NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: Anderson, Funchess, Perriman all find new homes as wide receivers shuffle
The start of free agency has seen a ton of movement so far, and there are still plenty of dominoes left to fall. We're keeping track of everything right here
Free agency has brought a flurry of moves with potentially significant Fantasy impacts. The CBS Fantasy team has you covered, including Heath Cummings' updated projections for nearly every offense impacted and special podcasts with Adam Aizer, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard to break down all of the moves so far.
There have been minor moves, as well, including the Falcons trading for Hayden Hurst to replace Austin Hooper, who agreed with the Browns on a free agent contract that made him the highest-paid tight end in the league. We're rounding up our reactions to everything in one place, including the smaller news you need to know about:
Jets replace Anderson with Perriman
After Robby Anderson signed with the Panthers on a two-year deal worth an average of $10 million per year, the Jets landed Breshad Perriman on a one-year pact worth up to $8 million with $6 million of that guaranteed. The contract tradeoff is odd for New York between two similar downfield threats given Anderson's productivity across four seasons and Perriman's failures until late last year. A former first-round pick, Perriman caught just 43 balls with the Ravens before bouncing around to Washington, Cleveland and then finally Tampa Bay last year, where he had his best season as a pro with 645 yards and six touchdowns. After Mike Evans went down, Perriman played over 80% of the snaps in each of the final four games of 2019, the first four times he hit that single-game playing time mark in his career. In that span, he racked up 419 yards and five of his scores, so maybe that's something he can build from and become a post-hype breakout with a Jets team that will also presumably use him extensively.
Packers add Funchess
Funchess missed most of 2019 in his one season with Indianapolis, but his prior four-year run with Carolina suggests this is an intriguing landing spot. A big-bodied receiver, Funchess is still just 25 until May, having come into the league very young out of Michigan. Funchess maintained consistently high touchdown rates in his time with the Panthers, and he could take over some of the routes tight end Jimmy Graham ran in 2018 and 2019. Graham was not particularly productive, of course, but Funchess brings more youth and upside. Behind Davante Adams, the Packers now may go Funchess, Allen Lazard and Jace Sternberger as their other two wide receivers and lead tight end.
Cam Newton cut, Robby Anderson signed
The Panthers made two significant moves Tuesday, releasing former No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton and signing perhaps to top remaining free agent receiver in Robby Anderson. An underrated deep threat, Anderson isn't a great fit with Teddy Bridgewater, who is known more for his accuracy on underneath throws.
Dion Lewis signs with Giants
Lewis got a one-year deal to back up Saquon Barkley. He will be worth a look in the later rounds of deeper leagues as a handcuff, but don't expect the 29-year-old to have much standalone value.
Panthers nab XFL star P.J. Walker, trade Kyle Allen to Washington
After signing Teddy Bridgewater to a long-term deal, the Panthers shuffled their backup spot by moving Kyle Allen and bringing in Walker, who was the presumptive MVP of the shortened XFL season. Allen will compete for backup duties in Washington, potentially with Alex Smith if the veteran is recovered from his debilitating leg injury from 2018. Walker will compete with 2019 third-round pick Will Grier for Carolina's backup duties.
Raiders ink Nelson Agholor
Agholor, a former first-round pick who was once thought of as a bust and never really shook that label despite recouping some value, joins one of the thinner wide receiver groups in the league. His hands have always been an issue, but he's had stints of productivity with the Eagles over the past three years, particularly when injuries have forced him into a more prominent role. He's unlikely to be a significant factor for Fantasy, but there's some potential for late-round value. Some of that will hinge on if and who the Raiders select at the position in the draft.
Saints add Emmanuel Sanders
The 33-year-old Sanders bounced back in 2019 from a 2018 Achilles' tear, posting an impressive 9.0 yards per target across two teams. But he also took a bit of a back seat to George Kittle and Deebo Samuel late in the year, averaging just 4.7 targets per game across 13 games with the 49ers, including the playoffs. The Saints added Jared Cook last offseason, and after joining up with targets hogs Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, Cook went from 101 targets with Oakland in 2018 to just 65 with New Orleans last year. Expect Sanders to be headed for a similar reduction in targets, and he's probably only worth a late-round pick at this stage of his career.
Ebron joins Steelers
Eric Ebron joins a Pittsburgh offense hoping Ben Roethlisberger can stay healthy and for a bounceback season. Vance McDonald earlier restructured his contract and is also presumably back, and the Steelers haven't had much tight end production in recent seasons anyway. With a strong trio of emerging wide receivers, it's hard to envision Ebron making a significant Fantasy impact, especially after McDonald and Ladarius Green before him underwhelmed as fellow athletic free agent tight end additions with the Steelers.
Gordon goes across the division to join a Broncos backfield that already features Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Based on earlier commentary from Broncos brass, Freeman seems like the odd man out now, with Gordon likely to pick up the passing downs snaps Freeman had hoarded from Lindsay last season. It's a messy committee on a below average offense without a ton of Fantasy upside.
