The Patriots have been crowned as Super Bowl 53 champions, the NFL Combine is over and the page has been officially turned to the 2019-2020 NFL season.
After a week in Indianapolis, the chatter is all about the NFL draft and which rookie prospects can make an instant impact for their team.
There’s still plenty of time for that talk to take place, but there’s another key piece to the offseason that’s coming up quickly; NFL free agency.
Some years there’s not the talent available in free agency to make fantasy owners very excited, but this year is a little different as some high-profile names are hitting the market. Players like Le’Veon Bell, Tevin Coleman, Teddy Bridgewater and many more…
In this article, we’re going to take a look at 5 names you need to pay attention to in NFL free agency and where they end up…it could end up paying off big for you in fantasy football.
1. John Brown, WR
John “Smokey” Brown is one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL.
If you put on tape or even highlights on Youtube, you’ll see him running crisp routes and making contested catches down the field. The only issue for him has been his health and actually staying on the field…
Brown has dealt with sickle cell trait over the course of his career, which led to him missing significant time when he was with the Arizona Cardinals. Because of this, the Cardinals let him walk in free agency and he was free to sign with any team he wanted.
That’s when the Baltimore Ravens came knocking with a serious need at wide receiver. They offered him a multi-year contract, but he turned it down and instead bet on himself and signed a one year deal.
With Joe Flacco at quarterback at the beginning of the season, Brown looked like his old self again and was turning in some solid fantasy performances. He especially excelled in the deep passing game and was constantly making tough catches in tight coverage.
However, the Ravens made a commitment to their first round rookie quarterback, Lamar Jackson, and Brown’s fantasy production fell off a cliff. All in part due to the fact that the Ravens shifted philosophies on offense and were now a run-first team.
John Brown (2018): 1559 air yards (8th), 16.1 adot
with Joe Flacco (wk 1-9): 1160 air yards (3rd), 17.3 adot
with Lamar Jackson (wk 11-17): 399 air yards (47th), 13.3 adot
— Joe Paeno (@Paeno) January 25, 2019
This left very few targets for Brown at all, let alone down the field where he was dominating earlier that season.
Now, Brown is a free agent and can sign with any team that views him as a good fit.
He’s shown that his health is no longer a concern, the talent is still there and he can make the contested catches that help young quarterbacks succeed.
Joe Flacco ➡️ John Brown!pic.twitter.com/yyWscHr4zy
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 14, 2018
Brown is going to end up in a starting role somewhere next season that could lead to some extreme production. Could that be in New York with the Jets and Sam Darnold? Or could T.Y Hilton find a new partner in tearing up AFC South defenses?
Prediction: Brown signs a 3 year deal with the Indianapolis Colts.
2. Mark Ingram, RB
Mark Ingram has been a polarizing fantasy player for many for years. It seems that you either liked him or you stayed as far away from him as you could…but over the past few seasons, Ingram has shown that he can be a dominant fantasy running back.
With the addition of Alvin Kamara to that backfield, we’ve seen Ingram have a lighter workload but higher efficiency because of it. Even though he’s 29 years old, he hasn’t had the amount of carries that might cause you to think he’s wearing down.
It appears that Ingram wants to stay in New Orleans (who wouldn’t?) but this may not end up happening for a couple reasons. The first is Ingram’s salary demands. He may end up asking for more than what the Saints may want to commit to a 29 year old running back with exceptional talent coming up through the draft each year. The second is that the Saints are close to being in some salary cap trouble and have some things they need to figure out post-Drew Brees.
Ingram excels in three main areas; picking up tough yards, receiving and pass-blocking.
Mark Ingram offers you his protection.
— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) February 5, 2019
All three of these characteristics are things Bruce Arians looks for in a running back and Tampa Bay seems like a logical fit for him.
I expect the Saints to look to the draft to find a back who will serve as a complimentary piece to Kamara, who should take on the lion’s share of the workload moving forward. A perfect fit in my opinion would be Benny Snell out of Kentucky…
For the Buccaneers, Peyton Barber is a restricted free agent and Ronald Jones appears to be a bust already. Arians isn’t in this for the long haul at his age. He wants to win right away and he probably can with the pieces on that offense. If he brings in an experienced veteran with a lot of tread left on the tires, he won’t have to rely on a rookie to be the centerpiece of his offense.
