👀 Geno Watch and NFC East Team Needs

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Happy Daytona 500 weekend to all who celebrate!

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by CTRL:

  • Geno Smith gets paid and stays in Seattle … for now

  • The Bears are already making some big moves

  • NFC East Team Needs: What is going on in the Eagles backfield?

  • It’s 2/16. Take it away, Ian Hartitz…

The biggest fantasy-relevant news from Thursday surrounded the Seahawks’ decision to retain QB Geno Smith, making him a rich(er) man.

While this is certainly good news for Smith’s chances of once again starting under center in Seattle next season, Schefter’s follow-up tweet was interesting:

“The Seahawks believed that, in today’s market, with salaries soaring for starting quarterbacks, the right decision was to pay the money. Now Geno Smith will represent a value to them — or any other team that decides to reach out to see if it can acquire Smith via trade.”

Price point aside: Geno certainly has played some great football over the past two seasons.

  • 2022: +0.086 EPA per play (14th), +5.7% CPOE (1st), 7.5 YPA (11th)

  • 2023: +0.082 EPA per play (14th), +2.4% CPOE (11th), 7.3 YPA (15th)

Of course, the performance did drop off just a bit in 2023, and it's not exactly a given that Smith (34 in October) is only going to get better, especially if forced to play in a lesser offensive environment without as many talented WRs to throw the football to.

The best fit for Smith is probably still in Seattle alongside his talented pass-catchers and in a new scheme that looks poised to air the ball out.

But if not? The top three potential trade partners are who: 1.) Badly need a QB, 2.) Don’t have a top-three overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and 3.) Offer enough offensive weapons to make you like the potential marriage:

  • Raiders: Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers are a rock-solid WR duo, and how about those Brandon Aiyuk rumblings!

  • Falcons: Bijan Robinson, Drake London, Kyle Pitts and no Arthur Smith? Sounds like a dream come true for any QB.

  • Steelers: Head coach Mike Tomlin is apparently a “big fan” of Justin Fields and offers an offense filled with talented RBs, WRs and TEs. Of course, total pass attempts for whoever winds up under center might be limited under the direction of the aforementioned Mr. Smith.

The Titans, Giants and Broncos (depending on the still-developing Russell Wilson situation) could also feasibly be in the mix. New jobs also have the potential to open up in Tampa Bay and Minnesota, depending on what Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield do in free agency.

It might be a few months until the dust fully settles on this offseason’s QB carrousel, but make no mistake about it: Moves are going to be made — and we are excited about it.

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Around the Watercooler (August 2022)

📺 Who are the best free agent RBs? Let’s rank ‘em!

🙏 Prayers out to everyone impacted at the Chiefs’ victory parade. The team’s statement.

🏆 Fantasy Life won some fantasy awards! Great day to be great.

🚀 A 2023 MVP candidate could get…better? QBs primed for positive or negative regression.

📊 Do older RBs really fall off in fantasy land? Cool thread from Dwain.

🥳 NCAA Football 25 is really happening. Please don’t be too much like Madden.

😬 The 49ers coaching staff has undergone quite the makeover this week. The times they are a-changin'.

👀 Mike MacDonald continues to build his staff in Seattle. That seems like a solid hire.

🤯 New day, new JJ McCarthy NFL Draft propaganda. This is getting out of hand.

Fantasy Life Team Needs NFC East

The NFC East has had a different champion for 20 years running. Nothing has been guaranteed between four teams with rich rivalries and always high expectations.

What follows is Ian’s breakdown of every NFC East team’s top three needs with corresponding stats related to certain position units' 2023 performance, 2024 salary cap allocation and more.

Note that the needs aren’t listed in any particular order. Thanks to Over The Cap for the salary cap and contract information. Key free agents are unrestricted unless otherwise indicated and listed in no particular order. 2024 draft picks don’t include projected compensatory selections.

🦅 Philadelphia Eagles

  • Team Needs: Running Back, Defensive Line, Secondary

  • Effective Cap Space: $16.2 million (16th)

  • Draft picks (5): 1.22, 2.50, 2.53, 5.159, 6.188

  • Key free agents: RB D’Andre Swift, RB Rashaad Penny, RB Boston Scott, WR Julio Jones, WR Olamide Zaccheaus, WR Quez Watkins, QB Marcus Mariota, DL Fletcher Cox, EDGE Brandon Graham, LB Zach Cunningham, LB Shaquille Leonard, LB Nicholas Morrow

🔔🐄 Running Back

Kenneth Gainwell is the only RB currently signed to the active roster for 2024. This hole could be rather quickly solved by re-signing D’Andre Swift, although there were at least a few red flags in the lead back’s 1,263-yard campaign.

  • Pass-game usage: This was Swift’s best skill in Detroit, but he caught just six passes for 17 yards during the team’s final six regular season games combined. The Eagles also continued to keep Gainwell involved on pass downs all season long.

  • Lack of ability post contact: Swift’s 2.4 yards after contact per carry ranked 45th among 49 qualified RBs. He was the NFL’s only RB to not gain two-plus yards after contact on at least half of his carries.

A Week 1 injury to Gainwell was seemingly the only reason why Swift got a chance to run away with the featured job in the first place; don’t be surprised if the Eagles continue to shuffle bodies if any of their incumbent options set their price too high.

Fantasy Life Team Needs NFC East

💪 Defensive Line

Maintaining dominance here will be crucial: Philly boasted PFF’s fourth- and eighth-best team grades in run defense and pass rush last season. However, even that wasn’t enough to make up for their glaring issues on the back end (pause).

This potential issue up front can be fixed fairly quickly by simply re-signing DL Fletcher Cox and EDGE Brandon Graham, although the former turned 33 last December, and the latter will be 36 in April. Throw in a recent trade request from Haason Reddick, and at a minimum, this group needs some reinforcements to complement Josh Sweat and their group of Georgia Bulldogs.

🏈 Secondary

Technically this group isn’t losing any key contributors, but it’s safe to say they remain a BIG problem fresh off allowing the second-most passing yards (4,296) and TDs (35) in the league.

Major depth is needed even if the Eagles want to roll back some of their key parties:

  • CB Darius Slay turned 33 last January.

  • CB James Bradberry turns 31 in August.

  • S Sydney Brown suffered a torn ACL in January.

  • S Kevin Byard turns 31 in August.

Only the Commanders were worse than the Eagles when it came to fantasy production allowed to opposing WRs. Fantasy LIfe’s Matthew Freedman has the Eagles addressing this need in the form of Iowa CB Cooper DeJean in his first 2024 mock draft — you’ll enjoy his high school basketball mixtape.

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