FA Expectancy: Veteran RBs

Updated: July 16th 2017

Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams. I decided that we should talk about these three veteran running backs in the same article as I see them fitting similarly with their new teams.

Marshawn Lynch – RB, Oakland Raiders

Marshawn Lynch signed a two-year deal with his hometown Oakland Raiders and I mentioned in my last article what I think he can bring to the team. To save you the full read I think unless you are: a) contending b) desperate at running back AND; c) can acquire him for very cheap I don’t think he’s worth having an investment in before we see something from him on the field.

Adrian Peterson – RB, New Orleans Saints

Adrian Peterson also signed a two-year deal to play with the New Orleans Saints. Mark Ingram owners immediately cursed Sean Payton’s name when the news broke. To go along with that they drafted Alvin Kamara in the third round and now people are scrambling to see what they can get for him. The Peterson signing was an interesting one as the Saints are a “spread’em out, aerial assault” offense that would have been better suited for a shifty pass catching back more like the next RB I am going to talk about. Peterson has always been a downhill runner that benefits more from a lead blocker. This could be a situation where they just don’t utilize him properly, he becomes frustrated with his role and New Orleans becomes just a one year footnote in his otherwise outstanding career (à la Emmitt Smith with the Cardinals).

Jamaal Charles – RB, Denver Broncos

Jamaal Charles signed a one-year deal with the rival Broncos to further question what the resigning of CJ Anderson was for last season. Anderson hasn’t been healthy since he broke out 3 years ago so this makes sense as a cost-saving insurance plan but why not get younger at the position through a draft that featured plenty of running back depth. Unless they think that they are still competing with New England, Pittsburgh and Oakland as favorites to win the AFC and Charles can cover up the obvious limitation of their current quarterback situation it’s a real head-scratcher.

The amount that Charles signed for shows that there wasn’t a market for aging backs that have been banged up this season. Of the three of these backs, I think Charles has the lowest floor. He fits well with what the Broncos usually have tried to do with a zone running scheme but he might not have anything left from his two knee injuries that limited him to a handful of snaps last season. I honestly would have liked to have seen him retire to cement his name atop that yard per carry career record that he deserved during his KC tenure.

So what does this mean for their new teams?

Oakland RaidersIn short, probably not a whole lot. I don’t see the Raiders becoming a ground and pound team but rather using Lynch similar to how the Patriots had deployed LeGarrette Blount recently with a steady diet of touches inside the 20s and to salt game away late. Therefore, it could have a negative impact on the available red zone targets that Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and other receivers earn. It can, however, help keep safeties in the box and away from the deep routes for David Carr to throw passes to. This, of course, is all predicated on Lynch being “Beast-Mode” and not a guy who is over 30 years old and took a year off of playing professional football because of back and other injury concerns.

Saints LogoPeterson probably fills the same role as Lynch and will be very touchdown dependent in 2017. Again, the Saints receivers probably get a downgrade in red zone targets but an uptick in favorable coverage situations. With the amount that Drew Brees works it around, I don’t see it being as big of a knock as it would be to the Raiders pass catchers.

I have no idea what this means for Mark Ingram though. When they signed Peterson I thought that he might slide into a more pass catching role but with the drafting of Kamara, I don’t see how he fits at all. Both he and Jeremy Hill are two veteran runners that I can see playing in a different uniform before the season starts. He could be a smart hold/buy really low in fantasy right now in case they move him before training camp to a team that he could once again be the primary back. He still has valuable talent left but Sean Payton just has what seems like a personal vendetta against utilizing him.

broncosCharles is likely the least impactful to the players around him by signing with Denver. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are still going to produce WR2 numbers whether it’s Charles, Anderson or whoever else is lining up in the backfield. This should still be Anderson job to loose unless Charles returns to 2013 form. Either way, it’s a risky move to invest in anyone from this backfield right now.

So what does this do for their values?

