Phil Alexander: Give me a quick fantasy slant on the following players who changed teams during the free agency period:
Nick Foles - Signed 4-year, $88M deal with JAX
Jason Wood: Viable late-round pick in Superflex and 2QB leagues, but it’s unreasonable to expect Foles to be more than a league average starter over the course of a full season.
Daniel Simpkins: He’s an upgrade over Blake Bortles, but that’s close to a backhanded compliment. There are more problems in Jacksonville than marginally improved quarterback play can solve.
Chad Parsons: At least his contract gives him a long leash as the starter. The Jaguars have a potent ground game (assuming Leonard Fournette is healthy) and a collection of viable receivers. While Foles profiles as a middling QB2, any improvement over Bortles will spell lighter boxes and a higher ceiling for Fournette, who is coming at a discount in early best ball drafts.
Andy Hicks: Foles will be asked to do what Bortles couldn’t -- take care of the ball and sustain drives. If the defense rebounds to anywhere near their 2017 level, Foles won’t be lighting up boxscores, but his competent quarterback play could get Jacksonville back in the playoff discussion.
Justin Howe: He inherits a run-first offense and lacks physical gifts. I don’t see Foles as more than a mid-level QB3. There’s also major crash-and-burn potential. This isn’t the Eagles locker room.
Phil Alexander: I have zero interest in Foles as a member of the Jaguars, but aren’t a handful of huge games practically a given? There has never been a quarterback more capable of catching lightning in a bottle one week and following it up with a complete stinker the next. Foles’ presence is enough to at least make me consider his receivers, especially Dede Westbrook, as best ball values.
Case Keenum - Traded to Washington
Jason Wood: I avoided him last year in Denver, and now he goes to a team with even fewer weapons. Keenum is one of the least compelling starters in the NFL.
Daniel Simpkins: It’s obvious Alex Smith still has a ways to go in his recovery. Keenum and Colt McCoy will be tasked with holding down the fort until Washington’s quarterback of the future is added to the roster.
Andy Hicks: Washington’s wide receiver depth chart is a mess right now with the underachieving Josh Doctson and oft-injured Paul Richardson Jr the only relevant players. The tight ends aren’t much better with Jordan Reed always hurt and Vernon Davis in his golden years. Keenum isn’t a great quarterback regardless, but this roster will do him no favors.
Justin Howe: Keenum has a place in the NFL, but it’s safe to say 2017 was an outlier. He’s a middling passer without much downfield ability, and his presence is likely bad news for Doctson and Richardson.
Tyrod Taylor - Signed 2-year, $11M deal with LAC
Jason Wood: Smart move for the Chargers but he’ll have zero fantasy value unless Philip Rivers gets hurt. If injuries force him into the lineup, he’ll be worth a pick-up as a spot starter.
Daniel Simpkins: Yup. This was a nice signing by the Chargers to secure an above average backup. Many teams will wish they had made this move if their starter goes down.
Andy Hicks: Philip Rivers has missed one game since 2005. No starter is guaranteed to make it through the season, but Taylor could have signed literally anywhere else and had a better chance of seeing the field.
Phil Alexander: It’s nice to know the Chargers offense won’t be completely sunk if anything happens to Philip Rivers. If nothing else, this move should give you a smidge more confidence in the season-long values of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, and Melvin Gordon III.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - Signed 2-year, $11M deal with MIA
Andy Hicks: The Dolphins have to be planning to draft, sign, or trade for another quarterback. If Fitzpatrick is the starter, it will be obvious they’re already playing for the 2020 draft. Depending on who else lands on the team, Fitzpatrick will either be asked to mentor or step in while the younger quarterback earns his stripes. At best, he could be a streaming option when the matchup is perfect.
Justin Howe: I’m actually excited to see what Fitzpatrick can do with Kenny Stills on deep balls. Stills is quietly one of the league’s better downfield winners, and he now has a quarterback willing to pull the trigger more than once a game.
