Four Dynasty Players to Aquire Before Free Agency (2020 Fantasy Football)
Geoff Lambert looks at a couple of players to acquire before the start of the NFL free agency period.
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NFL free agency is just around the corner, and now is a great time to look at some players who could benefit from a change in scenery — or from a teammate moving on — so they could finally get their chance to shine. The free-agency period this season doesn’t look quite as lucrative as it has in recent years, and some fantasy owners may take the wait-and-see approach before trading away any of their high-profile free agents. The following four players are guys that can be had at a depressed value but have the potential to put up good fantasy numbers in the right situation. You won’t have to pay much, if anything, for these guys, but the risk could be worth the reward.
Eric Ebron (TE – IND)
After a career season from Ebron in 2018, when he put up 66 receptions on 110 targets and 13 touchdowns, he followed it up with an injury-plagued disaster of a 2019 season that saw him catch a mere 31 passes for 375 yards three scores. Going into the offseason, dynasty owners may have all but given up on the ultra-athletic tight-end, and, in a terrible tight end market, buying low on Ebron could pay off handsomely.
Ebron will get a new team, and if that team makes him their No. 1 receiving tight end, we could see him put up another monster year. How would Ebron look in a Patriots’ jersey next year? Or maybe he goes to the Redskins to replace Jordan Reed and plays the “Greg Olsen” role in Ron Rivera’s scheme? Or, he could go to Seattle and solidify a position that has been valuable for the Seahawks in recent years, especially because they have had some major injuries at the position.
Dante Pettis (WR – SF)
I know. Pettis was a major disappointment in 2019 after a solid rookie campaign the year before. However, as I look at this San Francisco roster, the defending NFC Champs may have no choice but to give Pettis another shot. Emmanuel Sanders is a free agent, and he will likely ask for more money than the 49ers are willing to pay, and Marquise Goodwin fell out of favor and is all but gone.
That leaves the rookie sensation Deebo Samuel, career J.A.G (just a guy) Kendrick Bourne, special teams ace Richie James Jr., and rookie wide receiver Jalen Hurd (coming off a season-ending injury) on the roster with Pettis. Head coach Kyle Shanahan hasn’t shown that he trusts James Jr. in a wide receiver role, and who knows if Hurd can work his way into a starting role after missing his entire rookie season — that leave Pettis as, at worst, the de facto No. 3 receiver.
There is a chance the 49ers decide to draft another wide receiver, and in fact, I expect them to, but Pettis can probably be had for peanuts right now. There is no risk whatsoever to obtaining him and hoping that he can recapture the magic of his rookie season.
Chad Beebe (WR – MIN) or Olabisi Johnson (WR – MIN)
The Vikings’ salary cap is in bad shape, as they will be an estimated $12-million-plus over the cap in 2020 (per Spotrac.com). They won’t likely be able to move on from wide receivers Adam Thielen nor Stefon Diggs in 2020, but there is a good chance Thielen becomes a cap casualty before the 2021 season.
Thielen will count $13.4m towards the cap in 2021, and that number goes up to $14.4m in 2022. However, if the Vikings cut him in 2021, he only counts $5.4m in dead cap. Thielen will be over 30 before the 2020 season starts and is coming off an injury-plagued 2019 season — there is a scenario in which Thielen never returns to his Pro-Bowl form of years past.
That would open the door for both of these young wide receivers, Beebe and Johnson, to step into a major role for the 2021 season and potentially sooner if Thielen cannot stay healthy again this year. Yes, you would be playing the long game if you acquired one of these two now, and there is no guarantee they will have the opportunity a year from now, but, like Pettis, they are both dirt cheap and potentially free agents in your league. It can’t hurt to add one of them and hope they become the next…Adam Thielen.