Here's how the next few months of the NFL offseason are going to go: The next few weeks are mostly going to be dominated by rumors and the occasional franchise tag-related drama. NFL Free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET on March 17, and the days following that will be hectic -- and the Fantasy Football Today crew will be reacting to all of the news on the FFT podcast, our Twitch channel, CBS Sports HQ, and CBSSports.com, with everything you need to know coming right here to your inbox.
After that, things will start to get quieter, with the NFL Draft looming as the next big event in April. We'll be previewing all of the draft prospects from the incoming 2021 class, and this one looks like it could be a big one: We could see five quarterbacks drafted in the first round, with potential superstar WR and RB in the mix as well. Beginning in late-March/early-April, you can look for all of our draft preview content, as well as our reactions to every relevant pick during the draft.
And then it gets really quiet. But the FFT team will still be here in your inbox multiple times every week, giving you unique content to make sure you're prepared for the next season, whether you're playing in Dynasty leagues or just getting an early start on 2021 prep. Jamey Eisenberg, Heath Cummings, and Dave Richard will be contributing to this newsletter every Friday in the form of an exclusive mailbag column, so send your questions to FantasyFootball@CBSi.com and maybe you'll get an answer. Heath is up first this week Friday, and he's already answering your Dynasty questions here.
Today, we're catching up on some of the news that has dropped over the last week or so, beginning with the Carson Wentz trade to Indianapolis. Plus, get a preview of free agency with Jamey's breakdown of the top free agents and his preferred destination for each of them further down. And, if you need to find your bearings as you start thinking about 2021, our too-early rankings are a good place to start:
The first of those big dominoes fell when the Eagles sent Wentz to the Colts for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 second-rounder that could jump into the first round if Wentz and the Colts meet certain qualifications. It is at once both a steep cost for the Colts in acquiring a QB who had demanded a trade following a miserable season and a potential steal for a former MVP candidate.
Heath Cummings broke down the fallout from the trade here, and it's worth checking that out to see what it means for Wentz and the Colts as well as Jalen Hurts and the Eagles. Hurts is going to be a popular breakout candidate entering his first full season as a starter, and I've got him as a top-10 Fantasy QB right now. His rushing upside alone figures to give him a pretty high floor for Fantasy, and he wasn't bad enough as a passer in his opportunities as a rookie to think he can't make a few plays there.
Hurts' ascension is probably bad news for the Eagles pass catchers, not that we are particularly excited about any of them except Dallas Goedert (assuming Zach Ertz is also traded, as expected), but Miles Sanders should benefit from a more run-focused approach -- not to mention the added space Hurts will create in the running game. Don't worry about the reports that the Eagles are planning on bringing in some "competition" for Hurts. It's his job unless something goes dramatically wrong.
Wentz is … not a top-10 Fantasy QB right now, or anything close. There's always the hope that he can rediscover his former form, however, the Colts figure to be a run-first team, so there may not be much volume here for him. Wentz's athleticism will open up more options for the Colts offense than Phillip Rivers allowed, but this is a pretty barren receiving corps as things stand -- T.Y. Hilton is a free agent, so Michael Pittman is the top option entering his second season. He'll need to make a leap even if they do add another weapon or two, and the opportunity is certainly there for Pittman to grow into a Fantasy contributor. It looked like he might be getting there mid-way through his rookie season, but while the snaps were always there, the targets weren't consistent. He'll need to do more to earn them in year two.
All told, this is a net positive for Fantasy. Nobody really loses value, while a logjam at a position was cleared up. Let's hope for more of that as we move forward through what should be a very turbulent offseason.
