It has been over a week since the NFL’s new league year began and for the majority of players, the free agency period is all but over. There are a few exceptions, including former starting QBs Jameis Winston and recently released Cam Newton, along with edge defender Jadeveon Clowney, who hasn’t found the market he expected.
With limited remaining options, teams around the league are left to fill their needs through the upcoming NFL Draft. With a focus on the four key offensive fantasy football positions, here’s an overview of the top needs for each NFC team, with the AFC coming next week.
The Falcons had little cap space to play with but have still been active the past week. After losing TE Austin Hooper to the Browns, Atlanta traded for Ravens TE Hayden Hurst, who should slot in as the new starter. Atlanta also dumped longtime starting RB Devonta Freeman and replaced him with former Rams RB Todd Gurley. Persistent rumors of knee troubles for Gurley leaves the running back spot as the top need for the Falcons.
The Cardinals entered free agency with some questions at the running back and wideout positions and they emphatically answered both of those. Arizona surprisingly assigned RB Kenyan Drake with the Transition Tag, which he has signed and then pulled off the blockbuster, dumping RB David Johnson and acquiring WR DeAndre Hopkins. We could always peg the tight end spot as one that needs an upgrade, though the Cardinals never seem to make use of that spot anyway.
The Panthers have a new head coach and have shaken things up, including releasing Newton. Carolina signed former Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater and even took a smart chance of XFL star QB P.J. Walker. They also added some wide receiver depth in Roberts before making a splash by signing deep threat WR Robby Anderson. With TE Greg Olsen gone, young TE Ian Thomas is expected to take over. That leaves backfield depth behind superstar RB Christian McCaffrey as the team’s top need.
The Bears knew they needed to fix the quarterback position this offseason and they reportedly showed interest in multiple options before settling on former Jaguars QB Nick Foles. It remains to be seen if Foles is actually an upgrade over current starting QB Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears also signed washed up TE Jimmy Graham to supposedly upgrade over free agent bust Trey Burton. I fear that these two positions will remain Chicago’s top needs even after these additions.
Dallas HAD to keep their star combo of QB Dak Prescott and WR Amari Cooper and following the adoption of the new CBA, they had just one tag to use. They were forced to take a risk, letting Cooper hit the open market, but they pulled it off and retained both stars. The Cowboys did lose veterans Randall Cobb (Houston) and Jason Witten (Las Vegas), so an additional pass catcher is coming in the draft.
The Lions were once rumored to be ready to move on from veteran QB Matthew Stafford, but that never played out. The team has been quiet through free agency and will likely add competition for RB Kerryon Johnson through the NLF Draft. Johnson continues to deal with injury issues after having missed much of the 2019 season.
The Packers clearly need help at the pass-catching positions with only WR Davante Adams as a reliable option. Even with multiple options to serve as the Pack’s WR2 last year, all flopped. Green Bay also let veteran Graham go, leaving youngster Jace Sternberger as the presumed heir apparent.
The Rams surprised many when they parted ways with Gurley and his massive contract. That likely leaves RB Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown to hold down the backfield. Henderson’s value has blown up under the assumption that he'll step up in his second season. The Rams are reportedly shopping WR Brandin Cooks, though they could end up simply cutting him later this offseason.
The Vikings gave QB Kirk Cousins a new contract extension, though he was not a free agent. Then the Vikes pulled off the shocker, sending WR Stefon Diggs to the Bills as they racked up draft picks. Minnesota also let bust WR Laquon Treadwell walk, and signed former Titans WR Tajae Sharpe. This team still had a need as the receiver position.
New Orleans Saints
As expected, the Saints re-signed veteran QB Drew Brees and then added some firepower for their future Hall of Fame QB by signing veteran WR Emmanuel Sanders. This is a bigtime boost for Sanders’ value and gives Brees the WR2 he has missed for years.
New York Giants
The Giants went through a much-needed offensive overhaul last offseason, adding QB Daniel Jones and multiple wideouts. That leaves relatively few needs for the improving Giants offensive skill positions, though the team should still be looking to replace their former alpha WR Odell Beckham.
After a frustrating 2019 season, the top need for the Eagles was clear … get QB Carson Wentz some reliable wide receivers. Veterans Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson missed extensive time with injuries a year ago and rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside struggled to adjust, leaving converted QB Greg Ward to lead the way late in the season.
The Seahawks had some success with TE Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister last season but still struck early, signing veteran TE Greg Olsen. Other than that, the team has been quiet despite the uncertainty in their backfield. Both RBs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny suffered serious injuries late in the season, leaving their 2020 availability in question. That could lead them to once again using an early draft pick on a running back.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers drafted multiple wideouts last year and then traded for the veteran Sanders, but WR Deebo Samuel was the only real hit. The Niners will certainly add more firepower there and could also add another runner to their crowded backfield.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have become the center of the NFL universe as six-time Super Bowl champion QB Tom Brady left the Patriots to sign with Tampa Bay. With turnover-prone QB Jameis Winston gone, the Bucs should now turn to the backfield, where RB Ronald Jones has been disappointing and the team let veteran backup RB Peyton Barber leave for the Redskins.
Washington has many, many questions about their offense at each position. QB Dwayne Haskins’ play from his rookie season left many wondering if the team should pull and Arizona and use a second-straight first-round pick on a signal caller. The team will have RBs Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson back but Guice must prove he can stay healthy. Washington relied on a trio of rookie wideouts and added depth in Cody Latimer, and also have a hole at tight end after losing both Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis.