Dynasty Roundtable: Notable Free Agent Value

A collaborative staff discussion of dynasty-themed topics in the offseason: What is your perceived dynasty value of impending, notable free agents?

The Footballguys staff got together to discuss various dynasty-themed topics as we head into the offseason. This series of articles is designed to give you a boost of knowledge on the dynasty front covering several relevant and pertinent topics over the course of the offseason. Below is the fifth installment of our collaborative discussion.

Other offseason dynasty discussions:

What is your opinion on the dynasty values of the below players who are entering free agency this year? They may be tagged, re-signed, or left to explore their options in the coming days/weeks. Explain your thought process on their perceived dynasty value moving forward. Pick any five of the notable group of free agents below.

Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Jason Wood

Carson Wentz -- Wentz can be better with the Colts than Philip Rivers, but is that saying much? Rivers was QB28 on a per-game basis last year. He was a game manager: better for the real team than fantasy managers' rosters. Went was QB16 on a per-game basis during from 2016-2019, and the baseline expectation should be for him to improve slightly on those marks given the strength of the Colts offensive line and his undeniable rapport with Frank Reich. If things went perfectly, Wentz has top-10 upside. If things go wrong, Wentz is a back-end QB2. More likely, he's one of the better QB2s who you only seriously consider starting when your starter is on bye or if you're using a committee approach and trying to play matchups.

Chris Carson -- Carson has been a favorite of mine in the last few years, particularly in redraft formats. He's in a friendly system, has the coaches' trust, and is enticingly productive while on the field. Unfortunately, he's missed time too often, and the Seahawks are one of those teams who seemingly view the running back position as easily replaceable. It's the next-man-up mentality. Unless he re-signs in Seattle on a multi-year deal, I expect a precipitous drop in his usage wherever he signs. Most teams don't like feature backs anymore, much less an oft-injured one.

Leonard Fournette -- Fournette was fantastic down the stretch and into the playoffs. It's a reminder of why the Jaguars used a top-10 draft pick on him out of LSU. When he's focused and encouraged, he can be an impact offensive cog. The great news as a dynasty leaguer is Fournette's past discretions and unceremonious release by the Jaguars have tainted his perceived value. Even with his playoff heroics, he can be had for cheap. Strongly consider acquiring him before we know where he ends up in 2021. Imagine if he ends up in Atlanta? I think that's entirely feasible.

Kenny Golladay -- How good is Kenny Golladay? Opinions vary wildly about the young free agent, thanks to an up-and-down career to date and questions about whether he benefitted from Matthew Stafford or was hurt by inconsistent coaching and supporting talent. Or a bit of both? The Lions appear ready to move on, which says a lot given how bereft of talent Detroit is throughout the roster. At 6'4", 218 pounds with a top-10 (WR3) and top-20 (WR20) season under his belt, he'll likely land a big contract as the No. 1 starter. Given his age, his top-5 ceiling, and a likely high-target role, there's a lot to like. But is he miscast as the No. 1? Should we be worried about his injury history? I think his value is among the most volatile in the coming months. Where he lands could shit him up or down a dozen spots in the rankings.

Dave Kluge

Aaron Jones - With all of the uncertainty surrounding different free agent running backs, Jones is the one I am least worried about. While many other free agents put up great numbers as lead backs in the past, Jones has consistently been a top-notch fantasy option while splitting carries. With Buffalo and Miami both expressing interest in signing the 26-year-old back, it’s crazy to think that his best seasons could still be ahead of him. Jones averaged the fourth-most yards per touch in 2020 and was ninth in yards created. He's a menace in the open field and carries elite burst and agility. Seeing just 61.5% of his team's snaps last season, Jones still finished as the RB5 in PPR. A big contract and a lead job should only help his future production.

Curtis Samuel - While there are more prominent wide receiver names on the free agency market, none excite me as much as Curtis Samuel. On a team with Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Robby Anderson gobbling up targets, Samuel struggled to carve out a role for himself. With McCaffrey sidelined for 13 games in 2020, Samuel saw his high usage ever, hauling in 77 receptions and carrying the ball 41 times. He did that on just 97 targets, coming out to the second-best catch rate in the NFL. Playing most of his snaps out of the slot, he’s a great gadget player for a few receiver-needy teams, specifically the Packers and Chiefs. The thought of Samuel landing on either of those explosive offers is causing me to value him a bit above the consensus. But considering the demand for guys like Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, Samuel can be had much cheaper and still offers favorable upside.

