2019 Free Agent Frenzy
The NFL off-season is in full gear and as free agency gets underway on Wednesday it is time for me to bring you my annual Free Agent Frenzy article where I try and predict where the top offensive Free Agents will be heading. Now the legal tampering period is underway as I write this so I am hoping for no surprises from the big names but let’s be honest teams have been talking to these free agents for months now. Legal tampering window my ass. It’s like that one owner in your league who has a trade ready to go minutes after the league year rolls over. You know who I am talking about, the one guy everyone hates but respects for not giving a damn about tampering because in the end what are you going to do? Kick him out? It’s too late the league year has started, try again!
The big news that just happened is AB the best WR in the NFL was traded to the Oakland Raiders. This immediately raises the values of JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Derek Carr, and not to be forgotten, Vance McDonald. Mr. Big Chest will see a ton of volume even if the receiving core adds a few more pieces and Carr has shown he can support two 1k yard receivers. He was able to do this in his rookie season with Crabtree and Cooper. With no Jared Cook and an aging Nelson look for AB to see a healthy per game target share but its the scoring opportunities which scare me the most if you are an AB owner as Oakland ranked 28th in the league (290 pts) last season. AB will help but he will need some help to continue to be a WR1.
As is the new norm teams have become more eager to trade players in the lead up to FA in efforts to either move bad contracts or to simply maximize the return on a player they either don’t want to resign or feel the future cost to own the player will be too much. Let’s take a quick peak on the trades that have already happened;
- Antonio Brown traded to the Oakland Raiders
- Joe Flacco traded to the Denver Broncos
- Case Keenum traded to the Washington Redskins
- Kelechi Osemele traded to the New York Jets
- Kevin Zeitler traded to the New York Giants
- UPDATE 3/12: DeSean Jackson traded to the Philadelphia Eagles
- UPDATE 3/19: Odell Beckham Jr. traded to the Cleveland Browns
- UPDATE 3/19: Ryan Tannehill traded to the Tennessee Titans
- Olivier Vernon traded to the Cleveland Browns
- Michael Bennett traded to the New England Patriots
- UPDATE 3/19: Dee Ford traded to the San Francisco 49ers
On top of all the notable trades mentioned above, as of today we have seen Julius Peppers announce his retirement and Carlos Hyde (signed w/ KC), Justin Houston, Antoine Bethea, Danny Amendola (signed w/ Lions), Jamie Collins, Mark Barron, Eric Weddle (signed w/ LAR), Michael Crabtree, Glover Quinn, Demaryius Thomas, Robert Alford (signed w/ ARI), Jahleel Addae, and Charles Clay (signed w/ ARI) all get released.
Each one of these moves has a major impact on how the free agent market unfolds, how NFL teams strategically approach the draft, and who you should be targeting in off-season moves in your Dynasty leagues. None bigger then finally getting to find out where Le’Veon Bell will be playing football (Hopefully!) in 2019! His signing similar to AB’s will have a massive ripple effect to the fantasy values of the players around him. Without further ado let’s look at some of the big Free Agents who are ready to sign if they haven’t already and the fantasy impact those signings will come with.
*I’ll continue to update this list as news breaks on these Free Agents so make sure to continue coming back*
Nick Foles – Previous Team: Philadelphia Eagles | My Guess: Jacksonville Jaguars | New Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
I am cheating a bit with this guess because ever since the Eagles came out and said they were not bringing Foles back he has been linked to the Jaguars. As a back up for the Eagles Foles rejuvenated his career after a magical Super Bowl run & victory in 2017 and then another deep playoff run last season. Over the past two seasons, Foles has played in 12 games (started 8) and over that span has a 2 to 1 TD to Int ratio, a 6 & 2 record, and has thrown for 1,950. The numbers are not gaudy but a SB victory can do wonders for your resume and I expect Foles to be the first QB off the FA board. It won’t be a signing that will move fantasy needles but it’s an upgrade over Bortles.
UPDATE 3/19: Nick Foles Signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars! Woot Woot ok this one was easy but still, a victory lap must be taken none the less! Foles has the hot streak of all hot streaks leading the Eagles on a Super Bowl run two years ago but he hasn’t started a full season well ever in his career and hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2015. I don’t think this signing increases the values of Dede, Chark, or Cole enough in dynasty or standard to raise their ADP’s or have you run out to go get them. If anything I think this helps keep Fournette as the featured piece of the Jaguars offense for at least another season.
