The best dynasty coaches know the road to a championship is paved with a pinch of good luck and a strong commitment to never-ending research.
Staying one step ahead of your league-mates is what it’s all about and whether that means uncovering a hidden gem in a rookie draft, having the quickest ‘trigger’ for a coveted waiver wire addition or buying-low on a timely acquisition, DLF will continue to work tirelessly to give you an edge. We’ve uncovered countless players before other fantasy sites even knew they existed on an NFL roster. We’re not afraid to make bold proclamations on players if we think it’s information you need to know. It’s always better to be earlier to add a player. The quick and the dead as they say.
One area to seek an advantage on your competition is finding those names who are likely going to be changing uniforms in the year to come. Second-string backs can easily become first-tier starters. Receivers buried on the depth chart can experience an awakening of sorts in a new situation or, just as often, become a starter as a player above them moves on to greener pastures. Promising quarterbacks who rarely see the field can become household names in the right situation.
It’s a simple concept. Always outwork your opponent and seek any advantage you can get.
To that end, one area I always seek to be more knowledgeable than my fellow coaches in is that of player free-agency status in the year to come. Whether via waiver wire addition, trade or via the free-agent/rookie draft each year, adding players who will benefit from a team change is one of the primary action steps to give your squad momentum starting a year before the expected move. Moreover, it’s not only players who change teams that may increase in value but, also, those players who remain and see their role increase due to movement above them on the depth chart. I simply don’t care what causes a player’s value to increase, I just want to ensure I have shares of that player.
To that end, here is a quick peak at some of 2019’s higher profile unrestricted free agents (UFAs) with commentary to help you understand why you should take notice. Note this list does not include Extended Rights Free Agents (ERFAs) or Restricted Free Agents (RFA’s).
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Tyrod Taylor, CLE
Taylor is going to get another opportunity but he won’t be handed a starting role. He’s relatively efficient under center, has significant escapability and mobility and you can’t hold him completely responsible for what transpired in both Buffalo and Cleveland. Miami, Jacksonville and even the Giants could be in play for the still-young slinger.
Bridgewater signed a one-year deal to back up Drew Brees in New Orleans and very well could be back with the Saints either to back up Brees once again or compete for a starting role should Brees determine it’s time to hang’em up. All indications are that Brees, currently 39 years old, will return for at least one more year though if the Saints win the Super Bowl, he could decide to retire while on top. I like Bridgewater’s chance to remain in New Orleans regardless of what Brees decides to do.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB
Fitzpatrick turns 36 before November is out and is a free agent following the season. What transpires at that point as anyone’s guess as Jameis Winston‘s performance has taken a turn for the worse. Fitzpatrick may sign another one-year contract to fight for a starting role in 2019 but certainly not before surveying the market while waiting for a well-positioned team to come calling.
Robert Griffin III, BAL
Griffin III showed well in the preseason and has experienced quite the roller-coaster ride since entering the NFL in 2012. Now with his third team, RGIII may sneak in a start in replacement of ailing (hip) veteran Joe Flacco, a start which would serve as an audition for 2019. The Ravens selected Lamar Jackson highly in 2018 and it would be a surprise if Jackson isn’t seeing more field team as the Ravens continue to struggle. Look for Robert Griffin to be competing for a new club in 2019
Le’Veon Bell, PIT
Bell could still be transition tagged in 2019 but it seems more likely the Steelers will simply elect to part ways with back. Bell will become the hottest name on the free agent market and while there exists no guarantee he falls to a good starting situation or even recapture his previous form after taking a year off, he will remain a sought after player nonetheless. His forfeit of $14.5M is a bold move that he is not guaranteed to recoup but his legs are certain to be fresh and he’ll have at least three years to produce in a new jersey. Watch the Steelers, however, as they may seek to apply the transition tag which could make things more complicated.
