Free Agency Roundtable: Who Loses the Most Value on their New Team?

The Footballguys staff reflects on which players who changed teams during the free-agency period will see their fantasy stocks decline the most.

Which player who changed teams during the free agency period will see their fantasy stock dip the most?

Drew Davenport: Philip Rivers is going to take a hit from going to the Colts. He threw 591 passes in 2019 which was seventh-most in the league. He had a pretty abysmal year throwing it down the field but was propped up by the pass attempts and array of weapons at his disposal. He's going to go from a team with Austin Ekeler, Melvin Gordon III, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry to a one that just let Eric Ebron go and leaves behind Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, TY Hilton, and Jack Doyle. This is a clear downgrade in supporting cast.

Additionally, from everything I saw last year, Rivers is at the point in his career where his arm isn't getting the job done so he's been forced to get by on his knowledge of the game and anticipating throws. The one bright spot for the move is that the Colts offensive line is much better than LA’s so going deep may be easier for Rivers in Indianapolis.

Ultimately, it won’t be enough. Rivers switching teams is going to take him from a low-end QB2 right out of the Top 24. We've probably seen the last of him as a fantasy commodity of any consequence.

Andy Hicks: I’m not a fan of Austin Hooper moving to the Browns. For starters, David Njoku is still on the roster. Secondly, we have Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr likely to attract the lion’s share of targets. And finally, we have Hooper himself, who might just be an average player. Personally, I see Hooper as above-average, but the fact the Falcons didn’t make it a priority to sign him while still in his prime is curious. Maybe if the Browns can move one of Njoku, Beckham, or Landry I would be more comfortable with Hooper, but as of right now, he’s likely to be overvalued in drafts this year’s drafts.

Bob Henry: There are still more dominos to fall in free agency, but I agree with Andy that Hooper loses the most immediate value by changing teams. Fortunately for him, what he will lose in volume, share, and production, he will more than make back financially.

Hooper's downgrades extend beyond targets, as it's possible that could wind up closer than we think now, but there are lots of wild cards involved and most point to more downside than upside. The first is Baker Mayfield. Matt Ryan wasn't great last year, but his constant peppering of targets to Hooper made the latter a viable, consistent TE1 across all scoring formats.

Beyond Mayfield's variability, the presence of Njoku moves Hooper down the board from mid-TE1 to a borderline-TE1. He will have a difficult time getting as many red-zone targets as he did in Atlanta and the offensive pie in Cleveland is smaller unless they create more opportunities. The Browns attempted 537 and 572 passes over the last two years, respectively, compared to the Falcons’ 615 and 683. No matter how we slice it up, the pie, as well as Hooper's piece, are both likely to be smaller than what he enjoyed as a Falcon.

Phil Alexander: I hate to pile on poor Austin Hooper but he has nowhere to go but down after finishing last season as the TE3 in PPR leagues.

A few of the guys mentioned a drop-off in targets for Hooper due to the presence of Beckham, Landry, and Njoku, which is a fair analysis. And Bob astutely pointed out Baker Mayfield to Matt Ryan has to be seen as a downgrade at this point. I'll add two more to the list of concerns over Hooper as a member of the Browns:

  1. Hooper didn't exactly command his career-high 97 targets last year. It was more a function of Ryan having to get the ball out quickly to his safety valve due to poor offensive line play. The effect was amplified when the Falcons were trailing in games. 70% of Hooper's receiving yards came in the Falcons losses, along with five out of his six touchdowns.

  2. New head coach Kevin Stefanski is now calling the shots for the Browns. In his lone season as Minnesota's offensive coordinator, Stefanski's Vikings ranked 29th in pass play percentage. Expect Hooper to be called upon to run-block more than he did in Atlanta.

Jeff Haseley: I agree Hooper will see a drop-off in production but that the guys have beaten that horse to death. Instead, I’ll mention Jordan Howard moving to Miami for two years, $10 million. He may find a role with the team, especially early on, but I don't see him being the back that the Dolphins lean on in 2020. I’m expecting Miami to choose a blue-chip running back with one of their six picks inside the top 70 in the upcoming NFL Draft. If (when) that happens, look for Howard to be little more than a veteran back who was brought in to mentor a young, eager, capable rookie who eventually wins the job outright. Even if he begins the season as the Dolphins’ nominal starter, Howard's fantasy value will likely diminish as the season goes on.

Jason Wood: Is it cheating if I say Jameis Winston before he signs with a team? He looks like the odd man out in this crazy quarterback carousel. At best, he seems destined for a No. 2 role and a possibility of pushing for the top spot if the Week 1 starter falters. I was also disappointed to see Stefon Diggs land with the Bills. Josh Allen is a big step down at quarterback, contrary to what some may say.

Daniel Simpkins: I’m not sure that David Johnson’s stock could have dropped much lower after he spent a significant period of last season on the sidelines in Arizona. But the move to Houston isn’t favorable for his prospects when compared to what his production in Arizona was just a few years earlier. For one thing, he’ll have competition for passing-down work with Duke Johnson Jr. I also don’t see the offense flowing as efficiently with DeAndre Hopkins no longer on the team.

Alessandro Miglio: I agree with just about everything said here, so I will add a name with minor relevance these days -- Jimmy Graham. The former fantasy stud has been in decline for a while now, but he is a name brand that will still attract some attention this summer. He was barely relevant with Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback, and he just signed with the Bears. Need I say more?

Justin Howe: I hope the fantasy community doesn't still peg Melvin Gordon III as an RB1 in Denver (actually, I hope they do). Gordon hasn't been nearly as efficient a runner as Phillip Lindsay, who has produced 14% more fantasy points per snap than Gordon throughout his career. And Gordon carries a lot more mileage (1,283 touches to 486). Much is made of Gordon’s PPR prowess, but there's not much upside there either. Lindsay has his limitations as a receiver, but it's Gordon who dropped 11 passes over the last two years. He could find himself a clear No. 2 on all three downs, but reputation is a powerful thing. Let your league-mates chase Gordon’s brand name in Round 3.

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