Free Agency Fallout: 2021
Since the first free agent of the 2021 offseason was signed, Twitter has been in a frenzy about how it will affect the dynasty value of players. I have seen some shrewd takes, some very uneducated takes, as well as some very questionable takes. I have examined the ‘big name’ free agent signings and what their new roles mean not only for them but the players that were already there as well. One of the most overlooked aspects of free agent singing is how much a player is getting paid. We can actually get great insight from that because it tells us in an indirect way what the team thinks about that player. Here at Fantasy Scouts, were are extremely fortunate to have so many connections across the league that give us insight into team plans. This helps us present very accurate information to help you get ahead of your league mates and win fantasy championships. If you would like to know more about our inside information, head on over to our Patreon page, patreon.com/fantasyscouts.
Let’s dive in!
Joe Flacco (QB) Eagles – 1 Year, 4M, 3.5M GTD
Stop mocking QBs to the Eagles at 6. Stop projecting a QB to the Eagles at 6. Stop saying the Eagles will take a QB at 6. Jalen Hurts is the QB1 in Philadelphia and in addition to the owner saying he wants to build around Hurts, the Joe Flacco signing confirms this even more.
Let’s break it down. For purposes of discussion, let’s say the Eagles take a QB at 6. Jalen Hurts would then become the backup and Flacco would become the QB3. Paying your QB3 4 million dollars is unheard of it. His contract suggests heavily that he is the backup. So if they draft a QB does Hurts become the QB3 then? He is clearly a better player than Flacco at this point so that doesn’t make sense either. Hurts is going to get his chance and Flacco is a former Super Bowl MVP who has a lot to offer as a mentor.
Jalen Hurts is the QB1 and Joe Flacco is the backup.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB) WFT – 1 Year, 10M, 6M GTD
It has been reported that Taylor Heinicke and Ryan Fitzpatrick will battle it out in camp for the starting gig. Again, if we follow the money it suggests heavily that there will be a season of Fitz-magic in the nation’s capital this year. One thing that Fitzpatrick does well that Alex Smith didn’t do is push the ball down the field. Terry McLaurin gets a big boost with Fitzpatrick at the helm. I do however still have some questions about Curtis Samuel. This was, for the most part, the same staff that he had at Carolina and he wasn’t utilized correctly there. I do expect that he has better results this time around so I am cautiously optimistic. Fitzpatrick is also a very savvy vet and knows exactly where his check-downs are; Antonio Gibson to the moon. JD McKissic still has a role in this offense and will see the field a lot and maybe this year we finally get to see Bryce Love take his first NFL snap.
I like Fitzpatrick to finish as a mid-range QB2.
Andy Dalton (QB) Bears – 1 Year, 10M, Fully GTD
Andy Dalton is the starting QB for the Bears in 2021 and his fully guaranteed 10 million dollars says that. I expect the Bears to be aggressive again in trying to acquire Russell Wilson next offseason but for 2021 the position seems to be set. Andy Dalton is in no way an upgrade over Trubisky so if you own Allen Robinson, I’m sorry. Dalton had a worse QBR last year than Trubisky. The Bears were also reported to have offered Kenny Golladay a 1-year contract to pair with Robinson which makes it unlikely that the Bears plan to trade Robinson while on his tag. Darnell Mooney does get a slight boost in my opinion. He seems to have jumped Anthony Miller for the WR2 spot. David Montgomery’s value doesn’t change for me. The biggest winner is probably Cole Kmet. Dalton is better than Trubisky at seeing the field and understanding where his receivers are. Kmet’s route tree isn’t extensive and he should provide Dalton with a big target/safety blanket over the middle.
The Bears are happy about Andy Dalton…so good for them.
I like Dalton to finish as a back-end QB2.
Mitchell Trubisky (QB) Bills – 1 Year, 2.5M, 2M GTD
The perfect backup for Josh Allen as well as the perfect QB to sit behind and learn. Trubisky is taking the Jameis Winston route and sitting behind Allen this year as the backup to learn. He will take another shot at the market next year and try and land a starting job elsewhere.
