These players are poised for bounce-back fantasy football seasons


  • Identifying bounce-back candidates can help your fantasy football team.
  • Rhamondre Stevenson and Tony Pollard are great draft values with top-10 potential.
  • Christian Kirk and Terry McLaurin could bounce-back after underwhelming 2023 seasons.

If you could select the best players and receive the production you expect in every fantasy football draft, the game would be a lot less entertaining. Even the best NFL players have some type of risk in fantasy football, with injuries, schematic changes, coaching changes, increased or decreased level of competition, and decline in play.

The reality is that as predictable as fantasy football can be, it’s also wildly unpredictable, making it much more entertaining.

Plenty of players are bound to have a down year at some point in their career, and plenty of players are bound to disappoint in fantasy football every year, but it’s part of the game. However, it’s important to recognize the players poised for a bounce-back season following a disappointing year prior.

Last season was a weird year filled with injuries and an overall decline in play across the league, leading to a strange fantasy football season. But there are some really good bounce-back candidates for the 2024 season that you don’t want to miss out on drafting, especially at a discounted ADP.


2 Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Following a torn ACL in 2022, Kyler Murray returned to the field in 2023 as the QB9 in PPG with a worse passing attack. It wasn’t one of his top-6 performances in 2019 and 2020, but he still returned after an injury as a QB1 in fantasy football.

With an improved Arizona Cardinals offense, including Marvin Harrison Jr. and year-two Michael Wilson, Murray should bounce back to his top-5 fantasy football finishes.

Murray is a low-hanging fruit bounce-back candidate, considering he played well when he returned. It’s expected that a year after the injury and a strong supporting cast should boost him back into the top-5, despite having a QB10 ADP. One of the biggest concerns with his return was if he would still be able to be as mobile as he once was, which he proved he could be.

Kyler Murray 2023 Fantasy Performances



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3 Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks

The 2022 version of Smith was legit, despite his struggles last season

Sehawks QB Geno Smith preparing to throw a pass.
Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Many fantasy owners will assume Geno Smith isn’t a franchise quarterback, looking at the 2022 season as an anomaly. Smith wasn’t bad last year, but he finished as the QB19, whereas in 2022, he finished as the QB5. Maybe a top-5 finish isn’t very realistic, but he should find himself in a position to finish as a top-15 quarterback in fantasy football this year.

Smith was battling a nagging groin injury in 2023 while playing behind an inconsistent offensive line. The Seattle Seahawks didn’t upgrade the personnel for this season, but they did hire former Washington offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb. A new offensive scheme should make life easier for Smith while better utilizing DK Metcalf and second-year WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

4 Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots

Recent contract extension shows importance in Patriots’ plans

New England Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson runs against the Washington Commanders.
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots were loud and clear about how they felt about Rhamondre Stevenson, signing him to a four-year deal worth $36 million. Stevenson had a strange fantasy season in 2023, finishing as the QB36 despite only missing five games. Sure, missing games caused him to dip in production, but some of his usage was extremely strange.

A healthier Stevenson will help his fantasy value in 2023, but so will proper usage. Last season, he had seven games with 10 or fewer carries. While he started off the season inefficient, averaging 2.7 YPC in his first five games, he finished the season strong, averaging 4.8 YPC in his next seven games.

“I think over the last couple of years it’s been kind of tough on him, as far as just getting started, so I’m excited to see what he does this season,” HC Jerod Mayo said about Stevenson.

Stevenson clearly improved as the season continued forward. Now that he has a contract extension and a rookie quarterback, he should only see his volume in the offense increase.

5 Tony Pollard, RB, Tennessee Titans

Top-5 potential behind an improving offensive line and 250+ vacant carries

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Pollard was returning from a broken leg and high-ankle sprain in 2023, so he started slowly in the first 10 weeks. Even with Tyjae Spears alongside him in Tennessee, Pollard should have ample opportunities to, at the very least, finish as a top-10 fantasy running back.

Pollard was disappointing last season, finishing as the RB18 despite taking the bulk of the carries in Dallas. But looking back at 2022, Pollard was at his best when he could stay fresh and didn’t need to carry the whole workload. It’s a good thing for Pollard to be playing alongside another running back who can take 100 to 150 touches per season.

Realistically, Pollard wasn’t as bad as it looked in 2023, with a regression in touchdowns. He should be poised for a major bounce-back this season.


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6 Christian Kirk, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Kirk heavy involvement in offense when healthy

Christian Kirk
Credit: Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA TODAY NETWORK

2023 wasn’t right for the Jacksonville Jaguars offense. The team needed a WR1, but Calvin Ridley hurt the offense more than he helped. Ridley is gone, while Gabe Davis and Brian Thomas Jr. are in. Both players are relatively similar, as they can stretch the field horizontally and open up the deep passing game. One thing that doesn’t change is Kirk’s role.

Kirk already has a connection with Trevor Lawrence, whereas Davis and Thomas Jr. will be building their rapport with their quarterback as the season progresses. Kirk should see the majority of the target share again, elevating him into the top 20 wide receivers in fantasy football.

7 Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Commanders

Jayden Daniels could allow McLaurin to blossom into a fantasy WR1

Washington Commanders WR Terry McLaurin running with the ball
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There is no one more excited on the Washington Commanders’ roster about the team drafting Jayden Daniels than Terry McLaurin. Despite coming off his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season, McLaurin had his worst career fantasy football finish as the WR28.

McLaurin’s yards-per-reception dipped to 12.7 despite increasing targets and receptions from 2022. Curtis Samuel is no longer in Washington, and the Commanders should have their best quarterback since Kirk Cousins in 2017. The stars finally align to where McLaurin is posed to return to 2022 form, where he finished as the WR14.

Terry McLaurin Fantasy Football Season Finishes


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8 Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens

A healthy Andrews will return as a top-5 fantasy TE

Mark Andrews
Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports

Amazingly, the Baltimore Ravens were able to go 13-4 as the AFC No. 1 seed, while Mark Andrews missed the final six games of the regular season. If Andrews stays healthy in 2024, becoming a top-5 fantasy football tight end seems relatively easy.

Before Andrews’ injury in 2023, he was ranked third in target share with 22.1%, averaging just over nine fantasy PPG. Odell Beckham Jr. is no longer on the team, opening up an additional 64 targets from last season.

Yes, Andrews is being valued as the fourth-highest TE in fantasy football, but he has TE1 potential this season. Take the slight discount and draft one of the NFL’s most consistent tight ends in fantasy football production.

9 Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

A forgotten Steeler following a year of injuries and terrible quarterback play

Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth catches pass in playoff game.
Credit: Kirby Leei-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Freiermuth has become the forgotten-about tight end in fantasy football after a dreadful 2023 season. Freiermuth missed some time due to a hamstring injury, but the bigger issue that has led to his ADP dropping was his decline in fantasy PPG, dropping to 6.4 PPG in 2023.

A lot of variables weren’t Freiermuth’s fault. Bad quarterback play and a decline in target share led to his numbers dipping even when he was on the field. 2024 is much more promising with improved quarterback play and the departure of Diontae Johnson, leaving 87 vacant targets from 2023. Everyone is wondering which Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver will pick up the slack with Johnson’s departure, but why can’t it be Freiermuth? After a promising 2022 season where he finished as the TE8, there’s a really good shot that Freiermuth will become a steal in fantasy drafts and bounce back with a career year in 2024.

All stats are courtesy of Pro Football Reference and Fantasy Pros.


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