In standard leagues, I think if they are cheap to acquire (both in cap space and in traded assets) then Lynch and Peterson could have some value with their touchdown upside. In PPR leagues I just don’t see either one being more reliable than anything else that you could acquire at auction for much cheaper. If any of these guys are undervalued it’s likely Charles who you might be able to get at the minimum in your auction depending on your league’s perception of him. In all cases, I would just avoid making a move for any of these backs before seeing whether they have something left in the tank. If they show some value and you need a second or third runner for the playoffs you will likely still be able to acquire them for late seconds and even third round picks.

Does this mean anything for their previous team?

All three players were a non-factor for their teams in 2016 which is why they were let go in the offseason. Seattle added Eddy Lacy to complement C.J. Prosise and Thomas Rawls, the Vikings signed Latavius Murray and drafted Dalvin Cook, and the Chiefs drafted Kareem Hunt to go along with Spencer Ware. Of these three vacated situations I would guess that Hunt has the best chance to separate himself and become prominently featured.

It is definitely a murky time to be acquiring running backs. My strategy for RSO auctions this season will be to acquire the cheapest asset from several backfields on one-year contracts and hope that one or two can take the reins by midseason. That way if they hit I have a low-cost starter to leverage spending elsewhere if I need to make a playoff push. Alternatively, I can move them to contenders for middle round picks if my team is floundering during the heavy bye weeks in midseason. Either way, I do not want to be investing too much future capital in high-risk veterans this year and will wait till 2018 to see if any rookies are able to cement a role in their offense.

Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Look for my polls to cast your vote or send me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

FA Expectancy: Alshon Jeffery

Updated: July 16th 2017

Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams.

Alshon Jeffery – WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Nobody was really surprised when Alshon Jeffery signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after he was linked to signing with either them or the Tennessee Titans before free agency opened. What was a surprise was the length of the contract, a single year at $9.5 million. I expected there to be some built-in insulation against Jeffery’s past injuries concerns but he still deserved at least some long term commitment. This contract suggests that either there was not as big a market for receivers as many would have thought or the offers were too low for Jeffery’s comfort and he settled for a “prove it” deal to try and cash in next offseason.

Fantasy players seem perplexed also in how to value Jeffery fairly. Nobody is questioning his talent but they are concerned with the consistency issues that separate the first tier of receivers from all others.

Seasons Games Played Rec/GM Yds/GM TDs/GM FP/Game
2013-2014 100% 5.4 79.8 0.5 16.6
2015-2016 66% 5.0 77.5 0.3 14.5

Over the last two seasons, Jeffery has played in 21 of a potential 32 games but played for a full two seasons in 2013 and 2014. So he is capable of being available. Even last year his four games missed were because of a failed PED test rather than an injury. But his per game production has dipped ever so slightly. Some may attribute this to games that he played in but was not fully healthy, or the lack of QB play that he has been paired with in Chicago. Either way, he’s in Fresh Prince Country now and he needs to step up if he is going to get paid in 2018.

So what does this mean for Eagles players?

The Eagles brought in not only Jeffery but Torrey Smith to go along with Jordan Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Nelson Agholor. There are rumors also that the Eagles could take a receiver early in the draft, with John Ross being the common name given.

Carson Wentz definitely will not have the “lack of talent” excuse that many were affording him during his rookie campaign. He threw for over 600 attempts last season (5th in the NFL) which many are not expecting him to repeat. Coach Doug Pederson would like to have a more balanced offense if he can either find a better back in the draft or get more out of Ryan Mathews. Still with this boost to the talent around him his efficiency (62.4% completion rate) and touchdowns (16) should increase. He will be a solid bye week and matchup-based starter in 1QB leagues and a great second option in 2QB (especially on his rookie deal).

The receiving core will be greater than the sum of its parts, with inconsistency being a fantasy nightmare some weeks. Likely Jeffery is used as the primary receiver both on the outside and in the end zone which should hopefully boost his touchdown totals. Those who have or bought into Jordan Matthews should finally see him move to the slot where he should have always been playing. The lack of talent around him the past two seasons forced him to have to be the primary outside receiver. Target volume and yards after the catch will be his key to success. These two should have between 100 and 130 targets along with Zach Ertz who surprisingly had 106 targets last season. He will be a nice low-end TE1 option in most leagues.