Cam Newton (QB) Patriots – 1 Year, 5.1M, 3.5M GTD
This signing is the most interesting of the QB signings in my opinion. We know Cam started hot last year, then he got COVID, and the wheels kind of fell off after that. Looking at his guaranteed money and all the moves the Patriots made this offseason, this is a clear indication that the Patriots are not done attacking the QB position. Many sources around the league still believe that the Patriots will acquire Jimmy Garoppolo from the 49ers. If that doesn’t happen, the expectation is that they will be very aggressive in the draft trying to land one of the top 5 rookie QBs. The Patriots spent a ton of money building up the roster and especially on defense. This is the perfect spot for a rookie QB on a rookie contract to step in and take over. There is no guarantee that Cam will be the week 1 starter.
Kenyan Drake (RB) Raiders – 2 Year, 11M, Fully GTD
Talk about a Josh Jacobs buzz kill. There wasn’t another single signing throughout free agency thus far that has had more of an impact than this one. In his first two NFL seasons, Jacob’s has had fantasy finishes of 21 and 8 respectively. The signing of Drake is sure to put a significant cap on Jacob’s ceiling. Head coach Gruden sees Drake as, “a jack-of-all-trades — a joker, as they say. He’ll figure prominently in the passing game.” His fully guaranteed contract also tells us that he is going to get a significant amount of playing time alongside Jacobs. Remember, Jacobs does not care about your fantasy team and his Instagram posts tell us that. If you can get decent value for Jacobs, I would try and sell but realistically no one is buying right now.
I like both Drake and Jacobs to finish as back-end RB2s.
Chris Carson (RB) Seahawks – 2 Year, 10.4M, 5.5M GTD
Oh, how the Rashaad Penny haters love to see this. Little do they know, this is about to be a full-blown RBBC in Seattle. Pete Carroll can’t stop talking about wanting to run the football and then went out and hired the Rams run-game coordinator as the new OC. Carson has missed or left early due to injury in 14 games over the last 3 seasons. In addition to that, prior to Penny’s injury in 2018, Penny was probably one game away from fully taking away the job from Carson. If you own Chris Carson, you should be nervous. In addition to the high likelihood of this being an RBBC, a fully healthy Rashaad Penny is looking to finally take the RB1 job for himself. Injuries seem to be an issue for both players though so make sure you own DeeJay Dallas as a handcuff.
The Seahawks originally had no plans to bring back Carson but his market was so weak and the opportunity to bring him back for cheap was too good to pass up. One of the things we know about Pete Carroll is that it doesn't matter how much someone is getting paid or what their draft capital was, the better player will start. Chris Carson starting is not a foregone conclusion. This will be a battle for playing time between Carson, Penny, and Dallas.
I like both Carson and Penny to finish as back-end RB2s. Barring injury, Penny has the best chance to seize the starting job at some point this season. The Seahawks staff is still very high on him, believe he can be what they drafted him to be, and he is the only “home run hitter” in the RB room.
If you're curious as to why I am still holding out hope Penny can make an impact, this is my article from last summer. [Common Cents.] Health is the only thing that has stood in his way and going into 2021 he is finally 100%. As much as I like Penny, I understand that this is probably his last year to become fantasy relevant.
Jamaal Williams (RB) Lions – 2 Year, 6M, 3.25M GTD
D’Andre Swift is still the clear-cut RB1 in Detroit. This signing of Williams is to spell Swift from time to time and be able to give him a breather. Williams is a very good football player and he wasn’t just brought in to warm the bench. In fact, I am sure you will find yourself yelling at your TV this season to get Williams out and put Swift in. The signing of Williams though shouldn’t scare you away from Swift. What should scare you is that the Lions now have Goff playing QB and not a single relative WR on the roster. I assume the Lions will address the lack of offensive weapons in the draft but as of today, Swift’s ceiling is capped because opposing teams will stack the boxes.
