After a couple of months off, my mind is clear and fingers are rested, NFL free agency has me juiced up to bring you offseason content. March not only marks the start of the NFL season but the beginning of your campaign to fantasy football glory. Now is the time to start taking mental notes on players as fantasy football draft season nears.
Last year was filled with highs and lows, bad calls–greats calls, tough losses and big wins, but our goal remains the same. Get better! If you missed the playoffs or had to endure a last place punishment, What are you going to do different this year? Some call my 5 championships, 1 second place finish, and 8 playoff rosters out of ten leagues luck but I call it subscribing to Razzball’s fantasy content and tools. Yes, that was a shameless plug! Honestly though, luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Will you be prepared when your opportunity presents itself this season?
Let us start with my ‘Way too early winners and losers of NFL free agency.’ Just like during the season, our evaluation of players is a fluid situation in the offseason. Just because someone is a winner or loser today does not mean they will remain. Acquisitions, cuts, trades, and the NFL draft will all continue to impact how we value our fantasy players. Today I breakdown the NFC teams for you. Let’s go!
- Chicago Bears
- QB Mitchell Trubisky: The acquisition of WR/Offensive Utility Weapon Cordarrelle Patterson, another season under Matt Nagy, and no key losses on offense will only increase Trubisky’s value as fantasy draft season approaches.
- RB Tarik Cohen: 270 touches depart Chicago and head east to Philadelphia with Jordan Howard. Do I need to convince you any more? 270 touches. Yes, Mike Davis could be a sneaky flex play or nice late round best ball grab for his expected early down and goal line work. Regardless, Cohen will be a more consistent and reliable fantasy options with Howard gone.
- Detroit Lions
- TE Jesse James- Matt Patricia has found a capable TE for his offense. Even though Patricia was defensive coordinator in New England, bringing a little offensive strategy with him from NE would not be his worst move. New England was notorious for utilizing not only one but two tight end sets. Could we see a similar blueprint here? Golden Tate is gone and Jesse does not have to compete with Vance McDonald in Pittsburg anymore. If the tight end position is shallow again this season then Jesse is worth a flier.
- Detroit DST – maybe? Trey Flowers was the big acquisitions here and he wasn’t the only former Patricia guy to be brought in to the locker room with CB Justin Coleman and Marcus Cooper joining the secondary. ‘Ziggy’ Ezekiel Ansah still remains unsigned and questions around his shoulder remain but it does not look like he will be returning to DET. Either way, look for the D/ST to improve under Patricia in year two. They were a top 10 fantasy defense the last 4 weeks of the 2018 season. If you are smart and wait on defenses or stream weekly then Detroit might find a spot on our rosters.
- RB Kerryon Johnson: Matt Patricia came out this offseason tempering expectations around Kerryon Johnson developing as a ‘bell cow’ back. Patricia- “…we could win a couple now, but if we wear this guy out and he doesn’t help us in the long run, then what’s the trade off?” Another blueprint coming over from NE? Will we see the dreaded RBBC with CJ Anderson joining the squad? Anderson proved with LA, in the NFL playoffs last season, that he still has juice left in the tank and something to prove after being disrespected this offseason again, receiving minimal interest from NFL teams. Johnsons ADP will rise come draft season but might reach overvalued status quick.
