The Fantasy Footballers’ Free Agency Winners & Losers
This off-season we’ve seen $2.6 billion in guaranteed money already given out via waivers, free agents, and extensions.
That’s a whole lot of cash with the Jacksonville Jaguars spending $175 million in guaranteed money, the most ever in an off-season. It hasn’t worked out so well for the Jags as Warren Sharp recently attested, since 2012 no team has spent more money in the off-season and no team has lost more games in that span.
Free Agency is exciting for fantasy football, but most important real-life NFL moves often are OL, DL, depth pieces, bargains… not splashy contracts.
Biggest Free Agency Winners
Denver Broncos WRs
Russell Wilson makes teams better. Imagine that.
But for fantasy, these Broncos WRs might be a tough code to crack. Using the Target Breakdown tool on theFantasyFootballers.com, last year Denver WRs accounted for only 54 percent of the team’s targets, 5th lowest in the NFL. On the other hand, their TEs saw 28 percent, tied for 3rd highest. Those should be more like 60/low 20s this next year with Noah Fant out the door. Russell Wilson brings efficiency and a career TD rate of 6.2%. Each of these WRs needs to be examined in context.
Jerry Jeudy is about to turn 23 years old and when he’s on the field, he’s targeted… 21.5% targets per route run in his two years. The draft pedigree, promise, and hype will elevate Jeudy to likely a fifth-round pick come August. But it’s worth noting the production has not been there so far. He’s been a top-24 WR in just 4-of-26 career games (15%) and hit 80+ receiving yards only twice so far in his career…
Courtland Sutton is who Andy prefers as the real No. 1 in this offense. He broke out his sophomore year (72/1112/6) as the WR19 but then suffered a crushing injury in Week 1 of the 2020 season. After only two TDs in 2021, it seems like Drew Lock dragged down any case to be made for Sutton in fantasy. Does he have a top-15 ceiling in 2022?
Fireball Jones aka Tim Patrick looks like he’ll be the odd man out among fantasy drafters as he was going as WR72 in Dynasty Startups right now. All Patrick has done is produce on the field and the Broncos rewarded him with a contract extension this past year. He’s averaged a TD every 9.5 receptions the last two years as the team’s preferred red-zone weapon. But the other side to that coin is that in games he didn’t score a TD, he averaged only 5.7 fantasy points per game.
This may not be the flashiest of names but James Conner is back in a great situation where he starts the season as the main guy without Chase Edmonds. We already know he’s a great goal-line back with 18 total TDs including the 2nd MOST goal-line carries in the league in 2021. Conner averaged the most expected points added (EPA) per rush attempt in the NFL.
Conner’s production sky-rocketed when he had the backfield alone last year:
James Conner played 5 games without Chase Edmonds in 2021. In those games…
🚀 22.2 opportunities/game
🚀 5.6 targets/game
🚀 20.6 half PPR points/game
17 game pace = overall RB2 behind only Jonathan Taylor
Current best ball ADP: RB29 pic.twitter.com/Xv23LbsOra
— Fantasy Footballers (@TheFFBallers) March 29, 2022
The conversation ended with Jason comparing Conner to some of the bigger names in fantasy football: Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Cam Akers… With all three preferring Conner, it seems like he’s a borderline 1st round pick this year.
The Dolphins QB enters Year 3 with many split over whether he can be a difference-making QB at the NFL level. Regardless, he’s in a position in 2022 with a new head coach (Mike McDaniel) and some of the best offensive weapons in the game. Tyreek Hill (4.34 40-time) and Jaylen Waddle (4.37) on the field is just nuts. Add in Mike Gesicki (4.54) who is a 95th percentile athlete and the speed of this offense is out of control.
The Dolphins ranked 9th in pass attempts last year and look like they could be one of the most exciting teams in the league. Mike reminded listeners of former Kansas City QB Alex Smith, who is not known for monster numbers. He averaged 3.5 fantasy points per game better with Tyreek in his career and 2017 (the year before Patrick Mahomes took over) was a great example of what Tyreek can do for a QB. It was the only time Smith surpassed 4,000 passing yards and had the highest TD total of his career; his yards per attempt also jumped from 7-to-8. Tua’s ceiling is still suspect but he will be among the late-round QBs this year with some hype entering draft season.
Biggest Free Agency Losers
Pour one out for the Seahawks and anyone in Seattle. Love him or hate him, but Russell Wilson was the franchise. There’s no way you can spin this situation and count replacing him with Drew Lock as a good thing.
- Lock’s career TD rate: 3.8%.
- He sports a sub 60 percent completion rate and basically a 1:1 TD/INT ratio.
- Not good folks.
Touchdowns are going to be sparse. When Lock was the full-time starter in Denver in 2020, Tim Patrick led the Broncos with six TDs. Six. Tim Patrick and Jerry Jeudy were top-24 a combined five times. This is the same guy who couldn’t hold off Teddy Bridgewater for a starting job in 2021.
D.K. Metcalf is still an elite talent with the ability to put up double-digit TDs. But the odds are stacked against him being a WR1 in 2022.
If you are a Moore truther, you are holding firm. But the writing might be on the wall that all of the potential and hype might never come to fruition. Only 25 years old, signed a 3-year, $62 million extension that keeps him in Carolina through 2025. But who knows if Carolina plans on addressing the QB position in the year 2035
Moore has 498 targets in his 1st four years in the league, the 7th MOST in that span. But only 367 of them were catchable (73.6%); basically, whatever we project target-wise, knock off ¼ of them. We know all about his end-zone woes. 14 different WRs have 300+ receptions in their 1st four years in the NFL. Moore ranks DEAD LAST with 14 total TD receptions. Those other WRs averaged 30 TDs (i.e. 7.6 per year).
His QBs TD rates are abysmal in his four years so this isn’t a knock on Moore
- 2018– Cam Newton: 5.1%
- 2019– Kyle Allen: 3.5%
- 2020– Teddy Bridgewater: 3%
- 2021– Sam Darnold/Cam Newton/P.J. Walker: 2.3%
At the end of the day, D.J. Moore can be sold on the promise of what could be in dynasty but for redraft in 2022, anything more than WR18 might be a fairytale at this point. The QB play has and should continue to hold him back from being truly elite.
Atlanta is set up to be baddddd for the next 2-3 years minimum. With Matt Ryan off to Indianapolis, it’s clear the Falcons are in full rebuild mode.
While you might think Pitts is set up for a ton of volume, it’s worth examining his rookie splits. From Week 8-on (after Calvin Ridley left), he averaged only six targets per game. On the season, he saw 110 targets and while the yardage totals were solid, he finished with only three games over ten fantasy points on the year. The one touchdown is the headline but will things get any better with Marcus Mariota at QB?
Marcus Mariota-led offenses ranked 21st, 28th, 28th, & 31st in pass attempts in his four years as a starter in Tennessee. That was with current Falcons head coach Arthur Smith running the offense. It’s hard seeing Mariota throw for more than 20 touchdowns so the entire offense should suffer. The hope and promise at the beginning of 2021 (with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones & Calvin Ridley) when he was drafted is now suddenly erased. Pitts still remains a top-3 dynasty TE but the ceiling might be capped on arguably the worst team in the league.