Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
A Look at the Winners (and Losers) of NFL Free-Agency (Fantasy Relevant)
Arguably one of the greatest NFL Free-Agencies in recent memory kicked off a few weeks ago, and we saw some great, and awful, signings. We know WHO got signed and to what kind of deal, but how do these signings affect the players around them? Let’s take a look at the biggest winners and losers of NFL Free Agency and what these moves mean to them so far.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins
I’ve always believed in Tua, and I won’t get into it but if you haven’t read my very first Fantasy Scouts article I suggest doing so. I could write thousands of articles as to why Tua is going to be a top 10 asset in 2QB/SF leagues, but I’m here to talk about how he’s a winner in free agency. Miami stayed quiet for the first portion of Free Agency as the top WR free agents were getting signed left and right, and I was getting frustrated. Of course, until Miami signed Will Fuller V to a 1-year prove-it deal. In 2020, Miami’s receivers were dead last in average separation, and bottom-5 in YAC, both of these things Fuller does EXTREMELY well. A full off-season to actually focus on any and everything other than his career-threatening injury along with having an actual receiver is a huge boost for Tagovailoa.
Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Not even father-time can stop Tom Brady, and Tampa Bay has done an excellent job of further delaying the inevitable. They did so by keeping their entire 2020 SB Roster intact, resigning Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, and Lombardi Lenny (Fournette). There’s honestly not much to say here, Tom has Godwin, Gronk, Evans, Fournette, ROJO, and even a young and promising Tyler Johnson.
Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants
Honestly, 2020 was a good off-season for Jones in the long run, as Joe Judge has proved to be a likable coach who seems to be moving the team in the right direction. What New York was missing was that IT factor on offense once Saquan went down, and now they got it and his name is Kenny Golladay. Saquan will be back, yes, but even then they still lacked an elite, or even reliable, weapon on the outside. The entire Giants organization came away as a winner so far, and I really like all fantasy-relevant players moving forward.
Cam Newton, QB, New England
Deny it all you want, but New England made A LOT of moves this off-season. Were they the best moves? Absolutely not, but they upgraded the weapons for Newton nonetheless. I want nothing to do with the TE situation in New England even though both Henry and Smith are phenomenal TE’s, but having those two is a HUGE boost for Newton who’s leading weapon in 2020 was Jakobi Meyers.
Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers
(Picture Credit: Carolina Panthers / LOWES)
When news broke of New York trading Darnold to Carolina for a 2021 6th, a 2022 2nd, and a 2022 4th I smiled. Darnold has good arm talent and is still extremely young. Carolina exercised his 5th-year option immediately, almost guaranteeing him 2 more years of being a starter. Going from one of the worst teams in the NFL and being freed from Adam Gase’s bind is extremely healthy for Darnold’s development. He also goes from his WR1 being Jamison Crowder to DJ Moore and reconnecting with Robby Anderson in a much better, QB-friendly system. He immediately jumps a few spots in my rankings, but nothing crazy.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans
I feel like this one isn’t as discussed as it should be. Now, Tannehill is a phenomenal QB, and I have no doubt that he’ll still be a top 10-12 QB this year, but free agency has not been kind to him. We all saw it coming, but the departure of Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis definitely stung for Tannehill. Davis had the infamous 5th-year breakout one year early and proved his worth as he signed a 2-year deal with the Jets, and Smith went on to form a nice, but fantasy devastating, TE duo in NE with Hunter Henry. Losing any of your weapons is never fun, but losing two top options is heartbreaking. Don’t fade Tannehill as he’s still the Bobby Trees of QB’s, but just expect less from him barring they don’t address their need for WR/TE in the draft.
Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions
(Picture Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea)
The moment Goff was traded to Detroit he had lost. Not only was he traded to the Lions, a franchise infamous for being run into the ground year after year, but he went from having Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and really anybody with a halfway memorable name to having Quintez Cephus and Breshard Perriman, First, he gets traded, and then both Kenny G and Marvin Jones tell Detroit to kick rocks. Sure, he still has Hockenson and Swift, but that’s still not nearly as good as he had it in LA.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Carolina Panthers
Luckily I didn’t finish this article before the trade happened, but with the addition of Sam Darnold and Carolina immediately expressing his 5th-year option AND news breaking that Carolina is working to restructure Bridgewater’s contract in case they can’t trade him makes Bridgewater’s future look extremely murky.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
Jones returns to GB where he has posted back-to-back top 5 fantasy finishes behind a very strong and capable OL while playing alongside one of the greatest QBs of all time. Not only that, but Williams signed elsewhere (Detroit) which leaves just AJ Dillion to vulture touches from Jones. Luckily, Jones has never needed 70%+ of snaps to be productive, and he’s able to do so on 50%. So even if AJD takes 50% of touches, Jones will continue his reign of dominance in Green Bay.
AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers
It’s funny I put him on this list because I was one of the first to laugh at Dillon truthers when Jones resigned. I didn’t laugh because Dillon will see a similar role to last year, but because everyone jumped the gun on Jones signing elsewhere and acted as if Dillon was the locked RB1. Dillon is a winner because of the departure of Williams, which catapults AJD into the RB2 role in GB. Dillon is a good player and will make use of the snaps he’s given.