Andy Hicks

Jameis Winston - I personally love Jameis Winston as a dynasty prospect. The problem I see is that NFL teams are going to be scared off due to his reputation and his 30 interception season. It is easy to forget the 5,000 passing yards and 30 touchdowns that went with it. NFL coaches love talent, and if they believe they can fix a flaw and turn around a player's career, they will be all in. I think Winston will be attractive this year for a team that has groomed him like New Orleans or one that may be desperate like Washington or Chicago. Patience and good coaching will put him back to where his talent should have him

Kenyan Drake - Kenyan Drake is at the point of his career where he should attract a three-year deal, good money, and opportunity. He has a career average of 4.5 yards a carry on almost 700 rushing attempts, so mileage isn’t an issue. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, a solid blocker, and dynamic in the open field. He has improved his fantasy ranking every year, culminating in finishing 14th in 2020. That said, both of his previous teams have been reluctant to make him the full-time starter. On the right team, he will be an RB1 this season. On the wrong team, he will be a committee back for the remainder of his career

JuJu Smith-Schuster - Given the Pittsburgh Steelers' reputation of drafting wide receivers, I grabbed JuJu Smith-Schuster in literally every league during his rookie season. After two years, I was ecstatic at his performance. The 2019 season saw the departure of Antonio Brown, injury, and poor performance. Many others were optimistic about the young Steeler heading into 2020, but I had seen enough. The Steelers were still drafting receivers, this time Chase Claypool. Time to move on from Smith-Schuster. That seems to be the thought process for Pittsburgh as well after his weird dancing on opposing logos schtick. Smith-Schuster will find a good home, but if it’s as a WR1, I don’t think he is suited to that role. When he has a star receiver opposite him, he does his best work. Probably overvalued, but in the right place could be dynamic.

Hunter Henry - With a new coaching group for the Chargers, it will be interesting if they franchise Hunter Henry or leave him to the free-agent wolves. He should be the prime target of any side trying to get quality at the position. He will be only 26 years old, experienced, and a proven fantasy option. After only finishing 16th last year, his current manager may look at offloading him. I would snatch him up in a heartbeat and worry about his 2021 destination later.

Corey Davis - Corey Davis picked a great time to have his best year to date. After the Titans didn’t pick up his fifth-year option, unusual for the fifth-overall pick of the 2017 draft, Davis responded with five 100-yard games and a ticket for free agency riches. If he lands with a perennial loser like the Jets, I would probably throw up, but fingers crossed his next destination isn’t just determined by dollar signs.

Troy King

Carson Wentz - I believe Carson Wentz is now a mid-range QB2 in Dynasty. After his underwhelming 2020 season, Wentz's value could only go up from his previous circumstances. The Wentz and Frank Reich reunion is one of the most encouraging signs for his dynasty value. Wentz, with Reich as his offensive coordinator in 2017, finished as QB5. It was his most productive year as a starter. Wentz now gets to play behind one of the best offensive lines in the league, which should lead to higher production this year and beyond. The Colts have promising young receivers and a strong running game, which will also aid Wentz in his Dynasty resurrection.

Aaron Jones - Jones finished as the RB5 last year despite missing two games and battling through nagging injuries. Even if the Packers do not re-sign him, Jones has the talent to finish as an RB1 regardless of his landing spot. A few of the possible destinations that have been rumored for Jones to land include the Dolphins, Jets, Falcons, 49ers, Bills. I am confident that Jones can produce RB1 numbers with any of those teams due to the fact he will automatically be the best back on each roster. In addition, I believe each team will utilize him heavily to provide the opportunity for an RB1 finish.

Corey Davis - Davis truthers were finally rewarded after four long years with a break-out season as Davis finished as WR30. He posted a career-high in receiving yards (984) and touchdowns (5). However, in dynasty, I do not see Davis being any more than a low-end WR2/high-end WR3. The best-case scenario is that he re-signs with the Titans or ends up in a high-powered offense like the Packers. His value in most dynasty leagues right now is the equivalent to a third-round rookie pick.

James Conner - How the mighty have fallen. After his disappointing and inconsistent 2020 season, it's a surprise that he finished as RB27. Even though Conner is only 25 years old, he’s yet to finish a full 16-game season and now carries the dreaded injury-prone label. His value is almost rock bottom. Wherever he signs, there is very little chance he is going to revitalize his career as a former RB1 in fantasy. Most dynasty players will be lucky to get a late third-round pick in trade for him.

Mo Alie-Cox - You would think an athletic TE who is 6’5", 267 pounds would be more of a fantasy darling, especially given the tight end landscape. Cox had a short 15 minutes of fame as the TE10 through the first three weeks of the 2020 season. He ended the campaign as TE29 and only had one game with more than four targets after the stellar three-week stretch to begin the season. Unfortunately, Cox is only going to be relevant in tight-end-premium leagues, and even then, it will be difficult to trust him.

Will Grant

Aaron Jones - Jones was a top-five fantasy back last season, even with Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillon stealing carries from him. Williams is also a free agent and the Packers may have to commit to one while losing the other. If that happens, expect Jones to be the guy they stick with. Jones/Dillon would be a nice one-two punch for the Packers who still have Aaron Rodgers looking better than ever. If the Packers can use the running game to keep the pressure off of Rodgers, they are going to walk to the playoffs on top of the NFC North again. I expect Jones to stay in Green Bay and to be a top-10 fantasy back for the next few seasons.

James Conner - The Steelers are expected to part ways with Conner this offseason. It will be interesting to see where he lands and what type of production you can expect out of him. Conner is a solid running back who can also contribute in PPR leagues. The biggest knock against him is if he can stay healthy -- he has never played a full 16-game season. Gone are the days of expecting Conner to be a first-round, RB1 fantasy back. However, he is a solid RB2 and a definite flex-position stud in PPR leagues. You can expect to be a high-floor, low-ceiling type of back.

Allen Robinson - The Bears have franchise-tagged Robinson as he was one of the few bright spots in their offense over the last two seasons. He set a career-best in receptions with 102 last year and had 1,250 yards and six touchdowns with some of the worst quarterback play in the league. With Chicago still trying to figure out what to do at quarterback, Robinson needs to be retained to maintain any offensive stability. It's hard to imagine Chicago doing worse at the quarterback position next year, so expect at least another solid season from Robinson with possible upside if they sign him long-term and bring in a quality quarterback.

Dan Arnold - Arnold had a four-game stretch where he looked like he could suddenly turn into a fantasy tight-end stud. He remained a part of the offense down the stretch but once you take a step back and look, he's really just an average tight end. He averaged just under two receptions a game, and with a season-high four receptions in just two games (he also had two games without a catch), Arnold becomes a guy who will sit on your roster and collect dust unless you are desperate for a bye-week fill in. The Cardinals have expressed interest in retaining him, but unless he moves on to another squad that focuses on the position more, I expect Arnold to be more frustration than fun for 2021.

Chad Parsons

James Conner - Conner is a risky proposition in free agency. Returning to Pittsburgh is likely his best case for a quality season in 2021. Conner's average-at-best physical profile eroded in 2020 and his fall-off could be pronounced (like out of the league by 2022/23). Conner is the exact type of veteran profile who could linger in the market beyond the opening days/weeks due to other priority players in the market.

Rob Gronkowski - Gronkowski was largely a bit passing game player in 2020. His greatest offering is as a blocker, making fantasy production an ancillary attribute. Even if going outside Tampa Bay for 2021, Gronkowski is hardly a passing game-shifting player.

Will Fuller V - Will Fuller V was finally healthy in 2020 and surged with his second straight top-12 aPPG season to close his under contract time in Houston. Fuller is one of the more attractive free-agent receivers this offseason and, even if landing as a WR2 on an NFL depth chart, showed with his Robin role to DeAndre Hopkins' Batman, he can still be a high-ceiling weekly player.

Hunter Henry - Henry's biggest question is his ultimate ceiling. The consensus biggest-name tight end free agent on the market, Henry has durability questions attached to his profile but also productive ones -- five seasons and yet to accrue one in the top-6 of aPPG. By this point in their career, Round 2 tight ends emerge for their first top-six aPPG season 15% of the time. If Henry tops out as a low-TE1 player for his career, his dynasty value resides more in start-two-tight-ends formats for his floor than single-tight-end formats due to a lack of ceiling.

