Fantasy football: Players entering a contract year in 2023

Fantasy football: Players entering a contract year in 2023

Fantasy football roster management tips, strategy and advice

Fantasy football: Players entering a contract year in 2023


While simply entering a contract year is not a guarantee of increased fantasy football production, us gamers look to unearth any extra motivation that may help real-life players put put our 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 info. The salary cap increased as usual this year after a dip during the height of the pandemic. We’ve seen a fair amount of one-year deals this offseason to create a deep class of free agents at wide receiver, and running back shows a few promising names as well, so look for it to continue into 2024’s free agency season.

The data is based on USA TODAY Sports’ partner’s free-agent charts.

Notes: All players listed below will be unrestricted free agents as of March 2024, focusing on those who have made a dent in fantasy in recent years or could be in position to matter. Age* reflect how old the player will be upon the opening free agency. The list includes only players with potential fantasy relevance beyond 2023.

2023 contract-year players


Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Pos Player Team Age*
QB Ryan Tannehill TEN 35
QB Kirk Cousins MIN 35
QB Jameis Winston NO 30
QB Baker Mayfield TB 28
QB Gardner Minshew IND 27
QB Sam Darnold SF 26

Seasoned vets Tannehill and Cousins have already peaked. The other four have outside chances of making progress in their stagnant careers, but it will take a few breaks. Mayfield is the only one of this lot with a legitimate chance at a true career resurrection. It’s a safe assumption that no one from this group is poised to jump forward in fantasy production as a whole.

Running backs

Credit: George Walker IV, The Tennessean

Pos Player Team Age*
RB Latavius Murray BUF 34
RB Cordarrelle Patterson ATL 33
RB Jerick McKinnon KC 31
RB Derrick Henry TEN 30
RB Gus Edwards BAL 28
RB Austin Ekeler LAC 28
RB Rashaad Penny PHI 28
RB D’Onta Foreman CHI 27
RB Saquon Barkley NYG 27
RB Damien Harris BUF 27
RB Tony Pollard DAL 26
RB Devin Singletary HOU 26
RB Josh Jacobs LV 26
RB AJ Dillon GB 25
RB Antonio Gibson WAS 25
RB J.K. Dobbins BAL 25
RB D’Andre Swift PHI 25
RB Jonathan Taylor IND 25
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC 24

Marquee names, such as Henry, Taylor, Jacobs, Ekeler and Barkley, all are seeking new deals and could be pulled from the market sooner than later. If not, the 2024 free-agent RB market will be one of the strongest in ages. The next tier of backs is where we could see a few names jump into RB1 status as Swift, Dobbins, Dillon, and Pollard have the most to prove.

Wide receivers

Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Pos Player Team Age*
WR Gabe Davis BUF 24
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones CLE 25
WR Tee Higgins CIN 25
WR Laviska Shenault Jr. CAR 25
WR Chase Claypool CHI 25
WR Quez Watkins PHI 25
WR Mecole Hardman NYJ 26
WR Darnell Mooney CHI 26
WR Michael Pittman Jr. IND 26
WR Devin Duvernay BAL 26
WR Parris Campbell NYG 26
WR Marquise Brown ARI 26
WR K.J. Osborn MIN 26
WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine TEN 26
WR DJ Chark Jr. CAR 27
WR Curtis Samuel WAS 27
WR Van Jefferson LAR 27
WR Richie James KC 28
WR Kendrick Bourne NE 28
WR Isaiah McKenzie IND 28
WR Josh Reynolds DET 29
WR Corey Davis NYJ 29
WR Calvin Ridley JAX 29
WR Tyler Boyd CIN 29
WR Mike Evans TB 30
WR Mack Hollins ATL 30
WR Jamison Crowder NYG 30
WR Nelson Agholor BAL 30
WR Chosen Anderson MIA 30
WR DeVante Parker NE 31
WR Sterling Shepard NYG 31
WR Odell Beckham Jr. BAL 31
WR Marvin Jones DET 34

The impending class of receivers has a wide range of names but mostly role players looking to hang around for another contract. Evans, Pittman, and Higgins are in line to secure massive contracts. Ridley, Claypool, Mooney, Gabe Davis and OBJ arguably have the most to prove. Otherwise, we’re looking at a crop of has-beens, what-ifs, and who-cares types.

Tight ends

(The Tennessean, USA TODAY Network)

Pos Player Team Age*
TE Tyler Higbee LAR 31
TE Hunter Henry NE 29
TE Austin Hooper LV 29
TE O.J. Howard LV 29
TE Evan Engram JAX 29
TE Gerald Everett LAC 29
TE Robert Tonyan CHI 29
TE Mike Gesicki NE 28
TE Adam Trautman DEN 27
TE Dalton Schultz HOU 27
TE Noah Fant SEA 26
TE T.J. Hockenson MIN 26
TE Cole Kmet CHI 25
TE Irv Smith CIN 25
TE Harrison Bryant CLE 25
TE Albert Okwuegbunam DEN 25

Schultz placed a one-year wager on himself with Houston. He is poised to shine given the limited weaponry around him and the quarterback situation working in his favor. Kmet is a curious one, as is Smith. Both will have chances to earn some real coin in the ’24 offseason. Hockenson has the most financially on the line with a monster season. Bryant is intriguing since he has the tools one would look for in a breakout TE, but the opportunity doesn’t figure to be there. It’s quite likely we’ve seen the best from the Vegas and New England duos on this list.


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