Fantasy football players entering a contract year

Fantasy football players entering a contract year

Player Analysis

Fantasy football players entering a contract year

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, and the sorting is factored from the highest 2018 salary atop each chart. Each player is an unrestricted free agent as of March 2019, and the age listed is as of May 9.

(Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)

Quarterbacks

Player
2018 team
Age
Player
2018 team
Age
Tyrod Taylor
CLE
28
Josh Johnson
OAK
31
Josh McCown
NYJ
38
E.J. Manuel
OAK
28
Teddy Bridgewater
NYJ
26
Geno Smith
NYG
27
Matt Schaub
ATL
36
Brock Osweiler
MIA
27
Ryan Fitzpatrick
TB
35
Brandon Weeden
HOU
34
Colt McCoy
WAS
31
David Fales
MIA
27
Landry Jones
PIT
29
Austin Davis
SEA
28
Tom Savage
NO
28
Sean Mannion
LA
26
Ryan Griffin
TB
28
Tyler Bray
CHI
26
Matt Cassel
DET
35
Taylor Heinicke
CAR
25
Robert Griffin III
BAL
28
Brett Hundley
GB
24
Joe Webb
HOU
31
Trevor Siemian
MIN
26

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.

(Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports)

Running backs

Player
2018 team
Age
Player
2018 team
Age
Le’Veon Bell
PIT
26
Alfred Blue
HOU
27
Latavius Murray
MIN
27
Brandon Bolden
NE
28
Marshawn Lynch
OAK
32
Travaris Cadet
BUF
29
Mark Ingram
NO
28
Tevin Coleman
ATL
25
Bilal Powell
NYJ
29
Christine Michael
IND
27
Mike Gillislee
NE
27
Fitz Toussaint
PIT
28
Corey Grant
JAC
26
Kerwynn Williams
KC
26
LeGarrette Blount
DET
31
Stevan Ridley
PIT
29
Charcandrick West
KC
26
Duke Johnson
CLE
24
Spencer Ware
KC
26
Ty Montgomery
GB
25
Jacquizz Rodgers
TB
28
David Johnson
ARI
26
T.J. Yeldon
JAC
24
Raheem Mostert
SF
26
Doug Martin
OAK
29
Javorius Allen
BAL
26
Mike Davis
SEA
25
Kapri Bibbs
WAS
25
Robert Turbin
IND
28
Rod Smith
DAL
26
Fozzy Whittaker
CAR
29
Akeem Hunt
KC
25
Damien Williams
KC
26
Jay Ajayi
PHI
24
Frank Gore
MIA
34
Cameron Artis-Payne
CAR
27
Zach Zenner
DET
26
Charles Sims
TB
27
Ameer Abdullah
DET
24
Darren Sproles
PHI
34
Taiwan Jones
BUF
29

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.

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 recent 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.

Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions: Hear me out … the former Cornhusker isn’t going to break records in 2018, but if he is his best self on the field, gamers could get regular flex returns. In the prime of his career, Abdullah could benefit from a change of scenery in 2019 and enjoy a stronger second half to his career.

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.

Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns: At just 24 years old, coming off a stellar PPR season, Johnson could test the market in 2019. Unfortunately, the addition of Jarvis Landry and a poised veteran quarterback should depress his production in in the passing game this year. Johnson will offer flex playability in PPR just about every week, but he won’t be the No. 11 overall PPR back again in 2018.

David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals: The 26-year-old Johnson needs to prove he’s the special talent we saw in 2016. Provided he returns to form, look for Arizona to lock him into a long-term deal. He has incentive from several directions.

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.

