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Early Free Agency Recap (2020 Fantasy Football)

Mar 23, 2020

DeAndre Hopkins should be a stud in Arizona’s re-tooled offense.

With one week of legal free agent tampering, eventual signing and some WILDLY unexpected trades now in the rearview, it’s a good time to take a deep breath and revisit the biggest winners and losers from a crazy seven-day period. And who better to do so than our analysts? Here are their takes:

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Q1. Which signed/traded player saw the biggest boost in fantasy value for 2020?

It has to be Kenyan Drake, who went from someone who was in a potential messy timeshare with David Johnson, to a player who should now be considered a second-round pick in redraft leagues. Knowing he’s tied to what should be a top-10 scoring offense, Drake should be treated as an RB1 in 2020.
-Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

This has to be David Johnson, right? He goes from a likely backup in Arizona to the full-fledged three-down workhorse in a better offense. I won’t pretend to know what Bill O’Brien was doing, but he did it nevertheless, which means Johnson should be in store for 350+ touches if he can stay healthy. That launches him from my RB #30 to RB #13. I’d take him in the middle of the second round just between Todd Gurley/DeAndre Hopkins and Austin Ekeler/George Kittle.
-Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

The obvious answer here is Kenyan Drake. He had a ton of questions surrounding his fantasy outlook heading into free agency, but the Cardinals applying the transition tag cleared things up slightly. However, it was the shocking trade of David Johnson for DeAndre Hopkins that saw Drake’s fantasy stock skyrocket. The Cardinals will be moving forward with Drake as the lead back for next season and we saw last year what he can do in this offense with the majority of the carries. Drake is now on the edge of RB1 discussion and will be a solid weekly option for your fantasy football roster.
-Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL)

David Johnson moves from someone who would have next to no fantasy value with Arizona (assuming that the Cardinals were keeping Kenyan Drake, as they did) to a solid RB2. Considering the enormous investment Houston made in not only trading away DeAndre Hopkins but also paying Johnson’s salary, he should be a focal point of the Texas offense. Although Johnson admittedly looked terrible after returning from injury, he was the RB10 in half-PPR scoring through the first seven weeks of the season last year. With targets vacated and a huge opportunity, Johnson is a big winner from his trade.
-Dan Harris (@danharris80)

Q2. Which signed/traded player saw the biggest drop in fantasy value for 2020?

While most don’t seem to mind the signing, Austin Hooper went from someone who was in the conversation to be a top-six tight end in drafts, to one who I wouldn’t take as a top-12 tight end. The Browns seemingly have no interest in trading/moving on from David Njoku, which means we likely have a Kyle Rudolph/Irv Smith situation where neither are likely to hit 75-plus targets.
-Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

Austin Hooper’s stock plummeted from my TE3 to my TE8 with the move from Atlanta to Cleveland. It isn’t as though Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are a lesser combo than Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley to compete with for targets. Rather, the downgrades are at quarterback, away from a dome, offensive line, and most importantly, away from a scheme that led the league in pass attempts by 3.2 attempts per game. The difference between the Falcons and #2 on the list (Carolina) was larger than the difference between #2 and #12 on the list.
-Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Austin Hooper is an honorable mention here, but DeAndre Hopkins is going to be my answer. This doesn’t mean that he’s not worth drafting in fantasy football or anything along those lines…however, he was a top-5 fantasy WR in Houston with Deshaun Watson. With him now being sent to Arizona, he’s joining an offense that has a lot of other receiving options on the field. The days of Hopkins receiving 150+ targets may be over, which means that it’s going to be much more difficult for him to see the work needed to be a top WR option. He could still make up for it in touchdowns, and he’s still going to be a great WR for fantasy football, but it’s hard to see him cracking the top-5 at the position in 2020.
-Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL)

With the move to the Browns, there’s no way that Hooper is going to come close to seeing the 7.5 targets he averaged last year. Between Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, and Hooper, there are a ton of options in the short to mid-area passing game, so Hooper simply won’t be as involved as he was in Atlanta. The only saving grace is that Baker has thrown more than a third of his career touchdowns to his tight ends, but even so, Hooper is a big loser from his move.
-Dan Harris (@danharris80)

Q3. Which player not signed or traded saw the biggest boost in fantasy value for 2020?

