🔥 A Wild Flurry Of Free Agency Moves

Well, that escalated quickly...

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Running backs getting paid? In this economy?

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Underdog Fantasy:

  • Fantasy highlights from a wild day one of legal tampering

  • Tee Higgins requests (not demands) a trade out of Cincinnati

  • What Now? Identify your weaknesses

  • It’s 3/12. Take it away, Ian Hartitz…

Where do we begin?

Day one of legal tampering started out hot and barely cooled down over the course of a league-altering Monday.

It’s truly amazing, nay unbelievable, how these players and teams were able to agree on such specific money numbers and complicated contract structures in such a short period of time.

Tongue-in-cheek criticism of another silly NFL scheduling quirk aside: A LOT of key fantasy footballers found new homes on Monday — let’s get you caught up to speed with the highlights.

🏈 RBs matter again (kind of)

While RBs chasing high-dollar deals elsewhere in free agency seldom works out well for their future fantasy managers, kudos to this free-agent RB class for managing to stack up some serious cheddar on Monday.

Those Zoom meetings are working wonders.

Law and Order Music: These are their stories … in one sentence or less. Check out our ever-updating free agency tracker for the whole lowdown on each and every fantasy-relevant signing. Note that guaranteed money in the below contract numbers varies:

  • Josh Jacobs (Packers, 4 years, $48M): Was one of the league’s least-efficient rushers in 2023, but the corresponding decision to release longtime stud Aaron Jones sets up Jacobs for a workhorse role in an offense that was as good as any in the league during the second half of last season.

  • Saquon Barkley (Eagles, 3 years, $37.75M): Suddenly set up to thrive behind PFF’s reigning No. 1 ranked offensive line; here’s to hoping Jalen Hurts shares a carry or two from the goal line one of these days.

  • Tony Pollard (Titans, 3 years, $24M): Put a major damper on Tyjae Spears RB1 szn, but the Titans got a good one if Pollard can regain pre-2023 form and prove last season’s inefficiency was simply due to injury.

  • D’Andre Swift (Bears, 3 years, $24M): Could still struggle to see too much receiving work in an offense fully expected to be led by one dual-threat QB or another; at least Swift now, you know, will get the opportunity to score from the one-yard line from time to time.

  • Devin Singletary (Giants, 3 years, $16.5M): Reunites with former Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll inside of an offense that has been happy to keep one (admittedly better) RB on the field for most of the last two seasons.

  • Austin Ekeler (Commanders, 2 years, $11.4M): Reunites with former Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn in an offense that will still rely plenty on Brian Robinson; at least there’s history here of enabling multiple fantasy-friendly RBs in the same backfield.

  • Antonio Gibson (Patriots, 3 years, $11.25M): Expected to take on a large fantasy-friendly role in the passing game even with Rhamondre Stevenson still poised to be the lead back.

  • Zack Moss (Bengals, 2 years, $8M): Replaces the now-released Joe Mixon as the likely lead early-down back inside of the league’s seventh-ranked scoring offense the last time they had a healthy version of Joe Burrow under center — this landing spot is golden.

  • Aaron Jones (Vikings, 1 year, $7M): Seeing A-aron in purple will take some getting used to, but a bell-cow role should be on the horizon despite the obvious offensive downgrade.

  • Gus Edwards (Chargers, 2 years, $6.5M): Jumps to the other Harbaugh brother to (probably) take more short-yardage work away from a future rookie than fantasy managers would prefer.

Madness indeed, but the single-biggest move from Monday in terms of “real-life football” importance involved a different position.

👀 Kirk Cousins is taking his talents to Atlanta

And he’s making a lot of money to do so.

The former Washington and Minnesota signal-caller has been a pretty consistent top-10 real-life QB since signing with the Vikings back in 2018:

  • 2018: -0.012 EPA per dropback (No. 29 among qualified QBs)

  • 2019: +0.199 (No. 7)

  • 2020: +0.188 (No. 10)

  • 2021: +0.137 (No. 10)

  • 2022: +0.058 (No. 19)

  • 2023: +0.145 (No. 6)

Adding Cousins to this Falcons offense is a massive upgrade; this group has been led by the likes of Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke and Marcus Mariota over the past two seasons for crying out loud.

