NFL Free Agency Impact in the NFC
Now that the dust has settled in free agency, it’s time to go around the NFC Conference to see how the fantasy landscape got shook up in aftermath of all the wheeling and dealing. This year more than ever it seems like plenty of teams will be shooting for the chance at the playoffs and it will be interesting to see if any of these free agent moves play a large role in leading the way. In case you missed it, here is a look at the fantasy players that are impacted by a free agency peiord in the AFC. Now let us get things started and see who are the risers and fallers in the NFC.
The Cowboys started the offseason by unloading Amari Cooper and his hefty contract to the Cleveland Browns which freed up some much-needed cap room to make a few moves. This allowed the Cowboys to re-sign Michael Gallup to a five-year deal. Gallup should be on every fantasy manager’s radar with Cooper out of the picture and should form a great tandem with CeeDee Lamb for this upcoming season. Last season's breakout tight end Dalton Schultz signed his franchise tag which will definitely keep him relevant in 2022 with Dak Prescott behind center. Another notable signing the Cowboys had this offseason was James Washington from the Steelers. Washington comes in on a one-year prove-it deal which should make the wideout a late-round flier playing in this offense.
The Giants picked up Tyrod Taylor to back up the inconsistent Daniel Jones. Taylor becomes a very nice speculative add in deeper two-quarterback/super-flex leagues. A very intriguing signing the Giants have done so far has to be Matt Brieda. He is a good insurance policy for the Barkley owners in your dynasty league and is worth dangling him to see if you can get any bites on some rookie draft capital, possibly a third or fourth. Another interesting pick-up by the G-men is Ricky Seals-Jones who has no competition at tight end, especially with the departure of Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph. For deeper dynasty leaguers a signing to watch in camp is Richie James who has shown some glimpses in the past and has a few injury-prone wide receivers in front of him on the depth chart that could create an opportunity at any moment.
The Eagles are loaded with draft picks and are looking to make their splash in the NFL Draft. They did re-sign Boston Scott to a one-year deal that has some incentives, which makes him a player to hold in dynasty leagues. They signed Zach Pascal and re-signed Greg Ward to one-year deals which barely moves the needle in my opinion and should be left at the waiver wire pool for now.
The newly named Commanders are hoping they traded for their commander on the field in Carson Wentz. Wentz comes via trade after one unproductive year with the Colts. The once-promising quarterback is hoping to turn his career around in Washington. Wentz can be a possible mid-range QB2 for fantasy managers this fall, with the help of Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and Logan Thomas. The Commanders also re-signed J.D. MicKissic which will temper Antonio Gibson’s receiving game out of the backfield again this year but at least it’s another receiving weapon for Wentz. Cam Sims re-signed with the Commanders for one year deal and he should be considered a player to watch for now in dynasty leagues.
With the departure of Allen Robinson to the Rams earlier this offseason, it appears that the Bears truly believe in Darnell Mooney because he is their WR1 at the moment. Although Robinson had a down year last season the Bears have brought in a couple of secondary wide receivers to fill in that gap. Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown both get a fresh start with a new team after not showing much with their previous teams. Of the two I would look to add Pringle to your dynasty roster, because even though he hasn’t shown much before last season, Pringle illustrated some flashes in the Chiefs offense when given the opportunity and seemed to be their WR2 in 2021. As for St. Brown, he should be a player to watch for now unless you’re in a really deep dynasty league. One other player to note in deeper tight end premium leagues is the signing of Ryan Griffin. Current Bears starting tight end Cole Kmet is a breakout candidate at tight end this year but if Kmet were to go down with an injury, Griffin will have a wide-open opportunity to produce in his place. Griffin should be added only in the deepest of tight end premium leagues at this point.
One thing that was apparent for the Lions in 2021, they needed to surround Jared Goff with more weapons. The Lions re-signed both of Goff’s back-up to shore up their depth at quarterback. Unless Goff goes down these two quarterbacks would only become relevant in deep two-quarterback and super-flex leagues. The Lions re-signed two of their own wide receivers Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds. Of the two wideouts, I would look to add Reynolds in deeper dynasty leagues as Reynolds showed some chemistry with Goff down the stretch last year. They played together with the Rams a couple of years ago and they showed some connection after Reynolds joined the team right after mid-season. The only new signing of interest is D.J. Chark. Chark was everyone’s darling a couple of years ago after he broke out in the 2019 season, but since then has been a huge disappointment to dynasty and fantasy managers. For now, dynasty managers that have Chark on their rosters should just hold to see how it works out with his new club or trade him for a late second or third-rounder if a league mate comes knocking on the door for a trade for the wide receiver.
Packers management signed Aaron Rodgers to an extension, which was their number one priority. Promptly thereafter the Packers shipped Rodgers’ WR1 Davante Adams to the Raiders. To help supplement that loss, the Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard received a second-round tender to basically stay in Green Bay and re-signed Robert Tonyan to a one-year deal. These two weapons will give Rodgers some comfort but the Packers are in need of some more firepower. With that said, the Packers will be rolling the dice on Sammy Watkins who just signed a one-year deal to be a weapon for Rodgers. Unfortunately, Watkins is an injury waiting to happen and is hard to trust. At least Watkins doesn’t have much competition and if can somehow stay healthy has the opportunity to produce. Start praying if you want that to happen.
The Vikings just signed Kirk Cousins to a one-year extension so they are as of now status quo. The only other additions they focused on offense was to sign a couple of offensive linemen. They are the NFC version of moving on.
