Thu Feb 18 2:10pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Jones is good fit for the Dolphins
We have a little while before players can officially sign with new teams (March 17), but we thought it would be fun to take a look at this year’s free agent class. And as you can guess, we will examine it from a fantasy perspective. I plan to go over the top players at each position and their best landing spots from a fantasy perspective. It should be a very interesting offseason, seeing lots of top players changing teams.
The crop of free agent quarterbacks is not very exciting. The trade market is likely where we see the most movement this offseason. Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford have already been dealt, causing all sorts of change around the league. The trade market is something to keep an eye on when it comes to this position because more players could change teams (I.e. Deshaun Watson).
With that said, Dak Prescott is the clear leader of free agent quarterbacks. He will command a huge, new deal. I can’t see the Cowboys letting him go, so it makes the most sense for him to stay there. He has a great offense around him and was having a huge season before getting hurt last year. Dallas is likely the team that gets him and the team that brings him the most fantasy value. He can be a top-five quarterback in this offense.
Jameis Winston sat behind Drew Brees last year, learning from one of the best. He is free to sign with a new team, but a return to New Orleans might be best for his fantasy value. Taysom Hill looked pretty good as a starter last year, but he probably brings more value to the Saints as a gadget player. If Winston re-signs with the Saints, he gets a chance to take over in a top offense with plenty of playmakers. Plus, he had a year to learn the playbook and from one of the best. He could be a big fantasy factor with the Saints.
Cam Newton got his chance to start with the Patriots last year. He played well at times for fantasy teams in a starting role but struggled at other times. He still doesn’t look comfortable throwing the ball but can help fantasy teams with his legs. He will look to start once again this year and Washington might be the best fit for him. They don’t have their franchise quarterback and their head coach, Ron Rivera, is the coach that saw Newton play at an MVP level. Getting to reunite with his old coach and play in an offense that can be run heavy might be just the thing to get Newton going again.
Much like the quarterback spot, the running back position is not very exciting in free agency this season. There really is just one player that an elite level player. There are a few other possible NFL starters that could make a difference, but nothing too exciting.
Aaron Jones is the clear top free agent back. He was a top starter for the Packers and a clear franchise back. It would not surprise to see the Packers let him go, giving A.J. Dillon the reigns at running back. This gives Jones the chance to sign with any team. For me, I think the Dolphins might be the best fit for him. He would be the clear lead back and should get more touches than he did with the Packers. Green Bay liked to rotate backs, but the Dolphins go with a more lead back mentality. Myles Gaskin provided some very good fantasy production in a lead role last year for Miami, but Jones is a much more talented player. He could really do some damage in this offense.
Much was expected from Kenyan Drake last season as the full-time starter for Arizona but he was just alright in that role. He played well at times but was a little inconsistent. Backup Chase Edmonds outplayed him at times, so look for the Cardinals to move on from him. One team that I think makes sense for Drake is San Francisco. The 49ers produce some great numbers for their running backs and Drake seems a good fit for that offense. He is a three-down back capable of the big play every time he touches the ball.
Leonard Fournette will look to cash in on his big postseason with the Bucs. He did little during the regular season, but looked great in the Bucs Super Bowl run. He will get a chance to start for some team next season. I think Fournette could be a good match with the Jets. They clearly need a starting running back and Fournette fits the mold. He can play three downs and take a lot of punishment if given plenty of work. He could help an offense that really struggled to run the ball last year and take some pressure off Sam Darnold.
The last free agent running back of note is James Conner. He has really been a bust in recent years, struggling with injury. I think the best fit for him might be to remain with the Steelers. He knows the offense and has played well as the lead back when healthy and on the field. Plus, the coaching staff still seems sold on him as their No. 1 back. And I don’t like the competition much behind him.
The receiver position in free agency is absolutely loaded. There are several top level players that are available. Many of these guys will be No. 1 receivers on their new teams.
It is tough to pick a top player in this class but Chris Godwin is the guy for me. He is a super talent that has produced big in recent years. I just don’t see the Bucs letting him go, so I expect him to stay in Tampa. And this is a good spot for his fantasy value. He has been a top-10 fantasy receiver with Tampa, so staying there is just fine by me for him fantasy value.
