Top 10 NFL Free Agency Moves And Trades We Want To Happen For Fantasy Football
NFL free agency kicks off on March 15th and who says we can’t think with our fantasy football brains when it comes to these moves? I’m outlining the top ten free agency moves/trades that I want to see for 2023 fantasy football. Will these happen? Probably not. Should they because they are super fun? You bet your sweet ass they should.
Atlanta Falcons trade for Lamar Jackson
There are rumors that the Baltimore Ravens could slap the non-exclusive franchise tag on Lamar Jackson. That means another team can swoop in and offer Jackson a contract while paying the Ravens two first-round picks in exchange. This is a slam dunk, no-brainer, run-to-the-phone move for almost any NFL team, but the Falcons by far have the need and ammo for this move.
Atlanta has everything aligned for this deal to go down: No QB, the third most cap space, a young roster of playmakers, and high draft capital to entice the Ravens (8th pick in 2023).
Dropping Jackson into a lineup with Drake London and Kyle Pitts is enough to make fantasy managers drool. Then consider the run-first approach of head coach Arthur Smith and Jackson could be in store for a fantasy reckoning.
If Atlanta feels they can’t get a QB of their liking at 8 overall this deal makes a lot of sense. The price tag of two firsts is peanuts for a quarterback in his prime. Just a year ago Deshaun Watson fetched three firsts and multiple other picks all with the cloud of suspension hanging over his head. Lamar is a former league MVP with a stellar reputation. If the non-exclusive tag lands on Jackson, except the suitors to be lining up.
Saquon Barkley signs with the Cincinnati Bengals
This move might not be as crazy as you first think. Joe Mixon is reportedly on the outs with the Bengals due to his contractual situation and off-the-field issues. Barkley may not be able to fit into the New York Giants' plans after they sign quarterback Daniel Jones.
Cincy has over $36 million of cap space to play with. Barkley and his camp could be looking in the range of $15 million per season which is in line with Ezekiel Elliott annually and $25 million or more due at signing which is what Derrick Henry was guaranteed. I think Barkley on a three-year deal makes sense for the Bengals who are in win-now mode on Joe Burrow’s rookie contract.
Barkley would instantly improve a Bengals team that ranked 30th last year in runs of ten yards or more. The Bengals were abysmal running the football in 2022. They ranked at the bottom of the league in attempts, rushing yards per attempt, and rushing yards after contact. Barkley’s presence in Cincinnati would immediately shift Super Bowl odds in their favor.
Jimmy Garoppolo signs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lost in the Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr sagas are the fact that a once high-powered offense in Tampa needs a new signal caller. I don’t buy for a second that Kyle Trask is the answer. This Bucs offense has too many weapons making too much money for them to punt the season with Trask under center.
Tampa’s issue right now is cap space. At the time of this article, they are still $57 OVER the cap for 2023. They’ll have major work to do shedding contracts (like they did with Leonard Fournette) to get ready for the new league year.
Tampa owns the 19th pick which is no man’s land for a quarterback. The fact that Garoppolo is coming off of yet another injury-plagued season should lower his asking price. If the Bucs can land him on a one-year deal for $20-25 million I think we can put our faith back into the Tampa skill players for fantasy.
Mike Evans is traded to the Buffalo Bills
If Tampa Bay is truly in cap hell and is looking to rebuild a perfect opportunity lies in moving on from Mike Evans who will turn 30 in late August. Evans is in the final year of his contract which will see him account for over 10% of the Bucs' cap in 2023.
Buffalo is a perfect landing spot for Evans because of their desperate need for help alongside Stefon Diggs. Evans for the Bills' Round 4 selection (130 overall) seems like a fair price for an aging player in the last year of his deal. Before you laugh, Randy Moss was traded from the Raiders to the Patriots for a 4th rounder back in 2007. Moss was a nine-year veteran at the time. Evans just wrapped up his ninth NFL season.
Evans would be an ideal fit for a Bills offense that in 2022 was third in the NFL in 20+ yard passing attempts. Evans as the complimentary outside threat would keep safeties away from Diggs who could dominate in the short and intermediate areas. In 2022 Tom Brady had a 106.9 QB rating on passes over 20 yards targeted to Mike Evans. By comparison, Josh Allen to Gabe Davis only netted an 84.2% passer rating on the same throws. Get big Mike to Buffalo!
