2023 NFL Free Agency Signings Tracker (Fantasy Football)
If you want fantasy takeaways on every free-agent signing, FantasyPros has got you covered. Major signings will get their own articles. This is where we’ll compile fantasy takeaways for lesser signings. We’ll also have an IDP article assessing the impact of notable defensive signings.
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2023 NFL Free Agency Signings Tracker
Baltimore signs Nelson Agholor
The Baltimore Ravens wide receiver room behind Rashod Bateman looks like a dumpster fire. Instead of quelling the flames with a talent infusion, Eric Decosta chose a gas can and violence. The ever-forgettable Nelson Agholor will join Devin Duvernay, James Proche, Mike Thomas, Andy Isabella, Tylan Wallace, and Shemar Bridges in the competition for targets behind Bateman and Mark Andrews.
Last season Agholor could only manage a 12.4% target share, a 48.5% route run rate, and a 22% target per route run rate with New England. He was 73rd in route win rate and 92nd in win rate against man coverage. Agholor is a depth signing for Baltimore and likely an afterthought for fantasy purposes.
He could be a stream-worthy receiver in 2023 if the right matchup presents itself, but likely nothing more outside of that. If he’s on the waiver wire in your dynasty league, leave him there. He’s the epitome of a dynasty roster clogger.
– Derek Brown
Panthers sign D.J. Chark
D.J. Chark has become a mercenary. After a one-year stop in Detroit, Chark is headed to Carolina to add competence to the wide receiver room. The addition of Adam Thielen wasn’t a coffin nail for Terrace Marshall, but with Chark’s arrival, the hope candle for Marshall has been extinguished. Thielen and Chark will be the starters in two receiver sets.
Last year in the ten games Chark played at least 65% of the snaps, he drew a 14.3% target share, a 29.9% air yard share, and a 16% target per route run rate. Chark mustered four WR2 or better weeks in fantasy as the Lions’ deep threat. He was fourth in aDOT last year (15.4) and 36th in deep targets among wide receivers.
With Andy Dalton or a rookie under center this season, Chark will have a few spike weeks, but he’s difficult to trust as anything more than a low-end WR4 or WR5 in fantasy for 2023.
– Derek Brown
Browns trade for Elijah Moore
The Jets sent Elijah Moore and a third-round pick (74th overall) to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for the 42nd pick overall in this year’s draft (2nd round). Moore was disgruntled with his role last year and was finally sent off after requesting a trade in 2022.
As for Moore’s fantasy value after landing in Cleveland, I think he’s got a chance of moving into the WR2 chair behind only Amari Cooper. Because the guy is dripping in talent. As a rookie in 2021, he was the WR2 overall during his last stretch of six games played despite catching passes from a hodgepodge quarterback carousel of Mike White, Zach Wilson, and Josh Johnson. His 16.1 fantasy points per game would have ranked fifth had he continued the production for the remainder of the season. And his 12 PPR points per game average as a second-round rookie pick puts him into the same elite company as A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Michael Thomas, Chase Claypool, and Tee Higgins.
I’d be a buyer if he recaptures that fantasy ceiling with an upgraded quarterback and a new situation in 2023. There’s a path where he is second on the team in targets. And I wouldn’t completely rule out him out-targeting Cooper after we saw Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones post similar production at times in 2022.
Moore landing in Cleveland also makes it unlikely that second-year WR David Bell takes any step forward in Year 2, and puts Peoples-Jones back in the boom-or-bust fantasy WR5 category.
The Jets have already replaced Moore, signing WRs Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman as free agents. Both guys will get a boost in the fantasy rankings, with Lazard seeing the largest leap. He’s the favorite to be the No. 2 receiver status in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense.
As noted in my ‘Allen Lazard to Jets‘ full breakdown, the signing reunites Lazard with former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett recognizes Lazard’s strengths as a run blocker and red-zone threat, so that will likely be his primary role on his new team.
Lazard will have spike week potential in the form of touchdowns, but I don’t anticipate consistent production or a steady receiving role because he is still a beta receiver in the Jets offense. Lazard still might not even ascend to be the real-life No. 2 pass-catching option – competing with the likes of Corey Davis and the tight ends – putting him in back-end fantasy WR4 territory. Still, it’s hard to not view Lazaard as a low-key winner after the team traded away an uber-talented player like Moore. Because Lazard really only thrives when there’s lesser talent around him.
It was very apparent that Lazard was no longer the alpha in the Green Bay passing game last season when rookie Christian Watson was a healthy and active participant in the lineup. In Weeks 1-9, Lazard averaged nearly 13 fantasy points per game. In Weeks 10-17, Lazard notched just 6.5 fantasy points per game. His 6-5, 227-pound frame will get him playing time in New York but Lazard still won’t be anything more than an ancillary piece of a passing game unless injuries strike a player like Garrett Wilson. Lazard’s favorable fantasy usage likely won’t carry over to Gang Green amid their other weapons – not even with Lazard’s built-in chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. As previously stated, Lazard will have some usable weeks because Rodgers has peppered him targets in advantageous situations in the past. But such games will be few and far between. Still, Lazard is a solid value at WR62 in early best-ball ADP.
Hardman has been a 50/50 slot player for this entire NFL career, so he’s likely going to take over Moore’s snaps from inside. Hardman should be the full-time slot receiver with Braxton Berrios also no longer on the roster.
The 24-year-old scored in half of his games played (eight) in 2022 before missing the second half of the season with a hip injury. The former Georgia product averaged more points per game than JuJu Smith-Schuster (10.2) despite just a 10% target share as the WR31 overall. But four years into his NFL career, Hardman has yet to shake the ancillary role, so fantasy managers shouldn’t hold their breath hoping for a Year 5 fantasy breakout with Gang Green or Rodgers.
