Best Fantasy Landing Spots For Top NFL Free Agents

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. 

 

Running Back

Doug Martin

Hamster

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.

Dallas 

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.

 

Matt Forte

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

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.

New England

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.

Green Bay 

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

Lamar

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.

Houston

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.

Miami

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.

Wide Receiver

Marvin Jones

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 8.22.05 PM

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.

Los Angeles

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.

Baltimore

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.

Anquan Boldin

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 10.15.56 PM

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.

Detroit

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.

Atlanta

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.

Quarterback

Brock Osweiler

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 11.05.56 PM

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.

Denver

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.

Houston

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.

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Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2015: Wide Receivers

As the NFL trends toward more passing and scoring, the receiver position has become more and more valuable. If you play in a PPR league, receivers are as important and some even more than running backs.

There are a handful of WRs who are worth taking before the big producing quarterbacks (Luck & Rodgers), and one who can be as good as any player in the league. Here’s my Top 40 to help you prepare for your upcoming draft. 

1. Antonio Brown, PIT

Antonio

2014: 1,698 receiving yards, 129 catches, 15 TDs, 319 return yards

Brown is probably the best offensive weapon in football. Incredible speed, always has the ball thrown his way, and he scores from everywhere on the field. Has also proven it 2 years in a row

Pick: Middle-Late 1st Round

2. Odell Beckham Jr, NYG

ODB

2014: 1,305 receiving yards, 91 catches, 12 TDs, 171 return

ODB accumulated those numbers playing less games than most starting NFL receivers. Absolute difference maker for fantasy teams and carried some to the playoffs and championship last year.

Pick: Late 1st Round

3. Demaryius Thomas, DEN

Damaryius

2014: 1,619 rec yards, 111 catches, 11 TDs

Manning has a year or two left and he’s going to go out guns blazing. Thomas is his go-to guy with both Julius Thomas and Welker gone. Expect him to get the ball early and often.

Pick: 2nd Round

4. Dez Bryant, DAL

ns_08cowsGIANTS_26

2014: 1,320 rec yards, 88 catches, 16 TDs

Dez is the best in the red zone. Without a designated feature running back, expect Romo to be throwing more than last year and likely throwing to Dez.

Pick 2nd Round

5. Julio Jones, ATL

Julio Jones, Quentin Jammer

2014: 1,593 rec yards, 104 catches, 7 TDs

Julio used to have an annual injury that holds him out for significant time but he held his own pretty well last year. One of the fastest guys on the field, even when injured, and Matt Ryan’s favorite target.

Pick 2nd Round

6. Calvin Johnson, DET

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints

2014: 1,077 rec yards, 71 catches, 8 TDs

It’s weird ranking Megatron behind multiple guys, but he is getting older and coming off of an injury plagued season. Healed up, he still has the ability to win games by himself, and I trust him the most on the Lions roster.

Pick: Late 2nd Round

7. AJ Green, CIN

AJ

2014: 1,041 rec yards, 69 catches, 6 TDs

Big reason for Andy Dalton’s drop-off was AJ Green’s injury last year. Green is back healthy and will be as solid as ever if Cincinnati sets him up with their running game.

Pick: Late 2nd – Early 3rd 

8. Randall Cobb, GB

Cobb

2014: 1,287 rec yards, 91 catches, 12 TDs, 112 return

Ridiculous how Cobb and Nelson were able to have such high numbers last season, but that’s how it works in the Green Bay system. With Nelson down, Cobb jumps up in value, but by how much? That’ll depend on how the next man up performs?

Pick: 2nd-Early 3rd Round

9. Alshon Jeffery, CHI

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

2014: 1,133 rec yards, 85 catches, 10 TDs

Alshon has a chance to be a superstar with Brandon Marshall gone. He’ll be expected to play a Demaryius Thomas role in the new Bears system that will be set up by the run. Eddie Royal in the slot will also help get Jeffery open. He’s missed time in the preseason due to injury but is expected to be good to go for Week 1.

Pick: 3rd Round

10. TY Hilton, IND

T.Y. Hilton

2014: 1,345 rec yards, 82 catches, 7 TDs

Colts still added a few more weapons for Andrew Luck, but T.Y.’s still the #1 guy. He’s always downfield and, if anything, Andre Johnson will help him get more open.

Pick: 3rd Round

11. Mike Evans, TB

NFL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills

2014: 1,051 rec yards, 68 catches, 12 TDs

Jameis Winston looks okay so far this preseason and is a much better quarterback than Josh McCown. All Mike Evans needs is someone who can throw the ball down field and he’ll go get it. 

Pick: 4th Round

12. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU

Hopkins

2014: 1,210 rec yards, 76 catches, 6 TDs

This will be the guy that jumps up people’s draft boards because of Hard Knocks. This time, I think it will be justified because DeAndre is the best player on that offense not named Arian Foster (who is out because of injury). Brian Hoyer was just named the starting QB, and Hopkins should feel better about his consistency. 

