While seemingly the entire sports world is at a halt, the NFL season isn’t slowing down. Free Agency is in full swing and that means loads of possible season long NFL fantasy football implications and even some NFL DFS news.
As of today, March 16, teams are able to begin negotiating with free agents. The new season officially begins on Wednesday, but there will be plenty of news over the course of the next few days, with a lot of it having massive fantasy football implications. Here at Awesemo, I will be tracking the notable free agent signings and breaking down the fantasy ramifications. Be sure to keep it locked here for more awesome fantasy football content over the coming months.
Top Free Agents
|Position||Player||Old Team||New Team|
|QB||Ryan Tannehill||Tennessee Titans||Tennessee Titans|
|QB||Dak Prescott||Dallas Cowboys||Dallas Cowboys|
|QB||Philip Rivers||Los Angeles Chargers||Indianapolis Colts|
|QB||Tom Brady||New England Patriots||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|QB||Jameis Winston||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|QB||Teddy Bridgewater||New Orleans Saints||Carolina Panthers|
|QB||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers|
|QB||Nick Foles||Jacksonville Jaguars||Chicago Bears|
|RB||Derrick Henry||Tennessee Titans||Tennessee Titans|
|RB||Kenyan Drake||Arizona Cardinals||Arizona Cardinals|
|RB||Melvin Gordon||Los Angeles Chargers||Denver Broncos|
|RB||Devonta Freeman||Atlanta Falcons|
|RB||Carlos Hyde||Houston Texans|
|RB||Jordan Howard||Philadelphia Eagles||Miami Dolphins|
|RB||Todd Gurley||Los Angeles Rams||Atlanta Falcons|
|RB||Lamar Miller||Houston Texans|
|RB||Peyton Barber||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Washington Redskins|
|RB||Chris Thompson||Washington Redskins|
|WR||Amari Cooper||Dallas Cowboys||Dallas Cowboys|
|WR||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals||Cincinnati Bengals|
|WR||DeAndre Hopkins||Houston Texans||Arizona Cardinals|
|WR||Stefon Diggs||Minnesota Vikings||Buffalo Bills|
|WR||Robby Anderson||New York Jets||Carolina Panthers|
|WR||Emmanuel Sanders||San Francisco 49ers||New Orleans Saints|
|WR||Randall Cobb||Dallas Cowboys||Houston Texans|
|WR||Breshad Perriman||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||New York Jets|
|TE||Austin Hooper||Atlanta Falcons||Cleveland Browns|
|TE||Hunter Henry||Los Angeles Chargers||Los Angeles Chargers|
|TE||Hayden Hurst||Baltimore Ravens||Atlanta Falcons|
|TE||Jimmy Graham||Green Bay Packers||Chicago Bears|
|TE||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers||Seattle Seahawks|
|TE||Eric Ebron||Indianapolis Colts||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|TE||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||Oakland Raiders|
|OL||Jack Conklin||Tennessee Titans||Cleveland Browns|
|OL||Bryan Bulaga||Green Bay Packers||Los Angeles Chargers|
Derrick Henry tagged by Titans
Arguably the best running back in the NFL over the last year and a half, Henry will remain in Tennessee. The team placed the franchise tag on the 25-year old running back, who is coming off a monster year where he paced the league in carries (303), rushing yards (1,540) and rushing touchdowns (16). Henry was obviously a fantasy star, ranking second in fantasy points per touch (0.51) and fourth in fantasy points per game (19.4). He remained an absolute bowling ball, leading the league in yards after contact per attempt (4.18) and although his massive workload as of late could be a concern, Henry is still just 25 years old and has remained pretty healthy during his career. The Titans called run at the third-highest rate in football last year (48.7 percent) and their offensive philosophy makes Henry a solid second-round draft pick in fantasy leagues this year.
Kenyan Drake gets transition tag from Cardinals
Drake was traded to the Cardinals at last year’s deadline and made an immediate impact, rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown in his Arizona debut against the 49ers. From that game (week 9) on, Drake was seventh in the league in rushing yards (542), fifth in 100-yard games (three), third in rushing touchdowns (seven) and fourth in fantasy points. He averaged right around 16 carries per game during that span and assuming the Cardinals match any offer Drake might get, he will slide in as Arizona’s top running back. Drake has back-end RB1 upside in fantasy.
Bengals franchise tag A.J. Green
The veteran wideout missed all of last season with a nagging foot injury. It is still possible that he will get dealt, but I’m not sure what teams would be willing to give up for a 32-year old receiver coming off a lost season. Green will be a risky fantasy investment in 2020 because of his age, injury history and the fact that he will likely be catching passes from a rookie quarterback in Joe Burrow.