Jets sign Mecole Hardman
The Jets have agreed to a one-year deal with former Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The Hardman signing is an interesting move for the Jets and might foreshadow another transaction to thin out a suddenly crowded Jets WR room. Second-year stud Garrett Wilson isn’t going anywhere. Nor is Allen Lazard, who joined the Jets earlier this month. But the addition of Hardman could mean that either Elijah Moore, Corey Davis or both could be moved soon.
Hardman flashed intriguing potential during his four years with the Chiefs but never became a reliable fantasy contributor. He posted remarkable efficiency numbers as a rookie in 2019, averaging 20.7 yards per catch and 13.1 yards per target, with 14.6% of his targets resulting in touchdowns, but that was based on a small, 41-target sample size. Hardman had 26 catches for 538 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, 41-560-4 in 2020, 59-693-2 in 2021, and then 25-297-4 last year in only eight games, as a core injury wiped out half of Hardman’s season. He returned in a limited role in the AFC Championship Game but wasn’t active for the Super Bowl, and he had surgery in February. Hardman never had a snap share greater than 53% in any of his four seasons in Kansas City. It seems unlikely that Hardman will become fantasy-relevant in 2023 while positioned behind Wilson, Lazard and perhaps others in the pecking order for targets.
Hardman had a pair of rushing touchdowns for the Chiefs last year, and he has served as a kickoff and punt returner, so he would seem to be a logical replacement for departed receiver, return man and gadget guy Braxton Berrios, who agreed to terms with the Dolphins in mid-March. The arrival of Hardman might also portend the departure of Moore and/or Davis, either of whom might be included in an anticipated trade with the Packers for Aaron Rodgers.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
Bills sign Damien Harris
The Buffalo Bills signed Damien Harris to a one-year contract to fill the void left by Devin Singletary. Bills general manager Brandon Beane stated earlier this offseason that the team wanted to add another back with more “size” to compliment smaller running backs like James Cook and Nyheim Hines. Harris at 216 pounds fits the mold of the bigger back that Beane was after, so it’s not a shock to see this deal completed.
Last season, the former Patriots running back was plagued by injuries, playing in just 11 contests – two of which he left early. And in his nine healthy games, Harris averaged just 8.8 fantasy points, 11 carries, and 49 rushing yards per game. He took a major backseat to the surging Rhamondre Stevenson who operated as the RB1 in the backfield for the majority of the season.
Now with Buffalo, Harris’ best fantasy prospects are for him to land the Bills’ red-zone back role. He scored just as many times as Stevenson from inside the ten-yard line last season (thrice) despite being out-carried in that area of the field 19 to six. In 2022, former Bills RB Devin Singletary totaled just four rushing TDs inside the 10-yard on 16 carries. QB Josh Allen is frequently deployed as a goal-line rusher which might limit Harris’ touchdown totals in 2023. However, we have seen quarterbacks run less at the goal line as they get older, so there’s still a chance that Harris flirts with double-digit scores should his arrival mean the team leans on him more as their preferred rusher near the pylon to protect their franchise quarterback in the long term.
As for Cook entering Year 2, the Harris signing signifies that the second-year pro is locked-in to the elite pass-catching role vacated in the backfield. In 2022, Singletary finished third among all running backs in route participation (57%). Considering Cook’s 27% target rate per route run — equal or better than Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara in 2022 — I fully expect him to take on a much larger role as a receiver in a Bills passing attack that is shrouded with question marks behind Stefon Diggs.
Texans sign Dalton Schultz
Dalton Schultz lands in Houston on a one-year deal. While the landing spot is gross on the surface, this depth chart should allow Schultz to continue to operate in an every-down role.
Last year he ranked tenth in route per dropback rate for Dallas while also finishing 23rd in PFF receiving grade and 18th in yards per route run (minimum 20 targets per PFF) as the TE9 in fantasy points per game. Schultz’s calling card over the last two seasons has been as a zone coverage beater, as he has finished seventh and 18th in yards per route run against the coverage type (minimum ten zone coverage targets per PFF).
Houston doesn’t project to be a high-scoring or high-volume passing offense this season, no matter who ends up under center. Schultz is a TE2 that could volume his way to a low-end TE1 season.
Texans sign Devin Singletary
Devin Singletary signed a one-year deal worth $3.75 million with the Houston Texans, presumably to fill the role of Dameon Pierce’s primary backup.
Singletary operated as the 1A in the Buffalo Bills backfield for the majority of the 2022 season finishing the year as RB23 overall and RB27 in points per game. However, unlike the last two seasons that ended with strong finishes for the undersized rusher, Singletary was in a full-blown committee with rookie James Cook to close out the year. The first-year rusher averaged a 40% snap share over the team’s final seven games, matching Singletary point-for-point (RB25 in points per game, 52% snap share).
Cook was also the superior rusher in the season’s totality capping off his year by averaging 5.3 yards per carry (5th). Singletary totaled just nine more carries than Cook from Weeks 13-Week 20 but ended the year 10th in PFF rushing grade (two spots ahead of Pierce).
Overall, Singletary probably won’t unseat Pierce as the team’s No. 1 rusher, but he poses a much bigger threat to Pierce’s workload than JAGs like Rex Burkhead, Mike Boone and Dare Ogunbowale. His PFF pass-blocking grade (73.2, 8th) might get him usage on passing downs as Pierce struggled in this capacity as a rookie (32.3, 52nd). Although it does work in Pierce’s favor that Singletary has never flourished as an actual receiver, giving Pierce the slight edge on attaining a full three-down workload if he can shore up his pass protection in Year 2.
All in all, Singletary’s addition shouldn’t completely change the way you view Pierce, as it was highly unlikely the team would add zero running backs between now and the start of the season.
