Nick Mimi @nmimi
2021 Fantasy Football Free Agency Review
The heart of Free Agency has come and gone and we are in the driver’s seat in NFL Draft season. However, now with many big names changing places and drastic changes, we have to evaluate the new landing spots for players and the fantasy implications with it. Granted, some of these could change in the draft. Rookie RBs are drafted and immediately skyrocket in draft season. With that said, here is a list of new signees on their new teams, and what impacts they could have.
While offensive linemen do not put up traditional fantasy points, they will greatly help the production by protecting their QB. Kansas City experienced just that in the Super Bowl with Mahomes running on nearly every play. The Chiefs went out and made a huge splash with Joe Thuney. Thuney is one of, if not the best, guards in the NFL. This will give Mahomes more time to throw, and improve the running game with CEH as well.
The Chargers improved on their line as well by adding Corey Linsley as their starting center. LA needs to protect Herbert and this is a big boost for them. Stock up also on the Austin Ekeler.
We saw a few signings with teams who already have the RB1 established. Jacksonville added Carlos Hyde to pair with James Robinson. Hyde has issues staying healthy so I don’t see this majorly affecting Robinson, but it’s something to monitor if Robinson were to get injured. Hyde would become an RB1 add.
James Conner took all the helium out of the Chase Edmonds RB1 hype. Connor when healthy is an RB1 himself. It’ll be interesting to see how Arizona plays this out. I feel a true 50/50 split here, but I would be adding Edmonds wherever he falls because Conner just has not proven he can remain healthy.
Phillip Lindsay is heading to Houston. A very good sign by the Texans to add the speedy back. Lindsay provides some nice upside to Houston. Mark Ingram also signed with Houston this offseason. I am picking up Lindsay where I can. I view him as a low-end RB2/Flex at his current value.
Kenyon Drake signed with the Raiders. This raises a red flag in my book for Josh Jacobs. Drake could easily take carries away from Josh Jacobs, and is something to keep an eye on. I’m fading Jacobs with this news, but he’s still a borderline RB1/2.
Jamaal Williams signed with the Lions, and the entire Fantasy football industry is hoping this doesn’t affect the D’Andre Swift breakout season. Williams didn’t make a huge dent into Aaron Jones’ fantasy value, and I don’t see it here either.
Devontae Booker landed with the Giants as insurance to Saquan Barkley. Barkley is expected to make a full return, but this is a situation to keep an eye on. If you want a backup to Barkley, Booker is a nice late add.
Tevin Coleman signed with the Jets, and he already knows the system being put into place. If healthy, Coleman is a nice RB flier late. The Jets are likely drafting an RB which will probably put a dent into Coleman’s fantasy value.
The Bears' crowded backfield just became more cloudy. Damien Williams has signed. David Montgomery seemed to take a step forward last year, and I still think he produces RB2 value. Damien is a nice add late, and people forget he was productive when he played. Sneaky good sign by the Bears.
Mike Davis signed with the Falcons and is currently the starter on paper. The Falcons are likely drafting an RB at some point, so consider Davis a low-end play on that alone. Davis did great filling in for CMC last year and helped a ton of teams in fantasy. Again, it’s a wait-and-see approach with this backfield with the draft.
Matt Brieda just made the Buffalo backfield a mess. Zach Moss was a hyped all last offseason to be the next back in Buffalo, and Devin Singletary’s stock takes a hit a bit too.
Singletary has the potential to be an RB1 but the more backs added by Buffalo makes this a messy situation. Singletary may not get the workload to merit an RB2 status. We could be looking at a flex play at best here.
Giovani Bernard signed with the defending champion Buccaneers. I don’t see a ton of value here yet as it seemed last year they were going off many different backs. Between Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, and Bernard, I would not expect a clear picture right away.
The big WR offseason sign was Kenny Golladay to the Giants. Daniel Jones has his WR1 and now has the chance to breakout. The Giants are in prime position to draft Devonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle on draft night and could help Jones even more. Jones is a nice addition for a breakout, and Golladay seems to be on track to put up high-end WR2 numbers.