Outside of Matthews and Jeffery, it will be hard for another receiver to carve out a consistent fantasy role on a weekly basis. If you are looking for a cheap option that could get an increased role should Jeffery get injured Green-Beckham would fill his role as the big X receiver. Please, just drop Nelson Agholor already. He’s a spot on your roster and dollars in your pocket that could be spent elsewhere.

Boo! Nelson Agholor

So what is Jeffery’s value?

Before his signing with the Eagles, I moved Jeffery for the 1.07 in the upcoming draft. While that was lower than what I thought I could get from him I was glad to get out from his remaining 2 year/$60M deal. That owner subsequently flipped Jeffery and the 2.06 for Isaiah Crowell, Jeremy Maclin, and a 2018 2nd. Based on these moves and conversation about acquiring costs in other leagues Jeffery seems to be a hold for now. The community is split on whether Jeffery still belongs in that WR1 conversation and his future is still technically unknown as he could be on the move again next season. It is unlikely that owners would be willing to part with more than a late 1st for him. If you want to risk it he could pay dividends to a contender that needs another good receiver.

So what does it mean for Bears Players?

We haven’t talked much about the Bears yet but mostly because the options are limited. Cameron Meredith is a hot take that many fantasy enthusiasts have been propping up as a great 2017 sleeper receiver. Even Markus Wheaton has seen a modest uptick in his ADP by coming over. The Bears could also take another high receiver in the draft but they will likely want to see what they can get out of Kevin White for one more season before hitting the reset button on the position again.  The problem is that none of these players command double coverage which could also hurt Jordan Howard’s value with negative game script and stacked boxes. It will mostly come down to what Mike Glennon can and can’t do in the offense. His ball velocity is one of the weakest in the league and he was a typical game manager during his starts early in his career. One of these receivers will be at least a decent option for deep starter leagues and heavy bye weeks but guessing who that is in April is difficult. Don’t get caught up in a bidding war trying to acquire either Meredith or Wheaton’s services before we learn more in training camp.

Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Send me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

Read the Fine Print

Updated: July 16th 2017

The NFL recently finished the first phase of free agency and with it came large contract dollars that make agents, and the players they represent, feel good about the deals that were doled out. And like other years, the initial contract numbers presented to the public largely distort the actual contract implications.  This article takes a more in-depth look into a few selected multi-year contracts of offensive players, examining short and long term NFL impacts plus consequences for RSO leagues.

Mike Glennon, QB, Chicago Bears

Published Contract: 3 years / $45 Million, $18.5M guaranteed

Real Contract: 1 year with two team option years

What it means: The contract likely paid Glennon more than was warranted or necessary for his services.  However, the Bears commit to the former Buccaneer for only one year with just $4.5 million owed after 2017.  Chicago’s overpay is tempered by cheap contract years in 2017 ($16M) and 2018 ($15M) with cap hits which project toward the low end of the spectrum for non-rookie deal starting quarterbacks if Glennon proves to be a good quarterback for the Bears. The one-year commitment also does not prevent the Bears using a high draft pick on a quarterback this season.

RSO league consequences: You should only consider Glennon useful in 2QB/Superflex leagues as a low-end starter or bye week/injury reserve.  There is very little upside on a Chicago team with lots of unknowns at receiver, who just lost its top receiving threat, Alshon Jeffery, to the Eagles, and figures to be run-heavy in the near future led by a strong offensive line and rookie-sensation Jordan Howard.  Glennon is not a player I would invest in for the long haul at the moment.  We will have more information about the Chicago’s future quarterback plan following the NFL draft.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills

Published Contract: 2 years / $30.5 Million, $15.5M guaranteed

Real Contract: 1 year with one team option year

What it means: Taylor remains in Buffalo on another team-friendly contract.  This contract and teams’ lack of interest in Colin Kaepernick (although there are other issues at play for Kaepernick) says a lot about the market for “running” quarterbacks with limited passing skills.  This situation could go in a lot of directions in 2018 depending on how he meshes with the new coaching staff.  The contract contains $8.6M in dead cap after 2017 (of which $5.6M is locked in through 3 voided years at the end of contract).  Taylor’s $18M cap hit is not outrageous if he is retained in 2018.

