Free Agency Movers

Updated: March 31st 2020

When we look lack back at 2020 free agency, the defining trait undoubtedly will be the number of starting level quarterbacks available, highlighted by Tom Brady.  The market was so saturated that former MVP Cam Newton and last year’s passing yardage leader Jameis Winston still do not have jobs.  In addition, former high-end running back performers, Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, also move to new teams.  I take a look at some of the top contract players on the move in free agency and what their fantasy prospects entail.


Tom Brady (Tampa Bay)

The nearly twenty-year run in Foxboro comes to an end as Brady leaves for Tampa Bay.  This is an obvious all-or-nothing scenario for 42 year old Brady and the Tampa Bay coaching staff.  Brady was among the league leaders in attempts last season with the Patriots.  The run game fell apart with a drastic reduction in run blocking.  Brady gets a big upgrade on skill position players in Tampa Bay.  Expect better efficiency on less volume in Tampa Bay.  There is a chance for a significant fantasy rebound from Brady if he shows last year was not a prelude to the end.  As for the relevant Patriots skill players, downgrade this season.  We do not know where the quarterback situation ends up with only Jared Stidham and Brian Hoyer on the New England roster.

So what can we expect the change in quarterbacks will have on other pieces in Tampa Bay?  Jameis Winston tied for the lead league in passing attempts last season, largely due to turnover-driven, negative game scripts highlighted by 30 interceptions.  He also led the league in passing yards while ranking second with 33 passing touchdowns.  This led to monster fantasy production from wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, the PPR points-per-game WR2 and WR4, respectively.  We should have already expected those lofty numbers to decrease with Winston.  Expectations definitely should be lowered with Brady.  Volume could be substantially lower.  Target depth also likely decreases significantly, overall.  Brady gives a slimmer of hope to O.J. Howard after significant regression in Arians’ new scheme.  He also raises the prospects for running backs with more scoring chances and more potential receptions.

Teddy Bridgewater (Carolina)

Carolina moved on from former MVP Cam Newton after a couple of injury-marred years.  The Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater as his replacement.  Bridgewater played the game-manager role for most of his career, typically throwing in low volume and low-ADOT passing schemes while avoiding much risk.  I would not consider him as more than a low-end QB2 and ideally as my QB3 in superflex leagues.  With that being said, Bridgewater is a major real-life upgrade over Kyle Allen.  Allen struggled at all level of the field, but was especially atrocious throwing at mid to deep levels of the field.  Bridgewater fits well with Carolina’s pass catchers who, as a group, have strong after-the-catch abilities.

Phillip Rivers (Indianapolis)

This is one of my favorite fits from free agency.  Familiarity with the head coach and offensive coordinator should ensure a relatively quick transition.  Rivers instantly improves the quarterback spot from Jacoby Brissett increasing the expected fantasy output of all skill players.  Top wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and passing-down running back Nyheim Hynes likely are the biggest beneficiaries.  The position group for the Colts is a downgrade across the board with similar skills in many cases. The offensive line is a massive upgrade though.  It can be argued much of Rivers’ struggles last season began with the perpetually injured offensive line for the Chargers.  I see Rivers in the same upper-mid QB2 range for fantasy he has been for most of his later career.

Losing Rivers from the Chargers downgrades fantasy projections for all current players.  Either Tyrod Taylor or a rookie looks like the starter for 2020, and neither is someone that will increase volume or efficiency of the receivers around them.  Taylor brings rushing upside at quarterback but will be in danger of losing the starting spot at any time.

Running Backs

Todd Gurley (Atlanta)

Atlanta ranks as perhaps the best free agent landing spot for a running back.  First round talent exists everywhere on the offense.   Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and the rest of the passing attack make one of the best bets for consistent high yardage and scoring opportunities.  The Falcons’ offensive line should be much healthier this year and a nice upgrade over the Rams’ aging unit.  The current depth chart also does not provide much competition with only Ito Smith and Brian Hill behind Gurley.  Gurley’s one-year deal makes drafting a running back very possible and his knee always brings up long-term questions. Put Gurley in the high-end RB2 mix with easy RB1 possibilities.

Melvin Gordon (Denver)

Denver made itself clear this offseason that they wanted to upgrade the running back group.  Gordon steps in as the lead back after signing a 2 year / $16 million contract.  Gordon produced a down campaign in 2019 after holding out for a significant period (typical for many players who come in late) and, as a result, did not get even the money Los Angeles offered.  Gordon likely forms a significant time-share with third-year burner Phillip Lindsay.  Denver figures to run the ball considerably behind a solid run-blocking line which should give Gordon plenty of opportunity.  The question is how efficiently 2nd-year starter Drew Lock can move the offense.  Gordon slots in as a borderline RB2/3 given the role and offense uncertainties.