Teddy Bridgewater – Previous Team: New Orleans Saints | My Guess: New York Giants | New Team: New Orleans Saints
This time last year we were calling for Teddy “2 Gloves” to the Giants and now the GMen get a second chance to make the smart move. Bridgewater has been a backup the last two seasons the first with the Jets and then last season with the Saints. The Giants should be able to bring him in on a team friendly deal promising him an opportunity to start this season. Eli is not the answer in New York everyone knows it, so Bridgewater gives the Giants a stop gap QB that can either bring them to the 2020 or 2021 QB drafts (Tua & Herbert / Lawrence) or allow them to take a rookie this season (Haskins) & let them sit and learn. Either way, you look at it, this is a smart signing for both parties.
UPDATE 3/19: Teddy 2 Gloves decided to not chase the money or the starting job in Miami and instead he decided to return to New Orleans where he will back up the ageless wonder Drew Brees. Bridgewater once again will waste another year as a backup crushing his fantasy value until we all get excited for this time next year! Maybe this is Bree’s last season and he will be handed the keys to the Ferrari that is the Saints offense. Only time will tell but I am still holding out hope that Bridgewater will get another shot at a starting job.
Tyrod Taylor – Previous Team: Cleveland Browns | My Guess: New York Jets | New Team: Los Angeles Chargers
Tyrod is a serviceable quarterback who’s starting days look to be behind him. After losing the starting job in Cleveland because of poor play, Tyrod is going to need to swallow his pride if he wants to stay in the NFL. The Jets backup QB Josh McCown is now a FA and the team could look to get a cheaper & younger option at backup. It’s not a perfect fit based on playing styles but you could see this one working out since Gates saw Tyrod two times a year when he was in Miami.
UPDATE 3/19: I didn’t see the Chargers as the team Tyrod would land with when I was first writing this article but now that I have had some time to digest the move it does make sense. Anthony Lynn was the assistant coach and interim head coach & OC of the Bills when Tyrod was the starter there and so it makes sense that he decided to follow Lynn to LA. Similar to the Bridgwater situation, Tyrod is backing up an older QB in Rivers and with a 2-year deal in LA he could be trying to wait Rivers out and battle for the starting job once Rivers hangs up his cleats. We will have to wait and see if the timing works out.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Previous Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers | My Guess: Philadelphia Eagles | New Team: Miami Dolphins
The Eagles more then any other team in the NFL has relied on their backup QB over these past two seasons and with Nick Foles departing bringing in a veteran QB is a no brainer move. Fitzmagic was all everyone could talk about at the start of last season as he led the Buccaneers to a 2-1 record before getting being forced out in week 4. Fitzpatrick ended up starting 7 games last season and put up some great numbers that will have teams who are in the need for a backup QB knocking on his door.
UPDATE 3/19: Fresh off the presses Fitzmagic has been spotted on south beach! The slinging Harvard Crimson is back for his 14th season. His hot start in Tampa Bay, as well as a few spot starts down the stretch, were enough as it stands today to get Fitzpatrick a starting job in the NFL. With the 13th overall pick, it’s unlikely that the Dolphins will go QB so unless they prove me wrong and attack that position, it looks like it’s wheels up for Fitzmagic to be sprinkled all over the Hard Rock stadium this season. This signing could finally allow Davante Parker to be unleashed and it’s wheels up for Kenny Stills who now gets to play with a QB who ranked #1 in deep ball completion (51.%5) & Air Yards PA (6.2) and who threw the 33 Deep Ball Attempts (32nd in the league) in only 7 starts. Miami skill position players are going to present tremendous value plays come August as many will write them off as during this rebuild but you the smart fantasy owner will be able to attack the value and sit back & enjoy the production!
Le’Veon Bell – Previous Team: Pittsburgh Steelers | My Guess: Oakland Raiders | New Team: New York Jets
The “BELL” of the ball is Le’Veon! He is far and away the top FA on the market and is going to demand a lot of attention from the top cap space friendly teams. That list would include the NYJ, Colts, Bills, Texans, and yes even the Raiders. Now I think the Colts are out because I think they like the RB’s they have why wouldn’t they and if they do inquire it’s just because they have to. The real threat to this guess not coming true is the Jets. They have the Cap Room, there is a need, and they have a young QB which when paired with an elite RB makes things much easier as they demand so much attention. With a year off and the reports Bell is asking for $15M a year put Oakland down the board of potential landing spots but I think with ex-Steelers Bryant & Brown already on the roster I could see Bell working with the Raiders front office on his contract to make it work. That doesn’t mean take less money but spread it out strategically to help offset the 2019 cap hit.