RSO league consequences: Taylor is a great one year option for those looking to go cheaper at quarterback. He does not have the passing skills to challenge the top performers but his rushing abilities give him a nice weekly floor which resulted in QB1 numbers on a PPG basis for 2015 and 2016.  Those running skills also help open lanes on the ground for LeSean McCoy and the rest of the Bills rushing attack.  The lack of pocket passing traits, on the other hand, severely limits Buffalo receivers’ upside including Sammy Watkins.  While I like Taylor in 2017, I am not looking for a longer contract.  There was not much of a market for Taylor during pre-free agency talks which resulting in Taylor taking a reduced contract to stay in Buffalo.  The Bills have now passed on the chance to commit to Taylor twice.  If teams will not commit, neither should you.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Bucaneers

Published Contract: 3 years / $33.5 Million, $18.5M guaranteed

Real Contract: 2 years with one team option year

What it means: Jackson solves massive offensive speed issues in the receiver group for Tampa Bay.  He can help a young Jameis Winston who enjoys throwing the football deep but has not been particularly effective at it.  Jackson creates far more separation than other receivers Winston throws to however.  The Bucs could conceivably cut Jackson in year two, but that option is highly unlikely with only $3.5 Million out of $11M not guaranteed and probably occurs only in the case of catastrophic injury or other major issue.  This is one of my favorite deals so far in free agency filling a major team need with reasonable contract terms.

RSO league consequences: Jackson remains a high-volatile WR3 in Tampa Bay, although one with higher upside than many receivers in this range.  Tampa Bay’s passing targets concentrated heavily on Mike Evans in 2016. The next two targets, Cameron Brate and Adam Humphries, together totaled fewer targets than Evans alone.  With only Brate and Humphries challenging for secondary targets to Evans, Jackson could easily see more targets than in his time in Washington.  I am very comfortable giving Jackson a 2 or 3 year deal as his weekly volatility generally results in cheaper RSO contracts.

Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Published Contract: 5 years / $34 Million, $15M guaranteed

Real Contract: 1 year with four team option years

What it means: This contract is a great example of how misleading the generic contract terms can be.  The Rams are only locked in for the first season of the five year contract.  Even the guarantees are not guaranteed.  $8M of the $15M in guarantees lock in for injury only.  Woods will be a year to year rental for Los Angeles.

RSO league consequences: Nothing to see here.  Woods theoretically slots in as a starting receiver for Sean McVay’s offense.  This is a Rams team that likely adds major receiving weapons over the next couple of years, however.  Woods could garner enough targets in 2017 to be useful in deeper leagues but should not be considered as more than a depth player on a one year contract.

Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Published Contract: 3 years / $15 Million, $8.55M guaranteed

Real Contract: 1 year with two team option years

What it means: Oh how the mighty have fallen.  The fact that this is the premier contract given to a running back in free agency says all you need to know about the running back market.  Former heavyweights at the position including Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, and Eddie Lacy have gathered only marginal interest (Editor’s Note: Lacy signed a 1-year deal with Seattle that guaranties him $2.865M and could earn him up to $5.55M depending on his performance and his weight).  A number of factors including a deep running back draft class plus analytics research detailing the minimal effect of the run game generally and the running back specifically have suppressed the demand for running backs.  Only $2.7M of Murray’s contract is fully guaranteed.  The cap number balloons from a small sub-$3M number in 2017 to well over $6M in 2018 with only $1.2M in dead money left.  The contract is tailor-made for Murray’s release or contract restructure in 2018.

