5 Fantasy Winners & Losers Post FA Shakeup
With most of the free agency dust settled at this point, we’ve seen some major movement (and non-movement) that will shake up situations from a fantasy and real-world perspective. Most players are affected by the off-season in one way or another, so let’s look at the five biggest winners and five biggest losers of the off-season so far.
Terry McLaurin, WR Washington Football Team
McLaurin enters his third season having already established a name for himself with his first two outputs. McLaurin burst on scene his rookie year with 919 yards and 7 touchdowns in only 14 games. He provided another solid season his sophomore year with 1,118 yards and 4 touchdowns in 15 games. McLaurin’s talent has never been a question, but he’s been held back by mediocre QB play his first two seasons. The likes of Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen don’t inspire much confidence. The Football Team added gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick this off-season who has a long history of providing top notch WR production; Davante Parker, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and the list goes on. Washington also added WR Curtis Samuel to the mix, but I think this shouldn’t hurt McLaurin’s volume too much given the lack of pass catchers Washington had to begin with.
Chase Edmonds, RB Arizona Cardinals
Former teammate Kenyan Drake signed 2-year, $11 million deal with Las Vegas Raiders this off-season, which should open the door for Chase Edmonds. Edmonds has been used as a complimentary piece up to this point, sharing backfields with Drake and David Johnson since he entered the league. As the roster stands now, Edmonds is slated as the #1 option. Edmonds has been efficient in his career, averaging 4.4 yards a carry and being effective as a pass-catcher. We’ve seen part-time players be given full-time roles in the past and underperform their ADP. Lamar Miller, for example, was extremely productive with his touches with Miami in 2015, but once he became the bell cow in Houston the following year, he seemed to regress significantly. However, the Kliff Kingsbury system is very different than Bill O’Brien’s and Edmonds should at least maintain 4 yards a carry. Drake and Edmonds saw over 500 opportunities last season, so if Edmonds share bumps up to 50% or better, (around 33% last year) I think he has a solid season.
Aaron Jones, RB Green Bay Packers
One of the biggest headlines coming into the off-season was the potential landing spot for free agent RB Aaron Jones. After much buzz and speculation, Jones ended up re-signing with Green Bay on a 4-year, $48 Million deal. You could argue Jones landing in a situation that offered more volume would have been better but staying put was the best outcome for Jones. He has proven to be an elite fantasy option while in Green Bay the last two years since LaFleur has taken over. Jamaal Williams signed a new deal with the Detroit Lions, so Jones and sophomore AJ Dillon look to be the two backs this season. Even if Jones opportunity from last season doesn’t increase (38% snap share, about 50% of RB opportunities) he’s proven to still be an elite player.
Tom Brady, QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Heading into the off-season as defending Super Bowl champs, the Buccaneers spent their resources making sure they kept the band together. They’ve re-signed Lavonte David, Shaq Barrett, Rob Gronkowski, and Leonard Fournette. As of now, Antonio Brown is the only notable player still in free agency, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him re-sign with Tampa. The Bucs are returning all 22 starters from the championship team and have their eyes on a repeat. Tom brady is a major winner this off-season given the return of all the key parts, but also another year in Bruce Arian’s system. There’s been notable improvement from QBs in Year 2 of Arian’s offense, and I could see Brady flirting with a top 5 finish this season.
Justin Herbert, QB Las Angeles Chargers
Coming off a historical rookie season, it was important the Chargers continued to put the pieces around Herbert to succeed. Having weapons in place like Keenen Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler makes the offense explosive, but the Chargers helped the QB where it matters most – up front. The Chargers got rid of Guard Trai Turner, who graded our as one of the worst linemen in the NFL last season. They added All-Pro Center Corey Linsley, one of the best in the league, and Matt Feiler, who graded out as an average starter. The improvement from Turner to Feiler, plus Linsley in the middle should help keep interior pressure off Herbert. The only notable loss from the Chargers’ offense was young stand-out Tight End Hunter Henry, but the Chargers were able to replace him with veteran Jared Cook. Henry has been some-what unreliable in his career, dealing with injuries every season. Cook should be able to replace the 650 yards and 5 TDs from Henry.
Aaron Rodgers, QB Green Bay Packers
Coming off an MVP season, it was going to be hard to replicate the same success in 2021 regardless. However, after free agency, it seems as though the Packers didn’t do Rodgers any favors from a fantasy perspective. While they brought back Aaron Jones, one of my winners of the off-season, they didn’t sign any new weapons in the passing game and didn’t re-sign all-pro center Corey Linsley. He was a major reason I think Justin Herbert is a free-agency winner. It’s tough to assume the Packers will give Rodgers some help in the draft, given last year’s first two picks were spent on QB Jordan Love, and RB AJ Dillon. We’ll see if Green Bay gives Rodgers some help this go around.
Josh Jacobs, RB Las Vegas Raiders
Jacobs had a solid, but inconsistent season in 2020. He was the RB11 in points per game and provided some massive week winners, like in Week 1, but also some headaches like Weeks 3, 4 and 16. The situation around Jacobs has gotten seemingly worse. The Raiders either traded or released most of their offensive line, which was one of the best in the league. With Kenyan Drake now in town, I imagine this evaporates most of Jacob’s passing game opportunity, and most likely cuts into his carries as well. Between a deteriorating offensive line and what looks like less volume, I’ll probably be out on Jacobs in 2021.
Deandre Swift, RB Detroit Lions
The supporting cast around Deandre Swift looks to be very different than the team he played with last year. Long-time Detroit QB Matt Stafford moved over to LA, and WRs Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones went their separate ways. The Lions will be led by QB Jared Goff this year, who came over as part of the Stafford trade. I would consider Goff a considerable downgrade from Stafford, considering Goff isn’t bringing McVay with him. The Lions offense overall should struggle this year, limiting scoring opportunities for Swift. Detroit also brought in Green Bay cast-off Jamaal Williams, who’s been productive in his own right. I could see Swift finishing in the RB20-25 range this year.
Kenny Golladay, WR New York Giants
Considered as the Top WR in free agency, Kenny Golladay had his choice of teams to sign with. Many would have liked to see Kenny sign with a team that has an elite QB, but instead Golladay ended up with the Giants. No disrespect to Daniel Jones, he’s still only entering his third season and could still improve, but I would have much rather seen Golladay with someone like Aaron Rodgers. Golladay will be competing with Sterling Shephard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley for targets. Those weapons outside of Barkley don’t jump off the page but will be annoying enough to significantly dent Golladay’s upside. I think this move will be a positive for the Giants in real life, but I don’t like this landing spot from a fantasy perspective.
Jared Goff, QB Detroit Lions
I might argue Jared Goff was the BIGGEST loser of the off-season. He enjoyed tremendous success under Sean McVay and now finds himself in a brutal situation with an offense that seems very bare. In LA Goff was in one of the best offensive systems in the NFL, consistently had elite running games, and top end WRs Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to throw to. Now he lands in Detroit with a new Head Coach, and very little in terms of weapons. TJ Hockenson is a nice young piece and Deandre Swift/Jamaal Williams provide some hope for the running game. But the Lions have a long way to go to make their offense resemble anything close to LA’s. We’ll see how Goff does without McVay backing him up – I don’t think it’s going to look very pretty.
Thanks for reading and as always, stay true.
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