We are covering all the action in free agency in our Free Agency Hub, which includes our free agency positional trackers, plus Graham Barfield’s Fantasy Fallout breakdowns of the major moves of note.
My role with this article is to focus on the fluctuating fantasy values in free agency, so if you want to cut to the chase and get to the bottom lines of all the activity, this Market Report is your one-stop shop.
Note: All ADP data used in this article is courtesy of our partners at the NFFC and the data is used from drafts in the last 30 days.
Players I’m feeling more optimistic about based on free agency and early off-season moves.
Daniel Jones (NYG) — I’ve been higher on Jones than anyone else on staff dating back to last year, keep in mind, but I’m confident that Jones is the biggest winner in free agency and the best “sleeper” or breakout candidate at QB this year, excluding the 2021 rookies. Obviously, Kenny Golladay needs to be healthy for Jones to reach his potential, but the former Lion gives them the true “No. 1” on the outside they need, and while not a burner, it’s hard to argue with his career 16.8 YPR. and he’s never been under 15.2 YPR in his four-year career. His ability to make plays at all three levels of the defense and stretch the field from the X receiver spot should mesh very well with Jones. He will also help open things up for their other weapons, and the trio of Sterling Shepard in the slot, Darius Slayton at Z and Evan Engram at TE (along with a good blocking TE in Kyle Rudolph) looks really great on paper for Jones and OC Jason Garrett. Without a real offseason last year, Jones was a little uneven in camp in the new offense Garrett brought over, and it didn’t help that OT Nate Solder opted out (he’s back this year) and that #1 pick LT Andrew Thomas wasn’t good. Of course, the early loss of Saquon Barkley, a huge part of their offense, was absolutely massive. Jones still needs to clean up his ball security, but he did lower his INT percentage and reduced his number of fumbles in what was a pretty ugly 2020 season. He also needs his OL to perform better, but I believe Jones is talented enough to be a star and mostly just needs some fine-tuning, more reps in Garrett’s offense, and a better supporting cast around him to emerge as one of the most dangerous young QBs in the league. Jones can be very threatening throwing the ball, as evidenced by his league-leading passer rating last year on throws that traveled over 20 yards (per PFF), and that’s in a bad year. And for fantasy (and reality), Jones is one of the more productive running QBs in the league. Among 17 QBs with 40 or more rushing attempts last year, Jones ranked third in YPC behind only Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray, who have been major fantasy forces despite having so-so results throwing the ball the last two seasons. I understand it’s hard to rank Jones as a top-12 guy this year based on his first two seasons, but I find it laughable that many have already written Jones off. He’s freaking 23 years old and has clearly shown great promise in spots so far. Jones could flirt with QB1 production if things go well, which makes him a slam-dunk pick as a QB2 in any and all formats. Jones for the first 20 days of March was the QB23 off the board with 200+ ADP on Bestball10s.com, and I’ll take him 100 times in 100 drafts at or around that cost. ADDED: 3/21
Matthew Stafford (LAR) — This article is meant for free agency, but the fact remains that Stafford is an upgrade from where he was in 2020 on the Lions. As Graham Barfield outlines, he’s a great fit for Sean McVay’s offense. The Rams also got him another toy in Desean Jackson. Jackson can still run, but he is a walking mash unit. Still, Stafford should be able to take advantage of Jackson’s speed for as many snaps as he’s out there. I’ve already worked up an initial projection for Stafford and have him with 4515/33 passing with 315 FP (17 games), which would have basically ranked him as low-end QB1 last year. Stafford should do well, but unless he suddenly starts running more (and I did bump up his rushing numbers from his 3-year averages), his upside is capped due to lack of rushing production. UPDATED: 3/29
Carson Wentz (Ind) — Make no mistake the return of TY Hilton is huge for Wentz, who’ll need Hilton’s veteran presence with an otherwise young receiving corps. If Parris Campbell can get healthy, Indy’s top-four guys, including the rock solid Zach Pascal, should be a strong enough arsenal to give Wentz a great opportunity to turn his career around quickly. Hilton was still gaining separation downfield last year, and Wentz is an aggressive downfield thrower, so this Colt passing game should challenge defenses at every level. Wentz will have a very good-to-great running game behind him and one of the best OLs in the business in front of him. Wentz’ OL was bad again last year, but Philip Rivers was pressured on his drop-backs on the second-lowest rate in the league behind this line in 2020. ADDED: 3/24
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Was) — It’s not a big surprise he signed with Washington, a team ready to make a playoff run this year. Heck, they almost made one last year and arguably gave Tampa it’s toughest test in the playoffs. Fitzpatrick has been a borderline fantasy starter more often than not when he’s played the last three seasons, and in seven starts in 2020 he finished as a top-12 fantasy QB five times. He led the league with a 9.6 YPA in Tampa in 2018, which is a reflection of the aggressiveness Fitz will bring to Washington; Fitzpatrick averaged 7.4 aDOT on his passes in Miami last season, whereas Alex Smith’s was a pitiful 4.8 last year (lowest among QBs with 50 or more attempts, per SIS), which did Terry McLaurin no favors. Fitzpatrick loves feeding the ball to his top wideout, as we’ve seen over and over, most recently this past season, as DeVante Parker averaged 69 yards and 14.0 fantasy points per game with Fitz but only 44.3 yards and 9.9 FPG with Tua Tagovailoa. McLauren really needed some pressure taken off him on the other side, and while Curtis Samuel is not the big X receiver I was hoping for, he should help, and he definitely gives Fitz another versatile and dynamic weapon. Fitz landing in DC is also SOLID news for Logan Thomas, since Fitzpatrick has shown a proclivity to get the ball to his TEs (he definitely helped Mike Gesicki last year), but Samuel could take away some of Thomas’ looks inside. Still, it’s all good for Fitzmagic. There’s very good depth once again at QB this year, so there will be no urgency to draft Fitz, yet he’s a good bet to finish in the top-20 at the position unless they surprisingly get one of the top QBs in the draft, and assuming they add another receiver or two of note. UPDATED: 3/29
