Free Agency Tracker
Kirk Cousins to Vikings – As was the assumption for a while, Cousins is headed to Minnesota, making the Vikings a Super Bowl favorite. While Pat Shurmur and his quarterback-making magic is gone, Cousins still steps into an enviable position with a great offense including Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph and Dalvin Cook. Cousins managed to throw for 4,093 yards and 27 touchdowns with a far lesser squad in Washington last year, which was good for QB5, his second straight season finishing as such after 4,917 and 25 in 2016. Obviously, Cousins doesn’t need Shurmur, but even so, he has a great offensive mind as his coordinator with new arrival John DeFilippo.
Cousins averaged 12.1 and 11.8 yards per completion the past two seasons. Case Keenum, a far less-aggressive quarterback, managed 10.9 YPC with that collection of talent. This is stock up for Thielen, Diggs, Rudolph and even a healthy Cook, as Cousins was not shy about using Chris Thompson out of the backfield. Thielen won’t climb higher than a fringe WR10 overall, but he will see more consistency. Diggs can approach the WR1 tier and Rudolph will stay near the Top 5 at tight end with more consistency as well. The only intrigue is if the third receiver, whether Jarius Wright or the corpse of Laquon Treadwell’s draft hype, can step up and have some deep-league/bye-week value with Cousins. If someone steps up as the consistent third option, Cousins will make that happen.
Case Keenum to Broncos – This is a significant boost to the Broncos’ offense and the passing game, as Keenum had more touchdown passes in 15 games than the Broncos quarterback collective has produced in each of the last three seasons (19, 20, 19). Demaryius Thomas has been on the downturn the past three seasons, but with Keenum at quarterback, he can approach 100 receptions again with around 1,200 yards and 7-8 touchdowns. As for Emmanuel Sanders, he needs health to start his bounce-back campaign, but Sanders managed 76/1135/6 and 79/1032/5 in 2015 and 2016 with miserable quarterback play. Thomas and Sanders can be the Broncos version of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs with Keenum, which just happened to be WR11 and WR16 in standard and WR8 and WR19 in PPR. Feel free to feel good about the Broncos’ receiving duo again.
Drew Brees stays with Saints – Carry on. Business as usual.
Sam Bradford to Cardinals – It’s all about health when it comes to Bradford. If not for his extensive injury history, Bradford would have been as highly sought after as Cousins was. Bradford was always an efficient passer, and he took it to another level the past three seasons with a 68.6 completion percentage, which jumped to 71.8 the past two years. However, Bradford didn’t even last two full games last season and has played just 38 games since 2012. Nevertheless, Bradford is very effective and a boost to Larry Fitzgerald’s and David Johnson’s values… plus whoever ends up as the No. 2 and 3 options at receiver. Obviously, the Cardinals aren’t done addressing the position, as you have to factor in Bradford missing games. Though, if Bradford somehow, someway made it through 15-16 games, he’d be in the fringe QB1 conversation. The downside is that’s nearly a guarantee not to happen, and when Bradford misses games, Fitzgerald and the rest of the Cardinals will see a hit to their values. The Cardinals also signed Mike Glennon to backup Bradford, and I don’t need to tell you how big of a downgrade that is for the weapons if (when) Bradford gets hurt.
Teddy Bridgewater to Jets – And the last quarterback domino seemingly falls, as the Jets get their guy a guy. Bridgewater has only two attempts since 2015, which was his second season in the league. Bridgewater all happened to throw for just 14 touchdowns, the same amount he threw for as a rookie despite playing three additional games. Bridgewater is a talented quarterback, but he has his struggles, and that was before missing two seasons to injury. I don’t know that Bridgewater is even an upgrade over Josh McCown. For Fantasy Football purposes, Bridgewater is a fine gamble at the end of the draft, just as with the gamble the Jets are taking. Maybe you find a surprising gem, and Bridgewater fulfills all of his promise. It’s just as likely that both you and the Jets wasted your investment though. As for the passing game, Bridgewater had 3,231 yards with those 14 touchdowns in 16 games. That certainly doesn’t turn the arrow upwards for Quincy Enunwa (returning from injury), Robby Anderson (maybe heading to jail) and the rest. The Jets smartly brought McCown back as well on a one-year deal, and for Fantasy, we might hope that they need to turn to McCown. (Yes, I know that the Jets said McCown is the starter, but that sounds like coach speak, as they would happily cede to Bridgewater if he “forces their hands” and plays to his talent level.)
