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10 Early Free Agency Winners & Losers (2020 Fantasy Football)

Mar 17, 2020

Austin Hooper’s arrival has greatly diminished David Njoku’s fantasy value

A plethora of transactions that could heavily impact the fantasy football landscape has taken place ever since the teams were legally allowed to negotiate with players on Monday. It can be hard to keep up with the craziness of free agency, but between our free agency content and our Twitter page, FantasyPros has you covered with all the latest news and analysis! Even then, it can be tough to identify what players have received the biggest bump or hit to their stock with so many transactions to examine. That’s why we’ve reached out to our featured experts and got their take on which athletes have been the biggest winners and losers of free agency so far. Two of these analysts even have conflicting takes on one player. See who it is and why below.

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Q1. What player has seen his fantasy value decrease the most as a result of a recent transaction and why?

David Njoku (TE – CLE) 
“The Austin Hooper signing obviously crushes the fantasy value of Njoku, who might be on his way out of Cleveland. They used a first-round pick on him just three short years ago, but now that there’s a new front office, they’re apparently moving in a different direction. They aren’t paying Hooper all this money to sit on the bench, but if Njoku remains on the roster, they may cancel each other out in fantasy. Both tight ends lost a lot of value this week.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

David Njoku wasn’t exactly a top-tier fantasy football option, but it’s hard to see him having any sort of relevancy after Austin Hooper signed with the Browns. Hooper will command the majority of those tight end targets, which leaves little leftover for Njoku. It’s a good signing from an NFL perspective, but it doesn’t work out very well for us playing fantasy football.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Austin Hooper (TE – CLE) 
“I want to say Deshaun Watson here, but since I went with the obvious ‘winner’ pick, I’ll go with Hooper as the player seeing the biggest hit to his fantasy value in the early free agency period. After setting a career-high in receptions (75), yards (787), and touchdowns (six) with the Falcons in 2019, Hooper signed a four-year, $44-million deal with Cleveland on Monday. While the Browns’ offense has the potential to bounce back under new head coach Kevin Stefanski, Hooper leaves the NFL’s most pass-happy offense from last season (42.8 attempts per game) for one that is likely to be more measured in Cleveland. As Minnesota’s offensive coordinator last year, Stefanski passed the ball just 29.1 times per game and I expect him to focus on Nick Chubb and the Browns’ rushing attack as much as he can. When the team does look to the air, Hooper will be competing with Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, and Kareem Hunt for targets, making it unlikely the former Falcons tight end repeats his 97 opportunities from a year ago.”
– Jason Willan (Gridiron Experts)

DeAndre Hopkins (WR – ARI) 
“After averaging 166 targets per season over the past five years in Houston, Hopkins will be playing in a spread-the-wealth offense that already has Larry Fitzgerald (109 targets last year) and Christian Kirk (108) at receiver – as well as Andy Isabella (and potentially Hakeem Butler) ready to take a year-two leap. Of course, Hopkins will undoubtedly lead the group, but his high-end WR1 stock is falling, and I’m not sure the All-Pro wideout is worth a pick in the first two rounds of fantasy drafts.”
– Dylan Chappine (Wolf Sports)

Devonta Freeman (RB – FA) 
“Maybe this is too easy, but it’s about more than just the fact that he’s without a home right now. Atlanta’s offense has been one of the most fantasy-friendly schemes for running backs in recent years. Since Dan Quinn took over in 2015, Freeman has received at least 175 carries and 40 targets four times — each of his four healthy seasons. In that span, only three other teams (Rams, Steelers, and Giants) have produced four such seasons for their lead back.”
– Ryan McCrystal (Draft Ace)

Christian Kirk (WR – ARI)  | Larry Fitzgerald (WR – ARI) 
“David Njoku is basically rendered obsolete if he stays in Cleveland, but I’m going with Kirk and/or Fitzgerald here. Kirk was primed to cement himself as Kyler Murray’s go-to target with Fitzgerald entering his age-37 season. DeAndre Hopkins’ presence clearly means fewer targets for both Kirk and Fitz, but Kirk’s upside as a WR2 is stunted. He’s more of a WR3 as he competes for targets with Hopkins, Fitz, and others. To be clear, Fitz is the No. 3 option in Arizona’s passing game now behind Hopkins and Kirk.”
– Zach Greubel (Gridiron Experts)

Q2. What player has seen his fantasy value increase the most as a result of a recent transaction and why?

Hayden Hurst (TE – ATL)
“This has to be Hurst, as he goes from the shadows of Mark Andrews to the clear-cut TE1 for the Falcons, which is extremely attractive from a fantasy perspective. I’m not someone who believes Austin Hooper is a superior player to Hurst, and clearly, neither do the Falcons. They drafted him in the third round and he produced well, yet they still moved on and traded a second-round pick for Hurst. They obviously value the position that saw 121 targets in their offense last year. With Jaeden Graham next up on the depth chart, it’s not out of the possibility that Hurst nears 100 targets in 2020 and becomes a top-six fantasy tight end.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

“DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs are obviously the big names that have changed teams and Hopkins’ new teammate, Kenyan Drake, is seeing his star on the rise. I’m not sure Hopkins and Diggs actually gained fantasy value, though. As far as fantasy value increasing the most, I’m going with Hayden Hurst. He should take over the starting tight end position for the Falcons with Austin Hooper gone. If he stays healthy, we could see fringe TE1 numbers as he transitions to one of the most pass-happy offenses in the league.”
– Zach Greubel (Gridiron Experts)

Kyler Murray (QB – ARI) 
“It might be the most obvious answer, but Murray’s fantasy value is skyrocketing right now. After throwing for 3,722 yards and 20 touchdowns as a rookie, he gets a huge upgrade in his receiving corps with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins via trade from Houston. As one of the best wide receivers in the league, Hopkins gives Murray a stud WR1 to go along with emerging third-year player Christian Kirk, veteran Larry Fitzgerald, and Andy Isabella, a promising second-round draft pick from 2019. Playing with those weapons in Kliff Kingsbury’s high-octane offense and adding his abilities as a runner (544 yards and four touchdowns last season), Murray suddenly has top-three fantasy quarterback potential in 2020.”
– Jason Willan (Gridiron Experts)

Josh Allen (QB – BUF)
“Buffalo’s acquisition of Stefon Diggs late on Monday night finally gives Allen a full stable of playmakers after they had a revolving door behind John Brown and Cole Beasley in 2019 and he should be able to build on his recent QB6 finish for the emerging Bills. Diggs is one of the best route runners in the league and I believe he will have a strong connection with his new quarterback (including on second-chance plays). Allen is squarely in the top-five conversation at the position.”
– Dylan Chappine (Wolf Sports)

Austin Hooper (TE – CLE) 
“In Minnesota, Kevin Stefanski’s tight ends saw a 42-percent target share in the red zone last season. Hooper’s 21-percent share in Atlanta was already strong, but there’s potential for an even more significant role in Cleveland.”
– Ryan McCrystal (Draft Ace)

Kenyan Drake (RB – ARI) 
“Drake’s my answer here. David Johnson is no longer a part of that offense after the trade to Houston and Drake now has that backfield to himself. He still has to work out a long-term deal, but Drake should be awesome for fantasy football in 2020 in this offense.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for sharing their thoughts on free agency. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and for more great advice, subscribe to our podcast below.

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