Happy NFL New Year! The 2018 free agency period officially begins on Wednesday, March 14 at 4 p.m. ET. In the meantime, NFL teams are tampering with players like they were a warehouse full of childproof caps. Except legally in this case. We're keeping up with all of the notable fantasy movements right here on this page. Keep checking back here as the free agent frenzy frenzies along.
Big name signings/trades
And there it is.
The big domino that everyone was waiting for in this free agent season has tipped.
As speculated for the past couple of weeks, the big fish* (non-Drew Brees division) in the quarterback market is taking his act to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. This puts Cousins in the midst of a talented offense that features Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph among its pass-catchers while a healthy Dalvin Cook is expected to return to the backfield. This can only be an upgrade for a player who has been a top 10 fantasy quarterback in each of the past three seasons. *-- Marcas Grant
For a few hours on Monday, there was hysteria in the streets of the Big Easy. Drew Brees had reached free agency! Other teams could make offers! Could Brees play elsewhere? It would be akin to Café du Monde switching to instant coffee. Alas, all is right with the world. Brees and the Saints agreed on a two-year, $50 million deal. I'd write a whole lot of analysis about this but y'all know how the Saints offense works by now. -- MG
This won't be the last time you'll see the Browns on this list. They're trying to build a monster along the southern shore of Lake Erie and started it by adding one of the top receivers on the market -- even if it was in a roundabout way. After the Dolphins placed the franchise tag on Jarvis Landry, the team then traded him to Cleveland for a pair of draft picks.
The move only increases speculation about what the Browns will do with the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft. Do they add running back Saquon Barkley to go along with an increasingly talented cast of skill position players? Or will the Browns make yet another attempt at drafting a franchise quarterback? There's also still a chance that Cleveland tries to find a bridge QB option through free agency. Mysteries abound in northeast Ohio. -- MG
OK, so maybe not that many mysteries. Not long after adding Landry to their wide receiver corps, Cleveland sent the No. 65 overall pick to Buffalo in exchange for Tyrod Taylor. That would seem to answer the question of who will be the favorite for the Week 1 starting job under center, though it still doesn't preclude the Browns from taking a quarterback at the top of the draft.
From a fantasy perspective, things are looking up in Cleveland. After somehow maintaining fantasy relevance despite a third-tier group of receivers, Taylor now has some weapons in Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman and David Njoku. Combine that with Duke Johnson (Saquon Barkley?) in the backfield and there could be a number of Browns players showing up in fantasy drafts this season.--MG
Tampa Bay locked up two of Jameis Winston's favorite pass-catchers in town. Mike Evans agreed to a five-year, $82.5 million deal just as he was heading into the option year of his rookie contract. Meanwhile, the Bucs locked in tight end Cameron Brate with a six-year, $41 million offer.
The Bucs passing game was uneven in 2017, to say the least, though it did account for the fourth-most passing yards in the NFL. The next step for Tampa will be keeping Jameis Winston healthy and away from turnovers. For some reason, the latter goal seems more difficult than the former. Alas, we remain hopeful for 2018. -- MG
The Packers finally have the tight end they've coveted for so long. Again. For a third time. Jared Cook and Martellus Bennett never provided the on-field (or fantasy) production many expected, which means it's Jimmy Graham's turn to be the new hotness in the Green Bay passing attack. Things never quite worked out for Graham in Seattle but if he has anything left in the tank, this could be the fit that we all want it to be. Also, can we take a second to recognize that Graham is going to play with Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers in his career? Not too shabby. -- MG
The Jaguars allowed receiver Allen Robinson to test the free agent market and as such, Robinson will no longer be a Jaguar. The fifth-year wideout is expected to sign a three-year, $45 million offer with the Chicago Bears. Robinson is two seasons removed from his breakout campaign and is coming off a 2017 season in which he missed nearly the entire season with a torn ACL. Chicago (and fantasy managers) hope Robinson can re-gain his 2015 form and help Mitchell Trubisky's development. The upside is that A-Rob will be the top target in the offense. The question remains just how many passing targets that will turn into. -- MG
After starring at Ohio State, Carlos Hyde is returning to the Buckeye State to continue is professional career with the Browns. Chalk it up as one more move in a busy offseason in Cleveland. How Hyde and Duke Johnson will co-exist in the same backfield as players with similar skill sets remains to be seen. Also ... what does this mean for how the Browns spend their first round draft picks? There are now so many new pieces in Cleveland that it's getting hard to see exactly how things might work until we've passed the draft. Regardless, things are looking a lot better, fantasy-wise, than they did a year ago. -- MG
No surprise that Jordy Nelson wasn't unemployed for long. Just a couple of days after being released by the Packers, Nelson found a new home in Oakland after agreeing to a two-year contract with the Raiders. It's a somewhat curious move considering the recent trajectory of both receivers. If Nelson is healthy and reverts to his 2016 form, things should work out. In the meantime, Oakland sails ahead without Michael Crabtree who has undoubtedly been the Raiders' best receiver the past two years. It is a calculated risk on an older player who many believe has lost a step or two. Nelson's name value should buoy his draft value but it's okay to be skeptical about whether his production will match. -- MG
