10 things to get excited about this fantasy football season with less than 100 days until NFL opener

Travis Kelce will still be Patrick Mahomes' top target, but the star QB has a revamped WR room to help his already solid fantasy football value. (Photo by Ralf Ibing - firo sportphoto/Getty Images)

The kickoff of the 2024 NFL season is less than 100 days away, which gives the unique feeling of being both right around the corner and impossibly far down the road.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at 10 fantasy football situations to be excited about for the coming season. We’re still writing takes in pencil at this part of the calendar but that doesn’t mean we can’t get our appetite for football and drafts roaring.

The Chiefs' wide receiver room was a critical and much-discussed issue throughout the 2023 NFL season. The opening game made that reality apparent, and things never got better, even if the emergence of Rahsee Rice stabilized things down the stretch.

Remarkably, despite the persistent issue with the receiver room, the Chiefs triumphed in the grandest stage of them all, the Super Bowl. As we approach the new season, the receiver room appears to have found some stability, even with Rice’s legal issues still unresolved.

Marquise Brown isn’t a true No. 1 receiver, but he’s a veteran starter who is undoubtedly above average. Kansas City hasn’t employed someone who fits that description in years. Xavier Worthy isn’t a flawless prospect, but he brings needed juice and fits the pre-snap motion plays Andy Reid loves to employ. Even Rice, who is expected to be suspended at some point, fits much better as a complementary element rather than a featured piece. He’s an excellent YAC option over the middle, but he fits best in the slot and is employed on a rudimentary route tree. He can stick in that comfortable role with Brown and Worthy in the fold. And of course, all of these guys will revolve around Travis Kelce regarding the target pecking order.

Patrick Mahomes was the QB8 last season, while the defense served as the dominant unit in Kansas City, and the offense was in discovery mode for most of the year. Considering how he’ll perform this season with the receiver room improved is tantalizing.

As we just covered with Mahomes and Kansas City, organizations with elite and highly paid quarterbacks go through different eras throughout those passers’ long careers. Josh Allen and the Bills are set to embark on the third act of his career.

The first version of Allen’s journey in Buffalo was the developmental stages in 2018 and 2019. He took some small steps toward improvement in that second season when the team acquired John Brown and Cole Beasley, but the real leap came when version 2.0 kicked off in 2020. And of course, that coincided with the arrival of Stefon Diggs in 2020 and lasted four successful and wildly productive seasons.

Diggs’ exit this offseason signals the arrival of a third era. It will be the most challenging of Allen’s career. He’s a teammate elevator who can get the best out of the pieces around him. The pass-catching talent will simply be different with Diggs gone and a collection of guys like rookie Keon Coleman, Curtis Samuel and various veterans added to holdovers like Khalil Shakir and Dalton Kincaid. The Bills may not have an alpha in the receiver room anymore but they have a variety of players who can collect 80 to 110 targets in a season.

Not much can topple Allen from the QB1 overall pedestal in drafts this summer — he’s too good overall and dynamic as a runner. However, if you’re skeptical of this turnover, it could be enough to close the existing gap in ADP between Allen and the rest of the elite QB1 field.

A “things to be excited about” fantasy preview-style list would not be complete without the Falcons. The Falcons quarterback plan has been the subject of much critique and frankly, ridicule the last month following the NFL Draft.

Yet, one thing is for sure, no matter how you feel about the decisions and how they play out, Atlanta’s quarterback room of Kirk Cousins and Michael Penix is a sizable upgrade from the last two years. These two guys should be more than capable of lifting up the unrealized expectations we’ve had for the talented young players on the Falcons offense.

Early drafters are buying the narrative, and willing to shell out to gain exposure.

Bijan Robinson was always going to go high in drafts because he’s an electric young two-way back. He’s the seventh overall player of the board in early best ball drafts and that will not waver for most leagues come this August.

