The fantasy season has come to an end. It is difficult to fully acknowledge this but we must look ahead and start making plans to improve our dynasty teams building championship contenders.
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 who could be on the move in the upcoming months.
The 2019 NFL League Year officially launches on March 13, which includes the beginning of free agency. This class of free agents has already been dismissed as below-average but there are a few gems, especially at the running back position. Here are some of the top players who are scheduled to be available this off-season.
A free agent a year ago as well, former Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater signed with the Jets with hopes of starting and found himself the odd man out in a three-way race for the starting job. After the Jets drafted Sam Darnold early in the first round, Bridgewater’s fate was sealed. He was later dealt to the Saints and got a chance to start in the season finale but struggled. Bridgewater won’t have a starting job handed to him but could land in a situation where he has a chance to compete for the gig. He could also opt to stay in New Orleans if both sides feel he has a chance to eventually succeed veteran Drew Brees as the long-term starter.
Tyrod Taylor, QB
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After landing with the Browns last off-season, veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor was locked in as the starter despite the addition of top overall pick Baker Mayfield. For better or worse, Taylor simply couldn’t stay healthy and once Mayfield stepped on the field, the job and the team belonged to him. Taylor will be looking for a similar situation this off-season and could even stay in Cleveland as the backup if he doesn’t garner serious interest elsewhere.
Le’Veon Bell, RB
The jewel of this class will not be without controversy. By now, we all know the story of Le’Veon Bell’s 2018 season. After being named the Steelers’ franchise player once again, Bell refused to report to the team, carrying out the rare full-season holdout. It worked well for Pittsburgh, who found a younger, cheaper and arguably more productive option in James Conner. Bell should have plenty of suitors, but none will offer him the statistical upside the Steelers did.
Kareem Hunt, RB
If anything tops the Bell saga for the story of the 2018 fantasy football season, it was the off-field issues that led to the shocking release of one of the league’s best backs, Kareem Hunt. There is certainly still a question of whether Hunt will even be signed by an NFL team and what league-imposed punishment he will face if and when he does find a new squad. Regardless of all of that, Hunt remains one of the top talents and could quickly see his dynasty value rise back to where it once stood. The Bears have already been linked as a possible landing spot for Hunt.
Mark Ingram, RB
Veteran running back Mark Ingram’s Saints tenure has been a roller coaster and it often seemed he wouldn’t even reach the end of his contract with the team. He will do that now though and there is even reason to believe there is mutual interest in Ingram re-signing with the Saints to play the 1B role to Alvin Kamara’s 1A. Ingram has become a value in dynasty leagues and if he does move on, there are many situations in which he could earn a larger role, albeit on a presumably lesser offense.
Jay Ajayi, RB
Few players have seen their dynasty value fall as quickly as running back Jay Ajayi. In the off-season of 2017, Ajayi was a top 20 player according to our dynasty ADP and a trade to the Eagles looked like a good thing. In 2018, Ajayi once again succumbed to injuries and his value is now at a three-year low. It is unclear how interested the Eagles might be in retaining Ajayi but getting away from the multi-back committee scheme would be best for his dynasty value.
Tevin Coleman, RB
Pegged as the next Jerick McKinnon long before the season ever began, the 2018 campaign set up perfectly for Falcons backup Tevin Coleman. He was in the final year of his rookie deal and planning to cash in, which became a reality when Atlanta lost veteran starter Devonta Freeman for the season. The one thing no one saw coming was Coleman’s failure to produce. In previous seasons, he had been an efficient fantasy producer in a limited role but as that responsibility grew, the numbers didn’t. Coleman will still be looking for a nice payday and some team will likely give in, making him a starter in the league.
Latavius Murray, RB
Soon after running back Latavius Murray signed a free agent deal with the Vikings, they drafted Dalvin Cook to be their starter. Cook has battled injuries in each of his first two seasons and Murray has shown to be a solid replacement. He won’t find a starting role in free agency, but he should see his dynasty value spike when he lands in a situation offering a clearer path to consistent touches.
Marshawn Lynch, RB
Veteran back Marshawn Lynch returned to football with the purpose of playing in front of his hometown fans in Oakland. Now, the Raiders aren’t exactly sure where they will play their 2019 home games and Lynch’s time with the team could be over. Despite his age and recent injuries, Lynch will find work if he wants it, as one of the most respected veteran backs in the league. Even if that is the situation, it is unlikely we see his dynasty value greatly impacted.
