News & Analysis

Top free agency landing spots for fantasy football

NFL free agency is set to kick off in two weeks, and we still have a number of moving parts. Unlike most years, when free agency is largely second-fiddle to the NFL Draft, the 2020 edition features a number of big names and the potential to drastically alter the fantasy football landscape. Given what we know right now, let’s take a look at the top landing spots for the biggest fantasy football names in this year’s free agent class.

Tom Brady: San Francisco 49ers

The rumor mill has been running wild for Brady’s free agency prospects since the Combine, with a number of reporters pushing the narrative that he will not be back in New England in 2020. So far, Brady has been linked to the Chargers, Raiders, Titans and Colts. However, this week the 49ers emerged as a surprise entry to the field. While this landing spot certainly wouldn’t bode well for Jimmy Garoppolo’s future, it’s pretty sexy for Brady. He’d be paired up with one of the league’s most ascendant tight ends in George Kittle, along with an explosive player Deebo Samuel and the 49ers’ potent run game. Brady wouldn’t figure to be a top-10 fantasy option in San Francisco, but he’d maintain QB2 value and would no doubt help the overall fantasy profiles of his surrounding cast.

Derrick Henry: Tennessee Titans

This one is a no-brainer. Henry is coming off a career year and has been an elite fantasy running back since December of 2018. During that span, the Titans finally decided to give Henry a feature-back workload. The results speak for themselves. Tennessee has enough cap space to get a deal done, but it’s expected that they’ll place the franchise tag on Henry. Regardless of how this unfolds, Henry sticking around in Tennessee positions him well for continued fantasy success in 2020.

Ryan Tannehill: Tennessee Titans

Like Henry, it’s really best for Tannehill’s fantasy outlook if he stays put. As much-maligned as he was in Miami, Tannehill was a top-10 fantasy quarterback in 2014 and posted top-20 seasons in 2013 and 2015. Sure, he wasn’t elite, but he showed that he was capable of being a useful fantasy option. Tannehill was more than useful last season. After taking over for Marcus Mariota in Week 6, he outscored all but three quarterbacks. The Titans are reportedly going to let Tannehill test the market in free agency, but ideally for fantasy purposes he’ll get a deal done with Tennessee.

Amari Cooper: Dallas Cowboys

He was maddeningly frustrating for fantasy purposes in Oakland, but Cooper has emerged as a quality WR1 option with the Cowboys. The current expectation is that Dallas will use the franchise tag on Dak Prescott (who we aren’t going to write up here). Under the new CBA, teams can no longer use both the franchise and transition tags in the same year. That means the Cowboys will need to get a long-term deal done with Cooper. Fortunately, the team has a ton of cap space. 

Melvin Gordon: Houston Texans

There hasn’t been a ton of chatter on Gordon’s free agency prospects, but Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn did say last week that he was hopeful the team could work out a deal with Gordon. Given how last year unfolded, that seems unlikely. While Gordon will be entering his age-27 season, he can still be an effective fantasy option in the right landing spot. Ideally he’d go to a good offense where there’s very little competition for touches on the depth chart. The two teams that stand out are Houston and Atlanta. We’re giving the edge to Houston, as Devonta Freeman’s future with the Falcons still isn’t clear. Gordon would be a major upgrade over Carlos Hyde, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. Gordon could certainly threaten top-10 fantasy numbers in the explosive Houston offense. 

Philip Rivers: Indianapolis Colts

Like Brady, Rivers’ days as a QB1 option in fantasy football are in the rearview mirror. That being said, he did throw for 4,615 yards last season, which helped him to a 16th-place fantasy finish. No, he wasn’t an optimal option in single-QB leagues, but Rivers’ high floor made him a good target in two-QB leagues. Going to Indy, as he’s expected to do, would certainly help sustain two-QB value for Rivers in 2020. The Colts aren’t the most loaded offense in the league, but Rivers would benefit from playing with T.Y. Hilton and the sure-handed Jack Doyle.