Allen Robinson is another big-time receiver looking for a new team. I know there a lot better offense out there, but I actually think staying in Chicago might be best for his fantasy value. He gets a ton of volume in this offense and has next to no competition for targets. Plus, he should have a new quarterback throwing him passes this year, which should be a plus. So I’m really fine with him staying in Chicago. I think they will make a big push to sign him to a big contract.
The Lions might have gotten rid of Matthew Stafford, but I can’t see them letting go No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay. He is a free agent but he isn’t going anywhere. The Lions will tag him if needed. I do like his fantasy value more elsewhere but it could be worse. Jared Goff should look his way often as the clear top target in this offense.
Will Fuller finally had that big season last year, getting to serve as the No. 1 target in the Texans offense. He will be a highly coveted player in free agency. One spot that I think looks good for him is the New York Giants. They need a No. 1 receiver for Daniel Jones. Fuller can be that guy and could get a lot of volume in that offense.
It would be weird if he wasn’t with the Steelers but it sure looks like JuJu Smith-Schuster will be playing on another team next season. Pittsburgh is deep at receiver, so look for Smith-Schuster to land a big deal to take over as a No. 1 receiver with a new team. And the team that could make a big play for him to be their guy is the New York Jets. This team has lacked a top receiver in recent seasons, so getting Smith-Schuster make sense. He could get a ton of targets in that offense, having little to compete with for looks. I know the Jets passing game isn’t near that of the Steelers, but I still like this as a landing spot for him. He’ll get the volume.
Antonio Brown showed he still can help a team and stay out of trouble, producing well for the Bucs as their No. 3 receiver. There are other teams that likely would be better landing spots for him, serving as a No. 1 or 2 receiver, but he was happy in Tampa and likes Tom Brady so staying there seems like the best fit for Brown. He can help fantasy teams in that Bucs explosive passing game.
Curtis Samuel picked a good time to have a career season last year, posting good numbers across the board. He showed his potential as a slot receiver in a top passing game. I think the Ravens will give him a hard look this offense. He seems a good fit for their offense and I like his potential in that offense. He can run the ball as well as catch it, so that dual threat ability makes sense for that offense. He would also give Lamar Jackson a much needed upgrade at receiver.
Marvin Jones is another player that had a career season, catching a career high 76 passes last year. This should land him a good contract as a starter for some team. Many teams could use a player like Jones. I kind of like Jones in Miami. They need more weapons for Tua Tagovailoa and Jones would provide a veteran, dependable option for the young quarterback. I’m sure he would get a lot of volume in Miami.
The tight end spot isn’t very deep in free agency, but there are a couple solid starters available. Hunter Henry is the top option at the position. He probably hasn’t lived up to expectations just yet, but the talent is certainly there for him to produce big. I would love to see him sign with the Titans. He just seems a great fit for that offense and Ryan Tannehill. The Titans need more playmakers in the passing game and Henry could be a huge threat for the team going forward.
Henry would be replacing Jonnu Smith, who is the other top tight end available in free agency. Smith had an erratic season last year as the starter for Tennessee, making most of his noise in the end zone. He scored eight touchdowns. Smith is a big-time athlete that can make plays all over the field. I think a move to Arizona would be a good one for Smith. He could give that offense another weapon in the passing game. I could see him excelling in that offense with Kyler Murray throwing him passes. Let’s make it happen.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Former Miami Dolphins safety Bobby McCain is signing an undisclosed one-year deal with the Washington Football Team on Friday, according to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. McCain was a starter and team captain over six seasons with the Dolphins before he was released this offseason, but he should immediately play a key role in Washington's secondary in 2021. His arrival could put Troy Apke's roster spot in jeopardy this summer, and McCain will give Kamren Curl some competition for the free safety spot. The 27-year-old was a fifth-round pick by Miami in 2015, and he spent the first six seasons of his NFL career with the Dolphins. McCain totaled 46 tackles (39 solo), one interception and five passes defensed in 16 games (15 starts) last year. He has seven career interceptions and 30 passes defensed.
