Fantasy Free Agency Winners & Losers (2020)

Mar 23, 2020
Fantasy Free Agency Winners & Losers (2020)

Free agency is off and running, so I thought I’d compile a list of fantasy “winners and losers” taking into account all of the big signings thus far.

For a detailed look at each signing as it happens, be sure to check out our Fantasy Free Agency Tracker.

Winners

Quarterbacks

  • The biggest free-agent name at the most important position in the sport was Tom Brady, and he decided to join the Bucs. His weapons are upgraded significantly as he now has Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to throw to. (And there’s already talk that Antonio Brown may join them.) O.J. Howard has potential and Cameron Brate has produced over the years. Brady is back on the map as a mid- to high-end fantasy QB2.

  • With the (ponderous) DeAndre Hopkins trade, Kyler Murray should be upgraded further, but he was already the No. 4 QB off the board in early best ball drafts. This offense has real potential.

  • Josh Allen will benefit from the arrival of Stefon Diggs, who along with John Brown and Cole Beasley, gives Allen a potent and productive receiving corps.

  • With a stroke of a pen, Teddy Bridgewater went from being a backup on the Saints to the starter for the Panthers, who have a young and talented receiving corps.

  • For now, Tyrod Taylor is the starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers. The Draft will give us a better idea of what to expect in 2020, but if the Chargers don’t draft a quarterback in the first round, Taylor may be one of the best fantasy values this summer. In 45 starts from 2015-2018, he averaged 17.5 fantasy points per game, which would have been the 13th-highest average in 2019. His ability to run (36.4 rushing yards and 0.31 rush TD per game) gives him the weekly floor that fantasy owners should be looking for.

Running Backs

  • Both David Johnson and Kenyan Drake were winners in the (ponderous) Johnson trade to Houston. Johnson now figures to lead the Texans’ backfield in touches when he was likely slated for backup duty behind Drake in Arizona. Drake caught fire late in the season and has entered low-end RB1 territory with Johnson out of the way.

  • Jordan Howard appears to be headed for 200+ carries as the Dolphins’ primary back, at least on early downs. He doesn’t offer much as a receiver, but there’s no doubt that Miami can offer more usage than Philadelphia can at this point. For the Eagles, it looks likely that Miles Sanders will surpass the 229 touches that he saw last season.

  • Todd Gurley’s release opens up a lot of work in the Rams backfield. Malcolm Brown out-touched rookie Darrell Henderson by a 71-to-43 margin last year, so he would likely serve as the team's lead back assuming the Rams don't make a big move at the position this summer. Henderson would have a sizable role in that scenario and could even take over as the lead back if the Rams deem him ready.

Wide Receivers

  • T.Y. Hilton figures to benefit from the upgrade from Jacoby Brissett to Philip Rivers. I’m not super-confident in Rivers at this point in his career, but he probably offers more as a passer than Brissett.

  • New Orleans is a good landing spot for Emmanuel Sanders, who has played at a 78.3-catch pace over the last two seasons. He should be very productive, especially in PPR formats.

  • The absence of Hopkins will open up targets for both Will Fuller and Kenny Stills. Hopkins averaged 10.1 targets per game over the last two seasons. Randall Cobb may eat up a portion of those, but there’s no doubt that there are targets available for Fuller and Stills as well.

Tight Ends

  • Jason Witten signed with the Raiders, so one big winner at the tight end position is 25-year-old Blake Jarwin, who finished eighth in yards per route run, per PFF. He should be in on virtually all passing downs in 2020, so he could run 500+ routes. If so, he should turn in a fantasy TE1 season.

  • Hayden Hurst is another tight end who should see a huge uptick in snaps and routes now that he’s being asked to replace Austin Hooper in Atlanta. Hooper ran 36.8 routes per game, which was the most at his position. Per PFF, Hurst’s yards per route run was actually higher than Hooper’s last season and the 11th-highest at his position.

  • Along with Hilton and the other Indianapolis receivers, Jack Doyle figures to benefit from the arrival of Rivers, who has a long history of throwing to his tight end.

Losers

Quarterbacks

  • Mitch Trubisky’s stock took a hit with the Bears’ decision to trade for Nick Foles. He’s no longer a good bet to start Week 1.

  • Deshaun Watson is probably feeling like the rest of us after the (ponderous) trade that sent Hopkins to Arizona. Houston signed Randall Cobb to help pick up the slack, but Hopkins leaves a big hole in this passing attack and Watson will suffer.

Running Backs

  • I wasn’t expecting that Duke Johnson would be used as a feature back in 2020 after the Texans instead featured Carlos Hyde last season, but the big (ponderous) trade for David Johnson certainly throws cold water on the possibility that Duke would be used more this season. To complicate matters, both Johnsons are especially good in the passing game, so Duke no longer has the receiving edge on his backfield mate.

  • The Broncos decided to give Melvin Gordon a pretty sizable deal so they’re apparently unhappy with Royce Freeman’s production. Freeman may be traded or relegated to RB3 duties. Gordon probably takes over the lion’s share of the touches while Phillip Lindsay takes over Freeman’s secondary role. Last year, Lindsay saw 259 touches while Freeman saw 175. That’s a pretty good estimate of a Gordon/Lindsay split in 2020.

Wide Receivers

  • Stefon Diggs is probably happy he’s out of Minnesota, but he’s going to a lower volume passing game in Buffalo, in terms of passing yards, touchdowns and completions. He can certainly help those numbers, but when November/December hits, he may miss playing indoors in Minnesota.

  • Diggs’ arrival puts a dent in the upside of John Brown and Cole Beasley who are unlikely to match their 2019 usage this season with an alpha WR1 now in the fold.

  • It doesn’t look like TreQuan Smith is going to happen. The arrival of Emmanuel Sanders is going to stunt his growth and opportunity.

Tight Ends

  • David Njoku will be taking a backseat to Austin Hooper in Cleveland, and I’m not loving this signing for Hooper, either. He had a defined role in Atlanta and figures to be used in Cleveland as well, though the presence of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry makes it tough to expect him to see the 7.2 targets per game that he saw last year. He’s still a fantasy TE1, but this looks like a downgrade to me.

  • Vance McDonald’s value takes a big hit with the arrival of Eric Ebron in Pittsburgh. The Steelers restructured McDonald’s contract so it appears that they are planning to keep him around.

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