Cam Newton (NE) — I think Cam quickly signed another team-friendly deal with the Pats before free agency even began because he relishes the chance to play for a legendary head coach in Bill Belichick, and the feeling seems to be mutual. Per Greg Cosell, Cam was a “tough watch” on film last year. To be fair, there were major challenges for Cam who had to pick up a new/complicated offense while working with the worst receiving corps in the league. Cam did look awful throwing the ball, like he was thinking too much and not sure of what he saw on the field, but he did still rush for 12 TDs, which could not have been realistically projected last summer (only 4 rushing TDs in 14 games in 2018). Cam somehow came incredibly close to hitting my 279 FP preseason projection with 272 FP scored, and he was QB15 (we had him only at QB21). That gives us some hope that he could do a little better with more time to learn the offense and with a better receiving corps and OL. The Pats quickly got to work at the start of free agency, agreeing to terms with TE Jonnu Smith, who should quickly become one of Newton’s go-to guys. Smith represents a massive upgrade for the Patriots, who have had the lowest pass catching TE production in football the last two years. Then they shockingly signed star TE Hunter Henry. This is in addition to adding a versatile, big-play threat at WR in Nelson Agholor and also reliable veteran possession guy Kendrick Bourne. So the Pats now have a stronger group of skill players, but the question remains: will Cam benefit from the revamped group all year? The word on the street is a QB is in play for them in Round 1, and if so, depending who that is, Cam may not be long for the lineup. If the Pats don’t have a realistic chance to draft Justin Fields or Trey Lance, then it could be Cam all year if he plays relatively well. It’s also possible, if they take a guy like Lance, they could actually sit a rookie down most or all of the season (and I’m usually one who assumes that #1 picks play early). Regardless, at least for now, Cam clearly looks more valuable than his current QB34 spot on Bestball10s.com. UPDATED: 3/16
Kyler Murray (Ari) — Trust me, I’m not assuming anything from veteran AJ Green at this point. But this is a good spot for him, playing opposite alpha-dog DeAndre Hopkins and with an arm talent like Murray. If Green can be just a solid #2 on the outside, the combo of Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella in the slot is intriguing. We’ll also see about Larry Fitgerald, who hasn’t yet decided on 2021. Murray needs to stay in the pocket longer to let plays develop, and while his height will always be a challenge, Murray and the Cards got unexpected good news when the Raiders shockingly cut C Rodney Hudson, who promptly signed with Arizona. Hudson consistently grades out as one of the league’s best centers, and securing the interior of the OL is one of the best ways to help a short QB like Murray out. He’s a little better blocking for the run, but he’s strong in all areas. If Green isn’t toast, Murray’s supporting cast is looking nice. ADDED: 3/17
Tua Tagovailoa (Mia) — Given how Miami traded the No. 3 overall pick to San Francisco and then used the acquired No. 12 pick in a trade with the Eagles to move back up to No. 6 overall, things appear to be setting up well for Tua, who now appears to be locked in as their guy. If so, he’ll play for a team with decent talent on offense right now, and TWO #1 picks in 2021, 2022, and 2023, which is crazy. Miami at No. 6 is really interesting because four of the five teams picking ahead of them need a QB, so it’s almost a lock Miami doesn’t draft a QB and they should be locked into a stud OT at 6 or WR Ja’Marr Chase. Either way, things are looking up for Tua. As much as I love Chase, I think I’d prefer to see them go with an OT at pick No. 6 and then get a really nice WR at 18 overall, which should be very doable. But no matter what, at least for 2021, we’re looking at a strong receiving group with DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, and either Chase or another high-end rookie. ADDED: 3/26
Jalen Hurts (Phi) — The Eagles were reportedly very interested in moving up in the draft from No. 6 overall to get BYU’s Zach Wilson, but that’s not happening now. And by moving down from No. 6 to No. 12 in the 2021 draft, it virtually guarantees that Hurts will be handed the starting job in 2021. If he plays well enough, he’ll be their guy, and he’ll be playing for a team that will likely have THREE No. 1 picks in 2022, so Hurts’ stock is on the rise, at least for this season. Per our guy Adam Caplan, it’s still not 100% that Hurts will be the guy, but it’s close, so you can confidently select him as your QB2 in spring best ball drafts. Hurts averaged 0.62 fantasy points per dropback, which ranked sixth-best in the league last year, and Hurts finished as the QB10, QB1, and QB16 in weekly scoring and averaged 25.2 fantasy points per game largely because of his legs. His long-term value is still in question because there’s a lot of work to be done with Hurts’ game, but I have to believe that he will be considered one of the best 32 QB option for the foreseeable future, so Hurts’ long-term outlook seems solid to me. UPDATED: 4/3
Andy Dalton (Chi) — Dalton is an upgrade for fantasy because he was a man without a job up until this week, but this could actually be a fantasy downgrade in terms of the Bears QB, since Dalton was less aggressive on a per-pass basis than Mitchell Trubisky — 6.6 aDOT compared to 7.5 for Trubisky. And per SIS’ EPA, Dalton was less valuable (-11.6 EPA) than Trubisky (24.3), due at least in part to Trubisky’s running (he added 3.7 FPG to his output with his legs the final four weeks of the season). Dalton, at least, has a chance to be more consistent throwing the ball than the erratic Trubisky, and Dalton is familiar with the offense having played under OC Bill Lazor with the Bengals from 2016 to 2018. Dalton actually got more money for 2021 than Ryan Fitzpatrick got in Washington, so he’s a good bet to be their starter this year. That at least puts him on the radar as a possible low-end QB2 option. By the way, I can see him being fine for possession guy Allen Robinson, but he could prevent big-play threat Darnell Mooney from having a true breakout unless he’s more aggressive throwing it down the field. He did average an 8.0 aDOT under Lazor in 2018, but that was three seasons (and some injuries) ago. UPDATED: 3/29