The arrival of Jordy Nelson in Oakland pushed Michael Crabtree out of Silver and Black. No matter, Crabtree headed east and has found a new home in Baltimore where he'll immediately become Joe Flacco's top target. He's a much-needed addition in an offense devoid of any real playmaking receivers. At best Crabtree will be a WR2 this season though he more likely could end up in the high WR3 range. -- MG
The Arizona Cardinals lost a veteran, oft-injured, former Heisman-winning No. 1 overall draft pick when Carson Palmer retired. They replaced him with a veteran, oft-injured, former Heisman-winning No. 1 overall draft pick in Sam Bradford. The two sides came to an agreement on a one-year, $20 million offer. Even with the signing, the Redbirds are expected to target a quarterback in the upcoming draft. In reality, the success of this signing will depend upon whether the Cardinals have a fully operational David Johnson, can shore up a leaky offensive line, and find some productive wide receivers not named Larry Fitzgerald. Approach most Cards with caution in fantasy drafts. -- MG
When you have a young, strong-armed quarterback with a penchant for throwing the long ball, what do you do? You get him some more speedy receivers to throw to. That's what. The Chiefs are doing just that by offering Sammy Watkins a three-year deal worth $48 million. Watkins stayed relatively healthy in 2017, playing in 15 games for the Rams, though his 593 receiving yards were disappointing in the context of playing in one of the NFL's more explosive offenses. After four generally underwhelming NFL seasons, this could be a final stop for Watkins. The potential is there for him to succeed in one of the NFL's more creative offenses, though he'll certainly have to compete with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill for targets. This could be a Rams redo for Watkins. -- MG
Once upon a time, the Denver Broncos were the favorites to sign Kirk Cousins. So much for that. The consolation prize now appears to be Case Keenum. It's a step down in the prestige department, "settling" for the Vikings former No. 3 option instead of the market's most-talked-about signal-caller. In reality, Denver is getting an efficient quarterback coming off the best season of his career at a steep discount. Oh, and Keenum is only six months older than Cousins. After a couple of seasons of subpar quarterback play, Denver hopes Keenum can turn things around. For fantasy enthusiasts, it's a hope that the quarterback can inject some life back into Demaryius Thomas and/or Emmanuel Sanders. -- MG
Earlier this offseason, Washington signaled its intentions at quarterback by trading for Alex Smith. Now they've added another piece for him to throw to by agreeing to a five-year, $40 million deal with former Seahawks receiver Paul Richardson. After three underwhelming and injury-plagued seasons in Seattle, Richardson started to pay off on some of his promise in 2017 with 703 receiving yards and six touchdowns. If the Alex Smith we saw last season in Kansas City is the same Alex Smith that arrives in D.C., Richardson has plenty of upside as a deep threat with outstanding athletic ability and plus hands. Teaming him with Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, and Jordan Reed could create quite a pass-catching corps. -- MG
Finally we have running back news! After being released by Carolina at the end of February, Jonathan Stewart is reuniting with former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman with the New York Giants. Definitely on the back nine of his career, Stewart won't be the workhorse back he was during the latter portion of his tenure in Carolina but could be a nice secondary piece for a team desperately in need of running backs -- though he's not likely to add much fantasy value. Especially if the Giants draft Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick. -- MG
The Dolphins bring in former Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson and well-known Patriot Danny Amendola to chip in at the slot receiver position. For a variety of reasons, Miami wasn't thrilled with the idea of paying the $16-million price tag to hold Landry on the franchise tag in 2018. The combined deals of Wilson and Amendola cost less than that on a per year basis. If just Wilson was here taking Jarvis Landry's spots, he'd be an excellent sleeper in an offense that fielded one of the most productive slot receivers in the NFL the last few years. However, with both of these players in tow, fantasy owners should leave Wilson and Amendola to the late rounds for now and hope some clarity arrives later in the offseason. -- Matt Harmon
This makes all the sense in the world. Josh McCown was quietly great for the Jets last year, an offense that most everyone assumed would be a mess heading into 2017. McCown was an excellent deep passer along with a breakout star in Robby Anderson and kept the offense on schedule to the point that Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jermaine Kearse and the running backs were playable at different points of the year. The Jets offense needs an injection of life into the passing game weapons, especially with Anderson in danger of facing a suspension after another arrest. But bringing McCown back, even if he's not a full-season starter, keeps this offense fantasy viable. -- MH