Dak Prescott gets exclusive franchise tag from Cowboys
To no one’s surprise, Prescott will be under center for the Cowboys this season. He enjoyed a career year in 2019, ranking second in the league in passing yards (4,902) and fourth in touchdown passes (30), while finishing as the QB2 in fantasy behind only Lamar Jackson. Prescott was sharp, completing 48.7 percent of his deep balls, good for the second-best rate among qualified signal-callers. He was sixth in the league in fantasy points per drop back (0.50) and his rushing played a big role, as Prescott was top-eight in red zone carries (14), rushing yards (277), rushing yards per game (17.3) and rushing touchdowns (three). Prescott did all of this despite his pass catchers leading the league in dropped passes, averaging nearly three per game. We will see if his No. 1 receiver is still catching passes from him, but assuming Amari Cooper stays in Dallas, Prescott will remain in the QB1 discussion for 2020.
Amari Cooper re-signs with Cowboys
The top receiver on the market is staying put. Cooper has reportedly agreed to a 5-year, $100 million dollar extension with the Cowboys. Cooper was top-10 in both yards per route run (2.60) and yards per target (10.0) last season, while averaging 8.2 air yards per target. The rapport with Prescott got better during their first full season together and he should once again be a top-15 (at worst) fantasy wide receiver. He was much better when playing in Dallas, for what it is worth.
At home: 52 catches, 869 yards, 5 TD
On the road: 27 catches, 320 yards, 3 TD
Titans re-sign Ryan Tannehill
The first quarterback domino to fall was Tannehill, who agreed to a four-year, $118 million deal on Sunday afternoon. Perhaps the most improved player from last year, Tannehill rejuvenated his career with the Titans. From Week 7 on, Tannehill was fourth in passing touchdowns (20), second in average depth of target (10.4), second in fantasy points per drop back (0.74) and third in fantasy points. He completed 70.3 percent of his stats, despite ranking inside the top-four in both completed air yards per pass attempt (5.2) and completed air yards per completion (7.4).
The presence of Henry in the backfield certainly helped the veteran passer, as Tannehill completed a league-high 75.9 percent of his play-action passes, while using play-action nearly 30 percent of the time. Tannehill scored multiple touchdowns in 12 of 14 games last year, and while some regression should probably be expected, I don’t exactly think last year’s performance was a total fluke. The re-signing can’t be viewed as anything but a positive for guys like A.J. Brown and Jonnu Smith.
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Stunner: Houston Texans trade DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona Cardinals
We saw some rumors that the Texans could dangle Hopkins’ name out there, but we figured it would take a heavy haul for him to actually be dealt. And then a bomb was dropped, as the team acquired running back David Johnson, a second-round pick this year and a fourth-rounder next year for the All-Pro receiver. It is obviously a head-scratching trade from the Houston side. From a fantasy perspective, there is a lot to break down here. For starters, Deshaun Watson, who has been an elite fantasy quarterback the last two years, obviously takes a hit. Over the last two years, Hopkins has ranked second and third in overall target share, 32.9% and 30.9 percent, respectively, so there is clearly a ton of targets to be had in Houston now.
Will Fuller, who has missed 22 regular season games over his first four seasons, will now be relied upon as the team’s top receiver, which is terrifying. We know the upside and potential is there for Fuller, who has averaged 2.1 fantasy points per target over the last two seasons. The fit with Watson is tremendous, as Watson was fourth in deep ball attempts last year with 81, averaging nearly six per game. Meanwhile, Kenny Stills has a path to 140 targets, especially since Fuller is almost a lock to miss multiple games.
As for the ground game, Johnson now has the opportunity to get his career back on track. He underwhelmed last year, averaging 3.6 yards per carry and 1.4 yards after contact while dealing with injury for the second consecutive season. Duke Johnson is still in the mix, and while Johnson was good as a receiver last year, the Texans will likely focus more on giving him the ball between the tackles. Carlos Hyde quietly averaged 15.3 carries per game last year, giving Johnson a similar path. I’d consider him a mid-range RB2 for fantasy purposes.