Panthers sign Adam Thielen
The Panthers have agreed to a three-year deal with former Vikings WR Adam Thielen. The signing gives Carolina a much-needed veteran presence in its WR room after the team traded away D.J. Moore as part of a package to obtain the No. 1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
There probably wasn’t another team that could have offered Thielen a bigger role and a clearer path to targets. The top receivers on the Carolina depth chart before the Thielen signing were Terrace Marshall, Laviska Shenault and Shi Smith, who combined for 77 catches, 1,058 receiving yards and four TD catches last year. The Panthers may still add more wide receivers via free agency and/or the draft, but Thielen figures to be Carolina’s No. 2 receiver at worst. He had 70 catches for 716 yards and six touchdowns last season.
The target outlook may be promising for the 32-year-old Thielen, but his performance trends are not. In 2022, Thielen posted career lows in yards per catch (10.2), yards per target (6.7) and yards per route run (1.06). His yardage per catch and yardage per target has fallen in each of the last three years, and his yardage per route run has fallen in each of the last two. As Mick Jagger proclaimed, what a drag it is getting old.
Even with enhanced target opportunity, Thielen profiles as a WR3 for 2023. He finished WR31 last season despite playing in every regular-season game for the first time since 2018. Thielen figures to be working with a rookie quarterback for most of the season. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Thielen’s outlook would be brighter with one of the more refined QB prospects (C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young) than with one of the ultra-toolsy but less refined QB prospects (Anthony Richardson, Will Levis).
– Pat Fitzmaurice
Cowboys trade for Brandin Cooks
One of the most traded players in NFL history is on the move again. Early Sunday morning, news broke that the Dallas Cowboys are trading for Texans WR Brandin Cooks. The Texans are reportedly receiving a fifth-round pick in 2023 and a sixth-round pick in 2024.
For more on the Brandin Cooks trade: “Brandin Cooks to Cowboys: Fantasy Football Impact”
Bears sign D’Onta Foreman
D’Onta Foreman inked a one-year deal worth $3 million with the Chicago Bears to replace David Montgomery in backfield alongside Khalil Herbert and Travis Homer. Per Aaron Wilson, Foreman also had interest from the Bills, Panthers and Giants but settled in with the Bears.
The interest doesn’t come as a surprise after Foreman’s breakout play in 2022. From Week 7 on, Foreman was the RB21 in fantasy scoring and RB22 in fantasy points per game. He ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing yards (852) over that span. But his path to back-end RB2 status was not consistent whatsoever. Foreman rushed for more than 110 yards in half of his last 10 games while finishing with fewer than 40 rushing yards in four of the others. His weekly half-point PPR fantasy finishes over those last 10 games were RB13, RB5, RB42, RB9, RB48, RB27, RB27, RB70, RB3 and RB53. Foreman was also a zero in the passing game, with just five receptions as the team’s starter. Even so, Foreman’s flashes of high-end early-down starting potential for two straight seasons are going to earn him opportunities in Chicago. Even though Herbert has shown out on limited opportunities, it’s hard to not project another split between Herbert and Foreman similar to the split between Herbert and Montgomery last season.
Foreman and Herbert earned nearly identical rushing EPA per attempt last year (inside the top 15). Fantasy managers might be best off taking the cheaper of the two in drafts because there may not be a true No. 1 rusher in the Windy City unless there’s an injury. If the Bears are as run-heavy as they were last season, there’s a chance that both can return value, but keep in mind that Justin Fields’ own rushing will take away volume chances from both backs.
Patriots sign Mike Gesicki
TE Mike Gesicki has agreed to terms with the New England Patriots, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The change of scenery could reinvigorate Gesicki’s fantasy value after it cratered last year under new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel.
Gesicki had 51 catches for 570 yards and five TDs in 2019, making him the TE11 in half-point PPR fantasy scoring, then had 53-703-6 (TE7) in 2020 and 73-780-2 (TE11) in 2021 before a 32-362-5 (TE23) letdown in 2022. There just wasn’t much of a role for Gesicki last season in a McDaniel offense that featured WRs Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Gesicki averaged 28.1 snaps per game in 2022 after averaging 44.8 snaps per game the previous three years.
The 6-6, 247-pound Gesicki is one of the more athletic tight ends in the league. Metrics from PlayerProfiler.com show Gesicki with a 96th percentile speed score, a 99th percentile burst score and a 98th percentile agility score, to go along with a 100th percentile catch radius. His pass-catching tools are extraordinary. But Gesicki’s blocking ability is substandard for a tight end.
It was strange that the Dolphins marginalized Gesicki after giving him the franchise tag last year to keep him off the open market. They were less motivated to keep him on the roster this year, and now he goes to the division-rival Patriots, who shook up their TE position two years ago by signing free agents Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry on back-to-back days. Henry had 50-603-9 for New England in 2021 but slipped to 41-509-2 in 2022. The 28-year-old Henry has one year left on His contract, and the Patriots reportedly have no plans to release him. Smith, who was primarily used as an in-line-blocker during his two years with the Patriots, was traded to the Falcons on March 15.
