Most of the big-name free agents have found a landing spot by now. Aside from a DeMarco Murray here and an Adrian Peterson there, the free agency picture has come into focus. So that means it’s time to start speculating on the possible fantasy football impact.
Here’s a look at who could make the biggest contributions in 2018.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings: The writing was on the wall after it became clear the Vikings weren’t going to retain the quarterbacks on their roster. Cousins now enters a great fantasy situation. He has Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs to throw to, as well as a soon-to-be healthy Dalvin Cook, who can turn a screen pass into a big play. All signs point to a big year for Cousins, who has been able to be productive even when he hasn’t had the best skill players around him.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Packers: Don’t think too hard about this one. Graham still is a TE1, so adding him wouldn’t be a risky move. Although Aaron Rodgers doesn’t usually throw as often to his tight ends, he’ll be able to utilize Graham in the red zone.
Dion Lewis, RB, Titans: The Tennessee backfield has the makings of something special. If Lewis can stay healthy, he can be lightning to Derrick Henry’s thunder. A great receiver out of the backfield, Lewis also can run the ball inside. He offers a nice change of pace to an offense that needed to add weapons. If he plays a good amount of snaps he could turn in low-end RB2, high-end flex numbers. He won’t have to worry about the unpredictability of the Patriots backfield anymore.
Allen Robinson, WR, Bears: Chicago is doing a decent job of getting Mitch Trubisky some weapons to work with. Alongside Robinson, they’ve added tight end Trey Burton and speedy wideout Taylor Gabriel. Robinson lost last season due to an ACL injury, but if he returns healthy he could enter the WR2 conversation.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, 49ers: There will be hype around McKinnon as he is physically similar to Devonta Freeman. Freeman had stellar seasons when 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta. With Carlos Hyde gone to Cleveland, McKinnon will be a dual threat for the 49ers. He’s got RB1 potential with a rising offense.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs: The expectations are going up for Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and Watkins could benefit. He only had 39 catches with the Rams last season, but eight of those went for touchdowns. He gained 539 yards through the air, which ranked fourth on the team. The yardage could go up for Watkins if he becomes the No. 2 receiver in Kansas City. But that would mean surpassing the numbers of Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce.
Case Keenum, QB, Broncos: Boy, I don’t know that I’m convinced this was the best move for the Broncos. Keenum did well last season, but we’ve seen quarterbacks have breakout years and bust after a free-agent signing elsewhere. Keenum’s value may stay the same, a streaming option, but at least he’s an upgrade for Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Carlos Hyde, RB, Browns: Despite some on-the-surface solid moves by Cleveland’s front office, don’t get too hyped up about Hyde joining the Browns. Just hope he stays under the radar enough that you can add him as a third or fourth back to your roster. He’s a good talent, but Duke Johnson will make the receptions out of the backfield and that cuts Hyde’s value.
Allen Hurns, WR, Cowboys: Now this is an interesting situation. The Cowboys are unlikely to keep all of the receivers on their roster right now. It’s still possible Dez Bryant gets cut, but that’s a toss-up at this point. If he goes, Hurns’ value goes way up. If Bryant stays, Hurns will have WR2 upside.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jaguars: He’s turned his career, and life, around and is looking to be a piece of a Super Bowl puzzle. The Jaguars parted ways with long-time starting tight end Marcedes Lewis so it’s Seferian-Jenkins’ time to show what he can do. He’s got the talent, but we’ll see if Blake Bortles can get him good targets.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Jaguars: Bortles also has a new wideout. Moncrief’s 2016 season was supposed to be a breakout year, but injury cut that short. Last year, Andrew Luck never got onto the field, limiting Moncrief’s effectiveness. Bortles came on late last season, and with Robinson and Hurns gone, it’s probable that Moncrief will start alongside Marqise Lee. If he turns into a reliable red zone target, he could be a great late value in drafts.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Raiders: The Raiders were a big disappointment last season and I’m not convinced Jon Gruden, a head coach who hasn’t been on the sideline for many years, is the answer. His Super Bowl win was due in large part to a team Tony Dungy assembled in Tampa Bay. Gruden has a solid QB in Derek Carr, but Nelson won’t be the top target in Oakland. I wouldn’t bet Nelson is as productive as he was when Aaron Rodgers was healthy last season.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Ravens: When Crabtree went to the Raiders a few years ago he ended up being a very pleasant surprise. He’s scored at least eight touchdowns in three straight years, but you have to lower your expectations as he heads to Baltimore. Though Joe Flacco throws often, his efficiency isn’t great and he doesn’t tend to have a go-to receiver. If Crabtree ends up a WR2, I’d be pleasantly surprised…again.
Sam Bradford, QB, Cardinals: When Larry Fitzgerald decided to come back for another season, I don’t think he had Bradford in mind as his new quarterback. When healthy, Bradford has been very solid. It’s the “healthy” part that you have to worry about. If he can stay upright this season, I wouldn’t mind streaming him on occasion. If he ends up on your roster make sure you have a clear Plan B. Best case scenario is that he is your Plan B.
Danny Amendola, WR, Dolphins: With Jarvis Landry in Cleveland, Amendola can step in as the new possession receiver. Of course, he’ll be more valuable in PPR leagues.
Trey Burton, TE, Bears: Burton is another solid target the Bears grabbed for their young quarterback. Last season Burton was a great fill-in when Zach Ertz was injured. He was targeted just twice per week last season. I’d bet that doubles this year.
Eric Ebron, TE, Colts: It’s surprising to me that he isn’t in the highest tier of tight ends in fantasy. He’s got the ability, but the Lions spread the ball around so much. Now he enters an uncertain quarterback situation and will have to compete with Jack Doyle for targets.
Taylor Gabriel, WR, Bears: He’s a speedy option, and a nice gadget player, but he’s no more than a flex play in any given week.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Jets: He was supposed to do be a solid option last season, but when your team is as bad as the Browns were, you’ll suffer. Whether he’ll reach RB2 status is a tough call at this point.
Jeremy Hill, RB, Patriots: This is the kind of addition the Patriots usually make work. But has the Belichick/Brady era officially started its inevitable downturn? If Mike Gillislee stays in town, Hill will just be another option for the unpredictable Belichick backfield.
Doug Martin, RB, Raiders: After a great start to his career, we’re at the point of wondering whether or not he’ll outplay an old Marshawn Lynch for snaps.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Lions: The Lions needed a back who can run between the tackles and they got one. Whether he’ll turn in games like when he was a Patriot or when he was an Eagle remains to be seen.
Paul Richardson, WR, Redskins: Paul Richardson on my fantasy team would make me as excited as having Alex Smith on my team. Both play for Washington now, but with Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson in the picture, I don’t think Richardson has a huge impact. And if Jordan Reed can stay healthy, that’s another big chunk of targets not going to the new Redskin.
John Brown, WR, Ravens: Brown has a lot of potential, but health has been an issue. He’ll be expected to stretch the field, but I don’t see him as anything more than a possible bye week fill-in.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Jets: Bridgewater has done well to at least get himself into position to make a possible comeback. His career and leg were in jeopardy after an injury in 2016’s training camp. Bridgewater will have to show something before he uproots Josh McCown as the starter.
A.J. McCarron, QB, Bills: He’ll have his chance to prove himself, but you’ll want to wait and see if he’s got the ability to be a relevant fantasy player.