Terry McLaurin (Was) — Adding Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a long-term solution at QB, but for now I’ll take it. I still want to see The Football Team add a quality weapon opposite McLaurin, who tends to see a lot of double-teams and/or an opposing team’s top corner. There’s been a lot on his plate as a young player, considering their poor situation at QB that included a lot of turnover. Despite the issues, McLaurin still had a remarkably consistent season. He finished as a WR2 or better (top-24) in 7-of-15 games and had 10+ PPR points in 12 games. His poor games typically came against some of the top pass defenses in the league, like the Rams, Steelers, and 49ers. Even though they added another receiver/weapon to take some pressure off McLauren in Curtis Samuel, I still expect the gunslinging Fitzpatrick to pepper McLaurin with targets, as he’s done with other wideouts in his past. As recently as 2020, Fitz got the best out of DeVante Parker, who averaged 69 yards and 14.0 fantasy points per game with Fitz and only 44.3 yards and 9.9 FPG without Fitz. I can see Fitzpatrick also working well with Logan Thomas, but McLaurin stands out more as the main guy who’ll benefit from the Fitzmagic. UPDATED: 3/19
Josh Reynolds (Ten) — Reynolds has not been very efficient in the pros, as evidenced by his career 56.2% catch rate, but in his defense he’s never really had a set role with the Rams, who have utilized him sporadically for the most part in his four seasons. There have been times when he’s been needed to start, and he’s been solid. The best example of Reynolds having a large role came in 2018, when he played the final seven games of the season in place of Cooper Kupp (the Rams still had Brandin Cooks an Robert Woods), and Reynolds put up a solid 22/304/3 with 14.1 YPR and was WR38 over that span. Ironically, his numbers in this span were identical to Corey Davis (22/315/2), who he is replacing in Tennessee. Davis has actually been less efficient than Reynolds in terms of catch rate for the career (50.9%), and Reynolds has been better at scoring TDs, hitting paydirt on 4.48% of his targets compared to 3.3% for Davis. I’m not convinced that Reynolds is a better player than Davis, but it’s a worthy conversation based on their career numbers. It’s pretty clear that Davis benefited playing opposite AJ Brown, and playing in a run-based offense can help the pass-catchers at times, so this is a good spot for Reynolds, who reportedly opted to sign in Tennessee rather than Kansas City and that potent offense. Role likely had something to do with that decision, and with Davis, Jonnu Smith, and Adam Humphries gone, 40% of their pass targets in 2020 are off the roster, so the versatile Reynolds has an excellent chance to command 5-6 targets a game. Do keep in mind they may draft a top wideout and eventually relegate Reynolds to the WR3 role, but he’s clearly going to be a big factor, making him a viable pick 175+ picks into a draft. UPDATED: 4/3
Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman (Det) — They both have a pulse, believe it or not, with Kenny Golladay signing with the Giants. Tyrell hasn’t looked good since September of 2019, and even then his production was flukey with a lot of TDs early in his Raiders career. Williams proved to be miscast as a top receiver with the Raiders, and I would prefer him in a secondary role, but there’s a lot to sort out with this receiving corps still. If Williams’ health checks out and he’s in a solid spot as their clear WR2, he could present some value late in drafts. At his best, he’s a vertical receiver with 4.48 speed on a large 6’4” frame, which also helps him in the red zone. I can almost say the exact same things about Perriman. Perriman was a train wreck with injuries last year, but he did have a decent stretch in the middle of the season with four solid games, and he did average a strong 16.8 YPR on a team with bad QB play. With Golladay gone, the Lions have over 250 vacated WR targets from 2020, and that’s an absurdly high number. I’m not ready to call either draftable in standard drafts this summer, and they will compete for snaps with Quintez Cephus, but they are both worth a late, late dart throw in 25-round best ball drafts. UPDATED: 3/29
Gerald Everett (LAR) — Part of the reason they kicked Russ out of the kitchen last fall was because teams were taking away the deep ball and Russell Wilson did not adjust well enough by checking the ball down to his backs and looking to get the rock to their TEs in the middle of the field. The athletic Everett may go down in history as a fantasy tease, but that’s only because he’s arguably a top-10 receiving talent at the position, so adding him was a good move by Seattle, especially since new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron was with Everett in LA. Rams coach Sean McVay wanted Everett to be his new Jordan Reed, but McVay could never fully unlock Everett’s potential, so it’s no lock that he’s fully unleashed in Seattle and balls out. But there’s tangible upside for sure, making Everett a viable late-round TE2 with upside. Looking at Bestball10.com drafts conducted over just the last few days (3/18-3/21), Everett looks like he’ll be around the TE20 off the board around 150 overall, which looks about right to me. ADDED: 3/21
Dan Arnold (Car) — The former D3 college wide receiver is rolling right now with a strong career YPR of 14.0, which was boosted by a very efficient 2020 season in which he put up a strong 31/438/4 on 45 targets playing for a new team in the Cardinals and without a usual off-season. In talking to people close to the Saints and Cardinals the last 2-3 years, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the athletic and speedy Arnold, so it is intriguing to see him reunited with Panther OC Joe Brady, who was with Arnold in New Orleans, on a Carolina team that started one of the least productive starting TEs I’ve ever seen in Ian Thomas. If Arnold sees even 4-5 targets a game this year, he has a chance to surprise with 40+ catches and 500+ yards, along with several big plays, which he made last year. At worst, he’ll be a guy who’s schemed open for 4-5 huge plays this year, giving him some extra best ball appeal. ADDED: 3/20
Jared Cook (LAC) — If you’re clinging for dear life with Cook in a dynasty league and hoping to squeeze one more solid TE2 season out of him, like I am, this was the best possible landing spot once Hunter Henry was out of the picture. Cook has shown in the past that he can contribute quickly on a new team, and despite a disappointing season disrupted by Drew Brees missing 4+ games, Cook still looked solid on film and was still moving well. Cook last year also scored 6+ TDs (7) for the third straight season, so he remains a strong red zone threat. He will be getting a clear upgrade in arm talent from Brees to Justin Herbert, who should be getting him the ball a little more than Cook’s 4.3 targets/game last year, and further down the field. Cook signing with the Chargers should end the Donald Parham discussion for now, and the ageless veteran has a chance to land inside the top-15 at the position if things go relatively well. ADDED: 3/19
None of note.
Players whom we’re feeling less optimistic about based on training camp reports and injury news.
