15 Contract-Year Fantasy Football Options

Aug 02, 2019
15 Contract-Year Fantasy Football Options

When thinking about projecting fantasy player performance, the idea of impending long-term financial security usually doesn’t top the list. Knowing how hard I have worked in the past for a promotion, a pay raise, or a new job makes this a similar motivational moment for NFL players. Some are players coming off their rookie deal, many of those looking for a major pay raise, while others are veterans seeking that last opportunity to secure a significant contract before retirement.

Knowing this, players who are on that last year of a deal and don’t see a contract extension before the season will be looking to prove their value. Every opportunity they receive is an audition not just for their own team, but all 32 NFL franchises. Expect even proven players to try and put a career season together while others will try and breakout. This article will highlight some of each.

Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The former number one NFL Draft pick has mixed moments of brilliance, stupidity, and downright awfulness into four seasons with the Bucs. There have been positives to draw from including back-to-back 4,000-yard passing seasons to begin his career, something no other quarterback has accomplished. Winston has also improved his completion percentage and yards per game in every season. At the same time, only Ryan Fitzpatrick has a greater interception rate among quarterbacks who have played at least 32 games over the last four years. Add in injuries and suspension onto Winston’s resume and this cocktail becomes pretty funky. Now in his fifth season, Winston is set up for success with offensive guru Bruce Arians as head coach and a strong receiving group around him. If there is a time to prove himself as a long-term NFL starter, this is it. Anything less than a career season, and a fully healthy season, will make it hard for a team to invest given the going rate at the position.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

The second pick from that same draft class, Mariota has been equally frustrating for the Titans and fantasy players. His play has seen declines with lower yards per game as Mariota’s usage has decreased during his first four seasons. And while he initially had a touchdown rate over 5%, it has dropped under 3% the last two seasons. There is some positive from last year including a career-high completion rate, but Mariota really needs things to come together in year five. He has weapons in Corey Davis and recent second-round pick A.J. Brown along with veterans like Dion Lewis, Adam Humphries, and Delanie Walker. Now, if the team exceeds its 31st rank in pass attempts, Mariota has a chance to accumulate some numbers and prove he is capable of leading a team beyond 2019.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

Gordon could sign an extension by the time you read this article, or he could hold out into the 2019 season. In this case, the assumption is that he ends the holdout and plays for a new deal. While asking Gordon to outperform his last three seasons is tough, the fact is that his talent is good enough where he just might. That means trying to top 1500 total yards and 12 touchdowns, which only five players accomplished in 2018. The Chargers should lean hard on him again, giving Gordon every chance to reach 400 touches, assuming good health. Gordon may get the deal he’s looking for or decide to hold out, but if he plays in a contract year, expect fireworks.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins

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