- WR Danny Amendola/Kenny Golladay- As a former Patriot, it makes sense for Matt Patricia to acquire Danny as he looks to establish culture in the locker room and replace lost slot production with Golden Tates departure. One could make a case for Danny to be a winner but Detroits offense completely whiffed on earning my trust last season. Golladay is a questionable ‘buy’ after proving to be inconsistent, even after Tate’s departure. Golladay only reached over 10 points in 4 out of his last 10 games. A lot of mouths to feed with Marvin Jones Jr., Jesse James, Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, and a stable of running backs. I need to see it first in DET to believe it. ‘Buyer be ware’
- Green Bay Packers
- QB Aaron Rodgers/Packers Offense: Matt LeFleur should be an upgrade to the previously predictable Mike McCarthy led Packers. LeFleurs resume includes QB coach during Matt Ryans MVP season, OC under Sean McVay’s resurrection of Jared Goff and the LA Rams offense, and most recently OC for Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans. LeFleur showed commitment to a primary back in Tennessee with Derrick Henry, giving us hope to a faster start for RB Aaron Jones. McCarthy seemed to have issues capitalizing on Jones’ abilities last season. Devante Adams remains a top 5 fantasy WR and whoever ends up taking the slot role will be the big value play in Green Bay. Think Taylor Gabriel (2015-2016), and Cooper Kupp (2017) which were both fantasy studs with LeFleur in the building. WR Jake Kumerow is the sleeper to keep an eye on this training camp/pre-season. Don’t worry, I’ll do it for you!
- Green Bay DST: Typically quiet in GB during the offseason but the Packers acquired a few impact players on the defensive side of the ball lead by OLB’s Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith and FS Adrain Amos. Replacing aging Clay Matthews in the linebacking core is a huge upgrade for this defense. Second year under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, look for the Packers D to improve. Another late round or streaming D to watch.
- Minnesota Vikings
- RB Dalvin Cook: The signing of G Josh Kline will help both the passing and running game in MIN. RB Latavius Murray is now with New Orleans and Ameer Abdullah is the current RB2 on this roster. Signs point to MIN looking at a RB in the draft but either way Dalvin Cook is the “HUUGE” winner here. Murray leaves 162 touches up for grabs and we are further removed from Cook’s injuries.
- Minnesota DST: Keeping LB Anthony Barr from flying over to the New York Jets was a huge win for this defense. Losing SS Andrew Sendejo should not worry you. Look for Minnesota D/ST to remain an early defense off the board with Mike Zimmer still at the helm..but if you want to win a championship wait on your defense and let someone else grab MIN.
- Dallas Cowboys
- QB Dak Prescott: Was this the only play for Jason Witten to get himself out from Twitters punching bag during Monday Night Football broadcasts? Securing a future hall of fame TE on the roster will prove beneficial more than just an outlet pass on Sundays for the Cowboys. Returning 2-time, 1st-Team All-Pro Center Travis Frederick, year two for Guard Connor Williams (who has gained 10-lbs of muscle this offseason), and a full offseason with Amari Cooper will bode well for Dak and the ‘Boyz this fantasy season. I’m indifferent on Randall Cobb joining the roster for fantasy but along with Witten returning it should offset the loss of Cole Beasley as Dak’s safety valve. Cobbs fantasy value should be viewed similar to Beasley in this offense. 2nd year WR Michael Gallup will gain steam heading in to draft season but in a run first offense it will be hard to rely on him week-to-week. Maybe worth a look in best ball leagues. Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, and Dak are the fantasy assets to own in Dallas. Is this the second coming of the triplets- Emmitt, Michael Irvin and Troy? Maybe Dak will find himself as a top-10 fantasy QB again, circa 2016.
- Cowboys DST: Retaining DeMarcus Lawrence, 2nd year for The Werewolf- Leighton Vander Esch- in the middle of the linebacking core, and signing veteran end Robert Quinn make the Cowboys D/ST an interesting fantasy defense.
- New York Giants
- WR Golden Tate and TE Evan Engram: Yes, Shepard is the no-brain winner of the OBJ trade but I’m not here to give you the obvious observations. A lot of negative publicity surrounding the Giants + Eli Manning this offseason will drive ADP down for NYG skill players and I’m okay with it (exception Saquon Barkley). 124 targets are vacated by Odell Beckham Jr departing. Pair that with Eli Mannings declining arm and you have a recipe for the marquee dink-and-dunk offense for the 2019 season. Also, Remember Pat Shurmur and slot monster Adam Thielen for the 2017 Minnesota Vikings. Cue Golden Tate. Down the stretch, Evan Engram ranked #4 among tight ends in targets the last four weeks of the season. Teams are going to stuff the box against the NYG with a focus on slowing down Saquon Barkley, and not trusting Eli Manning to beat them deep, leaving windows for Tate and Engram to excel. Can Sterling Shepard hold his own as the true #1 WR for a complete season with Eli Manning at the helm? I’ll be buying G-men skill-players this draft season, the talent is there. Game flow will have them playing from behind in most games and with Barkley keeping them on the field it will be a recipe for a lot of fantasy production. Remember we are talking fantasy football here. Did I just convince myself that NYG is a fantasy honey hole for 2019? yikes.
- Philadelphia Eagles
- QB Carson Wentz: What was one component missing from 2018 Carson and the Eagles Offense? A viable deep threat. Oh yea, and a broken back. Torrey Smith left for Carolina and Mike Wallace was never able to make it in on the field. Instead, the Eagles relied on Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor to fill the void which affected Nellys numbers after he broke out in 2017 primarily playing the slot. Bringing back lighting bolt speedster DeSean Jackson allows the Eagles to keep Nelly in the slot and DJax to blow the top off the defense. With Wentz’ injury history his draft stock will fall and the smart late round QB drafters will be rewarded (me, me, me!). I think this is a juicy comeback spot for Wentz to return to his MVP caliber self. 2- years removed from his ACL and plenty of time for his back to heal…hopefully. DJax is only a flex play at best for season long but a good add for best-ball leagues. Eagles are notorious for spreading the ball around which leaves it hard to rely on consistency with their skill players but Wentz will reap the rewards.
- TE Zach Ertz: Will this be the season that Ertz tops Travis Kelce as the #1 Fantasy Tight End? It’s hard to imagine Ertz having a better season in 2019 after breaking the NFL single season reception record in 2018. He was the #1 fantasy TE in targets, rezone targets, and receptions. When defenses are forced to pull a safety out of the middle, to keep an eye on DJax streaking down the field, it’s only going to open up more space for the best tight end in the league to run after the catch. He is Wentz’ favorite target and I do not see that changing this season. In full point PPR, I have no problem taking Ertz in the 2nd or 3rd round of re-draft leagues AND ahead of Travis Kelce or George Kittle. Kelce and Ertz are the only TE I would consider taking early.
- RB Jordan Howard: I have seen a lot of doom & gloom on twitter regarding Howard’s fantasy outlook but there is value to be had. Think back to LeGarrette Blount in 2017. Yes, Howard is not worthy of a high draft pick like he earned himself after the 2017 season but he will be a solid flex play. With Philly’s tendencies to pass more than rush and Dougie P’s preference for a RBBC, do not rely on Howard to be your RB2 week-in-week-out. Draft him as your RB3/Flex play with a RB2 updside. Depending on matchup and projected game flow there will be plenty of spots for us to have confidence firing up Howard. He ranks 3rd in the NFL in total rushing yards only behind Zeke and Todd Gurley over the past 3 season. The 2018 Eagles were 8th in redzone rush % and had the 8th most rushes when inside the redzone (I have credit fantasy pundit Matthew Berry for presenting those stats). This is a classic case of buying low.
- Washington Redskins
- I will not waste your time with a long blurb about WSH. Derrius Guice is the only offensive skill player I am even interested in pursuing but coming off an ACL tear and questions around the QB leaves much to be desired. Even if they make a move at QB, which I think is likely, it does not move the needle for me. Can someone tell me who their #1 WR is?
- Atlanta Falcons
- RB Devonta Freeman- The additions of Offensive Guards (OG) Jamon Brown & James Carpenter and the exit of Tevin Coleman’s 199 touches has my mouth salivating over Freeman. He is a forgotten RB after missing almost all of his 2018 campaign. As things stand now, Ito Smith will be a solid bench stash. Keep an eye on ATL picking up a RB in the draft.