RSO league consequences: Murray moves in as the top back in Minnesota, splitting time with incumbent Jerick McKinnon.  This is likely more of a timeshare rather than players with separate, strict roles in the offense.  McKinnon is competent catching flares and screens out of the backfield but is not a particularly good receiver or route runner.  Murray is better in pass protection and likely takes most goal line work based on Minnesota’s previous use of the departed Matt Asiata.  The offensive line was a mess in 2016, but Minnesota spent a lot of money shoring up the position in free agency.  The Vikings are also prime candidates to add offensive line talent in the draft.  Minnesota could also look at running back in the draft.  Overall, consider Murray a low upside borderline RB2/3 in RSO leagues.  Murray has not demonstrated special talent so far in the league and given his NFL contract, I would not sign Murray to more than a 1-year RSO contract.

*Contract details were taken from Spotrac.


Bio: Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

FA Expectancy – Le’Veon Bell

Updated: July 16th 2017

Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams.

Before free agents officially signed though, I wanted to get in a comprehensive analysis of Le’Veon Bell who has been designated with the Franchise Tag for 2017. I want to evaluate where he and the Steelers are in 2017 and where they might be in the future should they part ways.

Currently, the dynasty RB3 on DLF Bell had himself another great season that made those who gambled on his 3-game suspension a likely championship caliber team. Since his tagging, there are talks that he and the Steelers are looking at a big extension that could make him the highest-paid running back in the league. Even if they don’t come to an agreement before the July 15 deadline the Steelers would have the option to tag him again for next season. But would Bell play under a second tag? I posted a poll on Twitter asking the community what they thought Bell would do if he was placed under the tag.

Twitter Question - Bell

The community expects him to play, but it wasn’t as overwhelming as one might think. In fact, holding out after a potential second tag in 2018 was only 1% different and his expectation to hold out this year was also reasonably high. Bell hasn’t expressed any interest in holding out, so we’ll expect him and the Steelers to come to an agreement in the coming months. But the devil will be in details of what the contract really says about the Steelers commitment to him. Too often the headline after signings will read, “Player and Team agree to a $45M deal over 4 years”, but what does that really mean? If it is very front loaded with the guaranteed money drying up after the second year then this can really just equate to a 2 year extension.

The Steelers will also show their hand in this year’s draft by how they handle the running back position. Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette will not be drafted by the Steelers in round one, but a serious investment at the end of day 2 or even a high day 3 running back selection could signal that the team is already thinking past the days of Bell. Joe MixonI think Joe Mixon, another running back with a troubling history would be the perfect fit for the Steelers in this draft. The franchise is well insulated to handle an expected media frenzy that would come with his selection, and they wouldn’t have to invest as high a value pick because of his history (likely 3rd to 5th round). He could be an excellent bargaining chip for the Steelers to hold over Bell’s head in future contract talks. If Bell walks, Mixon can step right in after the media storm blows over after 2017. If they sign him they still have an excellent talent at backup in case of injury or major suspension.

So what would the Steelers be with/without Bell then?

We know what the Steelers are with Bell lining up behind Ben Roethlisberger and keeping defenses honest for Antonio Brown to work all over the secondary. They are one of the most prolific offenses in the league, and are frequently in the top 10 in terms of scoring and total yards. But what if Bell held out or the Steelers moved on?

We had glimpses of what this scenario would be like, with mixed results, thanks to recent suspensions and the injuries that Bell had in 2015 and 2016. In early 2015 DeAngelo Williams was as good as Bell to fantasy owners. He also held up for those who kept him through midseason when he picked right back up after Bell went out with a leg injury for the rest of the season. It started the same in 2016 when Williams had to fill in for Bell again at the start the season due to suspension. However in the playoff game against New England when Bell could only play the first quarter the Steelers couldn’t get anything going on offense. The defense took away Brown with double coverage and the running game was stale for most of the game.