T.J. Yeldon, RB
One of my favorite sleepers from this free agent class is Jaguars back T.J. Yeldon. He shouldn’t even qualify for the sleeper label considering he is a former first-round dynasty rookie pick and held down a spot as a fantasy RB1 for much of the season. Yeldon took a step back when starter Leonard Fournette returned to the lineup and now there is at least a small chance that both will be gone. I am anxious to see Yeldon is a new and different offense.
Golden Tate, WR
The Lions were wise to acknowledge the facts that they were going nowhere in 2018 and also would not be re-signing wide receiver Golden Tate. That led to the mid-season trade sending Tate to the Eagles. That forced marriage did have its moments, including Tate’s clutch touchdown to essentially send Philly to the playoffs but overall it has to be considered a failure. Expect Tate to move on from the Eagles and find a new team. Also, expect him to be a massive value all off-season.
John Brown, WR
The season started well for wide receiver John Brown in his first year with the Ravens. The move to rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson hurt Brown and most other Baltimore pass-catchers. A third offense in three seasons would not be a good thing for Brown, though he can still be a solid second or third receiver.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR
Before we learn which team future Hall of Fame receiver might suit up for in 2019, we must first wait for his decision to play at all. Fitzgerald is still reportedly considering retirement. While chasing a ring would be nice, the prevailing assumption is that if Fitz returns, he’ll do it for the Cardinals.
Randall Cobb, WR
In 2017 when the Packers offense struggled, they had a good excuse as quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed the majority of the season. This past year, Rodgers was healthy, and the Pack added Jimmy Graham. They even got a breakout from second-year back Aaron Jones but that wasn’t enough. The struggles continued and none were more evident than with veteran receiver Randall Cobb, who battled injuries and wasn’t a difference-maker when he was on the field. Cobb’s time in Green Bay is done and even if he does return on a very small contract, he will likely be jumped on the depth chart by Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown.
Donte Moncrief, WR
After struggling towards the end of his Colts tenure, wide receiver Donte Moncrief surprised the market when he took a one-year, $10 million deal from the Jaguars. After a relatively successful season, he’s back on the market but won’t get that type of payday again. Moncrief has to be viewed as a WR2 in the league but has become an undervalued dynasty asset.
Tyrell Williams, WR
The Chargers seem certain to lose their deep threat receiver Tyrell Williams. As most speedy, big-play wideouts, Williams has been an inconsistent producer over the past couple of seasons and will look to cash in. In a weak wide receiver class and at a relatively young age, Williams could actually be one of the most sought-after pass-catchers on the market. If so, that will open a nice sell-high window in dynasty leagues.
Dez Bryant, WR
Just days after finally signing with an NFL team this season, veteran receiver Dez Bryant suffered a season-ending injury. Considering how long it took for him to find a team and the difficult rehab process from his Achilles injury, there is a chance we never see Bryant play in the league again.
Devin Funchess, WR
As younger options like rookie D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel emerged for the Panthers, disappointing receiver Devin Funchess was phased out of the offense. Funchess is still just 24 years old and has a very solid 2017 campaign on his resume, so he should get some looks from several teams but he will be a difficult player to trust as a fantasy option.
Tyler Eifert, TE
Often-injured Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert was a free agent last off-season as well and surprisingly agreed to another deal with the Bengals. Unfortunately, Eifert again missed much of the year after suffering a nasty broken ankle. The Bengals have to be ready to move on at this point and as talented as he is, Eifert could have trouble finding work.
Jared Cook, TE
One of the major surprises of the 2018 season was the career-year enjoyed by veteran tight end Jared Cook, who led the Raiders with 68 receptions for 896 yards and six touchdowns. Even at age 31, Cook could be in for a nice payday as many teams have major questions at the tight end position.
Other Names to Monitor:
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB
- Bilal Powell, RB
- Spencer Ware, RB
- C.J. Anderson, RB
- Corey Grant, RB
- Ty Montgomery, RB
- Adrian Peterson, RB
- Frank Gore, RB
- Rod Smith, RB
- Cordarrelle Patterson, WR
- Tavon Austin, WR
- Adam Humphries, WR
- Cole Beasley, WR
- Mike Wallace, WR
- Jordan Matthews, WR
- Chris Conley, WR
- Chris Hogan, WR
- Kelvin Benjamin, WR
- Demetrius Harris, TE
- C.J. Uzomah, TE
- Maxx Williams, TE
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