Last update: Friday, April 1, 2016 @ 10:00pm EST
Players acquired by new teams
Brock Osweiler (Signed by Hou from Den) – In a stunning move, the Texans have secured their QB of the future by signing Osweiler to contract that is reportedly for four years and $72 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- Fantasy Analysis: Osweiler was apparently miffed that he was benched for Peyton Manning and he didn’t have enough interest in returning to the Broncos for less money than he commanded elsewhere. Starting with Denver, this obviously opens up a massive hole at QB, since 2015 7th round pick Trevor Siemian is the only signal caller on the active roster. HC Gary Kubiak likes Siemian in his system, but the team is going to have to find another option (or two). The Broncos have since acquired veteran Mark Sanchez, but they’re not done adding QB options this year. As for the Texans, they do get a legit young QB prospect, but with only seven starts under his belt (a solid 5-2 record), Osweiler is hardly a proven commodity. Osweiler finished the year completing 170/275 passes for 1967 yards, 10 TDs, and 6 INTs and he added 21/61/1 rushing for 18.8 FPG (29th) in eight games. Osweiler averaged 7.2 YPA and .55 FP per attempt (league average was .54 FP/attempt for QBs). His numbers were mediocre, but his game tape offered a little more promise. Osweiler was uneven as you’d expect with a young QB, but he proved he can make all the throws and that he’s willing to stand tall in the pocket and is able to go through his progressions. On the downside, Osweiler is a huge target at 6’7” and he took some vicious shots while trying to make throws from the pocket, so his long-term availability may be an issue. The Texans also lost two starters on the OL this year (C Ben Jones and RG Brandon Brooks), which is a concern. They did, however, upgrade their RB situation by signing Lamar Miller, whose receiving and homerun hitting ability should help the young QB. Osweiler will have a great wideout in DeAndre Hopkins to work with, but there’s not much else on the roster at WR and TE. Barring a surprise addition to bolster their receiving corps, Osweiler’s shaky supporting cast should limit his fantasy output in 2016, especially on a team that’s strengths lie on the other side of the ball. Osweiler, who was only 31st in points-per-game in a better situation last year in Denver, looks like a low-end fantasy backup at best in 2016.
Mark Sanchez (acquired by Den from Phi) – The Broncos add a QB to their transitional offense, acquiring Sanchez for a conditional late-round pick in 2017, according to Mike Klis of 9News.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Eagles have Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, so there was no more use for Sanchez. Meanwhile, the Broncos had only Trevor Siemian on the roster prior to the deal, so they needed “The Chize.” Sanchez attempted passes in three games in 2015 for the Eagles, starting two of them for an injured Sam Bradford. He posted 59/91 passing (64.8%) for 616 yards (6.77 YPA), with 4 TDs and 4 INTs. He added 6/22 rushing and averaged 16.4 FPG in those three games. When Sanchez was operating the Eagles’ offense, it seemed to work at a quicker pace than it did under Bradford, but Sanchez also showed why Bradford was the starter, making terrible decisions at awful times. That said, he was a viable fantasy QB in 2014, and he had his most success from 2009 through 2012 with the Jets, while playing QB for a team with a great defense. We doubt John Elway wants Sanchez starting most of the Broncos’ games in 2016, but if he is, Sanchez has at least “won” with a similarly built team. With Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders there, Sanchez could have some streaming value.
Robert Griffin III (signed by Cle from Was) – The Browns announced a deal with RG3. The deal is worth up to $22 million over two years, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today.
- Fantasy Analysis: He at least has a home where he’ll get a chance to play, so that’s a start for RG3. In fact, it’s fair to believe that RG3 will have a leg up on all comers to open the season as the team’s starter, since veteran Josh McCown is expected to be traded or released now that RGIII is in the fold, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Browns could also a QB with the #2 pick, but these are moves that could actually work out for both parties, since either Carson Wentzor Jared Goff can spend most or all of their rookie seasons on the bench, which would be ideal scenarios for both. RG3 has to prove he can stay healthy, of course, but at just 26, Griffin’s body should at least be rested after sitting out the entire 2015 season. If Griffin is to have a chance to enjoy a resurgence, he’ll need a good QB coach to effectively maximize his skill set and potential, and he has that in Brown HC Hue Jackson, who is known as an excellent QB mentor and manager. The Browns are still waiting on word regarding suspended star Josh Gordon (Griffin’s former college teammate), but if he’s reinstated, RG3 would have some talent to work with, but his supporting cast would still be suspect overall. We’ll see how this situation unfolds, but RG3 at least now has a pulse. Now, it comes down to what the Browns do with their top pick in the draft.
Chase Daniel (signed by Phi from KC) – The Eagles signed Daniel to a three-year contract, according to our guy Adam Caplan of ESPN. According to Caplan and Adam Schefter, the deal is for $21 million with $12 million guaranteed, with up to $36 million earnable with incentives.
- Fantasy Analysis: The landing spot for Daniel is logical – he is already familiar with Eagle HC Doug Pederson’s offense, having started two games for the Chiefs over the last three seasons. There’s not much tape or sample size on Daniel, but he’s long been discussed as a potential “future starter” in the league, mostly for his mental acuity. The one thing that may surprise is that he signed in Philly even after the Eagles retained Sam Bradford, though Bradford’s deal is in essence for one year while Daniel signed for three, and with $12 million guaranteed, it seems to be much more than pure “backup” money. Regardless, Pederson made it clear that Bradford is his #1 and Daniel the #2, though he did qualify it with “for now” and the old coach trope that every position is open for competition. We won’t go so far as to say there will be a competition here (at least unless the team does), but the contract is relatively large, Daniel knows the offense and will be able to step in immediately if Bradford is injured or struggles (at 29, Daniel is a year older than Bradford). Daniel’s arrival allowed the Eagles to trade Mark Sanchez, so there could be room for a rookie to develop here, as well.
Matt Schaub (signed by Atl from Bal) – Schaub returns to where he started his career, signing a one-year deal worth $2.75 million, including a signing bonus of $500,000 and a roster bonus of $125,000, the club announced.
- Fantasy Analysis: Joe Flacco had started 122 straight games before tearing his ACL and MCL in Week 11 of 2015, which forced Schaub into the lineup. He was a disaster in both of his starts, throwing 2 of his patented pick-sixes and 4 INTs total before injuries knocked him out of the lineup. The Ravens then signed Ryan Mallett to a two-year deal in December, and he’ll be Flacco’s backup heading into 2016. Schaub returns to the place where it all started for him in Atlanta, and it makes a ton of sense, as he had plenty of success under Kyle Shanahan with the Texans and he certainly knows his system. He’ll back up Matt Ryan and will at least have Julio Jones at his disposal if the situation merits Schaub to fill in for Ryan.
Matt Cassel (signed by Ten from Dal) – Cassel signed a one-year deal with the Titans, according to ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky. The deal is reportedly worth $2 million, with $750,000 in guarantees.
- Fantasy Analysis: Cassel had some laughable performances as the starting QB for the Cowboys in 2015. Acquired from the Bills in late September, Cassel eventually became the Cowboys’ starter in Week Seven, replacing an ineffective Brandon Weeden. Cassel made eight starts, and he was less effective than the guy he replaced, failing to throw a TD and posting fewer than 10 FP in five of them, which is unheard of nowadays. In all, Cassel went 119/204 (58.3%) for 1275 yards (6.25 YPA) with 5 TDs and 7 INTs. He was replaced by Kellen Moore early in Week Fifteen and didn’t appear for the rest of the season. It’d be shocking if he’s able to beat out Zach Mettenberger for the backup job behind Marcus Mariota, but he also provides cushion in the event the Titans can perhaps find a trade partner for Mettenberger.
Thad Lewis (signed by SF from Phi) – It’s a one-year deal for Lewis in San Francisco, according to Rand Getlin of NFL Network. The deal is reportedly worth $760,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Lewis hasn’t seen action since 2013 in a Bills uniform, and there’s no real reason to see him being anything more than a #3 QB on any team. He wasn’t even signed by the Eagles until Sept. 21 last season, but at least he made enough of an impression on Chip Kelly to land with Chip in San Francisco. If the Niners move on from Colin Kaepernick, perhaps he has a shot to compete for a backup job.
Players re-signed by their 2015 teams
Sam Bradford (Phi) – Shortly after the franchise tag deadline passed, the Eagles announced they had signed Bradford to a two-year extension. According to ESPN’s Andrew Brandt, Bradford gets $22 million fully guaranteed, slightly more than the franchise tag. In exchange, the Eagles get a much smaller cap hit in 2016, and essentially a “team option” for 2017.
- Fantasy Analysis: Well, if there was ever a sign Howie Roseman is back to building the contracts in Philly, this is it. Bradford is getting a pretty healthy guaranteed salary, but the cap hit for 2016 looks like it’ll be under $13 million, giving the Eagles plenty of flexibility to build their roster in free agency. If Bradford is very good in 2016, the two sides will have incentive to renegotiate a longer-term extension. If not, the Eagles can trade Bradford or release him with a decent, but not awful, dead-cap number. Given the short-term nature of the deal, it also doesn’t preclude Philly from drafting and developing a young QB in the interim… essentially, they’re kicking the can down the road a bit, while giving them a shot to compete in 2016 if Bradford plays the way he played down the stretch in 2015. Make no mistake, this deal and the signing of Chase Daniel confirm that the Eagles are by no means sold on him as their no-doubt franchise QB, but new coach Doug Pederson now has his starter for his first season, as he made clear even after the signing of Daniel. Given the nature of Pederson’s offense, from what we know, it’s also unlikely Bradford is much of anything for fantasy on a consistent basis, even if he plays well (check Alex Smith’s numbers). We also know the Chip Kelly’s tempo is out the door, which decreases Bradford’s volume. Bradford must be far more efficient (just 0.50 FP/PA in 2015, lowest among full-season starters) in 2016 to have decent fantasy value. And if Bradford doesn’t play well, the door is absolutely open for Daniel to step in and play.
Matt Moore (Mia) – Ryan Tannehill’s backup returns on a two-year deal worth $3.5 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- Fantasy Analysis: Moore hasn’t started a game since 2011, but he’s still viewed as one of the top backups in the league. After flirting with the Cowboys, the Dolphins are bringing him back behind Tannehill. Living in South Florida and holding a clipboard is among the world’s best jobs, so we assume Moore is content. Just keep in mind he could play this year if new coach Adam Gase sours on the inconsistent Tannehill.
Drew Stanton (Ari) – Stanton stays with the Cards on a two-year deal, the club announced. The deal is worth a total of $6.5 million, with $4.5 guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Stanton didn’t have a whole lot to do as Carson Palmer’s backup in 2015, so he had some time to learn some dance moves. He actually appeared in seven games, and 18 of his 25 attempts came in the final game of the year when the Seahawks blew out the Cardinals – he threw 2 INTs. Stanton was serviceable in 2014 after Palmer tore his ACL, going 5-3 as a starter, completing just 55.0% of his 240 throws for 7 TDs and 5 INTs. He then missed the Cardinals’ playoff game with a knee injury, and they looked even worse with Ryan Lindley at the helm. The back-up QB is important in Arizona given Palmer’s age (36) and injury issues, and Stanton is a valuable part of the depth chart. He was never going anywhere else.
Colt McCoy (Was) – McCoy returns to Washington to back up Kirk Cousins on a three-year deal, according to ESPN’s John Keim, though the deal can void to two years. As it stands, McCoy’s contract is worth a total of $9 million, with just $1.8 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Once a complete afterthought as a third-string QB in San Francisco, McCoy revitalized his career somewhat in 2014, playing well when filling in for Robert Griffin IIIand an ineffective Cousins. However, Cousins took the starting job in 2015 and ran with it, leaving McCoy little to do little but watch from the sidelines. While there was some reported interest from the backup-needy Cowboys, but McCoy was comfortable under Jay Gruden in Washington and will remain that way.
Luke McCown (NO) – McCown returns to the Saints on a two-year, $3 million deal, according to USA Today’s Tom Pelissero.
- Fantasy Analysis: Verizon pitchman McCown played well in a spot start for Drew Brees in Week 3 of 2015 against the Panthers (31/38 for 310 yards), but a back issue got worse as the season went along, which ended his season and required surgery. The Saints signed Matt Flynn to be the backup after McCown’s injury, and they’re likely bringing McCown to compete with second-year QB Garrett Grayson, who they clearly didn’t think was ready to be a backup in 2015 as a rookie.
Brandon Weeden (Hou) – The Texans announced they’re re-signing Weeden. According to NFL Network’s Rand Getlin, it’s a two-year deal worth up to $4 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Weeden was awful filling in for Tony Romo with the Cowboys in early 2015, but he actually found some success in his two appearances with the Texans late in the year, throwing 2 TDs and posting a 25.1-FP effort against the Titans in Week Sixteen (including a rushing TD). He gives the Texans a backup who knows the system under new starter Brock Osweiler.
Joe Webb (Car) – Webb signed a two-year deal to stay with the Panthers, according to his agents SportsTrust Advisors on Twitter. The deal is worth a total of $1.86 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Webb is almost certainly never going to have fantasy value again, but he’s a really nice player to have on an NFL roster. He’s the Panthers’ #3 QB, #5 WR, and a core special-teamer, filling the role of three different players. He’s carved out a very nice niche for himself, and he’s comfortable in Charlotte.
Kirk Cousins (Was) – Cousins was placed under the non-exclusive franchise tag, the team announced. If signed, it will pay Cousins virtually $20 million fully guaranteed on a one-year deal. Another team can sign Cousins to an offer sheet, but actually getting him under contract will cost the team two first-round picks.
- Fantasy Analysis: Cousins signed his franchise tender, allowing him to participate in all Washington’s off-season work while still negotiating a long-term contract (which the sides can do until the middle of July). While Cousins’ tag is of the “non-exclusive” variety, it appears highly unlikely another club around the NFL will be willing to both sign Cousins to a long-term deal Washington can’t match, and be willing to give up two first-round picks for his services. So the fact of the matter is Cousins is almost 100% certain to be Washington’s QB in 2016. However, could coach Jay Gruden and the front office want to see what Cousins does on the one-year tender before committing to him long-term? It’s very possible. Based on what Cousins did in 2015, he’s likely to be a popular mid-to-late-round QB selection for fantasy in 2016. In all, Cousins averaged 0.67 FP/PA in 2015, well above the league average of 0.54, and even ahead of some typical fantasy studs in Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. Cousins did have only five games with multiple TD passes, but he threw at least 3 in all of those games. He had seven games of 300 or more passing yards, and also rushed for 5 TDs, creating three more “multi-TD” games. Over the final month of the season, Cousins was especially excellent, ranking #2 behind Cam Newton with 30.0 FPG. That feels like Cousins’ absolute ceiling, but there’s no doubt he played well in 2015.
Players acquired by new teams
Lamar Miller (signed by Hou from Mia) – Miller moves to the rebuilt Texans, signing a four-year, $26 million deal with the Texans with $14 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- Fantasy Analysis: No doubt, while there are some limitations to his game, we’ve seen flashes of greatness from Miller, even if his coaches in Miami never believed in him fully. The Texans, however, apparently saw enough of him in October, when he posted 236 yards from scrimmage and 2 TDs on only 17 touches against them. Miller is now tasked with replacing Arian Foster, the Texans’ all-time leading rusher, in a rebuilt offense with QB Brock Osweiler. According to Schefter, Miller turned down more money elsewhere to sign with Houston, a good sign for Miller’s chances of being a lead back, which he repeatedly demanded while in Miami and reiterated in his opening press conference in Houston. Fortunately, he’ll be in a proper zone-based scheme to maximize his strengths. Despite Miami coaches going away from him too much in 2015, Miller averaged 14.6 FPG, which tied him for 13th among RBs, and with 233.9 FP, Miller joined Matt Forteas the only two backs to repeat a top-12 total FP performance from 2014 to 2015. On his 241 offensive touches, Miller averaged 0.97 FP/touch, tying him with DeAngelo Williams for #1 among RBs with 200 or more touches. He averaged 0.37 FP/snap, well above the league average of 0.29 for RBs. But Miller just couldn’t seem to fall into consistent work. While he had five games with 20 or more touches, he also had three games with fewer than 10 touches. Meanwhile, the Texans have ranked in the top five in the NFL in total rush attempts in each of Bill O’Brien’s two years as head coach. This is all coming up aces for Miller, and his dynasty stock now gets a big boost. The Texans still have work to do up front with losing C Ben Jones and G Brandon Brooks in free agency (not to mention injuries to both starting tackles), but Miller should have every chance to be a legitimate fantasy RB1 on a consistent basis. Finally.
DeMarco Murray (Acquired by Ten from Phi) – Murray was traded to the Titans. Murray reworked his contract to 4-years at $25 million total and $12.5 million is guarantees. According to Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly, the Titans will move down 13 spots in the fourth round of the draft to acquire Murray.
- Fantasy Analysis: Though Chip Kellyis gone, Murray was apparently still unhappy with the Eagles, and was willing to rework his contract to facilitate a trade. While the Eagles do get to move up in the fourth round of April’s draft as part of the deal, the key was freeing up money and freeing up the locker room from a poor influence. Murray was atrocious for the majority of 2015, looking slow and indecisive running in Kelly’s shotgun-based zone scheme which utilized a lot of sweeps, a complete turn from the under-center scheme he was used to in Dallas. Combine that with the obvious struggles of the Eagles’ line, and Murray didn’t have a very good time this year. Still, things didn’t totally hit a wall until Week Thirteen, the start of Kelly’s final four games as Eagle coach. In all, Murray posted 194/699/6 rushing (3.6 YPC) and 44/322/1 receiving on 54 targets (81.4%, 7.3 YPR) in 15 games (he missed one with a hamstring injury). The Titans, with a more power-based run game, will in theory fit Murray far better, and they certainly have a major need at the RB position (Antonio Andrews was their leading rusher). And of course, Murray is just a year removed from leading the NFL in rushing with Dallas. Tennessee has also upgraded its poor offensive line with the signing of FA C Ben Jones of the Texans, and they could continue to beef up their line with the #1 pick in the NFL Draft, whether by using it on a lineman or trading down to select multiple linemen. Murray should immediately become the favorite to lead this backfield in snaps, over the other uninspiring options – remember, Dexter McCluster was the lead back for some time, and Andrews played 47% of the club’s offensive snaps (averaging 3.6 YPC, the same as Murray). But for fantasy, Murray also provides very good receiving skills, which were the best part of his game in Philly. Given that (and Murray’s prima donna tendencies) the Titans are almost certain, at least early, to use Murray in a three-down role. Even when it was clear Murray wasn’t effective in Philly, he was valuable early on from a fantasy perspective. Balancing Murray’s awful 2015 with that fact, and the chance he even comes close to resembling his 2014 self in a more similar offense, will make him one of the off-season’s most debated players – he even “joked” on the Titans official website that he “took a year off last year,” so he “feels fresh.” While it’s not what David Cobb dynasty owners were hoping for, the Titans seem committed to trying to build a solid run game behind QB Marcus Mariota, who will continue to play from under center because it’s the best environment for Murray to thrive.
Matt Forte (Signed by NY Jets from Chicago) – The veteran Forte will join Gang Green, who lost Chris Ivory in free agency to the Jaguars. He signed a 3-year contract worth $12 million, including a $3 million signing bonus and $9 million in guaranteed money.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Jets in the past have had a lot of success acquiring established veterans, as they did last year with Brandon Marshall. They’ve also had positive returns when signing older RBs like Thomas Jones and LaDainian Tomlinson. We were skeptical about the aged Forte being a 2nd round pick in 2015, and while he didn’t have a great season, missing three games in November with a sprained MCL, he averaged 16.5 FPG, which ranked him 8th among all RBs. Forte posted 218/898/4 rushing (4.1 YPC) and 44/389/3 receiving on 58 targets (75.9%, 8.8 YPR). Forte still looked like the same back by the eyeball test, and at 0.92 FP/touch and 0.44 FP/snap, Forte was well above league average in both categories, so it’s fair to believe he still has some gas left in the tank. Of course, he’ll be 31 years old in December and has handled a massive workload in college and the pros, so there is concern about him finally breaking down in the near future. The Jets are obviously going to lean heavily on Forte’s versatility and in OC Chan Gailey he’ll play for an offensive coach who tends to get the most out of versatile RBs (see CJ Spiller in 2012 and Bilal Powell in 2015). Forte also looks like a great fit for a veteran team that is led (assuming he re-signs) by a QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick who can get Forte the ball in the passing game. The Jets did re-sign Powell, and the team is actually quite high on the playmaker, which could dip Forte’s fantasy value. Regardless, the former Bear still looks like an intriguing fantasy option in a good offense, assuming the price is right (we’d guess 50-60 picks into a draft).