Denver Broncos wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton (knee) has suffered a torn ACL, according to sources. It was reported on Thursday that the Broncos were waiving Hamilton due to a surplus of depth at the position, but he hasn't officially been waived and the team had been trying to work out a trade. In light of this injury, the Broncos are unlikely to find any trade suitors for the 26-year-old now, so expect him to be officially waived in the near future. Waiving Hamilton will save the team $2.8 million in salary cap space. He'll become the odd man out of a loaded wideout corps that includes Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Tim Patrick. Hamilton had 23 catches for 293 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games for Denver last year.
Free-agent wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2018, is trying out with the New York Giants during their rookie minicamp this weekend as a tight end. Benjamin was a first-round pick by the Carolina Panthers back in 2014, when current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman was in charge. His best season came as a rookie, when he put up a 1,000-yard season with nine touchdowns in Carolina. He gained weight and fell out of favor, leading to a trade to Buffalo, where he played 18 games with minimal results. Benjamin played in three regular season games with the Chiefs in 2018, but hasn't seen the field since. The Giants already have Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph at the position, so it would be a long shot for Benjamin to resurface in the Big Apple as a tight end.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Joe Tryon (knee), who was the team's first-round selection in this year's draft, is not taking part in rookie minicamp this weekend and recently had a minor surgical procedure on his knee, according to head coach Bruce Arians. Tryon came off the board at No. 32 overall in the first round last month. He opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 but managed eight sacks in 2019 in his final college season. He will need to be developed at the next level, but he's an exciting pass-rushing prospect off the edge that should fit nicely with a much-improved defensive unit in Tampa.
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur reiterated that the team wants quarterback Aaron Rodgers to return in 2021 and beyond. "We still obviously feel the same way. We want him back in the worst way. I know he knows that. We'll continue to work at it each and every day," LaFleur said. It was reported on draft day last month that Rodgers wanted out of Green Bay, and rumors have been swirling ever since. Green Bay has no plans to trade Rodgers, and several of his ex-teammates believe the situation is fixable. The Packers are apparently pleased with Jordan Love's development despite the fact that he didn't play at all in his rookie year after being a first-round pick. Rodgers, last year's MVP, continues to play at a high level despite nearing the end of his career. Wherever he's playing in 2021, he'll be a highly coveted high-end QB1, that's to be sure.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown is facing a civil lawsuit over allegations of assault and battery stemming from an altercation with a moving truck driver last year. Brown and his trainer, Glenn Holt, both face one count of battery and one count of assault in the lawsuit. Brown pleaded no contest to a felony burglary charge and misdemeanor charges of battery and criminal mischief in the same incident and received two years of probation. His attorneys are questioning the new lawsuit, which was filed more than a year after the incident. The wideout was suspended for the first eight games of last year for violations of the league's personal-conduct policy, but it's unknown if he might face another suspension for this new lawsuit. Brown had 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns last regular season.
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields, who the team traded up for to select at No. 11 overall in this year's NFL draft, will be taking part in the team's virtual rookie minicamp this weekend. Head coach Matt Nagy, who was present in Kansas City when the team transitioned from Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes, would ideally like to see Fields sit behind Andy Dalton for a year before he took over the starting job. Don't forget, Nick Foles is also in this QB room. Fields was rated as high as No. 2 in this year's quarterback crop, although the Bears don't seem intent on rushing him with Dalton signed to a one-year contract. Fields is extremely athletic, but fantasy managers in single-year leagues shouldn't expect much from him in 2021.
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said it's fair to assume that linebackers Isaiah Simmons (last year's first-round pick) and Zaven Collins (this year's first-rounder) will line up together as starters this season. It means that Jordan Hicks is the odd-man out, and it was reported this week that the organization has given Hicks permission to seek a trade. It doesn't mean that a trade will happen, but Hicks' role would be significantly downgraded if he were to remain with the Cardinals. Collins was taken 16th overall by Arizona in this year's draft and will give the team plenty of versatility as another defensive chess piece.
Former Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle signed his four-year, fully guaranteed rookie contract with the Miami Dolphins on Friday, according to a source. Waddle was the sixth overall pick in this year's NFL draft. He's expected to immediately line up in three-receiver sets alongside DeVante Parker and Will Fuller in his rookie season, and he'll be reunited with college quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Based on how Tagovailoa performed in 2020, fantasy managers in single-year formats shouldn't be expecting too much from the rookie pass-catcher in his first year in the NFL, but he'll certainly be an exciting dynasty/keeper pickup. Expect Miami to use Waddle more in the slot, which could make him a favorite target of Tua.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady (knee) plans to resume throwing next week after he said he had a 'pretty serious knee surgery' after the Super Bowl.
