Free-agent Roundup: Assessing value of unheralded signings

Free-agent Roundup: Assessing value of unheralded signings

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Free-agent Roundup: Assessing value of unheralded signings

Updated: April 11, at 5 p.m. EDT

As usual, free agency came in like a lion and is going out like a lamb in the month of March. We have broken down the most important fantasy football changes and will now run gamers through the remaining notable moves.

For quick reference, check out the following articles:

(David Kohl, USA TODAY Sports)

Quarterbacks

AJ McCarron, Buffalo Bills: The former Cincinnati Bengal will battle Nathan Peterman for the starting gig to lead a run-first offense that is devoid of wide receiver talent. In best-case scenario, McCarron is a QB2 in 2018.

Case Keenum, Denver Broncos: Keenum will get a shot to start for the Broncos and prove last year wasn’t a fluke. He will see competition from at least Paxton Lynch. The weaponry is encouraging, so with a little help, Keenum is a fringe matchup play.

Teddy Bridgewater, New York Jets: Unless you are in the camp believing Bridgewater’s best days are ahead of him, his perceived fantasy value should be nil. The Jets are most certainly in the draft market for a passer, and Josh McCown returns as the presumed starter.

(Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports)

Running backs

Chris Ivory, Buffalo Bills: Ivory will back up and spell Shady McCoy, which obviously limits his value. An injury could make Ivory a fantasy-worthy play, but it will be difficult to count on frequent contributions as long as McCoy is in the lineup.

LeGarrette Blount, Detroit Lions: Detroit added a bruising element to the running game that has been sorely lacking, although Blount is hardly the overall answer to the Lions’ rushing woes. A pass-first offense, plus his role, will return big games and goose eggs, making for tough lineup decisions.

Frank Gore, Miami Dolphins: The ageless veteran will share touches with Kenyan Drake. Without an injury to Drake, Gore is merely roster depth as an RB4. It is unlikely he will handle the ball more than 10 times a game with any regularity, which could be an optimistic number if Drake is a beast.

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Jeremy Hill, New England Patriots: Hill is kind of intriguing. The Patriots decided to keep Mike Gillislee, at least for now. Dion Lewis is gone, and Rex Burkhead isn’t a full-time back. Look for Hill to carve out a role around the end zone and possibly offer sneaky fantasy value. Don’t be shocked if he logs double-digit touchdown figures.

Jonathan Stewart, New York Giants: This move really didn’t make much sense for the Giants, a team whose offensive line is questionable and backfield contains a younger options. Rookie Saquon Barkley ultimately could be in the mix, too. Stewart is rather one-dimensional and shouldn’t be drafted as more than depth, if at all.

Isaiah Crowell, New York Jets: Crowell has a pretty good shot at being the starting back, but he will battle at least Elijah McGuire for touches. The Jets remain in rebuilding mode and may struggle to generate a consistent ground attack. All told, Crowell is a flex candidate for those looking to build a cheap backfield.

(Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports)

Wide receivers

NEW – Cameron Meredith, New Orleans Saints: Interesting move. The Saints signed Meredith to a two-year, $10 million offer sheet as a restricted free agent, and Chicago opted to let him walk. The enter situation is an upgrade for Meredith, from quarterback to receiving teammates, in addition to the offensive system. He needs to learn the playbook and build chemistry with Drew Brees. Meredith, coming back from partial ACL and MCL tears suffered last preseason, will offer low-end WR2 upside at a No. 3 price.

NEW – Jordan Matthews, New England Patriots: The trade of Brandin Cooks opened the door for a new receiver to join the Pats. Matthews, coming off a lackluster, injury-shortened season with the Buffalo Bills, brings a 6-foot-3, 212-pound weapon to contribute in the intermediate area of the field. Consistently averaging fewer than 12 yards per catch in his four-year career, the former Eagle has battled a balky knee in recent years. Tendonitis has limited his availability and hindered his efficacy. Matthews is not Cooks, nor will he be used in such a manner. The Pats prefer to dink and dunk, but even if Matthews catches 60 balls, he’s likely in the 700-yard range.

