Before the craziness that is free agency begins, we’re running through the potential fantasy football implications for all possible landing spots on position-by-position basis.
Yesterday we took a peek at the running back landscape. Today we’re covering wideouts.
High impact potential
These receiving corps could see some major fantasy-relevant changes via free agency.
Carolina Panthers — Devin Funchess proved everyone wrong by being a solid No. 1 wideout for the Panthers in 2018, but after trading Kelvin Benjamin last year, Carolina is devoid of bankable talent behind Funchess. Wideout is a big need for the Panthers, and a new addition would be fantasy relevant from day one in this offense that oozes with upside.
Dallas Cowboys — Brice Butler is heading to free agency, Dez Bryant’s best days appear behind him, and Terrance Williams hasn’t ever been on fantasy radars. All of this means that the door is wide open for a free agent wideout to come in and make an immediate impact.
Indianapolis Colts — The “high” potential here is entirely predicated on the health of Andrew Luck. The Colts have one notable free agent wideout (Donte Moncrief), and although Moncrief did virtually nothing last year, he was the team’s leading wideout in terms of touchdowns in 2015 and 2016. The Colts are looking for help outside of T.Y. Hilton, and any starter-caliber wideout paired with Luck in what should be a pass-happy offense is worthy of our attention.
Jacksonville Jaguars — Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee are free agents, and the team isn’t likely to bring back more than one of them if that, which means there will be a ton of targets left on the table in 2018. This is a run-first offense, but a new No. 1 wideout could have a large fantasy impact. Four different Jacksonville wideouts saw at least 49 targets last year; they were one of only three teams to spread the ball around this much within their receiving corps. If that target distribution thins out and a true No. 1 emerges, the potential fantasy impact is legitimate (and underrated).
Seattle Seahawks — Paul Richardson is primed for free agency, He posted strong numbers in 2018, catching 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns as Seattle’s No. 2 passing option. Whoever the Seahawks tap to replace Richardson as Seattle’s primary outside threat will immediately find themselves in a good position to succeed from a fantasy perspective.
Medium impact potential
These receiving corps could see some meaningful, but not game-changing, fantasy-relevant changes in free agency.
Arizona Cardinals — Larry Fitzgerald is coming back, but John and Jaron Brown are both free agents this year. There’s a big need at wideout for the Cardinals, but Fitzgerald and David Johnson will vacuum up a significant portion of the looks, so a newcomer is unlikely to be featured to a significant capacity. Even still, assuming the No. 2 role on any team is notable from a fantasy perspective. The potential would be higher here if the Cardinals had a better quarterback situation on hand.
Atlanta Falcons — I want to put the Falcons higher, but they are only losing Taylor Gabriel. Julio Jones eats up so much of the passing attack, and Mohamed Sanu is a serviceable No. 2. A new No. 3 is likely to have an impact in fantasy — just not a massive one.
Baltimore Ravens — Mike Wallace — Baltimore’s 2017 wideout leader in targets (87), receptions (52), yards (748) and touchdowns (4) — is primed for free agency. The passing attack itself is so poor that even a new top wideout won’t make too much noise in fantasy. Joe Flacco gained a career-low 5.7 yards per attempt last year.
Chicago Bears — The wideout-starved Bears are losing a slew of receivers to free agency, including Kendall Wright, Dontrelle Inman, and Josh Bellamy — the three target leaders among this receiving corps from 2017. Cameron Meredith is also a restricted free agent. A new No. 1 could gobble up a lot of work right from the start.
Cincinnati Bengals — Cincinnati has A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell, but Year 1 of the John Ross show was forgettable (he had just one catch for 12 yards). The Bengals could give him another year. They might also look to sign a veteran in free agency. It’s not unreasonable to think a solid veteran could assume LaFell’s role as the No. 2 option on this team.
Cleveland Browns — The Browns have young receivers with upside (Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon — if it’s still reasonable to call him “young”), but nobody has been able to stay on the field for them. No Cleveland receiver gained more than 400 yards last year. A free agent addition could push Coleman to the slot.
Los Angeles Rams — This team led the NFL in scoring last season, and their “No. 1 wideout” (Sammy Watkins) needs to be replaced. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods both gained significantly more yards on more targets and receptions than Watkins, so it’s hard to say that Watkins’ void will make a significant impact on this offense, which keeps them in the “medium impact” category rather than “high impact”
Miami Dolphins — There are a ton of Jarvis Landry trade rumors, which leaves the door open for the Dolphins to scoop up a new wideout in free agency to pair with DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. If Landry does find a new home, that leaves a 112-987-9 line on the table for the taking. The Dolphins could promote from within (Leonte Carroo, anyone?), or they could try to fill this hypothetical void via free agency. Either way, a Landry-less Dolphins offense in 2018 would certainly open some fantasy doors for whoever “replaced” him.
New England Patriots — Danny Amendola is set to be a free agent, but the vibe is that he’ll stay in New England. This team is loaded at wideout, especially with Malcolm Mitchell and Julian Edelman returning from injury, so even if Amendola leaves and the Patriots replace him via free agency, there are so many mouths to feed that it’s hard to see someone new making a huge fantasy impact.
New Orleans Saints — Ted Ginn Jr. was excellent in 2017, catching 53 of 69 passes for 787 yards and four scores and Michael Thomas’ wingman. Brandon Coleman filled the No. 3 role, scooping up three touchdowns and an additional 384 yards. With Coleman (and Willie Snead) set for free agency, the Saints are in need of a No. 3, or even a more traditional No. 2.
San Francisco 49ers — Pierre Garcon is on track for 2018, and Marquise Goodwin flashed excellent rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo down the stretch, but the 49ers still need additional pass catchers, and the arrow is certainly pointing up on anything potential related with this offense.
Tennessee Titans — Eric Decker is a free agent this season, but the Titans do have a budding one-two punch in Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews already. Taywan Taylor’s role in 2018 is unclear; he did play in all 16 games last year, but he drew just 26 targets. In any event, an additional wideout gained via free agency would find themselves in a crowded situation. That’s not to say there’s no fantasy goodness to be had here. The path to unlocking that goodness is just a little cluttered.
Washington Redskins — Washington is losing Terrelle Pryor and Ryan Grant to free agency. Grant was quietly second among Washington receivers last year in catches (45), yards (573), and touchdowns (4). Pryor was an obvious dud, but he was supposed to be the team’s No. 1, and technically that role is still there for the taking. Josh Doctson has flashed the potential to be that guy, but it hasn’t quite all come together yet for him. A new wideout gained via free agency could make a modest fantasy impact if Doctson doesn’t make a meteoric leap forward in 2018.
Low impact potential
These receiving corps probably won’t see a fantasy-relevant change as a result of free agency.
Green Bay Packers — Green Bay’s core receivers are getting older, but the usual gang should be back together for 2017, limiting the potential for a free agent addition to make some fantasy noise.
New York Giants — The Giants appear to be in good shape with Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard at wideout. The team made a splash at wideout last year (Brandon Marshall), but that didn’t work out.
Philadelphia Eagles — The Eagles are losing no wideouts to free agency, and while none of their receivers gained over 800 yards, they seem set at this position for 2018.