Wednesday was a wild day for free agents. Some big time moves were made that will have an impact on the fantasy landscape. Let’s take a look at them and the impact they will have.
NY Giants Sign Brandon Marshall, WR
Without a doubt the biggest move of the day was Brandon Marshall signing with the Giants. This move makes tons of sense for the Giants. Obviously this is a boost to Marshall’s fantasy outlook as Manning is an upgrade over Ryan Fitzpatrick. Yes, Manning was bad last year but still not Fitzpatrick bad. Marshall should be a big time red zone threat as 82% of the Giants’ red zone passes went to receivers 6’1″ and under last year (Marshall is 6’4″). Marshall should be a solid WR2 in 2017.
Eli Manning should get a big boost as well. He now has quite possibly the best wide receiver trio in the NFL. He will make for a sneaky late round quarterback pick with huge upside.
I don’t see Odell Beckham’s prospects changing much. If anything teams may not be able to double him as often with Marshall on the other side. He’s a beast and one of the games best, that won’t change.
The player who will likely take the biggest hit is Sterling Shephard. Shephard looked good in his rookie season but it’s hard to see him making a big leap with two good receivers on the outside.
Dallas Cowboys Release Tony Romo, QB
Tony Romo is now free to sign with any team he wants. The most likely destinations seem to be the Houston Texans or Denver Broncos. Both teams are contenders who need a quarterback. I would like him more if he signed with the Texans as they have a stronger offensive line and a better ground game. Still, Romo is a low end QB1 when healthy so start grabbing him in MFL10’s if you can.
Buffalo Bills Keep Tyrod Taylor, QB. Sign Patrick DiMarco, FB and Mike Tolbert, FB
I think Tyrod Taylor is a very good quarterback and it was surprising to me that the Bills were willing to part ways with him. Luckily they came to their senses and restructured his contract to keep him in Buffalo. Taylor is being overlooked by fantasy players and is currently being drafted as QB18 in MFL10s. This is confusing to say the least. He finished 2016 as QB8 despite sitting out week 17 and barely having Sammy Watkins on the field. If he continues to be overlooked he will be a draft day steal.
I really like the signing of DiMarco but you know who likes it even more? LeSean McCoy. Already in my top 5 for 2017 fantasy running backs, McCoy will benefit even more from having a great lead blocker like DiMarco. According to Pro Football Focus, DiMarco had the highest run blocking grade for fullbacks. If you liked Shady before you should love him now.
The Bills then went out and signed Mike Tolbert which is a bit of a surprise. I can only speculate they are not expecting to keep Mike Gilislee and plan on having Tolbert take that role. Otherwise signing two fullbacks makes very little sense. We’ll have to take a wait and see approach on this.
San Francisco 49ers Sign Brian Hoyer, QB, Pierre Garcon, WR, Marquise Goodwin, WR, and Kyle Juszczyk, FB
I like what San Francisco is doing. Amid rumors that the team was going to trade for Kirk Cousins they went out and signed Brian Hoyer. Hoyer has talent but my guess is this is insurance in case they can’t get a deal for Cousins done. If Hoyer ends up being the starter he will rank as a mid QB2. In 25 games were he has had at least 25 attempts he has averaged just over 15 fantasy points per game.
I really like the receiver signings. Garcon is very underrated and is coming off a 1,000 yard season. Reuniting with Kyle Shanahan should help as well. Goodwin had his moments in 2016 and gives the team a receiver who can take the top off the defense. I would have Garcon as a WR2 and Goodwin as a WR4/5 with weekly upside.
Juszczyk is a good signing as well. Carlos Hyde is already in my top 10 for 2017 and having a lead blocker like this will only help. San Francisco had one of the worst run blocking lines in 2016 and Hyde still ran well. No reason to think he isn’t set for a big year (if he can stay healthy).
Indianapolis Colts Trade Dwayne Allen, TE to New England Patriots
On paper Dwayne Allen going to New England looks good but I’m not sold. Allen hasn’t been very good the last few seasons and I suspect the Patriots will use him more as a blocker like they did with Martellus Bennett when Rob Gronkowski was healthy. Sure, he’ll get his share of routes but as long as Gronk is playing he is a TE2.
The player this really benefits is Jack Doyle. Doyle finished as TE13 with Allen playing 14 games and now becomes Andrew Luck’s top tight end. The Colts could always pursue another tight end but if they don’t Doyle is a sure fire TE1 for 2017.
Baltimore Ravens Sign Danny Woodhead, RB
Just when it looked like the Ravens had finally commited to Kenneth Dixon, they go out and sign Danny Woodhead. Woodhead appears to be fully healed from his ACL injury and will kill Dixon’s passing game value. I still expect Dixon to handle most of the carries but his value certainly took a hit. I expect Woodhead to continue to have value in PPR leagues but offers little outside of that.
Melvin Gordon is now solidified as a three down back. Unless the Chargers sign a back or draft a rookie, Gordon should easily be a top 10 fantasy option in 2017.
Miami Dolphins Resign Kenny Stills, WR
I like Stills but his production in 2016 is unsustainable. On just 42 receptions he caught 9 touchdowns for 726 yards. Out of 10 catchable deep passes he caught 9 for 380 yards and 8 touchdowns. Regression is likely but he’s worth a flier in the late rounds.
Cincinnati Bengals Resign Brandon LaFell, WR
LaFell gained some fantasy value after A.J. Green’s injury. In 10 games with Green, LaFell 9.87 PPR points versus 14.55 PPR points with Green out. He should remain outside the WR3 range in 2017.
Have a question about the analysis? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below.