A.J. McCarron to Bills – All you need to know about the Bills outlook for McCarron is that Chase Daniel is making more money. McCarron is a bridge to the future, and that future being whichever quarterback the Bills take in the NFL Draft. We have very little to go on with McCarron, but he’s showed enough that we could expect a capable performance. McCarron doesn’t affect Kelvin Benjamin or the offense greatly, as Taylor’s passing numbers were adequate and not spectacular. That should be our expectations for McCarron with the small hope that Hue Jackson was right and McCarron is worth much more.
Carlos Hyde to Browns – The Browns keep upgrading, and this move takes them out of the running to draft Saquon Barkley. Hyde and Duke Johnson are a formidable duo, as Hyde is still a great talent… if he can stay healthy. Hyde is a threat in the passing game as well, seen last year before Jimmy Garoppolo took over and started ignoring him out of the backfield. Hyde was averaging 4.5 receptions per game before Week 13. The Browns have a great offensive line and even added one of the best blocking tight ends in Darren Fells. Hyde finished as RB11 last year and can threaten the RB1 tier again with Tyrod Taylor, Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku and the rest of the new-look Browns offense.
Isaiah Crowell to Jets – And there goes the eternal hope for a Bilal Powell breakout… again. Crowell will lead this backfield with Powell holding the No. 2 role and Elijah McGuire mixed into the passing game. This isn’t much of a change for Crowell’s value, as he should check in with around 200 carries and 800-900 yards again. The main difference will be a bit of positive touchdown regression that was coming anyway, as he ran for just two last year. The keeps Crowell in the low-end RB2 range even with 5-6 touchdowns.
Dion Lewis to Titans – I hate to say, “I told you so,” wait… not I don’t. I TOLD YOU SO!
Hope you sold high in Dynasty and Keeper while you could. No, Derrick Henry’s value isn’t destroyed with this signing, but he was never going to be the RB1 lock people wanted him to be after the Titans released DeMarco Murray, and now that’s a guarantee with Lewis in town. Henry is still going to be the first and second down lead back, plus the power option in short yardage and at the goal line, but Lewis is more than just a passing game threat and will steal enough work to keep Henry in the mid-to-high RB2 range. As for Lewis, this isn’t the Patriots and he’s not the lead. Lewis will be a fringe RB3 with borderline RB1 potential if Henry ever missed time.
Jerick McKinnon to 49ers – Get ready for the Fantasy world to overdraft McKinnon! I like McKinnon, but he’s not a workhorse running back. That said, he can be the 49ers version of Tevin Coleman in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. That’s extremely valuable, and McKinnon can easily find his way into the top-end of RB2s. But, the Fantasy world has long fawned over McKinnon, meaning he’ll be drafted near his peak, making you draft all of the risk too. The 49ers will find a complementary piece to McKinnon, and that option will likely see a decent amount of the goal line work. McKinnon’s ceiling is a slightly lesser Matt Forte (in his prime) when his touchdowns were vultured weekly, which would make McKinnon a solid RB2.
Doug Martin to Raiders – Heading into the 2017 season, Martin had two great seasons and three awful ones. Even if you try to make injury excuses for those other seasons, Martin never had more than three touchdowns or 3.7 YPC during that time. There was little reason to hope for better in 2017, yet many wanted to focus solely on the upside. Martin played 11 games, scored just three times and had a 2.9 YPC. Even with Jon Gruden not having any ties to the current roster and Martin being his choice, there is still little hope for a Martin resurgence, especially when you factor in his poor 2.2 yards after contact (tied with Malcolm Brown, Jonathan Stewart and Kerwynn Williams). The Raiders might cut Marshawn Lynch, but even if they do, another running back will be added to the mix, and that’s likely the one you want for Fantasy.
