2014 Fantasy Free Agency Tracker
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. The only fantasy relevant player to receive the tag in 2014 was Jimmy Graham, and he's non-exclusive, so he can negotiate with other teams.
- 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.
Be sure to check out the Offseason Player Movement page to stay on top of all of the big moves.
Pryor fits in as the #2 or #3 QB, probably at #3 with Tarvaris Jackson already in Seattle. This is an interesting move by the Seahawks. Pryor is a terrific athlete and the team is hoping to mold him into a capable backup to Russell Wilson.
Sidney Rice returns to Seattle on a one-year deal (4/16)
Rice's return puts a big dent in Doug Baldwin's upside. Baldwin was looking like a nice late round sleeper as a starter for the Seahawks, but his playing time is in some jeopardy now with Rice in the mix. Russell Wilson gets another weapon in the passing game. Rice should be fantasy relevant provided he stays healthy.
Johnson will form a one-two punch with incumbent Chris Ivory, who started to run better as the season wore on. Obviously this is bad news for Ivory, who isn't likely to see a 'bell cow' type workload with Johnson on the roster. Beat writer Manish Mehta predicts a 35% to 40% decline in carries for Johnson. That decline would put Johnson in the 167-181 carry range, though we'd guess that he'll get at least 190 to 210 carries in the Jets' run-heavy offense. (Bilal Powell rushed the ball 176 times in 2013.) The Jets have averaged 493.5 carries over the past two seasons, so it's conceivable that Ivory and Johnson could both reach around 200 carries, provided they both stay healthy. Assuming 240 total touches for Johnson (200 carries, 40 catches) at his 2012-2013 FP/touch rate (.609), he would score around 146 fantasy points. Those are RB20-type numbers, so Johnson is looking like a low-end RB2 heading into the summer.
Brown will back up Arian Foster and offer some insurance in case Foster's injuries catch up with him. Brown will be one of the more dependable handcuffs heading into the 2014 season.
The Browns also signed Andrew Hawkins to man the slot, so Burleson is likely to be the team's WR4 assuming they find a starter in the draft. If not, he is capable of starting opposite Josh Gordon, though he doesn't offer much playmaking ability at this point in his career. Greg Little's days in Cleveland look to be numbered.
Williams was born in Buffalo and played (briefly) for Bills HC Doug Marrone while at Syracuse in 2009 before leaving the team to avoid a possible suspension due to his involvement in a car accident with teammates. Marrone clearly feels that Williams' talent is worth a 6th round pick. He's penciled in as the Bills' WR2 or WR3, depending on the status of Steve Johnson.
In standard formats, Johnson has finished #16 or better in each of his six seasons with the Titans, and managed to finish #12 and #9 in 2012 and 2013. He'll be 29 in September, but he's unlikely to land in a role where he'll get 300+ touches, which has been the norm in Tennessee. His detractors say that his explosion is no longer there, and while the Titans' O-line has struggled, Johnson hasn't produced as many big plays. From 2010 to 2011, Johnson gained 20+ yards on a single play 29 times. In 2012 and 2013, he gained 20+ yards just 18 times. He'll be fantasy relevant in 2014, but his days of 18+ touches per game are probably over.
It's a one-year contract. On the surface, this looks like bad news for Dennis Pitta, whose stock was up after the Ravens hired TE-friendly Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator. But Daniels is 31 and past his prime. He'll likely provide depth at the position and offer some receiving punch in two-TE sets. We still like Pitta as a value pick in the middle rounds.
DHB squandered any goodwill he had left in the fantasy community after flopping in a starting role for the Colts in 2013. He "earned" the starting gig because he's a better run blocker than T.Y. Hilton, but by season's end, Heyward-Bey wasn't seeing many snaps even though Reggie Wayne (torn ACL) was lost for the season. The Steelers need some depth at receiver, but Heyward-Bey figures to play behind Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Lance Moore.
Washington signs DeSean Jackson to a three-year deal (4/1)
LeGarrrete Blount signs with the Steelers (3/28)
Sanchez will likely serve as Nick Foles' primary backup. He will have a chance to revive his career under HC Chip Kelly.
The Jets seem to be in "win-now" mode and it looks like Vick may have the inside track to start over sophomore Geno Smith. Vick will have the newly acquired Eric Decker to throw to. If he's starting, he'll be a QB2 in Marty Mornhinweg's offense.
