Updated: Friday, April 12
Free agency’s less tasty moves still offer plenty for fantasy football owners to chew on in the coming months. The notable names have been broken down by level of anticipated importance.
WR Golden Tate, New York Giants
While Giants fans are still trying to come to grips with the loss of Odell Beckham Jr., veteran receiver Golden Tate agreed to join the G-men to the tun of four years, $37.5 million with $23 mill guaranteed. He immediately becomes New York’s top receiver and should be a regular contributor in fantasy. After all, the Giants have more than 10 targets per game to make up from last year with the loss of OBJ.
The good news is Tate is extremely comfortable with this offensive system, and he’s just one year removed from his fourth consecutive 90-plus-catch season. The veteran playmaker turns 31 in August and still has something to offer. Eli Manning is a bigger question, and the overall returns will be capped in this offense, but Tate has sound value as a second receiver in PPR. He’s a safer WR3/flex, though, depending on your league size and structure.
RB Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens
There is no question the Ravens will pound the rock, and Ingram will be the focal point of it among the running backs. Gus Edwards and a few other bodies should be in the fold, but it will be Ingram’s show. His primary competition for touches is quarterback Lamar Jackson, especially around the stripe.
At 29 years old this season, Ingram could have enough left in the tank to make noise in fantasy. There is downside in the form of injury and suspension concerns after last year’s four-game ban for performance-enhancing drugs. Ingram’s production could be erratic, so treat him as a low-tier No. 2 or flex on draft day.
RB Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints
The 6-foot-3 Murray will be asked to fill in for Mark Ingram after the latter was allowed to walk in free agency. Murray should see ample work around the goal line and between the 20s, but he doesn’t offer the same passing-game prowess as Ingram. This is where the electric Alvin Kamara will come into focus.
Everything about the Saints’ offensive setup suggests Murray should be a plug-n-play addition for this lineup. He’s a No. 2 back in fantasy leagues without reception-rewarding scoring, and Murray will play that way at times for PPR gamers. He’s closer to a flex most weeks in the conventions that emphasize catches.
WR Tyrell Williams, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders made arguably the biggest splash of all in the marketplace by trading for Antonio Brown, a move that gives Williams opportunities to exploit single coverage. While Williams looked quite capable in 2016 when Keenan Allen was lost for the year, he hasn’t been tested week in and out vs. top corners or double teams. And now he won’t have to worry about it.
Williams’ 6-foot-4 frame will be figuratively and literally huge in the red zone for Derek Carr. The Oakland offense will be asked to sling it given the defensive holes, and Williams is a sound choice as a No. 3 fantasy receiver in any scoring system.
TE Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints
The addition of Cook to the Saints could be better for the real-life team than your fake one. There are several mouths to feed int his offense, and while the veteran fills a glaring hole, his involvement will be capped behind focal points in Marques Colston and Alvin Kamara. Second-year receiver Tre’Quan Smith should be heavily involved; New Orleans still has Ted Ginn and Keith Kirkwood in the mix.
Cook is coming off of a career fantasy year from an offense that struggled to field competent weapons and had one of the most atrocious defenses in the league. Always be wary of a player whose best season comes a decade into their NFL journey. Something in the neighborhood of 55 catches, 650 yards and 5-6 TDs is more realistic. Treat him as a low-end TE1 based on the system and positional scarcity.
WR Jamison Crowder, New York Jets
As a rookie in 2015, Crowder collected 59 receptions for 604 yards but only two touchdown grabs. He picked up his game the next year with a 67-847-7 line, exciting gamers heading into the 2017 draft season. The lack of scoring (three TDs) once again limited Crowder’s utility, and injuries in 2018 made him a roster anchor. He moves on to the Jets and enters an offensive system that allowed Jarvis Landry to catch approximately three million passes in Miami.
The addition of Le’Veon Bell drawing 11 sets of eyes on every play has its perks, yet Bell’s receiving chops easily could make Crowder less appealing. Will Sam Darnold be ready to go through progressions and make Crowder a weekly lineup consideration? Can Crowder stay healthy? He may be closer to being just a part of the puzzle. Draft Crowder as a WR3 or flex in PPR and be prepared for the possibility of a season closer to last year than 2016.
Important puzzle piece
WR Donte Moncrief, Pittsburgh Steelers
He’s the consolation prize for losing Antonio Brown to the Raiders via trade, which isn’t exactly comforting to Steelers fans. Moncrief has flashed several times in his career, and he’s still young enough to suggest we haven’t seen the best of him yet (26 in August). Pittsburgh loves to throw the ball, and there is a major void to fill in target share behind JuJu Smith-Schuster. Injuries and inconsistency could be the bane of Moncrief’s existence on your roster, so tread carefully. There is notable upside here, however, as a WR3 or flex in deeper setups.