Chris Ivory (signed by Jac from NYJ) – The Jaguars have signed Ivory to a deal that will be for five years, $32.5 million with between $10-$15 million guaranteed, according to Connor Hughes of USA Today.
- Fantasy Analysis: Ivory, who’ll turn 28 this month, set career highs in every notable statistical category in 2015. Ivory appeared in 15 games and turned in the first 1000-yard rushing season of his career, posting 247/1070/7 on the ground (4.3 YPC) and 30/217/1 receiving on 37 targets (81.1%, 7.2 YPR). Unfortunately, after Ivory started the year with 20-FP outings in three of his first four games, he started to wear down. Ivory was “active” but didn’t play in Week Three against Philly with a quad injury. He played in every other game, but very often landed on the sidelines with quad, hamstring, and knee injuries. Ivory averaged fewer than 2.5 YPC in three straight games from Weeks Seven through Nine, but turned it back on for five games starting Week Ten, and then struggled over the final three games of the year as Bilal Powellemerged as an impact player in the Jet backfield. Ivory played only 51.9% of the Jets’ offensive snaps when he appeared in a game. Ivory proved himself a capable receiver this season, but also showed why he’s best suited as part of a rotation; he’s a violent, determined runner, but he’s often banged up as a result, and at times he has shown that he’s much less effective when he’s not close to 100%. His signing does make a lot of sense for the ascending Jaguars, who can team him with second-year back T.J. Yeldon in an effort to upgrade their overall backfield while keeping both RBs fresh and effective. Yeldon’s 77.4% snap share was #3 among all RBs, but he missed the final three games of the year with an MCL sprain while also dealing with a variety of other physical ailments, so both players have some injury concerns. Yeldon was also involved in just 7 of a possible 42 goal-line plays in 2015, and he struggled in short-yardage situations when he got chances. We’d give Yeldon the edge in passing situations, but Ivory’s a good bet to handle short yardage and goal line opportunities. Most teams feel they need two quality RBs these days, and the Jags agree, but this isn’t an ideal situation for fantasy now. If Ivory can stay healthy, his ability to vulture TDs will severely limit Yeldon’s value, and with Yeldon a safer bet to handle more touches between the two, Ivory’s value will almost certainly drop from where it was in 2015. Neither RB stands out as a particularly appealing fantasy starter, but with their ADPs likely similar this summer, we’d still prefer the younger Yeldon, who should continue to improve as a player in his second season. In a keeper or dynasty league, we think Yeldon is a strong buy, as Ivory won’t likely be relevant here in a year or two, and his signing should push Yeldon’s immediate trade value down. Elsewhere in the offense, keep in mind that Jaguar RBs scored only three rushing TDs all year in 2015 (two by Yeldon). With Ivory in tow and Yeldon due for some positive regression in that department, Blake Bortles may have a tough time coming close to his 35 TDs from a year ago.
Alfred Morris (signed by Dal from Was) – The free agent RB has agreed to a two-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys for a base of $3.5 million, but he has chance to earn up to $5.5 million, per the Dallas Morning News.
- Fantasy Analysis: Morris’ production and YPC averages have declined after three years running in Washington, and while his ADP has paid the price, he’s still been overdrafted the last two years. At 385 snaps, Morris led the Washington backfield in 2015, and he was also 14th in the NFL with 202 carries. Morris’ 96.6 total PPR FP, however, ranked him only 53rdin the NFL, and his horrendous 0.46 FP/touch average last year was by far the lowest number among RBs with 100 or more touches. Despite scoring only 1 TD last year, he’s at least been good in short yardage, scoring 18 TDs on 39 runs from inside the 5 in his career. The real killer for Morris, of course, has been his lack of receiving work (only 11.75 catches per season in his career), which has made him a PPR liability. So Morris really needed to land in the ideal place to get us intrigued for fantasy, which he did by signing with the Cowboys. Morris doesn’t have a flashy skill set, but he’s powerful with quick feet and a nice short-area burst and he gets to the perimeter effectively, so he’s tough to stop on pitch/toss plays. A decisive one-cut inside runner with patience and vision, he should play a two-down role effectively in Dallas. Although they can run any blocking play in the book with their talented OL, the inside/outside zone plays are still the Cowboys’ bread and butter, especially outside zone/stretch plays. That said, with the more versatile Darren McFadden coming off a strong season, and with receiving specialist Lance Dunbar re-signed this off-season, Morris will be lucky to haul in 10 passes for the Cowboys. But he could also settle into an active role in the running game with 14-15 carries a week, so the durable Morris has solid potential behind this excellent OL. The big loser here is McFadden, whose margin for error should be smaller with Morris in the mix, and with Dunbar returning. But Morris’ fantasy appeal will come down to his ADP. If he’s in the 80-100 range, he’ll be a nice RB3/4 to grab for depth and upside. If McFadden has any injury problems, Morris is capable of producing as an RB2 if things go relatively well with QB Tony Romo and the offense. But if the “Dallas OL” factor drives his ADP into the 50-60 range, there’s still plenty of downside for Morris at that price, as he will remain a TD-dependent fantasy asset, even if his YPC and efficiency rise.
Robert Turbin (signed by Ind from Dal) – The Colts signed Turbin to a 1-year, $760,000 contract.
- Fantasy Analysis: Turbin is currently the most experienced back behind Frank Goreon Indy’s roster. In 2015, Turbin spent time with three teams. He was waived after camp with the Seahawks, claimed by the Browns, playing in three games before being released in November. He then finished the year with the Cowboys, playing in seven games. He finished with 50/199/1 rushing and 7/23 receiving on the year. Turbin just turned 26, so he has youth on his side, but he’s not a particularly exciting player. The team also signed Jordan Todman, who had a pretty stellar wild-card game for the Steelers, to bolster their RB depth, but at least Turbin can play in all situations.
Khiry Robinson (signed by NYJ from NO) – The Jets are adding the former Saint to their backfield to be part of a strong three-man tandem on paper, according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer. He was signed on a 1-year deal with $1.175 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Despite signing Matt Forte and re-signing Bilal Powell, the Jets still needed a bruiser to replace the departed Chris Ivory, and they apparently don’t love veteran Zac Stacy, who was still on their roster as of this signing. So they signed the UDFA backup who replaced the UDFA Ivory in New Orleans – Robinson. In New Orleans, Robinson has been a fantasy thorn more than a truly productive player, scoring 4 TDs in eight games in 2015 on just 56 carries before breaking his tibia, ending his season (he’s been cleared to run). And that’s where his value will lie with the Jets, presumably. Over his three NFL seasons, Robinson is 6-for-10 in converting goal-line rushes into TDs (60%). Over the same span, Forte is 12/38 (31.7%), and Powell just 2/9 (22.2%). While the Jets value the all-around games of Forte and Powell, clearly they wanted someone to get the tough yards if need be. That may make Robinson yet another annoying fantasy vulture, but he’s a talented runner and it’s very possible he gets enough carries to hold down some bench value for 12-team leagues and deeper.
Donald Brown (signed by NE from SD) – The Patriots have signed the veteran Brown, according to Peter Schrager of FOX Sports. He’ll be under contract for one year worth $965,000, $300,000 of which is guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: In 2015, Brown played in 10 games with the Chargers, posting 59/229/1 rushing (3.9 YPC) and 8/88/0 receiving on 13 targets. He was a healthy scratch for the early part of the year, and was actually released in early October to clear a roster spot, before getting signed back two days later. Brown then became an important part of the backfield over the final three games, with Melvin Gordon nursing a knee injury. In fact, in Week Fifteen, Brown ran for 90 yards, two yards higher than Gordon’s season-high of 88. He can still help a team as a cheap versatile back, and the Patriots certainly value that versatility. He provides some cushion in the event Dion Lewis isn’t 100% recovered from his knee injury.
Jordan Todman (signed by Ind from Pit) – Todman signed a one-year deal with the Colts, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN. Details have yet to be disclosed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Hey, good for Todman. He’s been with six different NFL teams, and keeps getting contracts by taking advantage of opportunities when they come. With Le’Veon Belland DeAngelo Williams injured, Todman had quite the Wild Card game against the Bengals this past postseason, rushing 11 times for 65 yards and outgaining Fitzgerald Toussaint 65-58 despite having six fewer carries. He opened up the Divisional Round but fizzled out with 5/6 rushing, and gave way to Toussaint over the final three quarters. Still, he did enough and showed enough versatility to land a job competing with the Colts. Indy currently has Frank Gore and Robert Turbin on the roster as well, and the Colts can certainly add more competition in the Draft
Stevan Ridley (signed by Det from NYJ) – Ridley announced on his Twitter account he’s going to the Lions. According to our guy Adam Caplan from ESPN, it’s on a one-year deal.
- Fantasy Analysis: With the Jets in 2015, Ridley played just nine games and 86 offensive snaps as he returned from an ACL tear. He posted 36/90/0 rushing (2.5 YPC) and didn’t put too much on tape, but he’ll be another year removed from the tear come the 2016 season. He’ll have a shot to compete with Zach Zenneras the early-down replacement for Joique Bell in Detroit, so that will be a battle to watch in camp. The Lions have a nice-looking backfield overall.
Isaiah Pead (signed by Mia from Stl) – Pead lands a contract with the Dolphins, according to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports.
- Fantasy Analysis: Pead will compete for a roster spot, but he has just 78 yards on 19 carries in his career, and has had a fumbling problem. At least he has experience as a return man. The Dolphins have been desperate for competition for Jay Ajayi, but we doubt they found it in Pead.
Players re-signed by their 2015 teams
Doug Martin (TB) – In a move that makes perfect sense, the Bucs re-signed Martin to a five-year deal worth $36 million with $15 million guaranteed, according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune.
- Fantasy Analysis: Martin made sure to get juuuuuussst more than Chris Ivory. But in all actuality, there was no fit for either side that made more sense. In all, Martin really made their offense go in 2015, behind rookie QB Jameis Winston. He had four games of 100 or more rushing yards, including a dominant 235-yard outing against Philly in Week 11. Martin carried the ball at least 11 times in every game, had at least 20 carries in six games, and caught at least 1 pass in 14 of 16 games. He finished second in the NFL with 1402 yards rushing, and ranked 11th with 15.1 FPG in a PPR. The balance between Martin and Charles Sims should remain similar in 2016 – Martin played 57% of the Bucs’ offensive snaps in 2015, still a relatively high number, but his lack of passing-game work limited his fantasy upside. Indeed, while Martin touched the ball on 51% of his snaps (league-average 39%), he averaged just 0.75 FP/touch, below league average of 0.81. Sims, meanwhile, played 42% of the Bucs’ snaps and averaged a whopping 1.16 FP/touch, the nature of his passing-game role. Still, Martin is armed with job security, and is almost certain to be firmly on the second-round radar come fantasy drafts in August.
C.J. Anderson (Den) – The Broncos are matching Anderson’s four-year, $18 million offer sheet from the Dolphins, reported Adam Schefter of ESPN, and later confirmed by Anderson on his Twitter account.
- Fantasy Analysis: This move made sense – while the Dolphins tried their hardest to front-load Anderson’s RFA offer sheet to prevent cap-strapped Denver from matching, it was overall an affordable deal that Miami ended up negotiating for John Elway and the Broncos. With the Broncos left without a QB (unless Mark Sanchez is the answer), bringing Anderson back needed to happen. In 2015, while he was undoubtedly a fantasy disappointment, it was pretty clear by the end of the year that he was perhaps the most important part of their offense. For the season, Anderson essentially split down the middle with Ronnie Hillman – he played 48.5% of Denver’s offensive snaps to Hillman’s 47.3%. Anderson had injury issues prior to the Broncos’ Week Seven bye, but over the final nine games of his season (he sat out Week Fourteen with an ankle injury), no back in football averaged more than Anderson’s 6.4 YPC, though he averaged just 9.4 carries per game over this span. In all, Anderson was more useful than Hillman in pretty much every measurable area down the stretch and in the playoffs, though he played fewer snaps than Hillman in seven of his final nine games of the regular season. It ruined plenty of fantasy seasons, but didn’t injure the Broncos’ chances too badly – Kubiak figured out Anderson was his best back in Super Bowl, using him almost exclusively over Hillman in the big game. Expect the Broncos to be a run-heavy offensive team in 2016, no matter the QB, and Anderson to be the lead back with Hillman still a free agent. A balanced back with a three-down skillset, Anderson could have some post-disappointment fantasy value in 2016, much like a Doug Martin type did in 2015. His ADP will be fascinating to watch this summer. As for Miami, Jay Ajayi is currently the lead back, but Miami’s offer sheet for Anderson obviously suggests they aren’t thrilled with that prospect. Ajayi’s dynasty value should be relatively high until the NFL Draft, when Miami is likely to add another back. We loved Ajayi coming out of Boise State, but remember that he was a fifth-round pick under an old coaching staff.
Bilal Powell (NYJ) – Powell agreed to a deal to stay with the Jets, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He’s guaranteed $6 million dollars and a total of $11.25 million over 3 years.
- Fantasy Analysis: A coach’s favorite, Powell apparently had interest around the NFL, including with Denver and New England. Given that, we briefly wondered if the Jets would allow Powell to walk after adding Matt Forte, but it is clear OC Chan Gailey wanted him back. In fact, we spent some time last year with Jet lineman Willie Colon and were fairly surprised to learn just how high the Jets were on Powell, which makes sense given how effective he was in 2015, when Powell finished strong for fantasy. From Weeks Eleven through Sixteen, Powell ranked 6th among RBs with 16.4 FPG, and was far more effective than Ivory. In all, Powell scored 10 or more FP in six of his 11 games, but five of them came after Week Eleven. In all, Powell played 46.8% of the Jets’ offensive snaps when active, and was above 50% in four of his final six appearances of the year. A solid protector and receiver (better than Forte as a blocker, especially), Powell is the type of guy who tends to have more value as an NFL player than as a fantasy asset, but he showed he could do both last year. He forms a solid three-headed tandem with Forte and the newly added Khiry Robinson, but Powell should remain the most active on obvious passing downs and in hurry-up situations given his skill set. He’s likely to be the top handcuff for Forte, especially in PPR leagues, but with both backs very comparable players, this could settle into being an even timeshare. One thing is clear with the release of Chris Ivory and the signing of Powell and Forte (and even Robinson to an extent): the Jets really value versatility with their RBs.
Chris Johnson (Ari) – After visiting the Dolphins, Johnson re-signs on a one-year deal with the Cardinals, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- Fantasy Analysis: We’ll admit we let out a collective groan when CJ2K re-signed in Arizona, but assuming Bruce Arians isn’t stupid (and his record suggests he isn’t), this should have no real impact on David Johnson’s fantasy upside. CJ2K was fine last year, which is far less than what Johnson did. Playing in 11 games before a broken leg ended his campaign, CJ managed 196/814/3 rushing (4.2 YPC), though just 6/58/0 receiving on 13 targets. CJ averaged 10.1 FPG, which ranked him 41st among all RBs. Among RBs with 200 or more touches, only Alfred Morris (96.6 FP) scored fewer total FP than did CJ (111.2). CJ also averaged only 0.55 FP/touch, well below the league average of 0.81, and ahead of only Morris and Melvin Gordon among RBs with 100 or more touches. All in all, CJ played 48.1% of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps when active, and did everything he could to keep Arizona on schedule. But for fantasy, he was near a zero, a major disconnect with his actual role. He should be the Cards’ #3 behind DJ and Andre Ellington.
Christine Michael (Sea) – The Seahawks announced they had re-signed Michael to a one-year, $725,000 contract.
- Fantasy Analysis: It was a whirlwind season for Michael. Traded to the Cowboys just prior to the season starting, Michael could barely get on the field. He was released in mid-November, signed to Washington’s practice squad, released from therein mid-December, and then signed back in Seattle the very next day, after Thomas Rawls got injured. Back in Seattle, Michael got to establish himself in the lineup out of necessity, and he did a decent job. In three games, Michael posted 39/192/0 rushing and 2/14 receiving, while playing 34.9% of Seattle’s snaps. He also started and posted 21/70 rushing and 1/14 receiving in the Seahawks’ postseason opener, though the fact that he didn’t get a touch in the divisional round with Marshawn Lynch back shows Seattle’s trust in him is minimal. Regardless, Michael finally ended up as the starter in Seattle, just in the most roundabout way possible. He turned in his first 100-yard rushing game in Week Seventeen, and with Lynch now retired, the Seahawks enjoy the depth he provides.
James Starks (GB) – The Packers are bringing back Starks, according to our guy Adam Caplan of ESPN. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s on a two-year deal worth up to $6 million and $1.5 million in guarantees.
- Fantasy Analysis: This makes a ton of sense. Starks had interest from some other teams, notably the Dolphins and Patriots, but there was never a better fit than Green Bay, even beyond the Packers’ typically insular style when it comes to free agency. The Packers essentially handed down an ultimatum to RB Eddie Lacythis off-season, with several public overtures that he needs to lose weight. While Lacy seems to have taken those to heart, the Packers are still holding onto Starks as insurance, which makes tons of sense. That’s not to say Starks didn’t have his own struggles. In a four-week span from Weeks Thirteen through Sixteen, he fumbled four times, resulting in his benching in Week Sixteen. Overall, he still had a strong season, posting a 100-yard rushing game in Week Six, and adding three more with 100 yards from scrimmage. He set career highs in every major category (carries, rush yards, receptions, receiving yards, total TDs), and gave the Packers at least some stability with Lacy’s weight issues. He’s 30, but will be a valuable handcuff. If Lacy’s weight gets out of control, he may be a starter.
Lance Dunbar (Dal) – The Cowboys re-signed Dunbar to a one-year contract worth $1.75 million, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
- Fantasy Analysis: Dunbar was on his way to a huge season for PPR players, before tearing his ACL and MCL in Week Four. Through three weeks (the three full games Dunbar played), he was the #12 RB with 43.8 total PPR points, and had played 39.6% of Dallas’ offensive snaps. He played just 9 snaps in Week Four before his injury. In all, Dunbar finished the year with 5/67 rushing and 21/215/0 on 23 targets (91.3%, 10.2 YPR). An ideal passing-down option, he had games of 8 and 10 catches in his brief season, and while he would have been a nice part of a 2-man backfield rotation with Darren McFadden, the team did just sign Alfred Morris, so this backfield just got a bit murkier.
Jonathan Grimes (Hou) – A restricted free agent, Grimes is back with the Texans on a one-year deal, according to his agent Sunny Shah on Twitter. He signed a one-year deal worth $700,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: In brief action, Grimes has flashed his ability to make plays and find open space, as he had a 5.0 YPC on 56 carries this past season (282/1), and added 26/173/1 receiving. He also played the Wildcat role a few times this past season, but there wasn’t much success there. Still, behind new star Lamar Miller, Grimes should still be an important puzzle piece from time to time.
Travaris Cadet (NO) – Cadet signs a one-year deal to return to the Saints, according to ESPN’s Mike Triplett, at one-year worth $840,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Cadet had 6/77 receiving in Week 17, doing far more than we saw C.J. Spiller do last year. The Saints value his pass-catching, and that’s why he’s back in town. He’ll almost certainly be their #3.
