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2024 NFL Draft - Pro Player Comparisons for the Top 12 Fantasy Football Rookies

Marvin Harrison Jr. - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, WR, NFL Draft Sleepers

Rookie fever is nearing its peak, and in just a few days, we'll know with full certainty where these prospects will be playing their games on Sundays. In turn, fantasy football gamers will be poring over player tapes, stats, and metrics like "Oops, I forgot to study, and my final is tomorrow" for upcoming rookie drafts.

Yes, we'll finally know which players will impact which teams -- that will tell us a lot about a player's outlook. Factoring this with how highly an NFL team selects them paints a near-complete picture of what we can expect from them as a fantasy contributor. The missing piece is, "What does this player bring to the field?"

You can learn a lot about a player by watching their tape. It adds color to a profile that's otherwise black and white when leaning solely on stats and metrics for analysis. Furthermore, certain traits or play styles can jump out, causing us to reminisce on some players who graced the league and even some current stars. There is no better time to compare the top-12 fantasy rookies than right now -- let's dive in.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

Player Comparison: A.J. Green (Retired), Cincinnati Bengals

Marvin Harrison Jr. is only about to be the next (fourth) superstar Ohio State receiver to be drafted into the NFL in the first round over the last few seasons. In a list that includes Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, MHJ might be the best one yet.

If it wasn't enough to be the son of a Hall of Famer, Harrison Jr. certainly looks the part of a prototypical X wide receiver. He is absolutely pro-ready entering the league and reminds me fondly of another tall, streaking rookie WR who would go on to set the league on fire.

Like A.J. Green, MHJ torches defenders on every level of the defense and turns 50/50 balls into 80/20 balls with his length and body control. Although Harrison Jr. did not test well in his 40-yard dash, he hit 21+mph in-game on more than one occasion. Yes, he's going to be good.

 

Caleb Williams, USC

Player Comparison: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

At this point, few people aren't comparing Caleb Williams to Patrick Mahomes. It might seem chalky, but Williams' tape is littered with Mahomes-esque flash. The cannon arm? Yes, he's got it. The wild escapability and throws on the run? Yes, that's there, too.

Williams even flashes the ability to throw from different platforms and arm angles. He may not ever truly be Mahomes, but for right now, he's the closest thing we've got -- and I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. 2023 might not have been as good, but don't forget about his 2022 season.

 

Malik Nabers, LSU

Player Comparison: Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

This one was not hard. Like Ja'Marr Chase, it's easy to get lost in Malik Nabers' tape. Nabers' highlight reel is a masterclass on setting up defenders for failure in the open field. Giving Nabers space is a mistake, but I also wouldn't press him, as he excels in that regard, too. He's physical at the line of scrimmage and has a sweet package of release moves to create space on his own, much like Chase. They even ran about the same 40-yard dash time, but Nabers was faster.

Nabers might also be the best decelerator in this class, often going from 60 - 0 on a dime, planting his foot, and then exploding in the other direction. The similarities don't stop at their former alma mater either, as Nabers expects to be a top-five pick in this year's draft -- just like Chase.

 

Jayden Daniels, LSU

Player Comparison: Randall Cunningham (Retired), Philadelphia Eagles

Randall Cunningham -- the OG dual-threat quarterback -- was so fun to watch. Cunningham had a rocket for an arm and a high level of evasiveness in the pocket, making him a nightmare for defensive coordinators to scheme against. Put that together with his speed, and you're looking at a real problem. There are shades of Cunningham in Jayden Daniels' game, and I'm not just accounting for his prowess as a rusher.

Daniels has been great at that throughout his career and broke 1,000 yards his last year at LSU (1,133), but he's also fearless like Cunningham was. Jayden Daniels will consistently take a big hit or throw his body in the way of danger for the good of the team. You love to see it, but he also needs to learn to protect himself.

 

Rome Odunze, Washington

Player Comparison: Larry Fitzgerald (Retired), Arizona Cardinals

In just about any other rookie draft, Rome Odunze would be the first skill player off the board, and it wouldn't be very close. I'm inordinately high on Odunze -- higher than consensus -- and don't see much difference between him, Harrison Jr., and Nabers. Like his rookie counterparts, Odunze is prepared to victimize defenders right away. He is a full-field separator with vice-like hands (88.9% contested catch success) and brings to mind another long, smooth operator who once broke the rookie catch record -- Larry Fitzgerald. Don't sleep on Odunze in dynasty.

 

Drake Maye, North Carolina

Player Comparison: Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

In 10 years, we could be saying Drake Maye was the best quarterback from this class, and it wouldn't surprise me -- he needs to put it all together, though. Maye reminds me of Justin Herbert, and it's not just because they both wear No. 10. Like Herbert, Drake Maye is a tall pocket quarterback with enough athleticism to threaten a defense with his legs.