Tevin Coleman, ATL
Much like T.J. Yeldon, but with more upside, Coleman was the back I was most intrigued by heading into 2019, at least before the Le’Veon Bell debacle. Coleman turns 26 in early 2019 and is nearly certain to move on from Atlanta as he seeks a bell-cow role. He’s built (6’1/210) a bit more like an upside third-down runner but carries enough power to be given a shot for consistent early down work as well. In his four years at the NFL level, Coleman has yet to fall below 4.0 in his ypc. average though he has yet to eclipse 156 rushing attempts. Rushing attempt volume is the great equalizer to rushing average and there’s no guarantee he’s cut-out to be a starter though he should get the opportunity. Atlanta will likely allow Coleman to walk as rookie Ito Smith continues to look capable.
T.J. Yeldon, JAX
Yeldon is one of my favorite stashes for 2019 as he looks for another starting opportunity. Still only 25 and with good size, Yeldon has made his name as a solid third-down back with some early down potential, though he clearly shines out of the backfield as a receiver. He doesn’t run as physically as his size would suggest but the Jaguars may not have been the best indication of what upside he carries in this area. Yeldon is a perfect complement to the bruising Leonard Fournette, especially when considering Fournette’s inability to stay on the field. Look for T.J. Yeldon to seek a starting role with a more competitive team. He may not be successful in this endeavor, but his upside in PPR formats keeps him solidly on the radar for his next situation.
Mark Ingram, NO
Ingram turns 29 late in 2018 and will not likely command a big payday given his age. He’ll certainly look to test the open market for value but may decide to return to NOLA for a similar tandem role with Alvin Kamara. Ingram has yet to carry a full load leading to fresher legs which could extend his career as some backs have had recent success into their 30s. He’ll carry dynasty value as an RB3 with upside, presenting the best value for competing team not needing youth.
Latavius Murray, MIN
Murray will turn 29 in early 2019 and is no longer a carry-the-load back, instead playing a complementary role. His ypc. average (4.5) in 2018 is healthy enough to obtain a similar role should the Vikings elect not to resign, but given Dalvin Cook‘s frequent visits to the training table, odds are the Vikings will retain his services for at least one more year. In dynasty, he’ll be a somewhat valuable hand-cuff to the lead back ahead of him.
Spencer Ware, KC
Spencer Ware’s arrow was pointing up in 2016 following a 921 yard rushing campaign. What followed was the arrival of Kareem Hunt and Ware’s transition to a back-up role. Since that time, Ware has fallen to a hand-cuff role with very little starting potential without injury to Ware. Soon-to-be 27, Ware possesses some three-down ability and should hit the open market with solid potential for 2019 should he find a starting situation. He doesn’t possess eye-popping dynamic but is similar to the Jets’ Isaiah Crowell but with more receiving ability. He’ll find a new home in 2019 and will carry upside.
Mike Davis, SEA
Davis flashes ability consistently but can’t seem to lock down a starting role. He’ll turn 26 in early 2019 and should find a new team once again. The Seahawks will undoubtedly roll with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny as their lead backs in 2019, leaving little incentive for Davis to resign. He doesn’t carry starting back intrigue but as he’s shown in Seattle, he’s capable enough and should be rostered in deeper leagues until we see his ultimate destination.
Adrian Peterson, WAS
Peterson is proving the naysayers wrong and showing a 33 year old back can still be productive in the NFL. With a 4.3 ypc. average heading into week 11, AP still looks healthy and is showing few signs of age. On a one-year deal and only added due to the injury to rookie Derrius Guice, Peterson is set to hit the street again following 2018. He’s certain to receive offers but his best opportunity for quality touches will come closer to, or following, kick-off of 2019 as he waits for a significant injury to occur on the running back landscape. Peterson is known for his rigorous workouts and there’s little question he’ll remain in shape to take advantage of any situation he so chooses.
Other notable running backs:
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI
The only question remaining regarding Fitzgerald is whether he elects to return for one more season with the Cardinals in what would be his age-36 season. He’s already on record as saying he wants to retire as a Cardinal and all signs point to him doing just that. The Cardinals are far from a Super Bowl contender and are clearly rebuilding. Expect one of the greatest players in the history of the NFL to hang’em up following 2018. It’s still possible he could change his mind and be willing to sign with a true contender but it seems unlikely and uncharacteristic. Larry Fitzgerald embodies what all young NFL players should aspire to be. Never a distraction, no choreographed touchdown celebrations, no drama and never seeking the spotlight for anything other than his teamwork and on-field, and off-field, production, he is arguably the best player and person to ever don an NFL uniform.