Jordan Howard (Miami)

Howard lands with the Dolphins on a two-year deal for a team currently without much at the running back spot.  Miami is fully expected to take a running back in the draft but Howard should still have a role with most of the rookies.  People forget it was Howard, not rookie Miles Sanders, trending upward for the Eagles as the year rolled on before Howard’s season-ending injury.  The situation is much worse in Miami, though.  The offensive line ranks among the league’s worst and the offense will be headed by journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick or an incoming rookie.  Howard provides little in the receiving game.  He ranks as an uninspiring RB3 for fantasy.

Wide Receivers

Robby Anderson

Carolina adds some much needed depth to a wide receiver core without much behind star D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel.  Anderson brings very good deep speed in a thin-frame package while also providing a breakaway threat on crossing routes.  The former Jet averaged 14 to 15 yards per reception in each season.  He does not run a lot of different routes, won’t break many tackles after the catch, and won’t do much damage in the short to intermediate levels of the field.  The Panthers paid a premium for Anderson at $10 million per year and it is questionable how much Teddy Bridgewater can take advantage of Anderson’s skill set.   His lack of volume certainty puts Anderson in the WR4/5 range with upside if he can take the WR2 job.

Randall Cobb

One of the most curious decisions this offseason was the Texans trading superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for about a 2nd round pick and running back David Johnson.  Houston then gave Cobb a 3-year / $27 million contract.  There is plenty of opportunity for Cobb.  The Texans’ wide receiver group includes perpetually injured Will Fuller and deep-threat Kenny Stills.  Unfortunately, Cobb’s play really fell off the last few seasons.   He no longer has the juice that he once had many years ago.  Cobb should have a role as the slot receiver and there is value with DeShaun Watson at quarterback.    With that being said, Cobb is nothing but a cheap depth piece for fantasy.

Emmanuel Sanders

New Orleans might have found a worthy receiver opposite of Michael Thomas in Sanders.  He came back from a devastating Achilles tear quicker than expected and had a productive 2019 for the Broncos and San Francisco.  This is a smart addition for the Saints.  The question is how much consistent work Sanders gets on a team with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara soaking up targets plus Jared Cook, Tre’quan Smith, and Taysom Hill still involved.  He is worth a WR5 type of investment to find out with Drew Brees back.

Tight Ends

Austin Hooper

The former Falcon took a very common track for tight ends, slowly improving each year.  Hooper’s yardage and receptions increased every season, even last year despite playing in only 13 games.  He finished last season as the PPR points per game TE3.  Cleveland obtains a reliable consistent target but not one who dictates defenses or athletically challenges deep.  Hooper averaged between 9.3 and 10.7 yards per reception each of the last three years.  He figures to head 2-TE formations with David Njoku for the Browns after signing a huge $10.5 million per season contract.  Hooper slides to a borderline TE1/2 now.  There is too much uncertainty about his role on an offense with Beckham Jr., Landry, Chubb, and Hunt searching for volume.

Jimmy Graham

I will simply copy what I said about Graham when he signed with Green Bay:

The Seattle (Green Bay) experience was not kind for Jimmy Graham.  He never really fit in for what the Seahawks (Packers) wanted from him when he was healthy and it was painful watching Graham following his patellar injury.  Unfortunately he lost the burst and speed which made him one of the most dangerous receiving weapons in the league with New Orleans.  His great size and hands still let him maintain a role as a significant short-area threat.

It is difficult understanding what Chicago was thinking giving Graham significant money.  He is a role player at this stage and not a fantasy option in most leagues.

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.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

Free Agency Fallout: Running Back Edition

Updated: March 31st 2020

What a wild first week that was!!!  With Tom Brady and Philip Rivers headlining, it was anticipated that the QBs would be the biggest dominoes in this year’s free agency.  To a degree, that was true.  These deals, along with the Teddy Bridgewater signing (Carolina) and the Nick Foles trade (Chicago), have certainly shaken up the league.  However, for us fantasy-folk the real action lies in the RB market, and this year provided some seriously high-profile names.

We are going to rank these RB relocations and explore what we can expect from them in 2020, but I would like to first preface this breakdown with the following anecdotes.

