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Fantasy football reactions to free agency: Winners and losers, biggest signings and more

Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

David Montgomery joins a division rival: Montgomery replaces Jamaal Williams in Detroit and gives the Lions a somewhat different skill set, which could lead to career highs in fantasy production.

Allen Lazard is the first former Green Bay Packer to join the New York Jets: Lazard was one of the best wide receivers available and could put up even better numbers in New York.

Darren Waller becomes the New York Giants‘ top receiver: Waller was underutilized when healthy with the Las Vegas Raiders‘ new offense, but in New York, he could lead the team in targets.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

The first three days of free agency are in the books, with several players signed but plenty still waiting for a contract. And some of those remaining players might have to wait longer than others, given the talent available in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Here are the 10 biggest moves that impact fantasy football for 2023. 

RB David Montgomery signs with the Detroit Lions

Montgomery replaces Jamaal Williams in the Lions' offense and offers them a more well-rounded skillset.

  • Montgomery joins the division-rival Lions after spending most of his recent seasons as a feature-back with the Chicago Bears. He is one of only five running backs with over 2,000 offensive snaps over the last three seasons.
  • He likely takes Jamaal Williams‘ roster spot. The two have similar overall grades over the last three seasons — Montgomery graded better as a receiver while Williams was the better rusher.
  • Both players are listed at 224 pounds on their official team websites while Williams is one inch taller.
  • Williams and D’Andre Swift had a nice balance with Williams being the better rusher and Swift the better receiver, but Montgomery has graded better than Swift in both aspects over the last three seasons.
  • How Montgomery and Swift shake out in terms of fantasy football will depend heavily on Swift’s health and his ability to earn the team’s trust. We could see Montgomery being the touchdown machine Williams was with more receiving work, making him potentially a top-10 fantasy running back. 
  • This year could also be the breakout year dynasty managers have hoped for out of Swift.
  • The most likely outcome is Montgomery is the starter and Swift is the backup. They could be used interchangeably in most situations, but Montgomery is the one likely to score the touchdowns.
  • This leaves Montgomery as a big winner as he’s playing in a better offense with a lot less competition for carries; particularly at the goal line. The loser here is Swift as he’s no longer the best receiving back in Detroit.
  • Detroit re-signed Craig Reynolds to take the third spot on the depth chart, but it’s not out of the question that the Lions draft a running back in the mid-to-late rounds that further complicates the backfield. The Lions don’t have as much of a need to sign a back compared to most teams.

RB Rashaad Penny signs with the Philadelphia Eagles

Penny becomes the new lead back in Philadelphia when healthy.

  • Penny was one of the most explosive running backs in the last two seasons, averaging over 6.0 yards per carry.
  • He naturally fits in Miles Sanders‘ role and could be even more effective when healthy.
  • Sanders finished the season at RB15, with three games at RB3 or better. Penny had four RB4 or better finishes in his last 10 games.
  • The problem is Penny has been restricted to 10 games or fewer in each of the last four seasons.
  • He joins Kenneth Gainwell, and the two players will naturally fit together. Penny has traditionally played on early downs while Gainwell has traditionally played on third downs. If the Eagles stuck with this duo and Penny stayed healthy, he would have top-five potential.
  • The Eagles re-signed Boston Scott who can serve as a backup to both Penny on early downs and Gainwell on late downs.
  • Penny would be a fantasy starter with top-5 potential if he takes on the Sanders role with Philadelphia not making any other move at running back.
  • He’s the winner here from going from a team that’s been consistently below average on the offensive line to the Eagles who have been elite. The teams ranked 1st and 27th respectively in our end-of-season offensive line rankings.
  • Miles Sanders is the loser here after landing with the Carolina Panthers. He will at least have similar opportunities for touches in Carolina, but nothing beats playing behind the Eagles offensive line.

Two Running Backs benefit from departed teammates


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