Carlos Hyde (RB) Jaguars – 2 Year, 4.5M, 1.4M GTD
Do not be mistaken, James Robinson is the clear lead back in Jacksonville. The Fantasy Scouts have it on good authority from a trusted source that the Jaguars view Robinson’s career arc similar to that of Arian Foster’s. Robinson handled 80%+ of the opportunity share last year and a repeat of that is highly unlikely. The Jaguars however were last in the league in rush attempts so even with the addition of Hyde and the probable addition of a rookie in the 4th round, there are plenty of carries to go around. With Trevor Lawrence at the helm, the offense should operate more efficiently and the Jaguars should be in close games more often than last season. I expect Robinson to have a similar workload as he did last year (250 carries or so) and Hyde to handle roughly 65-85 carries.
I like James Robinson to finish as a mid to back-end RB1.
Marlon Mack (RB) Colts – 1 Year, 2M, Fully GTD
After an abrupt ending to his 2020 season (Achilles tear), Mack is re-signing with the Colts for the 2021 season. In the history of the NFL, there have been zero RBs to recover from an Achilles tear and come back to be fantasy relevant. For this RB position, this is a borderline career-ending injury. Mack re-signing doesn’t affect the value of Jonathan Taylor at all. The relationship Taylor built with Mack last offseason was a close one where Mack played a big part as a mentor after he went down. In 2021, I expect more of the same. Mack to help mentor the lead RB Taylor, and Hines to get his fair share of work.
I like Jonathan Taylor to challenge for the overall RB1 finish.
Kenny Golladay (WR) Giants – 4 Year, 72M, 40M GTD
John Ross (WR) Giants – 1 Year, 2.25M, 1M GTD
Daniel Jones finally has a true number one receiver. Will we see a Josh Allen type of leap though? Daniel Jones has the tools to be a good NFL QB he just lacks the consistency of play. Like the Diggs trade to Buffalo last year, this is one of the easiest calls this year. Expect Golladay to get peppered with targets. They didn’t pay him 72M to only get 4-5 targets per game. I expect double-digit targets just about every game and for him to push for a top 14 fantasy finish. With the probable return of Barkley and the addition of John Ross, this offense should be much more open allowing for a lighter box for Saquon, and more 1v1 coverage for Golladay, Ross, Engram, and company. Something Daniel Jones likes to do is throw the ball into tight windows and over the course of the last two years, Golladay has been the best-contested catch WR in the league.
John Ross is a very good football player. Unfortunately for him, he was over-drafted and has been riddled with injuries thus far in his career. If he can stay on the field, he is a legitimate threat to score every time he touches the ball. He should quickly ascend to the WR2 on the depth chart and is the perfect dart throw in fantasy. Even though we haven’t seen it and as improbable as it is, John Ross still has a WR1 finish in his range out outcomes. He is that talented. I wouldn’t count on that kind of finish but with a player like him you are chasing upside and Ross has plenty of it.
Corey Davis (WR) Jets – 3 Year, 37.5M, 27M GTD
On the surface, this is a move to get excited about but when you peel back the layers it becomes much less appealing. Whether it’s a rookie QB or Sam Darnold again, Corey Davis has to see Stephon Gillmore, Tre’Davious White, and Xavien Howard a combined 6 times a year. Corey Davis has the talent but when you factor in who will be playing QB and the shadow coverage he will be facing, his situation becomes much less appealing.
He should be viewed a bench depth and nothing more.
Curtis Samuel (WR) WFT – 3 Year, 34.5M, ? GTD
Refer to Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Marvin Jones (WR) Jaguars – 2 Year, 12.5M, 9M GTD
One of the biggest points of emphasis for the Jaguars this offseason was to add speed and boy did they do that. The trio of Jones, Dorsett, and Agnew brings the speed of a 4x1 relay squad. Jones however will be the only one that is truly fantasy relevant and he could be the WR2 soon. The Jaguars are in fact shopping DJ Chark. They don’t plan to bring him back beyond 2021 and they are trying to get compensation now instead of letting him walk for free next offseason. If for some reason they aren’t able to move him, I expect him to be the WR2 behind Laviska Shenault.