Jordan McNamara

Dak Prescott - Dak Prescott was my number two quarterback in dynasty rankings in 2020. The only reason he is lower now is the ascension of Deshaun Watson into Mahomes-lite territory while Prescott was hurt. Any discount you get right now is great for a player who showed he was amongst the elites pre-injury in 2020.

Jameis Winston - 7.7 yards-per-attempt quarterbacks do not grow on trees. I'll be surprised if Winston does not have a starting spot at the end of the quarterback musical chairs this season. If he can cut down his turnovers, Winston can have a strong career at the position. For fantasy, when he starts, he has huge upside. Let's hope it is in New Orleans for fantasy-sake.

Leonard Fournette - PlayoffFournette was a thing, and it was nice to see. A dream scenario would be Fournette to Atlanta in a Henry-type role in the Arthur Smith offense. Not sure the finances will work, but Fournette's start to his career is underappreciated. He was run out of Jacksonville because the team was dysfunctional and Doug Marrone did not like him. In hindsight, that probably speaks well for him. I like his three-down ability and potential to post top-10 seasonal finishes in the future.

Will Fuller V - What might have been for Fuller in 2020 if he wasn't popped for PEDs. He projects to be very interesting in free agency and I cannot get the Green Bay trade deadline interest out of my mind when thinking about potential landing spots. He is an explosive player who should find a better-than-expected payday on the open market.

Hunter Henry - I have been fading Hunter Henry based on the potential he changes teams. Free agency is rarely good for a pass catcher's value and Henry has not been the elite upside player he was pitched as earlier in his career. He is going ahead of Mike Gesicki but has a worse profile. At his cost, there are better options later at the position.

Adam Wilde

Carson Wentz - Wentz has improved from one of the league's worst offensive line situations to arguably the best headlined by my favorite player, Quinton Nelson. He's also elevated himself to a fairly promising receiver situation with Michael Pittman Jr and a healthy Paris Campbell. If running backs matter to you, he's got a couple of fantastic options in Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines. All to say, his situation has improved across the board. If he returns to even average form he will produce fantasy goodness. He will almost assuredly increase in value during the 2021 season.

Aaron Jones - Jones has earned himself the right to a massive payday. Since the Packers are not known for using the franchise tag and they have the option of signing Jamaal Williams for cheap or rolling with A.J. Dillon, it is safe to assume Jones will be looking elsewhere for that Brinks truck. One of the most promising running back situations Jones could find himself in is with the Miami Dolphins. Whether Tua Tagovailoa or Deshaun Watson is behind center, Jones finds himself with mobile quarterback play which often improves running back productivity. I will pay the extra price to buy him if he gets a solid contract and the right situation rather than pay his current value based on speculation. He is too costly to take the risk on presently.

JuJu Smith-Schuster - Smith-Schuster was relegated to a side-kick role for reasons unknown to me during the 2020 season. The team elected to instead pepper Dionte Johnson with 144 targets. Smith-Schuster's dip in productivity can also be attributed to his drop from 13.1 Y/R to 8.6 Y/R. His role was changed mightily to cater to Ben Roethlisberger's perhaps deteriorating downfield passing ability but this allowed Juju to demonstrate that he can remain at least productive no matter what situation he ends up in. He'd fit well in Washington with Mac Jones (fingers crossed). I am a firm advocate for buying Smith-Schuster.

Corey Davis - Davis had his coming-out party when the lights shined brightest; meaning he waited for his contract season to show the Titans why they drafted him in the first round. While plenty of teams could use the Davis we saw last year, this is not the season for second-tier wide receivers to get paid top-tier money. With the salary cap being the main talking point of this offseason I expect Davis to sign a short-term deal with the Titans to see if he can duplicate his 2020 campaign. For dynasty purposes, Davis is interesting. If you believe last year was a sign for the future and he is staying with the Titans, he is a buy. If you think it was a fluke, you're able to recoup some value by trading him now.

Curtis Samuel - Samuel would fit in well with an offense willing to build around him. At times last season when Christian McCaffery was injured, it seemed as though it was Samuel's show. Having that sort of attention given to you while playing alongside D.J. Moore and a rejuvenated Robby Anderson should be seen as smoke signals for dynasty managers. Samuel's contract will tell the tale. If a team is willing to pay him handsomely in this salary-cap environment, expect him to be featured consistently in the same way we saw flashes of last season. He is worth buying at current value with the idea that a team investing in him will use him productively.

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to haseley@footballguys.com


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