2015 NFL Free Agency Tracker: Fantasy Football Impact
Fantasy Football doesn’t start in August and end in Week 16. If you’re serious about winning, it’s a year round phenomenon that continues into the NFL Post-Season, NFL Combine, NFL Draft, and of course NFL Free Agency.
Which brings us to the purpose of this article. Every year, prominent NFL players get traded, sign new contracts, retire, and get released. We keep track of all player transactions in one easy to read article to help you follow along with the Free Agency Frenzy. The article is updated whenever a new deal with significant fantasy football impact is made official.
The article is broken up into a few different sections
Same Faces, New Places: Player is traded or signs a contract with a new team.
Staying Put: Players who re-sign with the same team.
Waiting to be called: Players who were released or contract expired with their former team and currently a Free Agent.
Same Faces, New Places:
LeSean McCoy, Running Back, Buffalo Bills: In somewhat of an out of nowhere trade, the Eagles sent their star running back to Western New York in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso. The trade opened up a lot of room (nearly $11 million) in Cap Space and gave Philly a promising defender to run their defense (who happens to be the 9th former Oregon Duck to join Chip Kelly’s squad). After the trade was finalized, McCoy signed a five year- $40 million contract which includes $26 million in guarantees.
Fantasy Impact: “Shady” is still one of the premiere RBs in the NFL and at age 27, we think he has plenty left in the tank. Buffalo’s new Head Coach Rex Ryan loves to run the football and without a stellar QB, we expect the Bills to “ground and pound” a lot in 2015. Fred Jackson is still on the roster but CJ Spiller is not. Initial belief is McCoy will get around 15-20 touches a game (including receptions). The Eagles are looking to sign a “North and South” runner via Free Agency or the NFL Draft.
DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Philadelphia Eagles: Looks like the Eagles found their “north and south runner” in the form of the league’s reigning rushing leader. Murray leaves the Cowboys but stays in the NFC East by signing a five year, $40 million contract with $20 million in guarantees.
Fantasy Impact: Very interesting moves by the Eagles. They give up on LeSean McCoy and bring in another RB for about the same price. Murray had a spectacular season in 2014 but was a bit injury prone prior to last year. He’ll remain a Top 3 RB selection in Fantasy Drafts come August. As for where this move leaves the Cowboys…they’ll need to address their backfield via Free Agency (Jerry Jones is trying to court Adrian Peterson) or via the NFL Draft in late April (this RB draft class is very deep).
Brandon Marshall, Wide Receiver, New York Jets: After a tumultuous season with the Bears, Chicago traded the veteran receiver to the Jets in exchange for a 5th round draft pick. Marshall is coming off his worst NFL season, recording lows in catches and yards since his rookie year in 2006 but we think that was due to a serious ankle injury and Jay Cutler’s inconsistency.
Fantasy Impact: Marshall joins a Jets Squad that was desperate for a Number 1 wide receiver (Eric Decker is a solid Number 2, but NOT a true Number 1). Problem is, the Jets have an even worse QB situation than Marshall’s former team. We’ll see what the Jets can do via Free Agency or the Draft to get a better passer (trade with the Eagles for Nick Foles?) but Marshall is still capable of 80-90 catches, 8-10 TDs, and easily over 1,000 yards. The move makes Alshon Jeffery as the Bears Number 1 receiver.
Jimmy Graham, Tight End, Seattle Seahawks: The New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks agreed to terms on a trade that sends Jimmy Graham to the reigning NFC Champions. Graham is perhaps one of the best, if not the best (Gronk), tight ends in the league and lands with a team that was desperate for a playmaker in their passing attack. The exchange also includes the Saints 4th round draft pick and Seattle gives up their 1st Round pick and Max Unger.
Fantasy Impact: Perhaps the “biggest” name in the Seahawks passing attack is Doug Baldwin, so to say this greatly helps Seattle’s playmakers is an understatement. Graham will DOMINATE targets from Russell Wilson, especially in the Red-Zone. The Saints had plenty of options and Drew Brees loves to spread it around, so there were occasional games where Graham disappointed but that should happen much less now that he’s in Seattle. As for the Saints situation, look for Josh Hill to be one of this year’s biggest tight end sleepers. 2nd year wide receiver, Brandin Cooks, also gets a bump.
Sam Bradford, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles are making some puzzling moves this off-season, opening the door for some heavy criticism for Head Coach Chip Kelly. Nonetheless, Philly sent Nick Foles to St. Louis along with some draft picks in exchange for Sam Bradford. The former Rams QB is coming off back-to-back ACL surgeries but Kelly is firm in his belief that Bradford is a much better fit for his offense. We’ll have to wait until the NFL Draft and see if Kelly and the Eagles have hidden agenda with this trade.