It’s time for a new era in the ATL. Now, will it be a positive one, only time will tell? The Falcons decided to turn the page at quarterback and traded away long-time franchise quarterback Matt Ryan to the Colts, and signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year deal. Mariota comes to town with a chance to start again after a couple of years of backing up Derek Carr. Mariota can make plays with his legs so he will be an intriguing player to add in a deeper dynasty league and is a must rostered player in two-quarterback and super-flex leagues moving forward. To no surprise, to no one, the Falcons re-signed their swiss-army knife Coradarrelle Patterson to a two-year deal. Until Atlanta brings in any competition Patterson should be considered an RB2 for fantasy managers heading into the Fall. The Falcons did sign a little depth for the backfield by signing Damien Williams. Williams should only be considered adding in the deepest of dynasty leagues. In my opinion, I would let him be someone else's problem. The dirty birds decided to sign a plethora of receiving options for Mariota; Damiere Byrd, KhaDarel Hodge, Auden Tate, Olamide Zaccheaus, and Anthony Firkser. Out of these bands of merry men, only Tate and Zaccheaus should spark interest in adding for now in deeper dynasty leagues, Firkser in deep tight end premium leagues due to his connection with Mariota from their days in Tennessee.
The Panthers decided to add some much-needed depth to the running game behind All-World Christian McCaffrey (CMC). D’Onta Foreman resurrected his career with the Titans down the stretch last season as he took over the running game after Derrick Henry was lost for the season. Foreman is a must-own player in dynasty leagues especially if you are the CMC owner in the league. Carolina also took care of one of their own and signed D.J. Moore to a three-year contract extension, that ties him up through the 2025 season. All Moore needs is solid quarterback play to prove why his an excellent asset for dynasty managers. The Panthers also signed Rashard Higgins and re-signed Brandon Zylstra to bolster the receiving depth. Both can be left on the waiver wire for now.
Jameis Winston decided to reward the Saints after they showed him some love last year and gave him a chance to start last year. We’ll see what life is like for the Saints after the departure of long-time offensive-minded coach Sean Payton. The other re-signing of note for the Saints is the Tre’Quan Smith’s two-year deal. Smith has shown some flashes but he will be third fiddle behind the return of Michael Thomas and Marquez Callaway. Smith should be held in deeper dynasty leagues.
Just when we thought the G.O.A.T. was out for pasture, Tom Brady decided to come back for another ride. The Buccaneers reloaded and are bringing back Brady, Giovanni Bernard, Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin, Breshard Perriman, and signed Russell Gage for a little extra punch. All of these players should be rostered in all leagues and play them accordingly.
With all the drama surrounding Kyler Murray whether he is staying, going, or getting an extension, the Cardinals are flying over uncharted water. Hopefully, he remains with the Cardinals if not the Colt McCoy re-signing will be more pivotal than many have initially thought. Unless Murray gets traded, McCoy can be left on the side of the road and only be considered adding and rostering in the deeper two-quarterback leagues. The two players that will be rising up the draft boards during the summer will be James Conner and Zach Ertz. Both players don’t have much competition in their respective positions and are players that can be either traded for or traded away depending on your needs. They are both valuable assets. A.J. Green is also coming back for another year for the Cardinals but is just another guy at this point. Maxx Williams re-signed with the Cardinals for a one-year deal and should only be considered rostering in deep tight end premium leagues only.
The Champs are Here! The Rams’ number one goal this offseason was to reward their Super Bowl-winning quarterback Matthew Stafford with a three-year extension that cleared nearly $10 million in salary-cap space. What did they decide to do with that extra cash? Well, they signed Allen Robinson who will be playing with the best quarterback of his career and now form a dynamic duo with Cooper Kupp. Can you just say NASTY!!!!
After failing miserably in trying to trade Jimmy Garappolo during the offseason, the big question in San Francisco is if Coach Kyle Shanahan will follow through with his thoughts on unleashing Trey Lance now. I say it’s time for the athletic Lance to get his chance. The 49ers appear to be rolling with the same backfield as last year with the re-signing of JaMycal Hasty and Jeff Wilson who both are going to back-up starter Elijah Mitchell once again. They should be rostered in most dynasty leagues. The one free agent signing that tingles my toes a little bit for dynasty leagues is the addition of Ray-Ray McCloud. The wide receiver flashed some game with the Steelers last year and now playing in Coach Shanahan's system McCloud is a player to target in dynasty leagues with his arrow pointing up moving forward, and now with rumors of Deebo Samuel wanting a trade, McCloud may looking at bigger role sooner rather than later.
Will start off with the big elephant in the room, and that’s the decision to trade away Russell Wilson to the Broncos for Drew Lock and Noah Fant along with multiple draft picks. No one can deny that this is a major downgrade at quarterback for the Seahawks. Lock will compete with recently re-signed Geno Smith for the honor of quarterbacking this team. All skilled players unfortunately should be lowered in your rankings moving forward. Fant will be a borderline TE1 but likely a TE2 due to the competition for targets not only from returning tight end Will Dissly but with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett already in town. The Seahawks also re-signed Rashad Penny who finally showed some consistency in the second half of last season and could be a low-end RB2 for fantasy managers this season.
We'll see how much of a ripple effect the upcoming NFL Draft will have on all these offseason moves. Stay tuned to Fighting Chance Fantasy as several staff writers will provide fantasy impact for all offensive rookies on all 32 teams.
Let me know which NFC player on a new team has you excited the most for the upcoming season, by reaching me on Twitter at @smooth1074.