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2021 NFL Free Agency Winners and Losers

The busy period of 2021 NFL free agency is now (mostly) behind us, and teams tried their best to load up on good talent. Teams like the Patriots went all out while others decided to take a more reserved approach.

Nevertheless, there were some teams that made some good bargain deals while others made head-scratching ones.

Let's evaluate the teams that improved their rosters the most and the ones that failed to do so. In simpler terms, who won free agency and who lost?

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Winners

New England Patriots

The Pats were perhaps the most aggressive team in free agency, and they filled a lot of holes, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Though they didn’t sign the most prolific talent, they did surround Cam Newton with more options in the passing game, including two solid tight ends in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, along with a couple of decent receivers including Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor.

From an individual perspective, Cam Newton was the biggest winner. In addition, the new free-agent additions should see decent looks as well in this offense considering New England has no other valuable passing game options aside from the oft-injured veteran Julian Edelman.

All four additions could see some fantasy value at some point this upcoming season, with Smith and Henry looking to be more valuable.

Washington Football Team

The Football Team got some much-needed additions where it mattered: QB and WR. Though Ryan Fitzpatrick is an aging journeyman, he has still proved he can be a solid leader and producer on the field when needed in the last few years. Hence, Washington did get an upgrade at the QB position after the carousel they endured last year.

In addition, they loaded up the receiver room with the speedy Curtis Samuel, who played for Ron Rivera in Carolina, along with the still reliable Adam Humphries.

Samuel is coming off his best NFL season, finishing with 77 receptions for 851 yards and three scores on 97 targets and 200 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in 15 games with Carolina in 2020. Humphries is coming off a down year in Tennessee in 2020, but he has produced 76 receptions for 816 yards and five scores on 105 targets during his best NFL season with Tampa in 2018, so there is upside for him in an offense that lacks a lot of solid passing game options.

Overall, Washington improved its QB situation (for now) and supplied Fitzpatrick with a few proven passing game options aside from Terry McLaurin. The Football Team is poised to compete for another East title all while potentially offering a few great fantasy players for you to draft.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The band is back together. With Tom Brady getting an extension, Chris Godwin getting the franchise tag, and Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette resigning with the team, the Bucs have won free agency by keeping their main offensive contributors on the squad for 2021.

The Bucs are a gold mine for fantasy talent this upcoming season. In addition, they have all the ingredients overall to go for the REPEAT.

 

Losers

Houston Texans

As if the franchise hasn’t been mired in enough drama and sagas recently, free agency was also a disaster for the Texans at RB and WR. The team now has three capable backs in David Johnson, Mark Ingram II, and Philip Lindsay, though none are coming off a stellar 2020 season.

Johnson finished with 691 rushing yards on 147 attempts in 12 games with Houston, Lindsay had 502 rushing yards on 118 attempts in 11 games with Denver, and Ingram had 299 rushing yards on 72 attempts in 11 games with the Ravens.

Though all three have proved they are capable of being the RB1 on their team at one point in their career, a committee approach could be used in Houston this season and that deflates the value of all three backs. This messy backfield now needs to be avoided in fantasy for 2021.

In terms of WRs, the team lost Will Fuller V and now has Brandin Cooks as the WR1. Veteran Randall Cobb returns and the generally unproven Keke Coutee does as well. Nevertheless, the team decided to sign a plethora of veteran receivers who don’t really add any pizazz to this unit.

The additions of Chris Conley, Alex Erickson, Donte Moncrief, and Andre Roberts adds depth, but it’s not going to scare any opposing defenders. Out of the four receivers, Conley had the most yards in 2020, 471 with the Jags. Overall, Cooks remains the only fantasy-worthy Houston receiver heading into 2021 and the team didn’t upgrade at the position at all. Add in the fiasco of the Deshaun Watson situation and this is an offseason to forget for Texans fans.

Chicago Bears

I’ll keep this one short. The Bears once again struck out at the position they have been desperately seeking to upgrade for like forever. Ever since the head-scratching selection of Mitchell Trubisky in 2017, Chicago has been in a revolving circle of starting mediocre QBs, with no end in sight as to finding a true franchise QB who can help balance out a team with a stellar defense.

After striking out on Russell Wilson in free agency, the Bears decided to let Mitch Trubisky walk and settle for Andy Dalton. Andy Dalton. Like many Bears fans, I had a hard time letting this sink in. A veteran QB is a good bridge QB for a young franchise one. Yet, the Bears still don’t have one and they pick too late in the draft (20th) to likely land one of the true studs.

Mike Glennon, Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles, and now Andy Dalton. When will this nightmare end and when will the Bears ever get a true franchise QB? It’s safe to say Bears quarterbacks should be avoided once again in fantasy for 2021.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders didn’t improve much offensively this free agency, with Chucky and company signing RB Kenyan Drake, WR John Brown, and WR Willie Snead IV.

In terms of the RB situation, Drake is coming off his best NFL season where he produced 955 rushing yards and 10 scores in 15 games with Arizona in 2020. He is capable of being the RB1 for the Raiders, but that’s where the problem lies as Vegas already has a stud RB1 in Josh Jacobs.

With Drake and Jacobs both in this backfield now, the question is who will be able to retain solid fantasy value throughout 2021? Drake is certainly capable of cutting into Jacobs’ production and that muddles the values of both. This backfield is tricky to predict now, but the biggest loser is Jacobs, who has some decent competition for his role in case he endures a slump.

In terms of wide receiver, the Raiders lost Nelson Agholor and Tyrell Williams and replaced them with Brown and Snead. That isn’t much improvement there in terms of talent, and with Henry Ruggs III struggling last year as a rookie, Vegas still lacks an elite passing game option aside from Darren Waller.

Brown had 33 receptions for 458 yards and three scores on 52 targets in nine games with Buffalo last year and Snead had 33 receptions for 432 yards and three scores on 48 targets in 13 games with Baltimore in 2020. None have proved they can be a consistent, elite weapon in their respective passing game throughout their NFL career, so this unit hasn’t improved at all.

The main Raiders WR corp consists of Ruggs, Brown, Snead, Hunter Renfrow, and Zay Jones. None of them look too appealing to draft in fantasy and it looks more so as if they could offset one another’s fantasy value as they fight for targets and a large role in 2021. The WR unit took the biggest blow in fantasy value for Vegas this free agency.



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