Matt Forte retired this offseason and multiple Jets' brain trusts have shown they don't want to hand over full-time duties to Bilal Powell. So New York made a move to bring more competition into their backfield by signing former Browns banger Isaiah Crowell to a three-year deal. Crowell didn't deliver on the hope many held for him coming into last season. He doesn't deserve all the blame playing on a team that can never stay on script amid constant losing, but Crowell has never quite done much to demand extra work. Crowell will likely team with Powell to form a confounding committee as both are capable early down runners and solid, but not great, pass-catchers. Neither will offer much fantasy sizzle. -- MH
The Man Who Slayed Belitricks will have a new address in 2018. Dion Lewis is heading south to join the Tennessee Titans on a four-year, $20 million deal. While Lewis was never considered among the upper echelon of NFL (or fantasy) backs, he was a large part of what made New England's offense go. Now he'll take his dual-threat skills to Nashville where he'll share the backfield with Derrick Henry (it's a sad day for the #FreeDerrickHenry movement). It will be interesting to see how the distribution of labor shakes out in the new offense but there's certainly a chance for Lewis to be an impactful player on the field as well as statistically. -- MG
The Jags let Allen Robinson walk in free agency and he walked all the way to Chicago to join the Bears. In his stead, Jacksonville added Donte Moncrief to a one-year "prove it" deal for $9.6 million while bringing Marqise Lee back for four years and $38 million. It creates an interesting receiver group when you add Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole -- two young players whom the Jaguars front office definitely love. But there's still the issue of a quarterback that doesn't quite have his coaching staff's full trust while they'd rather hand the ball to Leonard Fournette as many times as possible. This is going to be a confusing fantasy group and one that might not be worth the headache. -- MG
You have to love this move from a fantasy perspective. San Francisco had just Matt Brieda and Joe Williams slated to lead their 2018 backfield, so a move was needed. Jerick McKinnon has seemingly proved over multiple chances in Minnesota he's not cut out to be a lead back, but he's one of the better pass-catching assets at the position. Kyle Shanahan may have visions of using McKinnon in a similar fashion to how he deployed Tevin Coleman in 2016. For fantasy drafters who bypass running backs early in favor of wide receivers, McKinnon could make for an exciting mid-round value. -- MH
The Ravens officially released Jeremy Maclin and acquired these two names to help fill a major void on the depth chart. Bringing in John Brown on a one-year, $5-million deal makes all the sense in the world. He has the vertical element this team likes in their wideouts and showed major potential in his 1,000-yard 2015 season before injuries derail his career. Grant's deal is far more puzzling, as he got $14-million guaranteed coming off just 573 yards last year, a career-high. Neither player is on the fantasy radar at this time, but keep an eye on Brown's health this offseason. -- MH
Your favorite fantasy writer's favorite fantasy back is returning to everyone's least favorite place for running backs. Rex Burkhead and the Patriots agreed on a three-year deal. Burkhead's first season wasn't what many had hoped, though injuries played a part is some of the statistical disappointment. The upside is that he had very obviously carved out a role in the offense and was a solid contributor when healthy. The bigger upside is that Dion Lewis is now in Tennessee, potentially opening up more opportunities for Burkhead. If he can stay healthy in 2018, Burkhead has nice RB2 appeal. -- MG
It appears that the Bills have found their new quarterback. After sending Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland, Buffalo agreed to a deal with former Bengals backup AJ McCarron. Considering all of the interest Browns head coach Hue Jackson has had in McCarron for the last year, it's a little strange to see him end up on the other side of Lake Erie. The good news is that McCarron will be the starter, barring some unforeseen circumstances. The bad news is that his group of pass-catchers leaves a lot to be desired. Outside of two-QB leagues, there's no reason to think McCarron will be drafted. -- MG
Doug Martin is going from one group of pirates to another. The veteran running back, who was released by the Buccaneers in February, has been signed by the Raiders in March. To call Martin inconsistent would do an injustice to the word. In four of his six NFL seasons, Martin has failed to reach 500 rushing yards. But those other two seasons ... oh boy! The problem is that we seem to have lost THAT Doug Martin and he doesn't appear to be coming back anytime soon. Especially if he's sharing a backfield with Marshawn Lynch and whatever other running backs the Raiders head into training camp with. Martin won't be a popular fantasy option this season. -- MG
Things are the same as they ever were for Tyler Eifert's playing situation in 2018. The Bengals tight end will remain the Bengals tight end after the two sides agreed on a one-year deal. No one has ever questioned Eifert's ability and when healthy, his production has spoken for itself. The problem has been an inability to stay healthy. In five seasons, Eifert has played 13 or more games just twice. Over the past two years, he's played in just 10 of a possible 32 games -- including just two in 2017. In a fantasy world that is bereft of quality tight ends, a healthy season from Eifert would be a welcome thing. However at this point, history will play a large factor in his draft value. -- MG
The Julius Thomas experiment didn't work and Marcedes Lewis is few people's idea of a game-changing, pass-catching tight end. Enter Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The veteran tight end has had his struggles both on and off the field in his career but is coming off his best season as a professional. Overall, the Jags have put together an ... interesting pass-catching group. Expecting big things out of ASJ in this offense is more than hopeful. -- MG