of my top 12 picks for 2024 to be for Half-PPR leagues. However, studs are studs regardless if you are in a "standard", PPR or a Half-PPR league. Maybe a guy who is fourth in one format might slide down to seventh in another format. So the order might change a little, but the 12 studs below will be extremely popular in your 2024 drafts.

And things will change. Free agency and the draft alone will shake up my first-round picks a bit, that I can promise you.

With that in mind, here are my top 12 2024 Fantasy Football Picks....at least for now.

2024 Fantasy Football Early Top 12 Picks

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No. 12: Devon Achane, RB,  Miami Dolphins

When picking 12th, most of the week-to-week "set-and-forget-it" reliables will gone. You're not getting the high floor you ideally want from a first-round pick. But fortunately, there will still be a few options left at RB who can win you a week single-handedly. And no one is more representative of that than Devon Achane.

I'm sure we all recall his 4-TD, 200+ combined yard day against the Broncos in Week 3. He also saw double touchdowns in week 4 against Buffalo and versus Washington in week 13.

And had he not been out for over a month in the middle of the season, he probably would have had more. Lest we forget, this is the same RB who topped the century mark against a Ravens defense allowing the fourth fewest total yards this season. And while Raheem Mostert is still there, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Dolphins begin to phase him out, maybe even cut him before the 2024 season starts.

Achane is perhaps the riskiest pick featured here but has more upside than at least half of the names everyone below.

No. 11: Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons

If Arthur Smith is still the Falcons coach in 2024, Bijan will fall into the second round, possibly further. But I'm holding out hope he is gone. And any new coach worth their salt will know that Bijan Robinson should be seeing at least 20 touches a game.

Despite being underused, Robinson will eclipse the 1K-yard rushing mark with 52 yards this weekend. If Robinson can maintain his efficiency rate of 4.7 yards next with say another 50 carries, he will be a top-ten player next year. I wouldn't be surprised if in 2024 he can double the seven total touchdowns he has in 2023.

No. 10: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants/TBD

Speaking of folks on the move, I am going to assume that Saquon is not on the Giants next year. Instead, Barkley goes to a team that has a shot at winning the Super Bowl next season.

And perhaps I am making too much of a leap that the new team will be able to keep Saquon healthy, while still making him a feature back. He's not a Top 5 pick anymore, but the upside is just too luscious for him to fall much further than this.

No. 9: A.J. Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Brown's 2023 season featured a six-game streak of 125+ receiving yards. Don't be surprised if he tops that in 2024. He's been noticeably peeved to put it lightly at the Eagles' offensive inconsistencies. One way to cure that is to get Brown the ball more.

Brown is tied for third in the league in first-down receptions. And that's even more remarkable when you realize that he's not in the top 15 in YAC (yards after completion). Brown just has a knack for making the contested catch and/or finding the holes in a defense.

Currently just 26 years old, Brown will enter the fabled "peak WR age of 27" in 2024. What can Brown do for you? Even more in '24 than he has done in '23, and even that was quite a lot.

No. 8: Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Remember what I said above--this is my first round. The odds of Justin Jefferson falling to you with the 8th pick is pretty unlikely. Because there's no argument, he's a phenomenal talent. He has 98 receiving yards per game this season, third-best in the league.

However, the ascension of Jordan Addison, the potential breakout of Ty Chandler next season, not to mention serious questions at QB will cause him to slip from a first-overall pick last season to barely a first-round pick this season.

No. 7: Kyren Williams, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Man is this kid good! And Sean McVey now knows what he has in him, as he gave him 20+ carries each of the last five weeks. Expect to see him get close to 20 carries and probably five targets a game next season. I also like him to increase his touchdown total over the 15 he had this year. That's a pretty high bar to exceed, but remember he too was out for six weeks of the season.

And when you remember that, his 15 touchdowns are even more impressive. In non-PPR leagues, my guess is he will be a top-five pick come draft season.

No. 6: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions

He might be, nay, he is the best WR the Lions have had since Calvin Johnson. I know some folks near the Mexican border might disagree, but St. Brown might have the highest upside of any WR in the NFC period.

He is the best thing coming out of the Detroit football factory. The 2023 model put up 1,175 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. That is his 2024 floor. Need I say more?

No. 5: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

This might be the most controversial pick I have for my Top 12 2024 Fantasy Football Picks. Because we know Taylor didn't even finish as a Top 5 RB this season. But by this time come fantasy football draft season, he might somehow sneak into my number two overall. Here's why:

  • JT is just 24-years-old.
  • Only two seasons ago he led the league in both touchdowns and scrimmage yards.
  • The QB situation should be better in Indy next year and Head Coach Steve Steichen is happy to do the one RB workhorse thing.
  • Taylor did not play the first four weeks of the season, plus missed weeks 13 through 15, yet still has seven touchdowns this season. If he can play 16 games in 2024, a return to the 20 touchdowns he had in 2020 is not hard to envision.

No. 4: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

When a guy's performance dashes your championship dreams, you tend to make sure that guy ends up on your team the following year. And I wouldn't blame you if you ignored my far too emotional attraction to Lamb. But you can't ignore the fact that he has back-to-back seasons of 100-plus receptions and 1,300-plus receiving yards not to mention nine-plus touchdowns.

He has a stable and potential MVP candidate in Dak Prescott. But wait, it gets even better!

Dallas can save $17.5 million in cap space with post-June 1st cuts of both Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup. Lamb could easily see a record number of targets next year, especially in a Mike McCarthy offense that is constantly in the top ten of passing attempts.

No. 3: Ja' Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Despite playing just 14 games, Chase had 93 catches for 1156 yards and seven touchdowns this past season. And that was in just 14 games despite having two months' worth of an injured Joe Burrow and Jake Browning under center. I told people during the 2023 preseason I wasn't sold on taking Justin Jefferson over Chase. If I say the same thing in 2024, people will mistake me for Captain Obvious.

No. 2: Tyreek Hill, WR, Miami Dolphins

Telling you why Hill is my top WR on the board seems like a silly exercise. But my doctor says I need to exercise more, so here you go.

Hill is on pace for over 1900 yards this season. His yards per route run is over 4.0. That number of yards per route is just insanely high. For comparison sakes, Davante Adams has been great over the last few years and he is in the low threes. And unlike Adams, Hill's situation is very stable.

Mike McDaniel is one of the better coaches in the leagues (don't attempt to argue with me about this) and he has at least two more years on his contract. The running game is obviously dependable. And Tua will be the Dolphins QB for at least another year.

You're not going to catch the Cheetah, but you can certainly grab him without using the No. 1 pick, and I will!

And that brings us to No. 1, who you probably figured out already, but drum roll please...

No.1: Christian McCaffrey, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

Don't get cute. McCaffrey should be the first pick in any redraft league. If he's not the first pick in yours, find a tougher league.

Just Missed

  • Breece Hall is also a phenomenal talent. But the Jets are gonna Jets, and the downside is just too high to make Hall a first-rounder.
  • If you play in a league where you draft Team RB, Detroit might be my first pick. I don't fault Dan Campbell for using David Montgomery equally to Jahmyr Gibbs. But in a redraft league, I just can't pick Gibbs in the first round knowing the volume might not be there much before 2026.
  • Austin Ekeler? His efficiency numbers have sunk like the Titanic.
  • The top QBs or top TEs? I like 'em and if we are talking about an SF or TE-heavy league,  they are definite first-rounders. But in a "typical" league, I'm waiting until the second round.

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