Aaron Rodgers traded to the New York Jets
This one doesn’t take much insight at all. The Jets are loaded on offense with cheap, exciting talent. They don’t have a quarterback. I can wow you with stats and opinions here but anyone with a set of eyes knows this move would be beneficial to New York.
Please let me acquire more Elijah Moore best ball shares at his current Underdog ADP of 119 before this deal goes down. Get your hands on these Jets' skill players while they are cheap. The price is only going up once they land a QB.
Jakobi Meyers signs with the Kansas City Chiefs
The bell of the free agent wide receiver ball is former Patriot Jakobi Meyers. After boasting back-to-back 800-yard seasons in New England my hope is he lands in pass-happy Kansas City. Meyers would immediately take over the role that was held by current free agent JuJu Smith-Schuster. A sure-handed and versatile weapon like Meyers could be an upgrade for Patrick Mahomes and Meyers's fantasy stock. While never a huge touchdown scorer in New England (career-high six in 2022) he could flirt with double-digit scores in Andy Reid’s offense.
DJ Chark lands with Philadelphia
While the focus of the Eagles' attack is the duo of A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith, the birds are lacking a third option who can stretch the field. Last year Philly relied on Quez Watkins who underwhelmed with 33 receptions. Chark would add a legit speed element that would open not only routes underneath for Brown and Smith but running lanes for Eagles ball carriers. Safeties won’t creep down into the box to defend Jalen Hurts with the threat of Chark going over the top on them.
New Orleans nabs Derek Carr to drive their offense
I’ve never been a Derek Carr fan. He’s too timid with the football for me. I want a quarterback who isn’t afraid to rip it down the field. Per PFF, Carr was 32nd in the NFL last season in adjusted completion percentage at 70.8%. This while being fourth in the league in aDot. Honestly, I just don’t think Carr is that good. All that being said the Saints need a QB who isn’t Andy Dalton. The Saints play in a controlled environment. They have a solid defense. Finally, they have an exciting weapon in Chris Olave who could be a star in the making. If the run game and defense lead the way you can win with Carr. Will you go to the Super Bowl? Probably not. Can you be competitive? Absolutely. For the fantasy weapons on this roster let’s hope Carr finds his way to the bayou.
Miles Sanders signs with Miami
This makes sense for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the Dolphins don’t have a running back under contract for the 2023 season. Sanders is coming off a 1,000-yard campaign in Philadelphia and likely will test the open market. Miami can plug Sanders into an offense that finished 31st in rushing attempts in 2022. That’s not how this offense wants to operate under Mike McDaniel. The run game is an important part of the overall scheme he brought in from San Francisco. Sanders's addition would take the load off of Tua Tagovailoa’s shoulders.
Sanders on a 2-3 year deal makes sense for Miami as they’ll likely address the position in the middle round of the NFL Draft. Allowing their rookie runner to learn under the veteran Sanders would be ideal. Sanders's current Underdog ADP of 90 would jump with the news of his new landing spot. Either way, he’s too cheap in best ball right now.
Dalton Schultz follows Kellen Moore to Los Angeles
The news of the Los Angeles Chargers signing Kellen Moore as their new offensive coordinator should raise the excitement level around all of the Bolts' skill players. Schultz thrived under Moore in Dallas. We’re just a year removed from a top-four fantasy finish where Schultz caught 78 passes and 8 touchdowns.
2023 saw Schultz hampered by a knee injury. He still managed to finish top ten at the position and average nearly 10 PPR points per game.
Gerald Everett's roller-coaster season saw him finish inside the top 12 at tight end on six occasions but also was TE 20 or higher for another six weeks. Schultz can bring more consistency to Justin Herbert's receiving corps in 2023. Schultz right now is a screaming value on Underdog going off the board as TE 10.
Follow Brian Drake on Twitter @DrakeFantasy. Listen to his show “Two-Point Stance” with co-host Joe Dolan wherever you find your podcasts or on YouTube.