The NFL free agency frenzy has been a wild ride, as multiple players will wear new uniforms in 2021. So who have been the biggest winners and losers among the players who have been signed? Here it is
Free agency winners
Curtis Samuel, WR, soccer team: This is one of my favorite “fantasy” moves, since Samuel goes to Washington. He was ranked 27th in points among receivers last season, but was WR12 in his last 10 games. During that time, he averaged more than seven goals and nearly 17 fantasy points per game. Samuel, a versatile playmaker, now has a chance to earn a greater stake in the target and could be a valuable No. 3 receiver.
Gerald Everett, TE, Seahawks: Everett was the best free agent tight end in the league behind Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, and he could be a good bargain in the 2021 draws. He rarely had a chance to be a tight end in Los Angeles, which was evident because he never has more than 62 goals in a season. Now, with the Seahawks, he will have the opportunity for greater goal participation and a more reliable role on fantasy teams.
Cam Newton, QB, Patriots: Newton is a fantasy winner not simply because of re-signing with the Patriots, but because he has more weapons in the passing game. New England has added Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne to a team with Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers under contract. That’s good news for Newton, who threw eight regrettable touchdown passes as a starter in 2020.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, soccer teamFitzpatrick has been underrated in fantasy land for the past two seasons, scoring more than 19 points in 10 of his last 14 games with at least 15 pass attempts. Now the favorite to start in Washington, the Amish Rifle will lead an offense that brings together talented young players like Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Logan Thomas. The Magic Man will have late-round value in the 2021 drafts.
Andy Dalton, quarterback, bears: Dalton is not a world champion among fantasy quarterbacks, but he landed in a good place for his courage. The Bears will give Dalton a chance to start in a contest with Nick Foles, with some suggesting that the Red Rifle is the favorite to be under center in Week 1. Dalton is not likely to be selected in most drafts. They don’t have two quarterbacks or a superflex, but the ability to start still makes for a winner.
MORE THAN YES: Winners and losers
Free agency losers
Kenyan Drake, RB, Raiders: In one of the worst fantasy free agent moves of 2021, Drake brings his talents to Las Vegas, where he will form a double with Josh Jacobs. That might be fun for coach Jon Gruden and the Raiders, but it sucks in fantasy circles. You can say goodbye to Jacobs’ 37.1% touch stake and Drake’s 20.5% stake from last season and wait for a committee that will limit the fantasy actions of both players.
Will Fuller, WR, DolphinsFuller was on track to have a career season in 2020, but was suspended for the last five games. When he was on the field, he averaged 17.2 points per game. However, his value suffers in Miami, as he will play an offense with a lot of young talent. Fuller will also see a quarterback downgrade from Deshaun Watson to Tua Tagovailoa, so expect him to be selected as a No. 3 fantasy wide receiver.
Hunter Henry, TE, Patriots: If you had told me the Patriots would sign Henry before free agency begins, I would have been thrilled. But Henry and Jonnu Smith? That throws cold water on the action of both players. There have been only four instances of fellow tight ends finishing in the top 12 in fantasy points in the same season since 2000, so Henry and Smith are likely having a hard time producing consistently good numbers.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Patriots: Smith’s value seemed to be on the rise due to signing with the Patriots, but the team later added Henry (doh!). That puts a limit on the fantastic appeal of both players. The Patriots will undoubtedly have a ton of 12 staff members like they did in the Rob Gronkowski-Aaron Hernandez days, but Tom Brady is no longer here. Smith is the younger of the two tight ends and now only has fantasy appeal late in the round.
Marlon Mack, RB, Colts: Mack, coming off a torn Achilles, decided to stay with the Colts with a one-year contract. It’s not ideal for its value, and some fantasy fans might think it hurts Jonathan Taylor, too. However, I still see him as a first-round pick. Mack is likely to see some work and be a good wife if Taylor wastes his time, but you have to wonder how much of his speed was left on the operating room table.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Bills: Sanders lands in Buffalo, where he will assume the role left by John Brown (Raiders). The veteran finished 41st in fantasy points among wide receivers a season ago, and I don’t think he’s much better for the Bills as long as he plays behind Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis. His presence might take some of the shine off Davis, but Sanders won’t be worth more than a late flyer.