This might be why the Steelers are willing to sign Bell to a long-term deal because they saw that without him they might not be able to get over the hump that is New England in the AFC. But the question still remains as to whether any above average running backs like the previously mentioned Joe Mixon, would do equally as well in Pittsburgh’s offense for what could be a fraction of Bell’s cost?

So what does this mean for Bell as a fantasy asset?

Short of taking another ill-timed puff of the funny stuff I expect Bell to be dominant in 2017; maybe not as dominant on a per game basis as he was down the stretch last year but still a locked-in RB1. The interesting evaluation will be what his value is in 2018? Depending on his contract situation and what the Steelers do to fill his backup role this off-season he could be an excellent sell-high asset. Even in 2017 for owners that are not in their championship window, this could be the best (and maybe last) year to sell Bell for a fist full of picks and/or young players.

For those of you who have him in your Auction this season do not get sucked into offering him a huge $70M/4year deal. Remember that the back years of RSO deals are where the cap hit is at its highest so let other owners commit long term to him. Instead try and get him with only a 2-year deal which gives you the flexibility to hold him or move him at the end of 2017 based on what he does.

Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Send me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

2017 Free Agency Preview

Updated: July 16th 2017

Welcome to 2017! Hopefully, 2016 was a success in regards to your fantasy teams. We are less than one week away from the start of the NFL Combine which officially starts the NFL offseason activities. While many people will have their attention focused on the incoming rookies, rightfully so, this will also offer the first major opportunity for the rumor mill to start for players set to hit free agency on March 9th. We will have to wait and see which players are ultimately tagged by their team but this could be a great year for dynasty owners that like to take risks on relocating free agents. Along with these free agents, there may be a star-studded group of players that are cut. Once the draft comes around there should be a large number of big names that will be changing uniforms.

To prepare you, the owners of RSO, for the whirlwind that is NFL free agency I’ve gone to the liberty of making a list of the most fantasy relevant players that are either free agents or could be moving teams next season.

QB RB WR TE
Colin Kaepernick (Cut) Adrian Peterson (Cut) Adam Thielen (RFA) Cameron Brate (ERFA)
Jay Cutler Alfred Morris (Cut) Alshon Jeffery Gavin Escobar
Jimmy Garoppolo (Trade) Andre Ellington Brandon Marshall (Cut) Jack Doyle
Josh McCowan (Cut) Benny Cunningham Brian Quick Jared Cook
Kirk Cousins Chris Thompson (RFA) Cordarrelle Patterson Jermaine Gresham
Mike Glennon Christine Michael Danny Amendola (Cut) Jordan Cameron
 Tony Romo (Cut) Danny Woodhead DeSean Jackson Julius Thomas (Trade)
Tyrod Taylor (Cut) Darren McFadden Eddie Royal (Cut) Lance Kendricks (Cut)
DeAngelo Williams Eric Decker (Cut) Larry Donnell
  Doug Martin (Cut) Kamar Aiken Luke Willson
  Eddie Lacy Kendall Wright Martellus Bennett
  Isaiah Crowell (RFA) Kenny Britt Ryan Griffin
Jamaal Charles (Cut) Kenny Stills Vernon Davis
  James Stark (Cut) Markus Wheaton
Jonathan Stewart (Cut) Marquess Wilson
Latavius Murray Michael Floyd
  LeSean McCoy (Cut/Trade) Pierre Garcon
  LeGarrette Blount Robert Woods
Le’Veon Bell Taylor Gabriel (RFA)
  Mike Gillislee (RFA) Terrance Williams
Rashad Jennings (Cut) Terrelle Pryor
Rex Burkhead Willie Snead (ERFA)
Ryan Mathews (Cut) Victor Cruz (Cut)
Terrance West (RFA)
 

Coaches

 

New

 

Former

Anthony Lynn Chargers (HC) Bills (OC/HC)
Chris Ballard Colts (GM) Chiefs
Doug Marrone Jaguars (HC) Jaguars (OC)
Kyle Shannahan 49ers (HC) Falcons (OC)
Mike McCoy Broncos (OC) Chargers (HC)
Sean McDermitt Bills (HC) Panthers (DC)
Sean McVay Rams (HC) Redskins (OC)

 

Throughout the offseason I will be working on a collection of articles focusing on some of these players as they sign new deals (either with a new team or their current team) and the impact they will they have as well as what this means for the players around them. I will also look at a couple of coaching and management changes that you should be aware of and what it means for your players that aren’t moving.