Gesicki investors are hoping the 27-year-old can again become a fantasy TE1 under new Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who was Gesicki’s college coach at Penn State. As the Patriots’ play-caller in 2011, O’Brien presided over an offense that got a combined 169 catches, 2,237 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns from TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Obviously, those numbers aren’t like to be matched by the Gesicki-Henry duo, but it’s clear that O’Brien will be more TE-friendly as a play-caller than Mike McDaniel was last season. It’s reasonable to expect Gesicki to once again provide something close to low-end TE1 value in 2023.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
Bears sign Robert Tonyan
The Bears have agreed to a one-year deal with former Packers TE Robert Tonyan, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Tonyan, a native of McHenry, Ill., returns to his home state after five seasons in Green Bay. He became a hot fantasy commodity on 2020, when he had 52 receptions for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns, making him the TE3 in half-point PPR scoring that year. Four of Tonyan’s TD catches that season came in a two-game stretch early in the year when WR Davante Adams was out. Injuries limited Tonyan to eight games and an 18-204-2 stat line in 2021. Last year, he had 53-470-2, finishing TE20 in fantasy scoring. The move to Chicago wouldn’t seem to bode well for Tonyan’s fantasy outlook. He’ll be No. 2 on the depth chart behind impressive young TE Cole Kmet, and the Bears were the run-heaviest team in the league in 2022, running the ball on 56.2% of their offensive snaps. Tonyan probably won’t be draftable this year in all but the deepest of fantasy leagues.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
Giants re-sign Darius Slayton
Darius Slayton re-signed with New York Giants on a two-year deal after being a buried on their depth chart a full calendar year ago. The vertical threat went from off-season trade/cut candidate to WR1 in the Giants offense as the team patchworked a functioning receiving room during the latter portion of the season. From Weeks 5-17, Slayton was the WR31 in total points (WR39 points per game) averaging 8.8 fantasy points, 59 receiving yards and nearly six targets per game (20% target share). The former Day 3 pick was used exclusively as Big Blue’s primary deep threat with a dominant 37% air yards share – a top-12 mark among all WRs. Slayton should be able to slide seamlessly back onto the perimeter as the Giants big playmaker opposite Isaiah Hodgins.
For fantasy, he’ll remain a boom-or-bust WR4/5 with newly acquired tight end Darren Waller operating as the team’s true No. 1 pass-catcher when healthy.
– Andrew Erickson
Bills sign Deonte Harty
A sneaky addition by the Bills was adding former Saints Pro Bowler, Deonte Harty. He was hurt all last season after an impressive 2021 campaign. But that didn’t stop him from earning a 2-year deal worth $9.5 million with $4.75 guaranteed. $5.51M in 2023. It’s more than double the contract the team gave Isaiah McKenzie (2 years, 4.4 million) last season. The signing also makes Harty the second-highest-paid WR on the team with Gabe Davis still on his rookie deal.
Harty saw an extremely high target rate per route run in 2021 (27%) and finished sixth in both PFF receiving grade (86.8) and yards per route run (2.69). Harty totaled over 52 receiving yards in three of Jameis Winston‘s starts in 2021. I’m confident Harty would deliver fantasy goodness if a starting opportunity opens in the Bills offense.. The undersized WR finished with a 99th percentile PFF receiving grade versus single coverage in 2021.
– Andrew Erickson
Giants sign Parris Campbell
Parris Campbell signed a one-year prove-it deal with the New York Giants after showing he could put together a healthy season in 2022. And to his credit, Campbell did have a pseudo-breakout year despite a dumpster fire Colts offense. He set career-high counting stats in catches, yards and targets, albeit accompanied by horrible efficiency numbers. His yards per route run ranked second-worst among all WRs with at least 65 targets (1.03). Campbell was also just one of three WRs to run a route on at least 88% of dropbacks and fail to eclipse 85 targets (Gabe Davis, George Pickens).
But the fact that he stayed healthy for an entire season was enough to entice a WR-needy team like the Giants, who desperately need speed at the position.
He will turn 26 in July and still possesses 4.3-speed that the Giants can utilize. He will compete for playing time with Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson who are both returning from season-ending injuries.
– Andrew Erickson
Buccaneers sign Chase Edmonds
Chase Edmonds inked a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, likely to compete for backup duties behind projected second-year starter Rachaad White. Edmonds – now on his third team in a full calendar year – is hardly a lock to make the roster and shouldn’t be viewed as a legitimate threat to White’s workload.
The former Dolphin and Bronco averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per carry in 2022, finishing second-to-last in yards after contact per attempt (one spot lower than Leonard Fournette), second-to-last in rushing EPA and dead last in first downs per rush (12%). Needless to say, it’s not surprising that he didn’t generate much money or interest on the open market.
His numbers likely won’t improve either behind a Tampa Bay offensive line that finished 28th in adjusted line yards last season.
– Andrew Erickson
Patriots sign James Robinson
James Robinson struggled last year in his first season post-Achilles tendon repair. Robinson started out the gate from Weeks 1-3 with solid yards after contact per attempt marks of 4.18, 2.96, and 2.71 (eight missed tackles forced per PFF, 51 carries). After that, things began to unravel. Robinson didn’t eclipse 2.25 yards after contact per attempt in any game for the rest of the season, as he managed only four missed tackles forced over his final 59 carries (per PFF). Robinson offers the Patriots solid depth at the running back position behind Rhamondre Stevenson, as the team only had Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong, Kevin Harris, and J.J. Taylor on the roster until now. Robinson will have to show some semblance of his old form before anyone should start worrying about Rhamondre Stevenson’s workload for 2023. Robinson is a late-best ball flier at best and a sell in dynasty if you can get a 2023 or 2024 third-round rookie pick in return.
– Derek Brown
Vikings re-sign Alexander Mattison
Alexander Mattison returns to Minnesota on a team-friendly deal as the organization floats Dalvin Cook in trade rumors. Mattison could walk into Week 1 as the Vikings’ starter if the team moves on from Cook and doesn’t invest decent draft capital into a running back. Mattison has started six games since 2019, averaging 21.6 touches and 115.5 total yards in those games. Mattison had arguably his worst season last year from a tackle-breaking perspective. He ranked 41st in yards after contact per attempt and managed only one breakaway run (minimum 70 carries per PFF). While this could be an outlier season, it’s not encouraging that Mattison has seen his yards after contact per attempt and breakaway run rate fall in each of the last four years. Until we know the status of Cook for 2023, Mattison remains a high-priority handcuff that could walk into heavy volume any week that Cook was to miss only.
