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Bump and Run

Franchise Tags and the Fantasy Fallout

by Kate Magdziuk
Updated On: March 4, 2020, 12:12 pm ET

As we wait out the official start of the 2020 league year and free agency, we're not exactly in a dry news cycle. NFL teams have some big decisions to make in the coming weeks, and there have certainly been no shortages in the rumor mill.

Which stars will see the dreaded franchise and transition tags to prevent them from exploring the open market? Which few of these players would have the most significant impact on your fantasy football teams in 2020? Let's dig in.

The Goodies

Derrick Henry

The Titans have an interesting debacle heading into 2020. Left to decide between their franchise running back, Derrick Henry, and free agency darling, Ryan Tannehill, they've some thinking to do in the weeks ahead. I don't think the choice is all that hard, and Henry's dynasty owners probably don't either.

Henry dominated in 2019; there's no other way around it. His 1,746 scrimmage yards and 18 total touchdowns say it all. He led the league in the number of rushes of ten or more yards (42) and yards after contact (1,628) - all while forcing 58 missed tackles. Incredibly, despite catching just 18 passes in 2019, he managed to finish as the RB7 in PPR leagues.

However, we're all well aware that he hasn't always been the same Derrick Henry that we all know and love. He took some time to warm up before his massive explosion in the second half of the 2018 season. Despite this, he's made it known that "Zeke money" is the "floor." It's a mega-commitment for any team to make, let alone for a back who had such a slow start. We're also at a point where big running back contracts haven't precisely looked to have paid off for the teams that have offered them. The franchise tag would give the Titans another year to work out a long-term deal with the former Heisman winner, while Henry shows that he deserves it.

Fantasy owners know that keeping Henry in Tennessee would easily mean another year of top-10 production. Will it come by way of the franchise tag? If so, will Henry hold out? We're about to find out.

Jameis Winston

There have been rumors aplenty regarding the Buccaneers quarterback situation in 2020. Jameis Winston was chosen with the first-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and, since then, has given his team more than enough reasons to question his viability as their long-term starter. 

Winston had a career year. After all, it isn't easy throwing 30 picks. It takes some effort. His camp has made his various ailments (and their corrective surgeries) well known this off-season, perhaps to drum up some ammo to give him another shot. Whether or not he's worth a long-term deal anywhere is another discussion, but fantasy owners have got to be itching to get this guy back into Raymond James Stadium. 

Just as predicted once Bruce Arians took the reigns as head coach, we saw a pass-heavy scheme that ranked fourth in attempts, first in yardage and third in touchdowns. How exactly does that translate for us? Fantasy production, my friends, and we saw a lot of it. Winston rounded out the season with two top-12 wide receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, ranking fifth and third in fantasy points per game, respectively. Remarkably, despite throwing 30 interceptions, Winston finished the season as the QB4 - a true testament to his willingness to sling the rock.

Winston's best season record since entering the NFL has been 9-7, but he has shown some promise outside of his 30-for-30. In his defense, he did require Lasik eye surgery this offseason. But, more importantly, we should keep in mind that he was adapting to a new scheme for the first time in his young career.

If Jameis remained under center for the Bucs in a one-year "prove it deal" under the franchise tag, we'd undoubtedly get another year of the passing attack, sustain the value of the Tampa's wide receiver corps and a top-10 quarterback, likely at the 30-INT discount.

The Bummer

A.J. Green

A.J. Green spent all of 2019 sidelined with a gnarly ankle sprain, and he's itching to come back - just probably not to Cincinnati. Despite a growing sense that the veteran wideout might like to test the open market, there have been rumors swirling that Green might see the franchise tag. It makes sense... for the Bengals, at least.

Joe Burrow (if that is who the Bengals plan on drafting) could undoubtedly use a veteran like Green on the field. Right off the bat, Green's route running and hands could provide Burrow a reliable, go-to man - a thing of beauty for a developing quarterback. 

Green, however, is at a different point in his career. He's 31 years old, coming off a pair of injuries that left him to play just nine games over the last two seasons. It's understandable why Green wouldn't want to see the tag. Why start over with a rookie quarterback now? 

Despite the chatter, fantasy owners should be praying that the Bengals don't wind up applying the franchise tag. There are plenty of wide receiver-needy teams out there with a veteran under center where Green could find immediate impact. Green Bay, Philadelphia, New England - the opportunities are endless. In the right situation, we can squeeze another year of fantasy production out of the superstar. If that year comes at the price of an unhappy franchise-tagged wideout? I'm not so sure. 

Quick Hits

The Broncos have agreed to terms with the Jaguars to acquire cornerback A.J. Bouye in exchange for a 2020 fourth-round pick. Though the deal won't become official until the ink dries with the start of the league year, but it's safe to say we might just be watching the dismantling of the #DUUUVAL in real-time. ... Speculation surrounding Tom Brady's trip through free agency continues. Reports have made their way out west - this time, to San Francisco. Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston reported that it does seem there's some validity to the rumors as they make a potential push for the impending free agent. However, as Brady's made us all well aware, the 49ers are not his only potential suitors. He was, after all, seen video chatting with Titans head coach Mike Vrabel just days ago. He still has plenty of time to milk his impending free agency for all its worth. ... ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio noted Tuesday that there have been "no substantive trade talks" surrounding quarterback Nick Foles. After signing him to a jaw-dropping 4-year/$88 million deal, could the Jaguars really be looking for an out? It doesn't make a ton of financial sense for any team to take on a contract of his magnitude. Factor in the number of quality of quarterbacks about to hit the open market, and it seems more apparent that we're more likely to see Foles return to Jacksonville in 2020.

Kate Magdziuk

Kate Magdziuk is a contributor for Rotoworld, RotoViz, and host of BallBlast: A Fantasy Football Podcast. You can find her on Twitter @FFBallBlast.