Fantasy Football: Ranking the top 20 free agents and cap casualties expected to be on the move
Le'Veon Bell and Tevin Coleman are just two of several players who could be changing teams and be of interest to die-hard followers of Fantasy.
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Two things happen when NFL teams begin their offseason: they evaluate their rosters and they evaluate their salary caps. Purging overrated, overpriced and over-the-hill players from the team is an annual ritual, cruel as it may be. Only in situations involving financial issues will a team willingly say goodbye to a good player, and it's fairly rare when it does happen.
I've rounded up the names of Fantasy-relevant free agents and have scanned through every team's salary cap situation to find the quality Fantasy players who are most likely to change teams this offseason, and ranked them. The list does not include players who might get traded like Antonio Brown, who isn't a free agent nor a cap casualty but .
Le'Veon Bell, unrestricted free agent
We know now that the Steelers won't tag Bell,. He has over 110 total yards per game over his last four seasons (along with an 81.6 percent consistency rate in Fantasy). He'd have to be completely miscast or far less effective than we remember if he busts in 2019. His worst landing spots would include the Bills, Jets or Dolphins.
Tevin Coleman, unrestricted free agent
The Falcons already owe a big chunk of money to Devonta Freeman and have a young back they like in Ito Smith, so don't expect Coleman to return. He's relatively young and has had just 528 carries through four seasons -- numbers that make him much more appealing to some clubs than Bell, especially since he won't command as large a contract. He has yet to fall below 4.0 yards per run in a season and has proven to be a capable pass catcher with 90 grabs over his last three seasons. Will there be a team willing to pay up for Coleman and make him their primary bell cow, or will he fall into another tandem situation like he was in Atlanta? Anywhere he can get over 225 carries should make him cool in the Fantasy world, even if it means the Jets or Raiders.
Lamar Miller, potential cap casualty
It's not often a Pro Bowl running back hits the market, but the Texans could free up $6.2 million in cap space by moving on from Miller. He bounced back in 2018 with more rush yards, rushing touchdowns and explosive runs than he had in 2017 thanks to an offseason slim-down. But do the Texans want to continue investing in an older running back who faded in December? If Miller doesn't get cut, he'll almost certainly find himself splitting carries. If he does get cut, there's no promise he'll be back in a spot to get 200 touches.
Robby Anderson, restricted free agent
Only speed-needy teams with draft picks to burn would chase Anderson. The Jets gave him a second-round tender offer as a restricted free agent, meaning he will only change teams if a squad offers him a new deal and hands the Jets a second-round pick if the Jets don't match the offer. Teams with late second rounders like the Eagles, Saints and Patriots might have interest, but bank on him ultimately spending one more year with the Jets. He closed the season with 336 yards, three touchdowns and three games with at least 17 PPR Fantasy points over his final four games. He has 13 touchdowns in his last 30 games, 10 from outside of the red zone.
Mark Ingram, unrestricted free agent
At 29 years of age, the market won't be smokin' hot for Ingram, but it should be lukewarm. He got through last year with just 11.5 carries per game and has steadily averaged south of 15 carries per week. He's also averaged over 4.5 yards per run in four straight seasons. Ingram tops the list of one-year fix running backs, though a reunion with the Saints wouldn't be so bad for his Fantasy value either.
Golden Tate, unrestricted free agent
After struggling with the Eagles, count on Tate going to a team that will use him where he plays best -- as a slot receiver. That's where he shined with the Lions. He's expressed interest in playing with a good quarterback while chasing a ring -- that could make him a possible fit with the Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Patriots and Saints. Tate is a 90-catch, 1,000-yard candidate who Fantasy owners shouldn't forget about once you get to Round 6.
Marvin Jones, potential cap casualty
With a post-June 1 cut savings of $6.5 million, the Lions could find the motivation to let go of Jones. He went down with a mid-November knee injury that was originally classified as a bone bruise but required a second opinion. Before then, he averaged 56.4 yards per game, a three-year low, with five touchdowns in nine games. The soon-to-be 29-year-old might have to rely on end-zone visits to supplement his Fantasy value moving forward, be it with the Lions or somewhere else.
Jay Ajayi, unrestricted free agent
Ajayi might have to settle for a "prove-it" deal since he's coming back from a torn ACL, but at a relatively young age and only 620 career carries, the power runner offers some good potential. Expect him to wind up sharing the load to begin the season -- and it won't be in a cozy reunion with Adam Gase in New York.
Adrian Peterson, unrestricted free agent
Peterson is the only free-agent running back who had over 1,000 rushing yards last season. He's also going to be 34 when next season kicks off and carries substantial risk for a breakdown. The Redskins could bring him back to pair with Derrius Guice, who's coming off a torn ACL. That might be as good as it gets for Peterson, who doesn't seem like a reliable fit with anyone else in the league. For now he's a mid-round Fantasy pick on the assumption he plays.