Phil Alexander: If Fitzpatrick has one thing going for him as Miami’s starter, it’s the potential for garbage time stats. But unlike last year, he won’t have Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard to help him capitalize on prevent-defenses and pass-heavy game scripts.
Kareem Hunt - Signed 1-year, $1M deal with CLE
Jason Wood: He'll be suspended for half the season and find himself behind an elite, young workhorse in Nick Chubb when he returns. Hunt is still worth rostering if your league has enough bench spots, only because he’ll be an automatic top-10 running back if Chubb gets injured.
Daniel Simpkins: He’s merely trying to get his career back on track. I can’t see him challenging Chubb for significant work this season.
Andy Hicks: I agree, Daniel. Chubb should be an ironclad starter and Hunt will have to wait for his opportunity when he returns. He shouldn’t be a part of anyone’s draft plans. If you’re rostering him, you’re crossing your fingers Chubb misses time.
Justin Howe: Even if Hunt is worked in over the second half of the season, it’s fair to wonder just how productive he can be in Cleveland. How much of his success did he owe to Kansas City’s outside-zone heavy system? I doubt he’ll have similar success running into the line while splitting carries.
Phil Alexander: In redraft leagues, it doesn’t make sense to clog your roster for 60% of the fantasy regular season while waiting for Hunt to return to a nebulous role. But once the manager who drafts Hunt inevitably drops him to fill out their starting roster during bye weeks, I’ll be ready to pounce. Any running back in an offense as good as Cleveland’s projects as a quality stash for the stretch run. When that running back has Hunt’s pedigree and fresh legs, he becomes all the more intriguing.
Tevin Coleman - Signed 2-year, $10M deal with SF
Jason Wood: If Jerick McKinnon is released, Coleman becomes interesting due to Kyle Shanahan's success with just about every running back he’s coached. But for now, his price tag will likely be too rich for his projected workload.
Daniel Simpkins: Disappointing landing spot, but there is a path to significant touches if everything breaks his way.
Chad Parsons: Coleman is a perfect fit for the 49ers run game and I see him as the clear starter over McKinnon and Matt Breida. McKinnon has an uphill climb to make the roster and Breida --as athletic as he is -- was constantly banged up last season. It might not be a popular opinion, but Coleman now has RB1 upside and a top-20 floor.
Andy Hicks: I’ll back you up, Chad. In contrast to McKinnon and Breida, Coleman has only missed one game over the last two seasons. Shanahan knows his capabilities well from their time together in Atlanta and will put Coleman in position to produce. As it stands now, it’s awfully crowded in the 49ers backfield, but Coleman can easily emerge as the player to own.
Justin Howe: The Shanahan bump is enticing, but this could play out as a full-blown committee. I’m not sure McKinnon gets cut at a manageable salary, and Breida’s willingness to play through pain quickly made him a team favorite last year. Expect a ton of Questionable tags and zero week-to-week certainties.
Mark Ingram II - Signed 3-year, $15M deal with BAL
Jason Wood: A fantastic fantasy option this year in a power-running offense that will rely on ball control and dump off passes, regardless of game script.
Andy Hicks: I agree, this signing looks great on paper. But Ingram has been in the same system for eight years and might have trouble adapting elsewhere. He will also turn 30-years-old during the season -- a scary age for running backs. This has the smell of a classic overreaction to a free-agent landing spot by the fantasy football public.
Phil Alexander: For a bunch more reaction to the Ingram signing, check out the Free Agency Winners and Losers Roundtable.
Mike Davis - Signed 2-year, $6M deal with CHI
Daniel Simpkins: Interesting, under-the-radar signing indicating Howard’s time might be up in Chicago. Davis is a name to file away, especially if Howard leaves and the Bears don’t add another running back in the early rounds of the draft.
Andy Hicks: Davis is a better fit for Matt Nagy’s scheme than Howard, but the presence of Cohen limits the upside of whichever back receives the most carries in Chicago this season.