– Derek Brown
Panthers sign Miles Sanders
Miles Sanders had a career year in 2022, rushing for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns on 259 carries. He didn’t do much in the passing game, however, catching 20 passes for just 78 yards. The Panthers dealt RB Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers during the season and also moved on from HC Matt Rhule. They hired former Eagles OC and Colts HC Frank Reich to run the show in Carolina, though Sanders and Reich didn’t overlap in Philadelphia. Sanders did, however, overlap with Panthers RB coach and assistant HC Duce Staley, who held the same positions with the Eagles.
For more on the Miles Sanders signing: “Miles Sanders to Panthers: Fantasy Football Impact”
Saints sign Jamaal Williams
Jamaal Williams, who had an NFL-high 17 rushing touchdowns for the Lions last year, has reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.
Let’s start with the obvious: Williams isn’t scoring 17 touchdowns in 2023. The veteran RB had remarkably good fortune last year, as the Lions kept setting him up for short TD plunges — 13 of his 17 TD runs covered only 1 or 2 yards. Williams can still be an effective platoon partner with Alvin Kamara, but Williams will be restricted to the role of early-down hammer as long as Kamara is around. Kamara has been an exceptional pass catcher throughout his career, while Williams had only 12 receptions in 2022.
Before 2022, Williams hadn’t logged more than 153 carries in any season. Last year, he had 262 rushing attempts, as the Lions pigeonholed D’Andre Swift as a passing-down back. It seems unlikely the Saints would shrink Kamara’s role in the same sort of way, so we probably shouldn’t expect Williams to average more than 10-12 carries a game.
With a limited diet of carries and a minimal role in the passing game, Williams probably won’t be an every-week fantasy starter most weeks. However, it’s possible Alvin Kamara will be suspended at some point during the season after being charged with battery for an incident in Las Vegas during Pro Bowl weekend in February 2022. If Kamara misses significant time, it’s possible Williams could take on more of a workhorse role, significantly enhancing his value while Kamara is out. Still, with his TD total destined to plummet and his rushing load likely to be reduced, Williams figures to be no more than a low-end RB3 in 2023 — and he’ll be less valuable than that in full-point PPR leagues.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
Commanders sign Jacoby Brissett
Jacoby Brissett signed a free agent deal with the Washington Commanders putting him in a true QB competition with second-year quarterback Sam Howell.
Brissett was brought into Cleveland last year as a stop-gap for Deshaun Watson, but he performed well beyond his low expectations. Brissett finished 17th in passing EPA and 12th in PFF passing grade while supporting fantasy viable weapons like Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper and David Njoku. Similar to Garoppolo, Brissett’s real-life efficiency didn’t translate to much fantasy success for himself in 2022. Still, he at least shows the aptitude to keep others around him afloat in fantasy circles.
That’s great news for anyone invested in the like of Washington’s plethora of weapons including Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Brian Robinson. Even if Brissett doesn’t win the job, Howell beating him out suggests he should be good enough to keep the offense afloat. The Commanders don’t have pressure to start Howell as a former Day 3 pick so they can just truly start the better quarterback.
– Andrew Erickson
Cowboys release Ezekiel Elliott
Someone should check on Jerry Jones immediately. Something is wrong in big D. Jones’ favorite son Ezekiel Elliott has been released. At 27 years old, Elliott looked like a back on his last legs in 2022. He finished as the RB22 last season on the strength of 40 red zone touches (13th) and 12 total touchdowns (sixth-most). Last season he scored a touchdown in eight straight games without surpassing 100 total yards in any game. Elliott was 48th in juke rate, 41st in breakaway run rate, and 54th in yards created per touch. The Buccaneers are said to have some interest in Elliott already. It’ll be difficult for him to find a landing spot that will offer him the same touchdown equity as last season.
Elliott is better off bypassed in best ball drafts, and sadly a dynasty hold for the moment. I’d be surprised if you could get a half-eaten Subway sandwich back in return for Elliott in dynasty right now. When he signs with another team, I’d be frantically shopping him to contending teams in your leagues as part of a bigger trade because a straight-up trade for picks or a player won’t net you much.
Free Tony Pollard has been achieved for the moment. Dallas may add another running back to the mix in the top three rounds of the NFL Draft (Jerry Jones can’t be stopped), but for now, Pollard owns this backfield. Last year despite a 48.1% opportunity share (34th), Pollard parlayed his massive talent into an RB8 finish in fantasy points per game. He was tenth in fantasy points per opportunity, fourth in breakaway run rate, fourth in yards per route run, and fifth in yards per touch. Pollard was arguably the most efficient running back in the league on the ground and through the air. Pollard has RB1 overall upside this season if he can carve out 60% of the work in this backfield, let alone if he gets even more.
– Derek Brown
Jets expected to trade for Aaron Rodgers
There have been reports for weeks that the Packers and Jets were on the verge of a trade that would send Aaron Rodgers to New York. We’re still waiting for that deal to go down, but Rodgers said on a March 15 appearance on The Pat McAfee show that he intends to play in 2023, and that he wants to play for the Jets. It seems only a matter of time before the Packers and Jets agree on compensation and make the trade official.
For more on the potential Aaron Rodgers trade: “Aaron Rodgers Expected to Be Traded to Jets: Fantasy Football Impact”
Buccaneers sign Baker Mayfield
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are signing free agent QB Baker Mayfield to a one-year deal, according to multiple reports. The Bucs are reshaping their roster in the wake of Tom Brady’s retirement, and Mayfield, who finished the year strong with the Rams after an underwhelming stint with the Panthers, gets another shot to prove he can still be a competent starting QB in the NFL.
