NFL free agency’s fantasy impact: Hopkins’ value down in Arizona?

The guys at Follow The Money discuss if Nick Foles can make a big impact on the Chicago Bears.

NFL signings, releases and trades have been happening at a furious pace this past week with loads of fantasy football implications for the 2020 season.

Below is Part 2 of our two-part look at the impact free agency is having on fantasy football.

DeAndre Hopkins traded to the Arizona Cardinals

How about the fleecing of the Houston Texans by the Cardinals to steal away DeAndre Hopkins, a top-six fantasy football wide receiver in any type of league?

Hopkins’ averaged over 100 catches and 1,300 yards in the past three seasons in Houston, but this move feels like a better real-life than fantasy move. His new quarterback, Kyler Murray, is entering Year 2, which is notoriously tough for QBs – nevermind for one who’s generously listed at five-10 and questions about durability loom large.

Don’t be surprised to see a downturn in Hopkins’ stat line that moves him to more of a back-end top-10 receiver in PPR and into the teens when it comes to standard. The 2013 first-round pick will still be a solid fantasy choice, but I’d advise not to reach as high for him as you would have in seasons past.

David Johnson traded to the Houston Texans

Although this trade may go down as one of the most lopsided in NFL history, I actually like it when it comes to David Johnson. This transaction firmly plants D.J. in a strong RB2 fantasy role. Think about it: he’s got fresh legs and a chip on his shoulder with everyone writing him off as being finished.

If the Northern Iowa alum can stay healthy, then Deshaun Watson will have the highest quality running back of his career. Johnson can handle a 250 carry-plus workload, rush for significant yardage, while scoring touchdowns and being a true dual threat as a pass-catcher.

If Houston doesn’t effectively replace Hopkins (that’s going to be tough), then the former Cardinal is going to be relied on as a safety-net playmaker who can remain on the field for every down. Sign me up for Johnson as a PPR secondary running back.

Melvin Gordon signed by the Denver Broncos

Gordon stays in the AFC West, shifting over to Denver from the Los Aneles Chargers in what is a confusing signing to me. The Broncos already have a crowded backfield with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman.

Lindsay rushed for over 1,000 once again in his sophomore campaign along with 35 receptions, while Freeman chimed in four touchdowns in change-of-pace duty.

Whether one of the two original running backs stays or goes, it still leaves a three-headed monster committee. This is setting up as poison for fantasy owners who need to downgrade all three running backs because of the unpredictable usage.

Nick Foles traded to the Chicago Bears

A one-and-done in Jacksonville, Foles never got a chance to find any rhythm after that Week 1 injury. It will be interesting to see how this quarterback competition goes in Chicago against incumbent Mitch Trubisky, especially with it looking like off-season team programs will be cut short.

From a year-long fantasy football perspective, Foles hasn’t been anything of note since 2013 and has never played more than 13 games in a season. I’m fading on both Bears QBs.

Teddy Bridgewater signs with the Carolina Panthers

After a catastrophic knee injury derailed his young career, Bridgewater was looking for a chance to prove himself. That finally came over a six-game period when he replaced Drew Brees in New Orleans after a broken thumb sidelined the franchise quarterback.

Once Teddy hit his stride, he was actually ranked eighth amongst fantasy QBs from Weeks 5 to 7. A small sample size, yes, but he threw seven touchdowns to just one interception and averaged 20.6 fantasy points. Likely better suited for a two-QB league, at the very least Bridgewater could be an excellent bye-week pickup.

The switch over from Cam Newton is great news for Christian McCaffrey owners. No more goal-line TD vultures from Cam, and Teddy will certainly lean on him for those quick passes out of the backfield.

Austin Hooper signs with the Cleveland Browns

Cleveland secured the hottest tight end on the market with a four-year, $44-million deal in Austin Hooper. Despite missing three games with an MCL sprain, the 25-year-old hauled in 75 receptions and six touchdowns for 787 yards, and was seventh amongst all fantasy tight ends.

The reason this signing should have fantasy owners salivating is because of the new Browns head coach’s system. Kevin Stefanski runs the Gary Kubiak/Kyle Shanahan zone-read offence that works best when utilizing a pair of tight ends. Hooper joins David Njoku in a formidable combination with the new kid having the advantage because of Njoku’s drop issues.

The tight end will be targeted often, and I’m betting that Hooper becomes an early favourite of Baker Mayfield. Look to snag him at the top of that second wave once the likes of Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews and Zach Ertz get drafted.

Ryan Tannehill re-signed with the Tennessee Titans

Last year at this time, Tannehill was viewed as a failed first-round quarterback cast off from the Dolphins looking for a place to hang on. In 2020, he re-ups with the Titans on a four-year, $118-million extension.

Life comes at you fast in the NFL (Just ask Marcus Mariota).

Once Tannehill took over from the sputtering Mariota, he was the fourth-best fantasy football quarterback from Weeks 6 to 16. He ran in a quartet of touchdowns to go along with the 22 through the air, which of course is a bonus for some sneaky fantasy points on the ground.

I’m really liking Tannehill as a late-round fantasy QB selection who can quietly creep in as a top-12 starter like Dak Prescott did in 2019. Also, don’t be concerned with the Titans’ super-run heavy attack in the playoffs, that’s not sustainable during a season and Tannehill’s involvement will be just fine. Usually, the Texas A&M alum delivers a strong mid-60s completion percentage and doesn’t turn the ball over a lot.

If your strategy is to draft a quarterback late, then Tannehill could be an excellent option.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) throws a pass during the second half against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Denver. (Jack Dempsey/AP)

Derrick Henry tagged by the Tennessee Titans

The human bulldozer known as Derrick Henry was a dominant force throughout the 2019 campaign and playoffs. He rumbled for a terrific 5.1 yards per carry, totalled 1,540 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns. Henry’s value remains highest in standard-league formats, where he finished fourth.

At six-foot-three and 247 pounds, this house with feet has logged a ton of miles over the past calendar year. My fear is Henry’s violent style of seeking out contact and steamrolling through defenders will catch up with him. It’s not a reason to avoid him, especially with true bell-cow scarcity around the NFL. Keep it in mind though, and maybe treat Henry more as a back end RB1.

Philip Rivers signed with the Indianapolis Colts

Father time slapped Philip Rivers in the mouth last season and there are real concerns about whether he is finished. The 4,000-plus passing yardage remained, but the 23-to-20 TD/INT ratio was gross and screamed that he should’ve followed Eli Manning into retirement.

However, Rivers finds himself behind an elite offensive line in Indianapolis and a chance at redemption. I’m not comfortable relying on the long-time Charger as my starter and, as of right now, I’d be wary in two-QB leagues as well. If the Colts add some more wide receiver depth then I might consider grabbing him off of waivers, stashing him on my bench, and waiting to see if any magic happens.

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