, joins Falcons
In both 2017 and 2018, Gurley led the NFL in total touchdowns by three. But after a down 2019, the Rams had to release him after they couldn't find a trade suitor before a 4 p.m. ET deadline Thursday that would have triggered another $10.5 million in guarantees.
He landed in Atlanta, which was amongfor his Fantasy value. But that doesn't mean he's a top draft pick anymore.
Meanwhile, Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown look poised to handle the bulk of the backfield work for Los Angeles.
Tyrod Taylor to start for Chargers
Los Angeles announced they won't be adding any of the remaining available quarterbacks and are set to go forward with Tyrod Taylor, all but ensuring they'll select a quarterback in the first round of the 2020 Draft to be their future. For Taylor, the situation sets up much like his time with the Browns after they selected Baker Mayfield — Taylor always has Fantasy value due to his rushing ability, but it's unlikely he'll start more than half of the season.
As for the impact on the Chargers' weapons, Taylor's statistical profile is extreme — he has always maintained a very low interception rate specifically because he both scrambles and takes sacks at very high rates per drop-back. In other words, he relies on his athletic ability rather than put the ball in harm's way, and while the sacks are obviously not ideal, it does make him an underrated real-life quarterback.
Unfortunately for Fantasy, that combination means he always winds up attempting a very low number of passes compared to his drop-backs relative to league average rates of attempts per drop-back. Taylor averaged fewer than 30 pass attempts per game in each of his three seasons as a full-time starter, and he's thrown more than 30 passes in just 14 of 46 career starts. The immobile Philip Rivers, meanwhile, averaged more than 35 pass attempts per game in five of his past six seasons, and 16-game paces for the two quarterbacks equate to a difference of more than 100 attempts. That's a massive volume hit to Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler for as long as Taylor is under center.
Bears trade for Nick Foles
The Jaguars are left holding $18.75 million in dead money for 2020, and they appear set to move forward with Gardner Minshew as their starter, though they'll likely need to add at least a cheap veteran to back him up. Chicago is taking on three years at about $50 million in total value for Foles, and he is likely to be their starter. Opinions differ on Foles, but he's likely an upgrade on Mitchell Trubisky for the Bears' pass-catchers.
49ers tender Breida, re-structure McKinnon
Hold the Raheem Mostert hype, as San Francisco appears committed to a running back rotation again in 2020 after ensuring both Matt Breida and Jerick McKinnon will be back. Tevin Coleman is still under contract, though he could be released with no dead money to San Francisco and nearly $5 million in potential cap savings. The 49ers also re-signed Jeff Wilson back on March 5. Kyle Shanahan is again loading up on running backs.
TB heads to TB
Multiple reports have Tom Brady joining Tampa Bay on Wednesday, though we're waiting on an official announcement. Brady's arm strength and willingness to stand in the pocket have been in question in recent years, but so too were Carson Palmer's before he linked up with Bruce Arians in Arizona for a successful late-career resurgence. It's a fascinating fit, because Brady will run an offensive system that likes to push the ball vertically — Jameis Winston's average throw depth was second-highest in the league in 2019, while Brady's was below average.
Will Brady suddenly start pushing the ball downfield more at 43 years old given the upgrade in weapons? For Mike Evans' sake, let's hope so.
Jordan Howard joins Dolphins
Still just 25 and with an average rushing season through four years of 224 carries, 974 yards and 7.5 touchdowns at a 4.3 yards per carry, any perception of Howard as an over-the-hill plodder is probably unwarranted. He's certainly an early-down grinder, but his signing in Miami could lead to a solid workload, as Heath notes in his projections for the Dolphins.
Jason Witten to Raiders, Blake Jarwin re-ups with Cowboys
Since rejoining the coaching ranks, Jon Gruden has made it a habit of acquiring older players, perhaps making up for lost time by grabbing guys he always wanted to coach. Witten is the latest, and he'll presumably play behind or alongside 2019 breakout Darren Waller, who suddenly has plenty of competition after Hunter Renfrow's late-season emergence cut into his short-area targets.
Meanwhile, Blake Jarwin re-signed for three years with $9.25 million guaranteed, plenty of money to ensure he'll get his shot to be the top tight end in Dallas. Jarwin has been highly efficient as a reserve, posting 8.7 yards per target on 58 career catches.
Rivers to sign with Colts
Philip Rivers looks likely to land in a long-rumored destination, Indianapolis. The Colts didn't have a single player who caught 50 balls last year, and their depth chart is far from settled at skill positions, but this should be a boost to the whole offense, notably T.Y. Hilton and possibly also Jack Doyle and Nyheim Hines, among others.
