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9 NFL Free Agency Early Winners & Losers (2023 Fantasy Football)

Mar 16, 2023

NFL free agency always drastically changes the fantasy football landscape and this year has been no exception to that. Our analysts have been breaking down all of the moves and their respective fantasy impact in our 2023 NFL Free Agency Signings Tracker, and we asked some of our featured experts to give us their early winners and losers through the first few days of NFL free agency. They provide the players who have seen their fantasy value increase and decrease the most below.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Kit

NFL Free Agency Winners & Losers

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

Samaje Perine (RB – DEN)
“Samaje Perine steps into a Denver depth chart with only Tyler Badie, Damarea Crockett, and Tyreik McAllister behind Javonte Williams. Williams himself is still recovering from a complicated ACL repair, so his effectiveness and availability are in question for 2023. Currently, Perine looks like the Week 1 starter for the Broncos. From an efficiency standpoint, Perine had a solid year last season, ranking 24th in yards after contact per attempt and 30th in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 75 carries). Perine proved up to the task of carrying the load last season with RB2, RB10, and RB3 finishes in fantasy in the three games in which he played 60% or higher snaps. Perine is an RB3 with massive upside for 2023, depending on Williams’ health and what Denver does in the NFL Draft. ”
Derek Brown (FantasyPros)

David Montgomery (RB – DET)
“Not only did David Montgomery get paid on the open market, but the veteran running back also landed in a great fantasy spot. Last year Jamaal Williams led the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns. Montgomery will now step into that role for Detroit. While D’Andre Swift is still around, he has struggled to stay healthy in his career. After struggling behind a poor Chicago offensive line, Montgomery should thrive behind Detroit’s unit.”
Mike Fanelli (FantasyPros)

Darren Waller (TE – LV)
“Darren Waller sticks out as the player who has gained the most so far in the early waves of free agency. He gets traded to the the New York Giants for a third-round pick and immediately becomes probably the best pass-catcher on their receiving corps, which is a huge change from the logjam of targets he would have had by staying in Las Vegas. Waller has had a couple of recent injury-filled seasons, but he also has a history of multiple top 3 fantasy finishes, and I believe he has a strong chance to finish in the top echelon of tight ends once again this season.”
Sam Wagman (Footballguys)

Rashaad Penny (RB – PHI)
“Rashaad Penny inked a one-year deal with the Eagles reportedly worth $1.35 million with $600K guaranteed and a max value of $2.1 million. It’s not much but it puts him in a position to be the team’s early-down lead back in full Miles Sanders fashion. In his five games played before his injury in 2022, Penny averaged over six yards per carry. His only game where he failed to surpass 54 yards on the ground was against the eventual number one run defensive unit: the San Francisco 49ers. The on-field production and talent have never been in question with Penny, it’s just been the availability due to health that has been the big issue. Quarterback Jalen Hurts‘ presence at the goal line will obviously hinder Penny’s TD potential to some extent, but make no mistake that Penny’s explosive game means he can score beyond just the 5-yard line. Of his 14 career touchdowns, 11 have come on 10-yard-plus plays. Seven (50%) have been 30-plus plays from scrimmage. His landing in Philly also likely marks the end of Sanders as an Eagle, considering the latter was likely looking for more compensation after a career year.”
Andrew Erickson (FantasyPros)

Rashaad Penny was a distressed fantasy asset entering free agency. The oft-injured running back endured yet another season-ending injury in 2022, and the emergence of Kenneth Walker made Penny persona non grata in Seattle. There weren’t many landing spots that could have rekindled enthusiasm about Penny, but Philadelphia was one of them. Penny joins a run-heavy Eagles offense that includes arguably the best offensive line in the league. Eagles GM Howie Roseman probably isn’t done adding running backs — expect him to draft at least one more — but even a committee role in Philadelphia will make Penny a useful fantasy asset for as long as he can stay healthy.”
Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

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

Elijah Moore (WR – NYJ)
“Unless Elijah Moore is part of the Aaron Rodgers trade and gets shipped to Green Bay, Moore’s fantasy stock has taken a hit. Even assuming that Corey Davis gets cut from the Jets’ roster, the likelihood that Moore would start in two wide receiver sets over Allen Lazard is slim. Why is that important? From 2019 to 2021, Green Bay (under Nathaniel Hackett) ranked 20th, 23rd, and 13th in the usage of personnel groupings with three or more wide receivers on the field, so if Moore isn’t starting in two wide sets, his snap share and ceiling are capped. For a player coming off a down season, the transactions this offseason have given hope that a year three bounceback is in the cards. ”
Derek Brown (FantasyPros)

Mac Jones (QB – NE)
“Last year Mac Jones struggled after an encouraging rookie season. Unfortunately, he’s had a rough few days. The New England Patriots traded Jonnu Smith to the Atlanta Falcons for next to nothing. Then they lost Jakobi Meyers to the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency. Bringing in JuJu Smith-Schuster was a good start but not enough. Unless the Patriots can swing a blockbuster trade for a star wide receiver, Jones’ receiving core might be the worst in the NFL.”
Mike Fanelli (FantasyPros)

Jameis Winston (QB – NO)
“There was a hope that Jameis Winston would get a chance to compete for the starting job in New Orleans, or he would at least sign in free agency with a team that wanted him to start. Unfortunately, that was not to be, as Winston decided to sign back with the Saints to back up Derek Carr. This all but guarantees that Winston is not going to see the field much at all this season save for an injury, and might have signaled that he is past starting for an NFL team at this point in his career. I still believe that Winston can play at a starter level, and hopefully he gets a chance to show that this year.”
Sam Wagman (Footballguys)

Mike Evans (WR – TB)
“Mike Evans is going to be tough to trust this year if Baker Mayfield/Kyle Trask are indeed under center in 2023. Since Tom Brady landed in Tampa, no team was more pass-heavy. Brady just broke the record for passing attempts in a season this past year (733) after posting the 3rd-most attempts all-time (719) the year before. The Mayfield/Trask pairing in Tampa for 2023 is going to throw less and that hurts Evans. Before his Week 17 eruption, he was WR26 overall and WR32 in points per game. He will be 30 by the time the season starts. History has not been kind to the aging big-bodied wide receivers that don’t win with separation later in their careers. Evans is a boom-or-bust fantasy WR3/4 that you should only select when he falls too far in drafts. ”
Andrew Erickson (FantasyPros)

D’Andre Swift (RB – DET)
“Well, I *thought* D’Andre Swift’s value was going to increase once Jamaal Williams left Detroit, but the Lions replaced Williams with David Montgomery, so Swift’s 2023 value is going to be far below what I had hoped it would be. Swift is still going to be the Lions’ primary pass-catching back, but he averaged only 7.1 carries per game last season and is probably going to be used sparingly in the running game again. It’s hard for a running back to be a needle-mover in fantasy with a rushing load that small. I’m not ready to bury a talented 24-year-old running back who’s productive as a receiver and has an above-average TD rate, but it’s hard to see how Swift escapes the confinement of the role the Lions have chosen for him.”
Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

Check out these other breakdowns of major moves:

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