In the meantime make sure to buy-in to your leagues and start those trade conversations again with other owners. The best way to prepare for free agency is to have a list of what other owners may be looking for before your rookie draft. As players begin to sign with new teams having an open communication with your league mates will put you atop their list of first contacts when they want to start trading.

If you want to start a conversation about what any player’s impact could be if they move to a new team reach out to me on Twitter @naandrews19.

QB Musical Chairs

Updated: July 23rd 2017

This offseason could be one of the more intriguing in memory thanks to an unprecedented amount of quarterbacks possibly switching teams. Stable starting quarterbacks rarely move because finding just competent level players at the position is incredibly hard in the NFL.  This year’s candidates for taking over starting jobs in other locations include, among others, free agents Kirk Cousins, Brian Hoyer, and Mike Glennon; trade/release options Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Tyrod Taylor, Jimmy Garappolo, Colin Kaepernick, Nick Foles, and A.J. McCarron; plus rookies DeShaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, and DeShone Kizer.

This article examines possible landing spots based on a variety of factors including team composition, draft capital, and salary cap situation. The large supply of veteran quarterbacks available with starting experience could make for a very interesting market this offseason at the QB position and will undoubtedly force many into backup jobs.

The Elite Landing Spot: Houston

The Texans provide the premier landing spot for our quarterback class. The defense was among the better units in the NFL in 2016 without superstar defensive lineman J.J. Watt.   The offense boasts quality playmakers at wide receiver (DeAndre Hopkins) and running back (Lamar Miller) plus a decent offensive line which should improve next season.  Houston is set up to win now except for the quarterback position in one of the NFL’s weakest divisions.  There is no need to write more about the struggles of Brock Osweiler.  Tom Savage looked the part of starting QB for about a half of football then reverted to a player who did not belong on the field.

Best fits: Tony Romo, Jimmy Garoppolo.  Houston should find a way to get Romo on the roster despite the difficulties with Osweiler’s contract and Houston’s cap issues.  He instantly makes the Texans a legitimate Super Bowl contender and Houston does not want to waste the limited time frame of a great defense.  Garoppolo answers the cap issue and Houston’s 25th pick would be hard to resist by New England as part of a trade but the Osweiler debacle makes investing in another QB with limited experience scary for Houston.  Selecting a QB at 25 in the draft is another cap-friendly option addressing the position.

No Man’s Land: Buffalo, New York Jets

Both of these teams seem caught in that blurry area of having just enough roster strength to possibly fight for a playoff spot but having far too many weaknesses to truly contend. Both were major disappointments in 2016 failing to make the playoffs.  The Bills (10) and Jets (6) are both at spots in the NFL draft where one of their top rated quarterbacks may fall to them.

Buffalo brings in a new coaching staff led by new HC Sean McDermott.  The Bills are unlikely to pick up the large option on current QB Tyrod Taylor.  The defense unexpectedly bottomed out in 2015 and 2016 under former coach Rex Ryan.  A few analysts made a questionble argument this team is close to competing with the addition of a solid quarterback based on a strong run game and solid offensive line.  A major improvement from a defense among the worst in the league against the run and not good against the pass would have to happen for any talk of contention to occur however.