Jarrett Stidham (NE) — Based on the moves the Patriots have made the last 15 months at the QB position, there is absolutely no indication that Stidham has a chance in New England. They opted to sign a potentially washed up Cam Newton last spring, didn’t give Stidham a real chance despite Cam’s struggles, and they didn’t even give Stidham the start when Cam missed a game on the COVID list, as veteran Brian Hoyer got the nod. Then, here in 2021, they wasted little time re-signing Newton, so it’s clear they have no confidence in Mr. “Sit ‘em.” It’s over. ADDED: 3/15
Josh Jacobs (LV) — Jacobs has been in my personal doghouse since the fall based on what we saw from him in 2020, which was pretty much the status quo. That’s not bad, of course, as Jacobs ranks fifth in rushing yards over the last two combined seasons behind four stars at the position (Elliott, Chubb, Cook, and Henry). But despite the heavy volume in the running game, Jacobs has finished top-12 (RB1) in weekly scoring in just 36% of his games and outside of the top-36 in 43% of his starts. The volatility is due to the fact that he’s very reliant on game script, as evidenced by his 21.1 FPG in wins and his low 10.3 FPG when they lose. The obvious issue is his lack of work in the passing game, and despite the talk of more receiving work in 2020, over the last two seasons, he’s a pathetic 80th in routes run on third-downs among RBs. The Raiders have continually underutilized Jacobs’ receiving work while often adding myriad pass-catching backs to compete for snaps, so they clearly don’t love Josh in the passing game. Drake isn’t a great receiver out of the backfield, but he’s more than serviceable, and he has a big upside in the passing game due to his explosiveness. Drake underwhelmed in the passing game in 2020, but the year before, he caught 28-of-35 targets (80%) as a Cardinal, despite moving to their roster midseason. Let’s also remember the Raiders have completely dismantled their offensive line this off-season, so Jacobs’ fantasy stock has taken a big hit. I’m not even sure he’s a viable RB2 in PPR at this point, since these former Alabama RBs are similar in skill sets and could split snaps evenly. They have talked about using Drake as a WR, but I don’t think he’ll suddenly be running routes like a slot receiver any time soon. UPDATED: 3/29
D’Andre Swift (Det) — Swift’s usage was all over the map last season, so it was frustrating to see the team’s signing of the versatile Jamaal Williams. At least we’ve seen Swift ball out with barely over 50% of the snaps, as Swift played on just 55% of the team’s snaps from Week 6-17, yet he finished as a RB2 (top-24) or better in weekly scoring seven times across his final nine games. I do understand that NFL teams want to have at least 2-3 RBs they can count on, so they can never have enough quality depth. But while I’m not going to panic and drop Swift down my board considerably, the presence of Williams, who could easily get goal line carries and precious third-down snaps, has to limit Swift’s upside, at least a little. Assuming they don’t bring Adrian Peterson back, Swift should still be good for 15-20 touches a game, and it’s not like Williams greatly affected Aaron Jones’ fantasy output the last three years in Green Bay. Of course, the Lions in 2021 won’t have an offense nearly as good as Green Bay’s has been recently. Another factor is Kerryon Johnson and his health in 2021. If the team has designs on using Kerryon along with Swift and Williams, that could be frustrating. For now, I’m not inclined to drop Swift outside of my top-20 overall, but I’ll be a little less inclined to aggressively target Swift in the 10-15 overall range. ADDED: 3/17
Jamaal Williams (Det) — Williams signing with Detroit was completely unexpected, and while it’s a buzz kill for D’Andre Swift, I’m actually more perturbed by Williams’ missed opportunity for a larger role elsewhere, like in Pittsburgh. I will say that I thought Williams was terrible in 2018, so he’s been a bit of a fantasy two-face because he’s looked very good the last two seasons. Was it the situation, or his competitiveness? He’s not nearly as dynamic as Swift, but he’s pesky in that he has solid power, some movement ability, and he’s great in pass pro and in the passing game. He’s reliable and is being paid a decent salary, so he’s going to play, yet he was never truly reliable for fantasy playing as the #2 in Green Bay. For example, he had six games with 0-1 targets in 2020, and five games with 4 or more targets. Some weeks he’d get 10+ carries and/or goal line work, and some weeks he would not. I can see him being equally unpredictable behind Swift in Detroit, especially if they also have designs on playing Kerryon Johnson, who will be in the final year of his rookie deal. It’s fair to say that I had my expectations were too high for Williams, thinking he’d move on to a team with a bigger need, but Williams might even be a downgrade in 2021 from where he’s been in a much better offense the last four years. ADDED: 3/17
Leonard Fournettee and Ronald Jones (TB) — On one hand, Fournette clearly ascended over Jones down the stretch and he had over 70 scrimmage yards in all four playoff games and a robust 21.7 fantasy points per game. Jones, however, still averaged more yards after contact (3.2) and had a better success rate (44%) on his 227 total carries than Fournette, playoffs included (2.3 YAC; 41% success rate for Lenny). We do at least know that Jones has stone hands, but that’s less important now that the Bucs have finally added a pass-catching specialist in Gio Bernard, which is terrible news for Jones and bad news for Fournette. Jones will have to still battle Lenny for early-down snaps, but if Gio is on the opening day roster, Jones won’t likely catch even 10 passes this year (he caught only 4 balls in his last five games of 2020) and that should make him impossible to handicap if Fournette well in the mix on all downs. As for Lenny, his hands can also be shaky, which explains how the Bucs RBs led the NFL in dropped passes in 2020 (per Fox Sports). If Gio is on the team and in his expected role, he will hurt Fournette’s chances of producing consistently, so the best course of action is to avoid this backfield. As for Ke’Shawn Vaughn, despite what Bruce Arians says about him having a breakout year, looks to be screwed for 2021 unless there’s injury because he’s unlikely to pass either Jones or Fournette on the depth chart and he won’t likely have a chance to compete for receiving down snaps with Gio. UPDATED: 4/13
David Johnson (Hou) — I wanted nothing to do with Johnson last summer, him and almost all the older RBs going off the board the top-70 picks or so. Johnson actually looked decent, better than guys like Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell, but did anyone regret passing on him in 2020? I doubt it. I honestly don’t know what to think about new Texans RB Mark Ingram because he barely played in 2020. Was that because he was cooked or was that because a three-man rotation wasn’t working and they opted for rookie JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards over Ingram? Previously, Ingram was very effective and efficient in 2019 with strong numbers across the board on his 228 touches. Oh, and they also added Phillip Lindsay, who’s a potential pest because he’s competitive enough to challenge for snaps and touches. We’ll get a better feel for this backfield in the summer, and we should soon learn about the future of Deshaun Watson, but I’m not expecting anything earth-shattering that will improve my opinion of Johnson short of Ingram getting cut in the preseason. Ingram is a solid inside runner and receiver like Johnson, so if he’s on the final roster, he’s a threat to Johnson, meaning I’m out on the veteran. UPDATED: 3/20
Rashad Penny (Sea) — Penny needed a big domino to fall in order to have a great chance to finally deliver production commensurate with the draft capital Seattle used to acquire him (27th pick of the 2018 draft), but with Chris Carson re-signing with the team and netting a good veteran RB contract, it didn’t happen. Our guy Adam Caplan told us last fall that the team was blown away by Penny’s return to form in practice, as Penny may have looked even more explosive than before the serious knee injury suffered December of 2019. The expectation was that he was going to be a factor down the stretch, but there was some knee swelling late in the season, so Penny was essentially shut down. Carson will be the guy, of course, but there should still be a solid role for Penny with 8-10 touches per game, and if Penny is right physically and Carson misses time again, the versatile Penny could easily be a solid RB2 for fantasy. Penny should be a very good handcuff and late-round flyer if he’s right physically. ADDED: 3/21
