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NFL Free Agency Winners and Losers

This offseason has been one for the books. With surprising trades, megadeals, and a bunch of QBs on the move, things have been unpredictable.

A lot of teams upgraded this offseason with the AFC West looking super loaded heading into 2022. Who else won (and lost) free agency?

Catch up on all the notable NFL Offseason Moves and stay up-to-date with breaking NFL News on RotoBaller!

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Winners

Las Vegas Raiders

While their divisional rivals were getting all the hype at the beginning of free agency, the Raiders not only bolstered their pass rush but made a huge splash move and acquired longtime Packer Davante Adams to aid their passing attack.

Now featuring Adams, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow, the Raiders boast an offense as potent as any in the competitive AFC West and even more competitive AFC. The biggest winner for fantasy is QB Derek Carr, who has arguably the best weapons he’s ever had in his career. Adams is coming off a career year where he posted 1,553 yards while Renfrow is also coming off a career-best 1,038-yard season. Carr is a solid fantasy QB2 now. Time to expect fireworks in Vegas (on the football field that is).

Denver Broncos

The Broncos finally went out and fixed the lingering problem that has been plaguing them since Peyton Manning rode off into the sunset in 2016: get an elite quarterback to support their talented team. The trade for Russell Wilson was much needed as the team’s Super Bowl odds significantly increased. 

Not only will Wilson’s fantasy value be golden because of his talented offense, but the Denver WRs can finally have solid QB play and even better fantasy value too because guys like Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Drew Lock aren’t throwing to them. Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Tim Patrick will be great fantasy pickups for this season. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Looks like the search for a post-Brady successor will have to wait as the legendary QB decided he wasn’t finished playing for the Bucs. This is the biggest win ever for the franchise as not only is their championship window once again open, but the presence of Brady could also lure back some old and new players. 

Guys like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will see their fantasy values stay the same and Brady doesn’t look like he’s slowing down at all, so he will once again be a solid fantasy option in 2022.

Cleveland Browns

I’m including the Browns here as winners, but only from a team strength/fantasy perspective. The weak link on the offense was QB, and the team fixed that issue big time with Deshaun Watson. Though he wasn’t playing for a year, you can’t forget how elite this guy is. He had a career-best 4,823 yards with 33 touchdowns in 2020 before he became stuck in controversy. 

Watson will once again get a chance to prove he’s elite and still being only 26, he’s a strong fantasy option. Not only that, but his presence will elevate the values of newly-acquired Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones along with RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the passing game. 

 

Losers 

Green Bay Packers

Well, the Packers got Aaron Rodgers back, but who is he going to throw the ball to all the time without Davante Adams? An aging Randall Cobb? The streaky Allen Lazard? How about a guy named Malik Taylor? None of those sound like reliable big-play guys for Rodgers on a consistent basis.

While Rodgers is playing like an MVP and his hot play as of the last couple of seasons can’t be ignored, it must be taken into note that no elite WR on the team could bring down the QB’s fantasy production this season. I mean, Adams had 1,553 of Rodgers’ 4,115 passing yards in 2021. That’s nearly 40%!  Let’s just hope the Packers finally address the WR position this year unlike when they didn’t in years past. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Let’s look at it this way: the Jags needed more offensive skill players and basically broke the bank for a bunch of guys who aren’t as proven as you may think. With a huge spending spree, the team looked to get help for young QB Trevor Lawrence by adding guys like WR Christian Kirk, WR Zay Jones, and TE Evan Engram. The problem is neither of these players has been elite in their career thus far.

The Jags paid a hefty amount ($72 million) to get Kirk, but the 25-year-old hasn’t had a 1,000-yard season in four NFL seasons, coming close to it only last year with 982 but posting below 710 in the previous three seasons. On top of that, Kirk was a secondary option while in Arizona and now with the WR1 role in Jacksonville, we don’t know how he will fare if he’s covered by the top corners of opponents each week.

Meanwhile, Zay Jones had his best NFL season in his second year in the league with Buffalo in 2018 when he posted 56 receptions for 652 yards and seven scores on 102 targets. Since 2019, he’s been playing with the Raiders and hasn’t been effective at all, posting a measly 154 yards in 2020 before “rebounding” for 546 in 2021, all while appearing in 16 or 17 games per season. He clearly hasn’t proven himself as a capable NFL wideout.

Finally, Engram had modest-producing seasons in five years with the Giants, with the best being his rookie year in 2017 where he had 722 yards. Ever since, the TE hasn’t posted more than 654 yards or three touchdowns in a season. Not to mention he also deals with frequent injuries.

Overall, while the Jags made news with all these signings, they weren’t necessarily team-changing and Lawrence’s arsenal didn’t improve all that much when looking at the big picture. None of these new skill players should be considered strong fantasy options.

San Francisco 49ers

While other teams were out getting their QBs of the future, the 49ers stayed put and still have Jimmy Garoppolo as of this writing. He may be traded to make way for Trey Lance but many teams are scared away by his injured shoulder. That wasn’t supposed to be the plan for the offseason for a team built to win now. Now, with free agency starting to slow down, QB-less teams remain few and far between.

At this point, who would even trade for Jimmy G, the division-rival Seahawks? There aren’t many contenders for a trade at this point and the Niners could have gotten a pick or two for the maligned QB.



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