The Other News
- Ben Roethlisberger is returning for 2021 -- That was expected, though I'm not entirely sure it is welcome news at this point. Roethlisberger is a big part of why the Steelers are in such a tough cap situation, and he didn't exactly look like a difference maker last season. Roethlisberger ranked 18th in deep-pass attempt rate at 11.0%, with a whopping 53% of his attempts traveling 5 yards down the field or less, the third-lowest rate in the league. That made it hard for Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Chase Claypool to consistently post big games, and I wouldn't expect much more from Roethlisberger with another year of wear on the tires. The one positive is that, if Smith-Schuster leaves in free agency as expected, the overall high volume of targets should be funneled a bit more to Johnson and Claypool and could allow one or both to truly break out. Johnson seems like the safer option due to his connection with Roethlisberger, but his very low Average Depth of Target means there might not be as high a ceiling as there is for Claypool, who figures to make more big-plays.
- The Panthers have cleared more than $25 million in cap space over the past few weeks -- And reports have them aiming for Deshaun Watson. That would be an ideal landing spot for Watson, who could push D.J. Moore into the elite tier at WR while still sustaining Robby Anderson's value. Christian McCaffrey might see a slight hit in his value -- Watson has never thrown to his RB much, given his tendency to take off in the face of pressure -- but I would still have him as the No. 1 overall pick.
- The Eagles released DeSean Jackson, and Alshon Jeffery is probably next -- This isn't terribly surprising. The Eagles need more from Jalen Reagor after a rookie season where he just never got going while dealing with a multitude of injuries. I'd bet on them adding someone else to the receiving corps this offseason, but Reagor is an intriguing sleeper if he can get a normal offseason and training camp in.
- Derek Carr is "in the Raiders plans" for 2021 -- That according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and they reportedly told the Colts as much when they reached out to gauge Carr's availability. Carr is a perfectly serviceable starting quarterback, but he's not the kind of passer who elevates the weapons around him, and the weapons around him don't look so good -- outside of Darren Waller -- that they'll push Carr to much more than fringe starting-QB relevance. The status quo reigns.
The rest of the dominoes are still getting set up, but it shouldn't be long before we're left with an absolute mess to sort through. Though, to be clear, it should be a glorious mess, with potentially as much as half the league in a state where they appear to be at least considering the idea of a new quarterback. Hopefully, we see quarterbacks land in spots where they can boost everyone's value, as well as RB committees cleared up and some new homes for the likes of Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, all of whom could benefit from either a QB upgrade or less competition for targets.
Jamey Eisenberg has identified his preferred landing spots for all the Fantasy-relevant free agents and I've highlighted the top players at each position below. You can head here to see where Jamey would like the other 31 biggest free agents to end up:
- QB: Dak Prescott -- Preferred landing spot: Dallas - "Let's face it, the Cowboys and Prescott will be together again in 2021 -- and hopefully much longer. Prescott was the No. 2 Fantasy quarterback in 2019 and was No. 1 in points per game (29.8) in 2020 despite playing in just five games because of an ankle injury. Whether it's the franchise tag again or a long-term deal, expect Prescott to remain in Dallas."
- RB: Aaron Jones -- Preferred landing spot: Atlanta - "The Falcons are going to be one of my favorite destinations for any running back given their need for a starter, as well as the addition of new head coach Arthur Smith. Hopefully, Smith can recreate the rushing attack he had as the offensive coordinator in Tennessee, and getting a stud like Jones would go a long way to make that happen. If this marriage were to happen then Jones would remain a No. 1 Fantasy running back in all formats."
- WR: Allen Robinson -- Potential landing spot: Baltimore - "There's a strong possibility Robinson gets the franchise tag from the Bears, but if he does escape it could be fun to see him land with the Ravens. While it might not seem like the perfect place to enhance his Fantasy value, maybe Robinson and Lamar Jackson become this year's version of Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen. That would be great for the Fantasy value of both players."
- TE: Hunter Henry -- Potential landing spot: Jacksonville -- "The Jaguars need to give Trevor Lawrence a reliable weapon in the passing game to go with D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault and their young receiving corps, and adding the top tight end in free agency makes sense. Henry would remain a No. 1 Fantasy tight end if he signed with the Jaguars."