Panthers agree with Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton out
After announcing Cam Newton could seek a trade, Carolina reached agreement with Bridgewater, reportedly to be their new starting quarterback. Bridgewater is an accurate quarterback and was very comfortable throwing underneath in his five starts with New Orleans in 2019. Among quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks last season, Bridgewater's average throw depth was lowest at 6.2 yards. That is great news for Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore, who racked up receptions working with Kyle Allen last season.
Drew Brees returns to Saints
Brees signed a two-year pact, but at this stage of his career, it's expected to be structured such that if he decides he's done after 2020, that can happen. Brees' return keeps Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara squarely in the first round, and likely ensures the Saints offense will continue to run through those two superstars.
Marcus Mariota joins Raiders
The Raiders still have Derek Carr under contract, but they could save over $13 million by releasing him, while eating nearly $8 million in dead money. Assuming Carr is back, Mariota appears headed for a backup role, but it's possible he could compete to start. Las Vegas may also add a quarterback in the draft.
Bills acquire Stefon Diggs
If you're aware of the stat yards per target, you might know anything over 10 is considered excellent. That means hitting 1,000 yards is quite the task if you're not a 100-target receiver — Diggs posted 1,130 yards in 2019 while being targeted just 94 times. Though Minnesota relegated Diggs to a deep-threat role last year, he caught over 100 balls in 2018, and has a proven ability to do it all. Unfortunately for Fantasy managers, Buffalo isn't a much better situation than Minnesota. While there should be more opportunity for Diggs to rack up targets at all depths, Josh Allen's rushing and accuracy issues will keep Diggs' numbers in check.
Diggs moving on does immediately bump Adam Thielen's 2020 projection. Here's our analysts' breakdown of the trade:
Texans ink Randall Cobb
After trading DeAndre Hopkins earlier Monday, Houston signed Cobb to a three-year deal with more than $18 million guaranteed. Not exactly a No. 1 at this stage in his career, Cobb joins a Houston pass-catching group that already had reasonable depth with Will Fuller, Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee, but probably needs more of an alpha receiver. You know, someone like DeAndre Hopkins.
Falcons release Devonta Freeman, acquire Hayden Hurst
The Falcons moved on from their longtime starting running back to free up some cap room, and Dave says the 28-year-old's days as a start-worthy Fantasy running back are numbered. On Hurst, he notes: "Hurst will enter his third NFL season with his second NFL team at the age of 27 years old. The Falcons figure to plug him into Austin Hooper's old role as a move tight end, and while he moves a little better than Hooper, there's not a lot of evidence to suggest he'll crush it. He has three touchdowns over 43 career receptions despite playing 28 career games. It'll take the Falcons treating Hurst like they did Hooper (7.5 targets per game in 2019) for there to be even a chance at a 700-yard season."
Bears sign Jimmy Graham, are active in quarterback market
The Bears added Jimmy Graham on a two-year deal, but the move seems unlikely to have a major Fantasy impact at this stage of his career, particularly as a flurry of moves have opened up potential 2020 breakouts like Hurst, Ian Thomas, Jonnu Smith and the recently-extended Blake Jarwin.
Dave also notes: "The Bears are pretty clearly trying to get something done at quarterback. Monday started with them trying to lure Teddy Bridgewater, then that rumor fizzled as discussion around a trade involving Nick Foles or Andy Dalton gained steam. No matter how you slice it, there's too much smoke around the franchise to believe Mitchell Trubisky will be their starter anytime soon. That's a terrible look for a club that spent three draft picks to move up one spot to draft Trubisky — passing on Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes in the process. For what it's worth, Foles (65.8%) had a better completion rate in 2019 than Trubisky (63.2%) and Dalton (59.5%)."
Hopkins to Cardinals, David Johnson to Texans, Drake tagged
After tagging Drake, the Cardinals were able to unload Johnson's salary by including a second-round pick, while the Texans traded their franchise centerpiece in a move that has reportedly stunned the locker room.
Dak Prescott tagged, Amari Cooper re-signed
The Cowboys tagged Prescott, and after the ratification of the CBA last weekend, teams can now use only one tag, meaning they were limited in their options with Amari Cooper's. But late Monday, they reached an agreement on a 5-year, $100 million deal to keep Cooper in Dallas. Heath's updated Cowboys projections look at what this means for the Cowboys in 2020.
Browns tender Kareem Hunt, agree with Hooper
Somewhat surprisingly, Cleveland has reached an agreement with Austin Hooper in a move that further bolsters a loaded skill position group. With Hunt also tendered, will there be enough targets to go around?
Derrick Henry tagged
After signing Ryan Tannehill to a multi-year deal Sunday, the Titans used the franchise tag on running back Derrick Henry on Monday, ensuring they will try to recapture their 2019 magic in 2020. Heath warns regression is incoming.
A.J. Green tagged
The Bengals franchise tagged Green, and Jamey says his days as a prominent Fantasy weapon aren't done yet.
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