  • They say it’s a “Passing League”, but there were only 5 QBs that surpassed 4,200 yards in 2019. The previous 6 years resulted in 10, 5, 11, 9, 9 and 9.
  • Of the 32 projected starting QBs: 5 will be playing at age 37+, 9 have a season or less of experience under their belt, 5 play on conservative run-first teams, and 2 are running QBs.
  • 15 running backs surpassed the 1,000 yard mark in 2019. The previous 4 years resulted in 9, 9, 12 and 7.
  • Of these 15 running backs, 13 were guys still on their rookie deals. Carlos Hyde and Mark Ingram were the other two.

We’ve got two trends going here.  The level of passing took a bit of a hit in 2019, and I believe we will see even further regression due to age and inexperience.  It seems now more than ever that teams will be relying on the run.  Meanwhile, we know being a running back today isn’t what it used to be.  They are the comets of the sports world.  3-4 years of stardom and then they are lucky to be sharing the ball in a committee.   Therefore, since all 4 of these RBs are entering the second act of their career, and doing so in a new city, I thought it best to focus on their respective play caller’s history in order to map these projections.  Let’s begin.

#4.  Todd Gurley:  The Falcons signed an ex-Ram…high-profile, physical RB who thrives in the passing game.   Sound familiar?  We witnessed this before with Steven Jackson in 2013.  Dirk Koetter was the Offensive Coordinator then and has since reclaimed his role.  Here’s a look at his RB usage over the years:

Year Name


Rush Yards


Rush TDs


Michael Turner 222 800 3.6



Stephen Jackson (12 games) 157 543 3.46



Stephen Jackson 190 707 3.72



Doug Martin 288 1402 4.87



Doug Martin (8 games) 144 421 2.9



Doug Martin (11 games) 138 406 2.9



Peyton Barber 234 871 3.72


2019 Devonta Freeman 184 656 3.6


Barring the Doug Martin outlier in 2015, we can see a clear trend of ineffectiveness amongst what is a solid group of names.  I think we can expect a similar outlook for Gurley.  On a side note, Jaquizz Rodgers (5’6 205lbs) spent 6 years with Koetter (3 in Atlanta & 3 in Tampa Bay), and had a considerable workload for all of those years.  At 5’9 195 lbs, Ito Smith compares favorably to Rodgers and could assume that role.

Projections:  215 Atts, 796 Rush Yards, 3.7 YPC, 30 Rec, 210 Rec Yards, 8 Total TDs


#3.  Jordan Howard:  Aside from the shuffling of veterans and the usual depth-based signings, there really is only one team that was in desperate need of a running back – Miami.  Many will fade the Dolphins backfield in 2020, but I believe there is cause for optimism.  Dolphins’ brass has replaced first year Offensive Coordinator Chad O’Shea with a former Head Coach in Chan Gailey.  Let’s dive in to his past RB usage.

Year Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards YPC Rush TDs


Larry Johnson 193 874 4.5



Fred Jackson 222 927 4.2



Fred Jackson (10 games) 170 934 5.5



C.J. Spiller 207 1244 6.0



Chris Ivory 247 1070 4.3



Matt Forte 218 813 3.7


Aside from Spiller, this list is composed of big, physical backs.  Chris Ivory stands out in particular.  He was the exact same size as Howard at 6’0 224 lbs and had a very similar skill-set.  Interestingly enough, these backs all had smaller, change-of-pace counterparts.  Larry Johnson had Jamal Charles, Fred Jackson had C.J. Spiller, and Chris Ivory and Matt Forte both shared backfields with Bilal Powell.  Expect the Dolphins to draft a dangerous 3rd down option like D’Andre Swift, in an attempt to recreate the Eagles pairing of Howard and Miles Sanders.

Projections:  230 Atts, 966 Rush Yards, 4.2 YPC, 8 Rush TDs, 24 Rec, 190 Rec Yards


#2.  Melvin Gordon:  The Royce Freeman experiment is likely over, and the Broncos were in need of a 3rd down receiving back (a role Philip Lindsay is surprisingly lackluster in).  Melvin Gordon delivers on both fronts.  Philip Lindsay appears to be the better runner (Gordon has averaged less than 4.0 yards a carry in 4 of his 5 seasons) and you would think he would continue to see 10-12 carries a game.   Let’s see if Offensive Coordinator’s Pat Shurmur’s past supports that notion.

