Free Agency Fantasy Sleepers – by Rob Grimwood

As we enter the fantasy football abyss, one of the two flickers of hope during the painful lull of the off-season, the free agency, gives us the annual panic of sifting through our dynasty teams and fine-combing each skill position transaction to figure out what this means for the upcoming fantasy season.

I use the term ‘upcoming’ loosely, of course – we’re still 161 days, 9 hours and a few minutes away from game 1..but who’s really counting, right?

Well, thank goodness that the free agent frenzy and the draft are able to detour our imaginations away from the yearning of disappointment that we’re still so far away from hearing the dulcet tones of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on that first Thursday night in September.

Now, we all know about the monster deals this off-season so far pertaining to Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr in particular, and we also know plenty about the free agency moves of the big hitters – namely Le’veon BellMark Ingram, and Nick Foles.

But I want to dig a little deeper.

After looking through the ins and outs of the new season to date, I’ve seen a few names that I think can make an impact on fantasy teams in 2019, and the best news is, they’ll all be available to draft in the mid to late rounds of your redraft leagues this season.

 

Devin Funchess, Wide Receiver – Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis_Colts_logo.svg

This deal certainly raised some eyebrows. A one-year $10million (up to $13million after incentives) for a receiver that has never eclipsed 1,000 yards, averages just 558 yards and 5 touchdowns per season with a 50.35% career catch rate will seemingly produce that effect. Those statistics make this deal seem a bit outlandish, a head-scratching monkey covering his eyes emoji, some might say, even when the inbound team has got the spare cash to splash.

funchess
Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports

But it makes perfect sense, providing you look at the situation in a different way. In essence, it’s an overblown ‘prove it’ deal for a team where the wide receiver position is a big need within the roster.

Indy can afford to take the risk. They are never going to use the $103million spare cap space they had when the new season launched on March 13th. So why not take a flier on a receiver that has flashed before, albeit only in one year, to test the water.  What have the Colts got to lose, what’s the worst that can happen? Funchess stinks the place out and isn’t productive at all… then they get their $10mil back in cap space this time next year when they throw him back to the free agency.

It’s the upside I want to dissect, and there is plenty of it.

If you look at his Panthers career, the numbers previously mentioned aren’t outstanding, by any stretch. As I scroll through my social media newsfeeds gauging a reaction to this move, one statistic is mentioned time and time again, his catch percentage.

In his most productive seasons (2017 and 2018), he averaged a 56% catch rate. Not great. However, is this a Funchess issue? Not necessarily. Since ‘Super’ Cam Newton took over center in 2011, only 6 different wide receivers (with more than 40 targets) have broken out of the 50% catch rate range. 

What we know about Funchess is that he is a giant human being at 6’4 and 225lbs. He’s a target man who has shown he can be productive in the right role as a WR2 and will compliment T.Y Hilton very nicely in the Indianapolis offense.

With at least 90 targets up for grabs since the Colts chose not to re-sign Dontrelle Inman and Ryan Grant and a definite ‘quality of pass’ upgrade with signal caller Andrew Luck throwing the rock, Devin Funchess may well carve out a fantasy productive role within his new team – definitely worth a late round flyer in all fantasy drafts heading into 2019.

Devin Funchess Current ADP: Non-PPR 13.03 / PPR 12.06

 

Tevin Coleman, Running Back – San Francisco 49ers

49ers

 

Tevin Coleman showed so much promise during his rookie contract, and prior to the 2018 campaign was definitely on ‘free agent watch’ throughout the season. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out as good as we all hoped, especially given the fact his main competitor in Atlanta, Devonta Freeman, missed the majority of the season with multiple ailments including foot, knee, and groin problems.

The stage was set for Coleman to set the league alight and challenge the likes of Lev Bell and assumptively Mark Ingram to be the hottest running back commodity available on the free agency – but a tough-sledding, sub-par season saw him manage 800 rushing yards and only 4 rushing touchdowns.

Though not horrendous, with the opportunity and hype surrounding him, fantasy owners couldn’t rely on him being a nailed on starter week-to-week.

It comes down to one narrative, Tevin Coleman is better when part of a committee or being the ‘Ying’ to Devonta Freeman’s ‘Yang’.

Well, good news fantasy fanatics, Coleman is being reunited with the coach that seemingly got the best out of him, Kyle Shanahan, as a San Francisco 49er. He also has another exciting running back that he can be apart of a committee with, in the shape of Jerrick McKinnon who, like Freeman, will be back in the fold after also missing the 2018 campaign due to injury.

As long as Coleman can carry over his 4.4 yards per carry career average along with his impressive pass-catching ability, he could certainly carve out a productive role in a familiar offensive scheme under Shanahan.

With 2018 not going as well as it could have been along with some feeling he is entering a crowded backfield in San Fran; fantasy owners are likely going to let Coleman fall in drafts and could be a steal in the mid to late rounds.

Tevin Coleman Current ADP: Non-PPR 5.12 / PPR 5.12

 

Randall Cobb, Wide Receiver – Dallas Cowboys

DAL

I am certain many fantasy owners have long since given up on Randall Cobb getting back to that scintillating 2014 season where he blew up like an Independence Day firework. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying he is likely to repeat that feat in Dallas, but I do expect a change of scenery to do him and his career the world of good.

Cobb has had a fluctuating career to date marred with injuries as well as inconsistency problems over the last few seasons. Contrasting to Devin Funchess though, Cobb has enjoyed having a future Hall of Fame Quarterback throwing him the ball since entering the league as a late second-round pick in 2011.

Thanks to Aaron Rodgers, Cobb has enjoyed a 70% catch rate with a healthy 52.6 yards per game to boot over his career and enters a Cowboys team crying out for productivity from their receivers.

cobb
Photo Credit: Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis

Since Dez Bryant was released by the Cowboys after the 2017 season, Head Coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones have been slowly building around 2016’s rookie sensations, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. With the recent additions of Amari Cooper and last year’s third-round draft pick Michael Gallup, the Cowboy’s skill position offense is starting to look as if they are going to cause opposition defenses big headaches in 2019.

Cobb may turn out to be a diamond in the rough for fantasy owners heading into next season and will likely be available at the tail end of most drafts – but is definitely worth a bench spot on your rosters to see what he might bring to the table in the first few games of the new season.

Randall Cobb Current ADP: Non-PPR 14.05 / PPR Undrafted

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Honorable Mentions:

Cole Beasley, Wide Receiver – Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen needs more options to utilize, fact. Beasley is a proven possession guy who can definitely see a high volume of passes in Buffalo. Deep PPR leagues could find Beasley easily draftable.

 Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver – New York Jets

With speedster Robby Anderson a threat on every play, Crowder could be the ideal complimentary possession player who is the chain mover on the other side. This new look Jets team may well be poised to finally challenge the long-running divisional domination by the New England Patriots

ap
Photo Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

Adrian Peterson, Running Back – Washington Redskins

Re-signing Peterson was welcomed by all Redskins fans, I’m pretty sure. With Derrius Guice’s 2019 availability still under question due to complications with his knee injury recovery, Peterson may well be in a position to repeat his form of 2018 where the 33-year old managed yet another 1,000+ yard season. Fantasy owners rejoice, AP is back in a great spot.

by Rob Grimwood – @FFBritBaller

 

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