John Brown, WR, Raiders: Brown signed a one-year deal with the Raiders and will replace (for now at least) Nelson Agholor. He will play Henry Ruggs III and Hunter Renfrow when the Raiders score in 3-cushion, and Bryan Edwards will also be in the mix. Brown, who saw his numbers drop last season while missing seven games for the Bills, might be worth a late flight in fantasy drafts, but he will be nothing more than a No. 5 wide receiver.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Patriots: Agholor is coming off a pro season in Las Vegas that saw him finish with eight touchdowns and nearly 190 fantasy points. He also had a target participation of 16.5 percent, the highest on the team. New England also added Kendrick Bourne and still has Julian Edelman, Jacobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry under contract, not to mention the additions of Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Shares in Agholor have seen a drop.
Aaron Jones, RB, Packers: Jones didn’t switch teams, so this one falls into the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” category. He has been one of the top five fantasy runners two years in a row and, at 26, he is still in the prime of his career. The Packers also let Jamaal Williams go to the Lions, so Jones won’t compete with two other running backs (including AJ Dillon) for touches. It should still be one of the top 15 in the fantasy football draft.
Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Jaguares: Jones was WR18 a season ago, but that was largely due to a major increase in goal percentage with Kenny Golladay injured. That turnout is likely to wane in Jacksonville with DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault in the mix, and the Jaguars may not finish adding offensive pieces. Jones knows the offense from his time in Detroit with coordinator Darrell Bevell, hence the push tag.
Corey Davis, WR, Jets: Davis is coming off a pro season that saw him produce 984 yards, five touchdowns and a WR30 finish based on fantasy points. Still, even as the best option in New York (maybe?), I don’t see this as more than a sideways move from a fantasy perspective. The Jets also field Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder, and they haven’t finished adding weapons. Also, who will be your starting quarterback in 2021?
Jameis Winston, QB, Santos: The decision to stay in New Orleans could be good for Winston, but time will tell. Most of the Saints’ loss writers project him as the Week 1 starter, and we know offense can be a real advantage for quarterbacks in terms of fantasy points. Winston is a push, however, because he will have to compete for the top spot on the depth chart with Taysom Hill. It will be a competition to watch this summer.
AJ Green, WR, CardinalsGreen, who turns 33 this summer, looked like a shell of what he was last season. He had 104 goals, but turned them into a modest 47 receptions for 523 yards on stat sheets. The Cardinals’ offense may be friendly to wide receivers, but it will be difficult for Green to be worth more than a last-round midfielder (at best) in fantasy drafts while playing behind DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk.
Jamaal Williams, RB, LionsWilliams was one of the best fantasy wives in the last two seasons behind Jones in Green Bay, and I think she will play a similar role for the Lions behind D’Andre Swift. One could argue that its value will go up a bit because Swift has yet to establish itself as a true featured runner, but I still see the Georgia product as a viable No. 2 fantasy runner in the 2021 drafts. Williams will be a mid or late round. .
Jared Cook, TE, Chargers: Cook signed with the Chargers and joined one of the league’s best young quarterbacks in Justin Herbert. He will be the Bolts’ projected starter, leaving true Donald Parham fans in shock. Playing with Herbert is positive, of course, but I don’t expect Cook to be much more than he was last season. A mid-level fantasy No. 2 tight end who’s worth no more than a late round.
MORE FANTASY ITEMS BY MICHAEL FABIANO
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst at Sports Illustrated and a Hall of Famer for the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Y Instagram for the latest breaking news on fantasy football and the best analysis in the industry.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.