Matt Asiata (Min) – Asiata returns to Minnesota on a one-year deal, the club announced. His contract is worth one-year, $840,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Asiata played in 16 games in 2015, and was actually second among Viking RBs in snaps, playing 19.5% of them (ahead of Jerick McKinnon’s 15.6%). But Asiata did just about nothing for fantasy, with 29/112/0 rushing (3.9 YPC) and 19/132/0 receiving on 22 targets (86.4%, 6.9 YPR). He averaged 2.9 FPG. An undertalented “handcuff” type, Asiata is a balanced but unspectacular backup best suited as a #3 RB or short-yardage option. Going into his age-29 season, he has the versatility and special-teams experience the Vikings value.
Jacquizz Rodgers (Chi) – Rodgers is back on a one-year deal with the Bears, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. Details released put the contract at one-year, $760,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Rodgers’ season was cut short when he was placed on IR with a broken arm in October, but he had played only 41 snaps prior to that point. In the pre-season, Rodgers looked like a lock to be the Bears’ No. 2 back, but poor performance and injury helped Jeremy Langford leap over him. He’s still young, but he’s never averaged greater than 3.9 YPC in his career (2.9 YPC in 5 games in 2015) and will likely be fighting for a No. 3 spot in August, as the Bears are considering a two-headed rushing attack with Langford and Ka’Deem Carey. It helps that Matt Forte is on the move, obviously.
Mike Tolbert (Car) – As expected, the Panthers re-sign Tolbert on a two-year deal, the team announced. His deal is for two years, worth a total of $3.3 million, with $700,000 in guarantees.
- Fantasy Analysis: Tolbert’s the perfect example of a player who likely didn’t make nearly as much sense anywhere else than he did with his current team. The All-Pro FB played 38.3% of Carolina’s offensive snaps on the year, playing in all 16 games, but had just two games of 10 FP or more. He’s just a thorn in the side of fantasy players given his propensity to vulture short TDs, but his versatility is key to the Panthers. A Carolina native, Tolbert wanted to stay with the Panthers, where he’s a popular player in the locker room and with the fans, plus a coaches’ favorite.
Terrance West (Bal) – The Ravens tendered West a one-year exclusive-rights free agent deal worth $600,000. He’ll compete for a roster spot.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Titans waived West in early November and the Ravens signed him three days later, promoting him from the practice squad a week after that. He saw some action primarily because of Justin Forsett’s season-ending injury, mixing in as the No. 2 man behind Buck Allen. He didn’t score a TD last season, but was decently effective when he did see action, so he will be back to compete for a job.
Shaun Draughn (SF) – The 49ers’ depth at RB is remaining intact, as the club agrees to a one-year deal with Draughn, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal is reportedly worth $760,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Chip Kelly mentioned at a Combine meeting with reporters that he wanted to bring Draughn back, not surprising given Draughn’s versatility. Well, it got done before free agency officially opens. It gives the Niners a reliable option behind starter Carlos Hyde, assuming the Niners don’t add anyone else (and who knows with Kelly). From Weeks Nine through Thirteen, Draughn tallied a four-game stretch over which he posted between 13.6 FP and 19.6 FP, rock-solid RB2 numbers. As the Niners’ de facto starting RB, he played at least 66.7% of the snaps in five consecutive games, including a rare 100% outing in Week Twelve. Unfortunately, Draughn’s run came to an end in Week Fifteen, when he landed on IR with a knee injury. Nonetheless, Draughn showed great effort on tape. While he’s still more of a grinder than anything else, he was a little quicker than we remembered, and given his receiving aptitude, he’s a nice backup RB to have around.
Antonio Andrews (Ten) – The Titans signed exclusive-rights free agent Andrews to a one-year deal, the team announced. The team’s official website said Andrews “is expected to compete for a roster spot,” as his deal is worth $600,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Andrews, an undrafted second-year back out of Western Kentucky, played in 14 games with the Titans and led the club in rushing. Of course, that’s not particularly impressive – he posted just 143/520/3 rushing (3.6 YPC) and 21/174/0 receiving on 29 targets (72.4%, 8.3 YPR). A physical plodder who doesn’t have any real standout traits, the Titans already upgraded significantly on Andrews with the signing of DeMarco Murray, and this backfield could very well belong exclusively to Murray and David Cobb.
Orleans Darkwa (NYG) – The Giants tendered Darkwa an exclusive-rights free agent deal, the team announced. It’s a one-year deal worth $600,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: No surprise here, considering Darkwa was reasonably effective, plays special teams, and was very cheap to bring back. In 2015, Darkwa was at one point part of a four-man committee, alongside Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, and Shane Vereen. His lone standout performance came in Week Seven against the Cowboys, when he posted 8/48/1 rushing, but his performance tapered off down the stretch, seeing just 14 carries over his final five games. He’ll have to compete hard for a No. 3 role, but he’s simply a much better player than Williams.
George Winn (Det) – An exclusive rights free agent, Winn was tendered a one-year deal, the Lions announced.
- Fantasy Analysis: Winn only saw carries this season because of Zach Zenner’s season-ending injury and the shaky health of Joique Bell. He rushed 4 times for a grand total of 1 yard and will likely be back on the practice squad come September, barring a huge showing in the preseason or on special teams.
Daniel Thomas (Mia) – The Dolphins signed Thomas, who was out of football in 2015, according to Rand Getlin of NFL Network.
- Fantasy Analysis: This is not an April Fool’s joke. Thomas returns to Miami after spending 2015 out of the league. He was in training camp last year with the Bears, where Adam Gasewas OC, so there’s a connection here. The problem is Thomas isn’t very good, having never averaged more than 3.7 YPC in any season. A “power” back with no power and ball security problems, Thomas should struggle to make Miami’s roster. If he doesn’t, that likely says more about Miami’s roster than anything else.
Cory Harkey (LA) – The Rams re-signed Harkey to a 3-year, $5.7 million contract, the team announced. He’ll be making $1.5 million this year, $1.3 million in 2017, and $1.65 million in 2018, with a total of $2.5 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: A valued blocker who can play special teams, FB, TE, and H-back, Harkey is merely a TD vulture who can catch passes here and there.
Players acquired by new teams
Marvin Jones (signed by Det from Cin) – A day after officially losing star wideout Calvin Johnson to retirement, the Lions will reportedly sign Jones, widely considered the top free agent wide receiver available in free agency. According to Ian Rapoport, the deal is for 5 years at $40 million total – $20 million in guarantees and $17 million fully guaranteed. His first three years in Detroit will be for $27 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Lions had a gaping hole at WR with Johnson retiring, and while Jones is a very solid addition, we’re not sure the Lions are done addressing their need at wideout. Jones brings strong hands and solid route running to the table, but he has only decent size at 6’2”, 198 pounds, and he’s not exactly a great vertical threat, so asking him to replace Calvin on his own is asking a lot. Jones put together a nice season as a fantasy bench piece in 2015, finishing with 65/816/4 receiving on 103 targets (63.1% catch rate, 12.6 YPC) for 10.9 FPG (46th). He played on 85.4% of the snaps this year and averaged 1.69 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). The good news is his situation in Detroit helps his fantasy value as of right now, since his upside in Cincy was capped by top wideout AJ Green and the emergence of TE Tyler Eifert (his career high in targets is only 103 in 2015, 28th in the league). In Detroit, he should continue to enjoy strong QB play, and his targets and role should be on the upswing as their best outside receiver, as veteran Golden Tate lacks size and vertical speed, and since TE Eric Ebron has not yet arrived as a major contributor. As it stands now, Jones looks like a viable WR3 for fantasy in a 12-team league. However, if the Lions use an early pick on a wideout it would be a blow to Jones’ value and could make him only a very serviceable depth guy in his first year with QB Matthew Stafford and in this offense.
Mohamed Sanu (signed by Atl from Cin) – The Falcons and Sanu reached an agreement on a five-year, $32.5 million contract with $14 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Falcons severed ties with Roddy White in early March, leaving an even bigger crater at WR behind Julio Jones. The Falcons addressed their giant need at #2 WR by signing Sanu, and he’ll bring some versatility to the spot as a guy who can play out of the slot and on the outside. He can also be used as a gadget player in OC Kyle Shanahan’s offense, as he threw passes out of the Wildcat and ran reverses during his Bengal days. Sanu went back to his #3 WR role in 2015 with a healthy Marvin Jones back in the fold, and his numbers were suppressed because of Jones and the emergence of Tyler Eifert. Sanu finished with 33/394/0 receiving on 48 targets (68.8% catch rate, 11.9 YPC) and also added 10/71/2 rushing for 5.7 FPG. Sanu played on 60.9% of the snaps and he averaged 1.91 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs), which was aided by his running. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Sanu was targeted on just 50 of his 383 routes (13%) in 2015, which was the fourth-lowest percentage out of the 133 players with 50+ targets. Sanu has also had problems with drops the last two years. Sanu will surely have a much bigger role in this Falcons offense next season compared to his role with the Bengals the last four seasons. Matt Ryan and the Falcons need to do a better job of spreading the wealth around in their passing game after Julio saw 203 targets last season, and Sanu is clearly their #2 receiver because the Falcons don’t have a viable TE and only Justin Hardy behind him at WR. Sanu should do even more than Leonard Hankerson did while healthy in 2015 and Sanu should be in the WR3/4 conversation this summer, as he looks like a solid bet to catch 60+ passes and he’ll become a weapon out of the slot in the red zone with his 6’2” frame.
Rishard Matthews (signed by Ten from Mia) – The Titans and Matthews agreed to terms on a three-year, $15 million contract with $2.5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky.
- Fantasy Analysis: Matthews was looking at being the #3 WR for the Dolphins in 2016, so he left Miami to find a bigger role and more money with the Titans. Matthews isn’t an explosive receiver downfield, but he plays much bigger than his 6’0”, 217-pound frame and is good after the catch. He’s a physical player and a good route runner in the short and intermediate areas, and he play inside or outside, which is why he became a favorite of Ryan Tannehill in 2015. It also makes him a great match with Marcus Mariota, and he provides an immediate upgrade over Kendall Wright and Harry Douglas in the underneath passing game. Matthews was one of the most efficient WRs and a viable WR3 in PPR formats last season, finishing with 43/662/4 receiving on 61 targets (70.5% catch rate, 15.4 YPC) for 12.1 FPG (38th) in 11 games. He played on 72.8% of the snaps and averaged an impressive 2.19 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). Matthews became the second option in the Dolphin passing game early in 2015 before a rib injury ended his season in Week Twelve. Although Wright will give him a run for his money this year, Matthews should be the top WR in the Titan offense in the short-term until Dorial Green-Beckham is ready to step up and potentially break out – which could happen in 2015 or might never happen for the enigmatic young WR. HC Mike Mularkey said Matthews will be the Z receiver next season, with DGB playing as the X receiver and Wright out of the slot in 3-WR sets. While Matthews is a below-average #1 WR, he should still see the most targets among these Titan WRs next season, which puts him on the WR3/4 radar this summer.
Travis Benjamin (Signed by SD from Cle) – Benjamin has reportedly agreed to terms with the Chargers. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s a four-year deal worth $24 million, with $13 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: This move makes sense for the Chargers on many levels. For one, the Chargers roster lacked receiving playmakers – especially with TE Ladarius Green reportedly signing with the Steelers – for veteran QB Philip Rivers, who is still playing at a high level. San Diego has also lost its best deep threat in Malcom Floyd, and Benjamin can fill that role well. Finally, the Chargers had a horrible 84 punt return yards in 2015 and Benjamin, who had 324 last year, is a big upgrade in the return game. With an ugly revolving door at WR in Cleveland last year, Benjamin managed to finish with a solid 68/966/5 receiving on 124 targets (54.8% catch rate, 14.2 YPC) for 12.2 FPG (37th). He played on 77.0% of the snaps and averaged 1.58 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). To get a better feel for Benjamin’s potential with Rivers in San Diego, we can look at the fact that he ranked 20th among fantasy WRs in his first 11 games, posting 54/826/5 receiving for 15.2 FPG before falling off a cliff the final five games of the season (he ranked 85th with just 14/140/0 for 5.8 FPG) while playing with the poor QB combination of Johnny Manziel and Austin Davis. Still, a top-20 finish in 2016 is too optimistic for Benjamin, who’ll likely be only the third or fourth option in the passing game behind Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates, with Stevie Johnson also well in the mix. Benjamin’s deep speed will mesh well with Allen underneath and Gates over the middle, and he’ll likely make some big plays on the outside. But we don’t see him as a major target hound, so he could be reliant on those big plays, which can be hard to predict. He should be a back-of-the-roster fourth or fifth fantasy wideout in at least his first fantasy season in San Diego for most, but his appeal increases if you’re getting extra points for big plays and/or return production.
Mike Wallace (signed by Bal from Min) – The Ravens signed Wallace to a two-year, $11.5 million contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Ravens badly needed a vertical threat for Joe Flacco in 2015 after Torrey Smith took off for San Fran last off-season, and they addressed that issue by signing Wallace this off-season. He’ll be playing for his third team in three years and his fourth team in five years next season, as the Vikings saved $11.5 million by cutting Wallace. He was a terrible fit from the start in his only campaign with the Vikings, as his deep speed never translated with the weak-armed Teddy Bridgewater in this run-heavy offense. Wallace finished the year with 39/473/2 receiving on 71 targets (54.9% catch rate, 12.1 YPC) for 6.2 FPG. He played on 73.5% of the snaps this year and averaged 1.39 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). Wallace is coming off a year when he posted career-worst numbers in his seventh season, and his career has been trending downward since he left Pittsburgh in 2012. However, his last two QBs, Ryan Tannehill and Bridgewater, are two of the worst downfield throwers in the league. Wallace will be 30 years old next season, but he could easily turn back into a viable vertical threat in a much better situation with the big-armed Flacco. We’ve yet to see Breshad Perriman after his lost rookie season, but Wallace and Perriman will both be used as downfield threats next season. Wallace is unlikely to be a fantasy asset to start the summer, even in non-PPR formats, but if Perriman and/or Steve Smith struggle at all in training camp off their injuries, then Wallace could find himself on the fantasy radar. Kamar Aiken will also be a serious threat to Wallace’s fantasy value, as Aiken asserted the #1 receiving role once Perriman and Smith were injured, and was consistently effective regardless of the QB. Aiken only re-signed for one year, but the team clearly views him as a valuable piece in this receiving corps.
Chris Hogan (signed by NE from Buf) – The Patriots signed Hogan to a three-year, $12 million contract, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The Bills refused to match the terms for the restricted free agent, and they won’t receive any compensation for the former undrafted WR.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Patriots made the most “Patriots” move possible by inking Hogan as a restricted free agent. He’s yet another underappreciated WR who the Patriots will likely squeeze the most out of in the next couple years playing with Tom Brady. He doesn’t have the elite quickness of Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, but Hogan is plenty slippery as many will remember from his 2012 “Hard Knocks” appearance with the Dolphins. On the series, he earned the nickname “7-Eleven” from Reggie Bush because Hogan was open all the time. He is a good route runner and can lineup everywhere like Edelman and Amendola, and Hogan gives them some much needed depth at WR, a position they are quite thin at. He also gives them some speed, as he’s shown he can slip past the defense on the outside and make plays down the field. He didn’t quite look like the same player in 2015 even though he posted similar numbers to his 2014 campaign. He underwent a surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right wrist after the season, and he actually underwent the same surgery in his left wrist last off-season. He led the Bills in drops and it’s safe to say his wrist injury didn’t help. He finished the year with 36/450/2 receiving on 58 targets (62.1% catch rate, 12.5 YPC) for 5.9 FPG, which is pretty similar to his 2014 campaign (41/426/4). He played on 56.9% of the snaps this year, thanks to Percy Harvin’s injury, and he averaged 1.61 FP per target. (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). Hogan will likely start the year behind both Edelman and Amendola, but he certainly could rise past Amendola at some point in 2016 as their clear #2 WR. Hogan can play on the outside in some 3-WR sets or he can line up in the slot and present matchup problems. Both Edelman and Amendola certainly have durability issues, so Hogan will likely be fantasy relevant at some point in 2016.
Rueben Randle (signed by Phi from NYG) – The Eagles signed Randle to a one-year, $1.025 million contract and can earn $3 million more in incentives, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- Fantasy Analysis: Randle had absolutely no market at all after four disappointing seasons with the Giants. He was given a golden chance last season to earn a fat free agency contract in 2016. Randle was in the final year of his contract and Victor Cruz missed the entire season with his calf injury. Not surprisingly, Randle disappointed like usual because of his inconsistent play, even with Odell Beckham commanding all the attention across from him. Randle finished with 57/797/8 receiving on 90 targets (63.3% catch rate, 14.0 YPC) for 11.5 FPG (42nd), while playing 89.4% of the snaps this year. He actually averaged an impressive 2.05 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs) thanks to his 8 TDs. Randle drove Eli Manning and the coaching staff nuts because of his inconsistent play, and it says a lot that they didn’t even want him back on a one-year deal. He’ll actually turn only 25 this May, and he has the physical attributes to be a good outside WR, but he’s mostly disappointed during his career. At least he’s been durable, never missing a game in his first four seasons. The Eagles are planning on using Jordan Matthews more on the outside this year, so Randle will be the #3 outside WR entering camp behind Matthews and 2015 1st-round pick Nelson Agholor. Still, it’s not like Matthews has much experience outside the numbers and Agholor did nothing as a rookie, so Randle could be on the fantasy radar and a starter for the Eagles at some point this year.
Brandon LaFell (signed by Cin from NE) – The Bengals signed LaFell to an undisclosed deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Bengals desperately needed another WR to play next to J. Green after Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu left in free agency. All you need to know about LaFell’s 2015 season is that Tom Bradydidn’t even consider throwing it to him in the AFC Championship, and he eventually found himself on the bench behind the likes of Keshawn Martin and Danny Amendola. LaFell underwent off-season foot surgery and then never looked right after he returned in Week 7 after missing the entire spring and summer. He had major issues with drops, his route running was sloppy, and he lacked explosiveness even when he did catch the ball. He ranked right up there with Davante Adams for being the worst WR that saw starter snaps. LaFell played on 86.4% of the snaps this year and averaged a pathetic 1.22 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs), ahead of only Adams among WRs with 50+ targets. He finished with 37/515/0 receiving on 73 targets (50.7% catch rate, 13.9 YPC) for 8.1 FPG (68th) in 11 games. The Patriots saved about $2.7 million by cutting him in early March. LaFell needs to really clean up his sloppy play from 2015 if he has any chance to be a fantasy asset next season. Still, he’s going to get a huge opportunity for regular targets playing across from Green in a potentially potent offense, so he’ll have the chance to rebound next season if he can take advantage of it.
Jeremy Kerley (signed by Det from NYJ) – The Lions signed Kerley to a one-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan. According to Sports Illustrated, the deal is worth $1 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Jets cut Kerley to save $1.3 million in cap space, which wasn’t a surprise since he didn’t fit into OC Chan Gailey’s spread attack. He played in all 16 games but finished with just 16/152/2 receiving on 26 targets for 2.7 FPG. Kerley’s numbers have fallen the last three seasons, but he has the chance to help the Lions as a slot receiver and as a punt returner. He’ll be battling J. Jones for the role and likely for a roster spot, and Kerley certainly has more playing experience working in his favor.
Nate Washington (signed by NE from Hou) – The Patriots signed Washington to an undisclosed contract, according to ESPN.com.