Pick: 4th Round

13. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos

2014: 1,404 rec yards, 101 catches, 9 TDs

Sanders went under the radar as one of the most productive WRs last year, and he’s going under the radar here too because of the low expectations for Peyton Manning. Just like Randall Cobb a year ago, Sanders gets open when Thomas gets more attention. Could be a really good WR2.

Pick 4th Round

14. Brandin Cooks, NO

Cooks

2014: 550 rec yards, 53 catches, 3 TDs

Cooks started last season as one of the best rookie WRs in a great class…and then got hurt. If Breesus is going to bounce back after an up-and-down season, Cooks will be the key to that. Best athlete on their team.

Pick 4th or 5th Round

15. Jordan Matthews, PHI

Matthews

2014: 872 rec yards, 67 catches, 8 TDs

Philly is trying to sell people on Matthews being a stud, but the truth is that there is nobody better ahead of him. If Jeremy Maclin’s #1 receiver production a year ago is any indication, the Chip Kelly system may pay off big time for owners. 

Pick 5th Round

16. Andre Johnson, IND

Andre

2014: 936 rec yards, 86 catches, 3 TDs

Andre dealt with a really bad quarterback situation in Houston the past few years but also wasn’t getting open in the end zone. With so many weapons demanding coverage for Indy, he will have better opportunities to score. Andrew Luck will see to that.

Pick 6th Round

17. Golden Tate, DET

Golden

2014: 1,331 rec yards, 99 catches, 4 TDs

Based on last year’s production, Tate should ranked higher. A lot of that was thanks to Megatron either being hurt or drawing coverage away from him. I wouldn’t expect the same catch and yardage numbers, but he would make a solid low end WR2/Flex guy.

Pick 6th Round

18. Julian Edelman, NE

Edelman

2014: 972 rec yards, 92 catches, 5 TDs, 299 return

Tom Brady’s favorite receiver will have to step it up if #12 misses any time. Not very consistent but gets a lot of catches for PPR and will pick up those random return yards that make you mad if you sat him. (Personal experience)

Pick 6th or 7th Round

19. Brandon Marshall, NYJ

Brandon Marshall

2014: 721 rec yards, 61 catches, 8 TDs

Brandon Marshall’s starting quarterback just got punched in the face and is out 6-10 weeks with a broken jaw. The Jets don’t have any quarterbacks and Marshall isn’t getting any younger either. I would also be worried about his injuries from last season being a sign that he may miss time again. Still has potential to have big TD games, but I wouldn’t depend on him for yardage.

Pick 7th Round

20. Amari Cooper, OAK

Amari

Rookie

Definitely the best of the rookies in this year’s class. Could give you great value if he plays to his potential right away. Fast and has knack for getting to the end zone.

Pick 7th Round

21. Keenan Allen, SD

Keenan

2014: 783 rec yards, 77 catches, 4 TDs

Allen was one of the most targeted players in the league last year but wasn’t making the catches. He settled in later on, but the Chargers seem like a run heavy team going into the season. With Eddie Royal gone, he’ll definitely get more attention from Rivers (Batman-Woo!)

Pick 7th Round

22. DeSean Jackson, WAS

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

2014: 1,169 rec yards, 56 catches, 6 TDs

I don’t like the Washington offense at all. RG-III is a broken player and that makes DeSean a hit or miss player. He’ll have great games because of speed, but then he’ll be invisible because nobody can get him the ball.

Pick 8th Round

23. Sammy Watkins, BUF

Sammy

2014: 982 rec yards, 65 catches, 6 TDs

Sammy is clearly the best receiver in Buffalo, but the bad trio of quarterbacks battling for the starting spot make you worried as to how consistent his production will be. They are going to run a lot and that may open things up for Sammy. WR isn’t a very valuable position on Rex Ryan teams.

Pick 8th Round

24. Jarvis Landry, MIA

Landry

2014: 758 rec yards, 84 catches, 5 TDs, 1,158 return

Landry was an under-the-radar productive rookie last year and I expect him to play even better in his second year. With Wallace gone, he’ll be much more depended on by Tannehill.

Pick 8th Round

25. Davante Adams, GB

Davante

2014: 446 rec yards, 38 catches, 3 TD

Davante just became a lot more valuable with Jordy being lost for the season. Week 1 will be an audition for him to see if he can fill the role opposite Cobb. He had flashes last season but also dropped some important passes. The best bet is to draft him later and take the risk than pass up on Rodgers’s next best WR.

Pick 8th Round

26. Victor Cruz, NYG

Cruz

2014: 337 yards, 23 catches, 1 TD

With two knee surgeries in as many years and currently a calf injury that is keeping out of the Giants’ 3rd preseason game, Victor Cruz seems like a liability going into the 2015 season. Cruz is confident he’ll be good to go in Week 1 and could put up his old production with defenses paying more attention to Beckham. 

Pick 8th Round

27. Eric Decker, NYJ

Decker

2014: 962 rec yards, 74 catches, 5 TDs

Oddly, I trust Eric Decker more than I do Brandon Marshall in New York. You can see Marshall getting double-teamed and opening things up over the middle and deep for Decker, which is something that works better for Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback…Marshall is going to hate Fitzpatrick.