Drake London is the more fascinating ADP, currently a top-20 overall player and WR11. I believe London has all the talent to reach those heights but we should acknowledge that’s lofty. Simple variance could see London score out as WR14 to 16 and that should still be viewed as a great season. Brandon Aiyuk, Michael Pittman and DK Metcalf (last season's WR14, 15 and 16) combined averaged 83 catches, 1,202 yards and six touchdowns. If London puts up that type of season in his third season and people label it a disappointment, they’ve lost grip on reality.

Then there is Kyle Pitts. Despite all the turbulence of the last two years in Arthur Smith’s offense, Pitts still clings on to a top-60 overall ADP as the TE6. Drafters appear ready to give it one more ride with Pitts, who should be healthier this season, in this new offensive system and improves quarterback play.

If early best ball drafts are any indication, there will be no discounts on Falcons. And I get it. Seeing these three guys take the next step should be one of the most exciting parts of this season.

Anyone playing fantasy football is always excited to uncover the next hidden gem at the running back position. Few things rocket up a manager’s chance to take down a league than uncovering the out of nowhere back who ends up scoring as an RB1.

Last year brought us Kyren Williams and Raheem Mostert as top-six finishers at the position. One was a veteran who rocketed up the ranks at an unusual point in his career to have a dominant rushing season while the former was not even drafted in most leagues.

Those two players were unique circumstances and situations. It’s not always possible to find “the next Kyren Williams.” However, his ascension in particular does gives us a couple of reminders. Remember to hunt for these players in quality offensive ecosystems and pay attention to offseason buzz. Even if the fantasy community generally wrote off and ignored the Rams last summer, that doesn’t change that LA is a fruitful place to hunt for talent and Williams was the subject of plenty of praise from Sean McVay and his staff. Whoever is 2024’s mystery breakout running back will likely check those same boxes.

Has any division gone from afterthought to enviable so quickly? The emergence of C.J. Stroud has changed the standing of the entire division as his arrival launched the Texans way up the NFL’s prestige ranks. He’s a superstar and he’s bringing that trio of receivers along for the ride.

Fantasy drafters are almost equally, if not even more, excited for Anthony Richardson this season. He was electric in a small sample last year and the Colts have set him up for success with a strong support system for a young quarterback to roll. It’s just a matter of staying healthy an developing.

Some of the shine is off the Jaguars and Trevor Lawrence but that’s still an offense with multiple intriguing pieces. Lawrence himself could very well be a post-hype sleeper candidate if rookie wideout Brian Thomas Jr. is ready to rock early.

Tennessee may seem like an afterthought in this discussion but Brian Callahan is a well-regarded offensive coach and the front office surrounded Will Levis with pieces this offseason. Derrick Henry may be out but if Levis is good, the Titans could be a sneaky spot to dig for fantasy value.

Sometimes home and away splits are nothing but noise but for Jared Goff and the current Detroit Lions, we have enough real football reasons and evidence to say it matters. That’s why this season is going to be a blast for Detroit. They’ll be safely hidden from the outdoors for the vast majority of the season.

Lions players are going to be highly drafted. Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jahmy Gibbs are Round 1 options, Sam LaPorta is the current TE1 overall and even Goff, because of that schedule may sneak into QB1 chats. My favorite pick of the bunch may be David Montgomery, who goes well after what I imagine to be his floor (69th overall) as a big part of the running back committee.

Jameson Williams is positioned to be the most polarizing and highly debated draft pick in all of fantasy football this season based on his NFL resume vs. the hype being placed upon him by Detroit’s braintrust after limited flashes to end last season. A little hint to editors and producers: Structure segments around this guy. If my early discussions with readers and listeners are any indication, those are going to click like crazy.

Lions fever is real across the NFL landscape, and fantasy drafters were always going to fall in line. The fact that most of their games will be played in the cushy, comfortable surroundings favored by their quarterback simply seals the deal.

