• Andy Will

Free Agent Summary & 2021 Notable Names To Watch

Twitter: @ScottWill2909



Over the last month or so, we have had a look back over the previous few years to find out what has happened to free agents directly before and after they have moved teams. We broke down positions and looked at them individually in separate articles. This piece will summarise what we have found and then look into 2021 and the players who have signed for a new franchise since the market opened.

2018


Running Backs-


29 of the top 120 running backs (in terms of fantasy ½ PPR scoring) became free agents following the 2017 season. We can see the breakdown below. In the past articles, we placed the players into groupings depending on where they finished the fantasy season. For example, if a player finished between RB 1-12, he would be in the first group, between 13-24 would be the second group, etc., all the way down to RB 120. If a running back finished in a higher group (thus meaning they gained fantasy value) the following season, they were placed in green. Any loss of value would mean red. Staying within the same grouping was black, and if the player did not play the following season for whatever reason (for example, season-ending injury or retirement), they would be in blue.

  • Total free agents within top 120 RB’s- 29

  • Total players who gained value and moved up at least one grouping- 3 (10.3%)

  • Total players who lost value and moved down at least one grouping- 10 (34.5%)

  • Total players who stayed within the same grouping- 3 (10.3%)

  • Total players who did not play the following season- 13 (44.8%)


Wide Receivers-


Using the same format as we can see above from the running backs breakdown, we will do the same for the receivers.

  • Total free agents within top 120 WR’s- 38

  • Total players who gained value and moved up at least one grouping- 5 (13.2%)

  • Total players who lost value and moved down at least one grouping- 21 (55.3%)

  • Total players who stayed within the same grouping- 3 (7.9%)

  • Total players who did not play the following season- 9 (23.7%)


Tight ends-


We decided to do something slightly different with the tight end position. Since the position is shallower than the running backs and wide receivers, we only went into the top 72 players, and this meant six groupings rather than the ten were used,

  • Total free agents within top 72 TE’s- 19

  • Total players who gained value and moved up at least one grouping- 3 (15.8%)

  • Total players who lost value and moved down at least one grouping- (7 36.8%)

  • Total players who stayed within the same grouping- 2 (10.5%)

  • Total players who did not play the following season- 7 (36.8%)


Quarterbacks-


The quarterbacks were put in four groupings for the top 48.

  • Total free agents within top 48 QBs- 11

  • Total players who gained value and moved up at least one grouping- 0 (0.00%)

  • Total players who lost value and moved down at least one grouping- 4 (36.4%)

  • Total players who stayed within the same grouping- 2 (18.2%)

  • Total players who did not play the following season- 5 (45.5%)


2018 Free Agent Summary-


97 players finished with some fantasy relevance and moved to a new team following the 2017 season. Of these ninety-seven players, only 11 (or 11.3%) moved into a higher grouping (three running backs, five wide receivers, and three tight ends). A much higher percentage of players dropped in value following their move. 42 (43.3%) players moved into a lower grouping at their position (ten running backs, twenty-one wide receivers, seven tight ends, and four quarterbacks). 10 (10.3%) players held their value following their move (three running backs, three wide receivers, two tight ends, and two quarterbacks). In comparison, 34 (35.1%) did not play in 2018 due to various reasons, such as injury, suspension, and retirement (thirteen running backs, nine wide receivers, seven tight ends, and five quarterbacks).


Notable Free Agents-

  • Running backs- Carlos Hyde, Jerick McKinnon, Dion Lewis, CJ Anderson, Frank Gore, DeMarco Murray.

  • Wide Receivers- Dez Bryant, Michael Crabtree, Sammy Watkins, Jordy Nelson

  • Tight Ends- Jimmy Graham, Eric Ebron, Benjamin Watson, Julius Thomas

  • Quarterbacks- Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum

2019

Running Backs-

  • Total free agents within top 120 RBs- 34

  • Total players who gained value and moved up at least one grouping- 4 (11.8%)

  • Total players who lost value and moved down at least one grouping- 12 (35.3%)

  • Total players who stayed within the same grouping- 4 (11.8%)

  • Total players who did not play the following season- 14 (41.2%)


Wide Receivers-

  • Total free agents within top 120 WRs- 34

  • Total players who gained value and moved up at least one grouping- 8 (23.5%)

  • Total players who lost value and moved down at least one grouping- 22 (64.7%)

  • Total players who stayed within the same grouping- 1 (2.9%)

  • Total players who did not play the following season- 3 (8.8%)


Tight Ends-

  • Total free agents within top 72 TEs- 16

  • Total players who gained value and moved up at least one grouping- 4 (25%)

  • Total players who lost value and moved down at least one grouping- 7 (43.8%)

  • Total players who stayed within the same grouping- 3 (18.8%)

  • Total players who did not play the following season- 2 (12.5%)


Quarterbacks-

  • Total free agents within top 48 QBs- 8

  • Total players who gained value and moved up at least one grouping- 1 (12.5%)

  • Total players who lost value and moved down at least one grouping- 4 (50%)

  • Total players who stayed within the same grouping- 0 (0.0%)

  • Total players who did not play the following season- 3 (37.5%)


2019 Free Agent Summary-


Players finished with some fantasy relevance and moved to a new team following the 2018 season. Of these ninety-two players, only 17 (or 18.5%) moved into a higher grouping (four running backs, eight wide receivers, four tight ends, one quarterback). A much higher percentage of players dropped in value following their move. 45 (48.9%) players moved into a lower grouping at their position (twelve running backs, twenty-two wide receivers, seven tight ends, four quarterbacks). 8 (8.7%) players held their value following their move (four running backs, one wide receiver, three tight ends). In comparison, 22 (23.9%) did not play in 2018 due to various reasons, such as injury, suspension, and retirement (fourteen running backs, three wide receivers, two tight ends, three quarterbacks).


