March 15th, 2021—a day that will live in infamy—the United States National Football League was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of New England. The NFL was at peace with that franchise after the Patriots brought in the ghost of Cam Newton to lead the team into the 2020 gutter with a record of 7-9. Bill Belichick and his prized pooch weren’t messing around as free agency kicked off on Monday. As of this writing, the evil empire has signed four defensive players, two tight ends and two wide receivers in a weak whimper of a response to Tom Brady’s first non-Patriot Super Bowl ring. Jonnu Smith was the first signing of fantasy interest to be reported, but the excitement didn’t last long as less than 24-hours later New England inked a second free agent tight end in Hunter Henry. Will the Henry/Smith tandem be the new Gronk/Hernandez? I’ve heard rumors that Jonnu likes to party and Henry hangs around in some sketchy circles, so maybe that’s the comp people are talking about. But for fantasy purposes my excitement level couldn’t get much lower. I take that back: Belichick just signed Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor. Yuck. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this past week for 2021 fantasy football:
Aaron Jones – Alright, so I buried the lede here. The Packers have ponied up for a four-year, $48 million contract including a $13 signing bonus. Remember way back in the pre-pandemic days when it was difficult for NFL running backs to land new contracts? It fells like decades ago. This is a huge win for Jones’ dynasty owners and an even bigger loss for the A.J. Dillon fan club—as president of this club I’ve called an emergency meeting to distribute more pictures of the big man’s sexy thighs. Keep faith, friends, Dillon still has Gamestop-like upside down the road. As for fellow free-agent Jamaal Williams (who I had been drafting late in winter best ball drafts in anticipation of Jones’ departure and Williams’ re-signing), he’ll likely now find himself a new home for 2021. At least that’s my hope as the President of the A.J. Dillon fan club. Feel free to spend a late first round pick on Aaron Jones come draft season. UPDATE: Jamaal Williams is now signing a 2-year, $7.5 million deal with the Lions. This isn’t great news for D’Andre Swift’s stock, nor my man Kerryon Johnson. Will Kerryon be cut the offseason? I’m starting the #FreeKerryon movement
Corey Davis – Signed with the Jets on a 3-year, $37 million contract. What a rollercoaster for Davis fans and dynasty owners. First he’s an elite receiving prospect, then he’s a complete bust, then he breaks out after everyone writes him off, now he signs with arguably the worst franchise in the entire league. But at least there’s hope with Trevor Lawrence coming to town to save the day, right? Nope. The Jets blew that too. Maybe they still take another QB like Zach Wilson or Justin Fields with the #2 pick, but these kids aren’t exactly slam dunks. Sorry, Corey Davis owners.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Signed with the Football Team on a 1-year, $10 million deal. Not A football team, THE Football Team. That’s right, Terry McLaurin’s prayers have been answered! Don’t ask me why he was praying for Ryan Fitzpatrick and not Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson. Regardless, this is great news for McLaurin dynasty owners and will immediately boost his 2021 draft stock. Same goes for last year’s breakout tight end, Logan Thomas. I present to you Exhibit A:
Ryan Fitzpatrick air yards per throw
Terry McLaurin is going to benefit a ton from Fitzy
— Michael F. Florio (@MichaelFFlorio) March 16, 2021
Drew Brees – Has decided to retire. This move, while not a huge surprise, has far reaching implications on the Saints offense as a whole. Will Taysom Hill or the freshly inked Jameis Winston win the job in the oncoming preseason QB competition? Reading the tea leaves, my money is on Taysom, just based on last years’ usage and Sean Payton’s previous comments. But Jameis is surely the more fantasy friendly option for Michael Thomas and especially Alvin Kamara, who would stand to lose the most from the unique Taysom Hill ground attack.
Marvin Jones – Signed a 2-year, $14 million deal with the Jaguars. So it turns out the D.J. Chark to Baltimore trade rumors were all a lie. Now the Jags have compiled a solid WR corps for Trevor Lawrence’s rookie season with Chark, Jones and Laviska Shenault. Not sure where these players will all settle in ADP-wise, but I’ll likely be passing on all except Shenault.
Emmanuel Sanders – Signed a 1-year, $6 million deal with the Bills. An admirable replacement for Smokey Brown, but the big news here is Gabriel Davis now has to compete with Manny Fresh as Josh Allen’s #2 lining up across from Diggs. I love Davis long term, but don’t count old man Sanders out just yet.