Free Agency Winners/Losers: Dynasty (2019 Fantasy Football)
The 2019 NFL free agency period has certainly not disappointed. In just over a week, major stars like Odell Beckham Jr, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown have found new homes while plenty of other impactful players have signed with new teams as well. Some of those players may be great for their new teams in the short term, but for those playing in dynasty leagues, long-term impact is key in the valuation process. With the dust beginning to settle on a very busy and exciting free agency period, it’s time to take a look at some dynasty winners and losers.
Derek Carr (QB – OAK)
Sure, Carr has a down year in 2018. But why did that happen? The Raiders were in the first year with Jon Gruden as their coach, so Carr had an adjustment period. His top target, Amari Cooper, was traded to the Cowboys, and the top receiving option on the team was an aging TE. Doug Martin was a serviceable back, but the starter, Marshawn Lynch, missed 10 games. That’s not a recipe for success for a QB.
Looking ahead, the future should be much brighter for Carr. People are quick to forget his early success, appearing in three straight Pro-Bowls from 2015 – 2017 and accumulating an 82/32 TD/INT ratio in that time. Carr is only 27, and the Raiders’ additions of Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams to the receiving corps will undoubtedly help Carr achieve more success than he did in 2018.
Latavius Murray (RB – NO)
He was relegated to backup duties and short-yardage/goal-line work in his time in Minnesota, but he’ll have far more work in the Saints’ high-octane running game. He fills the Mark Ingram role for New Orleans as a one-two “thunder and lightning” punch. He’s a much bigger back than Ingram with a more physical and downhill running style that should complement Kamara’s speed and ability to make defenders miss in space. Playing on a better team with more opportunities makes Murray a clear dynasty winner.
Teddy Bridgewater (QB – NO)
Bridgewater made the best move of his career by resigning with the Saints on a one-year deal this offseason. He could have gone to several other teams and probably started somewhere else, but Bridgewater looks like he’s committed to his career in the long-term. Drew Brees won’t be around forever, and the Saints seem to like what they see in Bridgewater, possibly anointing him as the heir apparent to Brees in New Orleans. The Saints have a great offensive line, a young core of Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Latavius Murray on offense, and a stellar defense. Bridgewater is only 26 with a lot of football left to play, making him a valuable dynasty asset.
Odell Beckham Jr. (WR – CLE)
He won’t be catching passes from Eli Manning next season, instead teaming up with Baker Mayfield in what’s sure to be one of the league’s most explosive offenses. I never thought I would be writing the next sentence, but here it is…the Browns’ organization is far better run than the Giants right now. Big Blue has no clear plan for its future, keeping Eli Manning as the starting QB and signing Golden Tate to a ridiculously rich deal. OBJ is in a much better situation moving forward, and his dynasty value is certainly higher with Cleveland than it would have been had he stayed with the Giants. He’s a transformative talent who started off his career with three straight 1,300-yard/10+ TD seasons, and the sky is the limit for Beckham.
Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE)
He gained Beckham and Kareem Hunt this offseason — what’s not to like? The Browns signed two of the most explosive talents available this offseason, where they will join a roster that already had Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, and David Njoku. Mayfield’s outlook is trending up in dynasty leagues as the core group on the Browns’ offense is young and should be around for years to come. Mayfield is only now entering his second season in the NFL after a wildly productive rookie campaign that saw him set a new rookie record for passing TDs (27).
Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN)
Cook enters the 2019 season having only played in 15 games through his first two NFL seasons, though his outlook is certainly trending up after teammate Latavius Murray left to join the New Orleans Saints. Murray was Cook’s backup whenever Cook was healthy, but he was always a threat to steal carries and goal line work. With only Roc Thomas and Mike Boone behind him on the depth chart, Cook should be in line for a lot of work this season and beyond barring any health concerns.
Jerick McKinnon (RB – SF)
McKinnon has got to be the biggest dynasty loser in free agency this season. In a surprising move, the 49ers signed former Falcons RB Tevin Coleman to a two-year, $10 million deal just last week. That move came after McKinnon, who signed a four-year, $30 million deal in 2018, missed all of last season with a torn ACL he suffered in the preseason.
Fully healthy and ready to go for 2019, McKinnon had a lot of upside playing with Jimmy Garropolo and a 49ers team on the rise. Now, it looks like McKinnon may be cut prior to April 1 when his 2019 salary becomes fully guaranteed. The 49ers just gave backup RB Raheem Mostert a three-year contract extension, so the writing could be on the wall for McKinnon.
Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG)
Shephard’s value was way up after Beckham was dealt to Cleveland, though the spike in value was short-lived as the Giants signed Golden Tate to a big four-year deal just days later. Tate’s deal is worth $23 million guaranteed, so the coaching staff will likely feel obligated to get him heavily involved in the offense. Shepard, primarily a slot receiver, will now have to share that space with Tate in a move that isn’t beneficial to the former.
Elijah McGuire (RB – NYJ)
McGuire looked like an up-and-coming back last season, flashing in his limited work behind starter Isaiah Crowell. With Crowell set to be released by the Jets in the offseason, McGuire looked to be the lead back for Gang Green. Now that the Jets have signed Le’Veon Bell, McGuire will be left on the bench for another season. His dynasty outlook isn’t very appealing as he’ll be lucky to get scraps behind Bell.
James Washington (WR – PIT)
Washington looked to be a player on the rise when news of Antonio Brown’s trade broke. He was mentioned in plenty of early sleeper articles as a breakout candidate coming into the season as a starter opposite JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Steelers signed former Colts and Jaguars WR Donte Moncrief last week, and Moncrief will likely beat out Washington for the starting job. At only 22 years old, Washington’s once bright dynasty outlook has dimmed in free agency.
Ronald Jones II (RB – TB)
RoJo disappointed tremendously in his first season with the Buccaneers, though there was still hope for him heading into 2019 with Peyton Barber set to hit free agency. The Bucs and new head coach Bruce Arians put the kibosh on that notion, signing Barber to a one-year extension that will likely keep Jones out of a starting role for at least one more season. Even if an RBBC is formed, Barber has already received high praise from Arians. When speaking of Barber, he said, “Everything in our offense starts with the running game. We’re known for throwing it down the field, but you can’t throw it down the field if you’re not running the ball. Man, he is really impressive.” Jones’ outlook as a dynasty prospect is trending down.