- Fantasy Analysis: Washington is just fine as a veteran WR at this point in his career, but he was miscast as #2 WR for the Texans last season. However, the Patriots aren’t exactly flush with outside WRs, so he could have a big role once again in 2016. Washington also gives them some much needed size and downfield ability on the outside. He did a serviceable job across from DeAndre Hopkins, posting 47/658/4 receiving on 94 targets (50% catch rate, 14.0 YPC) for 9.8 FPG (54th). He missed two games to a hamstring injury early in the season, and he also dealt with a hip issue late in the year. He dropped 6 passes and his miserable catch rate helped him to average only 1.46 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). He played a solid 76.6% of the snaps this year, but he and Cecil Shorts were below-average complements to Hopkins. Washington will be battling Chris Hogan, Aaron Dobson, and Keshawn Martin for playing time next year. Hogan will have a leg up on Washington for X-receiver snaps, but Washington should see his fare share of snaps and he’ll be ready if Hogan isn’t ready for a big role.
Rod Streater (signed by KC from Oak) – The Chiefs signed Streater to a one-year deal for up to $4.8 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- Fantasy Analysis: Streater went from leading the Raiders in receiving just two seasons ago to being a regular inactive in 2015, appearing in just one game. He posted 60/888/4 receiving in 2013, but he has just 10/92 in four games over the last two seasons. Of course, the Raiders completely overhauled their entire WR corps in those two years, bringing in Amari Cooperand Michael Crabtree and Streater sunk down the depth chart behind Seth Roberts and Andre Holmes. He also played just three games in 2014 because of a foot injury, so his once bright future with the Raiders faded pretty quickly. Streater needed change of scenery at this point, and he’ll battle with Chris Conley and Albert Wilson for playing time across from Jeremy Maclin next season.
Chris Givens (signed by Phi from Bal) – The Eagles signed Givens to a one-year deal worth $840,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Givens and his former QB Sam Bradford will reunite in Philly this season. Givens had the two best years of his career with Bradford in St. Louis in 2012-13, posting 76/1267/3 receiving in those two seasons and Bradford played in 23 of those games. The Ravens were desperately lacking a vertical threat early in 2015 with Torrey Smithgone to the 49ers and rookie Breshad Perriman unable to get on the field, so the Ravens acquired Givens in a trade with the Rams last October. Givens gave the Ravens some much-needed speed but little else, as he didn’t hit many big plays and struggled to run any other routes outside of “fly” patterns. He finished the year with 20/353/1 receiving in 15 games split between the Rams and the Ravens. Givens hasn’t developed into an all-around receiver and is still a one-trick pony after four seasons, and it’s hard to believe he’ll suddenly flip the switch in Philly. Still, Givens will give the Eagles some speed on the outside and he’ll be their designated shot-play guy.
Griff Whalen (signed by Mia from Ind) – The Dolphins signed Whalen, according to the Houston Chronicle.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Colts waived Whalen in January after he appeared in the first 14 games of the year before landing on the IR with broken ribs. He had just 19/205/1 receiving in 2015 and added 329 return yards in limited action. The Dolphins cut Greg Jennings earlier in the off-season and let Rishard Matthews leave for Tennessee, so Whalen at least has the chance to compete for the #4 WR role, but he’s unlikely to be on the fantasy radar at any point in 2016.
Players re-signed by their 2015 teams
Kamar Aiken (Bal) – The Ravens extended a 2nd-round tender to Aiken, according to Baltimore Sun. He’ll reportedly earn $2.553 million this year.
- Fantasy Analysis: Aiken was expected to be the team’s #3 WR entering 2015 and a fantasy afterthought behind Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman. Well, Perriman (PCL) went down in the first practice of training camp and Smith (Achilles) went down for the year in Week Eight, vaulting Aiken into the #1 WR role. From Week Eight on, Aiken ranked 20th among fantasy WRs with 56/673/3 receiving on 89 targets for 15.4 FPG in nine games. For the year, Aiken recorded 75/944/5 on 127 targets (59.1% catch rate, 12.6 YPC) for 12.5 FPG (32nd). He also played on 82.5% of the snaps this year and averaged 1.57 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). Aiken proved to be a solid chain-mover for no matter who was at QB, as he performed well with Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen, and even Ryan Mallett. The Ravens brought Aiken back to be the #3 WR behind Perriman and Smith, but he once again needs to be ready for an expanded role if Smith isn’t the same player coming off his Achilles injury. The Ravens will be better off Aiken is in a complementary role, but he showed he can produce if needed to play in a bigger role.
Jermaine Kearse (Sea) – The Seahawks re-signed Kearse to a three-year, $13.5 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- Fantasy Analysis: A bit surprisingly, Kearse had a limited market in free agency, and the Seahawks got him back on a pretty team-friendly deal. The Seahawk passing game has been sporadic at times ever since Russell Wilson arrived in Seattle, but Kearse truly had a bizarre 2015 season. He finished without a catch on three different occasions and he had a mid-season slump with 8 catches in a seven-week span from Weeks 4-10. He also played pretty well down the stretch, starting in Week 12 when TE Jimmy Graham went down for the rest of the season, posting 24/303/4 receiving in his final six games. He also had another strong postseason for the second straight year, with 14 catches and 2 TDs in two games. Kearse finished the year with 49/685/5 on 67 targets (73.1% catch rate, 14.0 YPC) for 9.2 FPG (60th) in 16 games, which were career-best numbers across the board for the fourth-year pro. He played on 71.5% of the snaps this year and averaged an impressive 2.20 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). We expect Tyler Lockett’s role to grow more next season in his sophomore year, so Kearse’s production could dip some next year. Kearse will be a fringe fantasy bench piece in deeper fantasy leagues to start next season, and he’ll most likely start the season as a waiver wire guy.
Seth Roberts (Oak) – The Raiders re-signed exclusive rights free agent Roberts to a one-year deal worth $525,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Roberts was on our radar early last summer after he caught the eye of our film guy Greg Cosell in the preseason because of his combination of size (6’2”, 196 pounds) and speed. Roberts was a small-school product out of West Alabama and buried on depth chart to start training camp, but it didn’t take him long for him to emerge as the #3 WR ahead of Andre Holmes and Rod Streater. He finished with 32/480/5 receiving on 53 targets (60.4% catch rate, 15.0 YPC) for 6.9 FPG in 16 games. Roberts played on 53.5% of the snaps this year and averaged 2.08 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). Roberts took advantage of his opportunity in training camp and definitely flashed at times in his first season. Now, his next goal is to become a consistent piece in this passing game, as his production was quite sporadic with Derek Carr. Still, there’s enough here to be excited about his potential going forward in what should be an improving Raider passing game.
Leonard Hankerson (Buf) – The Bills re-signed Hankerson to a one-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
- Fantasy Analysis: Hankerson bounced from Atlanta to New England and eventually to Buffalo during the 2015 season. He dealt with a rib injury and a lingering hamstring issue for parts of the season, and the Falcons eventually placed him on the IR, but he got his release from the team after being medically cleared to play again. The Falcons tried desperately to make him their #2 WR over Roddy White, and he had a decent three-game run in Weeks 2-4 with 15/225/2 receiving. Other than that stretch, Hankerson did little because of his hamstring issues and general poor play. He finished the year with 26/327/3 on 46 targets (56.5% catch rate, 12.6 YPC) for 7.7 FPG (72nd) in 10 games, averaging 1.67 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). Hankerson played well for three games, but he’s had durability issues throughout his career and can’t be counted on. Still, the Bills have very little depth at WR, and Hankerson could be on the field in some 3- and 4-WR sets next season, but he’s unlikely to make a fantasy impact.
Deonte Thompson (Chi) – The Bears re-signed Thompson to a one-year contract, according to the Chicago Tribune.
- Fantasy Analysis: Thompson was just an afterthought in this weak Bear WR corps last season, which isn’t that great of a sign considering Cutler had to play a lot with Josh Bellamyand Marc Mariani. Thompson had just 2 receptions in 7 games after being promoted from the practice squad in early November because of an injury to Eddie Royal. Thompson does contribute as a kickoff returner, which he’ll need to continue to do to have any chance of making this roster out of camp.
Jordan Norwood (Den) – The Broncos re-signed Norwood to a one-year deal, according to Denver’s NBC 9 News.
- Fantasy Analysis: Norwood’s 2015 season will be most remembered for his wacky punt return in the Super Bowl, which turned out to be the longest punt return in Super Bowl history (61 yards). Norwood actually finished third among Bronco WRs with 22/207/0 receiving on 32 targets, which obviously put him well behind Demaryius Thomasand Emmanuel Sanders. Norwood is nothing more than a slot WR, but he did a solid job after not seeing an NFL snap since 2012. He’ll battle for a roster spot in training camp and won’t be a fantasy factor next season.
Marc Mariani (Chi) – The Bears re-signed Mariani to a one-year deal worth $760,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Bears had a number of injuries at WR this past season, and Mariani was forced to play more with slot WR Eddie Royal missing quite a bit of time. He showed well for himself, posting 22/300/0 receiving in the final 10 games of the season, and he didn’t miss a game and is a solid returner. However, Deonte Thompson passed him as the primary kick returner by the end of the year, so his path to staying with the Bears will be a little more difficult in training camp. It does help that new OC Dowell Loggains coached Mariani back in Tennessee, which could help him stick as a backup.
Brian Quick (LA) – The Rams and Quick agreed to a one-year deal, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The deal is worth up to $3.75 million with $1.5 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: In a bit of a shocking move, Quick decided to stick around with Rams for at least one more year. Quick was headed toward a breakout season early in 2014 before a shoulder injury that needed surgery ended his season. His subsequent glacial recovery got him off to an incredibly slow start in 2015. He saw limited work in the preseason and was inactive for the first three games of the year before he even started to see limited snaps. He finished the year with 10/102/0 receiving on 32 targets (31.3% catch rate, 10.2 YPC) for 1.6 FPG in 13 games. He played on just 44% of the snaps this year and averaged a miserable .63 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). Of course, the Rams had the worst QB play of any team in the league, which squashed Quick’s limited chances to show any of his talent last season. Quick, who will turn just 27 in May, is loaded with talent as a big target (6’3”, 218 pounds) on the outside but has yet to really accomplish much in four years. Still, it’s hard to see him emerging this season in a Ram organization with Case Keenum and Nick Foles still quarterbacking the offense, at this point. He did sign just a one-year deal, but dynasty owners that stashed him away can’t be too happy about his decision to stick with the Rams. At least he’ll be healthy this off-season, which will give him a better chance of starting on the outside from Week 1.
Dontrelle Inman (SD) – The Chargers re-signed Inman to a one-year, $600,000 contract, according to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Chargers already added Travis Benjamin at WR early in free agency, so Inman will be locked in as the #4 WR at best. Inman took on a bigger role after Keenan Allen’s season-ending injury in Week Eight, but he put up sporadic production even with his increased role. He never became a consistent fantasy option from Week Nine on, posting 26/344/2 receiving for 10.3 FPG (51st) in seven games. Inman finished the year with 35/486/3 receiving on 61 targets (57.4% catch rate, 13.9 YPC) for 7.3 FPG in 14 games. He played on 67.3% of the snaps this year and averaged 1.67 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). He missed the season opener after suffering a concussion late in training camp and he missed another game in Week Fourteen because of a neck injury. Inman did fine in a bigger role and has a good chance of making the team out of training camp, but his roster spot certainly isn’t guaranteed.
Andre Holmes (Oak) – The Raiders re-signed Holmes to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million with $1 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
- Fantasy Analysis: Holmes saw his playing time dwindle in 2015 after a mini-breakout season in 2014, which wasn’t surprising with the addition of Amari Cooperand Michael Crabtree. What was a surprise was that Holmes also fell behind rookie Seth Roberts, as Holmes was the #4 WR in this offense. Holmes finished with just 14/201/4 receiving on 32 targets (43.8% catch rate, 14.4 YPC) for 3.6 FPG in 16 games, failing to register a catch in eight games. Holmes played on 33.8% of the snaps this year and averaged 1.87 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). Holmes still has some potential despite the fact that he’ll 28 years in June, but his return to the Raiders hurt his Dynasty League value since he’ll be the #4 WR at best.
Terrelle Pryor (Cle) – The Browns signed restricted free agent Pryor for $1.67 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Browns did everything possible to get Pryor on their opening day 53-man roster in 2015, but a hamstring injury eventually forced them to initially give up on their project in September. He had tryouts with several teams during the season but he didn’t land a job until the Browns signed him in early December after a slew of WR and QB injuries. Pryor appeared in three games at the end of the year and saw 8 targets, catching just a 42-yard pass against the Steelers in Week Seventeen. Hue Jackson’s new regime has some interest in working with the athletic former QB, so he’ll get a shot in training camp this summer. Also, it’s not like the Browns have much depth at WR anyway, even if Josh Gordon is reinstated and stays with the team, so he could get a chance for playing time if he impresses.
Marlon Brown (Bal) – The Ravens re-signed Brown after tendering the restricted free agent earlier, according to the Baltimore Sun. The contract is a one-year deal worth $675,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Brown has fallen quite a bit since his promising rookie season in 2013, and he couldn’t make any noise in 2015 even with a number of injuries in front of him in one of the league’s worst WR corps. A back injury hampered him at the end of the season and he didn’t play after Week Eleven, posting 14/112/0 receiving in 10 games. Brown had 49 catches and 7 TDs in his rookie season, but he’s posted just 38 catches and 0 TDs in the last two years. HC Jim Harbaugh summed it up best when talking about Brown at the end of the year, “Marlon is one of my favorite guys, and he works really hard at it, has a great attitude and, to my eyes, is very talented,” Harbaugh said to the Baltimore Sun. “But, it just hasn’t worked in the last two years like we all expected after his rookie year, especially how Marlon expected to continue to improve. It’s going to be a really important offseason for him.” Brown will be in a fight for his roster spot next summer in a Raven WR corps that’s looking stronger already for 2016.
Kenbrell Thompkins (NYJ) – The Jets re-signed restricted free agent Thompkins to a one-year, $1.67 million contract, according to NFL Network’s Rand Getlin.
- Fantasy Analysis: After a respectable 11 games for the Patriots in 2013, Thompkins has been slowly declining ever since. He was on the Pats practice squad for a time in 2015 after getting waived by the Raiders, and then picked up by the Jets, where he tallied 17/165 receiving in six games. The only real reason he was given a shot were because of injuries to Devin Smith and Jeremy Kerley, and he’ll be battling for a roster spot once again next summer.
Stephen Hill (Car) – The Panthers re-signed Hill to a one-year contract.
- Fantasy Analysis: Hill has been a total bust since going #43 overall to the Jets in 2012. His 2015 season ended before it even got started when he tore his ACL in training camp, and he was also suspended one game in November for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. We can’t overlook Cam Newton’s remarks prior to the NFC Championship game when he stated losing Hill was a “big deal.” He’s young, he has big-time tools, and with the inconsistency at the position on Carolina, Hill has a chance to compete for a roster spot in 2016.
Russell Shepard (TB) – The Bucs tendered restricted free agent Shepard. His one-year deal is worth $1.671 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Shepard was placed on the IR in the middle of December with a toe injury after making some big plays on special teams for the Bucs. He was with the Eagles during Training Camp and at one point, but he predictably flamed out. He was picked up by the Bucs, and caught just 3/28/1 receiving in 13 games with the team. The Bucs are still quite thin at WR, but Shepard will still be in a struggle to make this roster out of camp.
Josh Bellamy (Chi) – The Bears re-signed exclusive rights free agent Bellamy, according to The Chicago Tribune. He’ll be on the Bears for another year, at $760,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Bellamy never caught a pass in his first three seasons with the Chiefs (2012), Chargers (2013), Redskins (2013), and Bears (2014). He finished 2015 with 19/224/2 receiving, but his sudden involvement certainly wasn’t by design, as Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, and Eddie Royal missed all or huge chunks of the season. Even with a significant uptick in playing time, Bellamy never really approached fantasy significance. It’s not like the Bears are loaded with options at WR right now, so Bellamy could certainly compete for a backup role once again, despite the re-signing of Marc Mariani.
Corey Fuller (Det) – The Lions tendered exclusive rights free agent Fuller. He signed a one-year, $600,000 contract.
- Fantasy Analysis: With just 4 receptions and a fumble in 12 games, Fuller’s regular season was a far cry from his impressive 2015 training camp. Still, he’s raw and loaded with athletic ability, and he could have a chance for more playing time next season with Calvin Johnson‘s retirement. The Lions already brought in Marvin Jones to help replace Megatron after his retirement announcement, but as it’s quite impossible to fill those big shoes, this could be Fuller’s last chance to earn more playing time.
Myles White (NYG) – The Giants tendered exclusive rights free agent White. He signed a one-year, $600,000 contract.
- Fantasy Analysis: White actually impressed a bit for the Packers in the preseason before getting cut in Week One and signed by the Giants. In 11 games, he totaled just 7/88/1 on 17 targets, and his lone TD came during Odell Beckham’s suspension in Week Sixteen. What helps White’s chances is new HC Ben McAdoo’s familiarity with him, as McAdoo was the OC in Green Bay while White was there. We’re not sure if that will translate into anything more than a No. 4 spot on this depth chart, but it seems that every WR spot under OBJ is wide open.
Matt Hazel (Mia) – The Dolphins tendered exclusive rights free agent Hazel. He’ll be making $525,000 this year.
- Fantasy Analysis: He appeared in just four games in 2015, failing to catch his one target, but he is a quick receiver with reliable hands. Unfortunately, he’s well behind Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills on the pecking order. With Adam Gase taking hold of this situation in Miami, we’ll see where Hazel fits into the plans. The Dolphins let Rishard Matthews walk in free agency and they cut Greg Jennings, so Hazel has an outside shot of making the roster out of camp.
Brandon Tate (Cin) – The Bengals re-signed Tate to a one-year contract worth $760,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: The one thing Tate has going for him is his work as a returner in his seven-year career. It also doesn’t hurt that since his rookie season in 2009, Tate hasn’t missed a game. He can compete for a spot because of his return ability and because the team no longer has Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, but he’s not going to be much of a contributor as a receiver.
Alshon Jeffery (Chi) – The Bears slapped the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jeffery, which will be worth $14.59 million guaranteed. The two sides will continue to work on a long-term deal but are reportedly not close right now.
- Fantasy Analysis: Jeffery certainly didn’t have the smoothest 2015 season because of a slew of soft-tissue leg injuries. Still, he will be just 26 years old this season and physically dominant WRs like him aren’t growing on trees, so the Bears have all the incentive in the world to lock him up long term. Jeffery played in just nine games this season, as he missed time because of various calf, hamstring, and groin injuries. He finished with 54/807/4 receiving on 94 targets (57.4% catch rate, 14.9 YPC) for 17.6 FPG (11th). He played on 81.2% of the snaps this year and averaged 1.69 FP per target (league average was 1.66 FP/target for WRs). For the most part, he was dominant while on the field, posting 12+ FP in seven of his nine games. However, injuries limited him in his two other appearances in Weeks 10 and 15, and he ended up not playing the weeks after those games. Jeffery technically finished as a WR1 this past season, but his limited availability left his fantasy owners frustrated all year long. He capped his year by disappointing in the fantasy playoffs with 1/10/1 in Week Fifteen and a DNP in Week Sixteen. Jeffery will be back in Chicago as the top WR, and this Bear passing game should improve next season if Jeffery and 1st-round pick Kevin White can stay healthy. Jeffery is likely to be a top-30 fantasy selection next summer, but his glut of soft-tissue injuries this past season will make him a bit of a risky proposition heading into the 2016 season.
Players acquired by new teams
Ladarius Green (signed by Pit from SD) – The Steelers and Green agreed to a four-year, $20 million contract with $4.75 million guaranteed, according to ESPN.
