We’ve all read over and over again what free agents will thrive in their new homes next season. But who will benefit from big name free agents leaving their teams? Whose value may have dropped due to a new mouth to feed? Here are just a few names you’ll want to keep an eye on as free agency continues.
Really, you’re going to lead a fantasy article with Willie Snead? Yes I am, because not only does he play in a Brees/Payton offense where wide receivers thrive, but the eighth-ranked receiver (in ESPN.com standard scoring leagues) is no longer in the picture. With Brandin Cooks being traded to New England, 117 targets in the Saints offense are up for grabs. Snead had a strong showing last year, and with another year to gain Brees’ trust (which, lets be honest, he’ll throw to the water boy if he’s open), Snead could find himself in the top 15 receivers by season’s end.
This is basically a layup. The Redskins’ top two receivers from 2016, Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson, are gone. Although Crowder didn’t put up eye-popping stats (just three 100-yard games and no multi-TD games) Cousins did look his way often for a third receiver. According to pro-football-reference.com, Crowder recorded six games with 8 or more targets. Terrelle Pryor is the new show pony in town, but while he and Cousins are getting on the same page, consider Crowder “old reliable.” Plus, Pryor can’t take over all 216 targets left by the departed Garcon and Jackson.
Now this somewhat comes with an asterisk, seeing as Gordon already racked up over 1,400 yards from scrimmage and scored 6 touchdowns with Danny Woodhead out with injury. But he also missed three games and didn’t start two others. So while Gordon’s fantasy production should see an increase in 2017, it may not necessarily be due to Woodhead’s departure. However, if a healthy Woodhead had returned to the Chargers, the opposite certainly could have been true.
Sammy Watkins :
This comes with the caveat that he gets/stays healthy, of course. Buffalo’s top two wide receivers from a year ago are also gone, although Charles Clay is still around and he was second on the team in yards (431) and tied for first in TDs (4). IF Watkins can put together a full season of the athletic ability we’ve only seen in spurts, he could very well have a stat-line in the 80/1,300/12 ballpark. The last Bills receiver to approach a similar total? Lee Evans in 2006.
Ty Montgomery (?):
Eddie Lacy’s tenure in Green Bay is over. So who is going to be Green Bay’s bell cow back? Does anyone know at this point? Someone is going to benefit from taking the job. If Montgomery is the route the coaches choose to go, he should see an increase in production in 2017. He saw some success a year ago as a back, though many of his yards came on slip screens. But on his 77 rushing attempts, he averaged a healthy 5.9 YPC. While Montgomery may not be the guy McCarthy and Co. turn to, someone has to be the starter. While healthy, Lacy put together back-to-back 1,100-yard campaigns and racked up 20 TDs, so the potential is there.
DeAndre Washington / Jalen Richard /
Latavius Murray is now in Minnesota, so the starting job is up for grabs. I’m not going to preemptively jinx the Raiders and plug in Lynch here, so Washington and Richard will be fighting for the starting job for now. Both played well in backup duty averaging 5.4 and 5.9 YPC, respectively. Both also showed receiving abilities, though Richard saw a larger share of targets (39 vs. 23). Murray’s void leaves the backfield with 12 fewer scores and 195 totes up for grabs. But if Oakland lands Lynch, the 31-year old back would be looking to return to the 1,200+/10+ average he kept up for four healthy seasons in Seattle.