2013 Free Agency Tracker

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor) on Mar 12, 2013

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 season, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in 2012 for an unprecedented three straight top 5 finishes. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-13 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate preseason rankings.  Follow John on Twitter: @4for4_John.

Free agency begins today (Tuesday) at 4 p.m. EST. Be sure to check this page throughout the week for a summary of all of the big news along with our take on how each signing will impact your fantasy team. 

Before we get into the news, here's a quick refresher on the NFL's (oftentimes convoluted) free agency rules.

- An unrestricted free agent (UFA) can sign with whomever he wants with no compensation going to his old team.

- A restricted free agent (RFA) has three years of service in the NFL and an expired contract. He's free to negotiate with other teams, but once he signs an offer sheet, his old team has seven days to match the deal and retain the player. If his old team declines to match, his new team may have to send a draft pick as compensation, depending on what type of RFA tender the old team offered the player.

- A team can apply a franchise tag on a player in order to guarantee that the team retains the player's rights for another season in the hopes that the two sides can work out a long-term deal. The price is steep -- it's a formula based on a certain percentage of the salary cap and the salaries of the top five players at the position.

- Under the franchise tag, a player can be labeled an exclusive or non-exclusive franchise player. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams. Like restricted free agents, a non-exclusive franchise player can sign an offer sheet from another team. If his old team declines to match, they'll receive two first round picks as compensation. (There were no fantasy-relevant players hit with the franchise tag in 2013.)

- If a team doesn't apply a franchise tag, it can elect to apply a transition tag instead. The tender is cheaper because it uses the top 10 salaries at the position, but if another team negotiates a deal and his old team elects not to match, they won't get any draft picks as compensation. In previous years, teams could use both the franchise and transition tags, but under the new CBA, a team can use one or the other, but not both. The transition tag is rarely used in the NFL.

 

Raiders trade for Matt Flynn (4/1)

Flynn has started two games in his career. In 2010, he filled in for an injured Aaron Rodgers in a tough 31-27 loss against the Patriots in Week 15, throwing for 251 yards, three TDs and an interception. In 2011, with Rodgers resting in Week 17, Flynn torched the Lions for 480 yards and six TDs (with one interception). His stock took a dive after he couldn't beat out rookie Russell Wilson, but he was dealing with an elbow injury and Wilson turned out to be pretty good. The Raiders have not been a favorable situation for QBs in recent years, but Carson Palmer was 8th in the league in pass attempts in 2012, so if Flynn finds himself in garbage time as often, he should put up decent fantasy stats. He doesn't have great arm strength, but has shown good accuracy and anticipation on his throws. As for Palmer, it appears that he will land with the Cardinals. He's no savior, but even mediocre QB play would be a big upgrade for WR Larry Fitzgerald.

 

Giants sign Brandon Myers to a one-year deal (3/16)

Add Myers to the long list of semi-reliable TEs that will be available in the middle or late rounds. He was 9th in standard formats (6th in PPR) in 2012 and is heading to a good situation in New York. In the last five seasons, the top Giants tight end has averaged 2.7-36-.33, which isn't bad considering that we're talking about Kevin Boss (2008-2010), Jake Ballard (2011) and Martellus Bennett (2012). That works out to 5.6 fantasy PPG, which would have equated to #14 TE numbers in 2012. Myers is a better receiver than any of those players and his weakness (only 4 TD catches in 2012) should be offset by Eli Manning's propensity to throw to his tight end in the redzone. Giants TEs have averaged 5.0 TDs per season, so Myers should be able to build on that given his skill set. He looks like an upside TE2 in standard formats and a low-end TE1 in PPR formats.

 

Patriots cut ties with Brandon Lloyd (3/16)

If the Patriots don't add anyone (Darrius Heyward-Bey?), Donald Jones would be a nice sleeper if he ends up starting. Ater a stellar 77-1448-11 season in Denver, Brandon Lloyd is now trying to join his fourth team in three years. He has played for six teams in his career.

 

Vikings sign Greg Jennings (3/15)

If Jennings can stay healthy, he should be able to post nice numbers as the Vikings' main weapon (along with Kyle Rudolph) in the passing game. He'll benefit from playing against defenses that will be focused on stopping Adrian Peterson, but he won't enjoy the benefit of playing in the Packers' potent passing attack (with QB Aaron Rodgers). So expect more targets and lower efficiency. He looks like a low-end WR2 at this point. This is an upgrade for Christian Ponder, who could certainly use the help. (It's also an upgrade for Peterson.) In Green Bay, Jennings' departure means that Jermichael Finley will likely be around another season. Expect good numbers from Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones. All four players should be startable in most formats.
 

