This year, it seems free agency has reached new heights. Let’s talk about the Fantasy implications from each free agent move.
Kirk Cousins to Vikings
Dr. Roto: We knew the Vikings wanted Cousins via free agency and they got their man–for a mere $84 million! Is Cousins worth it? I think so. He’s in the prime of his career and he’s shown that he can make all the passes needed to be a top flight winning QB in the league. Now with Diggs, Thielen, Rudolph, Cook, etc the Vikings road to the Super Bowl looks paved with the addition of Cousins. Grade: A
Case Keenum to Broncos
DOC: Keenum is not flashy, but he’s very intelligent and will know the Broncos’ entire offense before training camp begins. Moreover, Keenum’s greatness is his ability to work within the system and avoid mistakes. I still expect GM John Elway to go after another QB in the draft, but the Broncos can ride with Keenum for the next year or two and make a playoff run. Grade: B
Drew Brees stays with Saints
DOC: There was no way that the Saints were going to let this future Hall of Famer leave via free agency. Brees didn’t have to do as much last year with the presence of Kamara and Ingram but he still can make the plays when needed. Brees is no longer a top five Fantasy QB, but he still can be a QB1 in Fantasy leagues in 2018. Grade: A
Sam Bradford to Cardinals
DOC: When the Cardinals realized early on that they were not going to get Cousins, they needed to pivot quickly and sign a QB who could help them make the playoffs. Bradford is a wildly talented QB who simply cannot stay healthy. I see this move as a stop gap for the Cardinals who will probably need to groom another QB at some point soon to take the reigns. If healthy Bradford can make the Cardinals into a playoff contender and keep Larry Fitzgerald happy, but I don’t see much more than that. Grade: C+
DOC: Signing Glennon was a very cagey move for the Cardinals as they know Sam Bradford’s injury history is so checkered that they had to have another option if (when) the inevitable injury occurs. Glennon has NFL experience and can play well in spots. So long as he’s only needed for a few weeks, he should be fine. Grade: B (not because of his ability but because it was a genius move by the Cardinals to be ready for the Bradford injury).
Josh McCown re-signs with the Jets
Teddy Bridgewater to Jets
DOC: This free agency move by the Jets is comparable to the Cardinals move in signing Glennon. McCown has been injured numerous times in the past and by signing Teddy B, the Jets are giving themselves a chance to compete just in case of a McCown injury. The upside here is that Teddy B IS a good player and might be able to show the Jets coaching staff that he is worthy of a long term contract. If this happens, this move could be a STEAL for the Jets. Grade: B (for now, but possible A in the future)
A.J. McCarron to Bills
Matt De Lima: McCarron really doesn’t feel like Mr. Right. He feels like Mr. Right Now. With that in mind, if Buffalo opts to use him as their regular starter, then I think this offense stays about the same. They’re going to want to run it, first and foremost. The cause of concern is whether some of the pieces around McCarron will be able to do much for him (Kelvin Benjamin, Charles Clay, etc.)
Tyrod Taylor traded to Cleveland
Adam Ronis: Taylor was productive in Buffalo despite a lack of weapons. Much of his value comes from him running. He moves to a team with a good offensive line, a dynamic receiver in Josh Gordon, a reliable slot receiver with Jarvis Landry, along with Corey Coleman, Duke Johnson and David Njoku. Taylor is set up for success, but the Browns are likely drafting a quarterback with one of their Top 4 picks, so Taylor will need to win right away in order to play most of the season.
Jimmy Garoppolo re-signs with 49ers
AR: He signed a five-year, $137.5 million contract after appearing in six games for the 49ers, including five starts. He looked good and with a full off-season in the offense under Kyle Shanahan, the arrow is pointing up. Marquise Goodwin was re-signed, Pierre Garcon will be healthy, George Kittle enters his second season and Jerick McKinnon was signed.
Blaine Gabbert signs with Titans
Mike Glennon to the Cardinals
Ryan Fitzpatrick remains with Bucs
Tom Savage to the Saints
Drew Stanton signs with Cleveland Browns
Doug Martin to Raiders
MD: Martin didn’t get much going last season in Tampa. Then again, neither did anyone else really. Arriving via free agency to Oakland is a shot in the arm to Martin’s Fantasy value and should be considered a handcuff to go along with whichever rookie RB they end up drafting (calling it now).
