The NFL Free Agency Frenzy has arrived and not a moment too soon! Just as we all are starting to contemplate life without sports, the NFL roars back into our lives. So let us cue up some NFL Free Agency Fantasy Speculation.
Tom Brady sinks his career with Buccaneers
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 17, 2020
All anyone can really talk about right now is how Tom Brady was going to make a team very happy by arriving in town and elevating them to a new level. Spoilers, it is all a lie. Brady has not been an elite passing option over these last two years and continues to look more and more mortal. As he enters this season he will celebrate his 43rd birthday and will be standing behind a Tampa line that gave up 47 sacks last year. Brady has not been sacked more than 40 times since 2001. No matter how quick of a release he is, no matter how quickly he makes his reads, he is going to get hit.
Everyone will fawn over Brady in Bruce Arians’ high-risk shot-taking offense, but Brady simply does not have the arm to push the ball downfield. Last year Brady was 23rd last year in air yards per attempt, Winston was 2nd. Brady most likely will see fewer balls dropped targeting Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but both of them are better utilized on deeper routes. Both Godwin and Evans will take hits in value, while Godwin may remain in the WR1 category, Evans will slide down into the WR2 or even WR3 territory. Brady was barely QB12 last season and will finish below QB20 next year and be unstartable by the end of the year.
DeAndre Hopkins flies with Cardinals
— NFL (@NFL) March 16, 2020
Kyler Murray truthers rejoice! The Air Raid will be fully unleashed now that Kingsbury has a dominant number one receiver to turn loose on the league. Last season the Cardinals threw the ball 60.4% of the time and that was with guys like Damiere Byrd, Pharoh Cooper, and KeeSean Johnson combining for a 22.8% target share. Of which they caught an okay 64.4% for the season.
Hopkins meanwhile hauled in 70% of his passes on the season, and should also free up coverages on Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald. Kirk and Fitzgerald may see some targets go to Hopkins, but both will remain solid fantasy options this year. Kirk and Fitz both figure to be in the WR3 category all season with high upside potential. Kyler will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Hopkins’ arrival as that takes him up to QB06 in preseason rankings. Hopkins meanwhile will make a push to be WR01 and potentially Pick 1.01 in a pass-happy Air Raid offense.
Stefon Diggs leads the charge with the Bills
Breaking: The Bills are trading a 1st-round pick, a 5th-round pick, a 6th-round pick and a 2021 4th-round pick for Vikings WR Stefon Diggs and a 2020 7th-round pick, source tells @AdamSchefter. pic.twitter.com/bvhmPs5Yg4
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 17, 2020
Calling it now, hide yo tables, hide yo beer, and hide yo wings. With the arrival of Diggs the Bills now have what they lacked for much of last year, a contested-catch receiver who makes big plays. John Brown and Cole Beasley both enjoyed top 30 receiver seasons, and Diggs will certainly provide upside in the passing game Buffalo was lacking all season.
Right off the bat, we may see the Bills trust Josh Allen and his cannon of an arm more. Allen loves to throw deep but struggled without a consistent deep-threat last year. On passes that traveled 20+ yards, Diggs ranked 1st in catch rate, yards per catch, and touchdowns. Look for Allen to be at least QB05 next season, while Brown and Beasley will take steps back, they should remain at least WR3s. Diggs will improve from his status as WR18, he will be at least WR15 and could climb into the top ten by the end of the season.
Teddy Bridgewater might roar with Panthers
Well Cam, it was fun while it lasted. This is not a move a team makes if they intend to stick with Cam Newton. Bridgewater finished last season as QB32 despite only starting five games. In those five games, he posted respectable numbers. If he had continued on that pace he would have finished as QB13, assuming he never ran for a touchdown or rediscovered his running ability.
Scheme fit for #Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater in OC Joe Brady’s system…
• Rhythm & timing throws
• Leveled routes, spacing
• PA = Flood, Post-Over/Cross
• Game planned verticals (see below)
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) March 18, 2020
In Carolina, look for Joe Brady to find ways to unleash Bridgewater like he unleashed Joe Burrow. Curtis Samuel will find himself in the WR15 area, and DJ Moore may climb into WR2 territory as well. Christian McCaffrey should not be negatively impacted by Bridgewater and may even be helped if he rediscovers his willingness to run. Bridgewater looks like he has the opportunity to finish as a top-twelve quarterback this year, but it could also all flame out brilliantly if he struggles as teams gain more film on him.
Austin Hooper fizzles out with Browns
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 16, 2020
The Free Agency Frenzy started with Austin Hooper, but Browns fans should not look for last year’s TE07 to put up prolific numbers. This is a crowded pass-catching group with Odell and Jarvis Landry dominating the top of the heap and everyone else trying to snap up the scraps. Despite all the chaos, football is still only played with one football. That means Baker Mayfield will have to spread the ball between Odell, Landry, Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb, Austin Hooper, and potentially David Njoku.
Hooper was a solid performer last year with 75/787/6, but all of those numbers will go down as he joins a crowded, run-oriented team. With both Hunt and Chubb in the fold, Mayfield will not be asked to throw the ball as often as Matt Ryan did. Unless the Browns remain active in NFL Free Agency and draft, the offensive line will continue to struggle. While Hooper may still finish as a TE1, he will not be a top-six tight end like he was for most of last year.