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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
The Las Vegas Raiders signed free-agent cornerback Casey Hayward to an undisclosed deal on Tuesday. The 31-year-old, a second-round pick by the Green Bay Packers in 2012, will join cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen (taken in the second round in 2019), Damon Arnette (a first-rounder in 2020), Amik Robertson (fourth-rounder in 2020) and Nate Hobbs (fifth-rounder this year). Hayward will reunite with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who was his coordinator the last four years with the Los Angeles Chargers. He didn't play in a full season last year for the first time since 2013, recording an interception and eight passes defensed in 14 games (13 starts). Hayward had 66 passes defensed, which led the AFC, in his five years with the Chargers. He also led the NFL with seven interceptions in 2016 and made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2017.
Former Denver Broncos special teams ace/linebacker Joe Jones is signing an undisclosed deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday, according to a source. The Broncos are losing both Jones and safety Will Parks, who were both standout special teams players for the Broncos in the last four seasons. It doesn't come as a huge surprise, though, as Denver put a big emphasis on special teams in the draft last week. The 27-year-old Jones was undrafted out of Northwestern and recorded 31 combined tackles (23 solo) in 49 games (zero starts) for the Broncos from 2017 through last year. Jones will help boost Tampa's special teams unit in 2021.
The Kansas City Chiefs are signing free-agent safety Will Parks to a one-year deal worth up to $1.13 million on Wednesday, according to a source. Parks took a visit with the Detroit Lions as well, but he is choosing the Chiefs. He started his career as a safety and was taken in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. Parks spent the first four seasons of his career as a rotational safety before joining the Philadelphia Eagles last spring. But he was waived in December and rejoined Denver to play in nickel situations for the final four games of the season. In 10 games between the Eagles and Broncos in 2020, the 26-year-old had 31 tackles (three for loss) and a sack. It's likely the Chiefs will view him as more of cornerback depth at this point in his career.
Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who knows how current Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is feeling these days, thinks that Rodgers is unlikely to back down. "Knowing Aaron, and I think I know him fairly well, if he has a grudge, whether it be against the organization or a player or an arch-rival, or family, friends, he ain't budging," Favre said on the "Bolling with Favre" podcast. If Rodgers were to abruptly retire, he'd owe the team around $23 million over the next two years. The Packers traded up in the first round of last year's draft to select Jordan Love, Rodgers' eventual successor, and Rodgers didn't take kindly to that. Rodgers has reportedly mocked general manager Brian Gutekunst in group chats with teammates, referring to him as Jerry Krause, the former Bulls GM who got into it with Michael Jordan. At this point, anything could happen with Rodgers and the Packers. Buckle up.
Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman confirmed that quarterback Kirk Cousins is the team's starter. The Vikings drafted quarterback Kellen Mond in the third round of last week's NFL draft, but it was done to create competition behind Cousins. "Right now, there's no question that Kirk Cousins is our quarterback," Spielman said. Mond will enter the mix behind Cousins, and it also includes Nate Stanley and Jake Browning. Cousins is due to count $45 million against the salary cap in 2022, which would all become dead money if he was cut. While Cousins remains the starter for now, the Vikings also considered making a move to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, which means they are preparing for Cousins' eventual run in Minnesota. Cousins isn't the sexiest pick in fantasy, but he has plenty of weapons and should be seen as a low-end QB1 option.
The Dallas Cowboys are waiving starting defensive tackle Antwaun Woods on Wednesday, according to a source. Woods becomes a salary cap casualty after the Cowboys selected defensive tackles Osa Odighizuwa in the third round and Quinton Bohanna in the sixth round of last week's NFL draft. Woods started 32 games for Dallas from 2018 through last season and was set to make $2.1 million under the restricted free-agent tender. He had 33 tackles, one sack and four QB pressures in 14 games (seven starts) last season. The 6-foot-1, 310-pounder was more of a fit in former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's scheme. Dallas also waived cornerback Saivion Smith after the team selected corners Kelvin Joseph (second round) and Nahshon Wright (third round) in the draft. The Cowboys also released center Adam Redmond, defensive tackle Walter Palmore, defensive end LaDarius Hamilton and cornerback Kemon Hall.
New England Patriots RB Sony Michel could potentially lose his roster spot to fourth-round rookie Rhamondre Stevenson because the latter is more likely to be a factor on special teams, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.
The Las Vegas Raiders will release safety Jeff Heath on Wednesday, according to a source. Heath was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 10 last year, but he'll be looking for a new team this offseason. It comes after the Raiders drafted safeties Trevon Moehrig in the second round and Tyree Gillespie in the fourth round in last week's NFL draft. They also officially added cornerback Casey Hayward on Tuesday. The Raiders think that Moehrig can step in and start at the free safety spot. Heath led the team with three interceptions in 2020. The soon-to-be 30-year-old signed a two-year deal worth up to $8 million last offseason after spending seven seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. In 13 games last year, Heath had 37 tackles and four pass breakups.