- Fantasy Analysis: Green never quite lived up to the fantasy hype playing behind Antonio Gates the last four seasons, but the Steelers weren’t afraid to roll the dice with the 26-year-old TE to see if they can get the most out of him as a starter. The Steelers had a gaping hole at TE with Heath Miller’s retirement, and they dipped into the deep end of the free agency pool – something they rarely do – to get the athletic Green. He’ll immediately step into a starter’s role ahead of Jesse James, and his size and speed will fit nicely into this already potent Steeler passing game. Green’s name has been well-known in fantasy circles the last three years, but he can hold his own as a blocker, which he’ll need to do in this Steeler offense. Green got a big opportunity to be a starter to begin 2015 with Gates suspended the first four games, and Green did well with 14/174/2 in the three games he appeared in. He dealt with a nagging ankle injury for much of the year, which finally landed him on the IR before Week Seventeen. The injury required off-season surgery, but he said at his introductory press conference that he’ll be ready for training camp. Green also missed time in the preseason and in Week 3 for what was believed to be concussion issues, but he said it was later diagnosed as a sinus problem. He finished the year with 37/429/4 receiving on 63 targets (58.7% catch rate, 11.6 YPC) for 8.0 FPG in 13 games. Green played on 69.5% of the snaps this year and averaged 1.65 FP per target (league average was 1.65 FP/target for TEs). The Steelers have never really had a TE that they can move all over the field to create mismatches, and he’ll certainly open up the playbook even more for OC Todd Haley. We’re guessing that Green will be drafted like a TE1 next summer, and he certainly has the potential to live up to that hype, but he’s more likely to be a high-end streaming option. Obviously, Ben Roethlisberger already has a ton of talented receivers in Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Le’Veon Bell, and Markus Wheaton, so it’s difficult for us to see Green stepping in and catching 70+ passes. Most likely, Green will need to turn into a dangerous red-zone threat to be a TE1, which is certainly possible since he’s huge (6’6”, 240 pounds) and the Steelers struggled in the red zone last season – they led the league with 42 field-goal attempts.
Coby Fleener (Signed by NO from Ind) – After the Colts surprisingly re-signed fellow free agent Dwayne Allen, the Saints agreed to a 5-year contract with the 27 year old Fleener for a reported $36 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: It’s not fair to judge Fleener based on a poor 2015 season (54/491/3 receiving on 83 targets (65.1% catch rate) for 7.6 FPG (26th), since the entire offense struggled and was rendered conservative by the veteran Matt Hasselbeck. But it is fair to view Fleener as a disappointment thus far in his career as a 2nd round pick in 2012. He did improve as a blocker in 2015, but he’s still more of a receiving TE, yet he’s a player who hasn’t been as consistent as we’d like to see and who has had problems with drops and double catches, and we’ve seen him fail to make plays in the past because he’s heard footsteps (not good). While he’s played with a great QB in Andrew Luck, his upside has been capped due to the presence of Dwayne Allen, who played 56.9% of the Colts’ plays in 2015 (Fleener was at 66.4%). The Saints opened up the vault for him, however, due to large part to a fairly desperate situation at receiver, so this is a very good signing for fantasy. Despite his flaws, Fleener at 6’6” is a huge, athletic target who can make tough catches in underneath coverage and create mismatches down the field and big plays after the catch. He should also be a good red zone threat on a team that threw 11 TD passes to the TE in 2015. Fleener’s YPC average went from 15.2 in 2014 to 9.1 in 2015, but we’d imagine that number will be rising considerably in Sean Payton’s offense, and with Drew Brees slinging him the rock. This is, after all, an offense that helped the ancient Ben Watson put up an excellent 74/825/6 in 2015. Fleener will need to quickly pick up the offense and get on the same page as Brees, but there’s big upside here with a large role, as the team has very little at receiver other than Brandin Cooks. Fleener will be an upside-oriented pick in the middle rounds and is a good bet to land in our initial top-12 at the position based on this ideal landing spot.
Martellus Bennett (traded to NE from Chi) – The Patriots acquired Bennett and 6th-round pick from the Bears in exchange for a 4th-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He’ll reportedly be making $20.4 million over 4 years, with $5.125 guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Bears had been trying to unload Bennett all off-season and it only ramped up after they re-signed Zach Miller. In the end, the Patriots stepped up to take on the final year of Bennett’s $5.1 million contract to give QB Tom Brady and OC Josh McDaniels a second TE to pair with Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots will clearly use more 2-TE sets now and Gronk will have a legit sidekick at TE for the first time since Aaron Hernandez. The acquisition should help Brady down in the red zone, and we don’t expect Bennett’s presence to hurt Gronk’s numbers too much. Bennett played in 11 games in 2015, posting 53/439/3 receiving on 79 targets (67.1%, 8.3 YPR). At 10.4 FPG, he tied for 14th at the TE position. However, his season ended on a sour note, landing on IR with a rib injury, costing him the Bears’ final four games of the year (he missed a game with the injury earlier in the season, as well). The injury opened the door for Miller to make an impact and the Bears decided to move forward with Miller in 2016. Bennett had just four outings of 10+ FP and his final three games of the year were all under 5 FP. He had five games under 40 yards receiving and just one above 60. The inconsistency is not new for Bennett – even in his 90-catch 2014 campaign, he posted under 10 FP in seven different outings. Bennett will obviously see his catch and yardage totals dip as the #2 TE in this offense, but he still has a chance to be streaming TE option from week to week, depending on the just how much the Pats will use 2-TE sets. Bennett has never topped 6 TDs in a season, but that could change this season as Brady will better use him in the red zone this year.
Benjamin Watson (signed by Bal from NO) – The Ravens and Watson have agreed to a deal, according to the Baltimore Sun. The deal is for two years and worth $7 million, including $3 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Ravens are likely looking at Watson as a bridge until the talented Maxx Williams is ready to take over the position full time. Crockett Gillmore is also in the mix but the team seems a bit concerned about his shoulder injury that ended his season early in 2015 and will require two off-season surgeries. Nick Boyle has already been suspended for the first 10 games of 2016, so the Ravens clearly felt a little vulnerable at TE for 2016. The Saints made out very well in the Jimmy Graham deal, as the ageless veteran Watson out-produced Graham anyway. In 16 games, Watson posted 74/825/6 receiving on 110 targets (67.3%, 11.1 YPR), and he averaged 12.0 FPG to rank 8th among all TEs. So it was the vet Watson, and not Josh Hill, who became the beneficiary of the Graham trade. Watson got off to a slow start, topping out at 8.2 FP over his first four games. But in his final 12 games, he was below 10 FP just four times, and in two of those games he was above 9.0 FP. Watson caught at least 3 passes in 14 games, ranked 5th among all TEs with 18 red-zone targets, and played a monster share of snaps (84.9%). The end result for Watson were career-highs in every major receiving category, and also in fantasy points (the last time he averaged 10 or more FP came in 2010). A durable player, Watson’s missed just one game in the last four years. He had a Cinderella type season in 2015, but he could come back to earth in a crowded group of Raven TEs. Watson will have much tougher path to fantasy relevance this season going from Drew Brees to Joe Flacco and landing in a deeper depth chart in Baltimore.
Jared Cook (signed by GB from LA) – The Packers signed Cook to a one-year, $3.65 million contract, according to ESPN.
- Fantasy Analysis: Cook’s talent has always outweighed his production, and that was true once again in 2015 when he played in 16 games but posted just 39/481/0 on 74 targets (52.7%, 12.3 YPR). Cook averaged 5.4 FPG, tying him for 35th among all TEs. We obviously can’t blame the Rams’ passing-game woes on Cook because their quarterbacks and offensive line were awful. But Cook managed just two games of 10+ FP (one of them in Week One) despite playing 70.2% of the snaps, and in 48 games with the Rams, he has just 10 of them total. In 2015, Cook had nine games of 2 or fewer catches, simply not close to enough for what the Rams are paying him. The Rams saved close to $6 million by cutting Cook, and the five-year, $35.1 million deal he got from the Rams in 2013 will go down as an epic failure. Cook has always been an intriguing prospect, but he remains a total enigma and won’t be handed the Packer starting job. Richard Rodgers likely has a slight leg up on Cook heading into training camp, but Rodgers hasn’t been a passing threat in his first two seasons. Aaron Rodgers will obviously be the best QB he has ever played with, and Cook will be able to work the seams for this offense. We obviously can’t count on consistent fantasy production from Cook, but he’ll have the chance to be a TE2 playing in the Packer passing game.
Vernon Davis (signed by Was from Den) – The Redskins signed Davis to a one-year contract, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
- Fantasy Analysis: Davis is barely hanging on at this point, but the Redskins do need more of a blocker than a receiver at TE to complement Jordan Reed. The Broncos acquired Davis and a 2016 7th-round pick at the trade deadline for 2016 and 2017 6th-round picks. Well, VP John Elway could’ve saved those picks as Vernon could barely even get on the field in the postseason – he played just 19 snaps in three playoff games. Between the 49ers and Broncos, Davis finished the year with 38/395/0 receiving on 57 targets (66.7% catch rate, 10.4 YPC) for 6.0 FPG in 13 games. He played on 46.4% of the snaps with the Broncos and averaged 1.36 FP per target (league average was 1.65 FP/target for TEs). Davis, who just turned 32 at the end of January, looks well past his prime as both a receiver and as a blocker. He’s just depth behind Reed at this point, and he’s not even guaranteed to be fantasy relevant if Reed would get hurt.
Clay Harbor (signed by NE from Jac) – The Patriots signed Harbor to an undisclosed contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan.
- Fantasy Analysis: Harbor was buried behind Julius Thomas and Marcedes Lewis for much of the 2015 season, and he’ll now be stuck behind Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett in New England. About half of Harbor’s production came in Weeks 3-4 when Julius Thomas was out of the lineup, as he posted 7/74/1 receiving in those two games. He went on to finish with 14/149/1 receiving on 20 targets in 15 games before undergoing a sports-hernia surgery shortly after the season ended. Harbor brings some versatility to the Patriots as the #3 TE, as he’ll be asked to work as an H-back, but he’s unlikely to be fantasy relevant unless there are some injuries in front of him.
Jim Dray (signed by Buf from Cle) – The Bills signed Dray to a one-year deal worth $760,000, according to Houston Chronicle.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Browns released Dray in the middle of the February to save about $1.8 million. He did little in 2015 with Gary Barnidge having a breakout season, finishing with just 6/61/0 receiving in 16 games. Dray had 26 catches in 2013 with the Cardinals to get a three-year deal with the Browns, but he combined for just 23 catches the last two years. He’ll be competing for a #2-3 TE role in the Bills’ camp this summer with Chris Gragg, MarQueis Gray, and Nick O’Leary.
MarQueis Gray (signed by Mia from Buf) – The Dolphins signed Gray to an undisclosed deal, according to The Miami Herald.
- Fantasy Analysis: Gray played in the first four games last season before landing on the IR with a broken arm in early October. He was in the mix for the Bills No. 2 TE job in camp last summer, and he should compete with Jake Stoneburner and Brandon Williams for the roster spot and the #3 TE.
Players re-signed by their 2015 teams
Antonio Gates (SD) – The Chargers and Gates agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract with $6 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
- Fantasy Analysis: It looks like Gates will finish his career with his buddy Philip Rivers after inking a two-year deal. Gates’ 2015 season started in less than ideal fashion with a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He also missed a fifth game to a knee injury, which nagged him for much of the year and hurt his production. Still, he remained a threat and should have at least one more year left. Gates finished the 2015 season with 56/630/5 receiving on 84 targets (66.7% catch rate, 11.3 YPC) for 13.5 FPG (7th) in 11 games. He finished with 10+ FP eight times despite scoring TDs in just three games. He played on 61.7% of the snaps this year and averaged 1.77 FP per target (league average was 1.65 FP/target for TEs). Gates’ return could hurt their chances of retaining Green if his top priority is to be a starter in the league. Gates certainly isn’t moving great anymore and he’ll turn 36 years old in June, but he has a knack for getting open still and Rivers will continue to feed him until he can’t move any longer. Gates should remain a low-end TE1, and the addition of speedster Travis Benjamin should help Gates in the middle of the field.
Dwayne Allen (Ind) – The Colts re-signed Allen to a four-year, $29.4 million deal, according to Pro Football Talk. Allen will be paid $12 million in his first year and $17 million through his first two years.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Colts gave a lot of money to a player they essentially used as a sixth offensive linemen last season. Allen said after the season that he wasn’t happy with his diminished role in 2015, but it didn’t deter him from re-signing with the Colts. Allen said after he signed that OC Rob Chudzinski promised him a bigger role in the offense going forward, and Chud is a former TE coach who has worked with Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen. After scoring 8 TDs in 2014, Allen posted just 16/109/1 receiving on 29 targets (55.2% catch rate, 6.8 YPC) for 2.5 FPG. He split snaps with TE Coby Fleener this season, playing 56.9% of the snaps and averaging a miserable 1.14 FP per target (league average was 1.65 FP/target for TEs). Allen’s season was once again marred by injuries, missing three games because of ankle and calf issues, running his total to 21 missed games in the last three seasons. The Colts obviously committed a lot of money to a player who hasn’t played a full 16-game season since his rookie year in 2012. Obviously, quarterback and O-line issues complicated every Colt receiver’s performance last season. The feeling earlier in the off-season was that Fleener was the bigger priority to re-sign, but they Colt changed course and chose Allen over Fleener. With Fleener heading to New Orleans in 2016, Allen has the chance for a bounce-back season and to be a high-end TE2 as the clear top TE in Indy with a hopefully healthy Andrew Luck.
Zach Miller (Chi) – The Bears re-signed Miller to a two-year, $6 million contract with another $2 million in possible incentives, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
- Fantasy Analysis: Miller’s long history of injuries kept him well short of the $5 million per year that he was hoping for in the open market. We’ve long thought Miller had potential, but it looked like he’d never hit it considering he hadn’t played in an NFL game since 2011 (injuries in each of the last three years, including a foot in 2014). But in 2015, he put together a career year in 15 games (missing Week Seventeen with a toe injury). Miller posted 34/439/5 receiving on 46 targets (73.9%, 12.9 YPR), averaging 7.2 FPG, ranking him tied for 28th among all TEs. But Miller also had five games of 10 or more FP, more than Martellus Bennett had all year. In the last three games he played, all with Bennett injured, he posted 18/211/1 receiving on 20 targets, averaging 15.0 FPG, which ranked him 5th over that span among all TEs. His 56.2% snap share in 2015 is easily a career high. Miller showed more big-play ability than Bennett did. Miller clearly has chemistry with Jay Cutler and Bennett’s future is still up in the air, so it makes sense for both Miller and the Bears to continue their marriage. Miller said he’s ready to be a #1 TE, and he’ll get his chance to back up that talk, as Bennett signed with the Saints.
Will Tye (NYG) – The Giants tendered exclusive rights free agent Tye and signed him to a one-year, $525,000 deal.
- Fantasy Analysis: An undrafted rookie out of Stony Brook, Tye was one of the more pleasant surprises during a disappointing season for the Giants. He played in 13 games, becoming very important to the club when Larry Donnell went down with a neck injury in Week Eight. Overall on the season, Tye posted 42/464/3 receiving on 62 targets (67.7%, 11.0 YPR). He averaged 8.2 FPG, ranking him 24th at the TE position. However, from Week Nine on, with Donnell inactive, Tye was far more useful, averaging 11.3 FPG, which actually tied him for 10th at the position. He actually had the same exact stat line as Antonio Gates over the final eight games of the season. Tye closed the season with six games of 10+ FP in the final seven games of the season, including TDs in three of the last four weeks. He was a reliable starting option for fantasy owners who picked him up for nothing on the waiver wire. He played a lot, topping 60% of the Giants’ snaps in nine of their final 10 games. A good athlete, Tye excels in open spaces, but he absolutely must work on blocking, drops, and ball security. It’s not uncommon for an undrafted rookie to have things to work on, but Tye should at least have a future as a rotational receiving TE, and his role could be bigger depending on Donnell’s health next year.
Larry Donnell (NYG) – The Giants tendered restricted free agent Donnell on a one-year, $1.671 million deal.
- Fantasy Analysis: Donnell played just eight games for the Giants this year, having to sit out the final eight with a neck injury. The injury was initially diagnosed as neck spasms, but a mid-season MRI showed pretty significant damage. That closed his 2015 stat line at 29/223/2 receiving on 41 targets (70.7%, 7.7 YPR). Donnell averaged 7.9 FPG, ranking him 26th at the position. Donnell did see 9 red-zone targets (22% of his targets), but he was still generally an inefficient player, averaging 1.54 FP/target, below the league average of 1.65 at the position. He had just two games of 10+ FP, and once again he struggled with drops. Donnell’s injury isn’t expected to permanently affect his career, but it must be closely monitored. Overall, Will Tye was far more impressive last season, but Donnell will be back to compete for snaps with Tye. GM Jerry Reese said at the Combine that the team is taking “extreme precaution” with Donnell and that he has yet to be cleared for action.
Josh Hill (NO) – The Saints matched the Bears’ offer sheet, re-signing Hill to a three-year deal, $7.1 million deal with $3.25 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
- Fantasy Analysis: The “hot candidate” to replace Jimmy Graham last season, Hill played in 16 games but did pretty much nothing. Playing in 36.5% of the Saints’ snaps (actually a lower percentage than Michael Hoomanawanui played), Hill was one of the most inefficient receivers at the TE position. He managed just 16/120/2 receiving on 30 targets (53.3%, 7.5 YPR). He averaged 2.5 FPG, fewer than he averaged with Graham around in 2014 (4.1). Hill went catchless in six games and had just one grab in five more. Hill turns just 26 in May, and the Saints still like his potential, and it doesn’t hurt that Ben Watson left for Baltimore in free agency. However, the Saints brought in Coby Fleener to be their starting TE, so Hill will be stuck in his TD vulturing role – we actually hope not – as the #2 TE.
Michael Hoomanawanui (NO) – The Saints re-signed Hoomanawanio to a three-year contract, according to Fox Sports. The deal is reportedly worth $5.2 million with $1.85 guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Saints traded for Hoomanawanui at the end of September to boost their TE depth after he fell to #4 on the Patriots TE depth chart. He finished the year with 11/76/3 receiving on 16 targets in 12 games with the Saints, as he saw 6 red-zone targets as a TD vulture. Hoomanawanui won’t have much of a market for his services this off-season as he’s little more than TE depth.
Logan Paulsen (Was) – The Redskins re-signed Paulsen to a one-year contract worth $840,000, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan.
- Fantasy Analysis: Paulsen looked ready for a bigger role this season after Niles Paulwent down for the year in early August with a fractured and dislocated ankle. However, Paulsen suffered his own season-ending injury a few days later with a severe a case of turf toe, which required surgery and landed him on the IR. Paulsen certainly isn’t known for being much of a receiver, but the Redskins did miss his run-blocking this year in 2-TE sets, so they brought him back at a reasonable price.
Chase Ford (Bal) – The Ravens re-signed Ford to a one-year, $1.67 million contract, according to the Baltimore Sun.
- Fantasy Analysis: Ford was waived by the Vikings in mid-November of 2015 and the Ravens picked him up shortly after and placed him on the season-ending IR at the end of November with a shoulder injury. He didn’t play a snap for either team in 2015 but was a contributor for the Vikings in 2014, totaling 23/258/1 receiving. He’ll likely be fighting for a roster spot this summer, with Ben Watson, Maxx Williams, and Crockett Gillmore clearly ahead of him on the depth chart. At least Nick Boyleis suspended for the first 10 games of the season and Gillmore is dealing with an off-season shoulder issue, so Ford will have a chance to make the roster out of camp.
Rob Housler (Chi) – The Bears re-signed Housler to a one-year deal worth $760,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Housler was an intriguing prospect back with the Cardinals just a few years ago because of his size and athletic ability, but he’s fallen short of expectations. He’s now hanging on to his career at this point, starting in 2015 with the Browns before landing on the IR with a hamstring injury in November and getting waived two weeks later. Housler eventually worked out and landed a job with the Bears to end the season, with 3 of his 4 catches coming with the Bears over the final four weeks. It looks like Zach Miller will get a legit chance to assert himself as a TE1 option with Bennet gone, so the Bears retained Housler as a cheap insurance option.