Terrelle Pryor, New York Jets: The well-traveled wideout has joined the Jets and could be their top receiver, especially if Robby Anderson is suspended. The veteran will need to establish chemistry with Josh McCown, and catching passes from Teddy Bridgewater or worse is certainly possible. Be wary after his after a failed stint in Washington, and treat Pryor as a WR3.

Ryan Grant, Indianapolis Colts: Looking for an interesting flier? Grant was slated to join the Ravens but failed a physical and wound up with the Colts. He could replace Donte Moncrief as capitalize on easily the best year of Grant’s young career. Treat him as a WR4 if it looks like he will earn the starting job.

Albert Wilson, Miami Dolphins: The shifty former Chief will battle Danny Amendola and Jakeem Grant for touches to replace Jarvis Landry. Add in looks for DeVante Parker and Leonte Carroo to create what could be a crowded cast of receivers.

Danny Amendola, Miami Dolphins: It would not be presumptuous to expect Amendola to take over the slot job and attempt to replace Jarvis Landry’s stake in the targets pool. PPR gamers could be inclined to make the former Patriot a risk-reward WR3.

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Mike Wallace, Philadelphia Eagles: Wallace effectively replaces Torrey Smith as the well-aged “go-deep guy” of this offense. Look for much of the same production — sporadically worked in over the course of the season. Wallace is merely deep-league roster depth at this point of his career.

Jaron Brown, Seattle Seahawks: Brown has an opportunity to be more than just a guy in fantasy. The Clemson product has flashed a few times and will content for looks in a rather barren receiving corps. At 6-foot-2, Brown could emerge as a red zone favorite for Russell Wilson.

Paul Richardson, Washington Redskins: The oft-injured Richardson joins his third team in 12 months, meaning he needs to learn yet another system and acclimate to yet another quarterback. Aside from a few splash plays, his offerings should remain paltry for fantasy purposes.

Allen Hurns, Dallas Cowboys: When healthy, Hurns has played well in his short career. The move to Dallas could reignite his once-promising career, assuming he can earn a starting job. Tuck away his name as a possible sleeper late in the summer.

(Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports)

Tight ends

Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts: Ebron will share the positional chores with Jack Doyle and could be flexed into the slot. Everything hinges on Andrew Luck’s recovery, making Ebron’s outlook murky until we know more about the recovering passer. Ebron’s floor is low-end TE2 with a ceiling in matchup-play territory based on what he showed in Motown.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jacksonville Jaguars: Three teams in three years … could this be the stop in which the talented — and now sober — Seferian-Jenkins finally puts it together? Jacksonville retooled its receiving corps and boasts a host of young talent in a run-first system, which introduces fear of Seferian-Jenkins getting lost in the shuffle from week to week.

Ed Dickson, Seattle Seahawks: Dickson is a career backup whose game is centered on his blocking skills. Avoiding him would be the prudent move in fantasy, and don’t doubt Seattle adding someone else in free agency or the draft to compete with Dickson and Nick Vannett (the real one to watch in this situation).

Trey Burton, Chicago Bears: Burton will be used as a hybrid slot receiver and tight end, perhaps even as an H-back, in Matt Nagy’s system. The former Eagle is extremely athletic and a natural pass-catcher. Burton has considerable upside and is a bona fide sleeper candidate. Be aware more astute owners will be familiar with his potential.

Luke Willson, Detroit Lions: Speaking of sleepers, Willson demonstrated his ability in the red zone in Seattle, particularly last year, when he caught four scores on only 15 receptions. Detroit cut ties with Eric Ebron and has a gaping hole to fill at the position. Willson is more talented as a blocker but also versatile enough to catch plenty of balls. Will there be enough of them to go around in this system? Debatable. He’s a deep sleeper in cavernous leagues.

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