The offseason is unofficially underway with the start of free agency and trades! NFL teams look to bolster their rosters ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft in April by working hard in March. After one day, we already learned the landing spots for more than a handful of players. While the fantasy season doesn’t really heat up for a few more months, now is a good time to start laying a foundation. Who will have an impact or who will be affected the most by a free agent addition or subtraction? I’ve got the answers for you. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy this edition of Free Agency Impacts – Day 1 Edition.
Antonio Brown traded to the Raiders – Finally! It’s over! The Pittsburgh Steelers traded Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a 3rd and a 5th round pick in 2019 NFL draft. While many will scoff at this move for Antonio Brown and his fantasy value, I am not as pessimistic as some. Antonio Brown is still the best wide receiver in the league (despite what the haters will say) and pairing him with Derek Carr isn’t as bad some other spots (e.g.Redskins or Titans).
Derek Carr is coming off a subpar season(.39 fantasy points per drop back), but can we really blame him? His weapons consisted of 33-year-old Jared Cook, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant (8 games), Seth Roberts, Brandon LaFell, and Marcell Ateman. Scary group. Entering the second season under Jon Gruden, the Raiders are making it a priority to surround Carr with talent. That includes AB, but they also signed LT Trent Brown and are linked to Le’Veon Bell to address their need at running back.
Looking a bit deeper into Derek Carr and his 2018 season, he posted an awful 7.14 aDOT which was only ahead of Matt Stafford and Nick Foles (5 games) despite finishing 12th in attempts (553). Now with AB, you can figure he will smash the number of targets any Raiders wide receiver earned in 2018 (89). While Carr may not be the caliber of QB that Big Ben is in Pittsburgh, I do believe an improved offensive line could go a long way for Oakland. FYI, the Raiders o-line allowed the 3rd most sacks (51) last season. Hopefully with improvements there and a few more weapons, we could see Derek Carr return to the player we saw back in 2016.
Early Fantasy Outlook: Top 5 WR option.
DeSean Jackson fly’s home to Philly – This was an obvious hole the Eagles needed to address in 2019. The Eagles seriously lacked a pronounced deep threat last season and, while DeSean Jackson may be long in the tooth, he is still long in speed. In 2018, he finished 2nd in yards per reception (18.8) and also finished 2nd in 40+ yard TDs (3). The Eagles top “deep threat” last season was Alshon Jeffery who finished with at 12.97 yards per reception. A true deep threat is something Carson Wentz has never had during his time with the Eagles. While DJax may be more boom-or-bust in 2019, he still has the ability to be a decent WR3 in an above average offense.
Early Fantasy Outlook: Low-end WR3 or Flex Option.
Free Agent Signings
Nick Foles to the Jaguars
Deal: 4 years 88 million (50 million guaranteed)
This was one of the easier landing spots to predict this offseason. The Jaguars finally decided to move on from Blake Bortles and pulled the trigger on Nick Foles. The Jags backed up the Brinks truck and made Nick Foles the sixth-highest paid QB in the league. Foles certainly has his critics and maybe rightfully so. He’s had his ups and downs throughout his seven-year career. He went from considering retirement after the terrible season under Jeff Fisher to becoming a Super Bowl MVP with the Eagles. Personally, I think expectations should be somewhere in the middle. He’s certainly not an elite option at QB, however, he is better than plenty of starters in the league.
Now with the Jags, he is going from an offense that was 7th in the league in pass attempts to a team that finished 19th. Foles enters a situation where his weapons will be DeDe Westbrook, Keelan Cole, and second-year wide out DJ Chark. This is a clear downgrade in weapons. The Jags only options to really upgrade the passing attack will be through the draft as they will need to clear considerable cap space just to complete the deal with Foles.
While I love DeDe Westbrook in 2019, there’s not much belief that Foles can be any more than a QB2 in Superflex leagues on a run-first offense.
Early Fantasy Outlook: QB2 in Superflex
Mike Davis to the Bears
Deal: 2 years 6 million
This deal is one that will fly under the radar. Mike Davis isn’t a sexy name. However, he very well could step into the starting gig if the Bears decide to move on from Jordan Howard. Davis finished 2018 as the backup/third-down back to Chris Carson in Seattle. He rushed for 514 yards on 112 attempts with a solid 4.5 YPC while hauling in 34 of his 42 targets. The Bears stand to benefit from moving on from Howard, who proved to be limited as a pass catcher. With the addition of Davis, Chicago would benefit from having two running backs capable of receiving out of the backfield, making them less predictable.
Davis’ fantasy value will be directly tied to if they decide to roster Howard and if they add anyone through the draft or free agency. The Bears showed interest in Le’Veon Bell, however, that move would be a bit of a head scratcher with electric pass catching satellite back Tarik Cohen waiting in the backfield.
Early Fantasy Outlook: RB2 if he enters the season as the lead back.
Frank Gore to the Bills
Deal: 1 year 2 million
The Buffalo Bills have the AARP backfield with LeSean McCoy (31), Chris Ivory (31), and Frank Gore (36). I’m starting to think Gore is the Bartolo Colon of the NFL. I will have zero shares of the ageless Frank Gore in any format in 2019. Though it’s hard to believe Gore has any tread left on those tires, the Bills were smart to pad their backfield. McCoy has one year left on his deal and was tied to off-field legal issues last summer. While this never led to a suspension, it doesn’t hurt to have a reliable RB to fill in, just in case more issues arise. Would I have chosen Gore to be that back when I have as much cap space as the Bills? No. I’m sure McCoy and Gore will help the Bills running game limp through 2019, but that’s about it.
