Dynasty Prep 2016: The Expiring Contracts

Nick Whalen


We’ve heard enough about the 2015 NFL season, so let’s talk about preparing for the 2016 season and beyond. This is dynasty we’re talking about here, so we need to be ahead of the rest of our league mates. Expiring contracts provide opportunity and uncertainty in the dynasty community. Let’s explore the unrestricted free agent class of 2016 and potential ramifications.

For the purposes of this article, I will list the age of each player prior to the start of the 2016 season.


Eli Manning, NYG
35 years old

The Giants have a big decision to make regarding Eli. His cap hit is just under $20 million in 2015, but he just came off of one the best seasons of his career in 2014. Will they lock him up or start the rebuild? I would imagine they sign him because the only notable backup is Ryan Nassib and he isn’t good enough to start.

Sam Bradford, PHI
28 years old

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Bradford play in a regular season game due to numerous injuries. How he performs this season will have huge ramifications for the rest of his career. If he steps up and has a great season, the Eagles will sign him to a huge contract. If he gets hurt again, he’s destined to go to a non-competitive franchise and may not start again. Then again, nobody knows what Chip Kelly will do (Shady McCoy owners nod their heads). For that simple fact, I would stash Mark Sanchez or Matt Barkley late in the season. Both are signed for the 2016 season and could walk into the starting job on a great offense.

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Running Backs

Matt Forte, CHI
30 years old

As a Bears fan, I’ve appreciated all Forte has done in Chicago throughout his career. However, I see very little chance he returns for the 2016 season. Chicago is rebuilding their team and you don’t invest large amounts of money into an aging running back during that process – this provides a great buy low opportunity in Jeremy Langford. Whether Langford becomes the starter in 2016 or not, he’s destined for a value jump prior to the NFL Draft.

Chris Ivory, NYJ
28 years old
Bilal Powell, NYJ
27 years old
Stevan Ridley, NYJ
27 years old

Regardless of what happens in 2015, I don’t think any of these players return as the starter in 2016. The Jets seem destined to draft a running back high in the 2016 draft. However, if Zac Stacy makes the 2015 team (which is a big IF), he could be the only returning runner. Stacy can be had for pennies on the dollar right now and might even be on the waiver wire. Keep this in mind late in the season as he could see a bump in value based on opportunity.

Doug Martin, TB
27 years old

Will we see “the muscle hamster” return in 2015? All indications have shown he is in the best shape in years and running like his life depends on it, which is good because his NFL life does depend on it. If Martin has a good year, I expect Tampa to re-sign him for at least the 2016 season. Sorry Charles Sims owners, I just don’t see Sims starting in the near future.

Lamar Miller, MIA
25 years old

The Dolphins are in poor cap shape for the 2016 season. The current regime signed Knowshown Moreno to a solid free agent contract to be the starter in 2014, drafted Jay Ajayi and given opportunities to Damien Williams. I don’t foresee the Dolphins spending solid capital in bringing Miller back to start in 2016 unless he has a spectacular season.

Alfred Morris, WAS
27 years old

Drafting Matt Jones in the third round muddies the water on Alfred’s future outlook. Do they see him as a backup? Replacement for Morris? Either way, Washington has more issues to deal with than a starting running back. I would put it as 50/50 Morris doesn’t return, making acquiring Jones a good move that could be very profitable.

LeGarrette Blount, NE
29 years old

The roller coaster ride of a career hasn’t ended for Blount. He could very well return for the 2016 as the starting running back. However, he could be supplanted as a backup during the 2015 season or not get re-signed after the season. Either way, this isn’t a backfield I want any part of now or in the future.

Wide Receivers

AJ Green, CIN
28 years old

Could you imagine the NFL and fantasy football outrage if Green wasn’t re-signed? I imagine mass chaos in Cincinnati. Well, we’ve had enough of that lately, so let’s just say he will play for the Bengals in 2016 and beyond. They will either re-sign him or slap the franchise tag down to prevent themselves from losing a superstar.

