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 Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed first-round outside linebacker Joe Tryon to his four-year rookie contract on Tuesday. Tryon was taken 32nd overall in the first round of this year's NFL draft out of the University of Washington. He opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns around COVID-19, but he managed to record eight sacks in college in 2019. Depending on how ready Tryon is for the NFL after taking a year off, he's an exciting pass-rusher off the edge that could become an impact player right away for an improving Buccaneers defense. He has the size and strength to be a full-time pass-rusher, but he also has the technique to drop into coverage if asked to do so. If not for the fact that he didn't play at all in 2020, he might've been long gone at pick No. 32.
Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has been impressed with rookie running back Chris Evans so far this offseason. "He's got the most natural hands for a running back that I've ever been around," Callahan said. Evans was selected with the 202nd overall pick in this year's NFL draft out of Michigan. While the 23-year-old has the physical skills, he doesn't have a ton of experience. He probably won't be anything more than a late-round flier in much deeper fantasy leagues, but he could be dangerous in this offense eventually, especially in point-per-reception formats. Evans is obviously a much more attractive dynasty/keeper piece, but if Joe Mixon misses extended time with injury, there's definitely a path for Evans to find some relevant single-year appeal in a rising Bengals offense.
Free-agent wide receiver Golden Tate remains available on the open market after being released by the New York Giants following two disappointing seasons. The 32-year-old hasn't received much interest, but he wants to continue playing and mentioned the Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Rams as three teams he'd be interested in joining. Tate wouldn't mind reuniting with quarterback Matthew Stafford in LA after enjoying three 1,000-yard seasons with Stafford in Detroit. The veteran wideout caught just 35 of 53 targets for 388 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games (four starts) for New York in 2020. He was benched at one point and dealt with a calf injury, so Tate will have to prove he's worth a spot on fantasy rosters again if he signs with a new team.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark was arrested in Los Angeles on Sunday after police saw a submachine gun in his car. Officers noticed a bag with an Uzi sticking out in plain sight in the car, and Clark was then arrested on suspicion of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle. He was booked into an LA county jail and released Monday on $35,000 bond. "We are aware of the matter, which will be reviewed under the NFL's personal conduct policy," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. The 28-year-old pass-rusher spent the first four seasons of his career with the Seattle Seahawks before being traded to the Chiefs in 2019. Clark has been a Pro Bowler each of the last two years with KC, so any suspension would be bad news for the Chiefs defense. He has 49 sacks in 91 career games, including 14 total in the last two seasons.
Minnesota Vikings rookie defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman was shot four times on Monday while visiting an aunt in Washington D.C. "Wrong place, wrong time," said his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. "In talking to him today, he's going to be OK - that's all that matters. We're thankful he's OK. He will make a full recovery." The 21-year-old suffered superficial exit wounds and will not need to have surgery. The Vikings selected Twyman with the 199th overall pick back in May. He was the first interior defensive lineman to lead Pittsburgh in sacks when he had 10.5 in 2019 since Aaron Donald achieved the feat six years earlier. Twyman opted out of the 2020 season in college due to concerns over COVID-19.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Frank Clark was reportedly arrested for felony possession of a concealed firearm in a vehicle Sunday, June 20. He was released on bond Monday, June 21.
Arizona Cardinals rookie linebacker Zaven Collins, who was the No. 16 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, was arrested on Sunday for excessive speed and reckless driving, according to the Scottsdale Police Department. The 22-year-old was observed going 76 mph in a 35-mph zone in Scottsdale, Ariz. Collins signed his fully guaranteed four-year rookie deal with Arizona on June 8 and is expected to start right away in 2021. The All-American from Tulsa is a big and physical presence in the middle of the field. Despite his size, he moves smoothly and is great in zone coverage. Although he shouldn't be considered a sideline-to-sideline linebacker, Collins has excellent closing speed and change-of-direction ability. It's not a great start to his rookie campaign, but Collins should pair nicely with last year's first-rounder, Isaiah Simmons.
Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Tyron Smith (neck), Zack Martin (calf, concussion) and La'el Collins (hip) didn't do much on-field work during spring practices, but all three are expected to be full participants when training camp begins at the end of July. The trio combined to miss 36 games in a lost 2020 season. The Cowboys were forced to use 13 different offensive line combinations a year ago without Smith, Martin and Collins. Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick also retired. Smith hasn't played a full season since 2015, but he said his injury is no longer something he's worried about. Collins said he's dropped around 10 pounds and is moving around fine. With these three linemen back healthy, Dallas' offensive line has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL, which is obviously great news for running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020, said the team's new offense under coordinator Joe Lombardi puts a lot more on his plate. "It's pretty similar. I think there are just more personnel [groups], more formations and a lot more put on the quarterback with going up to the line of scrimmage," Herbert said. The sky is the limit for Herbert, but it's not easy for a young signal-caller to have to learn a whole new offense in just his second season. It might be a lot to expect Herbert to make another big jump in Year 2 after throwing 31 touchdowns in 2020. The 23-year-old is one of the best young QBs to own in dynasty/keeper leagues, but he should be more of a low-end QB1 target in single-year leagues in 2021.
Baltimore Ravens WR Sammy Watkins was the best receiver at the team's minicamp as he made several contested grabs. QB Lamar Jackson said it's fun to throw to Watkins.
Fantasy Spin: Watkins hasn't been able to stay healthy and has one 1,000-yard season in his seven-year career. He could still be worth a WR4/5 flyer, but the upside isn't there for much more.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay couldn't be more happy with the team's new quarterback, Matthew Stafford. "Bro, this dude's a bad MF-er," McVay said, laughing. "Whatever people say about him, as good as it can be, he's even better than advertised. It makes sense to him. The guy's ability to see the game, his ability to draw on his experiences, the feel that he has, it's pretty special and unique. And man, his feel for people, his authentic way of connecting with his teammates, his coaches, this guy, it's great being around him." The 33-year-old was often undervalued while with the Detroit Lions, but now he has higher expectations with a much better supporting cast around him. Health is a concern, but Stafford is an excellent selection as a QB1 with upside after the bigger names at the position come off the board.
New York Jets LB C.J. Mosley, who opted out last season and played two partial games in 2019 due to injury, has looked slimmer and quicker in practices this offseason.
New York Jets WR Keelan Cole 'will be in the wide receiver rotation' following an impressive minicamp, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Jamal Agnew will likely handle both kick and punt return duties this season, according to Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com.
Free-agent RB Todd Gurley (Falcons) would be the No. 3 running back if he signs with the Detroit Lions behind RBs D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, according to the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett
Cleveland Browns WR Rashard Higgins (undisclosed) missed the last two days of minicamp because of a undisclosed injury. The injury is considered minor.
New Orleans Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith has been working out with QB Jameis Winston on a regular basis this offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Smith is in line for a bigger role this season and likely will be one of the starting receivers for the Saints. He has played well at times over the last few years and can be a deep threat option in the passing game. Fantasy players can consider him a No. 4 or No. 5 receiver.
Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson said he is open to playing on the one-year franchise tag this season. He said there is no news regarding a long-term contract with the Bears.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson has been one of the top receivers in the NFL over the last few seasons and will continue to be the main focus in the passing game for Chicago. He is a weekly must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
Free-agent PK Stephen Gostkowski (Titans) is interested in continuing his career.