Existing Players Winners and Losers from Free Agency – by Tyler Belawske

As the free agent period is slowing down, I want to break down the Top 3 Winners and Top 3 Losers of free agency. How will the addition or subtraction help his new teammates or hurt the teammates he just left. I will give you my opinion on where you should the draft player and predict an end of the season stat line as situations currently stand.

Top 3 Winners

Christian McCaffery, RB, Carolina Panthers

Not only will he be more productive in the real world but also in fantasy leagues. Mainly because Carolina cut fellow running back and McCaffrey’s main threat in Jonathan Stewart. J-Stew will be leaving behind 198 carries, 680 yards ,and 6 TDs for someone to pick up. With that many carries there, McCaffrey will likely receive most of them. He could easily double up his carries and rushing yards from last year (117 attempts, 435 yards). As of right now the team does not have a go to every down back other than McCaffrey and I don’t see him as a pound it up the middle type back on 1st and 2nd down. However, I can see the coaching staff opening up the play book and call more passing plays early. Carolina drafted him early last year (8th overall) to be their back of the future. This could well be the start of that. He will be a solid number 2 running back in all types of fantasy leagues. Personally, I would look to target him in the mid to late 2nd round.

Stat Line Prediction: 800 rush yards with 95 receptions, 850 rec. yards and 11 total touchdowns – approx. 326 PPR fantasy points (would have been #3 in 2017)

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers
Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Mitch Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears

By adding wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel from Jacksonville and Atlanta respectively, along with tight end Trey Burton from the reigning Superbowl Champions in Philadelphia, could take Trubisky from a rookie QB to the next Carson Wentz. Well, maybe not that big of a jump but he will start to become more of a passing QB rather than a game manager. A-Rob comes in with career numbers 202 catches, 2,848 yards, and 22 TDs. That’s 89 less catches, 37 more yards, and 9 more TDs than Chicago’s total team numbers from last year. Now he has healthy veteran receivers in his arsenal, this should help Trubisky in the passing game, especially as he had to rely on a mix bag of receivers last year. It’s still too early to see how well Trey Burton will do in a full time starter role, but if he brings his play from the Eagles to the Bears that will only help Trubisky. I still see Trubisky as a 3rd string QB in a super flex or 2 QB league though because he is in his second year and still has to prove himself. But as far as redraft leagues goes, he is no more than a bye week filler, so personally I won’t be targetting him in drafts.

Stat Line Prediction: 3,400 passing yards, 15 TDs and 12 INTs with 220 rushing yards and 1 rush TD – approx. 200 fantasy points (would have been #23 in 2017)

LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills

He is on the “downside” of age for a running back as he will be 30 years old in July. That is the so called “time table” in the NFL that running backs start to lose their value. However, I think that Buffalo see a little more in the tank for McCoy as they only signed Chris Ivory (from Jacksonville) as no more than a back-up with an opportunity to be the change of pace guy. He certainly won’t cut into too much of McCoy’s playing time. Ivory comes into this year with only 112 touches 382 yards and 1 TD from last year. I think those numbers will go down more this year as he is behind another yet another elite running back. McCoy is coming off an 1,138 yard, 6 touchdown season. Although he is a winner from this years’ free agency period, I do think he may see a little regression in the upcoming season because of the wear and tear he is taken throughout his career. Especially as last year it seemed like he was limping off the field every of play in some games! However, if Buffalo were concerned about that I think they would have acquired a different running back to pair him up with and have a running back by committee. I would draft LeSean McCoy mid to late 2nd round for the 2018 fantasy season.

Stat Line Prediction: 1,000 rush yards with 45 receptions, 360 rec. yards and 6 total touchdowns – approx. 217 PPR points (would have been #11 in 2017)

lesean mccoy
Photo Credit: Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

Honorable mentions:

The Cleveland Brown’s additions with their offensive upgrades, Kyle Rudolph benefiting from the Kirk Cousins addition and Dak Prescott with the Cowboys acquiring Allen Hurns.

Top 3 Losers

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

If there was a time to feel bad for Russell Wilson, today would be that day. Not only does Seattle not have a good quality running back (Wilson led the team in rushing yards last year with 586, the next closest was Mike Davis with 240), but the team let two of their best pass catchers leave town. Tight End Jimmy Graham left to join Green Bay, taking his 57 catches, 520 yards, and 10 TDs with him and pacey wide receiver Paul Richardson who had 44 catches, 703 yards, and 6 TDs in 2017 made his way to the East coast to ply his trade for Washington. Seattle did “replace” the two of them with WR Jaron Brown (from Arizona) and TE Ed Dickson (from Carolina) but I can’t see either one of these guys replacing the stats that left with their predecessors. I think Wilson will have a hard time putting up the numbers he did last year, 3,983 yards and 34 TDs. Because of this, I think he will lose draft value and fall in redraft leagues. I would now look to target him after the 7th round.

Stat Line Prediction: 3,400 yards, 27 TDs and 10 INT’s with 410 rushing yards and 1 rush TD – approx. 271 fantasy points (would have been #8 in 2017) 

O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay

Howard owners’ hearts must have dropped when Tampa Bay resigned tight end Cameron Brate to a 6 year deal. Everyone, myself included, thought O.J. Howard was going to the next franchise tight end in Tampa. I guess not now, right? Howard is coming off a 26 reception, 432 yard, and 6 TD rookie season. He has room to grow and connect with QB Jameis Winston, but that may not happen as quickly as he may have hoped. Unless he plays out his rookie contract and leaves the Bucs, I think he will not improve his numbers any time soon. I would target him in the back end of drafts as a bench player with upside.

Stat Line Prediction: 33 receptions, 470 yards with 5 touchdowns – approx. 110 PPR points (would have been #19 in 2017)

Miami Dolphins vs Atlanta Falcons pre-season game
Photo Credit: Allen Eyestone/The Post

Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins

The “Old Man” is coming home! Miami signed running back Frank Gore to an one year deal. This is not good news for Drake who was lining up to be the starter this coming year. Drake can take his 133 attempts for 644 yards and 3 TDs to the bench, as I think Gore will come in and replicate his 261 rushes, 961 yards, and 3 touchdowns from last year in Indianapolis and be named the starter. Drake will only see a heavy work load if Gore goes down in an injury and I would stay away from Drake and treat him as a handcuff. He could become a late season bye week filler or a plus match-up play, but not an every week play in my opinion. I would draft him at the back end of the draft only, but with fantasy players likely to take him earlier than that with a complete disregard for the future hall of famer in Gore, Drake won’t be likely to be landing on any of my rosters this year.

Stat Line Prediction: 500 rush yards with 25 receptions, 180 rec. yards and 2 total touchdowns – approx. 105 PPR points (would have been #48 in 2017)

Honorable Mentions:

The Oakland Raiders backup RB’s as they added Doug Martin; Theo Riddick with the addition of LeGarrette Blount in Detroit and Derrick Henry after Tennessee added former Patriot Dion Lewis

By Tyler Belawske – @TylerBelawske

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