The fantasy season has come to an end. It is difficult to fully acknowledge this and many fantasy players will hang on tightly to the 2017 fantasy season in the form of DFS or playoff leagues, but for our purposes here at Dynasty League Football, the off-season is upon us.
The good news is there is no off-season for dynasty leaguers. The next few months will be filled with the NFL Combine, free agency, the NFL Draft and more and all of these events will greatly affect player value and dynasty strategy.
In this Off-Season Primer series, I’ll make sure you and your dynasty teams are ready for all that might happen by giving you an advance look at players that could be on the move in the upcoming months.
The 2018 NFL League Year officially launches on March 14, which includes the beginning of free agency. With many of the dynasty-altering class of 2014 players hitting the open market for the first time, this free agency period should have long-lasting impact on dynasty teams along with the NFL. Here are some of the top players who could become available this off-season.
Drew Brees, QB
There were early-season rumors that the Saints might be ready to move on from their quarterback Drew Brees, but after the way the team has played this season, it is difficult to imagine that happens. This is likely a situation where both sides are looking for a new deal.
Kirk Cousins, QB
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This will be the third consecutive off-season in which Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is expected to enter free agency and this time, it will be too expensive for Washington to simply place the Franchise Tag on him. Instead, Cousins could become the league’s highest-paid player, though the team expected to be his top suitor, the 49ers, are likely out of the running. Any team needing a quarterback will be interested in Cousins.
Sam Bradford, QB
Case Keenum, QB
Teddy Bridgewater, QB
The Vikings, a strong Super Bowl contender, face a difficult off-season decision as their top three quarterbacks are all set to enter free agency. Veteran Sam Bradford, the starter to open the season, was lost early with an injury and will likely still demand a big payday. His replacement was underrated Case Keenum, who played well enough to earn a Pro Bowl berth. Finally, we got to see former starter Teddy Bridgewater on the field after suffering what some thought would be a career-ending injury. Each of these three are likely looking for a starting job and the Vikings will have to choose one.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB
It was the impending free agency status of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo that caused the Patriots to trade him earlier this season. Since then, he’s quickly earned a reputation as a strong leader and a top dynasty option. It was a risky move for San Francisco to acquire Garoppolo considering his contract status, but early reports are the team will place the Franchise Tag on him if a deal can’t be worked out between the two sides.
Le’Veon Bell, RB
One of the stories of the off-season will be the status of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who is set to enter the free agency market. Bell was also an unrestricted free agent a year ago, but the team kept him via the Franchise Tag and there is a chance they could do the same thing again. Pittsburgh reportedly offered Bell a very generous contract, but Bell refused. With only rookie running back James Conner behind Bell, it is unlikely the team lets him walk.
Carlos Hyde, RB
The Niners also have starting running back Carlos Hyde ready to become a free agent and they are not expected to put up much of a fight to retain his services. Hyde has been a disappointment this year in his first season under head coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers could be in position to select running back Saquon Barkley in the NFL Draft.
Isaiah Crowell, RB
After an impressive 2016 season, Browns running back Isaiah Crowell has disappointed this season and will hit the open market. The Browns have a lot of picks and not as many needs as some might expect, so they could just let Crowell walk.
Rex Burkhead, RB
Dion Lewis, RB
As expected, the Patriots backfield group has been productive this season, but the surprise is that the production has primarily come from soon to be free agents Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis. As is often the case, these players will retain their value if they remain with New England, but if they bolt for a payday, it will likely damage the long-term value of either player.
Jerick McKinnon, RB
Since starting running back Dalvin Cook went down with a season-ending injury, the Vikings have employed a committee attack and one-half of pair, Jerick McKinnon, has been quite impressive at the very best time. With Cook in town, McKinnon has little hope of earning significant playing time, so he could leave the Twin Cities.
Terrelle Pryor, WR
One of the season’s biggest busts was Redskins wideout Terrelle Pryor, who bet on himself with a one-year contract last off-season. That clearly didn’t work out and Pryor won’t come close to making the type of money the Skins paid him this season. The good news is Pryor could return to the Browns, who reportedly made a trade offer for Pryor at the deadline.