Fantasy Impact: The Eagles set a franchise record for points in 2014 with Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez under center but that was also with Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy on the roster. Will be interesting to see what other moves the Eagles make to help fill their offensive void.
Nick Foles, Quarterback, St. Louis Rams: In the same deal mentioned above, Nick Foles has a new home thanks to the trade involving Sam Bradford. Foles is coming off a shortened 2014 season thanks to a broken collarbone, but will be ready by OTAs and barring any setback, should be the Rams starting QB come Week 1.
Fantasy Impact: The Rams have some decent playmakers on Offense and could be a team to watch for Fantasy Sleepers come August.
Frank Gore, Running Back, Indianapolis Colts: The 31 year old RB was rumored to be signing with the Eagles but a change of heart landed him in Indy on a three-year, $12 million contract with $7.5 in guarantees.
Fantasy Impact: The Trent Richardson experiment failed miserably for the Colts. Ahmad Bradshaw is once again coming off a shortened season due to injury for the 5th year in a row and while Boom Herron filled in nicely, the Cotls knew they needed a strong rushing attack to help maintain their leads late in games. That is exactly what the veteran Gore will bring to the Colts. Gore is coming off his 4th straight 1,100 yard season and should have no problem maintaining a Flex/RB2 value come Draft Day.
Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver, Indianapolis Colts: The Texans granted Andre Johnson’s wish of being released, giving the veteran receiver a chance to play with an elite QB for the first time in his career (No Offense Matt Schaub). Johnson joins a very talented Colts receiving corps (TY Hilton, Donte Moncrief) but fills that “veteran/leader” void left by Reggie Wayne’s retirement. The former Texans WR deal includes $21 million for three years, with $10 million guaranteed.
Fantasy Impact: In 2012 and 2013, just two and three season ago, Johnson had over 100 catches and 1,400 yards. Throw out the 2014 season, after all he had Ryan Mallett, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, and Tom Savage all under center at one point in the season. Now at the age of 33, he’ll join one of the league’s most powerful offenses and we are very excited to see his Draft Day Value.
Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver Kansas City Chiefs: The former Eagles WR joins his former Coach in Philly by signing a whopping $55million contract which includes $22.5 million guaranteed. Maclin had his best season as a pro in 2014, catching 83 passed for 1,302 yards and 10 TDs.
Fantasy Impact: Everyone’s favorite stat (except Chiefs Fans) from 2014 was the fact the Chiefs wide receivers caught ZERO TDs. ZERO!!! That stat will surely change with a dynamic Maclin joining the squad. The Chiefs cut Dwayne Bowe so Maclin will step right in as the team’s one and only threat at the receiver position (unless KC makes a move in the Draft). As for the Eagles, losing out on re-signing Maclin leaves them in a bit of a WR hole. Jordan Mathews had a solid rookie campaign and will need to take a big leap in his 2nd year and become Philly’s No. 1 WR.
Shane Vereen, Running Back New York Giants: Effective yet underutilized in New England, Vereen joins a Giants squad with Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams already splitting carries in the backfield. But Vereen’s skill set is very different than the two RBs already on the squad. For years the Giants have struggled with screens to RBs out of the backfield and feel Vereen is the solution to that issue. The Giants didn’t have to break the bank to get Vereen, signing him to a $12 million deal over a three year span with $5 million guaranteed.
Fantasy Impact: The Patriots should have no problem finding a new RB to contribute in their passing attack, Coach Bill Belichick hasn’t made RBs a priority since Corey Dillon. The Giants on the other hand get a very dynamic piece to use in their emerging Offense. Vereen will be a solid flex play in full point PPR leagues and could have more value if Jennings can’t stay healthy.
Julius Thomas, Tight End Jacksonville Jaguars: Perhaps the least surprising news of Free Agency. It was pretty clear the Broncos were not willing to pay Thomas a big contract, the Jags on the other hand…well they had no problem dishing out $46 million for the next five years in exchange for Thomas’s services.
Fantasy Impact:Thomas caught 24 TDs the last two seasons with Peyton Manning at the helm but now will be catching passes from Blake Bortles. To say we expect a major decrease in fantasy production would be a major understatement. The Broncos signed Owen Daniels (more on that below) and re-signed Virgil Green to fill the void left by Thomas
Owen Daniels Tight End Denver Broncos: After neglecting to re-sign Julius Thomas, the Broncos brought in veteran Owen Daniels who excels at both blocking and receiving. He should fit in well with Peyton Manning and his ample options.
Fantasy Impact: Daniels is very familiar with Gary Kubiak’s play calling after being with the coach in Houston and last year in Balitmore. Will he post double digit TDs like Julius Thomas did the last two season, not very likely, but anyone catching passes from Peyton gets an instant boost in production.