Jameis Winston: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s crazy to think that a player coming off a 5,000-yard passing season may not be re-signed by his current team, but that’s exactly the case with Winston. Tampa Bay hasn’t showed its hand, with both Bruce Arians and GM Jason Licht giving vague answers on the matter at the NFL Combine. But for Winston’s sake, he’s already shown that he can be a top-five fantasy quarterback in Arians’ offense. Sure, Winston threw 30 picks last season, and that matters in real football. But in fantasy, the impact of interceptions in minor. Winston staying in Tampa Bay would keep him in the top-10 conversation for 2020 fantasy football.

Hunter Henry: Los Angeles Chargers

This one is tricky for a couple of reasons. For starters, we still don’t really know what we have in Henry. In four years in the NFL, he’s played 41 of a possible 64 games and has yet to play a full 16-game season. Of course, he has displayed impressive potential on the field. Henry managed a top-10 fantasy finish last season despite playing just 12 games. The other elephant in the room is the Chargers’ quarterback situation, which is very much in flux with Rivers out of the mix. But there’s really no other answer here given the expectation that the Chargers franchise tag Henry. For fantasy purposes, let’s hope the Chargers make a power move at quarterback.

Austin Hooper: Green Bay Packers

While Henry is expected to stay put, the Falcons' cap situation means it’s very likely Hooper will test the market. A top-10 fantasy option in each of the last two seasons, Hooper is coming off a career-year, posting 75 catches and 787 receiving yards in 13 games played. The Packers haven’t been able to find the right weapon for Aaron Rodgers at tight end since the days of Jermichael Finley. With Jimmy Graham on his last legs, Hooper would be a sexy upgrade at the position. Sorry, Jace Sternberger dynasty owners. 

Kenyan Drake: Arizona Cardinals

Sometimes, a little change of scenery makes a difference. That certainly was the case for Drake last season, as he went from a fantasy laughingstock in Miami to a potential fantasy league-winner after being traded to the Cardinals. The Cardinals are reportedly considering using the franchise tag on Drake, which would be optimal for his fantasy purposes. As he showed in Miami, Drake isn’t a fit with every NFL team, but he took very well to Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Even with David Johnson still in-house, Drake would project as the clear top fantasy option if he remains with the Cards.

A.J. Green: Cincinnati Bengals

To be bluntly honest, Green’s fantasy stock is on the decline regardless of where he plays next season. I know that isn’t an easy pill to swallow for many fantasy players, but it’s important to look at the direction a player is trending. Green was once an elite fantasy option, but injuries have cost him significant time over the past four seasons, with 29 missed games over that span. Green is also well on the wrong side of 30, entering his age-32 season. While having Joe Burrow under center certainly could help revive some fantasy value for Green, it’s likely he’ll be overdrafted in 2020.

Robby Anderson: Las Vegas Raiders

It looks unlikely that Anderson will return to the Jets, so heading out to the desert might be the best landing spot for Anderson’s fantasy value. And let’s not forget that the Raiders did reportedly inquire on Anderson’s availability before last season’s trade deadline. While the Vegas quarterback situation is far from solidified at this point, Anderson would step into a situation where he could slot in as the No. 1 receiver. Tyrell Williams is a the de facto top target, but the veteran failed to impress last season and has been dealing with plantar fasciitis. 

Breshad Perriman: Philadelphia Eagles

An afterthought heading into the season, Perriman made himself a lot of money down the stretch last year when he rattled off 20 catches for 419 yards and five touchdowns over the final month of the season for the Bucs. Perriman is far from a proven commodity, but at least we now know that he is capable of putting up big games. Philadelphia was ravaged by injuries at wideout last season and will almost certainly be addressing the position in free agency and/or the draft. Perriman would give Philly a big-bodied option who can get downfield for Carson Wentz.

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