Of course, two equally important questions remain:

Still, even a 90% version of Cousins should be good enough to provide a lift to this talented Falcons roster. Drake London, Kyle Pitts and Bijan Robinson fantasy managers: Rejoice. Each deserves a solid bump up the ole fantasy ranks ahead of 2024, particularly London considering just how prolific Cousins' top WRs have been in the past.

All hail Cousins, the greatest bag-getter … ever?

The replacement in Minnesota? None other than Sam Darnold — for now. We’ll see if a certain National Championship-winning QB might eventually get the opportunity to say something about that.

Check out the Fantasy Life Free Agency Tracker for more analysis on all the fantasy-relevant transactions throughout this hectic, yet awesome, week.

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Around the Watercooler (August 2022)

🚨 ICYMI: Monday was a wild day in the free agency streets. Everything you need to know.

🎤 The Fantasy Life crew got their INSTANT reactions out yesterday! Great day to be great.

👀 An updated look at the QB situation across the league. Still some questions left to answer.

😈 The Ravens are interested in the biggest RB name remaining. Please baby Jesus PLEASE.

🤝 The Giants and Lions improved their defenses through trades. New York’s D-line is now even scarier, and Detroit gets much-needed CB help.

😎 Las Vegas adds a pair of high-priced free agents. A Pro Bowl QB (lol) and a HUGE (literally) defensive lineman.

💰 One of the NFL’s most productive young WRs gets PAID. So much for that franchise tag.

😮 Trouble in Paradise (Cincinnati). That’s not ideal.

🤔 Trevor Lawrence has himself a new deep-ball threat. What does this mean for Calvin Ridley?

👀 The Late-Round Prospect Guide is LIVE! Always fantastic stuff from JJ.

Cooterdoodle's What Now? Identifying Your Weaknesses

The fantasy football season might be over, but we are NOT ready to unplug. Cooterdoodle is here to keep our minds in check by asking the age-old, evergreen question: “What Now?”

😅 What Now? Identify Your Weaknesses

The upcoming NFL trades, signings, and draft all have serious implications for your future fantasy teams.

But there’s another factor to consider that heavily influences your team’s potential: You.

I urge that YOU take a look back at past drafts to identify your weaknesses. 

Did you overreact to a particular positional group? What draft strategies and biases guided your decisions, perhaps unconsciously? Let’s identify some potential areas of weakness.

🔁 Old Draft Patterns

Do you ever find yourself rosterbating to an ex…team? You should try it. Seriously. Look up your last few drafts and take note of your hits and misses. 

But mostly, take a look at your drafting patterns. Do you frequently draft “late-round fliers” a little too early? Do you put too much stock in pre-season performances? Do you tend to be the first to draft a defense/kicker? Are you drafting way too many players from your home team?

None of these are outlandishly wrong inside of a vacuum, but if you’re falling victim to the same patterns (read: mistakes) year in and year out without a trophy to show for it … well, it might be time to switch things up.

But we can’t break old habits without first identifying them. 

Cooterdoodle's What Now? Identifying Your Weaknesses

🤒 Rookie Fever

Every year we have hopes that the shiny new boys will be the heroes of our drafts. They’re going to elevate NFL teams, and in turn, our fantasy teams, right? RIGHT?

But the glorious 2023 CJ Stroud, Puka Nacua, De’Von Achane, Sam LaPorta TD train was, in many ways, an extremely fun outlier. 

Remember, most of these guys were drafted as late-round fliers or picked up through waivers during the 2023 season. Rookies usually don’t fill up the fantasy leaderboards.

I catch severe cases of rookie fever like the best of you, but don’t let the chills and sweating push you into drafting too many rookies, too soon. 

🏃 The Chase

Remember when… Jamaal Williams scored 17 TDs with the Lions in 2022? SEVENTEEN. 

And we all know how his first year in New Orleans ended with a singular “Taboo TD”. But many who drafted Williams in 2023 hoped for very different results, because of “the chase”.

You see, despite a massive outlier year in performance, 13 of his 17 TDs coming from the one- or two-yard lines, a team change, and joining an offense that would only be without Alvin Kamara for a few weeks, many were chasing the best case scenario in hopes of another double-digit scoring year for Williams.

While this doesn’t mean you should prescriptionistically avoid all players coming off of a “boom” year, it does mean that you should evaluate how the chase might be affecting your decisions come draft day.

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