Free Agency Roundtable: Ripple Effect Winners

The Footballguys staff gives their opinion on which players will benefit most as a result of an addition or subtraction made by their team during the free-agent period.

Which player who didn't change teams will benefit the most from a move their team made during free agency?

Dan Hindery: If Will Fuller V can only stay healthy, he has a clear opportunity to emerge as a fantasy star. DeAndre Hopkins saw over 30% of Houston's passing targets last season, so his departure for Arizona opens up a ton of looks for the other Texans wide receivers. Fuller and Deshaun Watson have shown great chemistry when both have been on the field together, giving hope Fuller could flourish now that he is the clear No. 1pass catcher in Houston.

Drew Davenport: Kyler Murray immediately jumps to mind. The emergence of Lamar Jackson in 2019 makes it fun to try and look at who might be able to make such a leap in 2020. Before the Cardinals traded for DeAndre Hopkins, Murray was as solid bet as any to be this season's Jackson. But with a new weapon like Hopkins? Pencil in Murray as a top-6 option fantasy quarterback.

Consider that in 2019, Murray had a paltry 3.7% touchdown rate while he threw the ninth- most passes in the NFL (542 attempts). I don't see that pass rate going down, so if you give Murray a modest bump to a 4.5% touchdown rate, we should expect him to throw four more touchdown passes - if we assume the offense provides the same opportunity as last year. But now the upside exists for more. Murray is headed into his second year as a pro, his second year in Kliff Kingsbury's offense, and now you throw in one of the top wide receivers in the league? I take it back. QB6 feels like Murray's floor. He has the potential to finish as the QB1 in 2020.

Andy Hicks: I’m looking at a different Cardinal. The answer here has to Kenyan Drake. David Johnson being traded gives Drake a tremendous opportunity for touches. Hopkins is a boon for Arizona’s offense as a whole and Murray’s dual-threat ability will keep defenses off balance and open running lanes.

Those of us fortunate to have Drake in last year’s fantasy playoffs will remember what a potent threat he can be. After being messed up by the Dolphins for three and a half years, Drake fits perfectly in Arizona’s scheme. His game isn’t without flaws, but Drake is finally poised to fulfill his potential over the course of a full season.

Jeff Haseley: Drake is also my first thought here. To Andy’s point, Drake is on the verge of putting up 1,000-yards rushing, 50+ receptions, and double-digit touchdowns. The addition of Hopkins, the continued growth of Kyler Murray, and Kingsbury’s offensive style sets the table for a breakout.

Another running back worth mentioning is Austin Ekeler. Ekeler was lights out last season, especially as a receiving back, but with Melvin Gordon III now in Denver, he has a higher floor for rushing attempts. Last year, Ekeler had 132 carries for 557 yards, so there is definitely room for growth. To improve matters further, the Chargers bolstered their offensive line by trading for Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner and signing left tackle Bryan Bulaga. Los Angeles is hellbent on making a charge in the competitive AFC West. The question at quarterback remains an unknown at this time, but all of the other pieces, including Ekeler at running back, are in place.

Daniel Simpkins: Yeah, Kenyan Drake is the biggest winner in this category. Arizona’s addition of Hopkins is huge for the offense, and if they can continue to add offensive line help in the draft, they’ll be in prime position to be one of the most improved offenses in 2020. Drake is their unquestioned lead back in both passing and running situations, and the tutelage he got from Frank Gore a few years ago has visibly improved his proficiency as a runner between the tackles.

Jason Wood: I like my colleagues' choices, so in the interest of not being redundant, I'll give a tout to Adam Thielen. He muscled through an injury-plagued 2019, but with Stefon Diggs gone, he's in line for another massive target share, regardless of the team's propensity to run the ball. With Kirk Cousins given a new three-year deal, the Vikings enter the 2020 season with a clear plan that revolves around the trio of Cousins/Thielen/Cook.

Phil Alexander: These are great answers so far by the crew. I'm fully onboard with Kyler Murray, Kenyan Drake, and Adam Thielen, but as it stands today, Blake Jarwin will be one of my highest-owned players across all formats this season.

Jason Witten's surprising defection to Las Vegas clears the path for Jarwin to hog the tight end snaps for Dallas. Most fantasy gamers remember Jarwin for a seemingly fluky 119-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Giants to close out the 2018 season.

His continued efficiency on limited opportunities in 2019, however, suggests Jarwin has the potential to break into the top-5 fantasy tight ends given a full-time role. Check out where Jarwin placed among relevant tight ends in the key efficiency metrics last season:

  • 8.9 yards per target -- sixth
  • Yards per route run -- eighth
  • Average depth of target -- 14th
  • Catch rate -- 10th

If you're playing Best Ball this offseason, get ahead of the curve while Jarwin is still going outside the top-20 tight ends. It won't last much longer.

Alessandro Miglio: O.J. Howard may finally deliver on his fantasy promise. We all know how quality tight ends have fared with Tom Brady under center. Howard had a bitterly disappointing 2019 fantasy campaign in spite of his significantly increased playing time. But Buccaneers staff were "more than excited" about Howard's potential in the second year of this offensive scheme, per Mark Inabinett of AL.com, and that was before Tampa Bay signed Brady. With all the hype gone, Howard is going to be one of the biggest positional steals of the 2020 season.


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