Fantasy football players entering a contract year

Fantasy football players entering a contract year

Fantasy football strategy

Fantasy football players entering a contract year

Updated: Saturday, Aug. 18, at 11:36 a.m. EDT

While simply entering a contract year is not a guarantee of increased fantasy football production, players look for any extra motivation to put their fake squads over the top.

The key when evaluating such data is to treat it as another piece of the puzzle and not get too caught up in this extra data. We’ll focus on players with the highest odds of using this incentive to put their best foot forward in an effort to land a huge deal on the open market.

All data is based on USA TODAY Sports partner Spotrac.com’s free-agent charts.

Each player is an unrestricted free agent as of March 2019. Ages listed are as of Aug. 17. The * represents a restricted free agent. Everyone else is an unrestricted free agent.

(Brad Mills, USA TODAY Sports)

Quarterbacks

Player
Pos
Age
Team
Player
Pos
Age
Team
Teddy Bridgewater
QB
27
NYJ
David Fales
QB
28
MIA
Tyrod Taylor
QB
30
CLE
Bryce Petty
QB
28
MIA
Tom Savage
QB
29
NO
Ryan Griffin
QB
29
TB
Trevor Siemian
QB
27
MIN
Robert Griffin III
QB
29
BAL
Christian Hackenberg*
QB
24
PHI
E.J. Manuel
QB
29
OAK
Nate Sudfeld*
QB
25
PHI
Matt McGloin
QB
29
KC
Taylor Heinicke
QB
26
CAR
Landry Jones
QB
30
PIT
Kevin Hogan*
QB
26
WAS
Austin Davis
QB
30
SEA
Jake Rudock*
QB
26
DET
Joe Webb
QB
32
HOU
Brett Hundley
QB
26
GB
Brandon Weeden
QB
35
HOU
Sean Mannion
QB
27
LA
Ryan Fitzpatrick
QB
36
TB
Tyler Bray
QB
27
CHI
Matt Cassel
QB
37
DET
Geno Smith
QB
28
NYG
Matt Schaub
QB
38
ATL
Brock Osweiler
QB
28
MIA
Josh McCown
QB
40
NYJ

Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland Browns: The drafting of Baker Mayfield means Taylor’s days are numbered, and at 29 years old next offseason, he still has enough runway to secure a fairly lucrative deal in a situation offering a starting job. No other quarterback has a chance to excel in 2018 and realistically earn a shot at a starting job in ’19. Everyone else on this list works as a backup or is on the verge of retirement.

Teddy Bridgewater, New York Jets: His strong preseason showing has opened the door for a trade during 2018. The former Minnesota Viking is auditioning for the future, a job somewhere other than with the Jets. He has no immediate fantasy value, though.

(Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports)

Running backs

Player
Pos
Age
Team
Player
Pos
Age
Team
David Johnson
RB
26
ARI
Jeremy Langford*
RB
27
MIA
Le’Veon Bell
RB
27
PIT
Senorise Perry*
RB
27
MIA
Tevin Coleman
RB
26
ATL
David Fluellen*
RB
27
TEN
Ty Montgomery
RB
26
GB
Damien Williams
RB
27
KC
Jay Ajayi
RB
26
PHI
Zach Zenner
RB
27
DET
Corey Grant
RB
27
JAC
Knile Davis
RB
27
CHI
Spencer Ware
RB
27
KC
Raheem Mostert
RB
27
SF
Latavius Murray
RB
28
MIN
Rod Smith
RB
27
DAL
C.J. Anderson
RB
28
CAR
Mike Gillislee
RB
28
NE
Mark Ingram
RB
29
NO
Charcandrick West
RB
28
KC
Rob Kelley*
RB
26
WAS
Charles Sims
RB
28
TB
Bilal Powell
RB
30
NYJ
Alfred Blue
RB
28
HOU
Doug Martin
RB
30
OAK
Christine Michael
RB
28
IND
LeGarrette Blount
RB
32
DET
Terrance West
RB
28
NO
Marshawn Lynch
RB
33
OAK
Kerwynn Williams
RB
28
KC
Alex Collins*
RB
25
BAL
Javorius Allen
RB
28
BAL
Peyton Barber*
RB
25
TB
Branden Oliver
RB
28
IND
Jonathan Williams*
RB
25
NO
Jacquizz Rodgers
RB
29
TB
Byron Marshall*
RB
25
WAS
Robert Turbin
RB
29
IND
Jalen Richard*
RB
25
OAK
Benny Cunningham
RB
29
CHI
T.J. Yeldon
RB
25
JAC
Brandon Bolden
RB
29
NE
Malcolm Brown*
RB
26
LA
Fitz Toussaint
RB
29
PIT
J.D. McKissic*
RB
26
SEA
Cameron Artis-Payne
RB
29
CAR
George Atkinson*
RB
26
NYJ
Fozzy Whittaker
RB
30
CAR
Josh Ferguson*
RB
26
IND
Shane Vereen
RB
30
NO
Tre Madden*
RB
26
SEA
Travaris Cadet
RB
30
BUF
Mike Davis
RB
26
SEA
Kenjon Barner
RB
30
CAR
Ameer Abdullah
RB
26
DET
Stevan Ridley
RB
30
PIT
Thomas Rawls
RB
26
NYJ
Taiwan Jones
RB
31
BUF
Kapri Bibbs
RB
26
WAS
Darren Sproles
RB
36
PHI
Mack Brown*
RB
27
MIN
Frank Gore
RB
36
MIA

Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers: No other player is as lethal of a fantasy weapon as Bell and in such an intriguing situation to become a free agent in 2019. It appears as though this relationship is heading toward divorce after this year, and at just 26 years old, the star do-all back has plenty of upside for either a new team or a long-term pact with the Steelers.

David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals: Turning 27 in December, with just one season of note under his belt, Arizona has plenty of leverage. There will be no shortage of touches for Johnson this season, which also comes with a greater risk of injury and facing stacked boxes.

Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings: The defection of Jerick McKinnon to San Fran and Dalvin Cook’s recovery from knee reconstruction could mean more Murray, particularly early in 2018. He isn’t a receiving outlet in the mold of McKinnon, though Murray could be used more than usual for the tough yards to help shield Cook until he’s fully recuperated.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints: His suspension means gamers will have no more than three-quarters of a season of his utility, which also translates to a depressed draft stock. He could be a fine buy at the right price, and Ingram’s only hope for a last big deal will come in 2019 with a strong return this season.

Spencer Ware/Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs: Both backs are 26 years old and get sprinkled in to help relieve second-year star Kareem Hunt. Presuming last year’s leading rusher stays healthy, Ware and West will fight each other for touches. The winner could find a fantasy-worthy role on the 2019 market as a complementary player.

T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars: It appears as though Yeldon never will be a full-time guy, but it doesn’t mean he cannot deliver quality fantasy points in a supplemental role. Receptions should fuel his fantasy worth in 218 and likely beyond. Target him as a low-cost upside bargain in PPR formats.

Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons: Coleman’s name has swirled in trade rumors, and it possibly could still happen after Ito Smith was selected. Assuming he remains with the Falcons, Coleman’s days in Atlanta are winding down as he will set out to be more than Devonta Freeman’s sidekick. Among the most efficient players over the past few years, Coleman is poised for a strong showing in 2018.

Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles: A third team in as many years could be the reality of Ajayi’s 2019 career path. Rather one-dimensional, Ajayi is unlikely to have a large role in 2018’s offense that naturally spreads the love anyway. He is an explosive two-downer whose contributions come in spurts, making Ajayi a risk-reward play most any matchup.

(Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports)

