2019 NFL Free Agency Winners & Losers
This time of the year is like Christmas for dynasty fantasy football owners, and redraft owners alike. With so many players on the move, the NFL landscape looks a whole lot different than it did just a few months ago. NFL Teams fill voids, mock draft boards get flipped upside down, and players lose and gain value drastically. With one of the crazier offseasons in recent memory, let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers from this year’s free agency period.
Tight End | Giants
Odell Beckham Jr. getting traded to the Cleveland Browns is huge for Engram. Though he still has Eli Manning throwing him the ball, for now, the Giants have a huge amount of targets to make up for with Beckham’s departure. In 2018, Beckham averaged over 10 receptions a game. With the signing of Golden Tate, who is an eerily similar receiver to Sterling Shepard, the offense should be able to funnel more to Engram who is in need of a huge bounce-back year after disappointing fantasy owners in 2018. Defenses will have to respect both Tate and Shepard and should give the athletic Engram some really good opportunities.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Wide Receiver | Browns
Speaking of Beckham, he is a clear winner during this free agency period. With the trade that sent him from New York to Cleveland, he now has arguably one of the best young quarterbacks in the game throwing to him. He also gets reacquainted with his former LSU teammate, Jarvis Landry. Landry is good in the quick, short areas of the field, where Beckham excels in the deep to intermediate areas. Both should complement each other well. Getting out of the New York spotlight should be good for Beckham as well. There was a lot of negative energy around such a talented player who wore his emotions on his sleeve. I don’t expect Beckham to change who he is on or off the field, but I do expect a much more positive outlook on him while he’s in Cleveland.
Read more about OBJ landing in Cleveland from a fantasy standpoint here.
Wide Receiver | Panthers
With Devin Funchess signing with the Indianapolis Colts, this clears the way for Moore to become the wide receiver one in Carolina. With very little competition outside of Curtis Samuel, Moore should become Cam Newton’s go-to guy. Assuming his shoulder is healthy and ready to take on an NFL workload, Newton is very capable of turning in a big season for both him and his top target. Moore started 10 games his rookie year and made the most of them. He had nearly 800 yards. Expect him to be closer to the 1,000-yard mark this year and his touchdown numbers to go up as his volume will increase drastically.
Running Back | Saints
The assumption from a lot of people is that this is Kamara’s backfield and no one else’s. Not so fast. The Saints knew from the get-go that they weren’t going to be bringing Mark Ingram back once the 2018 season concluded. Which ended up being a big void to fill. Kamara’s role is all but solidified. Even when Ingram was suspended for the first four games of the season, Kamara never saw 20 or more rushes in a game. He’s not going to be that workhorse back that sees a large number of carries. He needs that complimentary back with him. Kamara had a rough go of it until Ingram returned. In steps Murray. He should take over that Ingram role and Murray is more than capable of putting up good numbers in a supporting role.
Wide Receiver | Bills
Brown and even Josh Allen may be two of the biggest winners of free agency. The Buffalo Bills have lacked any sort of receiving production since the days of Sammy Watkins. With Allen’s big arm and Brown’s ability to get deep, these two should wind up being two peas in a pod. Brown, who averaged 17 receiving yards per reception during his 2018 season with the Baltimore Ravens, is a perfect fit for the Bills and Allen’s powerful arm. Allen still has a lot to learn and get better at, but adding a deep threat like Brown should make that learning curve a bit easier.
With all the hype around the Minnesota Vikings signing Kirk Cousins last season, you would’ve thought they were locked in as Super Bowl champs, but they didn’t even make the playoffs, and here is why. It’s simple, the offensive line was horrendous. The Vikings line allowed Cousins to be sacked 40 times and allowed their 80-million dollar quarterback to be pressured the second most in the NFL. Overall, they ranked as PFF’s 29th offensive line in 2018. Not the way you want to go about protecting your most prized possession.
Unfortunately for Cousins, the cap situation in Minnesota is not ideal and they weren’t able to sign one of the more highly sought after linemen. We may be in for another season watching Cousins land on his backside more often than he should be. For fantasy purposes, that isn’t going to bode well for his owners.
Wide Receiver | Colts
Funchess does not possess the traits of a prototypical X receiver. But he was being treated and targeted as one in Carolina. That will change now that he is in Indianapolis with T.Y. Hilton and Andrew Luck. Hilton is the favorite target in Indy and that’s not going to change any time soon. Funchess may have landed in a role that is more suited for him, but you lose a good chance of him being a low-end wide receiver two. The volume won’t be there for him and his production will suffer. The hope is that Funchess can build some sort of chemistry with Luck, but with all the weapons in that offense already having a rapport with him, it appears to be unlikely in the 2019 season.
Not everyone agrees with my take, read Aaron Schill’s thoughts on the fantasy impact of Devin Funchess landing on the Colts.
Running Back | 49ers
McKinnon spent all of last year on injured reserve after he tore his ACL before the season got underway. Many people were high on him, as he was able to step out of the shadows in Minnesota and signed a hefty deal with the Niners. He appears to be the forgotten guy as the Niners went out and got Shanahan’s former running back Tevin Coleman. Matt Brieda ran nicely in the absence of McKinnon as well. This makes McKinnon’s outlook a bit cloudy. He appears to be a potential cut or trade candidate with his cap hit being another determining factor. In prior years, McKinnon has been reliable, starting in 47 of 48 games in the three years prior to being injured. All in all, this puts a big hit on McKinnon’s value.
Running Back | Ravens
The hype surrounding the Gus bus had a little steam behind it for a while last season. He was someone a lot of dynasty owners were hoping would get his opportunity this year. He started off his rookie campaign with a fairly decent pre-season. He was getting a lot of looks and the Ravens coaching staff seemed to like the way he ran. The six games he started in 2018 were fairly productive. He rushed for 718 yards and two touchdowns while averaging over five yards a carry. Unfortunately, we may not get to see what may have been with the Ravens signing Mark Ingram who is a very established runner.
Wide Receiver | Bills
Foster was another rookie that a lot of dynasty owners were thrilled to see have a solid rookie year. He quietly put up 541 yards and three touchdowns with 27 catches which average to 20 yards a catch. He and Josh Allen had the deep ball working towards the end of the season. Foster was beginning to look more and more like a solid sleeper candidate to enter the year. Now, with the signing of John Brown and Cole Beasley, his role may be diminished. He can’t be completely counted out yet, but having another good deep threat in the offense is going to really hurt his volume going forward.
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