Early Fantasy Outlook: Not dead.
Devin Funchess trying his Luck in Indy
Deal: 1 year 13 million.
Hello, Devin Funchess! After spending four seasons in Carolina, Funchess heads to Indy to link up with Andrew Luck. Of all of the possible landing spots, this is certainly in the top five for the young receiver. The Colts had a hodge-podge of wide receivers last season with only T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron as real threats for the Colts.
Last season with the Panthers, Funchess hauled in 44 of 77 targets for 549 yards and four TDs in 14 games. This was a drop-off from his 2017 campaign where he finished with 840 yards and eight touchdowns on 109 targets. Now in Indy, things are looking up for the 25-year-old big body “wide receiver.” Funchess certainly isn’t a burner or even a player who wins with getting separation. His game is built on being physical and plucking balls out of the air in high leverage situations. Funchess fits in nicely with Hilton as the field stretcher and should bring another red zone option which will likely hurt Eric Ebron in that department. Funchess has been a threat inside the red zone with 51 total red zone targets and has converted 16 of them into TDs (31%).
Early Fantasy Outlook: WR3 with WR2 upside.
Adam Humphries signs with the Titans
Deal: 4 years-36 million
Adam Humphries was made to go the Patriots. Somehow, the Titans swooped in and snatched him out of the grips of Bill Belichick. Now in Tennessee, Humphries should be a big upgrade to a team that was last in the league in yards by a slot receiver (575) in 2018. Humphries posted career-highs in receptions(76), yards(816), and touchdowns (5) while running 79% of snaps in the slot for the Buccaneers in 2018. While I will admit, I would have loved to see him end up in NE, this spot could be tasty if Marcus Mariota can finally take a step forward and figure out how to stay healthy in 2019. However, I really wouldn’t count on him getting close to the 103 targets he received in 2018, with Corey Davis and Delaine Walker still in Tennessee.
Early Fantasy Outlook: Matchup dependent Flex Option.
Jamison Crowder lands in New York with the Jets
Deal: 3 years 28.5 million (17 million guaranteed)
I really wanted to see him go to the Packers, Colts, or the 49ers. I guess the Jets will have to do. While on the surface this move would appear to be puzzling, as Quincy Enunwa was once their main slot wide receiver. Last season, they moved him to the outside. Obviously, the Jets have moved on from Todd Bowles as the head coach and brought in Adam Gase.
Now with Gase in town and Crowder under contract, we have some room for optimism for his fantasy outlook in 2019 and beyond. Adam Gase’s system leans on the slot receiver. Look at his time in Miami and it will illuminate his scheme utilizing the slot. From 2016-2017 Jarvis Landry led the team in targets (292) and once they traded Landry to the Browns it was Danny Amendola who led the team in targets with 79.
With all of that being said, we still have to wait to see how everything else plays out. Do the Jets sign Le’Veon Bell which would certainly hurt Crowder as they would be competing for targets? Do they add another receiver in free agency or do they address the position in the draft? As things stand, Crowder is a WR3 with WR2 upside in PPR formats until things change.
Early Fantasy Outlook: WR3 with WR2 upside.
Danny Amendola signs with the Lions
Deal: 1 year 5.8 million
If there was ever a team that needed a slot wide receiver, it’s the Detroit Lions. Matt Stafford fell off a cliff once the Lions shipped Golden Tate to the Eagles last season. Stafford through the first 7 games with Golden Tate had 1912 passing yards, 14 TDs, and six INT. After Tate was traded is when things changed. Over the second half of the season, Stafford threw for 1865 yards, seven TDs, and five INT (in nine games).
While Danny Amendola certainly isn’t Golden Tate, his presence should at least give Stafford a much-needed security blanket. The slot produced 131 targets per season with Stafford since he’s been the starting QB (2012). Amendola finished his 2018 season in Miami with 59 receptions (75 targets), 575 yards, and one touchdown. This should be enough to get Stafford back to QB1 territory with another year of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Amendola, and newly signed TE Jesse James.
Early Fantasy Outlook: WR4 or 5 in PPR leagues.
Tyler Kroft signs with the Bills
Deal: 3 years 18.75 million
I’m going to be honest. Tyler Kroft doesn’t register a lot of excitement for most. I’m a bit of a Tyler Kroft truther after he won me a nice chunk of change in DFS two seasons ago. He went off for six catches, 68 yards, and two touchdowns. At minimum price and less than 1% ownership, to boot. OK, moving on. Even as a Tyler Kroft apologist, I was shocked to see him sign for nearly 20 million after surpassing 50 receiving yards in only three career games. But, here we are.
Overall, this isn’t a tight end I would run out and draft as your TE1 in redraft leagues in 2019. The Bills offense will likely be bottom feeders again in 2019 with Zay Jones, Robert Foster, Kroft, and the AARP club in the backfield. At best, Kroft represents the third option on an offense that will likely be another archaic run first offense. They have a second year QB who has concerns about his accuracy and just acquired veteran RB Frank Gore. I mean no tight end exceeded 40 targets for the Bills in 2018. Who knows, maybe he will once again rise from the ashes like a phoenix and win for you. I would bet more for the DFS side of that, compared to his chances in redraft.
Early Fantasy Outlook: Low-End TE2
Lions get their TE in Jesse James
Jesse James has never been a big factor in the passing game in Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t expect big things from Jesse James in Detroit either.
Early Fantasy Outlook: Nope.
Tune in tomorrow for Day two of free agency impacts. Maybe then we will know where Le’Veon Bell, Mark Ingram, Tevin Coleman, Golden Tate, and Jared Cook will end up.