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Fantasy Impact: Projections for Biggest Signings, Trades During Free Agency

wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster

It's never too early to start thinking about fantasy football, especially for those knee-deep in best ball or dynasty drafts. Here's everything you might have missed from NFL free agency so far, and the impact of each move on fantasy football.

D.J. Moore Traded to Bears

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: The Carolina Panthers traded D.J. Moore and a slew of picks to the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Moore leaves a bad situation, and while he almost certainly gets a quarterback upgrade, we’ve yet to see this offense sustain a viable fantasy wide receiver. Despite Moore’s obvious talents, I don’t think this deal improves his fantasy outlook much.

Jonnu Smith Traded to Falcons

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: The New England Patriots traded Jonnu Smith to the Atlanta Falcons for a 2023 seventh-round pick. This deal reunites Smith with his former tight ends coach and offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. Even if Jonnu gets more involved in Atlanta’s passing offense, the Falcons ran the ball at the second-highest rate in 2022. There doesn’t seem to be much fantasy relevancy here.

Mike White Signs With Dolphins

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: The former New York Jets quarterback inked a deal with his hometown team for two years and $8 million. Mike White is nothing more than a very serviceable streaming option should Tua Tagovailoa get injured again. He’s also a sneaky late-round flier in deeper SuperFlex leagues.

Jakobi Meyers Signs With Raiders

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: Jakobi Meyers agreed to a three-year, $33 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders. The former Patriot joins the team he infamously lost to in December. With Darren Waller out of the picture, Meyers should become the team’s WR2 behind Davante Adams. This also spells potential doom for Hunter Renfrow, who was previously Las Vegas’ go-to option in the slot. He took almost 90 percent of his snaps last season from inside, whereas Meyers saw 77 percent of his snaps from inside.

Darren Waller Traded to Giants

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: The Raiders sent the former fantasy stud packing to the Big Apple for a third-round pick. I love this move for the New York Giants. While Darren Waller could become the Giants’ top pass-catcher, he’ll turn 31 at the start of the season and missed 16 games over the last two seasons. We’ll revisit this deal’s impact when/if New York adds more weapons via free agency and the draft.

Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Re-Sign With Dolphins

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: The Miami Dolphins brought back their leading rushers from the 2022 season, both on two-year deals. This is a great move for Miami, but not so much for fantasy. Once the Dolphins added Jeff Wilson midseason, they rode the hot (and healthy) hand between the two. I expect more of the same in 2023, though the pair individually hold more value in best ball.

Samaje Perine Signs With Broncos

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: Samaje Perine left the Cincinnati Bengals for the Denver Broncos on a two-year, $7.5 million deal. This could have sneaky fantasy implications, especially if Javonte Williams isn’t fully healthy to start the season. In Cincinnati, Perine filled in nicely at times when Joe Mixon missed time. In Denver, I can see him carving out a role either as Williams’ replacement or in a running back committee.

Allen Lazard Signs With Jets

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: Allen Lazard signed a four-year, $44 million deal with the New York Jets. The Jets quietly have a crowded wide receiver room with Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore and Corey Davis. Time will tell if the Jets feel more comfortable throwing the ball, but overall I’d have liked to see Lazard land on a team with more available targets. At best, Lazard becomes Aaron Rodgers’ WR2 in New York. At worst, the Jets don’t toss the rock enough to make Lazard fantasy relevant.

Saints Restructure Michael Thomas’ Contract

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: The New Orleans Saints agreed to a new deal with Michael Thomas for one year and $10 million. Hopefully, we get to see Thomas back and healthy, because the addition of Derek Carr should spell more passes. Still, we don’t know how Thomas will look, especially as the team’s potential WR2 to Chris Olave. Jordan Vanek seems more optimistic than me.

Rashaad Penny Signs With Eagles

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: Rashaad Penny joins the NFC champions on a one-year deal. At first glance, Penny may seem like a Miles Sanders replacement. However, the Philadelphia Eagles reportedly like Kenneth Gainwell enough to deem him the starter. You should draft Penny like a handcuff, not like he’s a bonafide starter. His extensive injury history doesn’t help, either. Penny’s value gets a bump in best ball.

David Montgomery Signs With Lions

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: David Montgomery signed a three-year, $18 million deal with the Chicago Bears’ division rivals. So much for my wishes for Bijan Robinson (scouting report) to the Detroit Lions, huh? Montgomery is arguably an upgrade from Jamaal Williams, who was the Detroit Lions’ primary short-yardage back. I can see Montgomery taking over that role and even stifling some targets from D’Andre Swift. As for Swift, this doesn’t help his fantasy value, either.

JuJu Smith-Schuster Signs With Patriots

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: JuJu Smith-Schuster signed with the New England Patriots on a three-year, $33 million deal. Barring other additions (DeAndre Hopkins? A rookie?), this is a good landing spot for Smith-Schuster. He thrives in the slot, and per The Edge, more than 55 percent of his snaps over the last two seasons have come from inside. Smith-Schuster could become the No. 1 target in the Patriots’ slot-friendly offense.

