The Super Bowl LVII is over. Now it is time for teams to get back to the business of making the next Super Bowl.
The top 10 free agents’ final landing spot will alter some teams’ landscape, but more importantly, our fantasy teams depend on their final destination.
The latest Vegas odds have the Kanas City Chiefs the favorite to win the next Super Bowl, but does that change with the loss or gain of offseason player movement? NFL Free Agency is like roulette games; with every spin of the wheel, there is an opportunity to win big.
Here are the top 10 NFL free agents and where we hope they will land.
Jackson is 26 years old. He only played in 12 games in each of the past two seasons due to injury. Oddly enough, his injuries weren’t because of his run game but occurred while he was in the pocket. Jackson (when healthy) is a legitimate dual-threat quarterback. What does that mean?
Since 2019 he has had a 4.9% big-time throw rate, a top-16 make. He also has a 93.3 passing grade on throws 10-plus yards downfield.
Jackson’s career passer rating is 96.7, and his touchdown-to-interception ratio is 2.7:1.
Fantasy landing spot: The best spot for Jackson and fantasy managers is if he stays in Baltimore, where he has averaged 19.9 fantasy points in his last five seasons (including his 9.8 average in his first season). Not counting 2018, Jackson has finished QB14 and QB15 in his two 12-game seasons and QB10 and QB1 in his full seasons.
But the reports are Jackson and the Ravens are about $100 million apart in negotiations. So, if the Ravens and Jackson cannot agree and disregard the options with the franchise tag, the next best landing spot for Jackson is….
Atlanta Falcons: According to Spotrac.com, the Falcons have the second most available cap space ($51,278,608). They also have Drake London, Kyle Pitts, and Tyler Allgeier. Allgeier finished the 2022 season as Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded rookie running back (86.7). London finished 2022 with 117 targets and the second-highest target per route run rate, 32.4%, among wide receivers.
Jackson’s fantasy relevance is elevated slightly in Atlanta with reliable wide receivers, and Pitt’s fantasy value raises substantially with Jackson’s penchant for throwing to the tight end position.
Finally, with a healthy season and a good offensive scheme, Barkley finished fifth in fantasy points, averaging 17.6 points per game.
Barkley finished the season with 295 rushing attempts and 1312 rushing yards. The Giants ran the ball 30.6 times a game (eighth most), and Barkley had an 80.1% opportunity share. He also had 38 red zone touches, 76 targets, and 10 touchdowns.
Last season was Barkley’s floor in New York when healthy. Imagine what he could do if the Giants can acquire a couple of reliable wide receivers and Barkley could run without a stacked box.
Fantasy landing spot: New York Giants under head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka is the only landing spot we and the Giants faithful should hope for Barkley.
The Giants have the fourth most cap space ($41,089,480). What could go wrong?
Last season Jacobs was drafted on average in the fourth round in fantasy football. He finished the fantasy season as RB1 in standard leagues and RB3 in PPR formats.
Jacobs had 340 rushing attempts last season, a career-high that also resulted in a career-high 1653 yards. He was targeted 64 times and finished the season with the league-high 2053 scrimmage yards and 12 touchdowns.
Fantasy landing spot: Jacobs has stated he would not be opposed to staying in Las Vegas if they acquire more pieces…say quarterback Aaron Rodgers for example. For fantasy purposes, we would not be opposed to that either.
Last season in Vegas, Jacobs had 45 red zone touches on a team that only averaged 25.1 rushing plays per game.
Against the Raiders’ divisional foes, Jacobs had: 8.3 (Week 1) and 21 fantasy points versus Los Angeles Chargers, 30.7 and 7 (Week 18) against Kansas City, and 34.5 and 19 fantasy points against the Denver Broncos.
In the 2023 season, the Raiders will play the AFC East and NFC North with running-friendly teams Chicago Bears, who allowed 157.7 rushing yards per game. The Detroit Lions gave up 146.6, and the Green Bay Packers allowed 139.5 rushing yards per game on the schedule.
Last season Pollard finished as RB8. In 16 games, he had 193 rushing attempts for 1007 rushing yards and 55 targets. Although he only had 27 red zone touches, he finished with 12 touchdowns.
Pollard had a career-best in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns (9), targets (55), receiving touchdowns (3), and average fantasy points per game (13.1).