James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
(Picture Credit: Sam Greenwood)
Everyone wanted Robinson to fail for whatever reason and everyone who didn’t believe panicked when Jacksonville said they wanted to add to their RB room. Why would they trust Devine Ozigbo and whoever else they have behind Robinson? Everyone forgot that Robinson had a top 10 season and Jacksonville currently has him for pennies on the dollar. They only brought in Carlos Hyde, who isn’t exactly a fantasy killer, and they’ll be drafting Trevor Lawrence come April. The best part is for some reason, Robinson still isn’t treated as an RB who’s extremely young and coming off of a top-10 fantasy season, so he’s still dirt cheap just like his contract.
Literally Any and Every Houston RB
Houston is an absolute dumpster fire and is the new laughing stock of the NFL. I was LOVING DJ at his price pre-free agency. Now that they’ve brought in Mark Ingram AND Phillip Lindsay I’m absolutely out on all Houston RB’s for 2021. This is the situation Robinson-deniers were expecting to happen to Jacksonville.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
Just when I start to think that there are absolutely zero chances for Mayock and Gruden to continue to mess everything up they prove me wrong. It started with some noise-creating OL changes, but it fully amassed the moment the Raiders, who have a lot of needs but running backs aren’t one of them, signed Kenyan Drake. Last year before the season I was calling Josh Jacobs a top-10 redraft AND dynasty back, and now he’s my RB17. It isn’t just solely based on the fact that they brought in Drake either, but that move is just another sign of incompetence in the Raider's front-office and coaching staff. They will never utilize Jacobs like a 3-down back who is extremely talented in the passing game. Their lack of competence in the running department has completely made me jump ship on Jacobs, and that pains me to say.
Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I didn’t pound the table for ROJO in 2020 like some people, but I was still an avid believer. I still am, but after resigning Fournette and Arians coming public with the RB situation saying they don’t have a starter (Or rather saying he doesn’t know who the starter is) AND saying that he likes Vaughn and that he hasn’t been forgotten it’s hard to trust ROJO. Trust the skill, yes. Don’t trust the system. Arians has been nefarious for being a part of the “RB’s don’t matter” club.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team
FITZMAGIIIIIIIC! For the first time in his short career, F1 finally has a QB who can and will get him the ball on a consistent basis. Not only that, but Washington added a true WR2 in Curtis Samuel alongside McLaurin. Samuel will demand attention and help stretch the field, Gibson will be Gibson and of course will demand attention, and Fitzmagic will sling the ball wherever he pleases.
DJ Moore and Robby Anderson, WR’s, Carolina Panthers
Sam Darnold isn’t exactly the QB Carolina fans had in mind, as they were hoping for a DeShaun Watson trade OR to draft Trey Lance/Mac Jones/Justin Fields, but it’s certainly an upgrade in Teddy Bridgewater. Now, 2020 was a poor example of this being an upgrade, as Bridgewater was better than Darnold in every statistical category, but that’s not comparing apples to apples given Darnold’s situation. I believe Darnold is a better QB than Bridgewater, and while a lot of fans won’t see it, these two become instant winners and the perfect buy-low candidates.
Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans
Say it with me, Jameis Winston is going to be the Saints starting QB in 2021. Good. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans were both top-10 WR’s in 2019 while Jameis was playing half-blind and throwing as many interceptions as touchdowns. After a year of sitting behind Brees and getting LASIK, I believe that Winston will be better in 2021, which only makes Michael Thomas at his current asking price an absolute steal.
(Picture Credit: Douglas DeFelice)
Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, WR’s, Los Angeles Rams
Goodbye Jared Goff, Hello Matthew Stafford! Stafford is one of the most underrated and underappreciated quarterbacks in the National Football League, and he’s a much-needed upgrade over Jared Goff. Realistically any pass-catcher or running back is a winner with this trade, but especially Bobby Trees and Little Cooper Kupp.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
I admire JuJu’s loyalty, but what was he thinking? One of the most sought-after WR Free Agents on the market and he signs a one-year deal with Pittsburgh? Not only will Claypool take a year-2 leap, but it was obvious that DJ was the #1 option in 2020, and it’s only going to continue to be that way. That’s not even the worst part, Big Ben being back is. Big Ben is an all-time great, but even Brees knew it was time to hang it up. Ben looked awful last year, especially towards the end.
Every Houston WR
Watson’s career as a Texan is as good as done. If he doesn’t get traded he’s willing to sit out, which leaves every Texan receiver left with Tyrod Taylor - an obvious downgrade. I love Brandin Cooks and he’s been one of the most consistent, underrated receivers these last few years, but not even his skill can save him from the dumpster fire that is Houston.
(Picture Credit: Houston Texans)
Of course, there are plenty of other names who could have been listed, but the ones I didn’t mention are really just lateral-type transactions. By this I mean the needle didn’t move for me, and they’re still in the same spot they were rankings-wise for me. The likes of Golladay and Fuller who have obvious downgrades in QB play (Tua is still my guy, but he is yet to be anywhere close to Watson) aren’t losers to me, because I believe both QB’s will take leaps this year and beyond. They are more of the lateral transactions I mentioned, but definitely two players who should be on your radar heading into 2020 at the discounted price.