NFL playoff risers (and 1 big faller): Who boosted their fantasy football value for 2024?

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As a general rule — one that applies to any fantasy sport (or human undertaking) — we should try to make decisions based on as much information as can be reasonably gathered. We want more data, not less.

We certainly shouldn’t allow a player’s most recent game to completely reset their value moving forward. Habitually overreacting to small-sample performances is a terrible way to operate as a fantasy manager.

Of course, it’s not as if habitual underreaction is particularly helpful, either. Ideally, you can find a middle ground. We need to be able to recognize true breakouts or declines as they happen, while also accepting that sports are full of noise and false promises.

No matter how you personally tend to operate in your fantasy life, I’m afraid the community at large will definitely continue to exaggerate the importance of single-game performances — particularly spotlight games on the biggest postseason stages.

With this fact in mind, today’s mission is to review a few players who have clearly acquired new coordinates on 2024 fantasy draft boards, based largely on January surges and slides.

Let’s begin with the one player on our list who still has a game ahead of him …

Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs 📈

Three weeks ago, someone around here produced a two-round fantasy mock draft that did not include Pacheco. Just an outrageous whiff. Truly scandalous. At the time, Pacheco was in consideration at the end of the second round, but, ultimately, I closed with James Cook, Jalen Hurts and Nico Collins. A regrettable mistake.

Today, swimming in that regret, I’d slot Pacheco in the back half of the first round. He has a firm grip on a high-usage featured role for Kansas City, with receiving volume and goal-line work included. Pacheco has scored at least one TD in each of his last seven games and he’s delivered at least 80 scrimmage yards in seven of his last eight.

Also, he runs like a wind-up toy dropped into the center of a board game, which is delightful.

We can’t rule out the possibility that KC will add a brand-name veteran back in free agency, because a fantastic number of them are going to be available. Somebody is gonna come cheap. But this team obviously isn’t about to throw significant money at a position that’s already solved.

Pacheco’s range of outcomes for 2024 includes an overall RB1 finish.

Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills 📉🤢

We’ve considered the Diggs dilemma at various points and on various platforms over the past two months, so we’re not going to retell the entire sordid story here. You already know the essential problem: Diggs has produced exactly one touchdown and zero 100-yard performances over his last 10 games, dating back to Buffalo’s OC change in mid-November.

Under Joe Brady, an offense that once ranked 20th in the league in rush attempts and percentage of rushing plays finished third and sixth in those categories. Target share remained solid for Diggs, but his actual weekly targets were down in the season’s second half. He produced just 73 receiving yards over two playoff games and left us with a final image that was, um … not great:

I’m not prepared to tell you definitively that Diggs has lost something in terms of speed or separation ability, but he plainly did not play to his usual standards in the most important weeks this season, playoffs included. His catch rate over his final eight games was an uncharacteristically low 57.8% and he was poor in contested situations (4 for 13, per PFF). We simply have no way to spin Diggs’ final weeks as anything other than a massive disappointment. It’s hard to imagine anyone considering him inside the first round next season, except in AFC East-only leagues (which are not known to exist at this time).

Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers 🚀🧀

OK, here’s an example of a player who left us with a pretty lousy season-ending lowlight, yet still did more than enough throughout the postseason to lock in a top-eight (five?) positional rank entering 2024. Love was mostly awesome. He directed a demolition of the Cowboys in the wild-card round, then gave the Niners a serious scare the following week. He passed for five touchdowns in his two playoff appearances, finishing his season with multiple TDs in 10 of his last 11 games.

Love is, of course, tied to a deep and talented young receiving corps and an exceptional head coach, so team context certainly isn’t a worry. He’ll likely be drafted in the Burrow-Stroud zone, wherever that falls in your league.

Jameson Williams, Detroit Lions 🤯

Oh, buddy, if you thought the Gabe Davis Wars of 2022 were exhausting, just wait for the Jameson Williams discourse that’s ahead of us this summer. It’s gonna get wild. Friendships will be forged and lost. Old alliances shattered.

[Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for the 2024 MLB season]

In the end, of course, Williams will probably remain a best-ball-type who delivers 2-4 big games and a dozen unhelpful weeks. But he capped his season with a two-score playoff performance against the Niners, which is all the ammunition the Jameson zealots are gonna need. He’s clearly an explosive playmaker (if not an every-route, all-situation receiver), so he’s a potential week-winner when the big games hit. The fact that Ben Johnson is actually returning to Detroit is a pretty big win for all Lions skill players.

Prepare yourselves for months of nuanced discussion fantasy-industry infighting about Williams’ upside and floor, and his one great collegiate season and his draft status and … well, it’s gonna get messy. The takes will be extreme and they will be everywhere.

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