You can make an argument that Le’Veon Bell is the best RB to hit Free Agency while still in his prime and where ever he goes it will cause a major ripple effect for all Dynasty owners. Oakland is in great hands with Mayock and I think Bell would still be in a bell-cow role in Oakland keeping his fantasy value firmly towards the top of the RB position.
UPDATE 3/19: As the top free agent on the market this off-season everyone couldn’t wait to see who Le’Veon was going to sign with. Now I thought it was going to be Oakland and they were rumored all the way until the end to be one of the three teams Bell wanted to play for but in the end, they couldn’t come up with the cash in hand to offer the guaranteed money Bell and his agent was looking for. New York was always a top destination based on the cap space and desire to upgrade their RB spot and in the end, they landed the best RB in free agency! I had Coleman going to New York as the Jets fall back option if they had missed out on Bell but this is exciting news for Jets fans and Dynasty owners of Bell alike. The Jets also added Jamison Crowder, as well as guard Tom Compton. Bell and the Jets skill position players present sneaky good value as fantasy owners will undoubtedly be thinking Bell’s production will dip in NY. There is no doubt it will a little but I don’t think the dip is going to push Bell outside the top 10 of fantasy RBs or even the top 8. He is still one if not the best pass catching bell cow RB in the NFL and should see RB1 volume. If the Jets offense ascends like it looks like it could on paper, Bell should once again be a top 3 fantasy RB at the end of the season.
Tevin Coleman- Previous Team: Atlanta Falcons | My Guess: New York Jets | New Team: San Francisco 49ers
In dynasty circles owners have been actively targeting Coleman in trades for two years now waiting for the day to come for him to be the lead running back somewhere. The day has come boys! I know the Jets will be all in on Bell and they might get him but I think in the end they will have to settle for Coleman who showed he could be a lead RB last season once Freeman was placed on IR.
UPDATE 3/19: What and the hell just happened?!? Tevin Coleman has signed with the San Francisco 49ers for 2-years $8.5M dollars! Are you F’in Kidding me!! Why would you sign with the 49ers who already have Jerick McKinnon who will be fully healed from his ACL tear by training camp and Matt Breida a player who on 180 total touches put up over 1k total yards & 5 touchdowns!! With McKinnon coming back Breida would be slipping right back into his complimentary role (The Coleman role in Atlanta) and would present great fantasy value especially in PPR leagues but that is all ruined now. I get the whole Shanahan coached him in Atlanta connection but with teams like Tampa Bay and Oakland starving to find their next starting RB, this move makes no sense for not only fantasy but his own career. Without a shadow of a doubt, this move hurts his fantasy value as things stand right now and the only way for his fantasy value to be salvaged is if the 49ers went out and trade McKinnon, cut him and ate the $6M in dead cap, or move on from Breida in either a trade or a cut. Matt Breida may have done enough last season when filling in as the starting RB to earn his spot for the 2019 season and the 49ers a team who invested $30M in McKinnon look like they want to see what they have in that investment. Coleman has once again mudded a backfield. The money says he will play a complementary role beside McKinnon leaving Breida on the outside looking in.
Mark Ingram – Previous Team: New Orleans Saints | My Guess: Baltimore Ravens | New Team: Baltimore Ravens
This is the move I want to see more than any others this off-season. First, I want to see Kamara in an every-down role in New Orleans just to see how good he really can be in that offense. Secondly, I really really like Mark Ingram and think he can be an above average starter in the league if given the opportunity. In Baltimore, Ingram would be paired with the most explosive running QB in the league in Jackson and allow Ingram to see soft edge’s and great cut back lanes in the Ravens run blocking scheme.
UPDATE 3/19: VICTORY! I knocked this one out of the park and couldn’t be more excited about this signing. Ingram is in line to potentially see his biggest workload of his entire career playing in the heaviest run offense in the league. This move immediately boosts Ingram’s fantasy stock. Based on Fantasy Football Calculator Ingrams ADP rose from the 5.09 on 3/12 all the way up to the 5.02 as of today. He even has a high of 2.12 from their mocks. People are excited about this move and finally seeing Ingram in a lead role and I can’t blame them! Even in PPR formats, Ingram’s value is sky high as he is a very skilled receiver out of the backfield catching 58 balls back in 2017 and 228 over his career. Ingram presents one of the best value plays as we head into 2019, let’s just hope it remains that way and his ADP balloons too high.