Sammy Watkins, WR
The Bills gave up on wide receiver Sammy Watkins last off-season, first declining to exercise his 2018 option and then shipping him off to the Rams. Even as part of one of the league’s top-scoring offenses, Watkins has been a dud this year, serving as the fourth option for quarterback Jared Goff. At this point, Watkins dynasty owners should be rooting for Watkins to find a new home where he can hopefully make good on his upside.
Marqise Lee, WR
Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee has improved in each of his four seasons, but he has also dealt with multiple injuries throughout his career. With a large group of quality free agent receivers, Lee might have trouble finding a player-friendly deal. His best bet is likely to return to Jacksonville.
Jordan Matthews, WR
Former Eagles wideout Jordan Matthews began his career the right way, but unlike Lee, he’s declined each season. Philadelphia ultimately pulled the trigger and dumped him on the Bills in a contract year. Things didn’t go any better in Buffalo and Matthews dealt with injuries. I don’t foresee much of a market for Matthews, but he is still an ideal buy low based on what he’s shown in the past.
Allen Robinson, WR
Coming off a slightly disappointing 2016 season, Jaguars wideout Allen Robinson was lost for the year in week one with a torn ACL. The Jaguars have done a good job replacing their top option, but are still certain to be interested in retaining Robinson. There have also been rumors that Jacksonville would place the Franchise Tag on Robinson if a contract doesn’t get done.
Jarvis Landry, WR
The Dolphins took some heat when they chose not to extend one of the league’s most productive receivers, Jarvis Landry. Despite his gaudy reception numbers, Landry continues to be disrespected by many in the fantasy community. This season, Landry has also become an elite red zone threat, leading all wide receivers in touchdowns inside the 20-yard line. Landry should be a top priority for the Dolphins, but something tells me he won’t be.
Donte Moncrief, WR
Not long ago, Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief was a darling of the dynasty community – a top target despite limited production. Moncrief was largely reliant on his touchdown receptions for a large percentage of his fantasy scoring last season and has been a total non-factor with his quarterback Andrew Luck out of action. I don’t think the Colts even try to keep Moncrief in Indy.
John Brown, WR
Cardinals class of 2014 receiver John Brown has always been much older than his cohorts in the group and he’s also been consistently hampered by injuries. These two factors will likely combine to hurt Brown’s value to NFL teams. Some team will likely take a shot on the playmaker, but I’ve unfortunately given up on Brown ever staying healthy for a full season.
Jimmy Graham, TE
Tight end Jimmy Graham’s tenure in Seattle has been a frustrating experience for dynasty owners. Being traded away from the fantasy goldmine that is New Orleans, Graham has dealt with a lack of usage, a serious injury and simply a lack of effectiveness during his time with Seattle. The time could be coming to an end as Graham limps to the season’s finish line. Early reports suggest the Seahawks will let Graham walk this off-season.
Tyler Eifert, TE
It appeared that the Bengals had one of the best young tight ends in the league, but Tyler Eifert continues to deal with injuries and he’s missed much of the 2017 season after back surgery. The Bengals might be as frustrated with Eifert as dynasty owners have been and could let him walk, especially given the upcoming changes in leadership. Eifert’s dynasty value and NFL value are shot due to injuries, so he might have to settle for a one-year “prove it” type contract.
After a rough few years for talented tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, things seemingly turned around in 2017. ASJ began the season with a league-imposed suspension, but when he returned, served as one of the top options in the Jets passing game. He has struggled down the stretch, hurting his chances for a new long-term contract. Considering the Jets took a chance on Seferian-Jenkins following his arrest and release by the Buccaneers, I expect him to remain in New York.
Trey Burton, TE
Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is having a career-year, but he has missed some time due to injury. In those missed games, talented backup Trey Burton has really impressed, including five touchdowns. Despite much bigger names on the free agent market this off-season, Burton could be the most sought after free agent tight end.
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