Jermaine Gresham (Ari) – The Cardinals re-signed Gresham to a one-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The deal is worth $3.5 million with $1 guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: #BIGGRESH signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals in last summer, and he played a lot, taking 57.6% of the Cardinals’ snaps in the games in which he was active. He was used mostly as a blocker in his 15 games (missing one with a knee injury), posting 18/223/1 receiving on 32 targets (56.3%, 12.4 YPR). He averaged 3.1 FPG to tie for 52nd at the position. Gresham is only 28 in June, and he made it through the year relatively healthy, but he wasn’t particularly impressive as a receiver and won’t have much fantasy value.
Rhett Ellison (Min) – The Vikings re-signed the injured Ellison to a one-year deal, according to the team’s website. The deal is worth $1.75 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Ellison suffered a devastating blow to his career after he suffered a torn patellar tendon in Week 17. A torn patellar tendon is one of the toughest injuries to overcome for any player – just ask Victor Cruz– and it will be a struggle for him to be ready by the middle of the season. Ellison did a good job as a blocking TE for RB Adrian Peterson, but he did little in the passing game with 11/124/1 receiving on 19 targets in 15 games. The Vikings will give Ellison a chance to get on the field this season, but it won’t be a surprise if he starts the year on the PUP list.
Tim Wright (Det) – The Lion re-signed Wright, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal is reportedly worth $675,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Lions acquired Wright from the Buccaneers for K Kyle Brindza, but he continued to flounder after his outstanding rookie season in 2013. He’s been traded twice by the Bucs and waived once by the Patriots since 2014, so his career hasn’t gone as planned. Wright did little in nine games with the Lions in 2015, posting just 9/77/2 receiving on 16 targets. Backup TE Brandon Pettigrewtore his ACL at the end of 2015, and he could struggle to be ready by the start of 2016, so there could be an opportunity for playing time for Wright, at least early in the year if he can make the roster out of camp.
Kellen Davis (NYJ) – The Jets re-signed Davis to a one-year deal worth $965,000, according to Pro Football Talk.
- Fantasy Analysis: It’s tough to think of a more boring TE that’s seen regular playing time over the last eight seasons than Davis. He finished the year with 3/18/1 receiving in 16 games for the Jets, finishing just behind top Jet TE Jeff Cumberland, who finished with a whopping 5/77/0 receiving. Needless to say based on those stat lines, the Jets were an embarrassment at TE last season and it will be a spot they will be looking to upgrade this off-season. Jace Amarowill be back in the mix but the Jets are likely to bring in another TE as well, and Davis will be used strictly as a blocker next year.
James Hanna (Dal) – The Cowboys re-signed to a three-year, $8.25 million contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan.
- Fantasy Analysis: Gavin Escobarhas been a major bust for the Cowboys since they took him in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft. Hanna continues to work ahead of Escobar in most 2-TE sets, but Hanna continues to be an afterthought in the passing game with just 9/79 receiving on 14 targets. Hanna has developed into a dependable blocker and is also a contributor on special teams, so the Cowboys kept him around at a reasonable price. Escobar is also recovering from a torn Achilles, so Hanna will have a leg up on the #2 TE spot at the start of camp.
Zach Sudfeld (NYJ) – The Jets re-signed Sudfeld, according to ESPN’s Jets reporter Rich Cimini.
- Fantasy Analysis: Sudfeld was placed on IR with a torn ACL even before the 2015 season began, but the Jets retained him on the cheap. He’s behind Jace Amaroon the depth chart, but the Jets did release Jeff Cumberland in early March. The Jets got only 8 catches from their tight ends all of last season, so they will be looking to significantly upgrade the position this off-season. Sudfeld isn’t the solution at TE and he’ll be in a battle for a roster spot.
Jack Doyle (Ind) – The Colts tendered restricted free agent Doyle, so they can match any offer he gets in free agency. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Colts gave Doyle the lowest tender at $1.671 million, so there would be no draft-pick compensation if he gets an offer sheet from another team.
- Fantasy Analysis: Dwayne Allenwas re-signed by the team, but Coby Fleener left for New Orleans, so Doyle is the favorite in the organization for #2 TE duties. Mainly a blocker over the past three years, the Colts have run plenty of 2-TE formations in the past, but OC Rob Chudzinski could transition to more 3-WR sets next year. Doyle did post 12/72/1 receiving in 16 games last year, and has good odds to actually have a significant role with Fleener gone.
Marcedes Lewis (Jac) – The Jaguars and Lewis agreed to a three-year deal, according to The Associated Press. The deal is worth $12 million with $5 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Lewis moved into a secondary role with Julius Thomas joining the team in 2015, but he didn’t do a whole lot when Thomas missed the first four games of the year. Lewis failed to catch a pass in the first three games and just 5/40 over those first four games with Thomas out of the lineup. He finished the year with 16/226/0 receiving on 37 targets for an ugly 43.2% catch rate. Both Lewis and Clay Harbor were free agents this off-season, and the Jags wanted to keep one of them under contract behind Thomas, who has been injury-prone in the past. The Rams made a late push for Lewis, but the Jaguars were able to keep the primary blocking TE around for an offense that just added RB Chris Ivory to their rushing attack.
Jake Stoneburner (Mia) – The Dolphins tendered exclusive rights free agent Stoneburner, signing a one-year deal worth $600,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Stoneburner vultured 2 TDs for the Dolphins this past season, despite catching just 5/47/2 for the entire season in 11 games. Stonerburner is young and cheap behind Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims, so he’ll compete for a roster spot once again.
Jerome Cunningham (NYG) – The Giants tendered exclusive rights free agent Cunningham, paying him $525,000 for one year.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Giants brought him up from the practice squad in early November to play behind Will Tye, with Larry Donnellbattling a neck injury. Cunningham posted just 8/59 receiving in eight games, and he isn’t much of a fantasy option.
Ifeanyi Momah (Ari) – The Cardinals re-signed exclusive right free agent Momah on a one-year, $450,000 deal.
- Fantasy Analysis: He was impressive in the 2015 off-season prior to going on IR in early September with a torn meniscus. He’s yet to appear in a game in three seasons, but he’s still an intriguing size prospect at 6’7 and 255 pounds.
Players acquired by new teams
Kelechi Osemele (OL, signed by Oak from Bal) – The Raiders and Osemele have reached an agreement on a five-year, $60 million contract, according to the NFL Network.
- Fantasy Analysis: Osemele was one of the top offensive linemen targets this off-season, and it’s expected that he’ll once again play LG with Donald Penn He played guard full time the last two years with the Ravens, and he developed into of one of the best all-around interior O-lineman. However, he switched to LT for the final four games of 2015 and played well. Osemele brings positional versatility to Oakland with his size (6’5”, 230 pounds), experience, and ability to play at left tackle. Osemele is considered a better run blocker than pass protector, but he’s above average in both areas, which is good news for this Raider offense. It now looks like the Raiders will be able to keep Osemele at LG with Penn’s likely return to LT, which will give them quite the tandem on the left side of their O-line.
Russell Okung (LT, signed by Den from Sea) – The Broncos and Okung agreed to a five-year deal, but according to FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo the deal is actually a one-year, $5 million deal with a four-year option. If Okung performs well and actually stays healthy, the Broncos could exercise a four-year option worth an annual $12 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Okung is a former #6 overall pick in 2010 and is loaded with talent, but he’s had injury issues since he broke into the league. He’s never played a full 16-game season and has missed 24 games in his six-year career, which means he’s missed a quarter of his games since breaking into the league. He also suffered a dislocated shoulder against the Panthers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, which required surgery and will keep him out until approximately June. The Broncos actually got a pretty friendly deal for a small gamble, and it also gives Okung a chance to earn more money in the future with a basically a one-year prove-it deal. The Broncos will more than likely move on from Ryan Cladyby releasing or trading him, and Ryan Harris already bolted for the Steelers earlier in free agency, so Okung will immediately step into the starting lineup. Okung is a well above average tackle who will provide a major upgrade at left tackle for RB C.J. Anderson and for whoever plays QB for the Broncos. Still, in the end, Okung’s ability to stay on the field will determine if this contract works out for both sides in 2016.
Alex Mack (C, signed by Atl from Cle) – The Falcons and Mack reached terms on a five-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. SI’s Peter King also reported that the deal is worth $9.5 million per year.
- Fantasy Analysis: Mack had an option in his contract with the Browns to void the last three years of his deal, and he took that option, after the franchise tag deadline so the Browns couldn’t immediately tag him after doing so. This is a move the Browns expected, and Mack we’ll move to his first franchise other than the Browns in the seventh year of his career. Mack is 30 and has some good years left in him, and he was the top center on the market before the Falcons scooped him up. He played with OC Kyle Shanahan for a season in Cleveland, and he loves the fit in his zone-blocking scheme, which is obviously a plus for RB Devonta Freeman.
Brandon Brooks (OG, signed by Phi from Hou) – The Eagles and Brooks agreed to a five-year, $40 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan.
- Fantasy Analysis: Brooks had a down season for his standards after two strong years in 2013-14, but the personnel around him on the Texan O-line and at RB also went significantly south. Brooks had been an excellent fit in the Texans’ zone-blocking run scheme, so a team with zone schemes could look at this relatively young guard. The Texans had their attention focused on QB and RB, opening the door for the Eagles to sign him Eagle HC Doug Pederson is expected to run a mix of zone- and man-blocking concepts next season, so Brooks should easily fit in at one of the guard positions. Brooks is huge at 6’5” and 335 pounds, so he’ll be a road grader for Ryan Mathews and this Eagle running game.
Evan Mathis (LG, signed by Ari from Den) – Mathis has a ring, and now he has a one-year deal for a very nice $6,000,069 with a contender, according to our guy Adam Caplan of ESPN.
- Fantasy Analysis: Consistently regarded as one of the best guards in the NFL by ProFootballFocus, Mathis is going to try to make it two titles in two years after signing with the Cards. He replaces Jonathan Cooper, who was just traded to the Patriots in the Chandler Jones deal, and it’s very likely Mathis is an upgrade on Cooper even if his play slips.
Kelvin Beachum (OT signed by Jac from Pit) – The Jaguars signed Beachum to a two-year deal worth $4.5 in the first year and up to $6 million in incentives, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He also reported that Beachum will be asked to restructure the second year of his contract or be released next year because of $10 million roster bonus that Beachum would have to “be great to achieve.”
- Fantasy Analysis: Beachum has been quite the revelation for the Steelers as a former 7th-round pick in 2012, and it was finally time for him to cash in on his unexpected success. However, his market was limited coming off a torn ACL injury in October, which scared away some suitors and forced him to basically take a one-year prove-it deal. He started 25 straight games before his season ended after six games in 2015. Beachum has been a good pass protector on the blindside when healthy, and he could unseat former 2013 #2 overall pick Luke Joeckel at LT if he’s healthy for training camp, which is expected. Beachum has certainly been the much better pro compared to Joeckel, but Beachum could also kick inside to guard as he’s one of the smaller tackles in the league at 6’3” and 303 pounds. Beachum has also played RT and could battle Jermey Parnell in camp as well, so Beachum definitely brings some depth to an O-line that needs help.
Donald Penn (OT, Oak) – The Raiders re-signed Penn to a two-year, $14 contract, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
- Fantasy Analysis: Penn said in December that he wanted to re-sign with the Raiders this off-season, and he did a good job as Derek Carr’s blindside protector. Even with top OL Kelechi Osemele signing with the Raiders at the start of free agency, the Raiders were able to keep around Penn and they suddenly have the makings of one of the better O-lines in the league. The Raiders have done a great job of beefing up the protection for their franchise QB Carr. And now they just need to add some help at RB to improve this offense even more. Penn has played in all 16 games in each season of his 9-year career, and he’s started all but four of those games. It now looks like the Raiders will be able to keep Osemele at LG with Penn’s likely return to LT, which will give them quite the tandem on the left side of their O-line.
Alex Boone (OG, signed by Min from Hou) – The Vikings and Boone agreed to a contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal is reportedly for four years and worth $26.8 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Boone’s market wasn’t hurt by his season-ending MCL back in Week Fourteen, as he was still one of the more coveted run-blocking guards. It doesn’t hurt that recovering from MCL injuries is typically quicker. Boone wasn’t happy about his contract status last spring and skipped the 49ers’ off-season program, and he initially had a dispute about his contract in 2014 before reworking his deal. He does bring some versatility to this Viking offensive line, as he started his career at tackle before sliding inside for all but one of his last 61 starts over the last four years. Boone is expected to play at LG, kicking Brandon Fusco over to RG, and the addition of Boone is welcome news for RB Adrian Peterson.
J.R. Sweezy (OG, signed by TB from Sea) – The Bucs signed former Seahawk Sweezy, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He signed a five-year, $32 million contract, $14.5 of which is guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: It didn’t take long for the Buccaneers to find their replacement for the retiring Logan Mankins, inking Sweezy on the opening day of free agency. Sweezy will be just 27 years old this season and he started 15 games for the Seahawks last year. He was just an average player, but he played along one of the weaker lines in the league, which may have hurt him some. Sweezy had plenty of interest during free agency, and he should help a young and up-and-coming Buccaneer offensive line, which retained RB Doug Martin and will protect franchise QB Jameis Winston.
Mitchell Schwartz (RT, signed by KC from Cle) – Schwartz signed a five-year deal with Kansas City, according to ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon and Adam Schefter. The deal is worth $33 million overall, $20.7 million of which is guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Chiefs lost Donald Stephenson and Jeff Allen from their line in free agency, but Schwartz is a balanced lineman who should come in immediately and be a massive improvement on the right side for them. Durable and effective, Schwartz has played all 64 games in his four seasons. This is a huge loss for the Browns, who also lost C Alex Mack to the Falcons.
Andre Smith (OT, signed by Min from Cin) – Smith signed a contract to join the Vikings, he announced on his Twitter account. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the deal is worth up to $4.5 million with incentives.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Vikings are creating competition along their offensive line, which makes sense considering RT Phil Loadholt is coming off an Achilles injury and J. Clemmings struggled as a rookie. Smith has been an up-and-down player in his career, but he’ll be motivated on a one-year deal, and there’s plenty of good reason Minnesota made this move. At least Smith is healthy, so he may be considered the favorite at RT right now.
Donald Stephenson (OT, signed by Den from KC) – The Broncos and Stephenson agreed to a three-year, $14 million deal, according to The Kansas City Star.
- Fantasy Analysis: Stephenson, 27, brings starting experience at both tackle spots and will compete for a starting job at either spot, depending on if Ryan Clady returns next season. Stephenson has pretty good feet for a zone-blocking scheme but has struggled as a run blocker in the past and he isn’t the best pass blocker. Stephenson at least gives this O-line a little more depth, as he’ll likely compete with Ty Sambrailo and Michael Schofield for a starting job.
Ben Jones (C, signed by Ten from Hou) – The Titans and Jones agreed to a four-year contract, according to the Houston Chronicle. The deal is reportedly worth $17.5 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Jones switched from guard to center for 2015, and he’s never missed a game in four seasons. The Titans are going out of their way to upgrade their offensive line this off-season after QB Marcus Mariota took a beating as a rookie last season, but Jones is just an average player at the position. LG Jeremiah Poutasi and C Brian Schwenke both struggled last season, so Jones will compete for either of those starting spots.
Jeff Allen (OG, signed by Hou from KC) – The Texans and Allen reached terms on a four-year, $28 million deal, according to Fox Sports.
- Fantasy Analysis: Brandon Brooks left in free agency, so the Texans needed an OG to block for newest Texans’ Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller. The Texan O-line is in the middle of rebuild and Allen is capable of playing at tackle or guard, but he’s expected to play inside. Allen played in just 1 game in 2014 because of an elbow injury that require surgery. He also played in just 12 games last season and started only eight of them, but he’ll be expected be a full-time player for the Texans next season.
Ryan Harris (OT signed by Pit from Den) – The Steelers reached a two-year, $3.9 million deal with Harris, according to The Denver Post.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Steelers had shown some interest Russell Okung and Kelvin Beachum prior to his signing with the Jaguars, but the organization decided to go with a cheaper alternative to bolster their tackle depth. Harris started all 16 games for the Broncos last season, beginning the season at RT before switching over to the blindside for the final 13 games. Harris, 31, has started 70 games since coming into the league in 2007, but he’s a league average tackle at best. Harris will battle Alejandro Villanueva – who took over for Beachum after his ACL injury last season – for the starting job at LT next season, with Marcus Gilbert likely sticking at RT.
Bobby Massie (RT, signed by Chi from Ari) – Massie signs with the Bears to play right tackle, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report. He’s on a three-year, $18 million deal with $6.5 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: The signing of Massie will move Kyle Long back to right guard, presumably. Massie has started 46 games in four years for the Cardinals and isn’t exactly a high-end player, but he’s a dependable starter and his signing gives the Bears more depth and options up front. He should help the run game.
Jermon Bushrod (T/G, signed by Mia from Chi) – The Dolphins add Bushrod on a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, Bushrod announced on Twitter.
- Fantasy Analysis: New Dolphin coach Adam Gase was the offensive coordinator in Chicago last year, where Bushrod played tackle. While Bushrod will never be mistaken for Joe Thomas, he’s a 10-year vet who has always earned a ton of respect in the locker room. The Dolphins reportedly believe Bushrod can play guard, which would be a positive for Miami because the guard play in 2015 was poor at best. If not, Bushrod at least gives them a depth option at tackle, so long as his off-season.
Jonathan Cooper (OG, acquired by NE from Ari) – Cooper was sent to the Patriots, along with a second-round pick, as a package for star pass-rusher Chandler Jones, according to Dianna Marie Russini and Adam Schefter of ESPN. Cooper will get paid $14,549,002 over four years, nearly all of which is guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Cooper was a rarity, landing in the top-10 of the NFL Draft in 2013 despite being limited to the guard position. And so far, his career hasn’t panned out, as he’s started just 11 games in two seasons after missing his entire rookie year with a broken left leg. The Cardinals briefly flirted with moving Cooper to center this off-season, but that won’t come to fruition in New England, we’d expect. Cooper has struggled in his limited action in the NFL, but he was an elite run-blocking prospect coming out of UNC, and the Patriots hope veteran OL coach Dante Scarnecchia can get the most out of him, or else trading Jones (albeit in the final year of his contract) will look foolish.
Tony Bergstrom (C, signed by Hou from Oak) – The Texans are bringing in Bergstrom, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. The deal is reportedly for two years and worth $5.75 milloin.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Texans are one of the splashier teams of free agency, but have holes along the offensive line that need to be patched up. While Bergstrom, 30 in August, has started just four games in his career, he can play all three interior line spots. That should help give the Texans options after Brandon Brooks and Ben Jones left in free agency.
Zane Beadles (OG, signed by SF from Jac) – The 49ers signed Beadles to a three-year, $11.75 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Jaguars signed Beadles to a hefty five-year, $30 million deal just two off-seasons ago, but they’ve already let him go despite having a ton of cap space this off-season. That should tell you just how mediocre Beadles has been the last two seasons, but the 49ers certainly have some holes on their offensive line after OG Alex Boone left for Minnesota. Beadles, who will turn 30 in November, should step into the starting lineup at LG, and he previously succeeded in a zone-blocking scheme in Denver until he left in 2014. Beadles has a chance for a bounce back in Chip Kelly’s zone-blocking scheme, and he’s at least been durable throughout his career, starting 94 of his 96 career games.
J’Marcus Webb (G/T, signed by Sea from Oak) – The Seahawks add Webb to their offensive line competition, Webb announced on his Twitter account. He signed a two-year, $6 million deal.
- Fantasy Analysis: Webb’s not a great player, but he’s made multiple starts at LT, RG, and RT in just the last few years alone. The Seahawk line was pretty awful last year, and he at least provides experience to a line that really needs it. Webb likely has a head up on one of the Seahawks’ jobs because of his versatility.
Gino Gradkowski (C, signed by Car from Atl) – The Panthers and Gradkowski agreed to terms on a three-year contract worth $3.15 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Panthers added some depth for the interior of their O-line by signing Gradkowski. He was a well below average center when forced to start for the Ravens in 2012-14, and he couldn’t beat out Mike Person for the starting job in Atlanta last season. HC Ron Rivera said Gradkowski will fill Fernando Velasco’s role from 2015 as a player to plug in as a starter in case of injury.