Underwood did well with the limited number (46) of targets that he saw in 2013, posting the #10 FP/target in the league (1.48). He's a 4.31 speedster and a good athlete, but hasn't done much in his five seasons in the league. There should be plenty of opportunity in the Carolina offense due to the lack of playmakers in the receiving game. Underwood could be fantasy relevant in 2014 if he sees starter's snaps. At a minimum, Underwood should be this year's Ted Ginn, who was the #53 WR in standard formats.
Given Schaub's play in 2013, he's hardly a savior at QB, but the Raiders now have a stopgap option as they try to find a franchise passer. Consider this a boost for Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and the freshly signed James Jones.
Ideally, the soon-to-be 32-year-old Cotchery would be the WR3, but the Panthers are in a tough spot and he may see WR2-type snaps and targets in 2014, likely making him fantasy relevant. Cotchery was the #31 WR in standard formats in 2013 thanks to a career-high 10 TDs. He's not likely to repeat that kind of scoring production, though he could see a bump in targets.
Campbell will back up Andy Dalton.
Hawkins is good in the slot. He'll likely serve as the Browns' WR3.
Manningham's arrival could impact the potential upside of Rueben Randle and Jerel Jernigan, who are expected to see an uptick in playing time with Hakeem Nicks signing elsewhere. We'll have to wait and see where Manningham lands in the depth chart. We'd expect him to play behind Jernigan, but there are no guarantees at this point.
Starks likely backs up Lacy again in 2014. He was effective as a change-of-pace back last season and can carry the load in short stints when called upon.
This is not a particularly good landing spot for Jones, who seems to have had a chilly reception in free agency. The Raiders don't have a solid QB and it's not clear how Jones will fit in with incumbent starters Rod Streater and Denarius Moore. We'll have to wait to see how the Oakland depth chart shakes out before determining if Jones is even draftable heading into 2014.
LaFell produced in spots for the Panthers, but they elected not to re-sign him despite major holes at receiver. He'll compete with Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce for snaps outside, but we think Dobson will progress enough to win the job.
Sanders will likely replace Eric Decker in Denver's three-WR set, so Andre Caldwell probably sees spot duty as the team's WR4. Sanders was #35 in standard and #32 in PPR, and we'd expect that to be his floor playing with Peyton Manning in the Broncos' potent offense.
This is a best case scenario for Edelman's value. He's likely to be the Patriots' top targeted wideout in 2014, assuming he stays healthy. Last season, Edelman finished #18 in standard formats and #14 in PPR. Barring an unforeseen addition to the Patriots' receiving corps, we'd expect similar (WR2) numbers for Edelman again in 2014. His return is a big blow to Danny Amendola's upside.
Tate wants to be a feature back and it looks like he'll have his chance in Cleveland if the team's doctors give him medical clearance. Tate has averaged 4.7 YPC in his career and has touched the ball at least 15 times in 13 career games, averaging 94.5 yards and 0.54 TD in the process. That equates to 12.7 fantasy points, which is about what Chris Johnson averaged as the #9 RB in 2013. Touchdowns are going to be tougher to come by in Cleveland than they were in Houston, but as a likely feature back, Tate's ADP will probably settle somewhere in the 3rd to 5th rounds depending on the quality of his backup.
Packers sign DE Julius Peppers to a three-year deal (3/15)
The Packers' defense needs talent, so they are rolling the dice that Peppers still has enough juice to provide pass rush in a part-time role.
Nicks has failed to score a TD in 17 straight games and his knees are a concern. Still, it's a low-risk move for the Colts, who are likely trying to look for a long-term replacement for Reggie Wayne (torn ACL). The signing puts a small dent in T.Y. Hilton's upside, while Wayne's stock takes a bigger hit. As for Nicks, he has finished outside of the top 50 at his position for two straight seasons, but he's still just 26 years old and still has time to turn his career around, assuming he's fully healthy. His ADP in early drafts is in the 9th round and it might rise a bit with this change of scenery.
After finishing in the top 20 at his position in seven of of his eight seasons from 2005 to 2012, Smith was the #43 WR in 2013, losing a step due to his age (34). He should be able to help the Ravens, who are still trying to replace Anquan Boldin. His arrival puts a dent in the upside of Marlon Brown, who posted 49-524-7 as a rookie. From a fantasy standpoint, Smith is likely a WR4/WR5 heading into the 2014 season.