Las Vegas Raiders S Jeff Heath will be released, according to a source Tuesday, May 4.
Free-agent WR Damiere Byrd (Patriots) agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears Tuesday, May 4, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Fantasy Spin: Byrd is coming a productive 2020 season and could compete for the No. 3 receiver job during training camp. Fantasy players can monitor the situation because Byrd could be a late round option if he receives a decent role in the passing game.
Free-agent CB Casey Hayward (Chargers) agreed to terms with the Las Vegas Raiders Tuesday, May 4. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Jacksonville Jaguars S Doug Middleton was released Tuesday, May 4.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf, one of the fastest players in the NFL, will compete in the USA Track and Field Golden Games and Distance Open this Sunday in Walnut, California. He is listed among the participants in the 100-meter dash. The 6-foot-4, 229-pounder was a standout hurdler and long-jumper in high school, in addition to playing football and basketball. Metcalf ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the 2019 combine and reached a top speed of 22.64 mph last year, according to Next Gen Stats. He made the Pro Bowl in 2020 with 83 catches for a franchise-record 1,303 yards. Metcalf caught five passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns in the playoff loss to the Rams last year and will enter the 2021 season as a top-five fantasy wideout.
Free-agent TE Darren Fells (Texans) is scheduled to visit with the Detroit Lions on Tuesday, May 4.
Free-agent S Malik Hooker (Colts) is meeting with the Miami Dolphins Tuesday, May 4, according to a source.
Free-agent veteran tight end Darren Fells is visiting with the Detroit Lions on Tuesday, according to a source. Fells is coming off 11 touchdowns in the last two seasons with the Houston Texans and could return to Detroit, where he played in 2017. The 35-year-old also had 55 receptions on 76 targets for 653 yards in 32 games (28 starts) over the last two years with Houston. He played mostly in a backup role to Jordan Akins for most of last year, catching 21 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns. The Lions already have T.J. Hockenson as their top pass-catching tight end, so if Fells were to return to Detroit, he'd have very minimal fantasy value as a backup once again. Fells had 17 catches (26 targets) for just 177 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games for the Lions back in 2017.
San Francisco 49ers incumbent quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said he wants to help rookie quarterback Trey Lance with his transition to the NFL after the team took him at No. 3 overall in the first round of last week's draft. Garoppolo entered the league with the New England Patriots and learned behind future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. "I try to use my own personal experiences and just what I went through, what helped me, what challenged me as a young player," Garoppolo said. "I'm going to use those tools that helped me and try to help Trey out." Jimmy G is 24-9 in his time with the 49ers, but he's been injured in two of his three seasons. Garoppolo is expected to enter the 2021 season as the starter under center, but another injury or poor performance could thrust Lance into the spotlight at some point in his rookie season. There is no definitive plan or timetable for Lance to take the starting job next season.
Former Indianapolis Colts first-round safety Malik Hooker is visiting with the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, according to a source. Hooker has yet to play a full season in the NFL after being selected 15th overall out of Ohio State in 2017. The 25-year-old played in only two games last year before he tore his Achilles and missed the rest of the season. He's missed 14 games with various injuries in his four seasons in the league, which is why Indianapolis declined to pick up his fifth-year option for the 2021 campaign. Hooker can still be productive on the field, he just needs to stay healthy. He has seven interceptions, 124 tackles (81 solo), 11 passes defensed and two fumble recoveries in 36 career games (35 starts).
Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (heart) fell to pick No. 52 overall in last week's NFL draft because a heart issue came up late in the pre-draft process, according to sources. However, doctors ultimately cleared him. If not for the heart issue, Owusu-Koramoah could've come off the board in the first round. Cleveland traded up to keep him from sliding any further on Day 2. The former Notre Dame product is a linebacker/safety hybrid, which will allow the Browns to drop him into coverage or rush him off the edge. Owusu-Koramoah will bring intensity and a high motor to his new club. He finished his senior season for the Fighting Irish with 62 tackles (11 for loss) and three forced fumbles.
New York Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams (foot) broke a small bone in his foot and likely will undergo surgery that will keep him out for eight to 10 weeks, according to sources. Williams will miss organized team activities and minicamp, but he should be ready to return for training camp this summer. The 23-year-old is one of the better pass-rushers for Gang Green's defense, so this is notable. He finished last season with 55 tackles and seven sacks for the Jets. As long as Williams doesn't suffer any setbacks during his rehab process, he should be good to go for Week 1 of the 2021 regular season. In 13 games (nine starts) in his rookie season in 2019, Williams had just 28 tackles (four for loss) and 2.5 sacks.