Wayne Gallman (FA) — Gallman finally got a chance to be the main back for the Giants, and he did not disappoint, posting 147/682/6 (4.6 YPC) and 21/114 receiving on 27 targets. His first start last season came in Week 8, and he managed to finish as an RB1 three times in the final nine weeks. He was TD-dependent, since they didn’t use him much in the passing game and his carries were fairly limited in a bad offense, but Gallman improved with more work, even showing surprising lateral agility while running downhill. He would be a solid and cheap backup option for Saquon Barkley, but since he hasn’t played special teams consistently since early in the 2019 season, he likely lost out to Devontae Booker, so Gallman’s appeal will likely drop in 2021 even if he lands as a key backup elsewhere. ADDED: 3/16
Will Fuller (Mia) — Deshaun Watson is NOT going to be in play for Miami, so this is a downgrade for 2021. Fuller had bad timing in free agency this year given the lowered salary cap this year and his 6-game suspension handed down late last year (with one more game to serve this season), which explains the one-year deal. Fuller was incredible in the #1 WR role before getting busted for PEDs, which does beg the question: did the PEDS help him stay healthy? That’s probably a fair question, but a better question is whether or not Tua Tagovailoa can get him the ball. The potential dropoff from Watson, who Fuller had incredible chemistry with and who played at an MVP level last year, to Tua, could be massive. Tua did not do well throwing the ball down the field as a rookie, with only 38.7% of his passes thrown 20+ yards downfield completed. Fuller is more of a complete receiver these days, so he’s not just a deep threat, but a comparable player, DeVante Parker, saw a major dip in production going from Ryan Fiztpatrick (69 yards and 14.0 fantasy points per game for Parker) to Tua (44.3 yards and 9.9 FPG for Parker). Fuller, of course, will also compete with Parker for targets (and Ja’Marr Chase?), so he won’t be a true #1 like he was in Houston last year. Fuller doesn’t look like more than a solid WR3, and his upside isn’t remotely close to what it was in Houston with Watson. UPDATED: 3/29
Marvin Jones (Jax) — Jones had an abominable 14/146/1 through Detroit’s first five games last year and his pitiful 6.9 FPG would have been only the fourth-best WR on the Jags last year (and damn near the fifth-best behind Chris Conley), so while Jones turned a corner and looked like, well, Marvin Jones, I’m not excited about this landing spot. Jones obviously benefited from Kenny Golladay missing so much time in 2020, and he did play with a top QB in Matthew Stafford. This year, he’ll be playing with a rookie in Trevor Lawrence, and with plenty of competition for targets with DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault. In addition, this should be a run-heavy offense under OC Darrell Bevell. Jones has seen his slot routes rise over the last two seasons, running more than 30% of his routes from inside the last two seasons, so I’m sure he’ll be moved all over the place, making him a little tougher to predict on a weekly basis (as Keelan Cole was for a number of years). Jones won’t cost much, at least, and he’s perennially underrated, but I’d have preferred another landing spot in a better offense and environment than the rebuilding Jags. ADDED: 3/17
Chase Claypool (Pit) — The fact that JuJu Smith-Schuster returned will probably take a little away from Diontae Johnson’s upside this year, but it’s a bigger issue for Claypool. In the 14 full games that Diontae played in while healthy to finish the contest, he averaged a whopping 11.2 targets per game, so volume was not an issue. Claypool managed to put up 873 yards (fourth-most among rookies) despite running just 27.3 routes per game, only 74th among receivers. JuJu, of course, led all receivers in routes (40.1 per game) last year, so Claypool’s volume won’t likely be increasing much, especially since they won’t likely throw the ball as much in 2021. Claypool is still a nice target in fantasy drafts, but there’s less upside and therefore less urgency to go get him proactively. ADDED: 3/19
Gabriel Davis (Buf) — As much as we’ve pumped this guy up for almost a full year, thanks in part to great info from our guy Adam Caplan, it does feel like he was so famously underrated for much of 2020 that he’s now a little overrated. He’s a nice player who beat his college average of 16.1 YPR as a rookie in the NFL, but he did also roll with a poor 56.5% catch rate, so he wasn’t very efficient. Davis scored in five of his last eight games and will continue to give them size on the outside and in the red zone, but while our prediction of John Brown being pushed off the roster did happen, they then added veteran Emmanuel Sanders, who will definitely see the field. That should be at mostly Davis’ expense. The Bills will roll with 4-WR sets more than most teams, and there’s a lot of production to go around, but the Sanders addition should hurt Davis’ chances of going down as a nice value. He was the WR58 off the board in March drafts on Bestball10s.com, which isn’t expensive at all, but again, his appeal in my book has dropped due to the Sanders addition. ADDED: 3/19
Christian Kirk (Ari) — For the sake of being comprehensive, Kirk needs to be added as a downgrade for 2021 because, well, he is one. Kirk saw many of his key stats rise in 2020, like his 12.9 YPR (from 10.4) and 7.9 YPT (yards per target), and his catch rate didn’t suffer much at 60.8% from 63.1% in 2019. But he also had only 5.6 targets/game, and 40 yards or fewer in eight of his 14 games. He did have 20+ FP in three straight games, and he does strike me as a player who’s ideally utilized as an ancillary weapon. If he’s the clear slot guy here over Andy Isabella, and if Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t return (as expected as of 4/3), then Kirk will be worth a late pick for his ability to make a big play at the drop of a hat. But with AJ Green added and commanding targets, Kirk’s volume will suffer, so he’s a downgrade. UPDATED: 4/3
Hunter Henry (NE) — Henry is a rare free agent who changed teams and was actually a downgrade. Usually, an UFA like Henry can pick his ideal landing spot, and role isn’t usually an issue. And as much as I’ve loved Henry and his talent, he’s had his fair share of injuries, and he’s yet to play a full 16-game season. Henry was looking good to finally play a whole season this past year, but then COVID-19 hit. That’s not his fault, but he turned in yet another “good, not great” season. He had just one top-five TE performance last season, and he posted career-worst marks in YPR (10.2) and catch rate (64.2%) switching from Philip Rivers to Justin Herbert. The problem is Henry is looking at another QB downgrade going from Herbert to Cam Newton, and a target share drop going to a Patriot team that also this week inked Jonnu Smith, another athletic TE who will command the ball and who even signed a more lucrative contract than the former Charger. The Pats threw the ball only 27.5 times last year, and their QBs completed only 17.4 balls per game. They will certainly throw the ball a little more, but this will still be a run-based offense, so no matter how you slice it, it’s going to be difficult for Henry to even match his 10.4 FPG from 2020 (only 12 TEs hit double-digit scoring in the entire league). The only good thing about Henry is that he won’t be very expensive in fantasy drafts for obvious reasons. UPDATED: 3/16
Devin Asiasi (NE) — Asiasi, a 2020 third-round pick, was unable to make much of an impact his rookie season, despite a strong showing early in camp. In talking to a top Patriots beat writer late in the season, it looked like Dalton Keene, another 2020 third-round TE, was moving up in the world, which I took as a bad sign for Asiasi. Asiasi did save his best for last, showing signs of life in their season finale, putting up 2/39/1 on 3 targets. Keene actually caught more passes than Asiasi last year (3 vs. 2) on fewer targets (7 vs. 5), but the Pats clearly didn’t see enough progress for their two 2020 rookies, which prompted them to open the vault for TE Jonnu Smith. And then for Hunter Henry the next day. The Pats have loved both for several years now, so Asiasi is getting pinched here. These moves destroy any sleeper potential for Asiasi for 2021, making him undraftable, and those in dynasty leagues can probably cut him. At least for the next 2-3 years, he’s likely going to need an injury to Henry, who he will back up, or Jonnu, to have a chance. UPDATED: 3/16
Players who we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade, but whose values should notability remain relatively unchanged from 2020.