(Marc Lebryk, USA TODAY Sports)

Wide receivers

Player
2018 team
Age
Player
2018 team
Age
Larry Fitzgerald
ARI
34
Jeff Janis
CLE
26
Randall Cobb
GB
27
Bruce Ellington
HOU
26
Donte Moncrief
JAC
24
Kenny Britt
NE
29
Tavon Austin
DAL
27
Andre Roberts
NYJ
30
Golden Tate
DET
29
Kendall Wright
MIN
28
Rishard Matthews
TEN
28
Brandon Coleman
NO
25
Ryan Grant
IND
27
Bennie Fowler
CHI
26
John Brown
BAL
28
Jordan Matthews
NE
25
Jermaine Kearse
NYJ
28
De’Anthony Thomas
KC
25
Terrelle Pryor
NYJ
28
Dwayne Harris
OAK
30
Brandon LaFell
CIN
31
Tavarres King
MIN
27
Cordarrelle Patterson
NE
27
Michael Campanaro
TEN
27
Kevin White
CHI
25
Tyler Lockett
SEA
25
Mike Wallace
PHI
31
Geremy Davis
LAC
26
Chris Hogan
NE
29
Rod Streater
BUF
30
Cole Beasley
DAL
29
Griff Whalen
OAK
28
Quincy Enunwa
NYJ
25
Justin Hunter
PIT
26
Adam Humphries
TB
24
Marquess Wilson
PHI
25
Tyrell Williams
LAC
26
Chris Conley
KC
25
Odell Beckham, Jr.
NYG
25
Sammie Coates
HOU
25
Cody Latimer
NYG
25
Kaelin Clay
BUF
26
Breshad Perriman
BAL
24
Justin Hardy
ATL
26
Brandin Cooks
LA
24
Tre McBride
NYJ
25
Phillip Dorsett
NE
25
DeVier Posey
BAL
28
Aldrick Robinson
SF
29
Marlon Brown
CHI
27
Kelvin Benjamin
BUF
27
Martavis Bryant
OAK
26
T.J. Jones
DET
25
Freddie Martino
TB
26
Josh Bellamy
CHI
28
Bradley Marquez
DET
25
Deonte Thompson
DAL
29
Rashad Greene
JAC
25
Charles Johnson
NYJ
29
Stefon Diggs
MIN
24
Devin Smith
NYJ
26
J.J. Nelson
ARI
26
Devin Funchess
CAR
23
Markus Wheaton
PHI
27
Darrius Heyward-Bey
PIT
31
Jeremy Kerley
BUF
29

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.

Brandin Cooks, Los Angeles Rams: The well-traveled 24-year-old has a chance to score big in free agency, whether it be in LA or another city. The Rams gave up a first-rounder for him and will showcase the incendiary asset. Expect big numbers on a near weekly basis.

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.

Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings: The streaky Diggs has to acclimate to a new quarterback and offensive system in Minnesota. He has flashed a number of times but also has induced several fantasy headaches in the past two years. Former first-rounder Laquon Treadwell could press Diggs’ target share in a more meaningful way, yet it is tough to envision Diggs slipping south of WR2 territory.

(David Kohl, USA TODAY Sports)

Tight ends

Player
2018 team
Age
Player
2018 team
Age
Delanie Walker
TEN
33
Richard Rodgers
PHI
26
Tyler Eifert
CIN
27
Clive Walford
NYJ
26
Jared Cook
OAK
31
Logan Thomas
BUF
26
Levine Toilolo
DET
26
Gavin Escobar
MIA
27
James Hanna
DAL
28
Tyler Kroft
CIN
25
Luke Willson
DET
28
Tim Wright
KC
28
Josh Hill
NO
27
Jeff Heuerman
DEN
25
Demetrius Harris
KC
26
Blake Bell
SF
26
Lance Kendricks
GB
30
Khari Lee
BUF
26
Benjamin Watson
NO
37
C.J. Uzomah
CIN
25
Neal Sterling
NYJ
26
Jesse James
PIT
23
Michael Hoomanawanui
NO
29
James O’Shaughnessy
JAC
26
Phillip Supernaw
TEN
28
Nick Boyle
BAL
25
Luke Stocker
TEN
29
Randall Telfer
KC
25
Maxx Williams
BAL
24
A.J. Derby
MIA
26
Logan Paulsen
ATL
31
Darren Waller
BAL
25
MarQueis Gray
MIA
28
Geoff Swaim
DAL
24
Troy Niklas
NE
25

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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