Isaiah Crowell to Jets
DOC: I really like this move for the Jets. Crowell was never held in high regard in Cleveland, but if given 20+ carries a game, I think he can shine in the right offense. The Jets coaching staff does not want to give RB Bilal Powell more than 12-15 touches, so Crowell should get most of the work on 1st and 2nd down. Look for Crowell to get more than 1000 rushing yards this season. Grade A-
Dion Lewis to Titans
DOC: The Titans seem to have a pipeline coming from New England as they signed both Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler to big contracts. While I like Lewis a lot, I am really frustrated by this move from a Fantasy sense. I was hoping that Derrick Henry would be the bell cow RB for the Titans, but I am not sure that is possible with Lewis there. Lewis is a terrific receiver and is much better at the goal line that people realize. Lewis passed on the chance to be a starter elsewhere (Colts?) to sign with the Titans as I am sure he think that the team is equipped to make a Super Bowl run. While that is true, I think that Henry and Lewis together will be a far better tandem in real life football, than in Fantasy Football. Grade: A (for real life); C (for Fantasy)
Jonathan Stewart to Giants
DOC: I am a bit puzzled by this signing, except for the fact that the Giants new GM is the former GM from Carolina and he is familiar with Stewart. If the Giants select Saquon Barkley with the 2nd overall pick in the draft I will change my minds about Stewart as he can be a good mentor to Barkley as well as provide the Giants with 5-8 carries a game to give Barkley a breather. If the Giants pass on Barkley and make Stewart their RB1, then I think this could be a disaster waiting to happen. Grade: Incomplete
Carlos Hyde to Browns
DOC: I know that Hyde is from Ohio and played at Ohio State, but is signing him really worth not taking Saquon Barkley? I think the Browns are going to end up regretting this move long term. That said, Hyde should pair nicely with Duke Johnson and provide the Browns with the best run game that they have had in years. Grade: B-
Le’Veon Bell franchise tagged by Steelers
Rex Burkhead re-signs with Patriots
Frank Gore to the Dolphins
LeGarrette Blount to Lions
DOC: The Lions have struggled with their goal line running for years. Blount may not get more than 50-80 carries all season, but HC Matt Patricia knows Blount well and will trust him to find the end zone from inside the 5-yard line.
Jeremy Hill signs with Pats
DOC: I am not sure what the Patriots were thinking here, but if anyone can get the last mileage out of a used jalopy like Jeremy Hill, it’s Bill Belichick.
Damien Williams to the Chiefs
DOC: Williams is the perfect backup to Kareem Hunt. He can run, catch, block, and start (if needed). The Dolphins coaching staff really loved this guy; I am surprised they let him go.
Chris Ivory to the Bills
Jordy Nelson to Raiders
MD: Didn’t see Nelson getting cut coming in the first place. I think this is a significant blow to his Fantasy value. Free agency isn’t usually kind to soon-to-be 33 year old wide receivers and it isn’t in this instance. Amari Cooper is the #1, so that does take some pressure off Jordy and truthfully, I think he needs it. I think Green Bay saw the writing on the wall and acted accordingly to cut their losses.
Allen Robinson signs with Bears
Adam Ronis: The Bears clearly needed help at wide receiver via free agency with one of the worst receiving corps and land a good one. If Robinson is healthy coming off a torn ACL, he’s a good fit for the Bears and will be the top target in the offense. Robinson had 80 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015 and fell to 73 catches for 883 yards and six touchdowns in 2016. Robinson had 1,400 yards with Blake Bortles at quarterback. That says a lot. Coach Matt Nagy did a good with the Chiefs offense, and Mitchell Trubisky can throw the deep ball. Robinson will get volume, and this is good for him, making him a WR2.
Sammy Watkins signs with Chiefs
AR: While Watkins didn’t put up great stats with the Rams, he helped open the offense. Watkins came to the Rams right before the season and didn’t have much time to work in the offense. He scored eight touchdowns, but only had 39 catches. This does more for the Chiefs’ than it does for Fantasy. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are going to get most of the target share, and Kareem Hunt will be involved in the passing game. Patrick Mahomes does have a big arm, and that will benefit Watkins, but he also has a history of injuries. Watkins is a WR3 and a better play in best-ball formats.