Kareem Hunt – Previous Team: Kansas City Chiefs | My Guess: N/A | New Team: Cleveland Browns
Signed before the combine, Hunt to Cleveland left a lot of fantasy owners scratching their heads. With Chubb in-house and coming off a fantastic rookie campaign which saw him put up 1,145 total yards & 11 total touchdowns the decision to bring in Hunt seemed unnecessary. But as a Dynasty owner, you know that acquiring talent at a value is always a smart decision as that player can either be used to help produce for your team or can be used to acquire future picks or players at positions of need. Hunt will be suspended for a large portion of the 2019 season so Chubb will not be impacted early on. If and when Hunt has finished his suspension then the Browns will have a decision to make and it’s one that I can see either RB winning. Acquiring Hunt is a smart play as long as the owner you are buying from isn’t trying to sell him at mid-season Kansas City Chiefs cost.
Golden Tate – Previous Team: Philadelphia Eagles | My Guess: Green Bay Packers | New Team: New York Giants
This one almost makes too much sense. I know he is looking to sign with a Super Bowl Contender and so you immediately think of New England, Kansas City, or New Orleans but I don’t think any of those team really fit as well as Green Bay would with Tate’s skill set. KC doesn’t need Tate to make it over the hump, they need defense, New Orleans could use a slot guy but it’s not vital to the success of that offense, and New England won’t overpay so he will have to come in on their terms. I think GB presents the perfect marriage for Tate who can fill the Cobb role in an Aaron Rodgers led passing attacks. This would give Adams & Rodgers some much-needed help as they try to get back into the playoffs.
UPDATE 3/19: Over the course of two days the Giants traded away arguably the best young wide receiver in the league in Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns and then signed Golden Tate as his replacement. Trying to figure out what the Giants are doing with these sporadic moves is impossible, they make no sense and defy all logic. Tate is a good player but that is totally lost when you let your best WR go. Tate arguably enters one of the worst situations of all the FA wide receivers having to now catch passes from a declining Eli Manning who will undoubtedly throw him at least a half dozen hospital balls over the course of the season. Tate fantasy value hangs on the 120+ targets that OBJ left the offense with his departure. Tate will have appeal in PPR leagues but as we have seen with players not named Odell or Barkley fantasy success weekly in New York is hard to come by. I think the real winner with this move is Engram who saw the biggest spikes in production when Odell was out of the lineup these past two years. It will be interesting to see how Tate’s presence in the offense impacts Engram’s tgts & production as he looks to have a rebound year.
Tyrell Williams – Previous Team: Los Angelas Chargers| My Guess: Indianapolis Colts | New Team: Oakland Raiders
The Colts are in desperate need of WR help as they head into the 2019 season and Williams would give a fully recovered Andrew Luck another deep threat opposite TY Hilton. The difference is Williams is a big WR who at 6’3, has 4.48 speed, and is one of the best high point WR’s in the league. At only 27 Indy could give Williams an every-down role that would boost his fantasy value.
UPDATE 3/19: A big swing and a miss by me with this one. Williams was a tough prospect to predict where he would go in FA as he provides a unique skill set for an offense but the Oakland Raiders signing is a perfect fit. After acquiring Antonio Brown via a trade, Williams will give the Raiders a much need field stretcher now that Martavis is suspended and they released Jordy Nelson. Williams is the perfect complimentary piece for an offense that has AB as he is the best in the league at winning on short and intermediate routes. This signing puts Williams in a potential #2 role but I think he will eventually slide to be the Raiders #3 option once the dust settles after the draft. Williams projects to be a boom or bust WR3 in 2019.
John Brown – Previous Team: Baltimore Ravens | My Guess: Houston Texans | New Team: Buffalo Bills
Smokey Brown is back on the market and how much fun would it be to see him in Houston softening up coverage for DHop and giving single safeties nightmares with him and Fuller on the field at the same time. I think this would keep Brown’s fantasy value at or about the same level it was with Baltimore (it was awful after Flacco left) as Houston even with fewer passing attempts had more passing yards and touchdowns than Baltimore did last season.
