We’re just a couple of weeks away before the NFL’s top free agent players are available to hit the open market. There’s a lot of value here, but you may have to make sure some of these guys end up in the right situation. Of course, for a few of these players it doesn’t really matter where they end up since they’ll produce no matter what.
Kirk Cousins, QB—It looks like he’s headed towards a franchise tag which would be fine for his fantasy outlook. He’ll still be playing for a contract which should keep him driven and focused. He broke out in the 2015 season and Washington would be foolish not to see how far he can take them. He threw for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He even scored five rushing touchdowns.
Alshon Jeffery, WR—He’s the top free agent wide receiver, but he’s coming off a lot of nagging injuries. If he were completely healthy, the Bears would very likely sign him to a long-term contract or designate him as the franchise player. But it looks like it’s possible they’ll let him test the market. There are few places he could go that would lower his fantasy value very much.
Matt Forte, RB—His numbers were way down from recent years as he rushed for 898 yards and scored a total of seven touchdowns in 13 games. His total of 389 receiving yards was his least amount in three years. There’s talk of him joining the Colts, but that would hurt his value, sharing time and touches with Frank Gore. If he finds another spot where he’ll be featured, we think he still has good value when healthy.
Doug Martin, RB—If he isn’t signed to a long-term deal, he’ll be a free agent. He had a great year, reminding everyone of his rookie season. If things don’t work out in Tampa Bay, he could get an increase in value if he ends up on a team like Dallas, with a solid offensive line.
Lamar Miller, RB—The Dolphins didn’t use him as much as they could have. He wants to be featured and if he lands in the right situation he could produce like many expected him to in the 2016 season. If he stays in Miami, the new coaching staff will have to let him loose.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB—The Jets have hinted that they could draft a quarterback, but Fitzpatrick could be back. You’ll have to keep an eye on where he ends up if he does leave as a free agent. If he returns he should do well if not better than his 2016 season. With great targets like Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, his numbers should stay consistent. He finished the year with 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns. If he does leave New York, you’ll have to make sure he has good talent around him.
Brock Osweiler, QB—He and the Broncos are waiting on Peyton Manning to decide on whether or not he retires. Osweiler had some good moments, but you have to believe he would have had a longer leash if Manning wasn’t sitting behind him. We’ll take a wait and see approach on this situation, but if he becomes the starter, he’s worth a look.
Sam Bradford, QB—It’s a toss up whether or not he’ll return to the Eagles. They don’t want to use the franchise tag on him and will probably let him test the market. He’s thrown for at least 3,000 yards in just three out of his first six seasons, mostly because of injury. His career high for touchdown passes in a season is just 21. You can’t trust a guy who only plays at just a decent level every other year for fantasy football.
Marvin Jones, WR—Something tells us he won’t be back in Cincinnati. It will be interesting to see where he ends up. Possible destinations include New England and Detroit. He’s got over 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns in his last two full seasons combined. If Calvin Johnson makes it official that he’s done playing, Jones could benefit if Detroit ends up signing him. If he lands with the Patriots, he’ll have an excellent chance to play a bigger role in the offense.
Antonio Gates, TE—He’ll re-sign with the Chargers and should remain a big red zone target. Ladarius Green will probably continue to expand his role, but Gates will have value until he no longer plays.
Travis Benjamin, WR—He had a nice breakout season with inconsistent play at the quarterback position. He’s likely to return to the Browns and could remain a solid flex player if he can find enough passes coming his way with the return of Josh Gordon imminent.