Fantasy landing spot: Carolina Panthers Pollard broke his fibular in the postseason, and the expected recovery time is three months.
Last season the Panthers had Chuba Hubbard and D’Onta Foreman in their running back arsenal. Hubbard played in 15 games and had 95 rushing attempts for 466 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 4.9 yards per attempt. Foreman played in 17 games, had 203 rushing attempts for 914 yards, five touchdowns, and averaged 4.5 yards per attempt.
Foreman is a free agent. Pollard is an upgrade (if health stands up).
The Panthers will have a new head coach Frank Reich. While Reich was head coach (who called the offensive plays in Indianapolis), the Colts were fourth in the league with eight rush plays that went for 20 yards or more and were seventh, averaging 2.28 points per drive. The Colts scored a touchdown on 61.9% of their red zone trips and scored the ninth most touchdowns.
Jones experienced a career-high in several categories with the new regime. Jones had a career-best in games played (16), passing attempts (472), passing yards (3205), completion percentage ( 67.2%), yards per attempt (6.8), rushing yards (708), rushing touchdowns (7) and average fantasy points per game (18.4).
Jones finished with 15:5 touchdowns to interceptions, and this was the first time he did not have double-digit turnovers in his career.
Fantasy landing spot: New York Giants, with new head coach Jones and company, led the Giants to their first playoff game since 2016.
Jones finished the 2022 fantasy season as QB9 averaging 18.38 fantasy points per game.
The Giants had a lackluster receiving corps for most of the season. But that is looking to change with the signing of Isaiah Hodgins, who, in 10 games, tied for most receiving touchdowns and was targeted 42 times for 459 yards.
The Giants also have the 25th pick in the NFL 2023 Draft, and once they either resign or franchise, Barkley and Jones, the core of the fantasy-relevant team, return.
Garoppolo will not be in San Francisco next season. As Garoppolo recovers from the broken foot suffered this season, we are reminded since coming to San Francisco in 2017, Garoppolo has only one season where he was injury free.
Fantasy landing spot: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Buccaneers quarterback room currently consists of Kyle Trask, who was active for one game last season. Their first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is 19th, and they have no cap space being $-57,964,949 per Spotrac.com.
Garoppolo isn’t going to wow you with his fantasy prowess. For his career, he is averaging 10.5 fantasy points per game. His highest fantasy finish was in 2019, where he finished QB14. In the 2022 season, he was QB21 in fantasy points per game (15.7) until his injury sidelined him.
Even to be considered a QB2 in fantasy drafts, Garoppolo needs a team with reliable options which are equally good at getting yards after the catch. Here is where the Buccaneers come in, running back Leonard Fournette was fifth in yards after catch (582), and receiver Chris Godwin was eighth last season (535).
With his injury history, Garoppolo will not be the most expensive option in the quarterback free agency market, and that also bodes well for a stint in Tampa.
Smith won “NFL Comeback Player of the Year” last season, and rightly so. Smith set a single-season Seattle Seahawks record in yards (4282) while being first in the NFL with his completion percentage (69.8). In the regular season, his 15 touchdown passes on 20+ yards downfield were three more than the next quarterback.
Smith’s 30 passing touchdowns and 7.5 yards per attempt helped lead the Seahawks to the postseason. It is also noteworthy that he rushed for 366 yards and one touchdown, equaling the best rushing yards of his career.
Fantasy landing spot: Seattle Seahawks is the best place for Smith and fantasy managers.
Smith finished the fantasy season as QB5 averaging 18.52 fantasy points per game. Staying in Seattle, Smith will have his second full starting season with the formidable weapons of DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Kenneth Walker.
Although Schultz is not known for his YAC averaging 2.4/g, he excels in run blocking and consistently finds the soft spots in zone coverages. As PFF profiles, “From Week 7 to Week 12, his 83.5 grade ranked third among tight ends, including a 76.8 receiving grade and an 82.5 run blocking grade.”
Schultz finished the season as TE10. He was seventh in targets with 89, ninth in target rate at 23.9%, and 12th in routes run (373).
Fantasy landing spot: New York Giants. The Giants will have to sign Barkley and Jones, but as long as we are spending someone else’s money, why not Schultz also?