Notable Free Agents-

  • Running Backs- Kareem Hunt, Le’Veon Bell, Tevin Coleman, Mark Ingram, Latavius Murray

  • Wide Receivers- Antonio Brown, Golden Tate, Tyrell Williams, John Brown, Cole Beasley, Demaryius Thomas

  • Tight ends- Jared Cook, Jesse James, Darren Fells, Ryan Griffin

  • Quarterbacks- Nick Foles, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor

2020

Running Backs-

  • Total free agents within top 120 RBs- 36

  • Total players who gained value and moved up at least one grouping- 3 (8.3%)

  • Total players who lost value and moved down at least one grouping- 25 (69.4%)

  • Total players who stayed within the same grouping- 3 (8.3%)

  • Total players who did not play the following season- 5 (13.9%)


Wide Receivers-

  • Total free agents within top 120 WRs- 24

  • Total players who gained value and moved up at least one grouping- 2 (8.3%)

  • Total players who lost value and moved down at least one grouping- 15 (62.5%)

  • Total players who stayed within the same grouping- 0 (0.0%)

  • Total players who did not play the following season- 7 (29.2%)


Running Backs-

  • Total free agents within top 72 TEs- 17

  • Total players who gained value and moved up at least one grouping- 3 (17.7%)

  • Total players who lost value and moved down at least one grouping- 9 (52.9%)

  • Total players who stayed within the same grouping- 0 (0.0%)

  • Total players who did not play the following season- 5 (29.4%)


Quarterbacks-

  • Total free agents within top 48 QBs- 14

  • Total players who gained value and moved up at least one grouping- 1 (7.1%)

  • Total players who lost value and moved down at least one grouping- 7 (50.0%)

  • Total players who stayed within the same grouping- 4 (28.6%)

  • Total players who did not play the following season- 2 (14.3%)


2020 Free Agent Summary-


91 players finished with some fantasy relevance and moved to a new team following the 2018 season. Of these ninety-two players, only 9 (or 9.9%) moved into a higher grouping (three running backs, two wide receivers, three tight ends, one quarterback). A much higher percentage of players dropped in value following their move. 56 (61.5%) players moved into a lower grouping at their position (twenty-five running backs, 15 wide receivers, nine tight ends, seven quarterbacks). 7 (7.7%) players held their value following their move (three running backs, four quarterbacks). In comparison, 19 (20.9%) did not play in 2018 due to various reasons, such as injury, suspension, and retirement (five running backs, seven wide receivers, five tight ends, two quarterbacks).


Notable Free Agents-

  • Running backs- Adrian Peterson, Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Devonta Freeman.

  • Wide Receivers- Emmanuel Sanders, Randall Cobb, Robby Anderson

  • Tight Ends- Austin Hooper, Jason Witten, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Eric Ebron

  • Quarterbacks- Tom Brady, Jameis Winston, Philip Rivers


What are the combined numbers?-

We have just gone through the key numbers from the past three seasons. Unfortunately, it does not make the best viewing for free agents over recent history. There was a combined total of 280 free agents that met the levels we were looking for to be included in the recent articles. However, 143 of these players dropped in value, while 75 of these players did not play the following year. This means that 77.9% (or 218 players) did not improve or hold their value the year after a team change in free agency. In addition, no free agent running back or wide receiver held an RB1 or WR1 place the following year, while two tight ends (Jared Cook and Eric Ebron) and Tom Brady managed to hold onto their TE1 and QB1 rankings.


Of the top three groups at each position (the groups which had the most fantasy value), there were a total of 63 players who finished between 1st and 36th. Only 14 players managed to hold their value within these positions.

Looking Forward-


Further down the page, we will close by looking at a list of the free agents who finished within our values. This list is accurate as of the 16th of June, 2021. However, there is plenty of time for teams to make more moves with the free agents currently left on the market. If the trend from the previous three years is to continue, then we must be careful around free agents the year after they sign for a new team, especially in redraft leagues.

RBs-

Tevin Coleman finished just outside the required ranking to be included in the above table (123). In addition, Damien Williams did not play in 2020 but has also become a free agent.


WRs-

Tyrell Williams did not play in 2020, while Mohamed Sanu, Chris Moore, John Ross, Kalif Raymond, Robert Foster, Pharoh Cooper, Bennie Fowler, Taiwan Taylor, Deandre Carter, Trent Taylor, Brandon Powell, Tyler Simmons and Tajae Sharpe all finished outside of the top 120 WR.


TEs-

Cethan Carter, Chris Manhertz, Josh Hill, Antony Auclair, Jeremy Sprinkle, Blake Bell, Ross Travis, Eric Saubert, Deon Yelder, Cole Hikuntini all finished outside the top 72 tight ends.


QBs-

Tyrod Taylor, Jacoby Brissett, Mitchell Trubisky, Tim Boyle, A.J McCarron, Colt McCoy, Chase Daniels, Nate Sudfield, Kurt Benkert, Jacob Dolegala all finished outside of the top 48 quarterbacks.

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