Fantasy Spin: Brady doesn't have a lot of upside as the fourth or fifth QB in fantasy, but you know what you'll get from him.
Free-agent QB Kyle Sloter (Raiders) will participate in the Chicago Bears upcoming rookie minicamp on a tryout basis.
The Washington Football Team signed all 10 of their 2021 NFL draft picks to their rookie contracts, including first-round linebacker Jamin Davis. Davis was taken at No. 19 overall out of Kentucky after a junior season in which he recorded 102 tackles and three interceptions in 10 games. He'll join an already nasty defense in D.C. after impressing during his school's Pro Day in the pre-draft process. Davis can play in the box but also excels in pass coverage. The 6-foot-3, 234-pounder has excellent athleticism all across the field and should earn the right to start right away in his rookie season. Davis may not be a beast right out of the gates in Washington, but he has extremely high long-term upside.
Free-agent WR Kelvin Benjamin (Chiefs) is expected to participate in the New York Giants rookie minicamp this weekend on a tryout basis, according to a source.
Minnesota Vikings CB Mike Hughes has been traded to the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday, May 13, in exchange for a 2022 sixth-round draft choice. The Chiefs will also receive a 2022 seventh-round draft choice in the trade.
New York Giants DE Breeland Speaks was waived Thursday, May 13.
The Kansas City Chiefs acquired cornerback Mike Hughes and a 2022 seventh-round pick from the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday in exchange for a 2022 sixth-round pick, according to a source. Minnesota declined their fifth-year option on the former first-round pick a week ago after the 24-year-old has dealt with serious injuries throughout his time with the Vikings. Hughes played in just four games last season and has 80 tackles, 13 pass breakups and two interceptions (one for a touchdown) in 24 games (seven starts) in his three seasons in the NFL with the Vikes. The writing was on the wall for Hughes in Minnesota when the team signed All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson in free agency. The Chiefs will take a low-risk flier on Hughes and cross their fingers that he can stay healthy to give them extra cornerback depth.
The Indianapolis Colts are signing free-agent kicker Eddy Pineiro to an undisclosed one-year deal on Thursday, according to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Pineiro made 82.1 percent of his 28 field-goal attempts in 2019 with the Chicago Bears in his first NFL season, but he suffered an injury last season and never attempted a kick. The 25-year-old proved to be clutch in high-pressure situations and missed just two of his 29 extra-point tries in 2019 as well. He'll head to Indianapolis, where he'll represent valuable kicking depth behind Rodrigo Blankenship. Fantasy managers can avoid Pineiro in all leagues unless he takes over the kicking duties at some point next season.
Free-agent CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Cardinals) attended an in-person meeting Thursday, May 13, with the New England Patriots.
Former Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is visiting with the New England Patriots on Thursday, according to a source. The former Alabama first-round pick could resurface with head coach Bill Belichick. The 31-year-old was the 17th overall pick of the Bengals in the 2012 NFL draft and spent the first eight years of his career in Cincinnati before joining the Cardinals last year. In 14 games (11 starts) for Arizona in 2020, Kirkpatrick had 56 tackles (53 solo), a career-high-tying three interceptions and seven passes defensed. In his nine-year career, he has 358 combined tackles (307 solo), 13 interceptions (two for touchdowns), 72 passes defensed, three fumble recoveries and three sacks in 113 games (78 starts).
The Denver Broncos are waiving wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton on Thursday, according to a source. The Broncos have a surplus of depth at the position and had trade talks involving the former fourth-round pick, but they couldn't finalize a deal. There's a strong possibility that Hamilton is claimed off waivers by another team. The 26-year-old caught 23 of his 44 targets last year for 293 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games (two starts). In his three seasons with the Broncos, Hamilton recorded 81 receptions for 833 yards and five touchdowns in 46 games (nine starts). With Courtland Sutton returning from injury this year, the Broncos will also have second-year wideouts Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler and Tim Patrick in the fold in four-receiver sets.