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The Grass Isn't Always Greener - Free Agents Fantasy Fallers


Every season we see several fantasy relevant players switch teams. With free agency occurring in March, the instant reaction is there, but it doesn't always hold. It is important to reanalyze those moves later in the offseason, particularly after the NFL Draft. Now that it is June, we have a much better idea of how these moves will impact these players.

Unfortunately, switching teams isn't always positive for players. Whether it is a receiver moving to a weaker quarterback, a running back joining a crowded backfield, or a quarterback moving to a team with weaker weapons, free agent moves can seriously diminish a player's value.

Let's take a look at some players that saw their value drop on a new team.

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Antonio Brown (WR, OAK)

Sure, he wasn't a free agent, but Antonio Brown did change teams. This is a pretty straightforward analysis. Brown has been the best wide receiver in fantasy football since 2014. While he is still projected to be a strong WR1, he's not even a consideration for the top five anymore. The reason has everything to do with his team.

AB finished as the overall WR2 last season by average ppg. Now on the wrong side of 30, there is nothing suggesting AB is slowing down even in the slightest. Additionally, his skillset is the type that ages very gracefully. I believe he can still play at a high level for another two or three years before declining gradually, playing well into his mid-30s. With that being said, his floor and ceiling are undoubtedly lower in Oakland than in Pittsburgh.

Derek Carr is a below average QB, at best, and a significant downgrade from Ben Roethlisberger. The Raiders are a much worse offense. The targeting should still be there for Brown, but the efficiency and, most importantly, the touchdowns, are coming down. Brown can still be an excellent fantasy receiver and is properly priced as a mid second rounder, but unless Carr takes an unexpected step forward, the days of AB contending for the top fantasy WR are over.

 

Jordan Howard (RB, PHI)

Another playing changing teams not via free agency was Jordan Howard. He was traded from the Bears to the Eagles. After averaging 260 carries a season over his first three years in the league, Howard goes from being the thunder in the Bears backfield to what is likely one-third of an Eagles committee. Doug Pederson uses three backs in a rotation. That is just what he does. It doesn't really matter who they are. With holdovers like Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement still around combined with the Eagles second-round selection of Miles Sanders, Howard has virtually no chance of matching the volume he has typically seen.

While his touchdown upside may seem greater on a better offense, it's hard to envision Howard crossing the plan more than the nine times he did so each of the past two seasons. Howard's receptions ceiling is probably at two per game and even that feels high. He's not going to catch passes in Philly and the volume is going down, making it unlikely Howard is anything more than an RB3, at best.

 

Carlos Hyde (RB, KC)

Okay, now we're actually getting to players that signed elsewhere in free agency. Carlos Hyde went from the 49ers to the Browns to the Jaguars last year. This offseason, he signed with the Chiefs. While there is certainly a scenario where Hyde could come into significant value, he needs an injury for it to happen, and even then, I would expect a split backfield.

Hyde went from being a three-down back in San Francisco to a pure backup in Kansas City relatively quickly. Now age 28, the days of Hyde being a relevant asset are over. He may have a moment or two, but no team is going to put Hyde on the field and give him significant work on purpose ever again. Hyde should be drafted this season, but it is unlikely he ever sees a workload like he did in San Francisco or Cleveland last season.

 

Adam Humphries (WR, TEN)

If Adam Humphries is to be believed, he shouldn't be on this list given that he passed up a chance to sign in New England. Instead, Humphries goes from the primary slot receiver in a high volume passing offense to a crowded wide receiver corps on a run-first offense.

Humphries saw 105 targets in 2018, a number he will have a difficult time reaching in 2019. Humphries will be competing with Corey Davis, A.J. Brown, Taywan Taylor, and Delanie Walker for targets for a team that attempted just 533 passes. Even if Humphries can usurp Taylor for the primary slot role, it is nowhere near as valuable a position in Tennessee as it is in Tampa.

Humphries is a low ceiling player that is the exact type of receiver you want to avoid in the later rounds. He's the type of guy you stream when you desperately need someone that you know won't get you zero. He's never going to be a difference maker.

 

Golden Tate (WR, NYG)

Someone really needs to explain to me what this article is supposed to be about. Here we are again with a team changer via trade. Golden Tate was traded to the Giants where he will presumably man the slot despite both Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram operating in that area. The Giants are a backwards organization that has no interest in winning football games. Tate is now tethered to a washed up Eli Manning who will inevitably be benched for an even worse option in Daniel Jones. There are a ton of targets vacated by Odell Beckham, but Tate just doesn't have a very high ceiling in New York.

The 90 catch, 1,000-yard receiver is not coming back, even if you believe Tate still has the talent in him. Pass on Tate for higher upside options on better offenses.

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