Top 15 free agency moves: recap and fantasy reaction

Roto Arcade

Kirk Cousins signs historic contract. Will be under center for the Vikings in 2018. 

This year’s free agency created quite a frenzy. To help fantasy footballers sift through the chaos, I created a list of the top 15 offensive moves and added a rapid reaction for each.

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QB Kirk Cousins
Details: 3 years, $86MM, $86MM guaranteed
Reaction:  A top-five fantasy producer in back-to-back years, Cousins gets a dome, four top-tier talents, and a top-six ranked pass-protecting unit in Minnesota. He’ll remain an elite (and expensive) option in 2018.

QB Tyrod Taylor
Details: 1 year, $10MM, $1MM guaranteed  
Reaction:  Sleeper alert! Suddenly surrounded by a stable of dynamic pass-catchers and expected to have a rookie nipping at his heels, Taylor has the potential to be this year’s Alex Smith. He’ll be a prime under-the-radar target for FF enthusiasts who appreciate waiting on the position.

WR Allen Robinson
Details: 3 years, $42MM, $25MM guaranteed
Reaction:  Still only 24 years old, Robinson has a fantastic opportunity to bounce back from an underwhelming 2016 and an abbreviated 2017. He figures to work as the Bears’ No. 1 WR and could see as many as 120-130 targets, making him a high-end WR2 for fantasy purposes.

WR Jarvis Landry
Details: N/A
Reaction:  There’s no way he’s seeing 160 targets in Cleveland. Not with Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman on the field. The hit to his volume will obviously hurt his production … and likely keep him outside for the top 25 producers at the position.

WR Sammy Watkins 
Details: 3 years, $48MM, $30MM guaranteed
Reaction:  The Pat Mahomes hype train is in full effect, but evolution takes time. Yes, KC’s young QB can sling it. And that’s great for a downfield speedster like Sammy. However, there are two other established targets on the team, and Andy Reid likes to run the ball. I just don’t see Watkins getting enough consistent looks to vault him into WR2 territory. 

WR Jordy Nelson
Details: 2 years, $15MM, $13MM guaranteed
Reaction:  Noticeably slower and in his age 32 season, Nelson will go from catching perfectly-timed back-shoulder throws from Aaron Rodgers to a slot-man in Jon Gruden’s run-like-it’s-1995 style offense. None of that makes for fantasy goodness. I’m fading him. 

WR Michael Crabtree
Details: 3 years, $21MM
Reaction: After netting over 140 targets in each of his two previous outings with the Raiders, Crabtree’s opportunities dipped to just 101 in 2017. Still, he tied his 2016 TD total, hauling in eight scores. At 30 years old, he remains one of the league’s most precise route-runners and figures to lead the Ravens receiving corps in red zone looks, especially with Mike Wallace moving to Philly. He’s a solid WR2 in FF.

RB Jerick McKinnon
Details: 4 years, $30MM
Reaction:  A metrics community darling, McKinnon is a fantastic fit for Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. Now the 49ers lead back (they didn’t give him an average of $7.5MM/year to be the back-up), it’s likely the former Viking could record a 60-plus catch season. He’ll be a third-round pick by August. 

RB Carlos Hyde
Details: 3 years, $15MM
Reaction:  Starting 16 games for the first time in his five-year career, Hyde posted RB1 numbers in 2017. Still, he has yet to crack the top-five producers at the position, frustrating owners who’ve long awaited a breakout. Much of that can be attributed to the fact that he’s been working behind a bottom-ranked offensive line. Thankfully, his run-blocking unit should improve in Cleveland. While he’s unlikely to post elite numbers, Hyde remains one of the safest picks (RB2) at the position. 

RB Jeremy Hill
Details: 1 year, $1.5MM
Reaction:  Wasn’t Mike Gillislee supposed to vulture ALL the TDs in 2017 and flirt with LeGarrette Blount’s 2016 numbers (18 TDs)? Right … but then he ended up scoring in just three weeks and playing in just nine games. There’s no guarantee that Hill becomes the team’s goal-line back, or that the Pats even use a goal-line grinder in the normative way. I’m staying far away from this situation, even in standard scoring leagues. Someone else can chase Hill’s 3.5 YPC, banking solely on the hopes of double-digit scores.

RB LeGarrette Blount 
Details: 1 year, $4.5MM
Reaction: He may not be elusive or fast, but he’s the most power Detroit has in its backfield. A reunion of sorts with Matt Patricia is also intriguing. Ultimately, I don’t trust the Lions to run the ball effectively enough to give Blount value, but I could see him turning over low-end RB3/Flex numbers in standard scoring leagues.

RB Rex Burkhead 
PAT —> PAT!!!
Details: 3 years, $9.75MM
Reaction:  With Dion Lewis in Tennessee and Danny Amendola in Miami, Burkhead could see an increased role in the Patriots’ offense. A dual-threat weapon, the Nebraska product managed the seventh-most yards per touch (5.5) last year. Jeremy Hill’s addition to the squad should quell the excitement surrounding Burkhead and make him a solid value. I’ll aim to draft him as an RB3, but think he has high-end RB2 potential. 

RB Doug Martin 
Details: 1 year
Reaction:  Jon Gruden still has strong ties to the Bucs, which makes this signing intriguing. Martin’s 2017 was disastrous, but he actually looked good in October. I’m not willing to blame his lack of efficiency on ability. After all, much of that offense fell apart mid-season. Marshawn Lynch will return to Oakland in 2018, but at 32 years old I have to imagine he’ll be spelled early and often. Gruden wants to run the ball, which should mean Martin will have a chance at redemption. He’s a low-risk option for fantasy managers making calculated late-round moves. 

TE Jimmy Graham
Details: 3 years, $30MM
Reaction:  He may not be the downfield threat he once was, but Graham is still a monster in the red area of the field. Dude has scored double-digit TDs in three of his last five seasons. He’ll join a Packers squad that’s missing Jordy Nelson, but includes a healthy Aaron Rodgers. Assuming he stays on the field, Graham is a lock for top-eight production.

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Details: 2 years, $10MM
Reaction:  Great move for the Jags. Horrible landing spot for fantasy. A move tight end with outstanding hands, ASJ’s physical gifts won’t be fully utilized on Jacksonville’s run-first (and foremost) offense. There’s simply aren’t enough targets to go around, especially when Marqise Lee and Donte Moncrief are also on the roster. 

Follow Liz and tweet her your fave free agency moves @LizLoza_FF.

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