The third day of free agency was far more lively than the second, seeing multiple big-name players sign contracts that will shake up the fantasy landscape in 2021. Let’s get into the major movies of the Wednesday signings.
Bears Get Andy Dalton, Mitchell Trubisky Heads to Buffalo
The quarterback landscape is starting to take shape but that may leave Bears fans wanting more. The team let Mitchell Trubisky walk in free agency only to replace him with long-time Bengals veteran Andy Dalton. Dalton can be an upgrade over Trubisky, who signed a one-year deal with the Bills on Wednesday. It’s that the improvement may be marginal at best.
Dalton has failed to reach seven adjusted yards per attempt in each of his previous four seasons. He posted impressive numbers across the board in 2016 and even earned a Pro Bowl nod but has been his bland self ever since. With a trio of receivers in Dallas that most quarterbacks only dream of, Dalton averaged fewer than 250 passing yards per game across his seven healthy starts. That put him right around league-average on the year.
Trubisky is nothing more than an above-average backup who fits the scheme in Buffalo well. The one aspect of his game that has always been underrated is his athleticism. Despite being criticized for only throwing to one side of the field at times, he’s still fast in a straight line and considerably agile. That makes him a comparable backup for a quarterback like Josh Allen.
Will Fuller Lands in Miami for a Season
The financial details on Will Fuller’s deal have yet to be disclosed but we do know it’s a one-year deal. With teams reluctant or unable to break the bank this offseason, it looks like Fuller is going to embark on a “prove it” campaign after seemingly proving it last year. The Dolphins botched rookie Tua Tagovailoa’s first NFL campaign, benching him for a surging Ryan Fitzpatrick, only to send Tagovailoa on the field with a lackluster group of pass-catchers to work with. Given their trove of draft assets plus the signing of Fuller, that won’t be the case in 2021.
Fuller is coming off a career year with 879 yards and eight scores. If Tagovailoa can progress as a passer and is more willing to push the ball downfield, Fuller may be able to hang on to high-end WR2 numbers. The only issue with Fuller as a fantasy asset will be the expectations bestowed upon him. He operated as a high-volume, downfield threat for one of the league’s elite passers in 2020. That won’t be the case next year, even if Tagovailoa leaps forward. The extra competition for targets from DeVante Parker and a downgrade in quarterback play all but ensure Fuller to be a less fun fantasy option in 2021.
Kenyan Drake Signs in Vegas for Two Years, $14.5 Million
This signing will be particularly painful to the Josh Jacobs truthers who have been patiently waiting for him to take on a three-down role in the NFL. Since being drafted 24th overall by Oakland two years ago, Jacobs has amassed just 53 receptions. Kenyan Drake caught 53 passes in 2018 alone and followed that up with another 50 catches in 2019. The theoretical upside of Jacobs as an RB1 seems all but dead now while Drake could evolve into a solid PPR back with a similarly capped ceiling.
Curtis Samuel Reunites with Ron Rivera
While Kenny Golladay and JuJu Smith-Schuster were attempting to stir up bidding wars and sign mega-deals, Curtis Samuel was having a friendly chat with his former coach and cashing in a massive paycheck in the process. Samuel earned a three-year, $34.5 million contract with the Washington Football Team and joins Ryan Fitzpatrick among the new faces in D.C. With 851 receiving yards, 77 receptions, and an additional 200 yards on the ground, Samuel set career-highs across the board in 2020. Rivera seemed to misuse Samuel in 2019, forcing the play-maker to run wind sprints while drawing targets from Kyle Allen and Will Grier. Fantasy fans should hope he rights that wrong in Washington and finds ways to be as creative with Samuel as Panther OC Joe Brady was last year.
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Raiders Ink John Brown
Brown’s deal is for one year and is worth $3.8 million. He can bump that number up to as much as $5.5 million through incentives. His signing appears to be an obvious response to Nelson Agholor stepping up for Vegas in 2020 but walking in free agency. Brown finished fourth on the Bills in receiving yards last year and fell behind Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs in yards per route run. He only has two seasons with 1,000 yards on his seven-year resume. Plan A in Las Vegas has to be for first-round pick Henry Ruggs to progress as a receiver and take on Agholor’s role. Brown is likely a cheap but high-floor insurance policy on the burner from Alabama.
The Spirit of Larry Fitzgerald Lives On
All-time great receiver Larry Fitzgerald is a free agent and at 37 years old, it would be no surprise to see him hang up the cleats after a generational career. If that is the case, the Cardinals have crafted a plan to replace most of his 5.7 yards per target with ease. Another former great, A.J. Green signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals worth $8 million. Green averaged 5.0 yards per target in 2020 and joins a team that was infamous for their lack of creativity when deploying DeAndre Hopkins last year.
Odds and Tight Ends
Jared Cook signed a one-year deal with the Chargers. Cook will be 34 in April. At this point in his career, the only edge he holds over XFL star and incumbent Chargers tight end Donald Parham is experience.
The Titans re-signed tight end Anthony Firkser. The losses of Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis open up an opportunity for Firkser, who will be entering his fourth season in the Fall. He exploded for 113 yards and a touchdown in Week 6 but has no other games above 52 yards on his resume. He'll be a solid TE2 flyer in fantasy drafts if the Titans allow him to remain atop the depth chart.
Gerald Everett signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Seahawks. Seattle has run a rotation of middling tight ends for a few years but Everett could be nothing more than the next in line. From a fantasy perspective, Everett’s biggest draw will be his proximity to Russell Wilson. If he earns a full-time role in Seattle, spiky touchdown production could make him a modest TE2.
Kyle Rudolph signed with the Giants, apparently as a tight end. Coming off consecutive seasons with fewer than 400 receiving yards, he may be converted to guard before the season is over.
Breshad Perriman signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Lions. The void left by Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay creates an interesting opportunity for Perriman. A first-round bust with the Ravens, Perriman has done his best to improve his image while in Tampa Bay and New York over the past two seasons. He has 1,150 yards and nine scores in his previous 26 games. The Lions are running circles around the league in terms of air yards and targets lost. That keeps Perriman on the radar as a late-round pick until they add more receiving competition.
The Broncos rescinded their tender on Phillip Lindsay. The split seems amicable as Denver originally gave Lindsay the lowest possible tender, a decision that Lindsay rightfully took umbrage with. Lindsay rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, despite joining the Broncos as a UDFA. He also topped 50 receptions in a single collegiate season but the Broncos were hesitant to give him work as a receiver. He peaked at 35 receptions in Denver. Lindsay has played like a back who could lead a committee and maintain high efficiency metrics whenever given the chance. His landing spot and how much a team chooses to pay him will provide a wealth of info on his fantasy prospects going forward.
Tyrod Taylor signed a one-year deal with the Texans. If the Houston Texans were a normal organization, this would simply be a team acquiring a backup who can adequately emulate some of the skills of the starter. The Houston Texans are not a normal organization. Deshaun Watson's trade request could put Taylor in a position to start a handful of games next year. If he does ascend to that role, his rushing production will make him an instant streaming option for QB needy teams.