Top NFL Free Agency Moves | 2018 Fantasy Football

by Nick Ercolano March 28, 2018

Top NFL Free Agency Moves | 2018 Fantasy Football

I'm not going to break down every single move that was made -- if you want to check out what I think about the Browns moves as a whole -- I made a separate video on that you can check it here -- just a side note for Jarvis Landry people's I think this one is super simple. He thrived on volume and receptions. He had nearly 28% of Miami's targets over the last couple of szns. He's just not getting that in Cleveland. Not with Josh Gordon, who had 26% of the shares in those 5 games he played in to finish off 2017, they have Corey Coleman, they have Duke Johnson, it just isn't happening. So, just don't think about Jarvis like you normally would. Still a good football player, but he's not going to get that volume.

Ok, again this video isn't every player, it's the players I think will have the most for fantasy football. What I like to do, and I told this to someone who I'm likely bringing on as a blogger for me this summer -- if you're interested in blogging for BDGE shoot me an email, I'll link it below.

All ADPs are from Draft.com (use promo code "bdge" when you sign up for entry into a free money league).

Quarterbacks

Kirk Cousins - Minnesota Vikings

Current ADP - 76 (QB9)

  • 3-year, $84-million (Fully GTD - whhooooop)
  • The perfect landing spot for Cappin Kirk. He's got Diggs and Thielen on the outside, one of the top, young WR duos in the NFL. A super reliable RZ target in Rudolph at TE and the dynamic pass-catching back in Dalvin Cook returning from injury.
  • Cousins is riding three straight 4,000-yard passing seasons, turning 30 in August and hitting the pinnacle of his career. He seems to get drafted this late every year, and continuously beats that ADP.
  • What I like most of about this spot is the weapons, of course, but we've seen him use every one of these types of guys. 
  • The two WRs in Diggs and Thielen -- In 2016 both D-Jax and Garcon went over 1,000 yards with Cousins, Crowder was right behind them with 847. You look at a good redzone TE like Rudolph. Is anyone else in here old enough to remember when Jordan Reed was healthy? Back in 2015? He went for 87-952-11. You look at the splits with and without Reed (in 15 and 16, Reed was a shell last year, playing in like 30% of snaps), Cousins averaged almost 50 passing yards, 3 more completions and more than 0.5 a touchdown more per game... Kirk Cousins Jordan Reed Splits
  • And Dalvin Cook --- I feel like 2017 Chris Thompson is really all I need to say. He was a league winner before getting hurt. 
  • Of course, this offense is likely more conservative, and this defense will be stout, so the volume will probably dip a bit for Cousins, but the efficiency should lead him to career highs in many areas. He's an easy QB1 in 2018.

Wide Receivers

Allen Robinson - Chicago Bears

Current ADP - 60 (WR24)

  • 3-year, $42-million
  • This is a really hard one to decipher. 
  • Most people get real rowdy about WR free agency moves, they think it's Madden - simple plug and play and we're good.
  • For the most part, you need 1 of 2 things to happen in order for the move to be successful for the WR on a fantasy basis, sometimes you need both.
  • There must be a quarterback upgrade, or there must be a big opportunity upgrade.
  • It's impossible to argue the opportunity here. There's a 0% chance A-Rob isn't WR1 in Chicago this year. 
  • The Bears have 225 targets and about 2,000 air yards available from last year's squad (per Rotoworld). As I'll touch on later, they did add the former Eagles TE Trey Burton, a good redzone target, to the roster.
  • What you have to be cautious about is Mitch Trubisky. Idk whether or not he's an upgrade from Bortles. If you think you know the answer to that, you're just lying, because we don't. 
  • Mitchell Trubisky's 2017 Stats:Mitchell Trubisky Stats 2017
  • His completion % ranked 30th among NFL QBs. But of course, he was a rookie in 2017, had almost nothing to work with on offense in terms of weapons, and it was nearly impossible for him to get in a groove seeing as how he threw the ball 25 times or less in 5-of-12 games last year. So, no need to shit on the man right away. The storyline this year is that they want to be the 2018 version of the Rams, and Trubisky is this year's Goff.
  • I wanted to look a little deeper, so we checked out PlayerProfiler. He ranked pretty awful in just about every category they had -- money throws, air yards/attempt, true completion %, RZ completion %, pressured completion %, true passer rating, etc. He did rank 11th in deep ball completion % though, which is nice I guess.
  • So, for me, it all lies in Trubisky's development. As it stands, I'm perfectly okay, and would probably jump at the opportunity to draft A-Rob at pick 60, but I don't think he'll stay there. When he starts dipping lower, he'll become riskier and riskier. We know the talent, and the big season he had, but that was also three years ago. He had that weird, off 2016 season, like what was that, and then tore his ACL last year. He also has some rough in-division cornerback matchups, seeing Darius Slay and Xavier Rhodes in 25% of his games. That was another storyline for Robinson is that he struggles against top CBs and takes advantage of shitty ones. This could work against him here. He is just 24 years old, turning 25 in August, so the upside is huge, I'm just going to be a bit cautious when his ADP starts shooting up.

Paul Richardson - Washington Redskins

Current ADP - 157 (WR60)

  • 5-year, $40-million.
  • Kind of out of control, but I like what Richardson brings to Alex Smith.
  • Smith loses Tyreek Hill, the Redskins lose Terrelle Pryor, they don't have a deep threat.
  • Richardson is that guy for Alex Smith now.Paul Richardson Player Profiler
  • Richardson's raw numbers are impressive. 4.40 40-yard speed, great explosive ability, can get up and snag the ball out of the air - basically a poor-mans A.J. Green - but he'll have a lot of opportunity in Washington. He set career-highs around the board with a 44-703-6 line as Seattle's number 2 option on the outside.
  • Looking at Player Profiler, in 2017 Richardson ranked 6th in total air yards, top-10 in both aDOT and yards per reception, 14th in QB rating when targeted, 21st in fantasy points per target, 11th in production premium and t-18th in the NFL in both receptions of 20+ and 40+ yards. A lot of the numbers tell me that he's good when targeted, but hasn't gotten the opportunity.
  • That being said, will he? There's Jamison Crowder, Chris Thompson, Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed. Crowder is my only concern. Thompson to an extent, he saw 14.7% of the Skins targets in his 10 games, but CT Crunch and Richardson don't share the same type of targets, Doctson has proved nothing outside of being able to catch EZ throws and Reed will probably be hurt by the time I edit and post this!
  • Alex Smith was never a great deep passer, but he did rank #1 in the NFL last year, almost definitely because of Tyreke Hill. But I guess I'd rather have the #1 deep passer throwing P-Richy the skin then... not the #1? I'm not predicting a breakout but the move certainly intrigues me. Crowder's my favorite WR option here but between CT and Reed's injury history, there could be room for targets for P-Rich.

Running Backs

Jerick McKinnon - San Francisco 49ers

Current ADP - 111 (RB33)

  • 4-year $30-mil (4th highest RB in NFL)
  • Shanny absolutely loves him McKinnon. Shanny actually uses his RBs on 1st/2nd down in the passing game - a strength of McKinnon. He had a career-high 51 receptions last year, 14th most among RBs, and he barely played the first 4 games before Dalvin Cook went down with that injury.
  • You also look at Hyde, who's definitely a capable receiving back, but by no means is that his strong point. This is where McKinnon is the differentiator. Hyde's 59 catches ranked him 6th among all NFL backs, his 88 targets were 5th. But his 5.9 yards per reception ranked him 67th. His 5.7 YAC ranked him 64th. Now. McKinnon on the other hand, gained 8.3 yards per reception compared to Hyde's 5.9. And 9.2 yards after the catch, Hyde's - 5.7. It's clear who moves better with the ball in their hands.
  • I want to hammer this point home about him going to this offense and Shanahan using the pass early and often. I was looking at an incredible page from Sharp Stats depicting pass/run ratios on different downs. The % of 1st downs in which SF threw the ball was 5th in the NFL and if you look at that percentage over 1st and 2nd down, they're 6th heaviest in the NFL in % of plays being passes. Minnesota was dead last in both of those categories, throwing the ball just 39% of the time on 1st down (SF around 53%). That's why Hyde dominated in the receiving game. 
  • Expected to play the Devonta Freeman role - under Shanahan Freeman went nuts for 3,180 total yards, 27 touchdowns and 127 receptions in just 31 games over the two-year span.
  • You have to remember how young he is. Only 25, turns 26 in May. It's easy to say he's had his chance as a starter and couldn't handle it, but those offenses he was in were awful. Remember how bad those offensive lines were in MIN? It was nearly impossible for anyone to have success.
  • Now McKinnon steps into a great spot, under Shanahan, behind Jimmy Garrop. I love him as a top-10 RB in PPR leagues.