Marqise Lee sticking with Jaguars
AR: Lee has to vie with Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, recently signed Donte Moncrief and Allen Hurns, who will likely be gone. Lee has averaged almost seven targets per game over the last two seasons and could improve on that slightly. Lee has durability concerns, staying healthy for 16 games one time in four seasons. Lee is at best a WR4 in a crowded wide receiver situation.
Donte Moncrief signs Jacksonville
AR: Moncrief has the talent to produce, but there’s a lot of competition for targets. Moncrief has missed 11 games over the last two seasons. Moncrief is only 24 is worth a late-round pick.
Paul Richardson signs with the Redskins
AR: The numbers don’t tell the story for Richardson, who is very talented. It’s not an ideal spot for his Fantasy value. Jamison Crowder will get a lot of targets, and Josh Doctson is very talented despite a disappointing season last year, and there’s Jordan Reed if he can stay healthy. Richardson is 25 with 4.4 speed, so he’s worth a late-round pick.
Albert Wilson signs with Dolphins
AR: The Dolphins traded Jarvis Landry to the Browns and replaced him with Wilson via free agency, who has excellent hands and can make things happen after the catch. They still have Kenny Stills, and DeVante Parker still has potential.
Danny Amendola signs with the Dolphins
AR: It’s odd that they signed Amendola after adding Wilson. Amendola is 32 and has a hard time staying healthy and has several receivers in front of him. He’s only worth a shot in the final rounds of deep PPR formats.
John Brown signs with Ravens
MD: Staying on the field is the problem, not the talent. Long gone are the days of his seemingly untapped potential as the Cards No. 2 guy. Now, we have to worry about whether he can actually play football at this level.
Taylor Gabriel signs with Chicago
AR: After not doing much with the Browns, Gabriel was solid with the Falcons. He’s not going to get enough volume to be Fantasy relevant.
Jarvis Landry traded to the Browns
DOC: Once again, the Dolphins made a huge blunder by trading Landry. Landry is an outstanding possession receiver who always runs the right route and is the perfect safety net for any QB. Although the Browns have Coleman and Gordon on the outside, they have no one who can challenge defenses over the middle of the field. Landry should be able to exploit mismatches against poor slot defenders.
Michael Crabtree to the Ravens
DOC: This move came out of nowhere, but it might have benefitted both the Ravens and Crabtree. Baltimore has lacked a true #1 WR for quite some time and Crabtree will fit perfectly right into that spot. Baltimore does not throw that much so I do expect Crabtree’s receiving yards to go down, but he still should have around 8-9 TDs.
Allen Hurns signs with Cowboys
DOC: Hurns often got overlooked in Jacksonville because he wasn’t the tallest or fastest receiver on the team. However, he is a sure-handed, crisp route runner which is something that Dallas has sorely lacked for the past few seasons. Dallas is still primarily a run-first offense, but Hurns is a big goal line target and should be able to make an impact in his first year with the team.
Brandin Cooks traded from Patriots to Rams
DOC: Brandin Cooks to the Rams caught the NFL (and Fantasy world) by surprise Tuesday afternoon. The acquisition of Cooks gives Los Angeles a speed threat on the outside to replace the departed Sammy Watkins. Cooks should fit in nicely with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, giving Jared Goff three solid receivers to work with. The good thing about Cooks is that he is not necessarily a player who thrives on multiple targets per game. If Sean McVay can design a few plays a game for him, that might be enough for him to make a solid impact. The Rams now need to figure out how to sign Cooks to a long-term deal. Otherwise, they gave up a first round pick for a year rental. As for the Patriots, while they will miss Cooks a bit, I am not sure that he ever truly got along well enough with Tom Brady to make him a focal point of the team’s offense. Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan are Brady’s main guys, and I think the team wants to see how Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson perform in training camp. As for Cooks’ Fantasy value, he drops from a second round pick to a fourth or fifth rounder this season.
AR: The addition of Cooks to the Rams makes them a better football team, as Cooks can play inside or outside and replaces Sammy Watkins. Cooks has great speed and the defense has to account for him. It helps Jared Goff and gives the Rams a potent offense. Robert Woods had 85 targets in 12 games, Cooper Kupp had 94 targets in 15 games and Todd Gurley had 87 targets in 15 games. Watkins had 70 targets in 15 games. It’s an offense that will spread out the football and while the Rams use a lot of three-wide sets, Cooks won’t be as good in Fantasy has he has been the last few seasons.