Jonathan Stewart to Giants – Who really knows? Wayne Gallman is a good all-around talent and should have received his opportunity this year (unless the Giants drafted Saquon Barkley, Darrius Guice, etc.). With Stewart in tow and Dave Gettleman in the GM seat, the Giants likely give him the lead touches, which is honestly just a joke at this point with the Giants crowded backfield and worst excuse for an offensive line ever. Not Stewart nor any Giants running back is worth a second thought. Even if they drafted Barkley, which seems improbable at this point, he’d have to break three tackles just to get to the LOS. Good luck Giants fans.
Jordy Nelson to Raiders – Despite the Raiders being the prohibitive favorite to land Nelson after his release, I’m still surprised by the move more for the fact of replacing Michael Crabtree. Nelson’s numbers have been off the charts with Aaron Rodgers, but even in the first few weeks last year, Nelson saw a significant drop in production for yards and yards per target. Crabtree has outplayed Amari Cooper each of Cooper’s three NFL seasons, and Nelson appears to have reached – or is at least nearing – the end of his high-end play. Nelson should still be a WR3 with the Raiders and David Carr, but that’s a significant drop from his yearly WR1 finish with the Packers. Maaaybe, Nelson can get back into the WR2 range with touchdown dependence, but Carr has topped 28 touchdowns once (32) and certainly isn’t Rodgers or close to it. Cooper might finally be able to cement his No. 1 role with the Raiders now and be a more consistent fringe WR1.
Allen Robinson to Bears – Robinson is one of the premiere receiver talents in the NFL if he’s back to 100 percent. The Bears have long needed a No. 1 receiver, as the Kevin White hope needed to die last year. I’ve already talked about how Mitchell Trubisky can be this year’s breakout quarterback, and this only strengthens that case. The question everyone will ask is if Robinson is more the 2015 or 2016 version, as he went from 80/1400/14 to 73/883/6. While Robinson will find it tough to repeat his 2015 campaign, he’s much more like that version than 2016. Robinson was often frustrated with Blake Bortles and wanted out of Jacksonville (or just to get away from Bortles). In addition, Robinson made it clear why he chose the Bears:
“I like what coach (Matt) Nagy did from an offensive standpoint in Kansas City. Me being able to see what he did in KC, being able to know that he is an offensive-minded coach & seeing what he’s done before (helped me).”
In addition to the appeal of Nagy’s offense, Robinson has seen much of his success on deep balls, and Trubisky is a great deep ball quarterback. Robinson should have a target share around 25 percent, which will push his production back near the WR1 tier with more than 1,000 receiving yards and 7-10 touchdowns. As mentioned, if 100 percent, Robinson will be the favorite for bounceback player of the year in the NFL and Fantasy Football. I am thrilled to see this.
Sammy Watkins to Chiefs – This is a better real-life move than Fantasy… and it’s also setting up Patrick Mahomes to be the most over-drafted quarterback of 2018, but we’ll come back to that. Watkins is a great talent, but injuries have decimated his career. The issue for Fantasy Football is the number of weapons for the Chiefs, which is a great problem to have in real life. Let me be clear, Watkins is the Chiefs “No. 1 receiver” based on positioning/use/etc., but Tyreek Hill is still the most explosive receiver, and Travis Kelce rivals Rob Gronkowski for the best passing game tight end. Of course, we also have Kareem Hunt manning the backfield, who simply led the league in rushing as a rookie on just 272 carries.
We know Patrick Mahomes is an upgrade to the Chiefs’ offense from Alex Smith, but he’s also going to be in his first full season as a starter. And before you overreact, I’m a Mahomes fan (from my NFL Draft write-up):
“Mahomes has the best potential in this class. Mahomes needs significant work when it comes to mechanics, which is impressive when you consider how successful he was purely on talent alone. Mahomes has a body ready for the NFL and great arm strength, which he flashes throwing from multiple angles; and he makes high-level throws on the move. Mahomes also has pinpoint placement with his throws, can hit the short, medium and deep passes and will throw his receivers open. It’s not all good with Mahomes, though. As mentioned, his mechanics might need an overhaul, and his footwork is quite poor in the pocket and on drop-backs. He’ll also fail to reset completely and has a wide stance, leading to sailed passes due to his front leg being too stiff. Mahomes will often hold the ball too long and sometimes pull a Kirk Cousins: ignoring the open/easy throw to make the more aggressive play.”