While he has his fair share of rush attempts, it isn't Maye's default, as he always has his eyes downfield, looking for a big play amid chaos. Maye can sling it, too. While Herbert can put more sauce on the ball, Maye is no slouch. They have similar throwing motions as well. Maye could be a superb selection in the middle of the first round of rookie drafts, much like Herbert was a few years back.

 

Brock Bowers, Georgia

Player Comparison: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Kicking off the back half of the first round of rookie draft ADP is the sensational tight end out of Georgia -- Brock Bowers. If you're in a TE premium (TEP) format, it's normal -- and even encouraged -- to take him a few slots higher, depending on the "premium" and your roster construction.

Bowers is an explosive athlete with a unique blend of speed and burst, given his size. If he can't run by you, he has no qualms about running through you, as he consistently and savagely sheds off the first tackler en route to a chunk gain. George Kittle is a perfect comparison for Bowers. While Bowers isn't the standout blocker that Kittle is, he can more than hold his own at the point of contact.

 

Brian Thomas Jr., LSU

Player Comparison: Josh Gordon (Retired), Cleveland Browns

The third LSU Tiger in first-round ADP is the fourth receiver in consensus across the NFL and fantasy. Brian Thomas Jr. was a tough comparison because his highlight reel also brings some A.J. Green vibes. However, another tall, field-stretching wideout comes to mind when watching Thomas Jr. -- Josh Gordon.

Gordon is infamous for being a burner on -- and off -- the field, and while I'm not projecting the same career arc, there are some similarities spanning their play styles. Firstly, Brian Thomas Jr. is a legitimate threat after the catch. He's got a bit more wiggle than you'd expect for someone standing 6-foot-3, and, like Gordon -- he can go up and get it. Thomas Jr. is uber fast (4.33 40-yard dash), but he's also got some solid route-running chops -- especially when working against press coverage.

 

J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

Player Comparison: Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers

J.J. McCarthy -- national champion -- is a polarizing prospect in this year's class. While many believe he's likely to be the fourth quarterback selected in the NFL Draft this Thursday, his former coach -- Jim Harbaugh -- would argue otherwise. Regardless of your view on McCarthy, his play strongly reminds me of Alex Smith -- it's nearly undeniable.

Like Smith, McCarthy is more of a cerebral player -- relying on his football acumen and processing to make the right play for his team on any given play. They would both use their legs in a timely fashion, whether that's to reset the pocket or scramble to pick up essential yards. They're also fearless -- almost to a fault. Eerily enough, Smith and McCarthy put up similar stat lines in their final collegiate season on nearly identical passing attempts. Smith did have more rushing yards and scored 17 more total touchdowns.

 

Xavier Worthy, Texas

Player Comparison: DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

Xavier Worthy is the fifth wide receiver off the board in Sleeper rookie draft ADP -- have you noticed no running backs yet? I could have just done an "insert generic speedster here" for this comparison, but there are legit parallels between Xavier Worthy and DeSean Jackson.

The first thing that is evident when watching Worthy play is his speed. Worthy flat-out moves differently than everyone else. He even does that thing Jackson would do, where it looks like they're moving too fast for their body to catch up with itself, eventually losing balance and stumbling forward when they catch the ball. In addition to their elite speed and ball-tracking skills, Worthy also returns punts.

 

Adonai Mitchell, Texas

Player Comparison: Brandon Lloyd / Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers

The second half of the Longhorns' receiving duo -- Adonai Mitchell -- is one pick after his old running mate in ADP. As far as his game goes, Mitchell is still a work in progress but projects favorably if he can polish the areas of his play with concern.

Mitchell immediately reminded me of Brandon Lloyd's ball skills and reliability, but there's also some Brandon Aiyuk in how he runs routes. Either way, AD Mitchell has a ton more athleticism and explosiveness than these two players put together. If he settles in somewhere in the middle, he will easily outplay his draft-day price.

 

Troy Franklin, Oregon

Player Comparison: Will Fuller, Houston Texans

Troy Franklin presented the most challenging comp on this list by far. Franklin is fast. He's also 6-foot-2 but very slight, weighing just 176 pounds. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com has Franklin's NFL comparison as Chris Olave. That'd be a fantastic outcome for Franklin, but Olave was an infinitely more polished route runner entering the league. That's not to say that Franklin isn't a good route runner -- he's just more on the Jahan Dotson level.

Dotson is also a decent comp for Troy Franklin, but I settled on Will Fuller. Like the former Texan, Franklin has another gear allowing him to blow by defenders he lulls to sleep. He can also occasionally suffer from the dropsies, much like Fuller did during his time with Deshaun Watson.



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