How Free Agency Could Shift Dynasty Values

It may still be the NFL playoffs, but from a dynasty perspective, we have finally reached the offseason. With that comes a long string of events that will have massive impacts on fantasy values. While most of these events, like the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, Free Agency, and NFL Draft, are still weeks and even months away, it’s not too early to start talking about them and their potential impacts.

Last month, I broke out some of the NFL Draft prospects to watch in bowl games (and the remainder of the draft process). This week I will focus on potential Free Agents this offseason, where they could end up signing, and what that means for their fantasy values.

  • LeVeon Bell, RB

Bell’s holdout has been talked about constantly over the past year. Opinions vary wildly about who is at fault for the contract dispute, but everybody can agree that Bell will be playing football somewhere other than Pittsburgh next season.

A lot of Bell’s value throughout his career has likely come from playing with a Franchise QB, a good offensive line, and other dominant weapons, all in an offense that features Bell heavily as a pass catcher. That isn’t to say that Bell is fully a product of his offense – he is arguably the best RB in the league. But it’s hard to imagine him landing in a situation as conducive to fantasy points.

The Kansas City Chiefs come to mind as Bell’s ideal landing spot. Andy Reid runs a high-flying pass happy offense with a history of RB receptions, and Bell would team up with an even better and younger QB and a multitude of dangerous offensive weapons. However, Kansas City’s success with lower profile backs may keep them from paying up for a high cost option like Bell.

The Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets have been the most oft mentioned potential landing spots, but Marlon Mack’s emergence in Indy puts a damper on what could have been a solid landing spot. The Jets, meanwhile, seem the most likely option as they have piles of money to throw at Bell and a young QB who could benefit from Bell’s presence.

A darkhorse contender could be the Oakland Raiders. Jon Gruden has frequently expressed his desire to emphasize a run first approach, and the Raiders boast plenty of cap space, and a lack of RB talent for 2019.

While spots like the Jets and Raiders may not be ideal, Bell will likely be one of the highest paid backs in the NFL next season, and that will mean a high volume of touches are coming his way. With Bell’s talent, it’s hard to imagine him as any worse than a low-end RB1 again next season.

Recommendation: Sell at elite RB1 prices; buy at RB2 and low-end RB1 prices.

  • Tevin Coleman, RB

Coleman is the first of several second tier RB options available in Free Agency this year. It seems unlikely to me he’ll return to Atlanta with Devonta Freeman already under a large contract and the development of last year’s 4th round pick Ito Smith.

Coleman is likely looking at a similar group of teams to Bell. The Chiefs and Jets make the most sense to me if they decide to pass on Bell, however, the Houston Texans or the San Francisco 49ers make a lot of sense as well and could be good fits for Coleman. Both teams have promising young quarterbacks, and Coleman has a history with 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan from his time as offensive coordinator in Atlanta.

Coleman will be likely looking for a hefty pay-day and a backfield to call his own, and while he is a solid player, I don’t feel his talent level justifies much of a commitment from teams. His value in 2019 and the years to come will likely be determined by how much money (and therefore touches) a team commits to him this winter.

Coleman has earned a lot of hype as a buy candidate all season in anticipation of his Free Agency, but I am going to recommend caution here. I don’t think he’s guaranteed a big contract, and I question whether he is good enough to be a teams workhorse back. I’m looking to sell in places I have him rostered.

Recommendation: Sell for a top 6 pick; buy for a late first.

  • Mark Ingram, RB

Ingram may also be looking for a new team this offseason. On the one hand, he has had several years of success in New Orleans, and on the other he has found himself in Head Coach Sean Payton’s doghouse at times.

Easily the best option for Ingram’s fantasy value is to continue to play for the New Orleans Saints who are a factory of RB fantasy value. If Ingram can’t secure an extension from them, however, I would be worried. Ingram will turn 30 next December, and aging running backs don’t have a great track record of production or free agency interest.

Recommendation: Sell for a high 2nd; buy for a late 2nd or early 3rd.

  • Adrian Peterson, RB

Peterson defied odds yet again this past season with his 8th career 1,000 yard rushing season at age 33 (coming off just 601 yards over the past two seasons), and he was one of the very few bright spots in the Redskins season.

I have to admit, I was completely wrong on Peterson 6 months ago. I thought he was washed up and would be a complete non factor in the Redskins offense. That being said – I’m going to go ahead and double down on that bet for 2019.

Peterson will be 34 (!!) at the start of the season and Washington’s 2nd round pick Derrius Guice will be returning to fight for the starting job. It’s hard to imagine resigning with the Washington Redskins ending well for AP’s fantasy value, but that seems to be the most likely path. Both the team and Peterson seem interested in staying together.

