NFL Free Agency Impact in the AFC
This year’s free agency period has been pure fire and has me pumped up as if I was listening to Fuel by Metallica. There have been numerous players changing zip codes and that will start new chapters in their careers. Now comes the time to see how these new landing spots affect their fantasy prospects for this coming Fall. Get ready to go around the AFC Conference to see who should be rising and falling on your fantasy radars.
The Bills let Cole Beasley walk in free agency which opens the door for Isaiah McKenzie to become fantasy relevant in deeper leagues after re-signing with the Bills on a two-year deal. The Bills also added Jamison Crowder who’s a slot specialist and will easily fill Beasley’s void in the offense. Crowder should be PPR gold for fantasy managers next season. The Bills also added Duke Johnson to the backfield giving Devin Singletary some competition at running back. Johnson proved in the second half of last season that he still can produce if given the chance. It will be interesting to see if the Bills look to add another running back in the draft. The roster move that has intrigued me the most for the Bills is the arrival of O.J. Howard. Howard always seemed to be underutilized in Tampa Bay and now gets to play with gunslinger Josh Allen for the foreseeable future. Howard is a big play waiting to happen at tight end, but the only thing that will prevent Howard from breaking out is Dawson Knox who had a career year last year. This offense is going to be tough to stop.
Talk about making a splash in free agency. Holy cow, the Dolphins are all-in for 2022. The Dolphins started the offseason by shoring up their backup quarterback situation by signing Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgwater finally comes back home to Miami as he played high school in the South Florida area. Tua has missed some time over his first two NFL seasons making Bridgewater a must-add for 2-QB/SF leagues. Myles Gaskins now has some competition in the running back room with the addition of Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert. Of the two Mostert may have the inside track to lead the team in carries since he has knowledge of new Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel’s offense from their time with the 49ers. McDaniel also brought in a former 49er Trent Sherfield who may be a deep dynasty add. One addition at receiver that may make head waves in this offense is Cedrick Wilson who has shown plenty of flashes in the Cowboys' offense when receiving extra playing time over the last three years. The Dolphins are also bringing back injury-plagued receiver Preston Williams on a one-year prove-it deal. But the biggest news of the offseason for the Dolphins is that they made a blockbuster trade with the Chiefs that sent Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. As we all know Hill is a game-breaker and could be the final piece to make this offense unstoppable. Good luck NFL defending this crew.
Yikes, the Patriots have had a putrid offseason so far. They failed to sign Leonard Fournette who came in for a visit. New England mainly just re-signed their own free agents, Brian Hoyer and James White, to go along with three of their offensive linemen. Looks like not having Tom Brady has really affected the attraction of free agents heading to Foxboro. The only new face to sign with the Patriots so far has been Ty Montgomery who is already at least fourth in the running back depth chart. Moving on.
For the Jets, they are bringing back Tevin Coleman to provide depth at running. He will not be relevant unless Michael Carter and Ty Johnson get injured in front of him. One wide receiver that I love that re-signed with the Jets is Braxton Berrios. The former wideout from the ”U” was finally used properly and formed excellent chemistry with Zach Wilson down the stretch for the Jets. He should be on every fantasy managers’ radar in PPR leagues. Berrios may push to a WR3 in PPR leagues. Where the Jets added some much-needed talent was at the tight end position with the signing of Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah. Both tight ends may cannibalize each other's fantasy production but this is one battle to keep an eye on during training camp to see if one of these players can break away from the other.
Keep moving along there's nothing to see here.
The Bengals landed new tight end Hayden Hurst, who became expendable for the Falcons with the arrival of Kyle Pitts. Hurst will have to compete for touches with Jaamar Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon. This will lower expectations for the tight end significantly. The most important acquisition the Bengals have made this offseason is the revamping of the offensive line. Just like the quote from La’el Collins (A.K.A. Kevin Costner) so perfectly said when he spoke with Joe Burrow, “ Your new bodyguard is in town, no one's touching you.” This new line will allow Burrow more time to make opposing defenses pay and should continue to rise in 2022.
Oh boy, the Browns have put all their chips on the table and are all-in with a couple of blockbuster trades and landing Deshaun Watson and Amari Cooper. This right here will be a stack to draft in your upcoming fantasy drafts this season. Watson has proven in the past he’s a top-5 quarterback talent and is hoping to stay clear of any suspension this year. Only time will tell if his off-field troubles will cost the Browns on the field in 2022. In case of emergency break glass, the Browns have also added Jacoby Brissett at quarterback to be a nice insurance policy should Watson be suspended in the Fall. The one Brown player I will also be targeting later in drafts this year will be David Njoku. The Browns let Austin Hooper leave in free agency and have franchised tagged Njoku, opening the door for the talented tight end to roam around and make some plays.