Miles Sanders Signs With Panthers

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: Miles Sanders joins the Carolina Panthers on a relatively large four-year, $25 million deal. That sum tells me the Panthers plan on making Sanders their primary back. Opportunity rules in fantasy, and Sanders looks slated to get plenty of it. My concern lies in the lack of Sanders' consistent production – he only has one 1,000-yard rushing season under his belt – and a downgrade in his situation despite Carolina's sneaky development of their offensive line. I'm neither in nor totally out on Sanders as of now.

Jamaal Williams Signs With Saints

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: Jamaal Williams signed a three-year deal with the New Orleans Saints. The Saints do already have Alvin Kamara. But last season Kamara had one of his worst seasons, with only two rushing touchdowns. This was a guy who was catching passes and becoming the Saints' goal-line back. That role could go to Williams now. Last season he had 17 rushing touchdowns. I'm not expecting Williams to take over Kamara's job completely, but I am expecting him to be more than just a compliment in their backfield.

Baker Mayfield Signs With Buccaneers

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: Baker Mayfield exchanged his L.A. home to go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a one-year, $8.5 million deal. There’s really not much to like about this, even after Mayfield’s late-season heroics with the Los Angeles Rams. There still isn’t much to suggest Mayfield has fully or even partially established himself as a viable starting quarterback. This move especially hurts the fantasy values of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who became so used to a pass-happy offense with Jameis Winston, then Tom Brady. I’m fading them as well.

Jacoby Brissett Signs With Commanders

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: Jacoby Brissett inked a deal with the Washington Commanders for one year and $10 million. We’ll wait to see who’s actually Washington’s starting quarterback next season, thought I agree with Josh Larky here. Whether it’s Brissett or Sam Howell, the Commanders boast a strong enough offense to boost their starting passer into high-end streaming territory.

Hayden Hurst Signs With Panthers

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: Hayden Hurst signed with the Carolina Panthers on a three-year, $21.7 million deal. Hurst really hasn’t done anything too special on three teams in five seasons, and I doubt that changes in Carolina. I do expect the Panthers’ lackluster arsenal of weapons to change, though. Admittedly, Hurst may be the team’s No. 1 option after one week of free agency. Regardless of his situation, Hurst may be just a guy.

Giants Retain Darius Slayton, Add Parris Campbell

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: The New York Giants brought back Darius Slayton on a 2-year, $12M deal and inked Parris Campbell to a one-year, $3M deal. Slayton was a sneaky fantasy asset down the stretch of last season, while Campbell had a handful of good moments, too. Jordan Vanek appears a bit more bullish on these wide receivers than me since I still believe New York adds another wide receiver either via trade or the draft. If this group somehow holds steady, I’m willing to bump Slayton and Campbell up in value.

Adam Thielen Joins Panthers

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: Adam Thielen signed a three-year, $25M contract with the Carolina Panthers. Good for Carolina for giving themselves an out after Year 2 because I can't imagine the 32-year-old receiver will be of much impact. I also can't imagine the Panthers choose not to add more weapons, especially via the draft. If Thielen enters the season as Carolina's WR1, he'll certainly have plenty of chances to make an impact in fantasy football. Until that time comes, if at all, I don't see Thielen bringing much value to fantasy football teams yet.

Damien Harris Joins Bills

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: Damien Harris signed with the Buffalo Bills for one year and $1.7M. This is a sneaky good addition for all parties. Harris may not see many targets, but he will have a shot to be the team's primary short-yardage back ahead of James Cook and Nyheim Hines. Let's not forget that Harris scored 15 rushing touchdowns in 15 games in 2021. If he stays healthy, don't be surprised if he becomes a weekly RB2 down the stretch of the season.

Elijah Moore Traded to Browns

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: The Cleveland Browns acquired Elijah Moore and a draft choice from the New York Jets for another pick. I lay out my full thoughts in the video below, but I essentially love this move for Moore's fantasy value. He clearly was played out of New York, and with the Jets' recent acquisitions at wide receiver, Moore needed a change of scenery.

DJ Chark Signs With Panthers

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: I explained my opinion in the video, so instead, here are some notes from Jordan Vanek. The Panthers are getting a vertical threat in DJ Chark. 65.7% of his route tree in DET were 6-9 routes, which include crossers, posts, corners, and go’s. Amongst players with 200 of these routes, Chark ranked 21st in yards per route run. Chark and Marshall should be the vertical pieces in this offense with Thielen and Hurst handling anything underneath.

Odell Beckham Jr. Signs With Ravens

Cohen’s Initial Thoughts: The Ravens shipped a boatload of cash to Odell Beckham Jr, who hasn’t consistently played at a high level of football since 2019. There are way too many questions here to convince me that Beckham is worth a WR1-3 spot on your fantasy team. Can he stay healthy? Who will be Baltimore’s quarterback? Will they add another wide receiver? What will Todd Monken’s offense look like? However, it would be naive to ignore the potential upside if Beckham stays healthy and if Lamar Jackson consistently gets Beckham the ball. You should be content snagging Beckham as a top backup wide receiver on your fantasy team. That’s when the reward outweighs the risk.