Not to be outdone by Detroit, the entire NFC North looks primed to turn a corner and all three squads beyond the Lions have some potential to challenge for the divisional throne. It’s all thanks to new hope brought on by quarterbacks.

The Packers are in great hands with Jordan Love and layers of talented young players. That offense is crowded with good to great players even if there isn’t a true alpha in the wide receiver room, right now. Fantasy value will be had in Green Bay, along with some headaches.

Caleb Williams is the dream quarterback prospect Bears fans have been thirsty for over the last couple of decades. If he’s everything he’s cracked up to be, Williams himself could have a strong individual season and bring at least two of D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen and fellow rookie Rome Odunze along for the ride. Much like in Green Bay, it’s almost more fascinating but much less fun to debate who will be, relatively, left out in the cold.

Then there’s J.J. McCarthy in Minnesota. While he won’t have standalone fantasy value, he’s been given the keys to a true sports car with the Vikings offense. McCarthy may need a little more time on task and seasoning but when he’s up to speed, he should be ripe to attack the middle of the field with Justin Jefferson.

The entire NFC North could be must-see TV this fall, not just because of the endlessly fascinating quarterback-driven storylines but also because of the real hope these offenses could be dangerous. Expect points up north in 2024.

Puka Nacua’s film is legit. There’s absolutely nothing fluky about his eruption as a rookie. He displayed real skills as a high-end wide receiver and even better, he was deployed perfectly in the Rams offense.

That said, I can’t wait to see how high he can fly in his encore. Nacua is an ascending young player with a rock-solid skill set tethered to a great quarterback in a strong offense. Those are all the boxes you want to see a receiver check if you take him high in the draft. Early drafters are taking him as the ninth overall player off the board. There is no skepticism discount on Puka Nacua, and there’s nothing to suggest there should be one.

As long as Matthew Stafford and Nacua are healthy, the 2024 season will go a long way in determining the wideout’s long-term ceiling. We know he’s good. That’s obvious. But is he WR1 that dominates the target share every single season, no questions asked good? We’re about to find out.

It’s low-hanging fruit, but I’m wildly excited to see Marvin Harrison Jr. finally play in the NFL.

I don’t watch college football during the season. I have enough on my hands with the pros, so I don’t know much if anything about the wide receiver prospects before charting their film. Harrison was the rare exception because the hype was so significant I was aware of how high most people regarded him as a prospect. His film lived up to the billing. He’s the best receiver prospect I’ve charted over the last four classes.

We’re now finally going to get a glimpse of him at the pro level. The best part: He’s walking into a spot with so much available opportunity and a proven quarterback in Kyler Murray.

Harrison is going to be drafted quite high this summer. His talent and landing spot demand it. It’ll be fascinating to see if he can reach the lofty early expectations early drafters have set on him as a top-17 overall player.

You could argue that all of the coaches in the NFC East enter this season on the hot seat but since Dan Quinn just got the job, let’s be nicer and say they “have something to prove.”

The Eagles fell apart under Nick Sirianni’s watch last season in epic fashion and he’s on his second set of coordinators in two years. I can see this season going either way for Sirianni, who will enter the year with massive expectations. Everyone knows Mike McCarthy is on notice in Dallas, who has had a mysterious offseason, to say the least. Brian DaBoll should be feeling the pressure in New York after an explosive campaign in 2023 that saw his offense fall to pieces. Who knows exactly what he needs to show in regards to Daniel Jones and the overall quarterback output to keep the faith of Giants' ownership? Quinn just got the job but he wasn’t Washington’s first choice, if reports are to be believed regarding Ben Johnson, and put together an interesting staff in his second act as head coach.

The Eagles and Cowboys are two of the best offenses in the league with several big names. Washington has a new rookie quarterback who people will be eager to draft and gamers will have high hopes for Malik Nabers in New York. So how these head coaches are able to launder their downtrodden reputations will matter quite a bit for fantasy football players. If they don’t have good seasons, the players you invested in may well struggle, too.