After back to back top 12 seasons in 2010 and 2011, Pettigrew finished #21 in 2012 and #31 last year. He's a low-end TE2, at best. His return puts a big dent in any sleeper potential that Joseph Fauria will have heading into the season. In reaction to the signing, 4for4 Owner/Editor and Lions fan Josh Moore tweeted: "@#$%&@#$&@%@#&$@$%@&#$"
Chandler is a fantasy TE2. He has finished in the #13 to #22 range in three consecutive seasons.
Quarless took over for Jermichael Finley after Finley went down in Week 7. From Week 8 through the Packers' playoff loss to the 49ers, Quarless averaged 2.6 catches for 27 yards and 0.20 TD, or 3.9 fantasy points per game. That's about what Brandon Pettigrew and Tyler Eifert scored in 2013, so it's not terribly promising. Moreover, his two best games -- back to back 6-66-1 outings against the Falcons and Cowboys -- came with Matt Flynn under center, so it's not clear what kind of rapport he has with Aaron Rodgers. According to Mockdraftable, he most resembles Todd Heap athletically, though it's tough to make that case using the eye test. Still, if he's starting, Quarless will be an intriguing TE2 option playing in Green Bay's high-octane offense. Keep in mind that Brandon Bostick has flashed serious potential and is in the mix for snaps as well.
Once the team parted ways with Owen Daniels, re-signing Graham became much more feasible. After Daniels went down, Graham was the #11 TE from Week 6 to Week 14 before getting injured himself. He could be a baseline fantasy option at TE, but Gary Kubiak's TE-friendly offense is gone and it's not clear how much new HC Bill O'Brien will feature the tight end. While at Penn State, TE Jesse James was second on the team in receiving yards (333) in 2013, while TE Kyle Carter was second in 2012 (453 yards), so Graham could have a sizable role in the offense. Time will tell. [Update: Beat writer John McClain says that "new coach Bill O'Brien likes to use multiple TEs, including one who specializes in blocking." Update #2: Graham said this about his usage in O'Brien's offense: "He wants to use me as more of a move tight end, an H-back. I'm excited about that."
The thought of Sproles playing for Chip Kelly is intriguing, but snaps will be an issue playing behind LeSean McCoy. Sproles spent a good amount of time in the slot while in New Orleans, so he and McCoy could play together if Kelly decides to go that route. He'll still be a factor in PPR leagues, though his days of being a PPR RB1 are probably behind him. In New Orleans, the Saints will run with a trio of Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson, but Travaris Cadet could become a poor man's Darren Sproles in Sean Peyton's offense.
Smith's cap number is too much for the Panthers to swallow, though the team is not in a position to be throwing away talent at wideout. He is past his prime, but he can still contribute and he won't have a problem finding a new team assuming the price tag is reasonable.
Decker was expected to command as much as $9 million per season, so this seems like a reasonable deal. Decker is a solid receiver, but it remains to be seen if he can produce when drawing the attention of the defense's top corner. The Jets don't have a Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker or a Julius Thomas to occupy the defense. He's also seeing a downgrade at quarterback from Peyton Manning to Geno Smith, which is like going from Chipotle to a Taco Bell Dumpster. Still, he'll have decent value as a real-world WR1 -- I'd expect him to be drafted in the 5th or 6th round of 12-team drafts. It's doubtful that the Jets will be able to do any better this offseason.
Patriots sign CB Darrelle Revis to a one-year contract (3/12)
A day after losing Aqib Talib to the Broncos, the Patriots replace him with Revis on a relatively affordable, low-risk one-year deal. He'll certainly help the defense, which has struggled against the pass in recent years.
Jones had a few good games as a receiver in 2013, but only caught 37 of his 67 targets, which is not a good catch rate (55%). At this point, he's expected to platoon with (or back up) Marlon Brown, who showed some flashes as a rookie.
Buccaneers release CB Darrelle Revis (3/12)
Revis immediately becomes the top corner available and there will be no shortage of teams interested in his services.