UPDATE 3/19: When most first heard that John Brown was going Buffalo many felt it was a death sentence to his fantasy value but I am here to say this might be a sneaky good landing spot for Smokey! When you start to dig into the numbers you see that John Brown who is one of the top deep ball route runners in the NFL even last year in Baltimore averaging 17.0 YPA which was 6th best in the league. Brown also ranked inside the top 25 in Air Yards with 594 yds (#23) last year. You then look at Josh Allen who ranked 13th in the league in deep ball passes which are passes that travel 20 yards or more downfield with 65 and he ranked 31st in QB Air Yards which is true passing yards not aided by YAC with 1,120. Brown looks locked to be a starting WR for the Bills in 2019 and should be able to continue to be one of the leagues best deep threat’s even with Josh Allen’s lack of accuracy. If Allen is able to improve even just a little Brown could be a weekly WR3 option with exceptional upside.
Jamison Crowder – Previous Team: Washington Redskins | My Guess: N/A | New Team: New York Jets
This is a perfect signing for both teams! Crowder was by the far the best in space WR in this free agency class and he will be a perfect fit in Gate’s offensive scheme. Sam Darnold is one happy camper right now!! Crowder should lead the Jets in targets & receptions and could once again flirt with double-digit touchdowns as he did back in 2016. Crowder looks locked to flirt with a wR2 season in PPR leagues and a WR3 or Flex play in Standard scoring leagues based on the projected target volume he should see. Health is a real concern for Crowder as he missed time again last season but this also should help keep his ADP in check and allow him to be one of the best value WRs to target this season.
Jared Cook – Previous Team: Oakland Raiders | My Guess: New Orleans Saints
This is a guilty pleasure guess as Jared Cook has surprised most everyone in becoming a really good tight end! Just look at how good Jared Cook was last year (101/68/896/6) with no Lynch after he got hurt and no Amari after he got traded. Oh and that was on one of the lowest scoring offenses in the NFL. With all those factors going against him Cook was still able to compile a top 5 TE season with over 190 pts. With a move to New Orleans Cook could battle the top 5 (Kelce, Ertz, Kittle, Howard, Engram) in projected fantasy production in that offense. If you don’t believe me then let’s look to the numbers! Last year the Saints threw the ball 539 times and of those 539 throws this is the breakdown of the throws that went to WRs, RBs, & TE’s:
WR: 285 Tgts
RB: 138 Tgts
TE: 88 Tgts
That 88 includes 46 tgts to old man Watson. Needless to say with Thomas & Kamara gobbling up the majority of the targets, there is a lot of meat left on the bone for Cook to see at least double that amount of Targets. Honestly, with the Saints even though they threw the ball the 4th fewest times in the NFL they still averaged 31.5 pts/gm which was the 3rd best in the NFL. Cook isn’t going to hit the Jimmy Graham TD numbers of 2013 but I think he will have a career high in touchdowns more then making up for the reduction in targets he will see. Of the 60 offensive touchdowns, the Saints had 33 of them were from a pass & Bree’s RZ completion percentage was 72% which was the 4th best in the NFL. You add on that Brees threw 32TDs (6th best) & saw 93 RZ attempts (5th best) in 2018 and Jared Cook might be the best valued TE to own in Fantasy this year if he lands in the big easy!
Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Previous Team: New York Jets | My Guess: Oakland Raiders
As Jarred Cooks replacement ASJ would give Cook an over the middle outlet which he utilized early and often last season. ASJ’s skill would allow for AB and company to see softer outside coverage as ASJ will need to be respected coming up the seem or over the middle. The move would also make financial sense as I don’t see ASJ demanding top dollar on the open market especially when we see how much Cook is going to get.
Jesse James – Previous Team: Pittsburgh Steelers | My Guess: N/A | New Team: Detroit Lions
Similar to Uzomah, news broke early that James was signing with the Detroit Lions. Detroit was void of a starting TE so James immediately moves into the starting role there. Detroit would be smart to still look to add a TE in the draft but it looks like James’s job to lose.
C.J. Uzomah – Previous Team: Cincinnati Bengals | My Guess: N/A | New Team: Cincinnati Bengals
News broke that was resigning with the Bengals while I was writing this. I like the fit in Cincy for Uzomah as he is a size-speed tight end and was serviceable all last season. Not a fantasy needle mover but Uzomah will find his way onto rosters in ’19 via the waiver wire.
Thanks again for reading and while you are here don’t forget to check all our great off-season content and podcasts! Don’t forget to follow me on @Trotta23 & keep an eye out for all the great fantasy content coming out all off-season @TFFGurus. Remember the dynasty season never ends and championships are won in the off-season!