2011 Fantasy Football Free Agency Primer

D. Williams

The day that fantasy football owners have been waiting for is nearly upon us: the start of free agency. While we’ve had our noses to the grindstone ranking and projecting hundreds of players during the offseason, all of that work will change the moment free agency hits later this week. It promises to be a fast and furious signing period and with that in mind, we’ve put together this primer to get fantasy owners ready.

Here's how free agency is going to work: 1) Teams can begin negotiating with their own free agents, rookies and undrafted free agents beginning Tuesday (tomorrow). Teams can also begin trade discussions. 2) Teams roster cuts can be made beginning Thursday. 3) Teams can begin to sign other free agents beginning Friday at 6PM EST.

Below you’ll find a list of the top QB, RB, WR and TE free agents along with a little speculation about where they might land. Keep in mind that there are restricted (RFA) and unrestricted free agents (UFA). Restricted free agents are mostly third-year players (like Michael Bush and Mike Tolbert) and they very rarely move. We’ll be focusing on the UFAs who can sign with anyone they want, as well as a few big names who have been popular trade fodder for the last few weeks.
Let’s jump right in with a few non-free agent QBs who are likely on the move…


Wait, he’s not a free agent, you say? Nope, but he might as well be! It’s almost a given at this point that he’ll be on the move. Arizona has been an oft-mentioned landing spot, and he’d immediately become QB2-caliber throwing to Larry Fitzgerald in the desert. Kolb looked pretty miserable in limited time in 2010, so there’s no guarantee he lights things up in Arizona. Still, virtually anyone would be an upgrade from the Derek Anderson/John Skelton/Max Hall debacle last year, so you can bet Fitzy will be watching this situation closely.
The feeling seems to be that Orton will be traded once free agency begins, especially since his salary ($8.9 million) would be enough to get the Broncos under the new cap if they are able to move him. Of course, all of this speculation assumes that new HC John Fox doesn’t want to keep him around as the starter. So the real question is how the new regime (Fox and GM John Elway) feels about Tim Tebow. But back to the capable-yet-underwhelming Orton – he’s a low-end QB2 depending on the situation, and could be part of a two-man or three-man Quarterback By Committee (QBBC) if he lands somewhere favorable.
The Redskins will try to trade him, but they are going to have a tough time finding a partner willing to give up anything of value, so he may ultimately be released. McNabb threw a career-high 15 interceptions in 13 games last season but posted his usual yardage numbers, so he may still have something left in the tank. Minnesota has been mentioned as a possible destination, but we really could point to any team with QB issues as a potential new home for McNabb. 
Young is due $8.5 million in salary and $4.25 million in roster bonuses in 2011, so it’s a done deal that he’ll be released once the Titans have that option. Can he still start in the NFL? That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Certainly, he has had some ups and downs over the last three seasons; he has only started 24 games over that span for a variety of reasons. During that time, he posted a TD/INT ratio of 21/12 and also rushed for two scores. A change of scenery should do him some good.
Now for the real, bona fide QB free agents…

4for4 Premium Content

There's more, but it's available only for 4for4 subscribers.

Subscribe Now - Get Premium 4for4 Content

If you are a current subscriber, please login here

Filed Under: Preseason, 2011

We are your friend's secret weapon.

  • Get 4 FREE downloads
  • Receive breaking news alerts & analysis.
  • BONUS: Learn how to play DFS.
  • Battle-Tested by 40,000+ fantasy football diehards since 1999.