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Tue Apr 2nd 2024

Players I've Picked Up This Offseason

Now that almost all free agents have signed and the trading market has cooled down, I am writing about the players I have acquired off the waiver wire since the start of the free agency season. Five of my nine dynasty leagues leave the waiver wire open during the offseason. I love those leagues because they allow me to tinker with the backend of my roster as free agents sign and trades get made, shaking up depth charts and players' dynasty value.

Here are the players I've acquired over the last few weeks.

Sam Darnold

  • After Kirk Cousins left Minnesota for Atlanta, the Vikings quickly signed Sam Darnold, who was available in most of my one-quarterback leagues. I added him in three leagues in case he becomes their starter. The Vikings are a top candidate to trade up for a quarterback in the first round. If they do, I'll consider dropping him, but I'd like to see him battle a rookie for a starting role, too. After all, he was a first-round draft pick, too. The Vikings have one of the best pass-catching groups in the NFL, and Josh Dobbs and Nick Mullens kept Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson productive last season after Cousins was injured. Darnold is a step up from them, even though he's had a rough start to his career.

Gardner Minshew

  • I added Minshew to two of my rosters in one-quarterback leagues after he signed with Las Vegas to compete with Aidan O'Connell for the starting job. I have O'Connell on my roster in both leagues, where I added Minshew, so I plan to hold them both until a starter is named. Justin Herbert is my starting quarterback in both of those leagues, and his dynasty value has fallen significantly this offseason with the loss of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler and the addition of his new head coach, Jim Harbaugh, whose run-first approach will limit the passing game. I'm scrambling for a quarterback in those leagues because O'Connell, Minshew, or Darnold could become my starting quarterback ahead of Herbert next year.

DeeJay Dallas

  • I added Dallas in one deep league after he signed with the Cardinals to compete for the backup role behind James Conner. He signed the ninth-highest free agent contract, a three-year deal worth more than what Zack Moss, Aaron Jones, and Gus Edwards got paid. The three-year contract made me think that the Cardinals expect Dallas to become their RB-2 ahead of Emari Demercado and Michael Carter. Every backup running back should be rostered in dynasty leagues, but Dallas was not. James Conner is 28 years old and likely to miss time this season, as he has throughout his career. He's available in almost all of my leagues, but I only added him in one because I like my running back depth in my other leagues, and he has competition for the RB-2 role.

Eric Gray

  • I added Eric Gray on two leagues after Saquon Barkley signed with Philadelphia. Gray had only 17 carries in his rookie year, so there's not much evidence about his ability to produce in the NFL other than the fact that the Giants gave the RB-2 role to Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell last season instead of Gray. Barkley and Breida have left the team, making Brightwell his lone competition for the RB-2 role behind newly signed Devin Singletary. Gray's recruiting pedigree and college production make him a player that most dynasty managers held onto last year, even after a terrible rookie season. Still, he's available in several of my leagues and a player I'm willing to add to my rosters if he was dropped.

Deuce Vaughn

  • After a fantastic preseason, the Cowboys didn't give Vaughn much of a chance last year, giving him just 23 carries. The preseason was enough to keep him rostered in all of my leagues but one. In that one league, I added Vaughn after watching the Cowboys do nothing in free agency except re-sign Rico Dowdle, who started ahead of Vaughn last season as the RB-2 behind Tony Pollard. Now Vaughn is set to be the RB-2 in Dallas, at least until the NFL draft, when Dallas is likely to draft a running back. I added Vaughn in that one league just in case they don't draft a running back. I'm terribly weak at running back in that league and need all the backup running backs I can get. If it becomes more evident that the Cowboys will draft a running back, I'll drop Vaughn and pick up Eric Gray or DeeJay Dallas before the NFL draft starts and waivers stop.

Calvin Austin and Van Jefferson

  • The Steelers traded Diontae Johnson, leaving a vast number of targets open in Pittsburgh and opening the door for an expanded role for Calvin Austin, who only caught 17 balls in his rookie season. The Steelers also signed Van Jefferson, who failed to live up to expectations with the Rams but has a second-round draft pedigree. Austin was rostered in most of my leagues, but I was able to add him in two. I added Jefferson in three leagues and was outbid for him in one. Since then, the Steelers have added Quez Watkins and Cordarrelle Patterson, so Austin and Jefferson will face competition. The Steelers always draft wide receivers, and this class is loaded with talent, so competition for their roles will increase after the draft. Still, Jefferson will solidify the WR-2 role for Pittsburg opposite George Pickens and Austin will compete for targets from the slot. Jefferson is my favorite wide receiver "find" this offseason.

Tim Patrick

  • Patrick signed a new contract with the Broncos, which traded Jerry Jeudy to the Browns. I thought Patrick would have a starting role in three-receiver sets with Courtland Sutton and Marvin Mims, so I added him in two leagues. However, now the Broncos have signed Josh Reynolds, who should fill the WR-3 role in Denver ahead of Patrick. While writing this article, I realized that Patrick is a player I'm now more willing to drop to add another player on this list. I'm writing this on Saturday, March 30th. Patrick will be off my rosters by March 31st.

Will Dissly

  • The Chargers and Jim Harbaugh let Gerald Everett go and signed Will Dissly as their starting tight end. They've since added Hayden Hurst, but only for added depth. Dissly will get his first chance to be a team's starter, and he'll do well. Harbaugh has made tight ends successful in his career, especially the type that can block and play every down. That's what Dissly can do. I only added him in two leagues because it's unwise to roster too many tight ends, and I have several rosters with better tight ends than Dissly, but I added him to a roster where I am weak at the position and in one tight-end premium league.

Jonnu Smith

  • Smith signed with Miami and immediately filled a starting role ahead of Durham Smythe. Thus far, Mike McDaniels has yet to feature the tight end in Miami, but he's never had one as fast as Jonnu Smith. I think He will find ways to get Smith involved. I added Smith in one league and was beaten to the punch for him in another. He's a sneaky player to grab to see if or how McDaniels plans to use him.

Colby Parkinson

  • Parkinson got the heftiest contract among all the free-agent tight ends this year, making me believe the Rams see him as their starter for the next three years. He was buried on the depth chart in Seattle after being drafted in the fourth round in 2020, so he never had a chance to prove anything. Now he will. The Rams are excellent in scouting draft picks and free agents. I trust them more than most organizations and believe they want Parkinson to be their starter and an active part of the passing game. He's 6'7" and 265 pounds. I can't wait to see him in a starting role. I added him in two leagues and saw him picked up by other managers in every other league.

Zack Ertz

  • Ertz was signed to be the starter for the Commanders, and he'll step right into that position, especially after Logan Thomas was released. He's 33 years old, but tight ends often produce late into their 30s. I'm confident that Ertz will become a productive tight end for the Commanders even though, in his last few years, he's battled injuries. Several of my leagues are first-come-first-served on waivers during the offseason. I usually have the fastest fingers when news breaks, but in this case, I was tied up when the news broke that he signed with Washington. Another manager beat me to the punch and picked him up in a few leagues. I was at least able to add him in a league that has off-season FAAB. I won him with a $2 bid, though no one else bid on him.

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