Jones, Chark, and Shenault are all perimeter WRs, so moving Chark makes sense after the Jones signing otherwise someone is playing out of position or not on the field at all.
Right now Jones should be viewed as a depth piece until we have a clearer picture of DJ Chark’s future. However, with Trevor Lawrence in town, there is a lot of excitement to be had about the upside of this WR room.
Will Fuller (WR) Dolphins – 1 Year, 10.6M, Fully GTD
This is a much better real-life football move than it is for fantasy. One of the biggest issues I had with Tua last year was his lack of confidence to push the ball down the field. Going into 2021, we can hope that he becomes more confident but we still have to temper expectations. Will Fuller thrives off of deep balls and post routes so if Tua doesn’t push the ball down the field, Fuller won’t be all that fantasy relevant. I’m sure he will still have some boom games but he won’t be as consistent as you would like to see in your WR1/2. Temper expectations.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR) Steelers – 1 Year, 8M, 7M GTD
It seemed like it was a forgone conclusion that JuJu Smith-Schuster would not return to the Steelers but his market value was weaker than anticipated. He did have offers from other teams but he opted to return home for at least one more season. Even with him returning, this offense is going to change. Claypool is clearly the best WR on the roster and to assume he will automatically slide back into the WR3 role is silly. Claypool is an emerging superstar and I fully expect him to be the Steelers WR1 this year and beyond. Diontae will be the WR2 and JuJu will slide into the slot/WR3 role. One of the biggest priorities for the Steelers this offseason was to shore up the offensive line and run the game. Assuming they make a dramatic adjustment to that, there won’t be as many passes to go around. The passing game will funnel through Claypool and Diontae with JuJu and Ebron picking up the rest. I also wouldn’t rule out that JuJu gets moved at or before the trade deadline. He would only be owed 1M by the acquiring team.
I like JuJu to finish as a back-end WR3.
Jonnu Smith (TE) Patriots – 4 Year, 50M, 31.25M GTD
Hunter Henry (TE) Patriots – 3 Year, 37.5M, 25M GTD
Whoa. Not one, but both of the top free agent TEs signed with the Patriots. With both Smith and Henry there, it’s hard to envision either of them finishing in the top 12. I think they both finish in the 14-20 range but one of the two should emerge as the primary guy over the other. After the signing of Smith, coach Belichick specifically mentioned how the Titans played him at running back from time to time and really like his versatility. Smith has the ability to line up in the backfield, at TE, in the slot, and can play the X. I would anticipate Smith to be used as a weapon all over the field and Henry to play the more traditional TE role.
Gerald Everett (TE) Seahawks – 1 Year, 6M, ? GTD
Another good real-life football move and a who cares fantasy move (for now).
The only Seahawks TE that has any appeal to me is Colby Parkinson. He looks like he’s going to get a legitimate shot this year to make an impact. Since Carroll took over in 2010, he has never used or properly implemented a TE into the passing offense. He has used them as primarily blockers for his run-heavy approach and I don’t think Everett is going to be used any differently. According to a report from The Athletic, Will Dissly is still the TE1 in Seattle. He is a much better blocker than Everett and because of that, he will see a significant snap share. Everett should be the primary pass-catching TE but in an offense that wants to run the ball and has DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, I think you will end up chasing fantasy points that don’t exist.
Parkinson is interesting to me because of all the TEs Seattle has had, the only one that made any real impact was Jimmy Graham. Even when he was with the Seahawks, his usage was suspect. I wrote an article last year entitled, The TE1 of Stashes, in which I wrote that there is a chance Parkinson could be the next Jimmy Graham.
For an offense that doesn’t really feature the TE a lot, I’ll pass on Everett and grab Parkinson with my fingers crossed.