If Peterson does leave, the Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens could make sense as a landing spot for him.

Recommendation: Sell for a 2nd; buy for a 3rd.

  • Devin Funchess, WR

Funchess is a player dynasty owners feel like they have been waiting for to breakout for years, and he keeps flashing just enough to keep owners hanging on.

Despite that, Funchess’ career peak was his 63 catch, 840 yard campaign in 2017. He followed that up with a disappointing 549 yard performance last year, and the Panthers showed they wanted more from the position with their selection of DJ Moore in the first round a year ago.

Between Moore and Curtis Samuel, the Panthers have a few promising options at wideout and may elect to move on. Funchess, however, will still only be 25 all next season and boasts ideal size, and the previously mentioned flashes of potential. Given that he’s young and a WR rather than a RB, and in a relatively weak WR free agent class, I could see him garnering some interest from WR needy teams.

Luckily for Funchess there are a bevy of WR needy teams. The Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, and Dallas Cowboys are just SOME of the teams who could make a run at him. Ultimately Funchess will likely be given a solid contract and every opportunity to break out yet again, but I’m skeptical of a receiver who has only shown flashes in 4 years.

Recommendation: Sell for an early 2nd; Buy for a late 2nd.

  • Tyrell Williams, WR

After coming out of nowhere to post a 69 catch, 1,059 yard season in 2016, the Chargers offense eventually proved to be too crowded for Williams and he dropped to 728 yards in 2017 and 653 in 2018. With Mike Williams and Keenan Allen entrenched as the top two options, it’s hard to imagine Williams returning.

Like Funchess though, Williams has shown plenty of flash and big play potential, and the list of potential suitors is similar. In addition to the teams listed above, the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, and Pittsburgh Steelers (if Antonio Brown is traded) could all go after a wide receiver.

I like that Williams 1,000 yard season is more substantial than anything that Funchess has done. On the other hand, his decline in production, the Chargers drafting of Mike Williams, and the fact that his production was tied to Philip Rivers worries me a bit. Williams is also 2 years older and will be 27 next year.

Recommendation: Sell for a late 2nd; Buy for a 3rd.

  • Jamison Crowder, WR

The story here isn’t all that different from the story with Funchess and Williams. Crowder had between 600 and 850 yards each of his first 3 seasons. Last year he battled injuries and only had 29 catches and 388 yards.

Unlike the previously mentioned wideouts, Crowder, is a smaller slot receiver. The New England Patriots come to mind when anybody thinks of slot receivers, and that would be an excellent fit for the underrated Crowder. The most likely option, however, is that Crowder returns to the unexciting yet reliable confines of Jay Gruden’s offense and the Washington Redskins.

Recommendation: Sell for an early 2nd; Buy for a late 2nd.

  • Dez Bryant, WR

Dez Bryant was one of the biggest stories of last offseason and the early 2018 season. After the Cowboys hung him out to dry and cut him late in the offseason, Bryant was patient with signing anywhere.

Eventually he settled on the New Orleans Saints, but he tore his Achilles almost immediately after signing in midseason. That’s rough news for a wide receiver who was already starting to lose his athleticism. His physicality and ball skills would likely still be an excellent fit with Drew Brees, though, if he can stay in New Orleans. Outside of that, it’s hard to imagine there being much interest even with a clean bill of health.

Recommendation: Sell for a late 2nd; Buy for a 3rd.

  • Jared Cook, TE 

Like a fine wine, Jared Cook just keeps getting better with age. Ok, maybe not. But after years of breakout hype Cook did post 688 yards for Oakland in 2017 and followed it up with a career high 896 yards and 6 TDs at age 31 this year. In a league desperate for tight end talent, that’s a pretty successful season.

Cook’s best odds at maintaining his success appear to be resigning with the Oakland Raiders and continuing to work in Jon Gruden’s offense. This also seems like the most likely scenario, although Cook may earn more interest than usual in the TE starved market.

The New England Patriots  would be an interesting and exciting landing spot, either to supplement Rob Gronkowski in two TE sets or to replace him if he retires as rumored.

I don’t exactly trust Cook to maintain his 2018 production, but wherever he lands he should be involved enough to be a startable TE again in 2018.

Recommendation: Sell for a 2nd; Buy for a 3rd.

 

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Eric Braun

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I grew up a die hard Washington Redskins and Penn State football fan and began playing fantasy football in 2007. I've been addicted and learning as much as I can about my favorite hobby ever since.