Year Name Rush Atts. Rush Yards YPC TDs Recs. Rec. Yards


Trent Richardson 267 950 3.6 12 51



Lesean McCoy 314 1607 5.1 11 52



Lesean McCoy 312 1319 4.2 5 28



DeMarco Murray,

Ryan Mathews














Latavius Murray,

Jerick Mckinnon














Saquon Barkley 261 1307 5.0 15 91



Saquon Barkley 217 1003 4.6 52 438


Melvin Gordon is no McCoy or Barkley, but he is a genuine dual-threat RB .  Of the various ways in which this could play out, the Broncos backfield will most likely resemble that of the 2015 Eagles’, with Gordon assuming the DeMarco Murray role.

Projections:  182 Atts, 728 Rush Yards, 4.2 YPC, 48 Rec, 410 Rec Yards, 10 Total TDs


#1.  David Johnson:  After a 2,100 yard breakout year, Johnson sat out the entire 2017 season with a dislocated wrist.  He returned in 2018, but experienced a very steep decline in production.  Finally last year, he got off to a slow start, injured his ankle, and wass ultimately benched in favor of Kenyan Drake.  Fantasy owners everywhere have got to believe the Cardinals trade just sealed David Johnson’s fate as the hungriest man in the NFL.  Let’s see what kind of effect Bill O’Brien’s offense can have.

Year Name Rush Atts. Rush Yards YPC TDs Recs. Rec. Yards


Arian Foster 260 1246 4.8 13 38



Lamar Miller 268 1073 4.0 6 31



Lamar Miller 238 888 3.73 6 36



Lamar Miller 210 973 4.63 6 25



Carlos Hyde 245 1070 4.37 6 10


2014 marked the end of Arian Foster’s illustrious run (28 years-old at the time), as well as the beginning of Bill O’Brien’s NFL Head Coaching career.  All 3 former Texans had a similar stature to Johnson, but the Foster comparison is scary.  At 6’1 227 lbs, Foster was surprisingly gifted in the passing game, totaling 119 receptions for 1221 yards in his first 2 seasons as a starter.  The 6’1 224 lb David Johnson (28 years-old) recorded 116 receptions for 1336 yards in his first 2 seasons as the starter.  I suspect a healthy Johnson follows in Foster’s footsteps for one final glory year in H-town.

Projections:  255 Atts, 1122 Rush Yards, 4.4 YPC, 44 Rec, 420 Rec Yards, 10 Total TDs

More Analysis by Grant Viviano

Running’s Back – Here’s Who Is Good At It

Updated: March 24th 2020

Some of the best business advice I ever received came from my Uncle one day upon discussing the stock market.  He said, “Grant, there are 3 keys to making it in this arena.  You have to be aggressive, you have to be lucky, and you have to be disciplined.”  Now I think most would agree that the first two are a given, but just how does one practice discipline on Wall Street?  After all, isn’t it basically Roulette on your laptop?  The answer is both big and simple.  I’m not kidding…that’s literally the answer.  Big data becomes a simple model/message.  You do the work combing through the annals of history, whether that be the last 3-12 months of the Oil and Gas sector, or say the 2019 NFL Season, and then you convert it into some concise, actionable strategy that gives you an edge over the rest of the field.  Straying from your edge reverts you back to just another gambler.  Staying discipline by ALWAYS implementing your model gets you in the green, or for our purposes, in the dance for your fantasy playoffs.  Let me show you what I mean.

Here are the NFL’s 2019 Top 25 Runners based on a composition of 1st Down Efficiency and Yards Per Carry Metrics.  I emphasize Runners because this list does not factor in the receiving aspects of the Running Back position.  Our focus is on measuring true efficiency & effectiveness; receptions are often a product of game script.  Therefore, players like James White and Austin Ekeler have been left off the list.  Same goes for Christian McCaffrey.  He’s the best in the bizz and we don’t need to poke holes in his game.  There are 13 metrics and they each feature Yards Per Carry and 1st Down %:

Attempts 1-10, Attempts 11-20

1st Half Attempts, 2nd Half Attempts

1st Quarter Attempts, 2nd Quarter Attempts, 3rd Quarter Attempts, 4th Quarter Attempts

Score Margin:  Attempts when the margin is within 0-7, Attempts when the margin is within 8-14, and Attempts when the margin is 15+

Attempts when Ahead, Attempts when Behind

If we aren’t going to log in the countless hours breaking down individual game film to spot specific reads, schemes and personnel, I believe this offers the next best way to get a well-rounded evaluation on how these RBs perform in various situations.  Our benchmarks are 4.5 Yards Per Carry and 21.54% 1st Down Rate (the average conversion rate for these 25 RBs).  We are fading anything sub 3.9 YPC or 18.54% 1st Down Rate.  The numbers in each category are Rankings.  Here are the results…