Ben Roethlisberger (Pit) — I’m almost hesitant to spin Big Ben in a positive way, given the losses on his OL and pitiful 6.0 YPA he’s posted the last two seasons (670 attempts). The Steelers likely told us what we need to know with Big Ben based on how they played on offense, and among 29 qualifying QBs, Big Ben’s average depth of target downfield was 7.4 yards (fifth-lowest). In his defense, they had no running game whatsoever, and he did throw 33 TD passes, tied for seventh most. I still may not actively target Roethlisberger as a QB2, but I was very surprised JuJu Smith-Schuster opted to return, giving Big Ben another season with an impressive group of receivers, including still ascending targets Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. ADDED: 3/19
Aaron Jones (GB) — Jones would have likely had a larger role if he signed with a RB-needy team like the Dolphins, but I like how Green Bay has managed his workload, keeping Jones to fewer than 300 touches in each of the last two seasons (266 per season last two years). Jones has looked fresh, but the injury concerns linger (inactive for two games in Weeks 7-8). With veteran Jamaal Williams gone, 2020 2nd round pick AJ Dillon is set to handle a healthy number of touches, obviously. I don’t see that as a problem for Jones, since the Packers ran the ball a healthy 443 times a game last year (27.6 attempts per game) and will continue to be run-oriented. Their RBs had 380 carries a game, and it’s fair to assume Jones will get at least half of those carries, and 55% of the RB totes would give him 209 carries. The moderate volume could make him a little more TD-dependent, but while Dillon is a big back who should excel in short-yardage, Jones has a great nose for the endzone, scoring a whopping 30 TD over the last two seasons. Dillon told me last year that his receiving game is underrated, and he did show some ability in the passing game, yet the sample size was incredibly small (3 targets, 3 catches). Meanwhile, Jones’ receptions per game increased from 3.1 in 2019 to 3.4 last year, and that’s with Jones (851 snaps) and Williams (738) basically splitting the passing down snaps fairly evenly over the last few seasons. I don’t think Dillon will see more than 1.5 targets per game this year, so there’s probably at least 1 extra target per game now available for Jones. Giving Jones 215 carries and 80+ targets should net him 1500+ total yards, and with 15 TDs per season the last two years, he looks poised to deliver another 260+ FP as long as he doesn’t miss more than 1-2 games. He’s still an RB1 and he’s still worth taking in the top-12 overall in redraft. ADDED: 3/15
Chris Carson (Sea) — Compared to where he was this time last year, he’s holding steady, and I would not have guessed that at season’s end, or even at the start of free agency. But Carson signed a 2-year deal, so he’s clearly the favorite for the top spot in this backfield. I can’t say he’s injury prone, but he has been prone to injuries, but at least he’s good when he’s right physically. He’s always gaining solid yardage after initial contact and his receiving production has increased in each of his four seasons. Carson averaged 16.6 FPG last year when healthy, which would have made him the RB12 over the full season. If Rashad Penny is right physically, he will definitely pose a serious threat to Carson, but he will also be an excellent handcuff, and Carson, who will undoubtedly be good while healthy, is a good bet to miss some time. ADDED: 3/24
David Montgomery (Chi) — I’m holding him steady mainly to prove a point: I’m not that threatened by the addition of Damien Williams. Of course, I may regret that last sentence, but you cannot blame the Bears for looking for an upgrade behind Montgomery. Tarik Cohen is coming off an ACL and isn’t a good RB2 to begin with. Williams worked with OC Bill Lazer in Miami and HC Matt Nagy in Kansas City. Williams may hold some standalone value (it’s not like Montgomery is stud) but I think he’s more insurance than he is competition for snaps. We’ll also see about Cohen. If he’s limited coming off the injury, Williams can certainly contribute on all three downs and spell Montgomery for a series here and there. ADDED: 3/26
James White (NE) — For White to be “holding steady” from 2020, it’s not really a good thing. White dealt with a personal tragedy last year, which did reduce his contributions, but the bigger issue was Cam Newton and their passing game. The Pats saw a 25% decrease in the number of pass completions from 2019 with Tom Brady, and White went from 7 targets a game with Brady in 2018-2019 to only 4.4 targets/game with Cam. White did have four high-target games with 8. 9, 9, and 7 targets, but more often than not he was at four or fewer targets and he had lame PPR totals. I’d imagine Cam will improve this year, but we’ll also have to see if they draft a QB of note (if they even have a chance to where they’re picking). Regardless, White’s fantasy stock would have been better off if he was heading to Tampa. ADDED: 3/26
Nelson Agholor (NE) — I understand why the Patriots added Agholor, who gives them legit downfield speed and playmaking ability, and who has inside/outside versatility. They obviously needed playmakers. But this is also a guy who was a borderline bust heading into last year, which is why the 2017 first-round pick signed for only the veteran minimum last off-season. And now he’s going to the Patriots, where veteran receivers usually go to die? And in a run-based offense with Cam Newton or a rookie at QB? And with arguably the best 1-2 punch in the league at TE? Good luck with that. We also need to see what will happen with veteran Julian Edelman. With or without Edelman, Agholor will likely line up outside often in this offense, which is a positive because he flourished outside last year in Vegas, running 67% of his routes on the outside after he previously ran 56% in the slot in Philly, and finishing sixth in average depth of target at 15.7 yards. But overall, I’m skeptical. As one Boston media member said to me on the radio right after the signing, the Pats have a QB who can’t throw who will be tossing it to a wideout who can’t catch. That’s a little harsh, but Cam was bad last year, and Agholor’s hands were still an issue in 2020, as he dropped an ugly 11% of his targets (9-of-82). Agholor is more appealing in best ball, but I’ll likely be passing on him in redraft leagues due to his likely volatility and downside. ADDED: 3/16