Torrey Smith, Wide Receiver San Francisco 49ers: The former Ravens WR signed a
big contract with the 49ers (five year, $40 million, $22 guaranteed). Former Ravens teammate (and now current 49ers compadre) Anquan Boldin was apparently a big factor in convincing Smith to join San Fran.
Fantasy Impact: The 49ers let their former 1st round wide receiver, Michael Crabtree, walk away this offseason, so they needed a dynamic receiver to help stabilize this offense. Smith is a much better deep threat compared to Crabtree so look for the 49ers to try and get Colin Kaepernick’s big arm to connect with Smith on some deep routes.
Percy Harvin, Wide Receiver Buffalo Bills:The speedy (yet often injured) receiver followed his former Jets Head Coach to Buffalo by signing a one year contract with the Bills. The 27 year old wide receiver is now on his fourth team in as many years.
Fantasy Impact: With second year standout Sammy Watkins locked in as the team's Number 1 wideout, Harvin because a nice compliment to the Bills receiving corps. But QB is still the problem. Matt Cassel or EJ Manuel will be under center for Buffalo in 2015 which isn't very promising.
CJ Spiller, Running Backs New Orleans Saints: Are the Saints abandoning their high octant passing attack and moving toward a more balanced pass/run offensive scheme? It sure seems that way. Trading away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills and signing CJ Spille to a four year, $18 million deal with $9 million in guarantees.
Fantasy Impact: The Saints already locked up Mark Ingram and now get the speedy Spiller to help balance out their rushing attack (and help in the passing game). We've been fans of Spille in the past but injuries and poor coaching have plagued much of his career (outside of 2012). We are eager to see him take the field as a member of the Saints as Sean Payton playcalling is exactly what Spiller needs to pump some life back into his career.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Quarterback New York Jets: No QB has bounced around the league more the last few season than Fitz-Magic (Bills, Titans, Texans, and now Jets). Is Geno Smith Gang Green’s QB of the future? Tough to tell. We do know the Jets got a WR upgrade by receiving Brandon Marshall in a trade with Chicago. At least now there will be somewhat of a QB competition with Fitzpatrick in town.
Fantasy Impact: Wait and see until Smith or Fitzpatrick is named the started.
Ryan Mathews signed with the Eagles.
Kenny Stills was traded from the Saints to the Dolphins.
Darren McFadden signed with the Dalls Cowboys.
Roy Helu signed contract with Raiders.
Matt Cassel was traded to the Bills.
Brian Hoyer signed with the Houston Texans.
Eddie Royal signs with Bears.
Brian Hartline signs with Browns.
Brandon Gibson signs with Patriots.
Randall Cobb, Wide Receiver Green Bay Packers: There was a lot of speculation indicating the Packers would let Cobb reach the open market, fortunately for anyone with Cobb on their dynasty team, that never happened. Instead, the Pro Bowl wideout signed a four year deal worth $40 million and ensures the Packers have one of the best WR combos for the next several seasons (you know Aaron Rodgers is discount double checking somewhere).
Fantasy Impact: Cobb set career highs in catches (91), yards (1,287), and TDs (12). Expect more of the same in 2015 now that he’s sticking with Green Bay and decided to stay with a great QB and top contender instead of chasing big time Free Agency money from the Raiders or Jaguars.
Mark Ingram, Running Back New Orleans Saints: Coming off a career best 964 yards and 9 TDs, the Saints re-signed their former 1st round pick to a four-year deal worth $16 million, including $7.6 million in guarantees.
Fantasy Impact: The Saints seem pretty intent on clearing out their roster (See Jimmy Graham Trade) but at least we know (for now) Ingram will be a Saint in 2015. Productivity has never been his problem, it’s been staying healthy. Entering just his5th season at the age of 25, Ingram should will be the Saints bell-cow again this season.
Justin Forsett, Running Back Baltimore Ravens: Opportunity came knocking on Forsett’s door in 2014 and man-oh-man did he answer. After Ray Rice was suspended and then released, the Ravens needed someone to step up as their Number One running back and Forsett did it to the tune of 1,266 yards, eight TDs, 44 receptions and another 263 receiving yards. The Ravens are sticking with their 2014 RB hero for the foreseeable future by signing him to a three year $9 million contract.
Fantasy Impact: Despite Offensive Coordinator, Gary Kubiak, leaving for Denver, the Ravens are expected to keep the zone-blocking rushing attack, which Forsett clearly excelled in. Expect another 1,000 yard, 8TD type of season from Forsett.
Greg Olseon signed extension with the Panthers.
Marques Colston signed extension with the Saints.
Matt Asiata signed one year extension with Vikings.
Dan Herron signed extension with the Colts.
Waiting to be called: