Offseason Winners and Losers
That’s about it. We’ll get some minor moves over the next few months. But for the most part, NFL rosters are set for the 2020 campaign.
So with the whirl of free agency and the draft behind us, let’s take a step back and assess whose fantasy stock got a boost and whose took a hit this offseason.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys
Jason Witten to Blake Jarwin? Upgrade. Randall Cobb to CeeDee Lamb? Big upgrade. Prescott finished 2nd among QBs in fantasy points last year and has a better supporting cast heading into 2020. If anyone is gonna challenge Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson atop the QB ranks, it’s Dak.
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals
Hello, DeAndre Hopkins.
Tom Brady, QB, Buccaneers
Jameis Winston chucked for 5,109 yards and 33 TDs on 8.2 yards per attempt in this offense last year. Brady is near the end — but even if you just believe he’s as good as now-backup Winston at this point, he should put up big numbers. Oh yeah, the Bucs also added Rob Gronkowski.
Drew Lock, QB, Broncos
No team did more to bolster their offense this offseason than the Broncos. RB Melvin Gordon and C Graham Glasgow in free agency. WRs Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in the draft. Throw in holdovers Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant and Phillip Lindsay, and the weapons are in place for Lock to enjoy a breakout season. We’ll see if he’s up to the task.
Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
With rookie WRs Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards joining Darren Waller, Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow and Josh Jacobs, the Raiders have assembled an intriguing group of weapons for Carr. He was better than you probably realize last year, ranking top 8 among 27 QBs with 300+ attempts in completion rate, adjusted completion rate, yards per attempt, QB Rating and Pro Football Focus passing grades.
Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles
The depth chart behind Sanders currently reads: Boston Scott, Michael Warren, Corey Clement, Elijah Holyfield. We’ll see if Philly adds a vet like Devonta Freeman, Lamar Miller or Carlos Hyde. But as it currently stands, Sanders is set up to play something close to a feature role. He averaged 15.4 carries and 5.1 targets over his final 7 healthy games last year.
Todd Gurley, RB, Falcons
Atlanta signed Gurley to a 1-year, $5.5 million deal in March — and then added nothing else to the backfield. With Ito Smith, Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison as his competition, Gurley should be in for big volume in a high-scoring offense. Devonta Freeman was running on fumes last year but ranked 19th among RBs in PPR points per game. So even if you think Gurley has little left in the tank, he’s a good bet for at least RB2 production.
David Johnson, RB, Texans
Is Johnson washed? Maybe. He looked like it over the 2nd half of last season. But he was also dealing with back and ankle issues. D.J. actually averaged 4.1 yards per carry and 10.3 yards per catch in 5 healthy games to open the season. Most importantly, the Texans clearly believe he’s still a high-level back after essentially flipping DeAndre Hopkins for him. That means Johnson is set up for nice volume. Carlos Hyde ranked top 12 in both carries (245) and rushing yards (1,070) as Houston’s lead back last year. If D.J. can match that — and add receiving production — we’re looking at a strong fantasy asset.
Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks
RB Rashaad Penny (ACL) is iffy for the start of the season, and Seattle only added 4th-round rookie DeeJay Dallas to the backfield. That puts Carson in line to at least open the year in a workhorse role. He averaged 19.3 carries and 3.3 targets in 14 healthy games last season.
David Montgomery, RB, Bears
His rookie year was uninspiring: 3.7 yards per carry and a Pro Football Focus rushing grade that landed him 40th among 45 RBs with 100+ attempts. But Chicago added nothing to the backfield this offseason. So with only the 5’6, 191-pound Tarik Cohen as touch competition, Montgomery should once again be in for heavy volume. He averaged 15.1 carries per game as a rookie, including 16.3 per game over the 2nd half of the season.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Falcons
Ridley averaged 7.2 targets per game last year — 30th among WRs. That number should get a significant boost in 2020. Austin Hooper and his 7.5 targets per game are gone. Atlanta acquired TE Hayden Hurst, but don’t expect him to soak up all of Hooper’s volume. The Falcons also failed to add a legitimate replacement for WR Mohamed Sanu, who was traded to New England last October. WR Russell Gage is currently 3rd on the depth chart. Ridley should have no problem reaching 100 targets and has upside into the 120-130 range.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Redskins
The Redskins swung and missed in their pursuit of Amari Cooper this offseason and ended up adding only 4th-round rookie Antonio Gandy-Golden to the WR corps. So it’s wheels up for McLaurin, who was excellent in a bad passing game as a rookie. He ranked 12th in yards per target and 14th in yards per route run among 96 WRs with 40+ targets.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs
It looked for most of the offseason like he’d be a cap casualty. But Watkins ended up restructuring his deal to stay in Kansas City. And he’s still earning $9 million this year, making him the favorite to stick as Patrick Mahomes’ #2 WR. Remember that Watkins closed last season with 7-114-1 and 5-98 lines in the playoffs.
Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Devin Funchess, WRs, Packers
Lazard and Funchess are far from exciting. But 1 of them is gonna be Aaron Rodgers’ #2 WR. Consider Lazard the early favorite after building some chemistry with A-Rodg last year.
But the real winner here is Adams, who figures to absolutely hog targets. Healthy for the final 10 games of last season (including playoffs), Adams averaged a whopping 11.3 targets per game. Expect similar volume in 2020.
Preston Williams, WR, Dolphins
The Fins opting not to add a significant WR in free agency or the draft is a show of faith Williams. Before tearing his ACL in November, Williams tallied 32 catches, 428 yards and 3 TDs in 8 games, ranking 36th among WRs in PPR points. If healthy, he appears set to remain a top 2 WR in Miami.
Hayden Hurst, TE, Falcons
He goes from afterthought in Baltimore to lead TE in a great spot in Atlanta. Austin Hooper averaged 7.5 targets per game in that role last year — a mark only 4 TEs topped. So Hurst should have volume on his side. And don’t forget that this is a former 1st-round pick that was actually good when given a shot last year. Hurst ranked 9th in yards per target and 11th in yards per route run among 56 TEs with 20+ targets.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Titans
Tennessee showed no interest in bringing Delanie Walker back and didn’t add anything at TE this offseason. That leaves Smith as the clear lead TE, with a chance to finish 2nd on the Titans in targets. Last year, Smith ranked 2nd in yards per target and 7th in yards per route run among 35 TEs with 40+ targets.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
The Packers added only WR Devin Funchess in free agency. They didn’t pick a single WR in the draft, instead opting for Rodgers’ potential successor in the 1st round and a power back in the 2nd. GM Brian Gutekunst confirmed a couple of weeks ago that his team is looking to lean on the running game going forward. All bad news for Rodgers, who will need to be other-worldly to finish as a top 10 fantasy QB in this environment.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans
Goodbye, DeAndre Hopkins.
Mark Ingram, RB, Ravens
Ingram was good last year, even outside of the context of Baltimore’s offense. Pro Football Focus ranked him 15th in their rushing grades and 17th in Elusive Rating among 45 RBs with 100+ carries. But he’ll turn 31 in December and now has 2nd-round rookie J.K. Dobbins breathing down his neck. Draft Ingram this summer and you’ll be worrying about him losing his starting job all season.
Damien Williams, RB, Chiefs
He dodged free agency but couldn’t dodge the draft. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who became the first RB picked in the 1st-round by an Andy Reid-coached team, is the favorite to step right in as Kansas City’s lead back.
Marlon Mack, RB, Colts
Mack is a fine NFL RB. Put him in the same backfield as rookie Jonathan Taylor, though, and he’s gonna be overmatched. Expect Taylor to emerge as the Colts’ clear lead ball-carrier early on in the season.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Lions
The arrival of D’Andre Swift leaves Johnson as a committee back. And Swift, who the Lions spent the 35th overall pick of the draft on, should be considered the favorite to lead the backfield in touches.
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Broncos
Life as a former undrafted free agent is tough. Lindsay has averaged a strong 4.9 yards per carry through 2 NFL seasons. But Denver still went out and replaced him with Melvin Gordon (a former 1st-rounder) in free agency. The capital invested in these guys makes Gordon the heavy favorite to lead this backfield in touches.
Austin Hooper, TE, Browns
He goes from battling Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley for targets in Atlanta to Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry in Cleveland. Ok. Here’s the problem: The Falcons easily led the league with 684 pass attempts last year. The Browns, under new HC Kevin Stefanski, project as a run-leaning offense. So Hooper is unlikely to match last year’s 7.5 targets per game. And he’ll be working in a new system with a new QB.