Jared Cook, unrestricted free agent
Cook is coming off a career year (68 catches, 896 yards, six touchdowns) just in time for a new deal. Seems convenient. He only thrived because the Raiders had a lack of reliable targets for Derek Carr. Oakland will add targets in 2019, taking chances away from Cook if he re-signs. If he ends up moving on, he'd practically need the exact same situation to play out to have a shot at helping your Fantasy team.
Tyrell Williams, unrestricted free agent
Back in 2016, Williams registered a 1,059-yard, seven-score campaign on just 69 receptions. That was the year Keenan Allen got hurt in Week 1, leaving Williams to fill the void among the Chargers' pass catchers. Williams has been stuck in a smaller role since then but has improved his catch rate and receiving average. Standing tall at 6-foot-4 and still capable of reeling in deep balls thanks to his speed, Williams will get consideration for a larger role from teams in need of outside receiver help. The scheme he's played in is similar to the one in Miami, Detroit, Buffalo and New England.
Dion Lewis, potential cap casualty
Remember all the hullabaloo over Lewis when he signed his deal with the Titans? Well, it's probably going to be looked back on as an error. Lewis was good for two touchdowns and 917 total yards in 16 games and wound up relegated to a small role behind Derrick Henry by the end of the season. Tennessee can find a replacement in the draft and save themselves over $3 million in cap space this offseason. Plenty of teams might kick Lewis' tires as a passing downs back, but he'll be 29 by the time October comes around and they just won't pay what the Titans did.
Jordan Reed, potential cap casualty
Washington is cap-strapped because of Alex Smith's large contract and unlikely return from his gruesome injury. It might mean moving on from Reed, who would save them a shade over $6 million in cap space. They might be inclined to move from Reed anyway. He's been battling foot injuries over his past two seasons, missing 13 games and totaling 769 yards and four touchdowns. If he's let go, another team will take a chance on him and might provide the springboard for one more decent year.
Peyton Barber, restricted free agent
No one's expecting the Buccaneers to drop a ton of shekels on Barber, but a one-year, teeny-risk tender offer? Tampa Bay might as well, particularly since Barber has the size Bruce Arians likes in his running backs. He's also pretty young. What he lacks, however, is breakaway speed and reliable hands, two things that Arians would also like his lead backs to have. Barber should be part of a camp competition for playing time and thus is worth a late-round pick.
T.J. Yeldon, unrestricted free agent
Yeldon was a decent fill-in for Leonard Fournette but is best suited as a third-down back. He should find a spot to play in 2019, though he'd need another back in front of him to get hurt to resume any notable Fantasy appeal. The Lions, Texans, Eagles and Buccaneers could be capable fits. You'll find him on PPR Fantasy benches to begin the season.
Jalen Richard, restricted free agent
The only way Richard will move on is if the Raiders don't give him a high enough tender offer, which would be shocking since coach Jon Gruden has hyped Richard in the past. Richard's fine as a passing-downs back and will be in that role unless the Raiders find themselves with a three-down guy like Le'Veon Bell. Richard should find more attention in PPR.
Geronimo Allison, restricted free agent
The Packers will be happy to keep Allison around for depth. He could even come out of the offseason as a starter if things break right, but that seems like a longshot given the Packers' need at receiver and three young wideouts also battling for a starting job in camp this summer. That's why if the Packers don't tag him at the second-round tender he could find himself getting some attention from other teams. He's tall but lanky and fairly inconsistent in his play, which is why he'll be on Fantasy benches to begin the season.
Isaiah Crowell, potential cap casualty
Crowell is already expected to get cut after one season with the Jets. His best chance to help an NFL team is to work in a rotation as an early downs and goal-line back. There won't be many opportunities for him to land a good spot, even if he's only 26 years old with just under 1,000 career touches.
Carlos Hyde, unrestricted free agent
Will the Jaguars pay Hyde his $4.7 million salary, or will they admit their bad trade move and cut him loose for a younger understudy to Leonard Fournette? It would make sense for them to move on, which would also give Hyde a chance to land somewhere else to compete for a starting job. Hyde's powerful and can provide a punch at the goal line, but his age works against him in comparison to other available rushers.
C.J. Anderson, unrestricted free agent
The late-season hero for the Rams isn't terribly old and proved last winter he can still play, impressing for 488 yards and four touchdowns on 89 carries with the Rams for five games including the postseason. However, it's all but certain he will vie for playing time in training camp with someone, be it the Rams or another team that wants an experienced, fairly underrated running back. He could squeeze out a decent year but won't warrant more than a very late pick on Draft Day.
A previous edition of this list included Emmanuel Sanders, who the Broncos said would remain with the team.
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