Overall Name 1st Down YPC
1 Derrick Henry 7 3
2 Chris Carson 2 10
3 Ezekiel Elliott 4 8
4 Mark Ingram 3 6
5 Nick Chubb 14 1
6 Devin Singletary 5 4
7 Dalvin Cook 8 16
8 Marlon Mack 1 16
8 Aaron Jones 9 7
10 Josh Jacobs 13 5
11 Carlos Hyde 11 12
12 Leonard Fournette 15 8
13 Todd Gurley 10 22
14 Melvin Gordon 6 20
15 Saquon Barkley 16 10
16 Ronald Jones 19 18
17 Miles Sanders 24 2
18 Alvin Kamara 21 12
19 Adrian Peterson 20 14
20 Joe Mixon 18 19
21 Sony Michel 12 23
22 Phillip Lindsay 22 15
23 David Montgomery 17 21
24 Devonta Freeman 23 24
25 Le’Veon Bell 25 24



Although the usual suspects round out the Top 5, it doesn’t take us very long to see how applying these metrics can shake up the natural order of things.  Yes that is Devin Singletary chillin’ in the #6 spot.  He missed 4 games and was sharing reps with the Little Fundamental – Frank Gore.  As a result, many of us overlooked a stellar rookie campaign.  Devin was pegged as Maurice Jones Drew 2.0 in some circles, and he backed up those comparisons with a top 5 finish in 1st Downs Conversion Rate.

Nick Chubb is hands down the best runner of the football.  However, due to his team’s poor play-calling, his perceived limitations as a 3rd Down Back, and the Browns embarrassment of riches at the WR position, Chubb only finished 14th in 1st Down Conversion Rate.  Meanwhile, guys like Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon put up pedestrian YPCs, but were leaned on heavily to extend drives.  The correlation between 1st down conversions and touchdowns is very strong.  Gordon has 18 rushing TDs in his last 23 games started, while Gurley has 29 of his last 29.  Nick Chubb….16 rushing TDs in 32 games thus far.

I’ve highlighted Carlos Hyde (245 carries for 1070 yards 6 TDs) and Josh Jacobs (242 carries for 1150 yards 7 TDs) because they essentially had the same production, and I’m not sure many owners are privy to that comparison.  Of course, there is no way of knowing where Hyde will be in 2020 or how he will be used, but the perception that he is a one-trick pony plodder,  while Jacobs is a 1st rounder, All-Purpose Back is CURRENTLY incorrect.  Jalen Richard ate just as much into Jacobs (20 catches) receiving opportunities as Duke Johnson did to Hyde (10 catches).

On the other end of the spectrum, Miles Sanders (179 carries for 818 yards, 509 receiving) and Alvin Kamara (171 carries for 797 yards, 533 receiving) are on the field for 3rd Downs, but usually do so in the role of receiver due to their steady QB play.  Sanders touchdown upside may always be limited.  After Kamara’s descent from 14 to 5 TDs this season, I’m not sure the same can’t be said for him.  All I know is TODAY, Miles Sanders should absolutely be viewed in the same light as Alvin Kamara.  They are the same player to me.

I know I said we wouldn’t let receptions interfere with our metrics, but I just want to clarify something.  Marlon Mack and Dalvin Cook are counterparts using this scale.  Very similar rushing production.  However, Cook caught 40 more passes than Mack.  As long as that trend continues, Cook “should” outpace Mack in fantasy production.  I emphasize should because most folks do not realize Marlon Mack led the league in 1st Down Efficiency.  That’s a stat that correlates extremely well with projected redzone and goal-line attempts.  With Philip Rivers now at the helm, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see Mack lead the league in touchdowns this year.

So I gave you all a tiny taste of the data and some important takeaways, but what’s this mysterious model I teased earlier?  Value is the name of the game, same as it’s always been.  You will be hard-pressed to find a 2020 redraft league in which you could acquire Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Josh Jacobs and Mark Ingram, but I am here to tell you it is possible.  You simply have to target smaller names that play just as big.  Substitute Marlon Mack, Miles Sanders, Carlos Hyde (hypothetical in which he has a similar workload with his new team) and Devin Singletary, and you have got a stable just as good, yet far more realistic.  This is a battle tested fantasy model that I strongly encourage everyone to consider, especially after the Saquon Barkley, Leveon Bell, James Connor, Devonta Freeman and David Johnson debacle we witnessed last year.

More Analysis by Grant Viviano