Now that most of the dust has settled after NFL free agency, let’s assess the fantasy landscape by anointing some winners and losers. Follow Philip Patton on Twitter at @PhilPattonNFL.
NFL Free Agency: Fantasy Winners
Baker Mayfield (CLE)
The Browns already had a great cast of talent surrounding Baker Mayfield and then they went and traded for Odell-freaking-Beckham, giving them an absolute embarrassment of riches at the skill positions. Mayfield performed at an elite level for stretches of 2018 and Cleveland has put him in a perfect position to succeed going forward. He loves Freddie Kitchens’ offense and he will love throwing the ball to OBJ even more.
Sam Darnold and Jamison Crowder (NYJ)
New York clearly wanted to surround its young quarterback with talent this offseason, adding Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder, and Kelechi Osemele. The offensive line will need to improve by leaps and bounds for Bell to be effective next year, but Sam Darnold and the passing game should take a big step forward. The Jets now have a nice trio of receivers with Robby Anderson bringing speed on the outside, Quincy Enunwa operating as the possession receiver, and Jamison Crowder working underneath in the slot. Adam Gase offenses have historically valued the slot receiver, which bodes well for Crowder’s fantasy production in New York. There’s a lot to like about the Jets offense and its young signal-caller now that he has a few more weapons at his disposal.
Derek Carr (OAK)
Derek Carr will be working with the same offensive coordinator in consecutive seasons for the first time since his 2016 breakout performance. The Raiders have been an absolute mess for most of his career, but they invested heavily in the offense this spring. Trent Brown offers vastly superior blindside protection than Kolton Miller ever could, which will help Carr get the ball to his downfield receivers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams. Oakland has finally given its quarterback the tools to succeed in a do-or-die season.
Carson Wentz (PHI)
Carson Wentz is only a year-and-a-half removed from leading the Eagles to the No. 1 seed with an MVP-worthy season. Since then, he tore his ACL, watched his backup win a Super Bowl in his stead, and suffered a stress fracture in his back. With Nick Foles no longer on the roster, Wentz looks primed to remind fans that he is still one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. He should be fully recovered from his back injury and he has a new weapon in DeSean Jackson. The Eagles suffered from a lack of speed on the outside last year, which Jackson is perfectly suited to provide. The arrow is pointing up on Wentz’s career once again.
Tevin Coleman (SF)
One year after handing Jerick McKinnon a ton of money in free agency, San Francisco has signed Tevin Coleman to replace him. McKinnon is now a strong cut candidate, as his deal only carries a $2 million cap hit if he’s cut this summer. As for Coleman, a Kyle Shanahan-reunion made all the sense in the world; he had his most efficient season in 2016, averaging 6.3 yards/touch under Shanahan’s stewardship. Coleman will likely be used more in the passing game than he ever has been, and he should surpass 200 touches for the first time in his career.
Derrick Henry (TEN)
As the NFL continues to evolve into more of a passing league, Tennessee seems to be doubling down on its ground-and-pound style of play. The Rodger Saffold signing only further cements that identity, making the Titans offensive line one of the highest-paid units in the NFL. Tennessee is going to run, run, and then run the ball some more next year, which obviously bodes well for the volume-dependent Derrick Henry. Despite his uneven production, Henry remains the most reliable fantasy producer on the Titans offense.
Devin Funchess (IND)
Not only will Devin Funchess be earning $10 million this season, he also gets a chance to resurrect his career with Andrew Luck. Funchess struggled to get separation in Carolina last year and was effectively benched for the rest of the season after recording five drops in week 10. However, Funchess is still only 24 years old and the Colts believe they can fix his drop issues just as they did with Eric Ebron last year. The two could end up being Luck’s favorite red zone targets in 2019.
[Also See: 6 NFL Offenses Ready to Break Out in 2019]
Chris Godwin (TB)
The hype around Chris Godwin has now reached a fevered pitch upon the departures of DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries. Godwin managed a WR25 finish last season despite receiving only 17.1% of the team’s intended air yards (67th in the league). That number is sure to skyrocket next year with Jackson and Humphries out of Tampa. Godwin may also get more work in the slot next season, which would give him the opportunity to feast on less-talented slot corners. Mike Evans should remain the team’s top downfield option, but there’s plenty of targets to go around for Godwin in Bruce Arians’ pass-happy offense.
It took a whopping $22 million/year, but Jacksonville finally has a competent quarterback. Nick Foles offers way more upside than Blake Bortles, which stands to benefit every fantasy asset on the Jaguars. Dede Westbrook now becomes a legit breakout candidate, while an improved passing game should lead to fewer stacked boxes and more red zone opportunities for Leonard Fournette. It remains to be seen whether Foles can produce over a full season outside of Philadelphia, but he’s still a significant upgrade over Blake Bortles.
NFL Free Agency: Fantasy Losers
New York Giants
The Giants have been the laughingstock of the league this offseason, and for good reason. First, they expressed confidence in Eli Manning as their starter in 2019, which I personally wrote off as a smokescreen to draft a quarterback with the 6th overall pick. Then, they compounded that mistake by trading star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for a marginal return. And a day later, they signed 31-year old Golden Tate to a lucrative contract, adding to their stable of slot receivers in Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. This mess is bound to limit Saquon Barkley, who already had to overcome several offensive deficiencies to be productive last season. Given the lack of talent in the passing game, Barkley may face the most stacked boxes in the league next year. The entire Giants organization lost as a result of David Gettleman’s missteps, with the only exception being TE Evan Engram.
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
Just about everyone in the Steelers organization lost in the Antonio Brown saga, but none more so than Ben Roethlisberger. On top of having his leadership called into question, he also lost the best receiver in football. Roethlisberger still has Juju Smith-Schuster, but it’s impossible to replace Brown’s 1,300 yards and 15 TDs from last season. At 37 years old, Big Ben will have a difficult time coming close to his career-best yardage and touchdown production of 2018. It’s likely the Steelers transition into more of a run-oriented offense going forward.
Todd Gurley (STL)
Todd Gurley’s fantasy value has taken several hits since December when he missed the last two games of the regular season with a mysterious knee injury. He was subsequently limited to 34 total touches in three playoff games, which raised a lot of eyebrows around the league. After the season, it was reported that Gurley has arthritis in his surgically-repaired knee, which is known to affect people for the rest of their lives. Los Angeles found success employing a split backfield with C.J. Anderson last season, so it’s likely they will continue to limit Gurley’s touches going forward. The days of 300-touch seasons may be over and done with for Gurley.
Robert Foster (BUF)
Robert Foster flashed talent as a deep-threat receiver last season, finishing as the WR15 over the last six games of the year. Unfortunately for him, the Bills inexplicably added another deep-threat in John Brown. Foster led the league in average targeted air yards last season, while Brown was sixth. There isn’t room for both receivers to be productive in Buffalo and Brown’s $9 million/year salary suggests he will be the team’s new deep threat next season.