Curtis Samuel (Was) — It’s a little early to get a handle on whether his move to Washington is a good or bad thing for Samuel’s fantasy value. He did earn a nice pay raise and a decent contract with the WFT, so this move should be a lateral one at worst for Samuel, since HC Ron Rivera drafted him in Carolina and Washington’s OC Scott Turner was a part of game-planning for that offense back in 2018-19 when his dad Norv was OC of the team, so they know the player well. I have to think he will be used more like he was for his fine 2020 season in Carolina, but we should get some clarity in that regard this summer. For more, check out Graham Barfield’s excellent breakdown of the move and the ramifications here. ADDED: 3/19
John Brown (LV) — Given his history and the fact that he missed seven games last season because of a number of leg injuries, I’m not going to truly count on Brown at this point, but the Raiders lost their vertical outside receiver from last year with Nelson Agholor departing, so the signing makes sense. He has also played in 15+ games in five of his seven seasons, so he’s not an injury catastrophe, although he is on the wrong side of 30 and already 31 next month (he entered the league at 24). It’s not inconceivable that he emerges as their top wideout, making him worth a later-round flyer for now, but the Raiders have hardly given up on 2020 rookies Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards. Edwards, in particular, should have a good chance to play a lot, given his size and physicality. And Brown may be held back by their depleted OL and by Derek Carr’s unwillingness to stand in the pocket and let plays develop. There are more negatives than positives, so Brown’s only a good pick for now when the pick is “free,” aka very late. ADDED: 3/17
Sammy Watkins (Bal) — Despite going from a pass-happy offense with the best QB in the world to a run-based offense with a so-so passer in Lamar Jackson, I think he’s holding steady. Why? Because it can’t get any worse than last year, honestly. Despite still being only 27 (28 in June), Watkins has been a shell of his former self, and it appears his many injuries have robbed him of a lot of his talent. He missed 14 games during his three-year stay in Kansas City, and despite a 15+ YPR in each of his first four seasons, he’s yet to average more than 13.0 YPR playing in the best offense in football. Lamar has targeted WRs at the lowest rate in the league in both 2019 (11.4 targets per game) and 2020 (13.8), and Watkins is firmly behind Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown in the pecking order. I still think they may draft a WR of note, so Sammy is nothing more than a late-round dart throw in best ball drafts. ADDED: 3/29
Jonnu Smith (NE) — Due to the addition of Hunter Henry, Jonnu is merely holding steady, which is a buzzkill. Bill Belichick and the Pats have been effusive in their praise of Smith and Henry for several years, and they desperately needed upgrades at receiver, which they got with these two additions and more. Smith was reportedly their top target in free agency at any position, and they handed him the biggest contract they’ve ever handed a receiver. The deal makes him the third-highest paid TE in the league, so they are surely going to try to fully take advantage of Jonnu’s ability to run after the catch. Jonnu will be the move TE with Henry the inline guy, but both guys can play both spots, so there should be some mixing and matching. The problem with Jonnu last year was the injury to LT Taylor Lewan, which forced Jonnu to stay in and block a lot more after a sizzling start in September. That’s less of a factor now with Henry in the mix, since I just can’t see Jonnu getting the 90-100 targets he’ll likely need to make a big fantasy splash in what should remain a run-heavy offense. Jonnu will likely need to pile up healthy TD numbers if he’s going to overcome a lack of ideal volume (like Robert Tonyan and his 59 targets and 11 TDs last year), but that’s unlikely if the TD vulture Newton gets most of their QB snaps. It may be unlikely no matter what, since Henry is also a good red zone threat and an inviting target (93 targets last year, seventh most). Smith has never had more than 65 targets in a season, and he might be lucky to get even 70+ this year, so it may be much of the same for Jonnu. Yes, the Pats have supported two top fantasy TEs in the past, but it’s rare in the NFL, and NE did it with the great Tom Brady and the most dangerous TE duo the league has ever seen (Gronk and Hernandez). Before this move, Jonnu was the TE16 on Bestball10s.com, and Jonnu was ironically the TE16 in PPG in 2020. Even worse, when I worked up an initial 2021 projection for Smith with Henry on the roster, it worked out to 135 FP, which, you guessed it, would have been good for TE16 last year. Clearly, William Belichick does not give a rat’s ass about our fantasy teams and the lack of quality depth at the TE position. UPDATED: 3/16
Rob Gronkowski (TB) — I’ve learned to never doubt Gronk, and I’m not doubting him here. But while it’s great that he’s back, I do worry that he could be a frustrating asset unless he can score TDs with regularity. Gronk’s role in the passing game diminished after Antonio Brown joined the team in Week 9 with Gronk putting up two or fewer catches in nine of his final 12 games (playoffs included) and only 4.3 targets per game in the final 12 games (playoffs included) after AB joined the roster. The Bucs probably won’t be able to retain Cameron Brate, who emerged as a key option for Tom Brady late in 2020, but if Brate is gone that would mean O.J. Howard is back and ready to contribute, and Howard is a lot more talented and dangerous than Brate. There’s only one ball here, and Gronk remains a good blocker, so it’s going to come down to TDs. His 15.6% TD rate in 2020 was actually the best of his career since he was a 22-year old in 2011, and he did lead all TEs in red zone targets in the regular season in 2020. But he was still a boom-or-bust option, finishing as a TE1 (top-12) in seven games and outside of the top-25 in weekly scoring completely another seven times. He’s a better pick in best ball, and not much more than a high-end backup in traditional season long formats. ADDED: 3/16
Players who we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade but their situations demand monitoring based on training camp reports and injury news.