Best fits: Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon.  This depends a lot on whether the organization views Cardale Jones as a long-term project or an eventual successor.  Buffalo management must find the direction they want to take this team.  Signing a cost-friendly free agent quarterback gives this team desired flexibility for the future. Cutler should come relatively cheap, provides a short-term fix with recent upside (QBR 10 in 2015, QBR 3 in 2013), and has the arm needed for Buffalo’s late season weather.  Resigning Taylor is another option but looks unlikely given the current contract situation.

New York faces a difficult choice about whether to take one last shot or start the rebuild process.  The roster is full of aging former stars including running back Matt Forte (who was clearly outplayed by Bilal Powell in 2016), wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker (who suffered through injuries and the awful version of Ryan Fitzpatrick), and cornerback Darrelle Revis (whose days as a starting corner look over).  This looks like a team in need of a fresh start when adding in an elderly offensive line and a secondary that was among the worst in the league last season.  The Jets also have one of the worst salary cap situations in the league with limited flexibility to obtain significant cap room.

Best fits: DeShaun Watson, Colin Kaepernick.  Time to start over with the top rated QB left on their board.  This is too early in the draft for this quarterback class but better to take the gamble on a possible franchise QB.  This team is going nowhere soon, the top tier defensive prospects might be gone at 6 in the draft, and the Jets do not have the cap space to make big moves in free agency.  The Jets might also effectively “punt” next season on quarterback and sign one of the lower-end options available in free agency like Kaepernick or Nick Foles to compete for the starting job.

The Young Rebuilders: Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago

These teams occupy the top three positions in the NFL draft after winning a combined six games in 2016. Each team has significant holes throughout the roster to be filled.  Each organization has plenty of cap room with Cleveland and San Francisco holding the most cap space in the league.  The cap space and draft capital give each of these teams a variety of options available in addressing QB needs.  Taking one of the top quarterbacks is certainly an option but might not be the wisest choice for a top-three pick with the uncertainty surrounding this rookie class.

Best fits (Cleveland): Tyrod Taylor, DeShone Kizer.  Taylor allows Cleveland to keep all of their draft picks which the Browns management covets.  Hue Jackson displayed a willingness to work with Robert Griffin III who has a similar skill-set to Taylor.  Kizer makes for an intriguing pick at the 12 spot but could fall further.  The Irish quarterback has all the required physical traits and throws one of the better balls among the rookie class but needs a lot of coaching to become ready for the NFL.

Best fits (San Francisco): Mitch Trubisky, Jay Cutler.  San Francisco feels like another team who could wait in determining a long-term quarterback solution.  The roster is nowhere close to competing despite new GM John Lynch’s optimism.  New head coach Kyle Shanahan will not force the issue for quarterback at the top of the draft if he is not confident about the talent available and has ties to Cutler.  Many consider Trubisky the most accurate QB in the draft, if San Francisco goes in that direction, but questions surround the Tar Heel with a limited sample of game film to go off of.

Best fits (Chicago): A.J. McCarron, Patrick Mahomes.  Chicago is a team who could compete sooner than many would presume. There is a strong rushing attack anchored by a very good offensive line and injuries decimated a defense which could be better than expected in 2017 if the Bears find some help in the secondary.  McCarron makes for a low-risk option which should come much cheaper than Garappolo.  Any team acquiring McCarron will also have an extra year of control with his contract as a restricted free agent in 2018.  The Bears should re-sign Brian Hoyer, who showed well in limited action this season, whether as the backup or a bridge to the future for a quarterback taken later in the draft like Texas Tech standout Mahomes.

The Longshots: Denver, Washington, Kansas City

There has been talk of Romo going to Denver but the Broncos seem happy enough with their quarterback situation and just used a first round pick on Paxton Lynch last year.  Kirk Cousins is staying in Washington on the assumption somebody in the Redskins management maintains some level of reason.  Cousins will probably get the franchise tag again as there is no backup plan to Cousins leaving. Kansas City is another popular landing spot for Tony Romo to put the Chiefs over the top.  This seems somewhat unlikely on a team with 23 wins over the last two seasons, a competent quarterback, and limited salary cap flexibility.


Bio: Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.