Let’s break down the Arizona side. Hopkins joins Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk in the desert, giving sophomore Kyler Murray a slew of weapons. No team operated more out of four-wide sets than the Cardinals last season (42 percent), so these guys will all be on the field plenty. Kirk and Fitzgerald will both play in the slot a ton, giving them solid matchups most weeks, but the target totals will be far more inconsistent than they were last season, making them WR3 options for fantasy. Hopkins, meanwhile, remains a high-end WR1 in what should be a much-improved Arizona offense. Of course, the biggest winner here is Murray, who had an up-and-down rookie season. He figures to be everyone’s favorite breakout quarterback this season, similar to the Baker Mayfield hype last summer. Murray and the Cardinals offense will love adding Hopkins, as this unit scored touchdowns on just 43.7 percent of their red zone trips last year, the third-worst rate in football.
Not a troll: Stefon Diggs dealt to Buffalo
After years of cryptic tweets, Diggs finally wasn’t joking around this time. The Vikings have moved the wideout to Buffalo in exchange for the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft, as well as fifth- and sixth-round picks this year and a fourth-rounder in 2021. It was a lot to give up, but the Bills haven’t had a true WR1 in quite some time, and Diggs is still just 26-years old and is on a friendly contract for the next few years. As a Bills fan, I am absolutely ecstatic but for fantasy purposes, things could get messy in Buffalo. John Brown was awesome for the Bills last year, catching 72 balls for just over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. He had at least five catches for 50 yards in 12 games but now his targets are obviously going to come down, on top of being in a run-first offense.
As for Diggs, this has to be a downgrade. He’ll compete with Brown and Cole Beasley for targets and while Josh Allen is fun and exciting, he isn’t as accurate as Kirk Cousins, who completed 40.4 percent of his deep passes last year, a top-10 mark in the league. Diggs, meanwhile, had the fifth-most deep targets in the NFL last year (28), and his six deep touchdowns paced the league. Allen has arguably the strongest arm in the league but often overthrows receivers when going deep, as he ranked outside the top-30 passers in deep completion rate. I view Diggs as a high-end WR3.
As for the Vikings, Adam Thielen is now in line for as many targets as he can handle. We know Minnesota will also be a run-first offense, but Thielen should see at least 150 targets in 2020, assuming he stays healthy. Consider him a low-end WR1. Meanwhile, the team now has the 22nd pick and 25th pick in the first round of the draft, making it likely they will take a receiver with one of those picks. Perhaps someone like Justin Jefferson, Denzel Mims or Jalen Reagor will come off the board there and immediately slide in as the No. 2 receiver in a strong offense.
Tom Brady expected to sign with Tampa Bay
And there it is. For the first time in 20 years, Brady will not be under center for the New England Patriots. He has agreed in principle to a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, sending shockwaves around the NFL world. Brady will now start for the Bucs, which is an interesting marriage. We know that Bruce Arians’ offenses love to push the ball down the field, as Jameis Winston led the league in deep attempts a season ago with 113, averaging over seven per game. Brady’s arm strength has definitely declined over the last few years but he was actually ninth in the league in deep completion rate last year (41.7%). Brady will likely be more conservative than Winston because, let’s face it. Everyone is. Mike Evans was fourth in deep targets last year with 30, while ranking 15th in the league in yards per target (9.8). Evans and Chris Godwin, who had a breakout 2019 campaign, are still surefire top-12 fantasy wideouts. As for Brady, even at age 43, you have to think his value goes up. He’s in a more explosive offense that will rely way more on the pass than New England has recently, especially when in close. Not to mention he will be catching passes from two stud receiver and an explosive tight end in O.J. Howard. And with that pass defense still a question mark, the Buccaneers should have to keep up in plenty of games, forcing Brady to throw. 76.1 percent of the yardage accumulated by this Buccaneers offense last year came through the air, the third-highest rate in football. This is going to take a long, long time to get used to but Brady will now be competing with Drew Brees for the… NFC South.
Austin Hooper to sign with Cleveland Browns
After enjoying a breakout campaign in 2019, Hooper is set to become one of, if not the highest-paid tight end in the NFL. The Browns are going to pay him a lot to join their offense, though it isn’t the greatest news for fantasy. At the moment, there is no noise regarding a potential David Njoku trade and assuming he stays put, he’ll still be involved. New head coach Kevin Stefanski operated two-tight end sets very frequently during his time in Minnesota and with Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and the running backs still there, Hooper could struggle to see consistent targets in their offense.
Teddy Bridgewater to sign with Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are moving in a new direction. Not too long after we got word that the team would be trading away Cam Newton, the team agreed on a deal to bring in Bridgewater, who likely will enter the season as the starting quarterback. Bridgewater started five games for the Saints last year, serving as a game manager while Drew Brees was sidelined. He averaged just 4.8 air yards per pass attempt, one of the lowest numbers among all signal callers, and 16 percent of his pass attempts went behind the line of scrimmage. This bodes well for Christian McCaffrey, who could legitimately see 150 targets this season. This hurt Curtis Samuel, who was the deep threat in this offense last year. Meanwhile, D.J. Moore‘s value goes up a tiny bit, simply because most of his stuff came after the catch anyway. Unlike Kyle Allen, Bridgewater takes care of the football, which should result in longer drives and more opportunity for McCaffrey and Moore.