You can argue, and likely be right, that Watkins is the fourth option on the Chiefs. Watkins can do a ton with little, as we saw with his 60/1047/9 (93 targets) in 2015, but he’ll have to be that efficient to reach WR2 status. That’s a lot to ask from someone as inconsistent as Watkins has been and with a quarterback in his first season as a starter. Watkins is a low-end WR3 with the potential for much more, while Hill will take a slight hit and fall into top-end WR2 territory.
Marqise Lee stays with Jaguars – Albeit still surprising that the Jaguars chose Lee over Robinson, he’s the No. 1 option in Jacksonville… in essence. Dede Westbrook is a quite talented (but looked miserable in three of the last four games), Keelan Cole flashed potential last year and Allen Hurns is still around… for now (see below). Lee has a good amount of innate talent himself, but it took him a few years to realize he needed to develop his mechanics/route running in order to succeed in the NFL. Lee and Cole put up similar numbers, Cole on fewer receptions, while the aforementioned Westbrook made some noise in his return from injury. Overall, this receiver corps looks like the receiver version of a RBBC with Lee as the lead. Despite the price tag, I wouldn’t expect more than another WR4 season from Lee.
Donte Moncrief to Jaguars – And the Jaguars weren’t done with receivers. Goodbye, Allen Hurns. Even with Hurns out, Moncrief has plenty of competition for targets, especially when the focus is going to be on running the ball even more than last year. Moncrief has the talent to be the Jaguars No. 1 receiver, albeit, not the true top-level No. 1 receiver you would think of when you hear “No. 1.” If healthy, Moncrief can lead this team in touchdowns and vie for the lead in yards, and if so, the potential for a Westbrook or Cole breakout just took a hit.
Paul Richardson to Redskins – Richardson is more talented than you would assume just looking at this numbers. We’ve actually seen flashes of his potential, most notably at the end of the 2016 season and in those playoffs. While Richardson has the potential for more, signing with the Redskins does little to garner Fantasy excitement. Alex Smith isn’t the passer than Cousins is, and the Redskins still have a great slot option in Jamison Crowder. If Josh Doctson can take the next step and capitalize on his talent, Richardson could easily be the third option in the passing game, even fourth if Jordan Reed ever stays healthy… yes, I know…
And again, that’s a passing game led by Smith and not Cousins. Richarson is a fine late-round flier, especially if Doctson fails, and Richardson becomes the No. 1 receiver, but his NFL value will likely always exceed his Fantasy Football value.
Albert Wilson to Dolphins – This is a decent landing spot for a receiver who has never broken out for the Chiefs, despite having several opportunities. The DeVante Parker hype is still a thing, even with Kenny Stills outplaying him both of the past two seasons. Nevertheless, Parker and Stills are outside receivers, and Wilson can help fill the Landry void in the slot. Wilson isn’t going to replace Landry, as he didn’t even produce half of Landry’s line. Nevertheless, maybe Wilson can finally become relevant… as a WR5 in PPR.
Danny Amendola to Dolphins – This might allow Wilson to move outside more, although it might also be a testament to Adam Gase’s lack of confidence in Parker fulfilling his potential. Amendola is 32 years old and is a slot option, meaning that if Parker stays on the field and productive at all, Amendola will do nothing more than be a “slot backup” to Wilson.
John Brown to Ravens – Brown has plenty of talent to be a 1B to a 1A for a team, and we actually saw just that in 2015. The problem with Brown is injuries, specifically his Sickle-cell trait illness that will affect him for the rest of his career. If Brown can play 16 games, he has Top 30 receiver upside, potential WR2 value, even with three-yards-per-pass Joe Flacco at the helm. The problem is that Brown is an enormous injury risk
Taylor Gabriel to Bears – One has to wonder about the Bears concern over Cameron Meredith, especially after they only used an original round, restricted tender on him. Now they sign Gabriel after already bringing in Robinson, so Meredith might not be 100 percent or even with the team if someone offers Meredith a contract and the Bears don’t match. Gabriel will step into the slot receiving role and give Trubisky yet another weapon for his sophomore campaign. Gabriel won’t have true Fantasy value, unless the Bears do nothing to address the No. 2 role and both Kevin White and Meredith are non-factors, but Trubisky is becoming even more intriguing for breakout purposes.