Randall Cobb, GB
Cobb will turn 29 before kick-off of 2019 and hasn’t played a full-season since 2015. Production continues to drop and the Packers have, again, a dynamic stable of young receivers such Cobb is certain to depart during the off-season. Landing spot will be critical for the slot-specialist and he’ll have upside in the right situation but he’s no more than a complementary piece in most offenses. He’ll carry roster value enough to hold but could well end up being a ‘clogger’ on your roster or bye week fill-in for the remainder of his career. The departure of Cobb means good things for Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Donte Moncrief, JAX
It’s taken Moncrief some time to acclimate to Jacksonville’s system in 2018, be he’s now the WR1 and there hasn’t been enough development below him such that Jacksonville can easily allow him to ‘walk’ in the off-season. Still only 25 years of age, should Moncrief continue to produce at current levels, there’s a good chance he’ll resign in Jacksonville and could be a sleeper heading into 2019. Should he depart in free agency, he’ll be an intriguing player in fantasy due to his combination of pedestrian performance, size (6’2/216), youth and upside. Don’t count out a return to the Colts and Andrew Luck.
Golden Tate, PHI
The Eagles most likely didn’t acquire Tate for only the remainder of 2018. He’ll carry a heavy price tag but look for the Eagles ink Tate to pair with Alshon Jeffery, pushing Nelson Agholor to no more than a WR3 in the offense. Tate is going to be looking to break the bank with what will be his last big contract opportunity so it’s not out of the question he simply looks to sign with the high bidder. Should he remain in Philly, he’s going to anchor the Eagles’ passing game for Carson Wentz for years to come but will be 31 when 2019 kicks off.
Devin Funchess, CAR
The trade of Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo immediately made Funchess the WR1, but his production has anything but. Funchess produces more like an upside WR3 in fantasy and while it seems likely the Panthers will seek to retain his services, Funchess is certain to test the market. At 6’4/225 lbs., he carries the size to make offensive coordinators drool and he has shown the ability to be a difference-maker but has never shown the consistency to be a top threat. Still only 24 years of age and with four seasons soon to be under his belt, it’s not out of the question that Funchess’ next contract provides greater statistical production opportunity. He’ll carry WR2 upside in the right system. He’s a good acquisition target considering his low-value into the potential opportunity to come.
John Brown, BAL
Brown resurrected his career in 2018 in his first year with the Ravens, proving the 28 year-old is still capable of being a productive complementary threat in the passing game. Brown may test the market as he comes off his one-year $5M contract but expect the Ravens to bid to retain his services. He is on pace to have challenge for a career-year in 2018, projecting 1,068 yards and seven touchdowns with 10 weeks in the book. The Ravens completely overhauled their receiving core ahead of 2018 by adding Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead. Also adding two rookie tight ends, Mark Johnson and Hayden Hurst, it’s anyone’s guess as to what this corps. looks like in 2019, but John Brown should remain a priority.
Other notable wide receivers
Jared Cook, OAK
The 31 year-old is having a career year, certain to set highs in all categories. He’ll be 32 in early 2019 and will hit the free agent market. The Raiders should seek to resign the veteran but look for Cook to head elsewhere to a team with more near-term potential. The Raiders are clearly rebuilding and Cook won’t stay unless the money is too good to pass up and new head coach Jon Gruden hasn’t shown a desire to open his wallet, jettisoning some high priced, and young, talent. Cook will find plenty of suitors but his production in 2018 will increase his fantasy value such that he may be too expense to acquire during the off-season.
Other notable tight ends:
Jesse James, PIT
There’s no bad time to start looking ahead to future years in order to prepare your roster. Staying one step ahead of your competition by targeting low-value names who could see a change of scenery next year is a fantastic way to capitalize on upside before the change takes place. And don’t forget to expand your focus to not only the impending free agent, but also the depth chart below the player on his existing team. A departing player creates opportunities below him.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this look at a few of 2019’s free agents. Leave me questions below if you have them and good luck the rest of the way here in 2018!
You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff