Fantasy football: 2023 NFL free agency roundup

Fantasy football: 2023 NFL free agency roundup

NFL free agents and fantasy football impact

Fantasy football: 2023 NFL free agency roundup


Now that NFL free agency is upon us, we’ll run through the fantasy football outlooks for trades, re-signings, midrange players, and tag recipients.

This analysis will be updated as players sign/re-sign in free agency, so be sure to check back regularly.

Signed with new team or traded

Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

NEW — TE Irv Smith, Cincinnati Bengals: The talent has always been there for Smith, but staying on the field might as well be as likely as sprouting wings and flapping his way to the moon. Cincy lost Hayden Hurst in free agency, and there was no one of note at the position left on the roster. Smith could prove to be a DFS play here and there or a spot starter in traditional fantasy, but he’s best left for the waiver wire in most settings. The Bengals have too many weapons to maintain a weekly role for lineups, and Smith could face competition following the draft. (3/28)

WR DJ Chark Jr., Carolina Panthers: The revamped Carolina offense sent DJ Moore packing and welcomed the likes of Chark, quarterback Andy Dalton, running back Miles Sanders, wideout Adam Thielen and tight end Hayden Hurst. There’s a quality blend of short-area, midrange, and long-ball skill sets to diversify the offense’s attack points. Chark has struggled with injuries throughout his career, but his vertical game remains a strength. Dalton will cede the starting spot to whichever quarterback is chosen No. 1 overall, though there really may not be a significant drop-off from the game-managing veteran. Regardless, Chark has no draft value in fantasy but should offer the random game or two of lineup-worthy results. Reserve him for DFS action. (3/24)

WR Nelson Agholor, Baltimore Ravens: It has been a minute since Agholor produced fantasy-relevant stats, dating back to his 2020 stint with the Raiders. A failed two-year run with New England has him on the move to the receiver-starved Ravens, which is the only reason he is even in the fake-football conversation anymore. The 31 games in which he was targeted with the Pats resulted in 835 total yards and five offensive scores — 61 yards and four TDs fewer than 16 contests with the Raiders. Agholor has a sliver of appeal as a deep threat given the success we’ve seen between Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown, another vertical asset, but that assumes the former MVP quarterback indeed returns. Should that happen, Agholor is merely a late-round flier in deep contests. (3/24)

WR Elijah Moore, Cleveland Browns: Moore was dealt the same day the New York Jets signed free-agent receiver Mecole Hardman, effectively a one-for-one replacement in terms of role and skill set. Both are agile, open-field weapons who excel after the catch, but neither was utilized to the best of their profiles at times. Moore was not a great fit in the Jets’ system last year and was on thin ice with the coaching staff as the year wore on. The Browns are now viably three-deep at wideout with Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and now Moore, whose versatility in and out of the slot makes all three receivers interchangeable to exploit matchups. Deshaun Watson provides an upgrade for Moore, but the question comes down to volume in this run-heavy offense. Treat him as a No. 4 option who could emerge as a weekly flex or WR3. (3/22)

WR Mecole Hardman, New York Jets: The former Kansas City Chief speedster was signed Wednesday, a move that prompted the Jets to send Elijah Moore to Cleveland. New York’s quarterback situation remains in limbo with the Aaron Rodgers saga still playing out. Moore spent 30.3 percent of his 2022 snaps from the slot, and a new West Coast-based system in ’23 should see him move all around as well. The Chiefs had Tyreek Hill overshadowing the Hardman over the first three years of the latter’s career, though we saw career-high stats on a per-game basis from Hardman in 2022 before an injury-plagued campaign held him to nine appearances (including postseason). On raw talent alone, Hardman could be a WR2 in fantasy, but we just need to see more than a few flashes before endorsing him as anything stronger than a fourth on draft day — and that assumes Rodgers is his quarterback. (3/22)

TE Austin Hooper, Las Vegas Raiders: Will team No. 4 be what it takes to get Hooper’s career back on track? He has floundered the last two stops, despite a decent situation for rebounding in 2022 with Tennessee. Josh McDaniels’ system in Vegas has proven to help tight ends find success through the years, and the trade of Darren Waller opens the door for Hooper to show what he can do yet again. However, a few factors work against him: This is a deep draft class, and it’s likely we’ll see the Raiders invest in the position earlier than not. Furthermore, just how many plays will there be to go around to involve Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, Hunter Renfrow and Jakobi Meyers? There’s only one football, and those first two guys will account for the lion’s share of the action. Hooper has no draft value at this point, but he could be a waiver play or DFS flier with the right matchup some weeks. (3/22)

RB Damien Harris, Buffalo Bills: The former New England Patriot now will get a chance to stick it to his former employer twice in 2022, and he landed in a fine spot to lay it on them. The one-dimensional Harris should play the “thunder” capacity in the backfield as James Cook electrifies in his compartmentalized role. Buffalo’s offense gives defenses multiple areas for concern, which cuts both ways for Harris. He’ll find more running room between the 20s, though the valuable red-zone touches will be met with the threat of Josh Allen sniping scores from Harris. The Alabama back is a low-upside RB4 for those looking to fill out a roster with a cheap TD gamble, but the overall body of work will be inconsistent from week to week and unimpressive more often than not. He’s closer to an RB3 in touchdown-heavy formats. (3/20)

TE Dalton Schultz, Houston Texans: A remarkably deep tight end class (read as “cheaper”) has dampened the market for free-agent tight ends in 2023’s offseason, and arguably the top one of all chose to settle with a one-year bet on himself. Schultz had been a staple in the Dallas offense the past couple of years, but cap issues and a couple of promising youngsters behind him helped make the veteran expendable. While Schultz should be in contention for a midrange TE1 placement again this upcoming season, it’s tough to get much more specific when we don’t even know what Houston will do at quarterback. It’s a lock the Texans will draft someone early, but Davis Mills and Case Keenum currently sit atop the positional hierarchy, and that’s bound to change come the end of April. We’ll revisit the entire offense in greater deal following the draft. (3/20)

RB Devin Singletary, Houston Texans: Singletary was underutilized most of his career in Buffalo, especially as a receiver, but his ability to make do with limited touches intimates his floor probably doesn’t change much in Houston. The offense isn’t nearly as explosive, and the line needs some help, but the Texans have not been shy spending money this offseason. That doesn’t always translate, but it’s a step in the right direction. The former Buffalo Bill will split the backfield with the second-year Dameon Pierce, a 2022 fantasy draft darling whose ceiling now may be low enough to hit his head on. That’s not to say he cannot perform up to his potential any given week, but the “what could have been” upside has been kneecapped. Singletary is an RB4 in most casual formats but could justifiably sneak into the No. 3 conversation for deeper setups. (3/20)

WR Mack Hollins, Atlanta Falcons: Hollins proved to be a pleasant surprise in 2022 with the Las Vegas Raiders, securing a career-high 57 receptions for 690 yards, also matching a personal best with four scores. The Falcons offer a chance for him to lock up a starting spot opposite Drake London, though it’s difficult to see him being relevant to fantasy owners if tight ends Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith rebound. Furthermore, it all hinges on the on-field maturation of second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder. Even with the situation at hand, Hollins has an outside shot at being worthy of a late-round pick in PPR if Atlanta doesn’t meaningfully address the position again this offseason, which currently seems improbable when looking at the roster. (3/20)

WR Adam Thielen, Carolina Panthers: The seasoned vet will be 33 before the season opens and is coming off his worst pro season since earning a meaningful chance to contribute back in 2016. Thielen has averaged less than 11 yards per reception for the past two seasons and hasn’t topped 730 yards in three of the last four seasons — some of which was due to the meteoric rise of Justin Jefferson. Nevertheless, Minnesota was able to rely on the crafty route runner uncovering in the red zone and reinventing himself as a scoring threat, finding the end zone 10 times per year, on average, over the past three seasons. In Carolina, while currently the most recognizable name among the team’s revamped receiving room, Thielen’s fantasy value remains low. He’s a fringe No. 3 or more reasonable flex but should be drafted as roster depth given the quarterback uncertainty. 3/24 update: WR DJ Chark Jr. was added to provide a deep threat.

WR Brandin Cooks, Dallas Cowboys: The Houston Texans sent the well-traveled wideout to “America’s Team” in trade that netted a pair of late draft choices. The move should see Cooks’ fantasy value rise as he attempts to rebound from the second-worst per-game average of his career, which came on a 57-699-3 line in 13 contests. Cooks, who turns 30 early in the season, will play for his fifth team, and he has generated at least 1,000 yards in a campaign in each stop. With the Cowboys desperately needing a sidekick for CeeDee Lamb dating back to last fall, the importance grew amidst tight end Dalton Schultz‘s expected departure in free agency. Dallas still has wideout Michael Gallup on the roster, though he’s returning from knee and ankle cleanup surgeries. Gallup is expected to be ready well ahead of Week 1, but having a knee operation on each one in basically a year’s time is mildly concerning. Cooks should offer WR2 returns some weeks but figures to have a solid No. 3 floor overall. (3/19)

TE Mike Gesicki, New England Patriots: Days after shipping Jonnu Smith off to Atlanta, Bill Belichick chose to replace him from within the division by adding a familiar foe now turned friend. Gesicki’s talents were underutilized in 2022, and that helped keep his leverage depressed on the open market, which played a role in this being a one-year agreement. New England still has Hunter Henry on the roster, but he’s more of a traditional Y tight end than Gesicki, who is at his best being flexed into the slot. Now, Henry can excel in this role, too, so the Pats finally have a legit TE duo since the days of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. This is the final year of Henry’s deal, leaving Gesicki to audition for a long-term contract here or elsewhere. The former Nittany Lion is a borderline TE1 but could emerge as a top-six or so player at the position. (3/17)

TE Robert Tonyan, Chicago Bears: The former Green Bay Packer has one strong season to his credit, and it required a disproportionate ratio of touchdown grabs in relation to passes landed. He found the end zone 11 times on just 52 receptions that year, putting Tonyan on the fantasy map. The following year saw him get off to a sluggish start prior to tearing an ACL and missing half of the season. Last year’s campaign saw Tonyan play every game but struggle to matter for fantasy (53-470-2) as he worked his way back into game shape. In Chicago, he will be greeted by a familiar face in offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, Green Bay’s passing game coordinator during Tonyan’s breakout season. He’ll share the position with Cole Kmet but should be relegated to passing downs. For whatever it is worth, Kmet was surprisingly underutilized in 2022, so we’re taking a cautious approach here. Tonyan isn’t draftable at this time. (3/16)

RB D’Onta Foreman, Chicago Bears: Foreman was thrown into the starting lineup last year after the Christian McCaffrey trade. Surprisingly, he practically carried the offense for several weeks, racking up totals between 113 and 165 rushing yards five times from during a nine-game midseason stretch. However, Foreman topped 75 yards just once in the final five weeks and started losing touches to Chuba Hubbard. The Bears lost David Montgomery to Detroit in free agency, though he wasn’t expected to return anyway. Foreman, who turns 27 on April 24, is expected to share touches with Khalil Herbert. The latter is more versatile and should see a larger share of the work on clear passing downs. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was fond of sharing the chores last year, and there’s no reason to expect that to change in 2023. Foreman is an RB3 or flex, and the same placement is fair for Herbert. (3/16)

QB Gardner Minshew, Indianapolis Colts: There’s no doubt Indy will land a quarterback in the upcoming draft, likely with the No. 4 selection, which puts a short expiration date on Minshew’s role atop the depth chart. He has shown up a few times for fantasy owners over the year, though we’re looking at a backup who can run and implement head coach Shane Steichen’s system after playing within it last year. Even if Minshew winds up starting the first few weeks, he’s destined for the bench sooner than later and is not a draftable option. (3/16)

RB Chase Edmonds, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The release of Leonard Fournette should leave Rachaad White as the primary ball carrier in Tampa, and now he’ll be paired with a veteran on his fourth team in little more than 12 months. Edmonds capitalized on a quality stretch from 2020 through the ’21 season, at times filling in for an injured James Conner in Arizona. The 2022 free agency period saw Edmonds sign with Miami, only to get sent to Denver before being placed on injured reserve in December and ultimately released this spring. It’s perfectly understandable for anyone to be skeptical about his 2023 outlook. For now, the best approach is to treat Edmonds as a late-round handcuff to White or a standalone pick to serve as depth. (3/16)

WR Parris Campbell, New York Giants: The release of Kenny Golladay had a flimsy receiving corps even thinner, though it’s not hard to argue in favor of a case of addition by subtraction. At any rate, the Giants turned to former Ohio State speedster after four injury-plagued seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. Campbell has vertical traits this offense could use, but we’ve seen pretty much the exact opposite out of him through four pro seasons. In his defense, injuries and a QB turnstile haven’t done him any favors. Last year, Campbell finally played every game in a season, yet he’s no more than a late flier in deep setups. (3/16)

RB James Robinson, New England Patriots: The Rhamondre Stevenson Show gets a new sidekick with the signing of Robinson, a versatile veteran who should be fresh as a daisy entering 2023’s offseason. The Pats are not expected to re-sign Damien Harris, so unless Robinson loses out to Pierre Strong or Kevin Harris, we’re looking at a handcuff and independent RB4. Stevenson is a capable receiver in his own right, so J-Rob’s workload could resemble that of an occasional spell more so than a true 1b share. That’s not a good sign for a volume-based contributor. (3/15)

RB Jamaal Williams, New Orleans Saints: The NFL’s leader in rushing TDs last year (17) parlayed his success into a new deal with the Saints, keeping him inside of a dome and in an offense that will utilize his skill set. Versatile enough to play on third downs, Williams made a name for himself in 2022 as a scoring machine on the ground in 2022, though his lofty play shouldn’t be taken for granted. Now, history doesn’t guarantee the future, but he has a similar role locked in with the Saints and should maintain an RB3 floor. A suspension looming over Alvin Kamara adds some value to Williams, since he’d be a borderline RB1 during any action without No. 41. (3/15)

QB Jacoby Brissett, Washington Commanders: This one makes plenty of sense for both parties. Brissett will battle for a starting job with Sam Howell, and if the second-year passer wins the gig then we’ll see the veteran serve as a mentor. Not too many teams would be excited to have Brissett suddenly thrust into the starting lineup, but he’s a capable game manager in real life, though his offerings in fake football leave plenty to be desired. Should Brissett see any meaningful action, the takeaway in fantasy is that the surrounding weaponry won’t see their respective values totally plummet. (3/15)

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, New England Patriots: The Pats lost Jakobi Meyers to free agency but found a replacement, arguably an upgrade, in Smith-Schuster. The former Pittsburgh Steeler went to KC last year and earned a ring, but his stats have paled in comparison since his breakthrough 2018 line of 111-1,426-7 in the Steel City. Over the last four years, the USC product has posted 97-831-9 (2020) and 78-933-3 (2022) as his strongest efforts. His only full season of action was that ’18 breakout year, so there’s realistically as much downside as reward potential here. In fairness, last year he wasn’t the No. 1 target, and a fading Ben Roethlisberger didn’t help his stats down the stretch with Pittsburgh. In 2023, Mac Jones gets the closest thing to a true alpha wideout he has had since entering the pros. The Patriots likely aren’t done adding targets. For now, Smith-Schuster rates as a WR3 in shallow PPR formats but has a ceiling in the teens. The addition of TE Mike Gesicki could cut into Smith-Schuster’s role over the middle here and there, since they both operate in the same area, but JJSS’ draft value doesn’t change as a result. (updated: 3/17)

RB Samaje Perine, Denver Broncos: The veteran chipped in nicely last season as a spell and third-down complement to Joe Mixon in Cincinnati, finishing with career highs in receptions (38), aerial yardage (287), and TDs (6) to place RB36 in PPR. Denver lost standout back Javonte Williams to a torn ACL in early October, and while he may be ready by the preseason, it’s unlikely he will regain his explosion until midseason or perhaps even later. The Broncos beefed up the offensive line in free agency before adding Perine to the backfield on Wednesday. The early-season outlook for him is stronger than the second half of the 2023 campaign. A potential RB2 play during the first six weeks or so, Perine is a must-handcuff for Williams owners, and there’s still matchup-based flex value once Williams is finally healthy. (3/15)

TE Hayden Hurst, Carolina Panthers: The former Gamecock returns to the Carolinas and will be a featured element in the Frank Reich-led offense. Tight end has long been a staple of what the veteran coach likes to do in the passing game, but also being a capable blocker is required. The quarterback situation is iffy with Andy Dalton being a seat warmer for the No. 1 overall pick. Either way, the position will be heavily targeted, and a current lack of wideouts makes Hurst an intriguing gamble late in fantasy drafts. (updated: 3/20) RB Miles Sanders and WR Adam Thielen were added in free agency. Hurst has slightly less potential but remains a viable TE2. 3/24 update: WR DJ Chark Jr. was added to provide a deep threat.

QB Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Never mind having to follow in the footsteps of Tom Brady, Mayfield hasn’t lived up to his own expectations since a strong second half during as a rookie. Untimely turnovers, poor system fits, and a lack of overall production have dogged him over the last few years. Tampa is willing to take a one-year chance on him to compete with former second-rounder Kyle Trask. They’re very different quarterbacks in terms of size and style, though the former first overall pick has 69 career starts to his credit. Trask has none. Should Mayfield defeat his competition in camp, he’ll have two star receivers and a few complementary pieces in the aerial games. Tampa’s line absolutely needs to be addressed, regardless of which guy wins the QB battle. In the best-case scenario, Mayfield wins the job and offers a few QB1 efforts but remains no better than a late-round flier. (3/15)

WR Allen Lazard, New York Jets: Lazard was “finalizing” a four-year, $44 million deal with the Jets as of March 14. The Jets are the place where Aaron Rodgers intends to play, pending a trade agreement with the two franchises. On any given play, Garrett Wilson is likely to be the primary target, and WR Mecole Hardman could factor in enough to hinder Lazard’s target share. The Jets also have capable targets at tight end and out of the backfield to soak up looks. Even still, the relationship with Rodgers makes the wideout a top-20 play some weeks. Overall, though, Lazard will be a WR3 or flex in New York once Rodgers joins him. (updated: 3/22)

QB Andy Dalton, Carolina Panthers: There’s absolutely nothing to see here from a fantasy perspective beyond the chance Dalton’s veteran presence could delay the deployment of the first quarterback chosen in the upcoming draft. Other than that, he brings nothing to the table for lineups and has no one of note at wideout right now. Carolina is in a full rebuild, and Dalton’s signing is indicative of such. (updated: 3/20) RB Miles Sanders, WR Adam Thielen and TE Hayden Hurst were added since Dalton’s signing, so the weaponry was upgraded, but that’s not enough to make Dalton a worthwhile fantasy option. 3/24 update: WR DJ Chark Jr. was added to provide a deep threat.

RB Rashaad Penny, Philadelphia Eagles: The move effectively slams the door on Miles Sanders‘ return, which wasn’t expected anyway. Penny brings a high-upside blend of size and speed to an already explosive offense, but an impressive lack of durability is story for a guy who has yet to finish a full season — even in a limited role. The Eagles will divvy up the backfield chores between Penny and at least one other back, in addition to the ground role owned by quarterback Jalen Hurts. There will be a few fantasy-relevant outings from the former Seattle Seahawk, but we’re not comfortable drafting him as anything more than a low-end RB3. (3/14)

WR Jakobi Meyers, Las Vegas Raiders: A day after securing its new starting quarterback, Vegas opted to bring in another familiar face in the former New England Patriot. Meyers couldn’t come to an agreement with the Pats after leading the team in receiving yards the last two years — albeit at no more than 866 in either season. Arguably the best free-agent wideout played more than 51 percent of his 2022 snaps from the slot, which is where the Raiders utilized Hunter Renfrow 81-plus percent of the line last year and also sent Davante Adams on occasion. The interchangeability of this receiving corps is a real-world strength and will present mismatches from a multitude of route concepts. It also devalues Meyers and Renfrow to the point of being barely playable some weeks in fantasy. Think WR3 or flex value here, unless something happens to Adams during the season. The trade of Darren Waller frees up more looks to go around, but it’s not like the tight end position will be totally ignored, either. (updated: 3/14)

QB Taylor Heinicke, Atlanta Falcons: The gunslinger has shown he belongs in the NFL over the last few seasons … but as a backup. Atlanta opted for his experience to help push second-year starter Desmond Ridder. In the event the latter struggles to make the most of his opportunity, the Falcons have a high-end QB2 to rely on. For fantasy, if everything goes according to plan for head coach Arthur Smith, Heinicke’s services won’t be needed.

QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Las Vegas Raiders: The quick and dirty of it all is that the oft-injured Jimmy G. is a much better real-life quarterback than fantasy option, and he’ll remain a No. 2 with the occasional matchup utility. His addition to the Raiders does much more to stabilize the fantasy values of Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, Jakobi Meyers, and Hunter Renfrow than bolster a fantasy QB depth chart. (updated: 3/15)

WR Robert Woods, Houston Texans: The veteran possession receiver is coming off a disaster season in Tennessee that followed a torn ACL during his final year with the Los Angeles Rams, so it’s easy to see how his arrow is pointing the wrong direction for fantasy. Furthermore, we haven’t a clue yet what Houston will do at quarterback, and it remains unknown if Brandin Cooks will be traded. In best-case scenario, the soon-to-be 31-year-old Woods is a late-round roster filler. (3/11)

TE Jonnu Smith, Atlanta Falcons: The once up-and-coming fantasy option has fallen off the radar since signing a lucrative deal with the New England Patriots. He gets a chance to resurrect his career to a degree by reuniting with Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith, his former positional coach and offensive coordinator during their time together in Tennessee. Smith will be the 1b in two-TE sets and a spell option for Kyle Pitts, but there’s no reason to draft Smith in any format. He will muster some attention in daily action due to the system, however. (3/13)


Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

WR Darius Slayton, New York Giants: Welp, I can’t say that Slayton returning to the G-Men was on my bingo card. The Giants re-signed him with a two-year, $12 million deal Thursday that could be worth as much as $8.25 mill annually through incentives. Staying on the field has been an issue for a receiver with only one full season to his name in four tries, including consecutive 13-appearance outings the past two years. In 2022, he set a personal best with 15.7 yards per catch, and he how has at least 724 aerial yards in three of the last four seasons. There’s plenty of upside in rostering him on the back end of draft, but gamers should bear in mind he’s effectively a one-trick pony as a deep threat. That creates a few worthy statistical outings and enough duds to make for a risky lineup play each time Slayton is deployed in fantasy. (3/16)

RB Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings: The veteran chose to return to the Twin Cities on a two-year, $7 million deal. This one is particularly intriguing as rumors swirl about Dalvin Cook being on the trading block. If that came to fruition, Mattison immediately becomes an RB1 candidate in fantasy drafts. However, Cook remains on the roster as of this writing, so it all could just be a bunch of noise. No movement means Mattison is merely a fantasy handcuff to the former Florida Stater, and that’s worthy of a late-round selection on injury speculation alone. (3/15)

RB Jeff Wilson Jr., Miami Dolphins: Mere hours after we learned of Raheem Mostert returning to the Dolphins, Wilson followed in his former San Fran teammate’s footsteps. We saw Wilson rush a career-high 176 times for 860 yards and score six total times in 2022. While he’s not known for his receiving skills, Wilson is capable when called upon, and his workman-like offerings give fantasy gamers a weekly flex consideration. Miami directed at least 10 plays his way a dozen times in 16 outings a season ago. Even though it currently appears as if the Dolphins will run it back with the same 1a-1b punch as in ’22, don’t discredit a midround draft pick being spent on fresher legs. (3/14)

RB Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins: The 31-year-old back is coming off a respectable showing in his first season in South Beach. He rushed for a career-best 891 yards on 181 carries, good for a healthy 4.9 yards per tote. Mostert still has world-class speed at his advanced age relative to the position, and his familiarity with the coaching staff means we’ll see the veteran as at least a 1b option most weeks. Fortunately, that’s all Mostert typically needs to shine in fantasy. He’s a roster-bolstering, late-round addition and a possible handcuff to the recently re-signed Jeff Wilson. (updated 3/14)

QB Daniel Jones, New York Giants: It came down to the wire prior to the deadline for applying the franchise tag, but the Giants renewed the deal of their starting quarterback to the tune of a four-year, $160 million pact. Head coach Brian Daboll coaxed some of that first-round draft talent out of Jones, and there’s still something yet to be seen. Continued expected growth and a handful of starting-worthy performances should put Jones near the top of your QB2 short list, especially if New York brings in a wideout or two over the next six weeks or so. 3/16 update: TE Darren Waller was acquired via trade, and WR Parris Campbell signed in free agency. The Giants also re-signed wideout Darius Slayton.

QB Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks: A three-year deal worth up to $105 million will have Smith back under center for Seattle in 2023. Expect the team to select a quarterback at some point during this year’s draft, but Smith’s job is not in jeopardy without a massive step in the wrong direction. The offense still boasts a pair of top receivers and a decent enough offensive line, so Smith finishing as a low-end QB1 isn’t out of the question. While it’s natural to have some reservations given how his career has played out to date, Smith deserves the benefit of the doubt, but you’ll want to secure a quality backup. (3/6)

WR Sterling Shepard, New York Giants: It has been a few years since Shepard was a notable fantasy option, and while those days may not necessarily be done, he’s returning from serious injury for the second straight offseason and isn’t worthy of a draft pick in conventional formats. If all goes optimally, he could emerge as an inseason claim on the waiver wire. (3/13)

TE Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints: We’ve seen plenty of flashes from Johnson over the past two season, and he’ll now be catching passes from Derek Carr, a quarterback who has found considerable success working with the position. Johnson brings size, athleticism and a nose for the end zone to the mix. The Saints are fairly deep for receiving targets, which makes Johnson potentially erratic, but the most volatile fantasy position comes with some inherent risks. Johnson is a sneaky (but fringe) starting option in 12-plus-team leagues. (3/11)

Franchise/transition tagged

Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens: The non-exclusive franchise tag was placed on Jackson prior to the deadline, and he’s eligible to negotiate with any other franchise after the official new league year begins Wednesday, March 15, at 4 p.m. EDT. Barring something crazy, Jackson will return to the Ravens in 2023 under a new offensive system and still has a serious lack of wide receivers at his disposal. Even with those concerns, Jackson is a solid QB1 thanks to his elite athleticism. 3/27 update: Jackson has requested a trade.

RB Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders: Coming off a career year, Jacobs was franchise tagged and will return to the Raiders’ backfield for at least another year. The team can negotiate a long-term deal with him before mid-July. Regardless of how that plays out, he’s a strong RB2 if you believe there’s a regression ahead, which is a legitimate concern given his 2022 workload, the expectations set last year, and Jacobs’ history of minor injuries. Undoubtedly, he will be drafted as a top-end No. 1 — a fine placement if he plays every game. (3/7)

RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants: Like Jackson, the Giants used the non-exclusive franchise tender on the star back. Barkley is free to agree to terms elsewhere, and New York would get a chance to match or accept draft picks, but the expectation is the former Penn State standout will be wearing a Giants jersey in ’23 as a quality No. 1 fantasy back. (3/7)

RB Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys: There wasn’t much doubt about this one as the franchise deadline neared, and Dallas slapped the non-exclusive tag on the Memphis man after two strong seasons working in tandem with Ezekiel Elliott. A fractured ankle late in the year doesn’t pose much threat to hamper him for the start of training camp, which will be important since the ‘Boys are implementing a new system after head coach Mike McCarthy announced he’ll be assuming the offensive play-calling role. With the announced release of Zeke, Pollard is a rock-solid RB1 in most fantasy formats. (updated 3/15)

TE Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars: Fresh off a rebound season in which he showed not only to be a great system fit but a dynamic safety blanket for quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the Jags utilized the non-exclusive franchise tag on the one-time New York Giant. While the upcoming return of wide receiver Calvin Ridley could significantly cut into the available targets, that’s far from a given at this point. Engram, so long as he can stay on the field, is a bona fide TE1 target in most settings. (3/7)

Unsigned notables


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