Players re-signed by their 2015 teams
Richie Incognito (OG, Buf) – The Bills crossed off their top off-season priority by retaining Incognito, according to our friend Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News. According to Incognito on Twitter, it’s a three year deal. He’ll receive $15.75 overall, $5.45 million of which is guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Bills’ major off-season goal – retaining the left side of their offensive line – is complete. After franchising LT Cordy Glenn, the Bills made the big move to retain Incognito on a multi-year deal.The Bills took a shot on Incognito last year, and he rewarded them by establishing himself as one of the better run-blocking guards in the league. They cleared up cap space with several high-profile cuts (Mario Williams, Leodis McKelvin) specifically to get these deals done.
Ramon Foster (LG, Pit) – The Steelers and Foster agreed to a three-year contract, according to The Tribune-Review. The deal is reportedly worth $9.6 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Foster has been a constant for the Steelers since he broke into the league in 2009, and he played every snap of their 18 games last season. He helped the Steelers to a top-10 finish in rushing offense despite a handful of injuries at RB and with C Maurkice Pouncey missing the entire season. Foster also performed well in pass protection, and he’s considered one of the top locker room guys for the Steelers.
Tim Barnes (C, Stl) – The Rams and Barnes reached terms on a two-year contract, according to the Los Angeles Times. Barnes will receive $5.6 million overall, $3.25 of which is guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Barnes had been a career backup before last season before winning the starting center job out of training camp. He started in all 16 games for the Rams in 2015 but was a below average starter. The Rams would be wise to bring in some additional competition for Barnes next season, so he’s not guaranteed to be a starter again next season.
Eric Winston (OT, Cin) – The Bengals re-signed Winston to a one-year, $1.1 million deal, according to the Houston Chronicle.
- Fantasy Analysis: Winston, 32, will be back for an 11th season and he’ll merely provide depth at tackle for the Bengals. The Bengals continue to groom second-year tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, so Winston provides some veteran leadership and experience if he’s forced to play if they struggle.
Mike Harris (OL, Min) – The Vikings re-signed Harris to a one-year deal worth $2 million, according to ESPN’s Vikings reporter.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Vikings signed former 49er OG Alex Boone already in free agency, but he does have the ability to play at tackle, so Harris could still start. He started all 16 games at guard for the Vikings last season, and he’s absolute behemoth at 6’5” and 338 pounds. At the very least, Harris is back on a cheap, one-year deal to provide depth for this Viking offensive line with his positional versatility.
Chris Clark (OT, Hou) – The Texans and Clark agreed to a two-year, $6 million contract, according to the Houston Chronicle.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Texans traded for Clark at the end of last training camp, and he ended up starting five games for the Texans last year. He’s just merely a depth option for the Texans, which is something they need considering LT Duane Brown (torn quad) and RT Derek Newton (back) are coming back off injuries at the end of 2015.
Bryce Harris (OT, Atl) – The Falcons re-signed Harris, according to The Times Picayune. He signed a one-year deal for $820,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Harris appeared in just one game after seeing action in 32 games with the Saints in 2013-14. He is strictly a depth option for the Falcons, and he’ll be in a fight for a roster spot out of training camp.
Charles Brown (OT, Dal) – The Cowboys re-signed Brown on a one-year, $760,000 deal, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- Fantasy Analysis: Brown will once again serve as the team’s swing tackles after appearing in 15 games last season and starting one. The Saints drafted him in the 2nd-round of the 2010 draft, and he started 22 games for them in a four-year span before joining the Cowboys in 2015.
Cordy Glenn (LT, Buf) – The Bills assigned the non-exclusive franchise tag to Glenn, which will be worth $13.7 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Bills made it a top priority to keep Glenn in the fold. He’s been the anchor of this O-line since he took over as the starter at LT during his rookie season in 2012. He’s started the last 57 games at the position, so he’s been incredibly durable. He’s one of the best pass protectors in the league at LT, and The Buffalo News reported at the end of January that Glenn’s salary floor could be $10 million per year in his long-term contract. It makes sense since he’ll be just 27 in September and is playing at one of the league’s premier position. The Bills cut DE Mario Williams in early March to clear up about $27.8 million the next two years, including $12.9 million for 2016. The Bills would love to keep the left side of their intact for 2016 by re-signing Glenn and LG Richie Incognito.
Players acquired by new teams
Chandler Jones (DE, acquired by Ari from NE) – The Cardinals beef up an already stout defense by trading for an IDP stud in his prime, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini. The deal is reportedly for 4 years and worth $8,172,552 with nearly $7.5 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Jones had 12.5 sacks in just his fourth year in the NFL, and could have had more if he hadn’t been in a rotation with DE/OLB Jabaal Sheard. It’s Sheard’s emergence as a pass rushing threat (8 sacks in 2015) that makes this deal possible for the Patriots. Jones is also in the final year of his contract, making it less painful to lose one of the most talented DEs in the game coming off his best season. The move to the Cardinals should put Jones opposite Calais Campbell, but there is concern that Jones will play more OLB on a team that essentially had only one linebacker worth starting. If Jones loses his DE designation, his IDP value could drop.
Olivier Vernon (DE, signed by NYG from Mia) – Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Giants have signed Vernon to a five-year, $85 Million deal.
- Fantasy Analysis: Vernon actually had a monster year in 2015 after Miami fired coach Joe Philbin. His 7.5 sacks and 61 tackles on the season put him on the DL1 border, but from Week Five on, he was the #6 DL for fantasy. The Giants desperately needed a pass rush, so they paid up to get one of the best options left on the market. If Jason Pierre-Paul bounces back from a disappointing 2015 season, the Giants will have significantly improved their front line.
Derrick Shelby (DE, signed by Atl from Mia) – The Falcons addressed their D-line need by signing a young and improving Shelby to a four-year contract worth $18 million, per ESPN’s Field Yates. He’ll have $7.5 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: On a crowded and largely dysfunctional D-line in Miami, Shelby was solid but wasn’t much of a fantasy producer. He should see his snaps rise a little in Atlanta (Shelby logged 72% of Miami’s defensive snaps), so his production could see an uptick.
Damon Harrison (DT, signed by NYG from NYJ) – Harrison simply has to show up to his old job in a new uniform, as the Giants snagged one of the best run defenders in the middle, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano. His five-year deal is worth $46.25 million, with $24 million in guarantees.
- Fantasy Analysis: Harrison might be one of the better pickups this offseason. The Giants sorely needed help on their D-line, and Harrison racked up 72 tackles last season for the Jets. His environment will stay the same (the Jets and Giants share a stadium), which should help the transition to his new team, With Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon flanking Harrison, the Giants D-line has vastly improved on paper.
Robert Ayers (DE, signed by TB from NYG) – One of the last top-end free agent DEs signs with Tampa Bay for three years for $19.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport.
- Fantasy Analysis: Ayers went on a tear starting midway through the 2015 season, and ended up with 9 sacks and 41 tackles (both career highs). It’s always worth noting when a player suddenly has their best year in their contract year, but Ayers should be in a good position with O-Lines playing lots of attention to his new teammates, DT powerhouses Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald.
Nick Fairley (DT, signed by NO from Stl) – Fairley gets a one-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport. An underrated interior lineman, Fairley should add a pass rush in the middle of a revamped Saints D.
- Fantasy Analysis: Fairley comes to New Orleans with his pros and cons. The pros: He’s better than some people realize, because he went from playing in the shadow of Ndamukong Suh to playing next to young sensation Aaron Donald. In St. Louis he was in a timeshare with 2 other DTs, but in New Orleans he should get more playing time. He’s just 28, and it was only a few years ago that Fairley was putting up back-to-back 4.2 FPG seasons (solid in DT-required leagues). Which brings us to the cons: Fairley has yet to play a full season. He played in 14 games (as a part-time player) in 2015, and just 7 the year before. He’s also seen his FPG drop to just 2.1 last season. If he can stay healthy, he has the talent to do damage, because he can get to the QB.
Mario Williams (DE, signed by Mia from Buf) – Clearly not happy in Buffalo, Williams moves from far North to far South without leaving his division on a two-year deal worth $17 million, the Dolphins announced.
- Fantasy Analysis: Williams just never clicked with Rex Ryan’s scheme. He complained of dropping into coverage too much (although he didn’t actually drop into coverage much more often than in years past), and had a poor season on the field and in the box score. Williams joins a crowded and talented line, but likely will replace the Olivier Vernon, who posted 41 solo tackles and 7.5 sacks in 2015 and moved to the Giants.
Malik Jackson (DL, signed by Jac from Den) – Jackson is cashing in on his best season and a Super Bowl victory to the tune of six years and $90 million, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
- Fantasy Analysis: While slightly overshadowed by Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, Jackson himself racked up 7 sacks in 2015 and was one of the more consistent DLs in the league. Jackson should do well under Gus Bradley in Jacksonville, but isn’t likely to do as well as he did under Wade Phillips. Jackson had the freedom of working inside as so much attention was deservedly given to Miller and Ware. With not as much help around him in North Florida – and no longer playing under the most aggressive DC in the game – Jackson might not enjoy quite as good a season as he had in 2015.
Chris Long (DE, signed by NE from Stl) – The Patriots follow the trade of Chandler Jones with a veteran DE signing, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport. It’s a one year deal worth $2 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: While the timing may suggest that Long is the replacement for recently-departed Chandler Jones, the numbers say otherwise. After several years of dominant play, Long’s production (and availability) has been diminishing over the past two seasons. From 2010-2013, Long had at least 8.5 sacks each season. He’s managed just 4 in his last two seasons. Long’s signing appears to be a depth move by the Patriots.
Players re-signed by their 2015 teams
Ahtyba Rubin (DT, Sea) – The Seahawks gave their starting nose tackle a three-year contract extension worth $12 million, according to FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo. $5.5 million is guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: While no longer the 80-tackle DT he was in Cleveland, Rubin is still just 29 and an important cog in their D-line. His 36 tackles (16 solo) last season didn’t make him a solid fantasy option, but he is a solid player on the field.
Haloti Ngata (DT, Det) – The Lions locked up the veteran DT for two more years, according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer. The deal is worth a total of $12 million, with $6 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: In his 10th season, Ngata had his worst fantasy season since his rookie year, logging just 2.0 FPG. His 24 tackles marked a career-low, so while he’s no longer a fantasy option, the veteran has had a good career and should be looking to ride off into the sunset in a Lions uniform.
Jaye Howard (DT, KC) – Howard inked a two-year deal worth $10 million to stay in Kansas City and anchor an impressive D-line, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport.
- Fantasy Analysis: Howard had easily his best fantasy season in 2015; his first full season as a starter. With 57 tackles and 6 sacks, Howard was a value in DT-required leagues and solid in the DL slot. Entering his fifth season, and looking comfortable in KC’s defensive scheme, Howard has the potential to meet or beat those 2015 numbers.
William Hayes (DE, LA) – Per FOX’s Mike Garafolo, the Rams re-signed Hayes to a three-year contract. The deal is reportedly worth $17.5 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Hayes was a steadying force on an injury-riddled Rams D last season, with 54 tackles and 5.5 sacks. It was his best fantasy season, but at 4.2 FPG, that’s not enough to be much of a fantasy option.
Ian Williams (DT, SF) – Williams should have been with San Francisco for the next five years, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport. However, Williams recently failed his physical, prompting the 49ers to reduce his freshly negotiated contract from five years down to one at $3 million. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Williams has had “more than one” surgery on his left ankle and his Week One availability is in question.
- Fantasy Analysis: In a year that featured several dominant DTs, Williams may have gone overlooked, but he had a strong season for the 49ers. While he was inconsistent early, he finished with at least 4 tackles in six of his last seven games.
Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, NYG) – JPP signed a one-year contract with New York, where he will attempt to earn a larger deal next summer. He reportedly turned down more money to stay with the team who drafted him. The deal is worth up to $10.5 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- Fantasy Analysis: The best fantasy DL not named J.J. Watt in 2014, Pierre-Paul’s all-important contract year took a scary detour when he severely damaged his right hand in a Fourth of July fireworks accident. It took him a while to get back on the field, having trouble making much of a contribution by season’s end. While he didn’t light up the box score, JPP played much better than his fantasy stats showed. He was in the backfield often, and improved steadily with each game. He’s also part of a shrinking class of DLs who stay on the field for nearly every defensive snap.
Charles Johnson (DE, Car) – After briefly flirting with a few teams, Johnson will stay in Carolina on a one-year deal for $3 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- Fantasy Analysis: Johnson, 29, may be viewing his best days as a pass rusher from the rear view mirror. If he can stay healthy though, he likely has enough gas left in the tank for another solid year. Johnson battled leg issues all season, and was all but usurped by the talented Kony Ealy and Kawann Short as the team’s pass rushers. However, Johnson will be comfortable in a scheme he’s previously thrived in, and will likely take more plays off to keep his legs fresher, so he could still put together a strong season.
Kyle Williams (DT, Buf) – After missing over half the 2015 season due to injury, Williams took a pay cut to stay in Buffalo to the tune of 3 years, $22.3 million, reports ESPN’s Mike Rodak.
- Fantasy Analysis: Williams is almost 33 and coming off a significant knee injury, but is just two years removed from a 10-sack, 67-tackle season. While those numbers may be hard to come by again for the veteran, his 5-sack, 43-tackle 2014 season is certainly within reach.
Muhammad Wilkerson (DE, NYJ) – The Jets used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Wilkerson, which will be worth $15.7 million guaranteed. The New York Daily News reports that the Jets are actively trying to trade Wilkerson before the draft but could have a tough time doing it.
- Fantasy Analysis: Wilkerson has been one of the best interior defensive linemen over the last couple years, and the Jets won’t let him just walk without getting something in return for him. Wilkerson did break his right fibula in the final game of the year, which required surgery, but he fully expects to be ready for training camp. He’s coming off a season when he finished as the #5 fantasy DL in our site default scoring, finishing with 64 tackles and 12 sacks for 5.9 FPG. They could look to work on a long-term deal, but it’s been widely speculated that they’ll look to trade him before the draft. The New York Daily News’ Manisha Mehta believes it could be a “daunting task” for the Jets to trade Wilkerson before the draft, which is ideally what they are hoping to do.
Players acquired by new teams
Karlos Dansby (LB, signed by Cin from Cle) – The veteran Dansby is set to move across the state, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport. Dansby brings elite coverage skills and a penchant for big plays to the Bengals.
- Fantasy Analysis: Dansby, a cap space casualty in Cleveland, is a perfect fit in Cincinnati. He can fill in for Vontaze Burfict, who is suspended for the first three regular season games. He can cover tight ends well, which can come in handy versus their rival Pittsburgh’s new tight end Ladarius Green. And he can move inside and outside, providing the Bengals lots of options in sub packages. He’s also a nice insurance policy in case the hot headed Burfict finds himself on the business end of yet another suspension. Dansby, 34, has probably seen his best days for fantasy slip by him, as his last two seasons have tailed off. After spending the majority of his career in the 7-8 FPG range, he finished the last two seasons at 6.7 and 6.6 respectively. Still, Dansby had 110 tackles last season, along with 3 INTs. He should still be an LB2/LB3 with big play upside in Cincy.
Demario Davis (ILB, signed by Cle from NYJ) – The former Jets ILB signed a two-year deal with the Browns, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. The deal is reportedly worth $8 million, with $4.1 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Davis had back-to-back 100-tackle seasons in 2013-2014 before losing some playing time last season. Though he still managed 89 tackles (along with 2 sacks), it’s likely that the Browns view him as an upgrade from Craig Robertson and Karlos Dansby (who the team cut not long after Davis signed), meaning Davis could play every down with Cleveland.
Nigel Bradham (OLB, signed by Phi from Buf) – The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that the Eagles will be reuniting Bradham with his former DC Jim Schwartz. He signed a two-year deal worth $7 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Bradham had an injury-shortened 2015 mercifully come to an end under the new coaching regime in Buffalo. Still, he had a decent season, finishing with 5.5 FPG, but that’s not the player the Eagles hope they just signed. Under his once-old-now-new coach Schwartz, Bradham logged 101 tackles in 2014. Bradham is still young, entering his fifth season.
Danny Trevathan (ILB, signed by Chi from Den) – Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Trevathan is on his way to Chicago. He signed a four-year deal worth $24.5 million dollars, including a $5 million signing bonus and $12 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Trevathan had a strong season in 2015 on his way to a Super Bowl victory, reaching the 100-tackle mark for the second time in three seasons. Chicago has struggled to find an athletic (and decisive) presence in the middle of their defense, but a reunion of Trevathan with his former coach John Fox looks to be a good fit for both player and team. Trevathan should be at home in this 3-4 defense and is likely to remain a 3-down LB.
Bruce Irvin (LB, signed by Oak from Sea) – Irvin signed a four-year deal with the Raiders worth $37 million, including $19 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: With the money the Seahawks spent on signings in 2015, Irvin wasn’t expected to find big money left for him in Seattle. If the deal becomes official, Irvin and his 22 career sacks should fill a void as an LB capable of rushing the passer alongside Khalil Mack, and dropping into coverage, something Oakland has sorely missed in recent years. He reunites with former Seattle LB coach Ken Norton, Jr., so Irvin should feel comfortable in Silver and Black, should the deal go through.
Kiko Alonso (ILB, traded from Phi to Mia) – Albert Breer is reporting the trade has finally gone through, bolstering an area of weakness for Miami. Alonso takes on a four-year deal worth $4,300,401.
- Fantasy Analysis: Will the real Kiko Alonso please stand up? Alonso had a monster rookie campaign in Buffalo in 2014, but injuries and a crowded LB corps contributed to a pretty hard Sophomore Slump in 2015. The Dolphins could surely use his help though, as Alonso’s speed and lateral range should be a nice boost to a group of LBs without much playmaking ability. That’s if Alonso finds his old form and can stay healthy.
Shea McClellin (ILB, signed by NE from Chi) – After Chicago added two new LBs, McClellin finds a new home in New England on a three-year deal, according to according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport. The deal is reportedly worth $12 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: McClellin made progress last season, but never fully blossomed into his first round pick potential. He’s shifted between OLB and ILB in recent years, so that may have stunted his growth, but with the loss of Jerod Mayo to retirement and three of their backup LBs to free agency, the Patriots could use some talented depth. Depth is likely all McClellin will be in New England though, as they have Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower to handle the lion’s share of the workload. Still, McClellin showed flashes of production last season, so it wouldn’t be a shock if the Patriots find a way to use him more effectively.
James Laurinaitis (ILB, signed by NO from Stl) – Laurinaitis has been slowing down, but might find new life as an OLB in New Orleans, per NFL Media’s Rand Getlin.
- Fantasy Analysis: While Laurinaitis still racked up 109 tackles in 2015, his coverage skills have started to erode, and his solo tackles have dropped from triple-digits in his prime to just 61 last season. With Stephone Anthony doing a solid job at MLB, there is some uncertainty as to where an aging Laurinaitis may fit in. It’s possible that a move to OLB – while providing a veteran presence to help Anthony’s growth – may be the solution. That would bode well for Laurinaitis’s playing time, but his already diminishing tackle numbers are likely to keep slipping, taking him out of the LB1 conversation.
Players re-signed by their 2015 teams
Junior Galette (OLB, Was) – After missing all of 2015 due to injury Galette and the Redskins called for a do-over with a one-year deal, according to the team. The deal is worth $1.6 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Galette amassed 22 sacks and 85 tackles in 2013 and 2014 before being cut by New Orleans. After signing with Washington in 2015, Galette ruptured his Achilles Tendon and missed the entire season. With a healthy need for a pass rushing LB, Washington is hoping Galette returns for 2016 healthy and capable of putting up production similar to his last two seasons in New Orleans.