It’s hard not to say Kyler Murray for me. I wasn’t particularly high on him prior to free agency (even though he was still a QB1), but adding DeAndre Hopkins to the offense, as well as retaining Kenyan Drake means big things for the sophomore. They have plenty of work to do on defense, which should lead to a lot of pass attempts with one of the best surrounding casts in football.
-Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

Adam Thielen jumped from my WR18 to my WR9 just ahead of Odell Beckham, Keenan Allen and D.J. Moore. Stefon Diggs was dealt to Buffalo which should open up Thielen to be the clear-cut alpha dog receiver. He handled 142 targets in 2017 then 153 in 2018 all with Diggs on the roster so as long as he can stay healthy, 150+ seems like a certainty. I’d be glad to snag him at the start of the 3rd round, but I’ll wager he often falls into the 4th.
-Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Darrell Henderson/Malcolm Brown absolutely rose up in fantasy football value this past week. With Todd Gurley being released by the Los Angeles Rams, Henderson and Brown are now the main options there in that backfield. We’ve seen what that offense can do with a solid and healthy RB and Henderson was one of my favorite players coming out in the draft last year. He now has a legitimate opportunity to be a fantasy star, but even if he splits the workload with Brown, he’ll still be fantasy relevant. Both moved up significantly in my rankings.
-Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL)

Darrell Henderson goes from a handcuff to a likely starter in a solid offense with the trade of Todd Gurley. Although the Rams could add at running back, given the dead money hit the team had to take by releasing Gurley, their cap situation, and the remaining holes to fill, it seems unlikely that they’ll add the caliber of back who would step in and become a starter. Henderson was the team’ third-round pick last year and should see the bulk of touches over Malcolm Brown, given his higher ceiling. There’s a long way to go before we have a feel for the exact breakdown of the Los Angeles backfield, but Henderson sees a major boost in fantasy value.
-Dan Harris (@danharris80)

Q4. Which player not signed or traded saw the biggest drop in fantasy value for 2020?

The addition of Melvin Gordon to the Broncos offense all but destroyed Royce Freeman‘s fantasy value. He was someone zero RB enthusiasts were taking as a back-end RB3 and hoping for a bigger role, but he’d now be lucky to see six touches per game. The only hope for him is that he’s traded, but as of now, he’s undraftable.
-Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

David Njoku dropped all the way off draft boards but he was borderline draftable to begin with, so instead, I’ll go with Phillip Lindsay. He went from a 5th-round pick and my RB28 all the way down to a late-round handcuff and my RB45. You may think he has a chance of being in a timeshare with Melvin Gordon, but NFL teams don’t pay that kind of money to a three-down back just to let them split the workload. Lindsay’s only fantasy value comes if Gordon gets injured.
-Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Phillip Lindsay saw his value plummet when Melvin Gordon signed with the Denver Broncos. While Lindsay will still be involved in the game plan, he’ll no longer be the main back in that offense. At this point, it’s hard to see Lindsay getting enough work to finish as a RB3 next season. He’s talented, but Gordon will be the main back in that backfield.
-Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL)

John Brown‘s value takes a big hit with the Bills’ addition of Stefon Diggs. Allen has basically been at roughly a 3,100-yard pace over 16 games in his first two season. With the addition of Diggs to both Brown and Cole Beasley, there simply won’t be enough pass attempts or yardage in the Bills’ run-first approach to sustain multiple wide receivers. Brown is likely to move much more of a pure deep-threat role and has one of the least accurate deep passers in the game throwing him the ball. Reduction in targets and a worse role in the offense = fantasy downgrade.
-Dan Harris (@danharris80)

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