For more on the Baker Mayfield signing: “Baker Mayfield to Bucs: Fantasy Football Impact”
Panthers sign Hayden Hurst
Hayden Hurst signed a three-year deal with the Carolina Panthers, leaving the Bengals with almost nothing leftover at the position. Considering the strength of the rookie tight end draft class, Cincy will almost certainly draft one in the first three rounds.
As for Hurst, he will take over starting tight end duties in Carolina. It’s not shocking that the Panthers looked to upgrade the position; among TEs with at least 30 targets in 2022, incumbents Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble finished back-to-back as PFF’s lowest-graded tight ends. New head coach Frank Reich has zero allegiance to those returners and is too familiar with TE-heavy packages from his days coaching in Indy.
Hurst was solid in his first year with the Bengals, serving as one of the better streaming/waiver wire options throughout the year. He finished as TE22 overall (TE20 in points per game) while seeing one of the best roles for a tight end. He played a nearly every-down role as a receiver, which has been the norm for the Bengals starting tight end Zac Taylor’s offense. That may not be the case in Carolina. Hurst’s efficiency/target metrics left some to be desired – par for the course playing alongside stud WRs – but he did enough to land a role with Carolina and their future rookie quarterback.
However, rookie QBs can hardly be relied on to support fantasy-relevant players – let alone tight ends – so I wouldn’t go out of my way to view Hurst as anything more than a weekly waiver wire streamer in plus-matchups or if he goes on a hot streak.
The new Panthers tight end checks in at TE30 in my early 2023 rankings.
– Andrew Erickson
Lions sign David Montgomery
The Lions have bolstered their RB situation and poached a division rival in the process, signing ex-Bear David Montgomery to a three-year deal worth $18 million, including $11 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Montgomery will presumably fill the role that Jamaal Williams played for Detroit last season, taking a lot of the early-down snaps. Williams turned that gig into a fantasy bonanza in 2022, racking up a league-high 17 TD runs. But Williams’ touchdown luck would be nearly impossible to replicate, as 13 of those 17 TD runs were 1- or 2-yarders.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
For more on the David Montgomery signing: “David Montgomery to Lions: Fantasy Football Impact”
Panthers sign Andy Dalton
Four days after positioning themselves to obtain their quarterback of the future by trading for the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers secured a quality backup QB by agreeing to terms with Andy Dalton on a two-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Dalton, a 12-year veteran, should make a fine mentor for whichever young quarterback the Panthers select with the top pick in the draft. If Carolina bypasses polished QB prospects C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young for either of the super-toolsy but less refined QB prospects, Anthony Richardson or Will Levis, Dalton could serve as the Panthers’ starter for much of the season while the rookie observes and learns. Dalton started 14 games for the Saints last season and was efficient if unspectacular, completing a career-high 66.7% of his passes, averaging 205.1 passing yards per game and 7.6 yards per pass attempt, and throwing 18 TD passes and nine interceptions. Despite all the grief Dalton took for his postseason failures during his nine-year run with the Bengals, he’s been a capable NFL quarterback for a long time and should be a good fit for a team that needed a veteran presence in the QB room.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
Jets sign Allen Lazard
The New York Jets signed free agent WR Allen Lazard to a four-year, $44 million deal with $22 million guaranteed, sources told Jordan Schultz from the @thescore. The move bolsters an already talented Jets WR room. More importantly, it’s another attempt to entice QB Aaron Rodgers to come to New York via trade.
The signing also reunites Lazard with former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett recognizes Lazard’s strengths as a run blocker and red-zone threat, so that will likely be his primary role on his new team. Lazard will have spike week potential in the form of touchdowns, but I don’t anticipate consistent production or a steady receiving role as a beta receiver in the Jets offense. Lazard might not even be the real-life No. 2 pass-catching option — competing with the likes of Elijah Moore and the tight ends — putting him in back-end fantasy WR4-5 territory.
In 2022, Lazard finished the season as the WR36 in points per game and as the WR33 overall despite high-end usage. He finished seventh in the NFL in targets of 20-plus air yards (28) and 17th in red zone targets while commanding a team-high 20% target share. The big-bodied wideout just failed to convert his elite usage into consistent production, which ties back to his mediocre talent profile. He’s a “fine” wide receiver, but hardly a difference-maker.
It was very apparent that Lazard was no longer the alpha in the Green Bay passing game when rookie Christian Watson was a healthy and active participant in the lineup. In Weeks 1-9, Lazard averaged nearly 13 fantasy points per game. In Weeks 10-17, Lazard notched just 6.5 fantasy points per game. His 6-5, 227-pound frame will get him playing time in New York, but Lazard still won’t be anything more than an ancillary piece of a passing game unless injuries strike a player like Garrett Wilson. Lazard’s favorable fantasy usage likely won’t carry over to Gang Green amid their other weapons — not even with Lazard’s built-in chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. As previously stated, Lazard will have some usable weeks because Rodgers has peppered him targets in advantageous situations in the past. But such games will be few and far between. Still, Lazard is a solid value at WR62 in early best-ball ADP.
I don’t think Lazard drastically impacts Moore, as Lazard will likely be operating in what was Corey Davis‘ snap share. Moore should be the full-time slot receiver with Braxton Berrios no longer on the roster. I expect Davis to be released in the coming days for salary cap reasons. Simply put, if Moore doesn’t rebound after a horrible sophomore season, Lazard won’t be the root cause.