Chargers sign Danny Woodhead for two years (3/15)

Woodhead is very good in the passing game and is an underrated runner (4.8 YPC). He's likely to serve as the Chargers' third-down back, which will put a dent in the value of Ryan Mathews. As for the Patriots, they'll move forward with the emerging Shane Vereen and the recently signed Leon Washington at RB behind Stevan Ridley.
 

Dolphins sign Dustin Keller to a one year-deal (3/15)

Keller is a capable receiving tight end. He has averaged 3.9-47-.29 over the last two seasons (24 games). Those are #13 TE averages in 2012. The Dolphins' passing game is shaping up to be much more potent with Mike Wallace and Keller on board.

 

Patriots sign Donald Jones to a three-year contract (3/15)

Jones could replace Brandon Lloyd in the starting lineup if Lloyd doesn't agree to a pay cut. If Jones ends up starting, he could have fantasy WR3/WR4-type value in the Patriots' potent offense.

 

Jets sign Mike Goodson to a three-year deal (3/15)

It appears that Goodson will compete with Bilal Powell for the RB1 job, though the duo could very well split the workload. Goodson has a career 4.5 YPC, but has averaged nearly 4.9 YPC in the last three seasons. He has proven to be adept in the passing game, catching 40 passes for the Panthers in 2010. At just 26 years old, he's in his prime. Consider him a RB sleeper until the Jets' depth chart shakes out.

 

Falcons sign Steven Jackson to a three-year contract (3/14)

This looks like a great signing by the Falcons and Jackson has a chance to have fantasy success in Atlanta's high-octane offense. Jackson will benefit from extra red zone touches -- Michael Turner had almost twice as many red zone carries as Jackson did in 2012. He'll also enjoy running against defenses that will have to respect Matt Ryan and the Falcons' potent passing game. He has a chance to be a three-down back, but the Falcons may continue to use Jacquizz Rodgers in the passing game. S-Jax looks like a low-end RB1 in his new situation. As for the Rams, it appears (at this point) that they are going to move forward with Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead in some sort of a RBBC.

 

Chiefs release Matt Cassel, Vikings sign Cassel (3/14)

The Vikings jumped at the chance to add Matt Cassel so it's possible that he'll have a chance to compete with Christian Ponder for the starting job. Cassel was pretty solid from 2008 to 2010 in one season with the Patriots and two with the Chiefs. He threw 64 TDs and 34 INTs in that span. In the past two seasons, he threw 16 TDs and 21 INTs. Given the current state of the Minnesota receiving corps, neither QB is shaping up to be even a fantasy QB2 in 2013.

 

Patriots lock Danny Amendola up with a five-year deal (3/13)

Well, then. With Wes Welker heading to Denver, the Patriots had a hole in the slot and they filled it with the best slot receiver left on the market. Amendola isn't as durable as Welker but he should be very good in PPR formats if he can stay healthy. If the Patriots let Julian Edelman walk, it would be good for Amendola. Bump Tom Brady back up and move Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski back to their original positions (though Amendola shouldn't see quite as many targets as Welker would have). As for the Rams, it's wide open at WR. We like Chris Givens (42-698-3 as a rookie) and Brian Quick should be better with a year under his belt. Sam Bradford loses his slot receiver but gains TE Jared Cook.
 

Broncos sign Wes Welker to a two-year deal (3/13)

It's reportedly a two-year deal worth $12 million total, so a curious move by the Patriots to let him walk. Welker will take over for Brandon Stokley (45-544-5) in the slot, and will surely siphon some targets off of Eric Decker, Jacob Tamme and perhaps Demaryius Thomas, who has a downfield skill set that might protect his targets more than the other Bronco receivers. Still, Welker should be heavily targeted, and that will impact the entire offense. It's a boost for Peyton Manning, who gets a great weapon in the slot. In New England, Welker's departure is good news for Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, along with whomever the Patriots find to start at receiver next season. (Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman are “poor man’s Welkers” and Brandon Lloyd may get a chance to stick around.) As for Tom Brady, he can't be happy about losing his security blanket in the slot.
 

Shonn Greene signs three-year deal with the Titans (3/13)

The Titans talked about finding a complementary back to lessen the rushing load on Chris Johnson and it appears they have found their man. Greene averaged 3.9 YPC in 2012 and found the endzone eight times. He may vulture some carries around the goal line.
 

Lions ink Reggie Bush to a four-year deal (3/13)

Bush will reportedly be given the opportunity to earn "feature back" duties, which could mean big things for him in Detroit. Keep in mind that Mikel Leshoure is a very capable goal line back, so he may vulture some red zone touches, limiting Bush's upside. Bush should be especially good in PPR formats as the Lions tend to throw the ball a ton. At this point, Bush's departure leaves Lamar Miller the favorite to start for the Dolphins.
 

