Monday morning, I sat down at my desk, ready to conquer all I had in front of me. I knew this would be a big week as the new NFL league year begins and it was just hours away from the everyone’s favorite oxymoron, the legal tampering period. I popped open the computer and immediately received a notification that veteran receiver Danny Amendola had agreed to sign with the Detroit Lions. So much for a noon starting time.
The rest of my day was filled with refreshing websites, updating depth charts and considering how the multitude of moving parts would impact teams and players around the league. Was your head spinning? Mine sure was!
For the past few months, all we’ve heard is how weak this free agent class is and while that is true, it didn’t dampen the excitement that off-season action always brings.
In case you missed any news (and that was easy to do), I’m here to offer a summary of what happened on the opening day of the NFL’s legal tampering period. As a reminder, none of these deals are official until the new league year begins later this week.
Here is a position-by-position breakdown with players listed in order based on our latest dynasty ADP data.
Nick Foles, JAX
Four years, $88M
This deal came as no surprise to any NFL fan. After back-to-back seasons with impressive late-season runs after taking over for an injured Carson Wentz, former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles deserved a big payday. I don’t think anyone expected it to be quite this large, though. Included in his deal is over $50 million in guaranteed money. The Jaguars clearly consider themselves contenders despite last season’s train wreck of a year. With one of the league’s top defenses and much-needed improved quarterback play, the Jags could be looking at a quick turnaround.
As for Foles and his fantasy outlook, this is a player who has only finished inside the top 25 fantasy quarterbacks once and that was five years ago. All of Foles’ recent success came alongside the coaching of Doug Pederson and I have some concerns Foles will not come close to replicating that with this Jaguars team that lacks a true WR1.
None of these quarterbacks are sure-things to land starting jobs. In fact, we should consider that possibility unlikely. There simply are not many teams in need of a stop-gap starter, and that’s the ceiling for the above players. The Dolphins are expected to release their former starter Ryan Tannehill and could bring in one of these players as they are essentially in tank mode making moves for the long-term.
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Frank Gore, BUF
(One year, $2M)
The Bills have taken some flack in the past couple of years for not making moves to upgrade their backfield. Longtime starter LeSean McCoy is clearly slowing down while they’ve leaned on veterans Chris Ivory and Marcus Murphy as backups. This was easily the oldest backfield in the league in 2018. So, what do they do? They sign the oldest back in the league, Frank Gore. Despite that age, Gore has remained consistent and productive. This might sound crazy, but I think Gore might be the best back on this roster. Yes, that says more about the backfield than my faith in the veteran.
Mike Davis, CHI
(Two Years, $6M)
Entering free agency, veteran back Mike Davis was certainly not a player high on many fantasy player’s watchlists, but maybe he should’ve been. When Seattle starter Chris Carson missed time with injuries last year, it was Davis, not first-round pick Rashaad Penny, who thrived. Davis posted six games as the RB20 or better in 2018 in a part-time role. Landing with the Bears, his opportunity could quickly expand. Chicago is reportedly shopping starter Jordan Howard. While Tarik Cohen’s job is safe, there would be plenty of carries available should Howard be sent packing. This investment does not lock Davis into a starting job, or really even a significant role, so be careful in making moves to acquire him based on speculation.
The cream of the free agency crop lies in this group of running backs, namely with superstar Le’Veon Bell deciding his new team. Tevin Coleman and Mark Ingram are also potential fantasy starters pending their eventual landing spot.
Jamison Crowder, NYJ
(Three years, $28.5M)
After a disastrous season in Washington, slot receiver Jamison Crowder was surely anxious to find a new team. He wasted no time in agreeing to a deal with the Jets. New York had already retained receiver Quincy Enunwa, who also excels in the slot, so this is a curious move. With an ugly injury history and a crowded depth chart, it is difficult to see this as an opportunity for Crowder to gain value.
Devin Funchess, IND
(One year, $10M)
After a breakout 2017 season, receiver Devin Funchess was among the biggest busts in the 2018 season, falling down the depth chart and out of favor in Carolina. He became an albatross on fantasy rosters and is an easy target for frustrated fantasy players. Now, signing a one-year “prove it” deal with the Colts, Funchess should have every opportunity to rehabilitate his dynasty value. The Colts had nothing on the receiver depth chart behind TY Hilton, giving Funchess an opportunity for a starting gig along with his obvious quarterback upgrade.
Adam Humphries, TEN
(Four years, $36M)
In 2018, slow receiver Adam Humphries enjoyed a career-year with personal bests in receptions (76), receiving yards (816) and touchdowns (five) and he was able to cash in with a deal paying him $9 million over four years, on average. Expect Humphries to man the slot and offer quarterback Marcus Mariota a safety valve he’s lacked the past couple of years.
DeSean Jackson, PHI
(Three years, $27M)
While he did not enter the day as a free agent, it was widely assumed that veteran receiver DeSean Jackson would be finding a new team for the 2019 season. Prior to the Buccaneers coaching change, Jackson had requested a trade and the addition of Bruce Arians didn’t change his mind. Before they were forced to release the veteran speedster, Tampa flipped Jackson to his original team, the Eagles, for a late-round draft pick upgrade. Philly rewarded Jackson with a new contract extension as he’ll serve as the deep threat they’ve been searching for since the two sides parted ways years ago.
Who is left?
While this is a well below-average free agent receiver class, the best options are still available. Golden Tate seems very interested in signing with the Patriots or Steelers, though it is unclear if the teams share that interest. Deep threat Tyrell Williams is rumored to be the top name on many boards.
Tyler Kroft, BUF
(Three years, $18.75M)
CJ Uzomah, CIN
(Three years, $18M)
The Bengals trio of tight ends all hit free agency and they made it clear which player they wanted, signing CJ Uzomah to a three-year pact for $18 million. Meanwhile, Tyler Kroft got slightly more than that from the Bills, who recently dumped veteran Charles Clay. Neither of these are anything more than a tight end streamer and don’t deserve a roster spot in most dynasty formats.
Who is left?
While he is the oldest of this group, Jared Cook is the top free agent tight end, coming off a career-best year with the Oakland Raiders. After his lengthy injury history, another former Bengal Tyler Eifert may have a hard time finding a deal with any team.