– Andrew Erickson
Eagles sign Rashaad Penny
As RB landing spots go, it doesn’t get much better than Philadelphia. The Eagles were the fourth run-heaviest team in the league last season, running the ball on 49.7% of their offensive snaps. Eagles running backs averaged 21.6 carries per game in 2022. The Eagles earned the third-best run-blocking grade from PFF last year and ranked sixth in Football Outsiders’ run-blocking metric. With one of the best rosters in the league, Philadelphia will have a lot of favorable, run-heavy game scripts. Can the oft-injured Rashaad Penny stay healthy? That’s unknowable. But what we do know is that he’s been effective when healthy, averaging 6.2 yards per carry over the last two seasons. Penny won’t have the Philadelphia backfield to himself, but a committee role is probably a good thing for a player who’s had trouble staying healthy. An early-down role in a high-powered offense should still be enough to make Penny a fantasy RB3 in 2023 and a compelling option in the middle rounds of drafts. It should also be noted that the Eagles re-signed Boston Scott, who’ll continue to play a supporting but fantasy-irrelevant role in the Philly backfield.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
For more on the Rashaad Penny signing: “Rashaad Penny to Eagles: Fantasy Football Impact”
Raiders trade Darren Waller to Giants
The Giants needed to provide QB Daniel Jones with pass-catching help, and since an overhaul of their WR position is probably a multi-year project, a deal for one of the better pass-catching tight ends out there made sense. The Giants’ WR corps is among the worst in the league, and in a year with a weak group of free-agent receivers and a so-so class of rookie receivers, an adequate restocking of the WR room is going to take more than a single offseason – especially after the Giants had to cough up big money to keep Jones and RB Saquon Barkley in the fold.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
For more on the Darren Waller trade: “Darren Waller Traded to Giants: Fantasy Football Impact”
Dolphins re-sign Raheem Mostert
Raheem Mostert proved last year at age 30 that he still has plenty left in the tank to be a viable fantasy asset. He set career highs in carries (181) and rushing yards (891) while playing 16 games. Mostert was the RB29 in fantasy points per game, with six weeks as an RB2 or higher in fantasy. Mostert returns to South Beach on a team-friendly two-year deal. With El Jefe heading back to Miami as well, don’t expect Mostert at his age (and with his injury history) to be a workhorse in 2023. That doesn’t mean Mostert can’t be a serviceable fantasy option again in 2023. Last year he was extremely efficient with his workload, ranking sixth in yards after contact per attempt (minimum 100 carries per PFF), fourth in PFF’s elusive rating, and 22nd in breakaway run rate. Last year Miami was only 17th in red zone scoring attempts per game. With hopefully a full season of Tua Tagovailoa under center and the aerial fireworks that Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle can muster, there will be even more scoring opportunities for Mostert and this backfield in 2023. Mostert is an RB3/4 with upside.
– Derek Brown
Texans sign Noah Brown
Houston has made another addition to its WR room, agreeing to terms with Noah Brown on a one-year contract less than a week after bringing in Robert Woods on a two-year deal. Brown posted career-high numbers across the board in 2022, with 43 catches for 555 yards and three touchdowns. Brown hadn’t caught more than 16 passes in any of his four previous seasons. He had a couple of noteworthy games for the Cowboys last season, with a 5-91-1 performance vs. the Bengals in Week 2 and a 6-49-2 day vs. the Jaguars in Week 15. Brown played 74% of the Cowboys’ offensive snaps last year, the 31st-highest snap share among all NFL receivers. It was probably too big a role for Brown, an ordinary pass catcher whose best attribute might be his blocking. The 27-year-old Brown doesn’t figure to be a high-volume receiver for the Texans, and he’s unlikely to have much of a fantasy impact unless the Houston receivers get hit by a tidal wave of injuries.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
Raiders sign Jakobi Meyers
Josh McDaniels took another step today in making the Raiders “Patriots west” as they inked Jakobi Meyers to a three-year deal. This is a welcome addition to a Raiders’ wide receiver room that was looking thin outside of Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow (Mack Hollins is a FA). The dominoes might not be done falling though as this could also signal a Renfrow departure. Renfrow can be cut and the Raiders can save 1.5 million against the cap. The likeliest outcome is that Renfrow remains in Vegas this year and is cut bait next year when the team can save 8.2 million against the cap next year by kicking him to the curb.
– Derek Brown
For more on the Jakobi Meyers signing: “Jakobi Meyers to Raiders: Fantasy Football Impact”
Falcons sign Taylor Heinicke
Looking to shore up their problematic QB positions, the Falcons agreed to a two-year deal with Taylor Heinicke that could be worth up to $20 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Heinicke, an Atlanta native, returns to his hometown after making 24 starts for Washington over the last two seasons. Heinicke was functional but unspectacular in his run as a starter, completing 64% of his passes over the last two years, averaging 7.0 yards per attempt, and throwing 32 TD passes and 21 interceptions. The announcement of the Heinicke signing came the day before his 30th birthday. He’s clearly not the Falcons’ quarterback of the future, but Heinicke could compete with second-year man Desmond Ridder for the starter’s job, or potentially keep the seat warm for a few games if the Falcons draft a rookie quarterback and opt to bring him along slowly.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
Texans sign Case Keenum
The Texans aren’t sure who their starting quarterback is going to be in 2023, but they’ve identified their backup. Houston has agreed to a two-year deal with 10-year veteran Case Keenum. The Texans are expected to take a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft, so Keenum will be backing up a rookie. It’s possible Keenum could start the first few games of the season if the Texans decide their rookie signal-caller isn’t ready to play right away. Some of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft are likely to be starters from Day One (C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young), but some might serve an apprenticeship on the bench before sliding into the starter role at some point during the season (Anthony Richardson, Will Levis).