Corey Davis signed a deal with the Jets and becomes the WR1 there. Keelan Cole also signed with the team, but I don’t see a big fantasy impact there. With the Jets set to draft Zach Wilson and change to the 49er offense, we could see some sneaky value with Davis. I’d treat him as a Flex play as he has to compete with Mims and Crowder for targets.
Curtis Samuel signed with the Washington Football Team. First thoughts are does this take away Terry’s targets. It’ll be interesting to see what they do, and it’s hard to gauge until we see what their draft plans are. I think they take a QB early, but as of now, I treat Samuel as a low-end WR2. Terry remains a borderline WR1/low-end 2. Adam Humphries also signed with Washington, but I don’t see him making that much of an impact after Terry and Samuel.
Lamar Jackson finally got a WR sign in Sammy Watkins. Watkins always seems to breakout weeks 1 and 2, so grab him late while you can and maybe even ride the wave every year it seems. Watkins, if healthy, provides a nice veteran option for Jackson.
Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne – New England Patriots
It seemed like New England was signing everyone at the start of FA. I don’t consider Agholor or Bourne to be anything more than WR3/4 range, maybe even WR5. Agholor has a chance to put up the better numbers of the 2, but the only way I’m going near New England WRs is in deeper drafts. With the departure of Julian Edleman it will open up receptions, but I think this offense goes TE heavy, and N’Keal Harry still plays there. Safe to say the WR picture is very cloudy as to who emerges as the WR1.
AJ Green signed with the Cardinals and puts himself in an excellent prove-it situation. He couldn’t have asked for a better landing spot outside Hopkins. I think Green has some nice value if he stays healthy which is the key issue surrounding him. Boost Murray as well if Green is on the field.
Emmanuel Sanders signed with the Bills and gives Josh Allen another target outside Diggs. I like this as a sneaky add as Sanders always seems to produce decent numbers no matter where he goes. He acted as a WR1 in New Orleans last year, and I think he puts up respectable numbers in Buffalo.
Josh Reynolds signing with the Titans seemingly replaces Corey Davis. Reynolds has talent, but never really produced in LA. Coming to the Titans and acting as one of the primary WRs now makes for a nice late flier. LA drafted Van Jefferson last year and has him replacing Reynolds.
Will Fuller’s signing with the Dolphins is a very underrated one. I think Tua has a nice new target here to throw to and depending on what Miami does at 6, we are looking at an offense on the rise. I think Miami drafts a WR at 6 or even Pitts, and it’ll help Fuller get some attention away from him. Fuller makes for a nice WR2/Flex play at this point and has the potential to gain value as the season goes on.
DeSean Jackson signing with the Rams is similar to Watkins. Maybe play him in week 1 and 2 as he always seems to go off, then bench him. With Matt Stafford in LA, maybe Jackson can get involved in the offense, but I don’t see much more value there.
Jonnu Smith / Hunter Henry – New England Patriots
Not one, but two of the best TEs on the market, figured to go become fantasy TE1s, both land on the same team. New England has had great history running the dual TE system, and Smith and Henry are capable of putting up TE1 numbers each. In 2011, New England TEs combined for 169 receptions with a combined 2,237 yards. It’s been done in New England and depending on who the QB is, there’s plenty of fantasy points coming there. I treat both as TE1/TE2 border as of now.
Jared Cook signing with the Chargers replaces Hunter Henry. Cook was a good option in NO and I expect him to play a role in LA. Cook should settle in as a TE2 with a chance to rise in the draft rankings considering how involved LA TEs are in the offense.
Kyle Rudolph signing with the Giants shows that they aren’t entirely sold on Evan Engram, and neither should the fantasy world. Engram had his fair share of problems last year and producing. Rudolph’s arrival will take even more receptions away.
Anthony Firkser is a name on here that I wouldn’t have put because he re-signed, but with Jonnu Smith gone, Firkser is going to approach TE1 status and should be targeted before his value rises even more.