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6 Bold Predictions for 2024 NFL Free Agency (Fantasy Football)

6 Bold Predictions for 2024 NFL Free Agency (Fantasy Football)

NFL Free Agency is an opportunity for teams to bolster their roster and for players to find new homes where they can strut their stuff.

The following six players are free agents who could ink a deal with new teams. Here are my bold predictions for their landing spots.

More 2024 NFL Free Agency Coverage

6 NFL Free Agency Bold Predictions (2024 Fantasy Football)

Quarterback

Jacoby Brissett | Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are searching for a new head coach and must upgrade at quarterback. Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke aren’t viable short-term or long-term answers for the position. Unfortunately for Atlanta, the top three quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft could be off the board before they pick from the eighth spot.

Atlanta could sign veteran Jacoby Brissett to ensure they have a competent quarterback in place while not prohibiting them from choosing one in the NFL Draft to develop. Brissett played well for the Browns in 2022 but never started for the Commanders in 2023. Instead, he shined in relief of Sam Howell a few times. Even an average to slightly below-average quarterback would substantially upgrade the Falcons and enhance the fantasy football value of Drake London, Kyle Pitts and Bijan Robinson.

Running Backs

Derrick Henry | Dallas Cowboys

Derrick Henry addressed the home crowd after the Titans knocked the Jaguars out of the playoffs in Tennessee in Week 18, thanking them for his time there. The organization has since moved on from head coach Mike Vrabel, and “King Henry” should be the next departure.

Henry wasn’t otherworldly in 2023. Still, according to Pro-Football-Reference, he was eighth in rushing yards per game (68.6) and tied for seventh in rushing touchdowns (12).

The Cowboys need a jolt of life in their backfield, and Jerry Jones might be a sucker for the name value Henry has. According to Over The Cap, the Cowboys have work to do to get under the salary cap in 2024. Still, they can likely restructure contracts, starting with Dak Prescott‘s, to free up the requisite cap space for the former Crimson Tide. Henry’s value would climb if he signed with the Cowboys or any above-average offense that would enhance his touchdown potential.

Tony Pollard | Green Bay Packers

Tony Pollard was dynamic as a change-of-pace running back before 2023. Sadly, his efficiency and underlying numbers cratered as Dallas’s featured back in 2023. In 2022, Pollard had 5.2 yards per rush attempt, 2.6 yards before contact per attempt and 2.6 yards after contact per attempt on 193 attempts. Those numbers nose-dived to 4.0 yards per attempt, 2.1 yards before contact per attempt and 1.9 yards after contact per attempt.

Pollard could benefit from a reduced workload as part of a committee. Aaron Jones‘s nagging hamstring injury limited him to 11 games in the regular season. The injury might have been a blessing in disguise since he’s had fresh legs and steamrolled the opposition since getting healthy. Jones and Pollard could mutually benefit from sharing the workload for the Packers. As long as Green Bay doesn’t add a bruising short-yardage back to vulture goal-line opportunities, both players could be desirable fantasy assets.

Wide Receivers

Tee Higgins | Carolina Panthers

The Bengals can afford to use the franchise tag on Tee Higgins. Will they? That’s not guaranteed. Ja’Marr Chase is the team’s elite No. 1 wide receiver, and Cincinnati picked Charlie Jones and Andrei Iosivas in the 2023 NFL Draft as potential in-house replacements for Higgins and Tyler Boyd. This year’s NFL Draft class of wide receivers is lauded by pundits, awarding the Bengals another path to replace Higgins and Boyd.

Most importantly, the Bengals have more pressing needs, namely shoring up their defense. According to FTN Fantasy, the Bengals were 23rd in defense DVOA. If they invest cap space in the defense instead of Higgins, the young wide receiver will have a robust market.

The Panthers are desperate for help at wide receiver and don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft because they used it to move up to the first pick in last year’s draft to choose Bryce Young. The rookie quarterback had a nightmare first professional campaign, and Carolina’s new head coach and general manager must do everything possible to turn Young’s career around. Adding a big-bodied vertical weapon like Higgins would be a good starting point.

Higgins has stepped up when Chase has missed games. According to 4 For 4 Football’s Market Share Splits App, Higgins has had 8.8 targets per game, a 24.9% target share, 6.2 receptions per game, 102.2 receiving yards per game, 100.0 air yards per game and 0.60 receiving touchdowns per game in five games without Chase since 2022. This is compared to 6.2 targets per game, a 16.9% target share, 3.7 receptions per game, 51.0 receiving yards per game, 72.1 air yards per game and 0.39 receiving touchdowns per game in 23 contests with Chase.

The downgrade from Joe Burrow to Young would be suboptimal for Higgins. Still, the upgrade in volume could offset the quarterback change.

Calvin Ridley | New England Patriots

Calvin Ridley isn’t a No. 1 wide receiver. When asked to be the top pass-catching weapon, he didn’t answer the call for the Falcons or Jaguars. Nevertheless, Ridley can stretch the field and add juice to an offense.

What Ridley brings to the table might not be enough for the Jaguars to sign him to a long-term deal, especially since the third-round pick they owe the Falcons would escalate to a second-round pick if they agree to a long-term pact. The Patriots need to overhaul their offense entirely. They can sign Ridley and spend a premium draft pick, perhaps the third pick, to turn the wide receiver position from a liability into a strength.

However, the Patriots could also sign Ridley, draft a quarterback third and add to the wide receiving corps elsewhere in the draft, which would be an ideal scenario for Ridley’s fantasy value if he signed with New England. He scored 11.3 half-point-per-reception (half-PPR) points per game last year, the 25th-most among wide receivers. There’s an influx of talented rookies and ascending youngsters who should bypass Ridley next year, leaving him in the low-end WR3/high-end WR4 mix if he signs with the Patriots.

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Tight End

Noah Fant | Cincinnati Bengals

If the Bengals allow Higgins to leave in free agency, they could allocate some of the money they save to sign the athletically gifted Noah Fant as part of a multi-faceted approach to replacing their departed No. 2 wide receiver. He’s cleared 4.0 receptions and 40.0 receiving yards per game twice in his five-year career at a position where players have often taken time to develop.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Fant has had 1.47 Y/RR and 5.7 YAC/REC in his career. Among 33 tight ends targeted at least 40 times in the regular season in 2023, those marks would have ranked tied for 13th and fifth, respectively. Fant is an intriguing late-round tight end, namely if he joins Burrow and the Bengals allow Higgins and Boyd to sign elsewhere.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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