Vincent Rey (OLB, Cin) –The Bengals keep yet another IDP, this time on three-year deal worth $10.5 million, according to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Inquirer. $3 million is guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Rey saw more playing time than most expected in 2015 due to the injuries to Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict. Rey had 95 tackles with the extra opportunities, and is just a year removed from a 122-tackle season. Rey’s numbers are going in the wrong direction for him to be considered as a candidate to hit triple-digit tackles again, but with Burfict suspended for the first three games of 2016, Rey will again see more playing time than originally expected.
Derrick Johnson (ILB, KC) – Johnson is set to play another three years in Kansas City, according to Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star. He will get $21 million over the three years, including a signing bonus of $5.25 million and $12 million in guarantees.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Chiefs needed a bit of good news today, and they got some, locking up one of the better linebackers in the league. Johnson racked up 117 tackles in 2015, making it five seasons out of his last six of triple-digit tackles (his only blemish was 2014 when he only played one game). He should remain in the middle of the action next season.
Rolando McClain (ILB, Dal) – Per NFL Network’s Rand Getlin, the Cowboys are locking up one of their better run defenders. McClain’s one-year deal is reportedly worth $4 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: McClain’s return to the MLB slot should allow Dallas to keep Sean Lee on the outside, giving them a versatile LB duo. While Lee’s inability to stay on the field is well-documented, McClain hasn’t been stellar in the department, either. He has yet to play a full 16 games, and played in 11 last season, mainly due to a four-game suspension. He hasn’t played in more than 13 games in any of the last three seasons. But when he’s on the field, he’s a solid tackler and pass defender. He finished 2015 strong with double-digit tackles in four of his last five games.
Mason Foster (ILB, Was) – Washington wisely brings back a solid presence in the middle on a two-year deal, according to ESPN.com’s John Keim. The deal is reportedly worth $2.5 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: With fellow LB Keenan Robinson not quite producing as Washington had hoped, it appears that Foster will take over at the “Mike” and Robinson may not be back. Foster was solid in the middle, but put up LB3/LB4 numbers. He averaged 6 tackles per game after he took over in Week 13 of last season.
Tamba Hali (OLB, KC) – Hali signed a 3-year contract to keep him in KC for what may be his final contract. The deal is worth up to $22 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- Fantasy Analysis: After averaging almost 12 sacks per season from 2010-2013, Hali has slowed down considerably over the last two seasons. His 6.5 sacks in 2015 barely eclipsed a 6 sack season in 2014. Hali had his 2nd-worst fantasy season in his career last season, and seems firmly planted on the back nine of his career, battling injuries and fatigue. Hali only played in nine games last season.
Von Miller (Den) – The Broncos gave Miller the exclusive franchise tag, which if signed would pay him just over $14 million. More than likely, it just opened a longer window for the two sides to agree to a monster extension.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Super Bowl MVP, Miller took over the entire playoffs for the Broncos, including making sure Tom Brady will see him in nightmares for years to come. To put it simply, Miller will be in Denver next season. And though the Broncos used the franchise tag on their best player, there appears to be mutual interest in a long-term deal here, so the Broncos merely extended the window until mid July. As for fantasy, Miller doesn’t have much value except for those in sack-heavy leagues – he racked up 11 sacks in 2015, but made just 30 solo tackles. Regardless, the Broncos cannot afford to let him walk, which is why he received the “exclusive” tender.
Players acquired by new teams
Eric Weddle (FS, signed by Bal from SD) – One of the top safeties on the market settles on Baltimore with a four—year deal, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal is reportedly worth $26 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: One of the most consistent safeties for fantasy, Weddle had an unceremonious end to his days in San Diego, landing on Injured Reserve during the last season on the only team he ever played for. Baltimore has had an inconsistent group of DBs lately, so Weddle’s veteran presence should be a nice boost to their secondary. Weddle’s numbers tailed off a bit last season, ending with 75 tackles in only 13 games, but he still ended up not far off from his season averages, so it appears his dropoff is slight. At 30 and likely motivated to prove himself after his former team jettisoned him, Mr. Consistent should continue being just that.
Sean Smith (CB, signed by Oak from KC) – Oakland upgraded their secondary by adding Smith on a four-year deal worth $38 million, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport. $20 million is guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Smith should help Oakland’s inconsistent secondary, as he is a sure tackler and one of the more consistent CBs in the league. He’s not much for big plays – just 7 PD last season, and has never recorded more than 2 INTs in a season – but he usually gets his 45-50 tackles per season like clockwork.
Rashad Johnson (FS, signed by Ten from Ari) – Johnson lands in a great spot, and adds experience to a revamped Titans secondary on a one-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport.
- Fantasy Analysis: Johnson had a down year for fantasy last season, as the Arizona secondary was quite crowded. The team routinely ran out 5 DBs, and there were only so many tackles to go around. He managed 56 tackles in 14 games, but yet again flashed his big play skill set. Johnson pulled down 5 INTs, a year after grabbing 4 INTs. In that 2014 season – when Johnson had more playing time – he hung 90 tackles on the league. The key to which Johnson we will see in 2016 is the player he’s replacing: Michael Griffin. Johnson should slot into the Griffin role, which for years has been a fantasy goldmine for DBs. Just over the past two seasons, Griffin had 209 tackles and 4 sacks. If Johnson can fill that role AND grab his share of INTs, this could be a huge move.
Tashaun Gipson (S, signed by Jax from Cle) – The Jaguars get some much needed help in their secondary by signing Gipson to a five-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Adam Caplan. He’ll receive a total of $36 million with $12 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Gipson had an up-and-down season in 2015, playing in just 13 games. In his last full season (2013), Gipson had 94 tackles, 5 INTs, and 10 PD. The Jaguars are banking on a healthy Gipson repeating those numbers. With SS Johnathan Cyprien playing close to the line to help stop the run, Gipson could be a busy (and productive) player in Jacksonville’s secondary.
Brent Grimes (CB, signed by TB from Mia) – Grimes stays in the sunshine state moving to Tampa Bay on a two-year deal worth $13.5 million, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
- Fantasy Analysis: Grimes’ production has been slowly declining over the past three seasons, with his tackle numbers dropping from 60 to 48 and his FPG slipping from the 5-6 range down to the low/mid 4s in recent years. He does get the benefit of playing under Lovie Smith, who has upped the production of several DBs in his coaching career. Still, Grimes – entering his 10th season – isn’t likely to see a surge back to CB1/CB2 range.
Rodney McLeod (S, signed by Phi from LA) – The Eagles picked up an underrated safety to match up with Malcolm Jenkins, signing McLeod to a five-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport. McLeod will receive $17 million guaranteed and $35 million total.
- Fantasy Analysis: McLeod is arguably the most underrated safety in the league. He’s a great tackler, reads the QB well, and has some of the best lateral range in the game. When paired up with Jenkins, the Eagles may have the best safety duo in the league. Just 25, McLeod may still be improving. Last season, McLeod had a career-best 79 tackles, and has steadily improved his FF numbers each year. That usually means a safety is getting comfortable enough in coverage to start making more big plays.
Michael Griffin (S, signed by Min from Ten) – The Vikings signed the veteran Griffin to a one-year deal for $2.5 million, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport.
- Fantasy Analysis: Minnesota struggled to find a complement to Harrison Smith last season, as they were burned often by inexperience. Griffin brings a boatload of experience and should be comfortable roaming centerfield while Smith attacks the line. Last year, Griffin was 1 tackle shy of reaching the triple-digit mark in back-to-back seasons, but he also missed a game, so the Vikings could see a huge improvement in their secondary. However, Griffin isn’t likely to hit the century mark in tackles in Minnesota, as the Vikings defense funnels most of the tackle opportunities Smith’s way.
Tyvon Branch (S, signed by Ari from KC) – Branch inks a two-year deal and joins an aggressive secondary in Arizona, according to FOX’s Mike Garofolo. Branch’s deal is worth a total of $8 million, with $5 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: Branch had trouble finding playing time with so many talented members of the secondary in Kansas City, but in Arizona he should find more playing time as the Cardinals ran out 5 DBs for most of the season. With a few of those DBs free agents, he may be a significant contributor for the Cardinals. Branch had a few 100-tackle seasons in Oakland a few years back before losing significant playing time to injury. While triple-digit tackles might not be in the “cards,” there’s a good chance he’ll be busy with his new team.
Janoris Jenkins (CB, signed by NYG from Stl) – Jenkins officially signed a five-year, $62.5 million contract with the Giants, including a $10 million signing bonus.
- Fantasy Analysis: Jenkins has been a steady producer with big-play ability in his first four seasons. He’s averaged 5 FPG or more in every season. His consistency is in his 55 or more solos per year, and his big-play ability shows up in his 10 career INTs. The Giants could use both as their secondary is thin and largely inexperienced.
Leodis McKelvin (CB, signed by Phi from Buf) – With Buffalo flush at DB, and Philly just trading away Byron Maxwell, McKelvin lands in a good spot, signing a two-year deal for $6.2 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: After back-to-back strong seasons in 2013-2014, McKelvin battled injury in 2015. By the time he got back on the field, his secondary was crowded with talented players. McKelvin fought for playing time in Buffalo, but should have room to run in Philadelphia as the Eagles recently traded away CB Byron Maxwell. The team did re-sign Nolan Carroll, but McKelvin also knows the Eagles defensive scheme well. Philly defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was McKelvin’s DC in Buffalo a few years ago, when McKelvin had his best fantasy season, tallying a career-high 4 INTs.
Byron Maxwell (CB, traded from Phi to Mia) – Maxwell and the Dolphins re-negotiated his contract, after he previously signed a lucrative deal with the Eagles last year.
- Fantasy Analysis: Maxwell brings with him a questionable shoulder and an inconsistent 2015, but did post his best fantasy season of his career, with 5.5 FPG. The Dolphins get a veteran presence, but this shouldn’t be viewed as a significant upgrade for the “Fins.”
Prince Amukamara (CB, signed by Jac from NYG) – Amukamara is coming to Jacksonville on a one-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport. This short contract is likely in the hopes he can put together a full year of production before testing the market again, something he hasn’t done since 2013. The deal is worth $5.5 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Amukamara finished as the #1 CB in FPG with 6.8. He also topped the CB leaderboard in 2014. He is a sure tackler that adds experience on a team with young cornerbacks. If the Jaguars continue to get into shooting matches, Amukamara could make it 3-in-a-row. His only issue has been availability. He’s played a total of 19 games over the last 2 seasons.
Players re-signed by their 2015 teams
Nolan Carroll (CB, Phi) – After testing free agency, Carroll re-signs with the Eagles on a one-year deal for as much as $3 Million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport.
- Fantasy Analysis: Carroll was having a monster season before breaking his ankle on Thanksgiving Day. His 5.6 FPG made him a CB1/CB2 for much of the season. He had a career high 55 tackles in just 11 games before the injury. He’s expected to be fully recovered by training camp, and when he arrives he’ll be greeted by two newly-acquired CBs in Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks. The Eagles may have one of the best secondaries in the game.
George Iloka (S, Cin) – Iloka and the Bengals agreed to a new five-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport. He’ll get a total of $30 million over the five years.
- Fantasy Analysis: Iloka was having a solid season until a groin injury slowed him Weeks 14-17. He’s usually worth around 70 tackles per season, and he’ll stay in a system he’s comfortable with. He and CB Adam Jones are both returning to the Bengals, helping retain some continuity in their secondary.
Adam Jones (CB, Cin) – Per NFL Media Insider’s Ian Rapaport, the Bengals re-signed Jones to a three-year contract worth $22 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Jones had a resurgent 2015, with 62 tackles and 6.0 FPG (highest of his career). At 33, Jones has retained most of his speed, but has added veteran savvy to his repertoire (possibly doing his best Charles Woodson impression). Jones is also still an option as a return man, which helps his fantasy value.
Mark Barron (S/LB, LA) – Barron remains with the Rams on a five-year, $45 Million deal, according the ESPN’s Ed Werder.
- Fantasy Analysis: Barron should take Alec Ogletree out to dinner, as it was Ogletree’s injury that allowed Barron to move from safety to more of an OLB spot on the Rams. It was there he put together a breakout year, just in time to ink a new deal. With Ogletree on the mend, but James Laurinaitis on the downside of his career, only time will tell whether Barron plays more LB, more safety, or plays a hybrid role. Either way, Barron should remain valuable to this defense. He racked up 113 tackles in 2015 in the hybrid role, but even at safety he has posted 80 tackles twice in his young career.
William Gay (CB, Pit) – Gay remains in Pittsburgh, where he had a solid season in 2015. It’s a three-year deal, according to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review. Gay will see $7.5 million and $1.9 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: While there was nothing special about Gay’s 2015 season, he quietly put together a solid year in a secondary that was generally considered poor. Gay had a rough fantasy stretch in the middle of the season, but in Weeks 10-17, he produced solid DB3/CB2 numbers.
Shareece Wright (CB, Bal) – The Ravens re-signed Wright to a three-year, $16 million contract with $5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN.
- Fantasy Analysis: Wright started seven games for the Ravens last year after being cut by the 49ers in October. He couldn’t get on to the field for the 49ers and asked for his release, and he played well enough for the Ravens to get a new deal. He finished the year with 40 total tackles and 0 INTS, and he has just 1 career INT in five seasons. Wright will likely compete for one of the starting jobs at CB for the Ravens next year.
Josh Norman (CB, Car) – The Panthers place the non-exclusive franchise tag on Norman, which will be worth $13.95 million guaranteed. The Charlotte Observer reported that Norman is looking for $14-15 million a year in a long-term deal.
- Fantasy Analysis: Norman would’ve been one of the top free agents regardless of position this off-season, but the Panthers didn’t let him hit the open market. The two sides could work into the summer to work out a long-term deal, but talks have reportedly gone nowhere so far early this year. Norman developed into one of the top shutdown CBs in the league in 2015, which elevated the play of the rest of this average Panther secondary. Norman registered 56 total tackles, 4 INTs (2 for TDs), 3 FF, and 2 FRs in 16 games last season. He’s an invaluable player and a staple on this elite defense, so both sides will work to keep him around longer than just 2016.
Trumaine Johnson (CB, Stl) – The Rams assigned the non-exclusive franchise tag to Johnson, which will be worth $13.95 million guaranteed.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Rams essentially chose to use their franchise tag on Johnson over their other top CB Janoris Jenkins, which obviously suggests they value Johnson more. That’s not to say they won’t try to keep their secondary intact by bringing back Jenkins. In 14 games in 2015, Johnson finished with 7 INTs, 1 pick-six, and 71 total tackles for 6.8 FPG in our site default scoring. He missed two games because of a thigh injury and he also had a concussion early in the season.
Eric Berry (S, KC) – The NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year received Kansas City’s non-exclusive franchise tender, the team announced. If signed, the tag will pay Berry close to $11 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Berry will be with the Chiefs in 2016, and very likely into the future. First of all, there’s no way another team is giving up two first-round picks to sign him, so he’s locked into the Chiefs unless Kansas City pulls the tag back. But Chief GM John Dorsey released a statement indicating that the Chiefs still plan to negotiate a long-term contract with Berry, and the tag simply gives them more time to do so. Remember Chiefs did deal with something similar last year, when they franchised Justin Houston in order to keep him with the club, and worked out a long-term deal in July 2015. Averaging 4.5 FPG in 16 games in 2015, Berry earned the AP Comeback Player of the Year Award after overcoming a cancer diagnosis and had 61 tackles and 2 INTs.
Players acquired by new teams
Josh Scobee (K, NO) – Scobee signed a one-year deal with the Saints, he announced on his Facebook page.
- Fantasy Analysis: Scobee was awful in Pittsburgh last year, missing 4 of the 10 field goals he attempted after an August trade. The Steelers cut him in October, but Scobee clearly has been stewing and ready to get back in action. Currently, he’s the only Saint kicker under contract with Kai Forbath a free agent, but Scobee will undoubtedly have some competition come training camp.
Brad Nortman (P, signed by Jac from Car) – Nortman agrees to a four-year deal with the Jaguars, according to Rich Eisen of NFL Network.
- Fantasy Analysis: The most noteworthy aspect of this signing is it means Bryan Anger, the punter most famous for being drafted with Russell Wilson still on the board, will be leaving Jacksonville. Nortman was about league-average with a 45.4 gross yards per punt, below Anger’s 46.3. He’ll likely be punting more in Jacksonville than he did in Carolina last year (70 times).
Players re-signed by their 2015 teams
Phil Dawson (K, SF) – The Niners re-signed Dawson to a one-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. It is reportedly worth $3.134 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Dawson had an excellent season in 2015, going 24/27 on field goals, but because the Niners’ offense was so awful, he managed just 20/21 XPs. We’ll see if Chip Kelly’s pace can lead to more points in San Francisco, and therefore more XP/FG attempts for the 41-year-old Dawson, but he’s unlikely to be drafted given how devoid San Francisco’s offense was of talent last season.
Adam Vinatieri (K, Ind) – The Colts announced they’ve signed Vinatieri to a two-year contract worth up to $6 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: The amazing Vinatieri, entering his age 43 season, made his final 25 FG attempts of the 2015 season (he missed his first two), and missed only two XPs under the new rules. He’s still good, and should get back to being a top fantasy asset presuming Andrew Luck is back to full health for 2016.
Nick Novak (K, Hou) – The Texans re-signed Novak, the team announced. It’s a one-year deal worth $965,000.
- Fantasy Analysis: Novak made 18 of 21 field goals and 29 of 31 XPs after signing with the Texans in early October. He’ll likely have competition for Houston’s kicking job, but should be the favorite heading into camp.
Mason Crosby (K, GB) – The Packers are keeping their reliable kicker in town, agreeing to a four-year, $16 million deal with a $5 million signing bonus, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. It’s a very Ted Thompson move.
- Fantasy Analysis: Back in 2012, Crosby was horrific, making just 63.6% of his FGs, nearly losing his job, which the Packers opened for competition. Since then, he’s been very consistent in a tough place to kick, making at least 82% of his FGs in each season, topping out at 89.2% in 2013. Crosby’s 28 FG attempts in 2015 actually tied his career-low, but the Packers had their worst offense of the Aaron Rodgers era given their injury issues. Expect the Packers to be better in 2016 just by default, and Crosby once again could be among the most useful fantasy kickers.
Kai Forbath (K, NO) – The Saints re-signed Forbath to a one-year deal for $840,000, according to Forbath’s Instagram account.
- Fantasy Analysis: The Redskins cut Forbath after Week 1 after missing a field goal against the Dolphins, but he resurfaced with the Saints for 10 games from Week 7 on. Forbath connected on just 9 of his 13 field-goal attempts with the Saints, so he finished with a lousy 66.7% conversion rate (10 of 15). The Saints have already brought in former Jaguars K Josh Scobee, so they will have a training camp competition for the job.
Jon Ryan (P, Sea) – The Seahawks bring Ryan back on a four-year, $10 million deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
- Fantasy Analysis: This is a comfort signing, as Ryan is 35 and averaged under 38.0 net yards per punt last season. The Seahawks are choosing to go with the devil they know, which is defensible.
Shane Lechler (P, Hou) – The Texans are bringing Lechler back for his age-40 season on a one-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Rand Getlin. The contract is reportedly worth $1.8 million.
- Fantasy Analysis: Lechler’s old, but he’s still productive, ranking 5th in the NFL with 47.3 yards per punt last season (though his 38.8 net yards drop him all the way to 26th).
Justin Tucker (K, Bal) – The Ravens tagged Tucker for just over $4.5 million, and he signed his tender as of March 4th.
- Fantasy Analysis: Nothing really to see here. The Ravens and Tucker need more time to work out a long-term deal, but it’d be a shock if he isn’t in Baltimore next season. Tucker and his agent may be looking for more than what Mason Crosby just got in Green Bay – $16 million over four years. Regardless if he gets a long-term deal or plays under the tag, Tucker should remain one of the most productive kickers in the NFL.
Source: Fantasy Guru
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