Ingram makes too much sense in Tampa Bay for this not to happen. He’d instantly shoot up as one of the most valuable running backs in fantasy if this were the case.
Prediction: Ingram signs a 3 year deal in Tampa Bay.
3. Golden Tate, WR
Golden Tate has been one of the most reliable fantasy wide receivers in recent history. His time with the Lions and Matthew Stafford will be remembered for constant 90+ catch seasons and being a valuable PPR asset.
He was moved at the trade deadline to Philadelphia and is now a UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent). He can now sign with any team that would appreciate what he brings to the table; a sure-handed slot receiver who can consistently help move the chains.
Golden Tate stays taunting defenders when he scores 💀
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 30, 2018
Tate is still only 29 years old, so there’s still a place for him in the NFL. Several teams will be interested in bringing in a player of his character and experience, but it comes down to which team does he want to go to?
At 29, he’s most likely going to want to go to a contender and go after a Super Bowl. One of those teams that could compete next year and has an opening at slot receiver is the Green Bay Packers.
Randall Cobb is set to move on in free agency and Tate could slide right in and face off against the team that shipped him off twice a year.
If this is the landing spot for Tate, he immediately becomes a buy in fantasy football. Any receiver that’s attached to Aaron Rodgers has value in fantasy football and Tate would be no exception.
Prediction: Tate signs a 4 year deal with the Green Bay Packers
4. Nick Foles, QB
Nick Foles will always be remembered for carrying the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl in 2017. There’s just something about his leadership and aggressive play that comes out when it’s playoff time.
He’s set to become a free agent and has the opportunity to cash in on his Super Bowl MVP prestige.
Eagles say ’thank you' to Nick Foles ✊
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 27, 2019
There’s only a few quarterback openings in the NFL as of right now though, so Foles’ choices are going to be limited. He’ll need to go to a place that is moving on from a former quarterback and is not looking to fill the opening from this year’s draft class.
The best fit for Foles is with his former OC in Jacksonville. John Defilippo has now been brought on as the Offensive Coordinator and has a lot of familiarity with Foles and how he prefers to operate an offense.
Foles would have a plethora of weapons at his disposal in Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, D.J. Chark, Leonard Fournette, etc. While the majority of those weapons are “unproven” there’s no denying the talent that exists there.
From a fantasy perspective, this would elevate the potential of all these players over what they’ve had recently in Blake Bortles. Foles has shown a connection with big wide receivers in the past and Chark and Cole could be the biggest beneficiaries.
Prediction: Foles signs a 3 year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars
5. Kevin White, WR
I know. Gross.
Bears fans aren’t exactly enamored with the former #7 overall pick in 2015 that amassed only 25 receptions in his 4 years with the team.
However, he’s set to become an Unrestricted Free Agent which means that he could walk into an opportunity greater than the one he was previously in.
White proved that he could stay healthy last season (albeit in limited snaps) and that was one of the biggest questions with him. He’s still young at only 26 years old and would be a cheap option on the free agent market for a team willing to work with him and develop him.
Nothing seems more of a perfect landing spot for him than the New England Patriots.
This was the moment where Bill Belichick decided that he was gonna sign @mrkevinwhite and turn him into a 1,000+ yard receiver next season. #DynastyFootball #FantasyFootball #FantasySleepers pic.twitter.com/ZlmiX7uPZK
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) February 12, 2019
The Patriots will have a need at wide receiver this upcoming season. Josh Gordon is no guarantee to play football ever again, Chris Hogan is a free agent, Julian Edelman is a slot receiver only and Phillip Dorsett is a free agent as well.
The Patriots have a long track record of buying bargain wide receivers and turning them into valuable contributors. And they buy into the Round 1 pedigree due to the existing talent.
White in New England makes a lot of sense. It will be a “prove it” kind of deal for White, but it could pay off big for both sides. Let’s not forget the raw talent that White had coming out of West Virginia.
Simply a fresh start for him could be all it takes for it to click.
Prediction: White signs a 1 year deal with the New England Patriots