Keenum was a full-time starter for the Vikings in 2017, going 11-3 in his regular-season starts and throwing a 61-yard TD pass to Stefon Diggs on the final play of the game to give the Vikings a playoff victory over the Saints in the “Minneapolis Miracle” game. Keenum also started 16 games for the Broncos in 2018 and made eight starts for Washington in 2019. Keenum now comes full circle, having started his NFL career with the Texans in 2013. For his career, Keenum has completed 62.3% of his passes and averaged 6.8 yards per attempt, with 78 TD passes and 48 interceptions. He’s a solid veteran backup who, if forced to make starts for the Texans, would be streamable in favorable matchups.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
Dolphins sign Mike White
The Miami Dolphins hope they have their long-term quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, but with Tua having sustained multiple concussions in 2022, the Dolphins need a premium insurance policy. They bought one in free agency, signing ex-Jet Mike White to a two-year deal that could be worth up to $16 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. White made seven starts and eight appearances for the Jets over the last two years. completing 62.2% of his throws and averaging a respectable 7.0 yards per pass attempt. White was a turnover machine in 2021, throwing eight interceptions in 132 pass attempts, but he trimmed his interceptions rate from an unwieldy 6.1% in 2021 to a more reasonable 2.3% in 2022, when he threw four INTs in 175 attempts. White turns 28 later this month and won’t ever be considered a long-term solution to a team’s QB problem, but he’s proven himself a capable NFL backup, and the Dolphins were happy to sign him away from a divisional rival. If Tua were to go down in 2023, White would steer a Miami offense that features the dynamic WR duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, making White a stream-worthy QB for fantasy purposes. It’s possible White will become a hot waiver wire commodity at some point during the 2023 season.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
Broncos sign QB Jarrett Stidham
Stidham signs a two-year deal with Denver to back up Mr. Unlimited, Russell Wilson. Stidham got a two-game cup of coffee with the Raiders last year, which is the most starting exposure he’s had in the NFL to this point. Everyone will recall his fantastic game against the 49ers, where he tossed for 365 yards and three scores, logging an 80.9 PFF passing grade. We can safely say this one game alone earned him this backup contract. The next week, Stidham turned back into a pumpkin with 6.1 yards per attempt and a 44.3 PFF passing grade. Stidham will be the locked-in QB2 on the Broncos’ roster, with Brett Rypien likely gone. If we see Stidham under center this year, things have gone horribly wrong for Wilson. Stidham is worth a bench spot in superflex dynasty leagues, and that’s it.
– Derek Brown
Falcons trade for TE Jonnu Smith
Jonnu Smith is headed to Dirty Bird country to be reunited with Arthur Smith, as the Falcons acquired Smith in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick. Smith fills a need for Atlanta as a depth piece behind Kyle Pitts with TEs MyCole Pruitt and Anthony Firkser hitting the free-agent market. Before this move, Atlanta was looking to lean on Parker Hesse and possibly TE convert Felipe Franks to pick up snaps behind Pitts. Smith arrives in Atlanta after two disappointing seasons in New England, where he could only carve out target shares of 8.9% and 10.2%. That doesn’t mean that Smith wasn’t productive on a per-target basis.
|Year||PFF receiving grade (rank)||YPRR rank||YAC per reception rank|
*per PFF, minimum 20 targets*
Smith ranked inside the top 20 in yards per route run and YAC per reception in both seasons in New England. He was also eighth and first in target per route run rate, drawing a target on 28% to 31% of his routes, so when Smith was on the field over the last two years, he drew targets at an elite level. All of his underlying metrics scream that the talent New England yearned for when signing him still remains. The Patriots simply didn’t utilize Smith, which could be tied to his putrid run-blocking scores. Smith has finished dead last in PFF’s run-blocking grade (minimum 200 run-blocking snaps) in each of the last two seasons. While Smith has never been a top-shelf run-blocking tight end, these were easily the worst two seasons of his career in this aspect. Smith should team with Pitts as the inline tight end (Smith 60.5% inline for his career) while Pitts mostly lines up in the slot or outside (only 23% inline during his career). Atlanta ranked third last year in the usage of two-TE (or more) sets. Unless this is a precursor for an impending Kyle Pitts trade, the talented Smith will be a lowly TE2/TE3 in 2023.
– Derek Brown
Las Vegas Raiders sign QB Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo is heading to Sin City to nestle into Derek Carr‘s vacated throne. Garoppolo is coming off a season where he ranked 21st in PFF passing grade, fifth in yards per attempt, and 17th in adjusted completion rate (minimum 150 dropbacks per PFF). Garoppolo remains just a glorified point guard.
– Derek Brown
For more on the Garoppolo signing: “Jimmy Garoppolo to Raiders: Fantasy Football Impact.”
Check out these other breakdowns of major moves:
- Jakobi Meyers to Raiders: Fantasy Football Impact
- Jimmy Garoppolo to Raiders: Fantasy Football Impact
- Darren Waller Traded to Giants: Fantasy Football Impact
- Rashaad Penny to Eagles: Fantasy Football Impact
- Allen Lazard to Jets: Fantasy Football Impact
- David Montgomery to Lions: Fantasy Football Impact
- JuJu Smith-Schuster to Patriots: Fantasy Football Impact
Other notable free agency news
- Adam Thielen meeting with Panthers Wednesday
- James Bradberry re-signs with Eagles
- Leighton Vander Esch to re-sign with Cowboys
- J.D. McKissic cut by Commanders
- Samaje Perine agrees to deal with Broncos
- Stephon Gilmore traded to Dallas Cowboys
- Boston Scott returning to Eagles on one-year deal
- Phillip Dorsett II signs deal with Raiders
- Matt Ryan to be cut by Indianapolis Colts
- Jeff Wilson Jr. re-signs with Dolphins
- Michael Thomas restructures to a one-year deal
- Odell Beckham Jr. on Aaron Rodgers’ ‘wish-list’
- Austin Ekeler granted permission to seek trade
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