- Carolina Panthers
- QB Cam Newton and RB Christian McCaffrey: Holy smokes! Who had run CMC on their championship rosters? 219 carries and 107 catches helped carry many fantasy owners hoist a championship trophy. I don’t see his usage changing much as he remains the focal point of this offense. Carolina bolstered their offense line by signing Center Matt Paradis and re-signing Offensive Tackle (OT) Daryl Williams. Another season under offensive guru Norv Turner, another season removed from his shoulder surgery and improvements on the o-line make Cam an attractive mid-late round QB. McCaffrey will be a top 5 RB off the board in PPR leagues.
- WR DJ Moore- Devin Funchess will not be missed much in CAR for fantasy purposes. DJ Moore, a non-factor the first-half of the season, finished the season with 82 targets to Funchess’ 79. Look for Moore to easily break over 100 targets in 2019. A nice WR2/3 with big game athleticism. Let me make a call to my stock broker real quick, buy buy buy!
- New Orleans Saints
- RB Alvin Kamara: Mark Ingram heads to Baltimore leaving behind 159 touches and 7 touchdowns. Yes, Latavius Murray will have his opportunity to off-load these touches but Kamara will get his crack at them too. I predict Kamara will have another top 5 RB campaign.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- QB Jameis Winston/WR Chris Godwin: The QB whisperer, Bruce Arians, crawled out of retirement to coach the Bucs in 2019. It is about time Dirk Koeter was pushed out of town. Don’t you think @Razzball_MB? If Arians can get in sync with Winston and minimize the errant passes/turnovers we can see a resurrection of Winstons career. DeSean Jackson (74 targets) and Adam Humphries (105 targets) are gone. 2018 fantasy sleeper heart throb, Chris Godwin will have all of the opportunity to shine.
- Arizona Cardinals
- RB David Johnson- Underneath the garbage the was the Cardinals 2018 was the sneaky return of David Johnson. Yes, he let us down early in the season but finished #5 in RB touches with 308, and finished RB #10 on the season in half PPR. The additions OT Marcus Gilbert and OG JR Sweezy will help create better alleys for Johnson to run through. It will be interesting to see how the QB position shakes itself out in ARI but look for Johnson to continue to be a focal point in the office. Kliff Kingsbury should be able to find better ways to utilize Johnson than the previous regime that seemed to try and force him between the tackles.
- Las Angeles Rams
- No major free agency acquisitions in LA that are worth noting for fantasy purposes.
- San Fransisco 49ers
- San Fransisco 49ers DST: Snagging stud OLB Dee Ford from Kansas City, aadding LB Kwon Alexander, and CB Jason Verrett are all huge upgrades to the San Fransisco D/ST. Also, keep an eye on who San Fransisco grabs with the #2 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. All signs point to adding an impact defensive pass rusher or interior hog Quinnen Williams. I will be adding the 49er defense to my watch list the offseason. 2019 might be a season too early for them but they could turn in to a late season streamer or a defense to have in 2020.
- RB Jerrick Mckinnon: Wow, trying to sort out the 49ers backfield gives me a slight migraine. Tevin Coleman was brought over from Atlanta, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and FB Kyle Juszczyk all still remain in the backfield. Kyle Shanahan has a track record of deploying a RBBC, leaving us scratching our head on how this is going to play out. We need to see how the offseason and pre-season snaps pan out before making a hard stand on any back here. If you follow the money, Coleman and McKinnon will be the two duking it out for the lead spot. The 49ers offense will be a fun one to watch in 2019. Will Jimmy Garappolo be the NFL comeback player of the year?
- Seattle Seahawks
- RB Rashaad Penny and RB Chris Carson- Interior o-line help, with the additions of OG’s DJ Fluker and Mike Iupati, will help keep Russell Wilson up-right and create more running lanes for the run-first Seattle offense. I like Penny’s upside to take over the lead role towards the end of the season but both backs will hold value in this offense. With Mike Davis leaving for Chicago both will have an additional 146 touches to share.
This wraps up my NFC free-agency preview. Leave me your feedback and questions in the comments below or you can always interact with me on twitter @NicRomeroFF . See you next week with my AFC preview.