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Fantasy Football: CBS Sports is pushing for the former 5th round WR to become WR1

Before the NFL season kicks off, millions of people create NFL Fantasy Football leagues in hopes of building the perfect roster to brag about at the office, to family or among friends. There are many different strategies you can follow when building a roster, but almost every great team has a few things, including a good tight end, a reliable running back and an elite wide receiver.

Receivers can be tricky because so much depends on the defense and how efficient a quarterback is. If a team has too many good receivers, even an elite receiver will struggle to score high fantasy points. If a team has a great goal line, don’t forget to rack up a lot of receiving touchdowns.

For this reason, choosing the right receiver can be very difficult, but CBS Sports’ Jamey Eisenberg believes he has found the right person.

*This article refers to Fantasy Football scores from CBS Sports.

Puka Nacua had a historic rookie campaign

Los Angeles Rams, Puka Nacua
September 17, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua (17) runs the ball against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Deommodore Lenoir (2) during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As the 20th overall receiver in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Puka Nacua wasn’t expected to do much last year. Most fifth-round receivers find themselves on special teams or are cut from the team even before the first game of the season.

However, after a great fall camp and Cooper Kupp’s injury, Nacua was given a rare but precious opportunity, and he took full advantage of it.

Nacua finished fourth in the nation in total receiving yards and broke the NFL Rookie record in both catches and receiving yards. Even when Kupp returned, Nacua was effective as the defense was forced to provide coverage to prevent Kupp or Nacua from continually getting open.

By the end of the season, Nacua finished 5th among wide receivers in fantasy football points despite only scoring six touchdowns. From some perspective, the next player with six or fewer touchdowns was Amari Cooper, who ranked 16th in points.

Why Nacua is a great bet… Literally

Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams, Fantasy Football
December 21, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua (17) celebrates his touchdown scored against the New Orleans Saints during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Jamey Eisenberg says there are eight receivers who are at the elite level when it comes to fantasy points. These recipients include CeeDee Lamb, Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Amon-Ra St. Brown, AJ Brown, Garrett Wilson and Puka Nacua. He claims that all of these receivers are so good that players should consider drafting them with their first overall pick.

Eisenberg admits it’s impossible to predict which receiver will be the best, using Nacua as an example of a player who burst onto the scene last year. He writes the following as an argument for drafting Nacua as WR1:

“Antasy executives will wonder if Nacua can repeat his rookie numbers, or if 2023 was just a fluke for the fifth-round NFL Draft pick out of Utah. We were excited about Nacua as a newcomer, but he far exceeded everyone’s expectations, especially once Kupp was out.

If Kupp is now the No. 1 receiver for Matthew Stafford again and can stay healthy throughout the season, Nacua could see a dip in production. But Kupp, 31, could be at a point in his career where he is no longer an elite talent, while Nacua is a star on the rise. It may be difficult for Nacua to average 17.6 PPR points per game again in his second campaign, but there is too much upside to ignore even with Kupp back at 100 percent.

Another thing to consider is that Nacua again only had six touchdowns last year. If he can double that number in 2024, he won’t need the same insane amount of receiving yards to score nearly 18 points per game.

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