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.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie running back Travis Etienne took repetitions from the wide receiver position during the team's three-day rookie minicamp over the weekend. "At the worst-case scenario, you have a running back with the skillset of a wide receiver," head coach Urban Meyer explained. "Best-case scenario you'll have a hybrid player who does both and that's what we're hoping to develop out of Travis." The Jags took Etienne at No. 25 overall in the first round of the draft. He had 48 catches for 588 yards and two touchdowns in his senior season at Clemson and had 7.2 yards per carry in his four years. Jacksonville already has James Robinson in the backfield, but Etienne could be a Swiss Army Knife for this offense alongside pass-catchers D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr. and Marvin Jones.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said that quarterback Trevor Lawrence (shoulder), the first overall pick of the draft, "looked great" during rookie minicamp over the weekend. Lawrence was on a 30- to 40-throw "pitch count" after February surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. The Jags are being cautious with their franchise signal-caller, but Meyer expects Lawrence to be "pretty close to full go" before the end of organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, which are scheduled to begin May 24 and go through June 17. The team is keeping him away from handoffs and direct snaps under center to avoid falling and getting his arm jammed. Lawrence's shoulder no longer bothers him and is healed, and he's currently getting accustomed to a coordinator calling plays into his helmet. He'll be the Week 1 starter in his rookie season and could have some QB1 streaming value in the right matchups if he makes a seamless transition to the NFL.
Detroit Lions rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has a large chip on his shoulder after 16 receivers came off the board before him in this year's NFL draft. St. Brown was the 112th overall selection in the fourth round after catching 178 passes in his three-year career at USC. He lined up both outside and at slot receiver during practice on Sunday, and head coach Dan Campbell said it's too early to define St. Brown's role for the upcoming season. "I'm excited to be here," St. Brown said. "I'm excited to work and I'm ready to take someone's job." Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman are the team's top starters, but neither one of them have proven much yet in the NFL, so St. Brown could carve out a pretty big role in this offense in his rookie season.
The New York Giants signed former first-round wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin following a tryout at rookie minicamp last weekend. Benjamin, who hasn't been on an NFL roster since the end of the 2018 season, will play tight end. The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder will be reunited with general manager Dave Gettleman, who drafted Benjamin with the Carolina Panthers in 2014. Benjamin caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie season, but that has been the high point of his career after he tore his ACL the next season. While he has the necessary size at tight end, he'll join a crowded room in New York, headed by Evan Engram and former Pro Bowler Kyle Rudolph. The Giants also have Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo as backups, so Benjamin will be a long shot at this new position. New York also signed running back Corey Clement on Sunday.
Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (ankle) is back at the team's facilities on Monday for Phase 2 of the offseason program. Miller was looking really good in training camp a year ago before he suffered a season-ending ankle injury just before the start of the regular season. There will be a lot of eyes on the All-Pro pass-rusher in the final year of his contract in 2021. The Super Bowl 50 MVP will be motivated to prove that he's still one of the best pass-rushers in the league at age 32. If Miller looks as good as he did last summer and stays healthy, the Broncos defense could be very good this year. The eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro had a disappointing eight sacks back in 2019, only the second time in his career that he hasn't reached double-digit sacks.
Former Washington Football Team defensive end Ryan Kerrigan announced on his Instagram that he's signing an undisclosed deal with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday. After spending 10 seasons with Washington, the four-time Pro Bowler will remain in the NFC East and join the division-rival Eagles. The 32-year-old veteran has racked up 454 tackles (119 for loss), 147 QB hits, three interceptions (all for touchdowns), 25 passes defensed, 26 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 95.5 sacks in 156 career games (141 starts) after he was the 16th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. For an Eagles team lacking a ton of depth on the defensive front, Kerrigan represents a very nice pickup.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots wide receiver Marqise Lee is signing an undisclosed deal with the San Francisco 49ers on Monday, according to a source. Lee spent the first five seasons of his NFL career with Jacksonville after they selected him in the second round out of USC in 2014. The 29-year-old opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, so he never actually played a game with the Patriots. Lee hasn't played in a full season since 2017, but he'll have a real chance to make the Niners roster this summer if he can stay healthy. He dealt with injuries in 2018 and 2019 and played a combined six games those two years. In 59 career games (30 starts) with Jacksonville, Lee had 174 catches for 2,184 yards and eight touchdowns. He'll be hoping to provide some depth behind Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk and will compete with the likes of Mohamed Sanu, Richie James, Trent Sherfield and Jalen Hurd.
The Cincinnati Bengals signed former San Francisco 49ers slot receiver and punt returner Trent Taylor to an undisclosed deal on Monday, according to a source. Taylor is a good fit with Cincinnati, who lost slot receiver/punt returner Alex Erickson in free agency this offseason. Taylor, 27, caught 10 of his 21 targets for 86 yards and no touchdowns in 12 games (one start) for the 49ers last season. The fifth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech in 2017 by the 49ers caught 79 passes on 122 targets for 731 yards and three touchdowns in his three seasons with the team over 41 games (two starts). With Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, Auden Tate and rookie Ja'Marr Chase in the fold, Taylor will be providing receiving depth, so don't expect much in terms of fantasy value.
Free-agent DE Ryan Kerrigan (Football Team) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, May 17.
Free-agent WR Trent Taylor (49ers) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Cincinnati Bengals Monday, May 17.
Chicago Bears QB Andy Dalton will work with the first-team offense when offseason workouts begin even through QB Justin Fields performed well during the rookie minicamp, according to head coach Matt Nagy.
Fantasy Spin: It appears like Dalton will enter training camp as the leading candidate for the starting job, but Fields likely will push for the job. Dalton may begin the season as the starter but probably will lose it to Fields at some point during the season. Fantasy players in most leagues should consider the starting Chicago quarterback as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback.
Free-agent DE Kendall Donnerson (Bengals) signed with the Carolina Panthers Sunday, May 16. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived PK Matt Ammendola, LB Daniel Bituli and DT PJ Johnson.
Free-agent S Lano Hill (Seahawks) agreed to terms with the Carolina Panthers Sunday, May 16, according to a source. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Free-agent RB Troymaine Pope (Chargers), TE Jerell Adams (Lions), CB Antonio Hamilton (Chiefs) and S Curtis Riley (Vikings) agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, May 16. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
Free-agent OG Alex Redmond (Bengals) and CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Cardinals) recently worked out for the New England Patriots, but neither is close to a contract with the Patriots.
Free-agent WR/TE Kelvin Benjamin (Chiefs) signed with the New York Giants Sunday, May 16. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers SS Jordan Whitehead (shoulder) reportedly looks good but may be held out of the team's minicamp in June, according to head coach Bruce Arians. He is recovering from a torn labrum sustained in last season's NFC Championship Game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard (Achilles) is expected to attend mandatory minicamp in early June, according to comments from head coach Bruce Arians. 'Yeah, he's really close now. He looks fantastic working out every day,' Arians said.
Free-agent RB Corey Clement (Eagles) signed an undisclosed contract with the New York Giants Saturday, May 15.