Shawn Childs: Don’t be fooled by the 2017 stats in New England or the success of Robert Woods in 2017. The new pecking order in the Rams’ passing offense is Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, then Robert Woods. Cooks gives LA a two-way threat at WR where his speed can beat a team deep or turn a short slant or screen play into a long score. The Rams coaching staff is dynamic and a stud RB can only help Brandin make plenty of big plays. Look for him to be undervalued in drafts in 2018 while Kupp works the short areas of the field behind Cooks on the deep routes to get easy catches. Cooper will be the top scoring WR, but his upside in catches does take a hit with a third wheel added to the equation. Woods will still have chances to make plays while seeing single coverage on most plays, but his overall skill set isn’t strong enough to command a lead role in this offense at WR.
Terrelle Pryor to the Jets
CHILDS: Pryor had a tough time finding his way the Redskins’ offense in 2017. The move to the Jets should work in his favor while expecting to take over at the WR2. New York doesn’t have a great offense or stellar QB, so I would start his floor at the season produced by Jermaine Kearse (65/801/5)while understanding should offer more upside. Possible value WR thanks to the Jets expected to trail in many games.
Mike Wallace signs with Eagles
CHILDS: I’m intrigued by Mike Wallace moving to the Eagles. Philly has an attacking style on offense, but they do have plenty of depth at the receiving positions to compete for targets. Wallace will be a deep threat plus add scoring value at the goal line. His role in 2018 will be a work in progress while one injury may pave the way to another 1000 yards season. For now, I’d think of him a possible upside WR5 on a Fantasy team.
Jaron Brown heads to Seattle
CHILDS: Brown isn’t a player I can count over the long haul as a Fantasy owner. He may hit on a couple of scoring player with a decent game or two, but the Seahawks will be trying to find a better option in the 2018 NFL draft to take over as their WR3.
Cody Latimer signs with G-Men
Deonte Thompson joins Dallas Cowboys
Jeff Janis headed to Cleveland
Ryan Grant signs with Colts
Jimmy Graham to the Packers
AR: The Packers were in need of a tight end via free agency and signed Graham to a three-year contract. The Packers also released Jordy Nelson, who was a favorite of Aaron Rodgers in the red zone. Graham should see a lot of those targets. Graham only averaged 5.5 yards per target last season, but he scored ten touchdowns and the NFL inside targets inside the ten-yard line. His target share will decline a bit, but he will score touchdowns. Graham will be in the upper half of the TE1 discussion.
Trey Burton to the Bears
AR: Burton was impressive whenever he filled in for Zach Ertz. This is a boost for Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense and a hit to tight end Adam Shaheen. The Bears are a pass-first offense on the rise. Burton could be the third or fourth most targeted option in the offense. Burton is a high TE2 with the upside for more.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins to Jaguars
MD: Yawn. ASJ has been underperforming compared to expectations since his days at the University of Washington. He’ll have his moments and he could one year put together a dozen red zone TDs with ease, but don’t expect too much. He’ll be somewhere around a TE9 to TE15 for most of his career.
Tyler Eifert re-signs with Bengals
CHILDS: Eifert has talent, but health continues to crush his draftable value. A return to Cinci can’t be a bad thing, but Tyler now has to prove to Fantasy owner that his 2015 season (65/615/13) was a fluke. I like him much better as an upside TE2 in the Fantasy market, which means his draft value has to fall to round 12 or later in 2018. A quiet summer will lead to a more favorable price point.
Eric Ebron signs with Colts
CHILDS: The Lions lost confidence in Ebron over the last couple of seasons after seeing him drop multiple scoring catches. A change of scenery will do him good especially if Andrew Luck is healthy. Eric is blocked by Jack Doyle, which put him into a split role at best out of the gate. Doyle catches the ball well forcing Ebron to work his way to more chances with improvement on the field. I’d view him more of a handcuff to Doyle for now. If Indy doesn’t improve their WR2 option, the second TE in their system will have value in some games in 2018.
CHILDS: From a Fantasy perspective, the addition of Willson and Toililo won’t add any Fantasy value. Both players have complementary skills. I expect them to split time with each offering value at the goal line when they get lost in coverage by the opposing team.
Ben Watson to the Saints
Ed Dickson signs with Seahawks