RB Carlos Hyde, Kansas City Chiefs
Damien Williams earned a major role in the 2019 KC offense, and it could be as the top dog in this backfield. He’s certainly the most versatile, which plays a key factor in Andy Reid’s system. Hyde offers utility between the 20s and has a shot at relevance around the goal line. He also comes with injury concerns and enters a pass-heavy script as a mostly ground-based player. Treat him as a No. 3/flex in most formats, and Hyde has greater value in standard-scoring formats.
NEW – TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, New England Patriots
The well-traveled tight end is in a great situation to produce, assuming he can stay on the field and pick up the system. Seferian-Jenkins was in a good spot last year, too, and was a disaster prior to a season-ending injury. Tom Brady helps, considering he’s easily the best quarterback to throw the 26-year-old’s way. No Rob Gronkowski means plenty of looks will be available, and at 6-foot-6, 258 pounds, the fairly athletic Seferian-Jenkins could register a double-digit touchdown total. He’s a speculative TE1 but might be overhyped if his summer sounds promising.
C.J. Anderson, Detroit Lions
Anderson will be asked to split touches with second-year back Kerryon Johnson. Detroit won’t overwork the Auburn product, suggesting Anderson will have a notable role in the offense. However, Theo Riddick also remains in play, unless he is released or traded before the opener. Anderson couldn’t stick with Carolina or Oakland prior to being a late-season hero for the Rams. If LA’s offense is built for success, Detroit’s is made for regress. Which version of Anderson will the Lions get in 2019? The safe advice is draft CJA as Johnson’s handcuff. The brazen recommendation: Anderson has RB3 potential with the right matchups and/or an injury to Johnson.
WR John Brown, Buffalo Bills
Brown flashed his potential at times in Arizona and again early in the 2018 season while with the Baltimore Ravens. The switch from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson at quarterback essentially ended Brown’s run as a viable fantasy playmaker. Weather in Buffalo can be downright nasty late in the year — not that Baltimore is all that much nicer in December. Brown’s go-deep skills will work nicely with Josh Allen’s monster arm. There is tremendous upside for WR2 production, although the safe buy is as a No. 3 or flex wideout.
TE Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Talent-wise, Eifert is among the best at his position. Injury-wise, he is among the most fragile players in the entire league. Cincy has an entirely new offensive system coming in with a rookie head coach. If Zac Taylor’s history is any indicator, Eifert may not be much of a factor. However, the tight end’s natural talent and so-so players around him make Eifert slightly compelling. Be prepared for him to land on Injured Reserve sooner than later and have a backup plan.
WR Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills
The slot receiver will work his way around the field as an underneath target of Josh Allen, which could lead to considerable worth in PPR setups at a fairly cheap price. Beasley is a mild liability for injuries given his size and role, and he’ll leave the friendly confines of Dallas for the harsh winters of Western New York. There is considerable potential for regular use in fantasy from his receptions alone. Beasley sports WR4 draft stock with PPR upside in the No. 3 range.
WR DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
We’re not talking about the D-Jax whose game was in its prime the last time he wore an Eagles uni … he’s 33 this December and has struggled from Day 1 with injuries. Jackson’s role should be limited to that of a deep threat or situational player when the offense is looking to create a mismatch in space. This leads to big plays and several forgettable fantasy days along the ride. Standard-scoring leaguers can make Jackson a roster-filler and a matchup play.
WR Devin Funchess, Indianapolis Colts
Despite being overpaid by about, oh, $8 million or so, the former Carolina Panther is in a decent situation with an elite quarterback. T.Y. Hilton draws extra coverage, and it is unclear just what the Colts have in a crop of mostly inexperienced wideouts behind him. There’s is an opportunity to a substantial role in an offense proven capable of getting returns from suspect talent. Funchess won’t be asked to shoulder the passing game, which helps, but the big-bodied wideout has no vault in his ceiling. WR3 is the best-case scenario here.
RB Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins
As I wrote a few weeks ago, Peterson returning to mentor and share work with second-year back Derrius Guice made a ton of sense for both parties. The Canton-bound Peterson is long in the tooth but showed he can still get it done as a part-timer in 2018, albeit erratically. Guice is coming off of a torn ACL and didn’t play a snap as a rookie, so there’s no telling what Washington will get from him this year. Gamers will be looking at a total mess. The hot hand will see the bulk of the totes, and Peterson is a major injury liability at this stage of his career. Think of him only has a roster-filler or handcuff to Guice.