Jimmy Graham to Packers – After the much-rumored reunion in New Orleans fell through, Graham is headed to Green Bay where tight ends go on to… do nothing. Since Jermichael Finley’s Top 10 finish in 2011, only one tight end has finished as a TE1, and that was Richard Rodgers’ fluky 510-yard, eight-touchdown season in 2015. Granted, the Packers haven’t exactly had a who’s who of tight ends since Finley, but remember when Jared Cook was supposed to change that for the Packers? Now, Graham is a far superior tight end to Cook, but he’s also 31 years old and has lost a step. That said, Graham did haul in 10 touchdowns for the Seahawks last year and is the best option Aaron Rodgers has seen at the position since Finley. With the added release of Jordy Nelson, the touchdown potential is here, and Graham can boost his yardage into the 700-800 range with 7-10 touchdowns and remain a top-half TE1.
Trey Burton to Bears – Trubisky has to love the start of NFL Free Agency. Not only does he get a true No. 1 receiver, he now has an extremely explosive tight end in Burton. Whenever Burton stepped in for Zach Ertz, he impressed and flashed his potential. Burton is a tough cover in the red zone – truly, anywhere – and will be a Fantasy Football TE1 in 2018. This is an obvious hit to Adam Shaheen’s breakout hopes.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins to Jaguars – The Jaguars also signed Niles Paul, but ASJ has the Fantasy appeal here. Seferian-Jenkins have never lacked for talent. After addressing his off-field issues, Seferian-Jenkins finished the season with 50 receptions, 357 and three touchdowns. The three touchdowns came in a three-game stretch, so we’d like to see more consistency. While that is more than doable with the Jaguars, expecting a true breakout would be overreaching due to the number of weapons in a run-focused offense. The Jaguars have receivers busting out of the seams, added Paul and will turn to Leonard Fournette as much as possible. ASJ is still a TE2, albeit one as a nice mid-late flier for upside… just don’t get caught up in the hype.
Andrew Norwell to Jaguars – I don’t pretend to be an expert on offensive lineman, and normally, I’d never include one in the NFL Free Agency tracker and Fantasy Football spin, but it’s a major move. The Jaguars’ offensive line needed help (less so than other teams like the Giants), and Norwell was one of the best pass-blocking guards in the league. He’s also strong in the run game, which gives a boost to Bortles, the receivers, and Leonard Fournette. We know Fournette is a great talent, as he was RB10 in just 13 games. Fournette can challenge for a Top 5 running back finish if he plays just 15 games.
Cody Parkey to Bears – Hahahahaha! NO!
Jarvis Landry to Browns – Obviously, this is a downgrade, as Landry won’t top 100 receptions. With Tyrod Taylor at quarterback (more on him in a moment), this isn’t going to be a pass-happy offense. Taylor rarely reaches 30 attempts or completes 20-plus passes. Landry should still settle into the 90 range for receptions, which is still quite good, and Landry did have 1,138 yards on 94 catches in 2016, but with just four touchdowns and his YPC should be lower with the Browns and Taylor. Plus, Josh Gordon is the Browns top receiver and red zone threat. Landry is a mid-low WR2 in standard and high-end WR2 in PPR.
Tyrod Taylor to Browns – Taylor has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks in Fantasy Football, but that’s due in large part to his rushing ability. As mentioned, Taylor isn’t going to average 25 completions or 270 yards per game. However, he does have two great receivers now and a highly-talented third option in Corey Coleman (unless he’s traded). Add in David Njoku at tight end and Duke Johnson out of the backfield, and Taylor has the best collection of talent in his career. If the Browns add Saquon Barkley… look out. Taylor is a nice mid-level QB2 as always.
Torrey Smith to Panthers – There is some late-round flier potential here as the Panthers continue to look for their Ted Ginn replacement. Smith is still a decent downfield threat, but the Panthers might not be done adding weapons, and Curtis Samuel is entering his second season.
Main Image Credit: Photo by Omar Vega/Invision/AP
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