The Giants have Daniel Bellinger. Last season the Giants were 31 in targets to TE1, Bellinger had 35, and last in total targets to the tight end position (65). Although they have resigned Hodges, getting more reliable receivers on the field can bolster quarterback Jones’ performance. Having two tight ends that are reliable run blockers will bolster Barkley. The repercussions of teams having to put their resources on Barkley, Hodges, and Jones could elevate the tight ends’ fantasy value.
The downside is that the 52.85% passing plays would need to be increased, and Bellinger and Schultz potentially split fantasy resources. But the fantasy upside for the running backs and the quarterback is worth the move.
The quarterback free agency carousel depends upon the two quarterbacks who are not free agents, Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr. But Brissett is worth mentioning as a free agent after his season with the Cleveland Browns in 2022.
The record (4-7) doesn’t quite tell the story. Brissett had 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. He ran for 243 yards and two rushing touchdowns. His 64% completion percentage was complemented by 2608 passing yards.
Before letting go of the reigns to Deshaun Watson, Brissett was QB24 averaging 12.47 fantasy points per game.
Fantasy landing spot: Houston Texans, the Texans have the second pick and the 12th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They also have the fifth most cap space, $37,121,466 per Spotrac.com.
Brissett to Houston allows the Texans to go cautiously with whoever they draft. Brissett will only be remotely fantasy relevant if he lands a starting position. Brissett landing the starting job for the Texans makes him viable for a two-quarterback fantasy league or a plug-n-play when they go against divisional opponents Tennessee (last in passing yards allowed 2022 with 274.8) or Jacksonville Jaguars (27th in passing yards allowed 2022 with 238.2).
Meyers had a career-best and New England Patriots leading year. He leads the team with 804 receiving yards. Meyers had a career-high and team-leading six touchdowns with 67 receptions. He averaged yet another career-high and team-leading 57.4 receiving yards per game.
He did all this while missing three games with a concussion, a shoulder injury, and a knee injury.
Meyer’s success came while playing the slot 51.7% of the offensive snaps. While the “success” had him leading the Patriots’ offense, his stats don’t exactly scream WR1. He finished the fantasy season as WR33 averaging 8.1 fantasy points per game.
Fantasy landing spot: Atlanta Falcons, the Falcons are in a uniquely good spot. They have running back Tyler Algier and Drake London on the outside and Kyle Pitts executing in the seam. All they now need is Meyers in the slot.
Of course, it is reasonable to ask how viable a fantasy asset Meyers will be in Atlanta on a team that averaged 24.4 pass attempts per game (31st in the league). London finished the fantasy season as WR38.
Maybe the lower passing amount was due to the quarterback under center? In the 2021 season, the Falcons had 33.7 passing attempts per game.
Desmond Ridder will have the experience of four games. In those four games, he had 115 passing attempts. Marcus Mariota had 300 passing attempts in 13 games. If the Falcons decide to let Ridder throw, Meyers could have relevance, especially in PPR formats.
Statistically speaking, Sanders did not end his year with a “bang.” He recorded seven rushing attempts for 16 yards in the biggest game of the year. For the year, his stats aren’t particularly impressive in a free-agency class that includes Barkley, Pollard, and Jacobs.
Sanders had 1269 rushing yards on 259 carries. But for the season, he only had 26 targets for 78 receiving yards, with a target share of 5.2%.
Sanders finished the fantasy season as RB15. He had three games with over 100 total yards and multiple touchdowns in four games. He went without a touchdown in 11 games.
Fantasy landing spot: Buffalo Bills, the Bills have been searching for “that” running back for some time. Devin Singletary will be a free agent, leaving James Cook in the running back room. Sanders could be the complimentary piece to Cook.
With Cook and Josh Allen, Sanders will lose red zone touches (nothing new since he gave away red zone touches to Jalen Hurts), although Sanders only had 16 red zones touches last season.
This is more of a lateral move for Sanders, keeping him in the RB2 category for fantasy purposes.
Gladys is obsessive about fantasy football, Pittsburgh Steelers, dogs/cats, pop culture movies and television shows, and Ben & Jerry’s 7 Layer Vegan Ice Cream (although not necessarily in that order). A writer about NFL, college ball, and fantasy football for more than 10 years, she attempts to combine her degree in statistical variance (BS Policy Analysis) with player knowledge and game script. Though her concentration is on IDP, redraft, and PPR leagues, all fantasy formats are fair game. Reach out whenever you can find me on Twitter @gladysLtyler. And remember, don’t suck and tip your bartenders well.