WR Randall Cobb, Dallas Cowboys
The long-time Green Bay Packers talent should replace Cole Beasley as the primary slot option and is capable of playing out wide, as well. Cobb has been an injury-prone player virtually his whole career, and there is little reason to expect that will change in 2019. Draft him as a WR4 with almost no upside, and be comfortable with Cobb missing a few games.
RB Mike Davis, Chicago Bears: This one should be in the next section if you’re the type whose unwilling to invest a little extra in a bet. The idea here is Davis has flashed a number of times and has been hampered by circumstances. Jordan Howard doesn’t fit this offense, and it seems increasingly likely he will be moved before the end of the draft. That would make Davis a strong flex or RB3 target. Until then, he’s a late-round consideration or stash.
TE Jesse James, Detroit Lions: James is not particularly dynamic but displays sneaky athleticism in bursts. He’s an astute blocker and will help better the Lions’ running game. Fantasy owners don’t care so much for that aspect of his offerings, of course, but there is room for a role in the passing game in Darrell Bevell’s offense. James could emerge as a worthwhile play several weeks of the year.
WR Adam Humphries, Tennessee Titans: As I said on Twitter, Tennessee is where promising WRs go to die. Humphries is coming off of a career year at an opportune time, and he used it to set back his trajectory by joining this inept aerial offense. Marcus Mariota simply isn’t an NFL-caliber passer. Humphries’ opportunity shouldn’t be ignored, though.
RB Isaiah Crowell, Oakland Raiders
Marshawn Lynch’s return remains unresolved, and Doug Martin is on the open market. The duo of Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are better utilized as pass-down change-ups. Oakland could be providing insurance against Lynch’s retirement or another injury, and Crowell played pretty well in limited action last year. There isn’t much in the way of upside, so treat him as roster depth in the RB4-No. 5 territory.
NEW – WR Chris Hogan, Carolina Panthers
Following a disappointing season with the Patriots, Hogan was allowed to walk in free agency. Despite all of New England’s receiving woes last year, Hogan mustered the fewest fantasy points per game of his career and failed to catch a ball in four games. There’s virtually no upside here, and Carolina has several options to catch the ball in the short-to-intermediate game, suggesting Hogan will compete for downfield action. He is no better than a late-round flier in deep formats.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins
We’ve seen this rerun how many times now? He plays extremely well in spurts and then reverts into being Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 36-year-old veteran has matchup utility in the right situation, but the lack of talent around him is glaring. He should be asked to handle the game in more of a managerial way than as the gunslinger we saw in Tampa last year. It is obvious Miami needs to get younger at the position, so drafting a quarter is inevitable. Just how long of a leash with FitzMagic have before the rookie is inserted into the lineup?
WR Bruce Ellington, New England Patriots
He hasn’t been able to put it together for any reasonable stretch of time, mostly due to being plagued by injuries, especially to his hamstrings. The hope here is Ellington has flashed so many times throughout his numerous stops that all it takes is one healthy go of it and he will be a fantasy force. Unless something drastically changes with his durability, Ellington is no more than a late-round gamble in cavernous formats.
WR Danny Amendola, Detroit Lions: In his age-33 season, Amendola shouldn’t be more than a late-round roll of the dice. He’s not going to all of a sudden become something special. However, even in a more balanced offensive approach, Detroit will need to move the chains with underneath routes. The journeyman could surprise and snag 60-plus balls.
TE Tyler Kroft, Buffalo Bills: The former Cincinnati Bengal isn’t going to “wow” anyone but has sneaky athleticism and talent. Buffalo needs reliable hands in the red zone, and Kroft could emerge as just that player for Josh Allen.
NEW – RB Ty Montgomery, New York Jets: The wideout turned receiver is purely a handcuff to Le’Veon Bell and nothing more. The Jets could find ways to utilize the former Packer and Raven to exploit mismatches. This doesn’t translate well into fantasy utility, however. The only bright spot here is Bell hasn’t played in a year and was run into the turf in his 2017 season.
TE Charles Clay, Arizona Cardinals: There’s no doubt he is talented enough to occasionally contribute in fantasy, but doubts about durability and his role in the offense suppress Clay’s worth to being merely a late-round flier in a talent-starved tight end fantasy class.
RB Frank Gore, Buffalo Bills: Not enough upside to roster him at this stage of his illustrious career.
NEW – WR Charles Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles: The AAF’s leading receiver, Johnson returns to the NFL ranks and is buried on the depth chart. He has a hint of waiver worth.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Chicago Bears: Too many weapons, too limited of a niche role.
TE Dwayne Allen, Miami Dolphins: Likely the blocking tight end with Mike Gesicki handling the aerial chores.
WR Breshad Perriman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: One-trick pony whose role will make him extremely unpredictable.
QB Case Keenum, Washington Redskins: Game manager without a cast of weapons to utilize.