Wide receivers

Player
Pos
Age
Team
Player
Pos
Age
Team
Larry Fitzgerald
WR
36
ARI
Justin Hunter
WR
28
PIT
Randall Cobb
WR
29
GB
Michael Campanaro
WR
28
TEN
Donte Moncrief
WR
26
JAC
Tyler Lockett
WR
26
SEA
Tavon Austin
WR
28
DAL
Geremy Davis
WR
27
LAC
Golden Tate
WR
31
DET
Josh Gordon*
WR
28
CLE
Rishard Matthews
WR
29
TEN
Nick Williams
WR
28
TEN
Ryan Grant
WR
28
IND
Rod Streater
WR
31
BUF
John Brown
WR
29
BAL
Michael Floyd
WR
29
NO
Jermaine Kearse
WR
29
NYJ
Greg Little
WR
30
ARI
Terrelle Pryor
WR
30
NYJ
Griff Whalen
WR
29
OAK
Cordarrelle Patterson
WR
28
NE
Kamar Aiken
WR
30
PHI
Kevin White
WR
27
CHI
Chris Conley
WR
26
KC
Mike Wallace
WR
33
PHI
Sammie Coates
WR
26
HOU
Chris Hogan
WR
30
NE
Kaelin Clay
WR
27
BUF
Cole Beasley
WR
30
DAL
Justin Hardy
WR
27
ATL
Quincy Enunwa
WR
27
NYJ
Quan Bray
WR
26
HOU
Adam Humphries
WR
26
TB
Corey Brown
WR
27
DEN
Tyrell Williams
WR
27
LAC
Josh Huff*
WR
27
NO
Odell Beckham, Jr.
WR
26
NYG
Tre McBride
WR
26
NYJ
Cody Latimer
WR
27
NYG
DeVier Posey
WR
29
BAL
Breshad Perriman
WR
25
BAL
Marlon Brown
WR
28
CHI
Phillip Dorsett
WR
26
NE
Martavis Bryant
WR
27
OAK
Aldrick Robinson
WR
30
SF
Bradley Marquez
WR
26
DET
Kelvin Benjamin
WR
28
BUF
Freddie Martino
WR
27
TB
TJ Jones
WR
27
DET
Rashad Greene
WR
26
JAC
Josh Bellamy
WR
30
CHI
Vince Mayle*
WR
28
BAL
Eric Decker
WR
32
NE
Matt Hazel*
WR
27
IND
Deonte Thompson
WR
30
DAL
Jordan Taylor*
WR
27
DEN
Charles Johnson
WR
30
NYJ
Geronimo Allison*
WR
25
GB
Christian Kirk
WR
22
ARI
Eli Rogers*
WR
26
PIT
Devin Funchess
WR
25
CAR
Damiere Byrd*
WR
26
CAR
Darrius Heyward-Bey
WR
32
PIT
Lucky Whitehead*
WR
27
NYJ
Russell Shepard
WR
28
NYG
J.J. Nelson
WR
27
ARI
Jeff Janis
WR
28
CLE
Kalif Raymond*
WR
25
NYG
Bruce Ellington
WR
28
HOU
Maurice Harris*
WR
26
WAS
Kenny Britt
WR
30
NE
D.J. Foster*
WR
25
ARI
Brandon Marshall
WR
35
SEA
Rashard Higgins*
WR
24
CLE
Brandon Tate
WR
31
NO
DeAndrew White*
WR
27
DEN
Andre Roberts
WR
31
NYJ
Roger Lewis*
WR
25
NYG
Dwayne Harris
WR
31
OAK
Robby Anderson*
WR
26
NYJ
Kendall Wright
WR
29
MIN
Johnny Holton*
WR
28
OAK
Bennie Fowler
WR
28
CHI
Tommylee Lewis*
WR
26
NO
Jeremy Kerley
WR
30
BUF
Alex Erickson*
WR
26
CIN
De’Anthony Thomas
WR
26
KC
Chester Rogers*
WR
25
IND
Tavarres King
WR
29
MIN
Cobi Hamilton
WR
28
ARI
Markus Wheaton
WR
28
PHI

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers: Jordy Nelson’s departure will open looks for Cobb, but he is injury-prone and lacks the explosiveness to take over games. PPR owners may benefit from a drastic increase in receptions. Cobb is a matchup play.

Donte Moncrief, Jacksonville Jaguars: Playing on a prove-it deal, Moncrief is in a critical juncture of his career. Only 24 years old and never “the guy,” this is a prime chance to prove what he is capable of doing as a newcomer in an offense begging for someone to stand out from the receiving corps.

Golden Tate, Detroit Lions: At 29 years old in 2018, Tate is playing as Matthew Stafford’s top target in what should be the former Seahawk’s last chance at a premium deal. Unless an injury derails Tate’s season, look for similar WR2 results from the veteran. We likely have seen his ceiling, however.

Terrelle Pryor, New York Jets: The former quarterback’s self-gamble went bust in 2017 with the one-year deal he signed to join the Washington Redskins. He never looked comfortable in the system, and there was no chemistry with Kirk Cousins. The 28-year-old Pryor will try his luck once again with a single-season pact. Gamers have a low-cost option for a quality rebound target.

Kevin White, Chicago Bears: The offense is promising for opening up the passing game, even if it will emphasize the ground. White, for all of his potential, has shown no ability to overcome even a hangnail. In an offense finding its way, a player with more incentive than just about anyone in the NFL could be a dangling carrot worthy of a bite. If nothing else, he’s cheap. Being practical, White has earned no benefit of the doubt and has burned too many gamers.

Tyrell Williams, Los Angeles Chargers: The Bolts will give last year’s first-round pick, Mike Williams, every opportunity to live up to his billing. Tyrell Williams has mostly overachieved, but if he can hold off the Clemson star or capitalize on the Hunter Henry injury, it will go a long way for his 2019 free agency options.

Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants: This one could be moot with a stroke of a pen in the coming months. OBJ really doesn’t have much to prove, even after an injury-shortened season, but wanting quarterback money will require another signature season.