Pick: 8th Round

28. Jeremy Maclin, KC

Maclin

2014: 1,318 rec yards, 85 catches, 10 TDs

Maclin was one of the best receivers in the league last year. Unfortunately, Alex Smith is his quarterback now. Kansas City WRs didn’t catch a TD pass until the backend of the season. Maclin may improve those numbers reuniting with Andy Reid, so he could be steal here.

Pick 8th Round

29. Roddy White, ATL

Roddy

2014: 921 rec yards, 80 catches, 7 TDs

Roddy is a pass catching machine and sometimes gets to the end zone. His issue in recent years is staying healthy, but should benefit from Julio getting most of the attention.

Pick 9th Round

30. Mike Wallace, MIN

Wallace

2014: 862 rec yards, 67 catches, 10 TD

Wallace is very good at finding the end zone and is the most proven among the Vikings receivers. As Teddy Bridgewater gets more comfortable as an NFL quarterback, I would trust Wallace the most in the group.

Pick 9th Round

31. Steve Smith Sr., BAL

Smith Sr.

2014: 1,065 rec yards, 79 catches, 6 TD

I expect Steve Smith to go way too early in drafts because he’s a name people know. It’s his last season, so he’s going to try to ball out, but that’s only going to work if Joe Flacco can get him the ball. The WR group in Baltimore is pretty thin so if Flacco is playing well, so will Smith Sr.

Pick 9th round

32. Anquan Boldin, SF

Boldin

2014: 1,062 rec yards, 83 catches, 5 TDs

Boldin is a badass and he has good chemistry with Kaepernick. You can expect, the Niners to play a lot of catchup this season because their defense is so depleted, which means Boldin will be getting a lot of targets.

Pick 9th Round

33. John Brown, AZ

NFL: St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals

2014: 696 rec yards, 48 catches, 5 TDs

Among the Cardinals receivers, John Brown is the Home Run player for Carson Palmer to throw to downfield. May be boom or bust if Michael Floyd returns and stays healthy. Theoretically can be open a lot if Larry Fitzgerald and Floyd draw most of the coverage. 

Pick 10th Round

34. Vincent Jackson, TB

VJax

2014: 1002 rec yards, 70 catches, 2 TDs

I always feel like VJax would be a better player on a different team, but he makes due with the quarterbacks throwing to him. If Jameis Winston is able to read defenses quickly, VJax will benefit from it. Mike Evans will be the first option, but the floor isn’t very low on VJax either.

Pick 10th Round

35. Allen Robinson, JAX

ARob

2014: 548 rec yards, 48 catches, 2 TDs

It’s easier to trust Jacksonville RBs than their WRs, but Allen Robinson can be a stud. His problem is staying healthy, as he broke his foot last year after heating up. Blake Bortles can sling it though, so keep an eye on A-Rob late.

Pick 10th Round

36. Eddie Royal, CHI

Royal

2014: 778 rec yards, 62 catches, 7 TDs

I think Eddie Royal is going to surprise a lot of people this year with the Bears. He’s reunited with Jay Cutler, and both players had their best statistical seasons playing together. Royal provides something Cutler hasn’t had in years, which is a true slot receiver. So as Alshon Jeffery is getting covered deep and Martellus Bennett is drawing attention, Royal will be open in the middle.

Pick 10th Round

37. Kendall Wright, TEN

Wright

2014: 715 rec yards, 57 catches, 6 TDs

Kendall Wright has been inconsistent for a long time, and part of that is thanks to bad quarterbacks being in Tennessee. Early reviews though, are that he’s playing well in practice with Marcus Mariota and that’s encouraging. If Mariota transitions well, he should be able to extend plays with his feet and that helps Wright downfield a lot.

Pick 11th Round

38. Stevie Johnson, SD

Stevie

2014: 435 rec yards, 35 catches, 3 TD

Stevie was in a bad situation with San Francisco, as that offense turned out to be a mess. In San Diego, he’ll be depended on a lot more especially with Antonio Gates out for the first 4 weeks. Coaches say that he can average 7+ catches, which could make him a steal this far back.

Pick 11th Round or later

39. Nelson Agholor, PHI

Algohor

Rookie

Agholor is expected to do big things for the Eagles as they selected him in the first round. He’s now taking 1st team reps, and should be a starter Week 1. If Chip Kelly’s weird offense works, Agholor could be big if Jordan Matthews is getting the attention most people expect him to.

Pick 11th round or later

40. Michael Floyd, AZ

Floyd

2014: 841 rec yards, 47 catches, 6 TD

Floyd is returning from a dislocated finger injury but is on track to be ready for Week 1. If he can stay on the field, Floyd can do big things as John Brown takes the top off opposing defenses. Potential steal late in your draft. 

Draft 11th Round or later. 

Do your rankings look different? Let me know on Facebook and Twitter

Also…

Quarterbacks Cheat Sheet

Running Backs Cheat Sheet

Tight Ends Cheat Sheet

Defenses & Kickers Cheat Sheet