Justin Howe: It wouldn’t be shocking if Davis’ stock skyrockets by the middle of the summer once Howard is dealt. I won’t be quick to buy the hype. Howard is no world-beater, but Davis is hardly an upgrade. He’s both a lesser athlete and NFL producer. Even if gifted Howard’s 2018 role, Davis would offer little more than occasional best-ball value.
Phil Alexander: There’s been smoke around a Howard trade for quite some time. I’d be mildly surprised if he’s still on the team come Week 1. But I’m still not ready to anoint Davis as the Bears leading ball carrier in 2019. I fully expect a rookie to be added to the mix, and at worst, split the early-down work with Davis while Cohen continues to hog all the PPR value.
Latavius Murray - Signed 4-year, $14M deal with NO
Jason Wood: Alvin Kamara is a clear top-5 running back, but the Saints will need Murray to touch the ball a lot, too. He'll be less reliable than Ingram was in the same role, but he becomes a solid RB3 or flex option with this move.
Daniel Simpkins: Sweet landing spot for Murray. He should inherit the Ingram role for the Saints.
Chad Parsons: This may have been my favorite free-agent signing. Kamara is best suited to play the 1A to another back’s 1B rather than carry a huge workload. Murray is a candidate for double-digit touchdowns, even with Kamara healthy, and becomes one of the highest upside backups in the league if forced into lead-back duties.
Andy Hicks: The Saints didn’t make much of an investment in Murray. He essentially signed a year-by-year deal that will probably keep him on the team for two years max. He is not the same caliber back as Ingram, especially in the passing game. I see this backfield as the Kamara show, and as long as he remains up to the task, Murray will take a clear backseat.
Phil Alexander: The Saints offensive line can be a huge boost for a player like Murray, who is big and fast but lacks the wiggle to make defenders miss on his own. Top-20 cumulative numbers and a handful of matchup-swinging multi-touchdown weeks are not out of the question.
Carlos Hyde - Signed 1-year, $2.8M deal with KC
Jason Wood: The Chiefs backfield is a mishmash, and we can't be sure they won't draft another running back, too. Hyde's limitations as a receiver make it hard to project a big season for him in Andy Reid's offense.
Daniel Simpkins: He’s not the player he was early in his career and won’t be a threat to take major touches away from Damien Williams.
Andy Hicks: We can definitively say Hyde has underdelivered on his talent after five years in the NFL. Kansas City is as good a landing spot as any though, and in theory, he has the ability to fit their scheme. Then again, it wouldn’t be shocking if Hyde fails to break camp with the team, so it’s best not to over-invest.
Justin Howe: Even if Hyde sticks as Williams’ caddy, there are far more intriguing handcuff options all over the fantasy landscape. Aging, one-dimensional, and forever a plodder, Hyde brings little to any NFL backfield.
Phil Alexander: There seems to be a consensus in the fantasy community the Hyde signing should be viewed as a vote of confidence in Williams as Kansas City’s unquestioned starter. Certainly, there could have been worse signings for Williams’ 2019 prospects, but I’m not ready to dismiss Hyde out of hand.
Hyde has been an effective runner out of the shotgun throughout his career, and the Chiefs ran about 80% of their plays out of the formation last year. He also has a 59-catch season on his resume, so I’d disagree with Jason’s assertion he’s limited as a receiver. Maybe he’s just been underutilized. There are very few true handcuffs I’d be interested in ahead of Hyde given the simple fact he’s tied to the best offense in the game.
Frank Gore - Signed 1-year, $2M deal with BUF
Jason Wood: Zero fantasy value without an injury to LeSean McCoy.
Daniel Simpkins: He’ll never be a fantasy starter again, but is still a technically sound runner who can help the Bills as a backup.
Andy Hicks: Gore’s farewell tour has lasted longer than Frank Sinatra’s. The Bills seem to be collecting aging running backs, with McCoy and Chris Ivory already on the roster. None of them look like anything more than emergency fill-ins in fantasy.
Phil Alexander: One day I’m going to tell my grandchildren about Frank Gore. And they’ll know exactly who I’m talking about because he’ll still be playing football on TV.
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