Lamar Jackson (Bal) — The Ravens have been trying to get Lamar some help at receiver this off-season, and they have come up short in their quest for No. 1 types like TY Hilton and JuJu Smith-Schuster. For now they have settled for veteran Sammy Watkins, yet another past-his-prime WR signing by the Ravens. I have no faith in Watkins, but he’s kind of perfect here with Jackson in that Watkins tends to make a big play when you least expect it, and often outside of structure, so he may actually make some plays with Lamar. He also played for OC Greg Roman in Buffalo, so he knows the offense. But there’s still work to be done at WR, so hopefully for Lamar’s sake they invest an earlier pick on a possible starter who can give them size on the outside. Otherwise, Sammy will likely be a serviceable underneath threat who occasionally gets a deep look from Lamar. ADDED: 3/26
Jonathan Taylor (Ind) — Marlon Mack is returning on a one-year deal, which does give me pause in terms of my own insanely high ranking of Taylor. As of mid-March, our Adam Caplan reported that Mack is 80 to 90% healed, a rate that should have Mack ready to go by training camp. Achilles injuries are just as serious as ACLs, though, and sometimes a lot worse. It seems to me the Colts were okay committing to the well-liked Mack for another season, but considering that few running backs have come back strongly from Achilles injuries, I do not think Indy is counting on much from Mack. I’m sure they’d love for him to be their backup with Taylor and Nyheim Hines picking up where they left off last season, so I moved Taylor down my board only a few spots. ADDED: 3/17
James RobinsonRB (Jax) — I’m not naive enough to think Hyde will be a serious threat to Robinson, but the new GM and HC know Hyde well, as Trent Baalke drafted him in SF and Urban Myer coached him at Ohio State. But Hyde will definitely play and spell Robinson, which should be prohibitive for Robinson. I think Hyde’s run as well or better than he ever has the last two seasons, and from 2019-2020 he’s put 326 carries on the board at a solid 4.4 YPC. The real problem for Robinson will come if they add a quality back in the draft with speed and versatility, and that’s what they’re looking to do, so we’ll see. Do they pair #1 pick Trevor Lawrence with his teammate RB Travis Etienne? Etienne should be available for their #25 overall pick, so I’d be a little worried if I had Robinson in a keeper league. ADDED: 3/28
Chase Edmunds (Ari) — Not that I expected Kenyan Drake to stick around, but with Drake joining the Raiders in March, Edmunds was one step closer to a large role on the 2021 Cards. However, with the Cards adding veteran James Conner on 4/13, Edmunds took a half step back (at least). I did not think they would add a RB before the draft, but now that they have it seems unlikely they'll add a RB of note. No matter what happens, Edmunds should have a leg up in the passing game after he ran more routes (303 to 251) and saw significantly more targets (67 to 31) than Drake last year, but Conner is also a viable receiver for sure. Ultimately, though, the Cardinals have told us they view Edmunds as an RB1A type as opposed to a truly primary guy. UPDATED: 4/13
James Conner (Ari) — Benched in the season opener, Conner only got back on track for a solid six-game stretch during which he averaged 17.8 FPG. Unfortunately, Conner got beat up again and dealt with shoulder and quad injuries and over the final nine weeks of the season he averaged just 9.1 FPG with three games missed (quad). I didn’t have confidence in him last summer, so I’m certainly not expecting to target Conner in Arizona. However, our guy Adam Caplan believes he will be in line for the primary role in a dual backfield with Chase Edmunds. That would give him a chance to post serviceable digits, but he remains a high-risk player with major availability concerns - and let’s not forget they could still take a viable RB option in the draft. His 1-year contract was very minimal, so they haven’t invested much in Conner. ADDED: 4/13
Zach Moss (Buf) — The Bills were not happy with their running game last year, and by the end of the season they basically gave up on Moss. That’s not a good sign, but there is a chance the addition of Matt Brieda, a changeup only who injects some speed into this backfield, could preclude them from drafting a back this year. If so, that’s decent news for Moss’ 2021 prospects, since Devin Singletary has proven to be just a guy. ADDED: 3/27
Mike Davis (Atl) — We’re all still gathering information about new HC Arthur Smith and OC Dave Ragone’s offense will be exactly, but we can expect a zone-blocking scheme to be a foundation, and Davis is coming from Carolina, where they were very similar. The word is Atlanta is still looking to add a top back in the draft, and they do have the 35th overall pick in Round 2, which would be a good spot for them to add a quality RB. It’s not a lock they get a good back, though, and Davis impressed with his ability to force missed tackles and his receiving skills last year. UPDATED: 3/28
Tevin Coleman (NYJ) — Full disclosure, I’m a noted Coleman hater. But can you blame me? Coleman did have 7 TDs in 2019, and he only missed three games from 2017-2019, but he sure is hurt a lot. It’s a good landing spot for now, as they install a Shanahan-influenced offense, but I’m not expecting anything of note from the veteran for now. I have to think they will make a noticeable move in the draft to add a RB. ADDED: 3/21
Corey Davis (NYJ) — The Jets haven’t overpaid for a wideout in free agency in a little while, but they have a long history of doing so, and the profiles of Davis and this Jets organization conjured up some negative thoughts for me. Davis was quite good last year, finishing fourth in yards per route run at 2.58 yards and his YPR (15.1 in 2020) and his catch rate (70.3%) have climbed in each of his first four seasons. But he’s also a former fifth overall pick of the draft who failed to top 1000 yards receiving in his first three seasons and who scored only 6 TDs in 42 games in that span. It may not be a coincidence that Davis had a career year in 2020 while playing alongside a bigger alpha dog in AJ Brown, and in the final year of his rookie contract. They did not pick up the fifth year option on Davis last off-season, likely because they already had a WR1 in Brown. The Jets like Davis for their new offense, which is understandable, since it’s west coast, a system he’s familiar with including a lot of play-action, and one that will get him the ball often on in-breaking routes where he can run after the catch. But through four full seasons, it’s still questionable Davis is a legit NFL one, and we’ve noticed in his career that he’s had problems working against tight, man-to-man coverage. Also, these are the Jets, and they may or may not have a solid QB under center in 2021. I’m also not ruling out the possibility that we all view Denzel Mims as the better player by season’s end. New York also added the pesky Keelan Cole, who in my opinion actually separates against man converge better than Davis, so I fully expect Cole to take more production in this passing game than most expect. UPDATED: 3/20
Auden Tate (Cin) — I looked in on some Bengals practices last summer, and saw great things from Tate. But then rookie Tee Higgins took over and Tate had an uneventful 2020 season. He did put up 40/575/1 in 2019. Tate is still only 24 years old and will be for the entirety of the 2021 season, so if they do not draft a stud receiver like TE Kyle Pitts or WR Ja’Marr Chase, Tate will have a chance to hold some fantasy value. ADDED: 3/29
Anthony Firkser (Ten) — The former UDFA has been a nice story and contributor for the Titans, but I’m not sure his role will change that much with Jonnu Smith gone. The thing is, that’s fine. Assuming the Titans bring in another TE who can block, the former Harvard product should retain his role, which is, essentially, their “big slot.” Firkser lined up in the slot on over 70% of his snaps, and he clicked well in the middle of the field with QB Ryan Tannehill, plus they did release veteran slot man Adam Humphries. Firkser is still only a late, late flyer, but for now there’s a definite path for him to haul in 50 balls, something accomplished by only 14 TEs last year. ADDED: 3/15