Phillip Dorsett, New England Patriots: There probably won’t be enough balls to go around to make Dorsett a consistent fantasy option in 2018, but he will try to leverage every reception to make himself desirable to any team in ’19.

Kelvin Benjamin, Buffalo Bills: Few players are in need of a booming season like Benjamin. He has no one of note blocking his path to success in 2018. Chronic injuries, a rookie quarterback, and a run-heavy system present concerns, yet none of them can outright remove him from rebound consideration.

Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers: This offense needs a go-to guy in the red zone, an area where Funchess could butter his bread. The offense has an intermediate weapon in Greg Olsen and a safety valve in Christian McCaffrey. Rookie D.J. Moore will see a ton of looks. Torrey Smith and Curtis Samuel could be the more explosive components. Funchess is a modest possession and scoring target, profiling as a fringe WR3.

Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks: He played all 16 games in 2017 after suffering a broken leg late in 2016. Lockett still battled minor ailments throughout the ’17 season and struggled to display explosiveness. Two years removed from any major injury could help the 25-year-old’s cause.

Martavis Bryant, Oakland Raiders: Several reasons, including a lucrative deal in the 2019 offseason, could incentivize the once-promising wideout. Bryant figures to be the third wheel on any random play behind Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson, though neither player is without his share of downside. Anything reminiscient of Bryant’s first two years in the NFL can be considered a fantasy success.

(David Kohl, USA TODAY Sports)

Tight ends

Player
Pos
Age
Team
Player
Pos
Age
Team
Tyler Eifert
TE
28
CIN
Sean McGrath
TE
31
DET
Jared Cook
TE
32
OAK
Nick O’Leary*
TE
27
BUF
James Hanna
TE
30
DAL
Tim Wright
TE
29
KC
Luke Willson
TE
29
DET
Jeff Heuerman
TE
26
DEN
Josh Hill
TE
29
NO
Blake Bell
TE
28
SF
Demetrius Harris
TE
28
KC
Khari Lee
TE
27
BUF
Marcedes Lewis
TE
35
GB
MyCole Pruitt*
TE
27
HOU
Lance Kendricks
TE
31
GB
Xavier Grimble*
TE
26
PIT
Benjamin Watson
TE
38
NO
Ben Koyack*
TE
26
JAC
Neal Sterling
TE
27
NYJ
Jace Amaro*
TE
27
KC
Michael Hoomanawanui
TE
31
NO
Eric Tomlinson*
TE
27
NYJ
Levine Toilolo
TE
28
DET
Chris Manhertz*
TE
27
CAR
Luke Stocker
TE
31
TEN
C.J. Uzomah
TE
26
CIN
Maxx Williams
TE
25
BAL
Jesse James
TE
25
PIT
Logan Paulsen
TE
32
ATL
James O’Shaughnessy
TE
27
JAC
MarQueis Gray
TE
29
MIA
Nick Boyle
TE
26
BAL
John Phillips
TE
32
NO
A.J. Derby
TE
27
MIA
Richard Rodgers
TE
27
PHI
Gabe Holmes*
TE
28
ARI
Clive Walford
TE
27
NYJ
Matt Lengel*
TE
28
HOU
Gavin Escobar
TE
28
MIA
Geoff Swaim
TE
25
DAL
Logan Thomas
TE
28
BUF
Erik Swoope*
TE
27
IND
Zach Miller
TE
34
CHI
Stephen Anderson*
TE
26
HOU
Tyler Kroft
TE
26
CIN
Mitchell Loewen*
TE
26
NO
Je’Ron Hamm
TE
27
LAC
Ben Braunecker*
TE
25
CHI
Will Tye*
TE
27
NE
Ross Travis*
TE
26
IND
Scott Simonson
TE
27
NYG
Alan Cross*
TE
26
TB

Luke Willson, Detroit Lions: A career backup, Willson comes over from Seattle and will fight for the starting job in Detroit. He is primarily credited for his blocking skills, though Willson is an underrated receiver. The biggest question here is just how many passes can possibly go around in this offense.

Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals: A free agent this March, Eifert renewed with the Bengals for one year. Staying healthy has always been his biggest enemy, and even if he plays out of his mind, teams will hold his fragility against him. Eifert offers midrange TE1 talent as one of the riskiest players at his position.

Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers: A better blocker than receiver, James often gets lost in the shuffle of the dangerous weapons in this offense. He’s a capable pass-catching tight end, though he won’t take over games. Perhaps a slight uptick in stats can lead to a larger role elsewhere in 2019.

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