Free Agency Roundtable: Under The Radar Moves

The staff offers their opinions on potential high-impact free agent signings that haven't received enough hype.

Was there a free agent signing you feel is flying under the radar for fantasy purposes?

Phil Alexander: Philip Rivers signing with Indianapolis Colts isn't flying under the radar, but the player who might benefit most from his presence is.

The Chargers led the league in running back receptions by a wide margin last year and have now ranked inside the top-12 in nine out of the last 10 seasons. The one constant has been Rivers.

If we know Rivers will be checking down to his running backs, Nyheim Hines becomes interesting for as long as his ADP remains suppressed. Hines quietly finished with 63 targets last season, which placed him just outside the top-15 running backs. Colts head coach Frank Reich has been reluctant to use Marlon Mack in the passing game, which could push Hines into a James White-like role for Indianapolis.

James White is hardly a sexy comp, but given similar volume, it's only a matter of time before the explosive Hines (4.38 speed) connects on some homerun plays. He's currently an ideal RB3/4 target in PPR formats, who can be scooped in the late rounds of Best Ball drafts.

Dan Hindery: My choice here isn't a free agent signing but the recent trade that sent Hayden Hurst to Atlanta to replace Austin Hooper (who signed with Cleveland).

Hurst has some real upside as the TE1 in Atlanta. Last season, Austin Hooper caught 75 passes in just 13 games (a 92-catch pace over a full season). Only Travis Kelce caught more than 92 passes last season from the tight end position.

Hurst has enough talent to make a fantasy impact given his expected role. He played the exact same number of snaps as Mark Andrews for the Ravens last season and was third on the team in receiving behind only Andrews and Marquise Brown. Hurst was a first-round pick just a few years ago, going off the board ahead of Lamar Jackson. While his stock has fallen since then, Atlanta still was willing to give up a second-round pick for Hurst. Hurst should be a low-end fantasy TE1 given his talent and the opportunity in front of him but won't be drafted as such, making him an intriguing buy-low option.

Jeff Haseley: Keep the remaining Texans’ receivers on your radar. Will Fuller V may have the most talent of the group, but I don't see him as a WR1. He’s best used as a downfield threat who can take the top off a defense. Keke Coutee's drop-off last year is concerning, but he has shown the ability to be a dangerous short-area target in the past. Kenny Stills is kind of redundant with Fuller. So who gets the lion’s share of targets? Stay tuned for the draft. If the Texans spend an early pick on a wide receiver, there will be major fantasy implications.

Jason Wood: It's interesting you didn’t mention Randall Cobb, Jeff. It would seem the Texans prioritized him and gave him $19 million guaranteed for a reason. I assume he'll be the most targeted Texans receiver, and Fuller will have the yards/touchdown advantage if he stays healthy. If not, it'll be Kenny Stills.

How about a vote for Greg Olsen? He signed weeks ago with the Seahawks, and Russell Wilson is always searching for reliable weapons, particularly in the red zone. Olsen is far from a spring chicken, but he passed his physical and enters 2020 healthy and playing for a contender. Olsen will probably be a free pick at the end of drafts but could be a viable spot starter in 12-team leagues, at worst.

Drew Davenport: Nick Foles to the Bears was an under the radar "free agent period" move. This should have a positive ripple effect on the entire Bears offense, but most importantly, on Allen Robinson. While I'm certainly not a Nick Foles guy, it can't be underestimated what a shot in the arm he can be for the offense.

Much has been made of Foles’ connection with the Bears coaching staff, and while it isn’t statistically quantifiable, it's not random chatter either. Having a connection with the guy or guys responsible for the game plan, the play calling, and the weekly dialogue that goes with playing the position might actually be the biggest factor in a quarterback's ability to play the position. If this staff went after Foles because they like him and think he is what they need, that's a factor.

Besides the intangibles, noted statistician Warren Sharp had an important point about Foles. He uncovered the fact that while Foles performs below the league average on first and second down throws, he is one of the best on third-down throws. Getting a quarterback who can make those crucial plays to keep drives going will have a positive effect on guys like Robinson and David Montgomery, right out of the gate.

I'm not high on Foles himself as a fantasy asset for anything other than Superflex leagues, but he gives the Bears offense a much greater chance to be productive than Mitchell Trubisky.

Bob Henry: We will see how ADPs shift as free agency and the NFL Draft unfold, but Emmanuel Sanders isn’t getting much attention after signing with the Saints. You couldn't ask for a better spot for both parties. Michael Thomas needs someone to divert coverage and Sanders couldn't have landed in a more favorable spot. New Orleans offers a quarterback with historically elite accuracy and target potential in terms of volume and quality. Sanders is a measurable upgrade in talent over Ted Ginn Jr Jr. Like every other player in the league, the concern is really about staying healthy and in our weekly lineups.

The other two who drew my attention are Eric Ebron and Greg Olsen. Both have a list of concerns and should be available in the latter portions of drafts, but each player has the upside to be a TE1playing with Pro Bowl quarterbacks who favor their tight ends in the red zone and downfield.

Daniel Simpkins: Andy Janovich is going to be a big help for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. It’s a signing that won’t garner much attention, but Janovich is one of the better lead blocking fullbacks in the game. When you consider that the Browns also invested in Jack Conklin, you can see a clear plan developing for Cleveland to become a run-centric offense.

Andy Hicks: On the topic of run-centric offenses, Miami’s offensive philosophy in 2020 seems clear. All of the Dolphins’ major signings have been on the defensive side of the ball, but one that may get overlooked is the signing of Jordan Howard. Howard has never been anything but productive running the ball throughout his career and he represents a huge upgrade over Kalen Ballage. Depending on how the offensive line shakes out and what upgrades are made at wide receiver, Howard should easily be a bottom-end RB2 if Miami doesn’t spend a top pick at running back.