The battle of the back-ups! Now that Ben Roethlisberger is retired and enjoying gardening at home, the Steelers will be turning the page in their storied franchise to search for their quarterback of the future. Dwayne Haskins and Mitchell Trubisky will duke it out to see who leads this team in 2022. My guess is that the future quarterback for the Steelers is still not on the roster yet and will be drafted in April. For now, if you're in a Superflex league Trubisky is the quarterback to own.
The Texans are building for the future around Davis Mills after finally trading away Watson, for a haul of picks. This team has been a little bit of a mess recently but seems to be gearing up to build through the draft. The Texans mainly re-signed journeyman running back Royce Freeman and brought a couple of reserves in Dare Ogunbowale and Chris Conely. All three of these players should only be considered in the deepest of dynasty leagues but more than likely be left for other dynasty managers to waste their roster's spots on them.
After trying the miserable Carson Wentz experience, the Colts pulled off a trade to land veteran quarterback Matt Ryan. This move elevates the entire team, especially the wide receiving core. Look for Michael Pittman Jr. and re-signed tight end Mo Allie-Cox stock to rise over the summer now that they finally have a quarterback.
The big winner for the Jaguars this offseason has to be Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars splurged a little this year by signing receiving weapons Zay Jones, Christian Kirk, and Evan Engram to provide some much-needed punch for the offense. The Jaguars also brought back one of Lawerence’s security blankets wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, who finally showed some life to his game and was a double-digit fantasy point scorer in the second half of last season. This offense has nowhere to go but up after that putrid Urban Meyer offense from 2021.
With the Julio Jones experiment failing miserably last year, the Titans so far this offseason picked up a couple of veterans receiving weapons for Ryan Tannehill that is sure to relieve the pressure off all-world wideout A.J. Brown. The Titans may have gotten the bargain of the offseason as they landed Robert Woods for a sixth-round pick in 2023. Woods tore his ACL last year combined with the news that Allen Robinson signed with the Rams made Woods expendable and led to his discount market value. The Titans also had a huge hole to fill at tight end and that led them to add Austin Hooper and Geoff Swaim. Hooper is a tight end to target in late rounds of drafts if you decide to punt the position.
The Broncos have done only one move which is all they needed to this offseason. That one move will have a major fantasy impact for all of the existing offensive weapons in Denver, and that is finally figuring out their riddle at quarterback. The Broncos made a bold move and traded away five draft picks to secure Russell Wilson’s services for the foreseeable future. With Wilson in town, everyone on offense just got better. Look for Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and Albert Okwuegbunam to benefit most in the receiving game and all should be targeted in drafts. This move will also open great lanes in the running game for Javonte Williams because defenses can't stack the box anymore. All players will be rising on fantasy rankings as you get closer to your respective fantasy drafts, so draft accordingly.
The Chiefs lost a huge part of the repertoire when they sent Tyreek Hill to Miami. At least they spent some cash and brought in JuJu Smith-Schuster. Juju has a golden opportunity to return to glory from his first couple of seasons in the league when he was very productive in Pittsburgh. He has a shot of possibly being a WR2 for your fantasy teams come this fall. The Chiefs have decided to kick the tires on trying to see if Corey Coleman has any game left in the tank. Coleman last appeared in a game in 2018 and at this point, he is just worth a speculative add in deeper dynasty leagues. One thing we can say with the departure of Hill, if Mecole Hardman can't get it done now he will never get it done. So roll the dice on Hardman one last time because he should be the Chiefs WR1 on opening day.
Speaking of bold moves, the Raiders acquired Davante Adams in a trade with the Green Bay Packers for a first-round and second-round pick. They immediately negotiated a new contract with the standout wideout for a five-year deal. Not only are the Raiders getting one of the best receivers in the league, but they also paired up Adams with his old college teammate Derek Carr. Their chemistry should click on instantly as they step on the field. This may be an intriguing stack in fantasy line-ups come September. Other notable additions on the offensive side of the ball that will provide some much-needed depth for the Raiders are the arrivals of Demarcus Robinson, Jacob Hollister, Ameer Abdullah, and long-time Patriots running back Brandon Bolden. The offense will be pretty deadly with Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller roaming around the offensive side of the ball, and Josh Jacobs carrying the rock.
Although the Chargers focused most of their free agency spending on defense, they were able to re-sign Mike Williams on a three-year deal that will keep the wide receiver in town for a while longer. Williams had a career year last season and will look to try and build on his successful campaign. With Justin Herbert behind center, Williams has a chance to produce WR2 numbers once again. The only other free agent signing that may lend a hand to the Chargers' offense has been Gerald Everett. Everett has shown flashes in the past and the young gunslinger will help unlock Everett’s athleticism. Fantasy managers may want to temper expectations for Everett because of the presence of Donald Parham Jr. who has shown flashes of his own and is a must-add in dynasty leagues.
Let me know which player on their new team has you excited for the upcoming season, by reaching me on Twitter @smooth1074.