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NFL free agency: Fantasy football winners and losers

Which moves I love and hate from a fantasy perspective.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Despite all that’s going on in the world, the NFL machine keeps rolling and free agency is dropping plenty of moves that have major fantasy implications for the season ahead. Though there are plenty of big names still unsigned, I’ve run through the deals already done and detailed the ones I like and dislike for the 2020 season.

Winner: The Cowboys keeping Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper

Dak was fantasy gold in 2019, finishing as the QB2 vs an ADP of QB17. Sticking around in big D is the best place for Prescott to continue as an elite fantasy option and the Cowboys re-signing Cooper to a monster deal gives him a major weapon to do just that.

Loser: Austin Hooper landing in Cleveland

Man this could have been so good. There were some great fantasy destinations out there for Hooper, who broke out last season despite missing games for the Falcons. In Cleveland he will be in a battle for targets with the bevy of receiving options, including a healthy David Njoku at the tight end position. New head coach Kevin Stefanski loves his tight ends, but in Minnesota last season, Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith split targets 48 to 45 and that doesn’t gove me any great hope for elite production from Hooper.

Winner: The DeAndre Hopkins/Kyler Murray duo

This isn’t so much for Hopkins himself but to me, this solidifies Kyler Murray as a potential top-5 QB in 2020. Getting an elite receiving option as he looks to grow in year two, Murray will hopefully see the same sophomore bump that Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson had in the last two seasons. Hopkins likely to see a dropoff from the 150 targets he saw last season but should still be a top-10 receiver in 2020.

Loser: The Mike Evans/Chris Godwin duo

The decision has been made and Tom Brady is now a Buccaneer. This leaves me underwhelmed for the Buc’s skill position players as with Jameis Winston last season, we saw wild times where Godwin and Evans both finished as top-15 fantasy receivers. I struggle to think the soon to be 43-year-old Brady is going to help them achieve the same heights in 2020. The Bucs will be a better team with Brady and more likely to challenge for the NFC South, especially as Brady has fewer interceptions in the last FOUR SEASONS COMBINED that Jameis had in 2019. They’ll just be less fun from a fantasy angle.

Winner: Everything the Chargers did

The moves made to shore up their offensive line by trading for Trai Turner and signing Brian Bulaga, plus the re-signing of breakout running back Austin Ekeler and franchise tag of Hunter Henry show the Chargers mean business as they look to topple the Chiefs in the AFC West. Who will lead them at quarterback is the big question, but be it Tyrod Taylor getting another chance or another player in the draft or free agency, they are being set up for fantasy success next season.

Loser: The Texans replacing Hopkins with David Johnson and Randall Cobb

This just feels like a talent downgrade for a Texans team that is led by one of the best players in the NFL in Deshaun Watson. Johnson brings major injury concerns, though he did look much more like old self through the first six weeks of last season, averaging over 20 PPR points per game over that time so could bounce back with good health. The Cobb signing doesn’t move the needle, and he will be fighting for targets with Kenny Stills and the oft-injured Will Fuller.

Winner: Philip Rivers and the Colts’ offense

Rivers has the one thing he missed for years in San Diego/Los Angeles, a bona fide top offensive line in to protect him. I want to see Rivers chucking the ball about to what could be a frisky bunch of pass catchers with T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal and Nyheim Hines catching the ball out of the backfield. This one gets a tick from me as a Philip Rivers renaissance year.

Loser: Stefon Diggs playing with Josh Allen

Love the player, not the fit. Allen retains the concerns about his accuracy as he finished last in completion percentage among all QBs to attempt at least 250 passes last season (out of 31 qualifying passers). Diggs’ route-running is elite so he should get plenty of balls coming his way, but I don’t see him cracking the top-20 receivers in 2020.

Winner: Hayden Hurst traded to the Falcons

I really like this move, especially in deeper/2 tight end leagues. With Austin Hooper moving onto Cleveland, that frees up 88 targets in one of the better passing offenses in the NFL. Hurst caught 30 of 37 targets last season for 305 yards and 2 touchdowns so the likelihood of this numbers shooting up are quite high. A strong buy-low candidate.

Loser: The Teddy Bridgewater led Panthers

Moving on from Cam Newton to sign Teddy Bridgewater to me is a major downer for the likes of D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel’s fantasy value in 2020. Teddy has a career average of just 212 passing yards and 1 touchdown per game. Christian McCaffrey will get his but I don’t expect much else from the Panthers’ offense next season.

Winner: The Titans keeping it together

2020’s surprise package Ryan Tannehill agreed a long-term extension with the Titans in time for Tennessee to slap the franchise tag on the 2019 rushing champion and playoff monster Derrick Henry. These moves alone will see the Titans installed as AFC South favorites and both will carry high fantasy value by staying in the same offense next season. I’ll temper my expectations that they wont reach the same heights again, but both players are much more likely to get close to replicating their 2019 form by staying in Nashville.

Loser(?): Todd Gurley

I’m still mulling this one over but right now I’m not a fan of the move. Those mysterious injury concerns have never been answered and for the Falcons to dive straight in and sign the former Georgia alum feels a little hasty. Time will tell but there was a need with the Falcons allowing Devonta Freeman to leave, the Falcons are gambling on Gurley’s slight improvement down the stretch last season where he scored 6 touchdowns in his last four games.