Tate finished as the #35 WR in 2012 and #29 last season, so he's a proven commodity that should remedy the Lions' WR2 issues. His FP/target numbers (4th-highest in 2012, 29th in 2013) indicate that he should thrive in a bigger role. He's joining an offense that has 1,374 pass attempts in the last two seasons, which is nearly 67% more than the Seahawks have attempted in the same span. He obviously won't be the top target in Detroit, but if he sees the usual 18% of targets (typical for a WR2), it would result in 123 targets, a 25% jump from his 2013 totals. The Lions may run a bit more this season, but Tate's arrow is certainly pointing up. In Seattle, Tate's departure currently leaves Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse atop the depth chart. The news is certainly good for Baldwin and Kearse. Once Sidney Rice went down, Baldwin emerged as a productive starter, averaging 3.6 catches for 55 yards and 0.45 TD in his final 11 games (including the postseason). Those are solid fantasy WR3 numbers.
Thomas racked up 224 touches for 1,062 yards and five TDs as the lead back in the 2013 version of the Saints’ committee at running back. With Darren Sproles (and his 71 receptions) likely to be moved via trade, Thomas’s catches aren’t likely to take much of a hit. The team has shown signs of moving to Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson more in the running game, so PT is not likely to push 150 carries again in 2014. Still, he’ll be a regular part of the rotation in a potent offense and should be a good value in the later rounds. In PPR formats, he has finished in the top 30 in PPG in five of the last six seasons.
This is a strange signing considering the Chargers already have Ryan Mathews (who played well in 2013) and Danny Woodhead. Donald Brown will likely serve as depth behind Mathews. He'll hold handcuff value this summer.
Toby Gerhart has touched the ball 15+ times in seven career games and has averaged low-end RB1 numbers (12.6 FP) with that type of workload. The former Heisman candidate will likely start for the Jaguars, though Jordan Todman could offer up some competition (assuming Maurice Jones-Drew signs elsewhere). Gerhart has fantasy RB2 potential as a lead back.
Struggling with injuries, Austin has been a shell of his former self last season. He will garner some interest in free agency, likely as a WR3.
With Trent Richardson and Vick Ballard likely back, Ahmad Bradshaw will join what could turn into an ugly committee. The team wants Richardson to carry the load, but it doesn't appear that he's capable of doing so. Bradshaw is a solid talent and it would not be surprising if he wins the starting gig just as Donald Brown did a year ago. Speaking of Brown, this move indicates that the Colts won't be re-signing him.
Rashad Jennings was the #6 RB from Week 9 to Week 15 (when he was playing starter’s snaps for the Raiders) and that included a missed game against the Jets in Week 14. The Giants still believe in David Wilson, but Jennings offers terrific insurance. It wouldn't be a shock if he wins the RB1 job outright, though the Giants had a very difficult time running the ball in 2013. Jennings' ADP will be somewhat dependent on Wilson's status.
New HC Lovie Smith said that he wanted to upgrade at TE from converted wideout Tim Wright. Apparently, Myers is that upgrade. He could start for the Buccaneers, but isn't much of a fantasy option at this point. Wright's value takes a big hit.
Darren McFadden expected to return to Oakland on one-year deal (3/11)
This is surprising, as the general consensus was that McFadden would sign elsewhere while the team would focus on re-signing Rashad Jennings, who was the far superior runner in 2013. There is no reason to believe that McFadden will return to his 2010/2011 form under the current regime. Latavius Murray's stock is up with Jennings leaving to join the Giants.
With Eric Decker likely on his way out, Andre Caldwell could step into a starter's role in 2014. He'd be an interesting sleeper in the later rounds playing in Denver's high-octane offense. Consider him a WR5 type for now.
In standard formats, Joique Bell was the #29 RB in 2012 and #17 last year. New OC Joe Lombardi (previously with the Saints) is expected to bring more balance to the Lions' offense which means that Bell should once again have a large role alongside Reggie Bush. Bush's presence means that Bell will likely be a good value on draft day. In early drafts, he is the 25th RB off the board in the 8th round.
The 31 year-old Daniels was a cap casualty. With Garrett Graham also hitting free agency, the Texans are left with 6th-round pick Ryan Griffin atop the depth chart at tight end. He caught 19 passes for 244 yards and one TD in 2013, posting a solid but unspectacular 1.09 FP/target on 28 targets.
This looks like a good signing by the Redskins, who have struggled to find a consistent option opposite Pierre Garcon. Andre Roberts lost playing time in 2013 to an emerging Michael Floyd, but was the #39 WR in standard (and #34 in PPR) in 2012 while playing starter's snaps. New HC Jay Gruden has a history of airing it out, so the entire Washington passing game should get a boost. Another top 40 season is possible for the 26 year-old Roberts, assuming he starts.