Players That Will Take a Leap for Fantasy Football in 2024: Zamir White, Jameson Williams, Khalil Shakir, and Others

Fantasy football championships are won by being early on breakout stars -- Jameson Williams, Khalil Shakir, and Zamir White offer that opportunity in 2024!

Winning a redraft fantasy football title can come on the back of a player like San Francisco 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey, but often, championship banners are raised to do some due diligence on your part when it comes to projecting growth.

For me, Jacksonville Jaguars RB Travis Etienne Jr., Las Vegas Raiders RB Zamir White, Detroit Lions WR Jameson Williams, and Buffalo Bills WR Khalil Shakir all check the boxes I’m looking for and will be rostered on many of my teams for this upcoming season. Why should you be looking to invest in these players in 2024? Let’s find out.

Which Fantasy Options Could Take a Leap in 2024?

Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

I’ll get to the names further down the rankings board in a minute, but taking a “leap” forward doesn’t have to be exclusively players moving from the Flex fringes onto the starting radar or from afterthought to roster-worthy status — it’s possible to move from a starter to league-winning asset, and that could well be the case here given early ADPs.

As we sit here today, Etienne is being drafted as a mid-to-late third-round pick (30th overall). That’s not cheap, but it might be upwards of a round too late!

The Jaguars’ clear-cut RB1 averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a rookie and 3.4 catches per game in his second season.

That’s not far off of the San Francisco version of McCaffrey (5.1 YPC and 4.4 receptions) and tops what Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler gave us through three seasons (4.8 YPC and 3.4 receptions) during his ascension to fantasy royalty.

If you’re with me in doubling down on Jacksonville as an above-average offense that has access to a ceiling that could rank them in the top quarter of the league, Etienne deserves to be in the Los Angeles Rams RB Kyren Williams and Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Taylor tier of RB, both of whom are hovering around the 1-2 round turn.

If you don’t want to draft him over those touchdown savants, I get it. But the separation, in my opinion, is far less than the industry is currently projecting.

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To me, Etienne is currently a clear answer to the question of, “How do I build a winning team after going WR-WR with an early pick?”

I’m all in on him as an RB1 this season, and if you can pair him with two volume-hogs at the receiver position (current ADPs suggest that a Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson/New Orleans Saints WR Chris Olave/Etienne trio is very obtainable), I think you could be looking at a special 2024 season!

Zamir White, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

Just because it’s “obvious” doesn’t make it wrong. For me, White and Tennessee Titans RB Tyjae Spears fit into the “don’t overthink it” box — a role is presenting itself, and they are talented enough to make the most of it.

With Raiders RB Josh Jacobs set to test the free market, the 2022 fourth-round pick is set to take on the vacated featured role, and he should thrive.

Over the final four weeks of 2023, White handled a bell cow workload (21.0 carries and 3.3 targets per game), and while he only scored once, there’s a number you’ll find when digging a little deeper that will have you encouraged about his trajectory.

During those four games, White averaged 3.43 yards per carry after first contact. We are obviously working with a small sample size here, but that’s all we have when it comes to White in what we believe will be his role to kick off 2024.

That YAC number would have ranked third in the NFL if extended for the entire season, slotting him just above some names you might recognize …

He’s pretty clearly not in that tier of fantasy asset, but that tough-nosed running style can rack up fantasy points when given high-end volume.

If the final month of 2023 is a sign of things to come, White is going to have his chance to deliver RB2 numbers sooner rather than later. Could he impress in 2024 the way Kansas City Chiefs RB Isiah Pacheco did in 2023?

Jameson Williams, WR, Detroit Lions

We know that Williams has the speed to burn and can break any game open with a single play, but could we be heading into a breakout season that sees him establishing himself as a consistent lineup option? I think so, and the Detroit Lions are clearly interested in giving him every chance to succeed.

Williams ran a route on 76.5% of dropbacks in the postseason, a level of usage that should have you excited, given his single-target upside. He caught multiple deep passes in two of those games, production down the field that should be reasonably stable if he is going to be on the field for three-quarters of the snaps.

Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown is among the most consistent receivers in the game, and TE Sam LaPorta has a legitimate case to be TE1 in both redraft and dynasty formats, but after that?

WR Josh Reynolds is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and the depth at the position is questionable at best. I expect Williams’ name to be popular on lists like this — I don’t care. I don’t mind inching him up in my rankings in an effort to be ahead of consensus and land this developing talent.

Khalil Shakir, WR, Buffalo Bills

Shakir burst onto the fantasy radar late last season, and the inclination might be to fade some of the hype around him, but I’d be careful in doing so. Very careful.

He caught 86% of his targets this season, nearly nine percentage points ahead of any other receiver who saw at least 50 targets and a level of efficiency that can stabilize value, especially in a wide-open offense like that of the Bills that will likely be losing WR Gabe Davis this offseason.

Of course, catch rate isn’t everything. Here are the top-five qualified receivers in that stat and where they finished this regular season on a per-game basis this season:

  1. Shakir: 86%
  2. Chiefs WR Rice: 77.1% (WR29)
  3. Giants WR Wan’Dale Robinson: 76.9% (WR58)
  4. Panthers WR Adam Thielen: 75.2% (WR27)
  5. Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb: 72.7% (WR1)

An eclectic group, to say the least. But we’ve seen exceptional players do this, and that has to at least be considered given the stability of this Bills offense and the upward trajectory — both in skill and role — that we have penciled in for Shakir.

Over the past decade, we’ve had four instances in which a WR had an 80% catch rate with an aDOT of at least 8.0 yards (again, minimum 50 targets):

KEEP READING: Dynasty Fantasy Football Startup Draft Strategies

That’s pretty impressive company. Remember those physical limitations? If you take the averages of Thomas and Lockett, you get 6’0.5”, 197 pounds, and 4.48 40-yard dash speed.

Shakir checks in at 6’0”, 190 pounds, and runs a 4.43 40-yard dash. This serves as a nice reminder that draft grades and scouting reports are meant to capture the most likely outcomes. There are annual exceptions that are going to be missed on a spreadsheet, and Shakir might be the latest example.

With the fantasy football season behind us, why not start preparing for your rookie drafts with our dynasty rookie rankings? Additionally, as you look to improve your team heading into 2024, our dynasty trade calculator can help you find the perfect deal to boost your championship chances.

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