Cardinals sign Rashard Mendenhall to a one-year deal (3/13)

It's interesting that the deal is only for one year, but the Cardinals (and other teams) may not feel that Mendenhall is completely healthy and want to limit their risk. The deal allows Mendenhall to prove himself and potentially cash in next summer. He will vie with Ryan Williams for touches in the Arizona backfield. Until the depth chart shakes out, we won't know who is the better fantasy bet for 2013.
 

Chiefs sign Donnie Avery (3/13)

This is an interesting move given the arrival of Andy Reid and Alex Smith and the team's decision to re-sign Dwayne Bowe. Avery was pretty good for the Colts in 2012, catching 60 passes for 781 yards and three touchdowns. He wasn't terribly efficient (124 targets), but that was partly due to Bruce Arians' aggressive play-calling. The soon-to-be 29-year-old could emerge as the starter opposite Dwayne Bowe.
 

Rams sign Jared Cook (3/12)

There was some talk that he could be headed to Miami, but Cook instead re-joins his old coach (Jeff Fisher) in St. Louis. It's a nice add for the Rams, though Cook has been spotty throughout his career. He's still a fantasy TE2, but we like Sam Bradford a bit more as a QB2. Lance Kendricks' already limited value takes a big hit.
 

Titans sign Delanie Walker (3/12)

Walker is a versatile player who can contribute in several different phases of the game. The signing probably means the end of the Jared Cook era in Nashville.
 

Bills release Ryan Fitzpatrick (3/12)

Fitzpatrick is a fringe NFL starter and may get another shot to start for a QB-needy team. We won't know how this will impact WR Steve Johnson until we have a better idea who will be starting for the Bills.
 

Bears sign Martellus Bennett to a four-year deal (3/12)

Ever since they traded Greg Olsen away, the Bears have struggled at TE. Bennett had a solid year with the Giants in 2012 (55-626-5) and should immediately start in Chicago. We liked him more in New York, but he could surprise for the Bears if Jay Cutler sends enough passes his way. At this point, he looks like a mediocre TE2. For the Giants, Adrien Robinson could emerge as the starter, and Eli Manning has always liked throwing to his tight end, especially in the red zone.
 

Mike Wallace signed by the Dolphins (3/12)

It's reportedly a five-year deal worth up to $65 million. Mike Wallace has the #17 PPG average (in standard formats) over the last two seasons, and if he's able to develop a rapport with QB Ryan Tannehill this offseason, he should be a capable fantasy WR2 in 2013. His YPC (13.1) and Catch % (55%) dropped, but that was partly due to Ben Roethlisberger missing three games during the season. Even though he had a down year in 2012, he averaged 4.5-63-.67 in 12 games with Roethlisberger, which are similar to his 4.5-75-.50 averages in 2011. We typically prefer receivers whose situations are obviously improved (or at least relatively unchanged), but Wallace should be able to make some noise in South Beach. This is obviously good news for Ryan Tannehill and bad (though expected) news for Roethlisberger. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders get a boost in Pittsburgh.
 

Tony Gonzalez informs Falcons he’s planning to return (3/12)

The two sides need to iron out the contract, but that shouldn’t be much of a problem. Gonzalez reportedly wants around $7 million and would like to miss most of training camp. The Falcons will surely agree to those terms. He finished #3 in fantasy PPG in 2012 and #6 in 2011 so another top 5 season is well within reach.
 

Percy Harvin traded to the Seahawks (3/11)

Percy Harvin wanted out of Minnesota, and got his wish. He joins a WR corps of Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin and figures to lead the group in targets in 2013. This is great news for QB Russell Wilson, who is getting a big boost at WR. In standard formats, Harvin finished in the top 11 in the last two years in fantasy PPG, and will once again be a fringe WR1, especially if he can stay healthy. Harvin's usage may drop a bit in Seattle, but this should be offset by additional red zone opportunities. Seattle's OC, Darrell Bevell, was the Vikings OC in 2010. That year, Harvin averaged 7.7 targets per game. The move leaves the Vikings with possibly the worst WR corps in the league, so downgrade Christian Ponder even further.
 

Anquan Boldin traded to the 49ers (3/11)

He's 32, slowing down and has trouble separating, but what Anquan Boldin did down the stretch and in the playoffs should not be overlooked. In the 10 games from Week 11 through the Super Bowl, Boldin averaged 4.7-75-.70 which project to #6 WR numbers, and that included a goose egg against the Broncos in Week 15. What he lacks in speed he makes up for in savvy and ball skills. He'll start opposite Michael Crabtree and should have similar value (WR3-ish) as last year. In Baltimore, this leaves a hole in the starting lineup, but it should lead to more consistent targets for Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta. This is a downgrade for Joe Flacco, who loses a key weapon in his arsenal. Conversely, there's even more reason to like Colin Kaepernick in 2013.

Filed Under: Preseason, 2013