Thu Feb 20th 2020
10 Players With Volatile Value Before Free Agency
Players Whose Value Will Go Up Or Down
The NFL year officially starts in less than a month. Once the year begins, teams are free to acquire free agents. The dirty little secret is that most of the negotiating for these free agents take place this week during the NFL Combine. This week, rumors will surface about which teams are interested in free agents and which teams are willing to let their free agents go. This flurry of activity causes players' dynasty values to fluctuate quite a bit. It's not just the free agents who gain or lose value. Players on the teams that lose free agents and pick up free agents also see their value change depending on if the free agent arrives and clogs up their depth chart or leaves and frees up their depth chart.
In no particular order, here is a list of the ten players that are not free agents, but still stand the most to gain or lose based upon the free agents currently on their teams.
- I believe Nick Chubb will be a top-12 running back next year whether or not Kareem Hunt (a restricted free agent) leaves Cleveland or not. If Hunt were to go, however, I believe Chubb would be a top-5 running back without a doubt. Hunt had 54-67% of the snaps after returning from his suspension last year. Cleveland played Hunt and Chubb at the same time often because Chubb had 50-81% of the snaps in that same period and still finished the season as the #7 ranked running back. Cleveland's new coach, Kevin Stefanski, is known for deploying a run-first strategy, so there should be plenty of carries to share if Hunt stays in Cleveland, but we also don't know how Hunt and Chubb will be used in the Cleveland offense given the new coaching staff. These raise enough questions to see Chubb, one of my favorite players, as slightly volatile given that Hunt is a free agent and a free agent with a criminal record, which means many teams would not consider him a target for their teams in free agency.
- David Johnson appears to be washed up, at worst, or out of favor with the coaching staff, at best. His contract is too valuable for Arizona to trade or cut Johnson, but they can continue to play guys ahead of him. Kenyan Drake, who took Johnson's job and led fantasy teams to super bowls at the end of the year, is now a free agent. Most people suspect Arizona will sign Drake, but there is no guarantee that they will. Chase Edmunds played fine in his limited role last year and played great in the one game where he was the starter due to injuries. At worst, Edmunds is a prime handcuff to own in Arizona's fast-paced offense. At best, he could be the starter in 2020, which would vault him immediately into the top-15 running backs in 2020 redraft leagues and significantly spike his dynasty value as well.
- Melvin Gordon's holdout last year did not result in a new 2019 contract in Los Angeles, and he's likely not be signed by them in 2020. Add to that the fact that Austin Ekeler is a restricted free agent, and this backfield could be completely different in 2020. Ekeler will likely stay with the team, but with Gordon gone, Justin Jackson becomes more than a handcuff in LA. He will split carries with Ekeler, who needs a partner to carry this load given his smaller frame. Last year Jackson did not do much because he also was injured early in the season while Gordon was still holding out, but the year prior, he was pretty impressive in the games Gordon was injured, and he split time with Ekeler.
- This free agency move has already happened. Phillip Rivers and the Chargers have parted ways. This causes me great concern for Keenan Allen, who has not caught passes from anyone else. If Tyrod Taylor is the new quarterback in LA, his style is entirely different than Rivers' style. Allen wins with precision routes and an accurate quarterback that throws with anticipation, which was an excellent fit for Rivers. Tyrod, while safe with the ball, needs to see a guy open before he throws it. This seems like a terrible match. Most draft analysts suspect the Chargers will draft a quarterback like Justin Herbert in the first round. That could be good for the team in the long run, but it's never good for an aging wide receiver to get paired with a rookie quarterback. Allen's value has already dropped significantly in my book.
- Dallas is cash-strapped while they try to resign Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper this offseason. Gallup's 1107 yards and 6-TD season in 2019, may make their decision to sign Dak and let Cooper walk that much easier. Jerry Jones has a way of signing his guys, but this year it might be too difficult. Gallup's dynasty stock is on the rise no matter what happens with Cooper's contract, but if Cooper were to leave in free agency Gallup's stock would go through the roof!
- Edelman sure seems to be past his prime at 33 years old, but his connection with Tom Brady was enough to carry him to a number 9 wide receiver finish last year. I can't see a way that he could have a better season for the rest of his career, and if Brady leaves in free agency, his dynasty stock will plummet even further. Edelman has been in the perfect offense with the perfect quarterback and the perfect coach for a decade. Remove one of those elements at his age, and his value drops like a brick.
- Samuel arguably became the number one wide receiver in San Francisco by the end of the year, and he showed it in the Super Bowl. If Emmanuel Sanders leaves in free agency, it will remove all doubt. Shanahan's run-first scheme limits the value of their wide receivers, but Deebo is involved in the run game too. His skill set is too valuable to keep him uninvolved, even if the run game and tight end and fullback passes are working. Like Michael Gallup, his dynasty value is already rising. If Sanders leaves, he should increase even more.
- Kansas City's third most targeted wide receiver, Demarcus Robinson, is a free agent, and their second most targeted wide receiver, Sammy Watkins, could give them 14 million dollars of salary cap relief if he were cut. Robinson will not be resigned, and Watkins could very possibly be released. If so, Mecole Hardman stands to benefit hugely. He could get the highest rise of any player this offseason if this were to happen. I already have him ranked #51 while Sammy Watkins is just #47. If Sammy gets cut, I imagine I would move Hardman up to the #35-45 range.
- Doyle should finally become the #1 tight end in Indianapolis after two years of battling with Eric Ebron. Ebron appears poised to sign with a new team this offseason. While Doyle will still miss the red-zone connections he had with Andrew Luck, he's still in an offense that targets the tight ends more than most, and he'd finally be the primary one to target. If the rumor is true that Indianapolis will sign Phillip Rivers, Doyle's value will rise even more given that Rivers loves his tight ends as much as Andrew Luck did.
- Like Keenan Allen with Phillip Rivers leaving, we already know what Carolina did with their free-agent tight end. Greg Olsen has left Carolina and signed with Seattle. That leaves Ian Thomas to inherit the leading role at tight end in Carolina. They do have a new coaching staff, appear to be in rebuild mode, have yet to commit to Cam Newton as their quarterback, and are rumored to target tight ends in the draft. These are all strikes against Ian Thomas, but his college tape, production when he has had an opportunity, and new leading role cause his stock to rise. If Carolina commits to Cam Newton and/or does not draft a tight end, his dynasty value should rise all the more.
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