Beginning Monday, March 7th, teams will be permitted to speak with unrestricted free agents and may begin contract negotiations. On March 9th at 3 PM CT, free agency officially begins and new contracts can be made official.
There seem to be more impact players on the defensive end this year, but playmakers are still to be had that can make a serious difference on your fantasy team…as long as they’re on the right NFL team.
As the free agency vastly approaches, lets take a look at some of the best destinations for the top free agents from a Fantasy Football perspective.
Jessica Kleinschmidt of FanDuel and I had a similar discussion weeks ago on The Piffcast. Click here to check it out.
Doug Martin tops the list for sought after offensive players this offseason. The 4-year vet and 2-time Pro Bowler went from injury prone running back to the league’s 2nd leading rusher last year. At the age of 27, Martin has some mileage on him but a few more years before the dreaded “wrong side of 30” tag that plagues most veteran running backs. Tampa Bay is in the Top 5 for available cap space this season, but Martin could be destined to run for a bigger market club and behind bigger offensive linemen.
In the last 2 seasons, the Cowboys proved they are a much better team when they can effectively run the ball and set up the pass after forcing opponents to load up the box. It would be in their best interest to sign a premiere back like Martin if they want to preserve Tony Romo for a full season too. With the same play-callers and top tier offensive line for the past few seasons, you can project similar production for Martin as DeMarco Murray’s in 2014. Maybe not Murray’s 392 carries from that season, but leading the league in rushing (1,845 yards) and rushing touchdowns (13) is very attractive.
New York (Jets)
The Jets were just one game away from making the playoffs and a big part of their success was the dependability of their running game. Chris Ivory provided the punch between the tackles and Bilal Powell was reliable as an easy target on passing downs. Neither are under contract but Martin’s skill set accounts for both their talents. Ivory put up the best numbers of his career in 2015 behind an O-Line manned by Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, even was a Pro Bowler. One would think Martin could perform even better and would be depended on even more with Brandon Marshall and Ryan Fitzpatrick not getting any younger.
It’s weird knowing that we’ll be seeing Matt Forte in a different uniform this season. It makes sense for both sides though as the Bears are a team in transition, trying to get younger, and Forte deserves an immediate shot at a championship. Even at 30 years old, Forte is a proven dynamic back who can run, catch and block. Ideally, you would like to see him in an offense that succeeds throwing more and could share his touches.
Something tells me Bill Belichick and Tom Brady would love to have a dependable running back between the 20’s, and that’s Forte’s specialty. The Patriots do have Dion Lewis under contract but he’s coming off a season ending injury and would benefit greatly from being a compliment to Forte, especially in the red zone. The Patriots are a fast paced team that are at their best when Brady is a rhythm passing and Forte is the best pass catching back on the market who can also block. He would be PPR machine again in New England.
Speaking of teams that are better when they chuck it…
The Packers may be losing James Stars to free agency, so why not upgrade with someone with his skill x 10? This move would probably kill Bears fans, but Forte would be perfect in an offense with Aaron Rodgers. When firing on all cylinders, Rodgers shares the wealth between his receivers and his lead back and they are always in the red zone. The Packers are also much less trusting of Eddie Lacy these days, so Forte would certainly get #1 back touches. Sorry, Chicago. Still love you.
Lamar Miller had a strange season last year. The Dolphins were 6-1 when they gave him 13 or more touches, but that means he was well underused in more than half a season’s worth of games. 19 touchdowns in the last 2 years and the ability to score from anywhere on the field, running and catching, would be pretty sexy to a team looking for a #1 quality back.
The Texans made the choice to move on from Arian Foster and I don’t think they are particularly sold on Alfred Blue. When Foster was healthy for a whole season playing for Bill O’Brien, he totaled 1,573 yards and 13 touchdowns. Picture Miller, younger and faster, in O’Brien’s scheme and attacking defenses that are already on their heels trying to defend DeAndre Hopkins. Then consider the defenses that the Texans face in their division (Colts, Jaguars, and Titans). I would like Miller in my lineup, if that were the case.
It sounds like the Dolphins are high on bringing Miller back and I don’t blame them, for the reasons I listed earlier. Miller would also probably like to play in Adam Gase’s system too. Knowshon Moreno, CJ Anderson, Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford all benefitted well with Gase utilizing play-action. If Gase is going to get Ryan Tannehill back on track, getting the ball to Miller will be more helpful than not.
The better wide receivers these don’t often hit the open market anymore. When you look at the best in this class, it would appear that Marvin Jones tops the list. He was the #2 man to AJ Green for his entire tenure in Cincinnati but he showed that he could produce like a #1 when called upon, like the 10 touchdowns he scored in 2013. Now he has a chance to prove it and someone is going pay him to try…more than likely overpaid because the market will dictate it.
The Rams are heading back to California with a very good defense and an elite running back. What they don’t have is a quarterback or a legit wide receiver. Marvin Jones would fit one of those needs and it’s hard to believe they won’t try to fill the other. Getting a shot as a #1 receiver would be huge for Jones’s value, especially when defenses are more focused on Todd Gurley.
It’s pretty common in the AFC North for players to flip to their rivals. The Ravens have Steve Smith Sr. for one more year and Kamar Aiken, but Jones would jump ahead of both on a depth chart and give Joe Flacco better target than he’s had since Anquan Boldin. Flacco’s never thrown 25+ touchdowns twice in his career, but somebody has to catch that deep ball of his. Jones has the talent to do it consistently.
He turns 36 in October but Anquan Boldin is still a badass. The reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner is one of the best possession receivers in the game. He’s not the fastest anymore, but he is durable and would compliment any #1 or speedster perfectly.
With Calvin Johnson retiring, the Lions need a reliable red zone target. Golden Tate performed well while Megatron dealt with injuries in the past, but Matthew Stafford needs someone who can pull double coverage away from him. Boldin is a savvy veteran who would bring experience to a thin position group and a lot of production with Stafford targeting him.
Like the Lions, the Falcons parted ways with one of their all-time great receivers. However, Roddy White wasn’t their top receiver anymore…Julio Jones is. Boldin would take advantage of all the attention Jones gets and would provide Matt Ryan with reliable target in the end zone. Hopefully Ryan can get the ball out of his own hand.
With Kirk Cousins signing his franchise tag, there aren’t many other sexy quarterbacks available. Brock Osweiler got a chance to showcase his skills and whatever he learned from backing up Peyton Manning this year seems to have attracted somebody though.
The reports out of Denver say the Broncos made Osweiler a 3-year extension offer, but he has yet to reach a deal with them. It might be in his best interest to stick with somewhere and a system he knows. It also doesn’t hurt having Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to throw to.
Of the teams that need a starting quarterback, the Texans have the best receiver. Heck, DeAndre Hopkins even made Brian Hoyer relevant again. If the Texans were to go out and sign any of the 3 running backs mentioned earlier, that would only add to Osweiler’s value as they are all key for a potent passing attack.