Dolphins give Jordan Howard three-year deal
After spending a year in Philadelphia, Howard is now on the move to Miami, as the Dolphins continue to spend a ton of money this offseason. Howard is immediately the top running back on this awful depth chart and is in line for 15 carries a game if, of course, the Dolphins can remain in games. He’ll likely offer zero pass-catching upside but we did see someone like Patrick Laird average a respectable 14.2 touches per game during the final five weeks of the season. While the Eagles offensive line was banged up last year, going to Miami is still a massive downgrade, as 26 percent of all carries by the Dolphins last year were stuffed at the line of scrimmage, the highest rate in the NFL. Meanwhile, the scoring chances won’t be nearly as high in this offense but there is a very good chance Howard is a starting running back of an NFL offense, which has value in fantasy.
Philip Rivers inks one-year deal with Colts
A popular landing spot all offseason, Rivers ultimately ended up in Indianapolis. He will compete with Jacoby Brissett for the starting job and could bounce back now that he is reunited with former offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who was with the Chargers in 2014 when Rivers threw for 4,286 yards and 31 touchdowns. Rivers did not play all that well last year, ranking 27th in deep ball completion rate (30.7%) and 28th in red zone completion rate (54.8%), while ranking 26th in fantasy points per drop back (0.36). It is fair to wonder how much Rivers has left in the tank but if he wins the job, I think it could help Jack Doyle, as Rivers has targeted his tight ends a lot over the years, especially in the red zone.
Todd Gurley returns home, signs with Falcons
After trade rumors surrounding Gurley heated up, the Rams ended up releasing the All-Pro running back on Thursday. It didn’t take long for him to find a new home, however, as Gurley signed a one-year deal with the Falcons. Atlanta was in need of a running back after cutting Devonta Freeman and at the moment, Gurley is in line for a workhorse role in a good offense. A lot of people are comparing Gurley to Steven Jackson when he joined the Falcons. And I understand that Gurley has knee issues but he’s also 25-years old still, while Jackson was 30 when he played in Atlanta. There were red flags surrounding Gurley heading into last season, which is why he fell to the second and third rounds in drafts. The arthritic knee and concerns of limited workload had him falling in drafts and while he still found the end zone 14 total times, nine of which came from inside the five-yard line. If you watched Gurley, you can’t come away thinking he suddenly stinks at football. He was top-20 in terms of yards after contact and was 13th in broken tackles. The big difference, however, was the lack of big runs, as Gurley was 47th among 50 qualified backs in PFF’s breakaway run rate. He had just eight carries of 15 yards or more. Gurley was also just 21st in yards before contact per rush (2.2), as the Rams run-blocking unit took a massive step back in 2019. 21 percent of the Los Angeles carries were stuffed at the line of scrimmage, good (or bad) for the sixth-worst rate in the NFL. The move to Atlanta might actually benefit Gurley if the offensive line can remain healthy. The Falcons will likely still draft a running back, especially with Gurley on just a one-year deal but at the moment, the 25-year old makes for a risk/reward RB2 in fantasy.
As for the Rams, well, those who held onto Darrell Henderson in dynasty leagues are feeling pretty good right about now. Henderson only tallied 39 carries during his rookie year, as Malcolm Brown was the more trustworthy option. I could see both backs splitting work for much of the season, though Henderson is the far more exciting prospect.
Melvin Gordon to sign with the… Broncos?
While teams like Buffalo, Tampa Bay and (at the time) Atlanta all made more sense, it appears Gordon will be staying in the division, joining the Denver Broncos. It is definitely a puzzling fit, as Denver already has Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman on the roster. Perhaps the latter will be on the trade block, as the Broncos went away from him during the second half of the season. He failed to record 10 carries in any of the final eight games of the season. If he is dealt, the Broncos will deploy another two-man backfield, this time consisting of Lindsay and Gordon. Gordon has been a pretty efficient goal line back over the course of his career, so he could challenge Lindsay there, who was Denver’s preferred short-yardage back a season ago. Assuming Freeman is playing elsewhere in 2020, both Gordon and Lindsay will make for low-end RB2 options in fantasy. I just wish Gordon went somewhere else, honestly.
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