Alshon Jeffery, CHI
26 years old

The injury to Kevin White only supports the notion Chicago will bring back Jeffery no matter what. He’s simply too important to that offense to let him go. He’s the number WR1 on a team with a bad defense playing from behind. Pay that man.

Anquan Boldin, SF
35 years old

It’s been a great career for Boldin, especially his resurgence the last few seasons. However, I could see him retiring after the 2015 season. This would provide a boost to Torrey Smith, Bruce Ellington and Jerome Simpson. It’s doubtful Ellington or Simpson ever become a starter as the 49ers will bring in more competition through the draft or free agency, though.

Percy Harvin, BUF
28 years old

The strange career of Harvin still isn’t over. I’m baffled by the fact he is only 27 right now. It’s possible he has a rebound year in 2015 and becomes a sought after commodity in free agency for a starting job. This also would be a boost for Harvin to simply getting the heck out of that putrid Buffalo offense. The main beneficiary of Harvin leaving would be Robert Woods, but i’m not sure either player has much of a fantasy football ceiling.

crabtreeMichael Crabtree, OAK
28 years old

The training camp buzz around Crabtree was positive in 2015 and he could rebound in his one year “prove it” deal in Oakland. He would then land somewhere else as a starter in free agency. Crabtree is a buy low and I don’t see any receiver (outside of Amari Cooper) in Oakland stepping up in his absence. They’re likely to address a complimentary receiver to Cooper in next year’s NFL Draft.

Brian Quick, STL
27 years old

This is a very big year for Quick to see if he’s recovered from his shoulder injury and to see if he can step up to be the WR1 for the Rams. My guess is he re-signs with the Rams for a modest deal and keeps up the clutter that is that wide receiver corps. However, if he leaves, Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are all under contract for the 2016 season.

Mohamed Sanu, CIN
28 years old

Sanu has had a solid career with the Bengals, but they just have too many good players for him to shine. If he leaves, I would buy his opportunity to show what he can do. The main beneficiary would be Marvin Jones, but I see his ceiling capped by AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill in that offense.

Rueben Randle, NYG
25 years old

Randle has had an underrated tenure with the Giants and could get a great career boost by leaving New York. He almost had 1,000 yards last year at the age of 23. Randle is a buy and gets a value bump if he gets away from Odell Beckham Jr.

Tight End

Antonio Gates, SD
36 years old
Ladarius Green, SD
26 years old

The long awaited time for Green to be the starting tight end is upon us. Well, in 2016 I mean, when Gates retires and the Chargers re-sign Green to a modest deal. It’s certainly possible they let both players go and draft a new tight end as well, much to the chagrin of the fantasy community. Also, if they both leave the Chargers, I am not giving a bump in value to John Phillips. Fact is, Gates seems ageless and it’s as murky as ever when it comes to the future at tight end in San Diego.

Vernon Davis, SF
32 years old

It has been a great career for Davis in the bay area and I don’t see why it wouldn’t continue. I expect a resurgence in 2015 and they bring him back on a modest deal. However, if he leaves they have many talented backups that could see a big value boost. Vance McDonald, Blake Bell and Xavier Grimble all have the talent to be a TE2 in dynasty leagues. If I had to pick one player to take a gamble on, it would be Bell.

Jermaine Gresham, ARI
28 years old

He’s had a solid NFL career, but injuries have robbed his explosiveness. I would imagine he has a subpar season in 2015 and doesn’t garner much interest in 2016. This would give Troy Niklas an opportunity to finally be the starter in Arizona.

Dwayne Allen, IND
26 years old
Coby Fleener, IND
27 years old

The Colts have been spending a lot of resources on upgrading and locking up key pieces of that offense – they will likely only bring one of these two players back and it would give them an immediate rise in value. I think Allen has the inside track, however he needs to stay healthy. Fleener would easily sign somewhere else as a starting tight end. This would be a win-win situation in value and make them both buys at the moment.


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