I don't necessarily love a lot of the other moves at RB in free agency, if you want to talk about someone specific, go ahead and drop a comment down below and we can talk. Bell obviously resigned with PIT, Hyde to CLV doesn't excite me that much, he did a ton of his damage through the air last year and won't get those opportunities with Duke Johnson sharing time. Dion Lewis landing in Tennessee is a terrible spot. I still expect big tings from the little guy, but.. So, my second favorite RB move was actually:

Rex Burkhead - New England Patriots

Current ADP - 95 (RB32)

  • 3-year, $9.75-million ($5.5M GTD - a lot for the Patriots)
  • A big reason I think the Pats let go of Dion Lewis, obviously they wanted to keep him, but Flex Burkhead and Lewis share a ton of the same assets to this offense.
  • I mean just look at Burkhead's numbers last year in just 10 games. He had 518 total yards, 30 catches and 8 touchdowns.. in just 10 games. Over a 16-game szn that paces out to 830 total yards, 48 catches and 12.8 touchdowns -- would have been RB13 (0.5PPR) right behind Jordan Howard. He earned his way to the point where he made Gillislee and James White pretty much redundant. 
  • Burk also had the 2nd most rush attempts (7) inside the 5, just behind Gillislee (8). They brought in Jeremy Hill, but I think it's the same story, they trust Burkhead down there around the goal-line. More importantly, maybe, he didn't lose any fumbles last year.
  • I'm not expecting a Dion Lewis, down the stretch type breakout, but I think Goathead is going to be a monster value in PPR leagues in '18.

Tight Ends

Trey Burton - Chicago Bears

Current ADP - 173 (TE25)

  • 4-year, $32-million deal.
  • Don't hate the landing spot, but he's not the only tight end there.
  • Adam Sheehan is in the picture and showed flashes of potential in 2017. He's still very young (24) and raw. They still have Dion Sims, as of this video, but he's way more impactful as a blocker than as a receiving TE.
  • I do love the fit under new Bears HC Matt Nagy. He's the former Chiefs OC. Nagy was responsible for helping to design a Chief offense that utilized multi-TE packages on 378 plays in 2017, 5th most in the NFL. KC also ran an offense which topped the league in tight end target rate each of the last two seasons.
  • The opportunity should be there, but we'll have to see how Trubisky progresses and whether or not they choose to use the undersized Burton (6-3, 235) or Sheehan (6-6, 275) near the EZ.

    Jimmy Graham - Green Bay Packers

    Current ADP - 64 (TE6)

    • 3-year, $30-million deal.
    • People might play too much into the fact that the Packers haven't used the TE historically. And it's definitely a thing, but I think you need to use it in context
    • Adam Levitan put this in a great way, he's basically going to be a goal-line back for GB. 
    • If you watched him last year, he could barely move. TE4 in fantasy, 10th in receptions (57), 17th in receiving yards (520). But obviously, TDs kept him afloat - led all TEs with 10.
    • His YPR dipped from 14.2 in 2016 to 9.1 in 2017. His 3.7 yards after catch were tied for 57th among 69 qualified TEs.
    • He'll turn 32 this year, and he really can't move lol, idk how much more I can get that across to you.
    • He will score TDs. Rodgers will give him that. But the myth that was Jimmy Graham the basketball player is gone. I'm laying low on him in any sort of PPR league. Standard league, he should be nice because of TDs. 
    • Well, let me say this. Most TEs in fantasy are TD dependent, there are like 4 of them that aren't. So it's not like I necessarily think he's going to be terrible I just don't want you thinking you should be comparing Travis Kelce to Jimmy Graham just because he's in GB now.

    Non-Skill

    Andrew Norwell (LG) - Jacksonville Jaguars

    • A HUGE boost for this line. 
    • Already 13th best RB, 5th in PB per FO
    • Norwell was the 3rd overall guard in 2017 per PFF behind just Zack Martin and David DeCastro. #1 PB, 8th in RB.
    • Should be great for Leonard Fournette.


    Nick Ercolano
    Nick Ercolano

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