News & Analysis

The fantasy football impact of 2020 franchise and transitional tags

The 2020 franchise and transitional tag period has concluded, and there are a number of moves that have impacted the fantasy football landscape. Most of what went down played out as we expected, but there were a few surprises along the way. Let’s unpack what the 2020 franchise and transitional tags mean for fantasy football purposes.

Derrick Henry staying put in Tennessee

As expected, the Titans placed the franchise tag on Henry. Tennessee was also able to lock up Ryan Tannehill, so they’re keeping the band together. A massive fantasy disappointment for a bulk of his rookie deal, Henry emerged as an elite option over the last 21 regular season weeks, with the Titans finally deciding to feed him the rock in December of 2018. Since then, he’s rattled off 23 rushing scores and eight 100-yard performances. Sure, he has a minimal role in the passing game. But Henry is one of the rare backs in today’s NFL who can post top-10 PPR numbers without catching many footballs. Staying put in a favorable offense solidifies Henry as a top-10 running back in 2020 fantasy drafts. However, those in dynasty leagues may want to sell Henry while his value is still high, as he’s entering his age-26 season.

Cardinals transition tag Kenyan Drake

In a somewhat surprising move, the Cardinals used a transition tag on Drake in advance of NFL free agency. Given the current NFL market for running backs, this move essentially means Drake will be with the Cards in 2020. Given his performance over the second half of last season, that’s obviously a good thing. The No. 4 fantasy running back from Week 9 on, Drake was essentially a different player with Arizona than he was in Miami. This move, combined with the trade of David Johnson to Houston, keeps him in the top-15 conversation among fantasy running backs.

Dak Prescott gets tagged

The Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term deal with Prescott, so he’s tagged for now. The two sides could still agree to a longer deal before the July 15 deadline. Regardless, Prescott will remain in Dallas following his breakout 2019 season where he set career highs in passing yards (4,902) and touchdowns (30). He also finished second in fantasy scoring behind only Lamar Jackson. While Prescott may not seem like the sexiest fantasy name, he has never finished outside the top 12 quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. He’s currently ranked sixth in our 2020 fantasy football rankings, but a lot of his future fantasy value hinges on the Cowboys ability to get a deal done with Amari Cooper.

A.J. Green remains in Cincinnati

With both sides far apart on a long-term deal, Green received the franchise tag on Monday. The expectation is that Green will hold out of the offseason program unless a deal is reached. Unfortunately for him, the veteran is coming off a 2019 season where he played a total of zero games. He’s now missed 29 games over the last four years and will be 32 years old when the season starts. While Green certainly has name-brand recognition for fantasy purposes, his arrow is pointing straight down. Sure, a Heisman-winning quarterback could help things, but his age and recent injury issues are major red flags. 

Chargers tag Hunter Henry

While he’s certainly shown the ability to be one of the league’s top pass-catching tight ends, Henry hasn’t been the healthiest of players. In four professional seasons, he’s already missed 23 games. And that’s not to mention the fact that we don’t know who will be under center for the Chargers in 2020. But, all things considered, Henry still has a favorable fantasy outlook both in the short- and long-term.

Other Franchise Tags

• The Bucs used a franchise tag on Shaq Barrett, which all but guarantees Jameis Winston will not be in Tampa next season.

• The Patriots used the franchise tag on Joe Thuney, who graded out third among guards in pass block grade last season. He allowed just one sack in 693 pass blocking snaps.

• Steelers edge rusher Bud Dupree was franchise tagged following a 2019 season where he racked up 11.5 sacks.

• The Giants tagged Leonard Williams as a defensive tackle. The interior lineman came over to the Giants in a trade last season after spending his first four and a half seasons with the Jets.

• Kansas City tagged Chris Jones, who graded out as our No. 6 interior defenseman this past season.

• The Ravens placed a franchise tag on Matt Judon, who emerged as their best pass rusher in 2019 with 9.5 sacks.

• Speaking of pass rushers, the Jaguars tagged Yannick Ngakoue. Over the last four season, Ngakoue ranks 13th in the league with 254 pressures generated.

Justin Simmons was tagged by the Broncos following a standout season where he graded out as the No. 2 safety.

• Washington tagged OG Brandon Scherff, who has been one of the league's top guards over the last half-decade.

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