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2024 Fantasy Football Winners and Losers of Free Agency (So Far)

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The dust has started to settle in the free agent marketplace. There are still a handful of big names out there, but for the most part, we know where the notable veterans will find themselves in 2024, and we can start looking at the outlook for our fantasy football roster.

 

Today, we’re looking at the fallout of the fantasy football signings. Who won? Who lost? What does it mean for fantasy?

Fantasy Football Winners of Free Agency

Bryce Young, QB, Carolina Panthers

Maybe the Panthers should have tried to give their first overall pick some actual support last year, but better late than never, I guess. The Panthers signed two guards to bolster the offensive line and traded for Diontae Johnson to be the WR1, and they’re still linked to more receivers.

Whoever Is Under Center, QB, Chicago Bears

This is almost certainly Caleb Williams, but I guess we don’t know-know that yet. Either way, while I’m curious about the strategy between pouncing on D’Andre Swift four seconds into free agency, adding Swift, Keenan Allen and Gerald Everett to this offense makes the quarterback’s job much easier.

Will Levis, QB, Tennessee Titans

Will Levis Tennessee Titans 2024 Fantasy Football Free Agency Winners and Loser

I’m enjoying the recent trend of teams saying, “Well, we don’t know if our quarterback is the guy, so let’s give him enough weaponry that it doesn’t matter.” Maybe DeAndre HopkinsCalvin RidleyTony Pollard isn’t Tyreek HillJaylen WaddleRaheem Mostert or A.J. BrownDeVonta SmithD’Andre Swift, and sure, they overpaid for Ridley, but Will Levis gets a lot of opportunity to shine now.

Every Single Atlanta Falcon

I wanted to pick one of Bijan Robinson, Drake London or Kyle Pitts, but I didn’t need to. Going from an Arthur Smith offense to a Zac Robinson one should bring a big improvement in everybody’s fantasy prospects, and going from Desmond Ridder/Taylor Heinicke to Kirk Cousins should bring another. There should be plenty of fantasy points in Atlanta this year.

Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

There were murmurs Nick Chubb could be cut this offseason, carrying a big salary and working his way back from a devastating injury. And I suppose that could still happen, but if so, you’d think it would have by now, and you’d think the Browns would have done more to address the position than just signing Nyheim Hines. Chubb’s role appears safe.

Joe Mixon, RB, Houston Texans

Joe Mixon Houston Texans 2024 Fantasy Football Free Agency Winners and Loser

I thought Joe Mixon might have to find his way to a team to serve as a backup. Instead, he’s slated to be the RB1 on a team poised to be a dynamo this year. My how things change.

Deuce Vaughn, RB, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys can’t be done at running back. It isn’t plausible. But if they are, suddenly the diminutive Deuce Vaughn looks very interesting for 2024 as a late flyer. (Really, though, the Cowboys should just sign Ezekiel Elliott, for the art of it all:)

George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are rumored to be very interested in jettisoned-from-the-Chargers Mike Williams, and if they miss on Williams they’ll likely address receiver in the draft, but either way, George Pickens is the only relevant holdover at receiver in this offense, and he pairs well with what new QB Russell Wilson likes to do.

Jameson Williams, WR, Detroit Lions

It’s one thing for a team to say it still believes in its former first-round receiver who hasn’t done much as a pro before free agency starts. But it’s another thing for them to show it by doing almost nothing at the position. If the Lions were just paying lip service to Jameson Williams, they’d have poked around at some of the available receivers on the market. Instead, their biggest move at the position has been re-signing Donovan Peoples-Jones, which says they actually are excited about Williams’ future.

Curtis Samuel, WR, Buffalo Bills

Curtis Samuel now gets to be the new and improved version of Gabe Davis in Buffalo, which was a role that got everyone excited each of the last two years. On top of that, he’s re-paired with OC Joe Brady, who called the plays when Samuel had his career year in Carolina in 2020. He’s an exciting name to watch through the preseason.

Greg Dortch, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Greg Dortch Arizona Cardinals 2024 Fantasy Football Free Agency Winners and Loser

Suddenly, it looks like the Cardinals are going from the shortest receiver room in football to the opposite of that, with Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore leaving town and the team very likely signing Marvin Harrison to line up outside with 2023 rookie Michael Wilson (and of course Trey McBride is a star at tight end). That leaves Greg Dortch alone to do the slot work, and that could be a profitable role. 

Hunter Henry, TE, New England Patriots

The number of teams where Hunter Henry could have signed this offseason and been interesting in fantasy was small. So it makes sense for him to remain in New England, where he definitely still shapes up to be the teams’ lone real red-zone threat. He likely won’t have regular weekly value, but a tight end who is as big a threat to score a touchdown as any is nice to have around in a pinch.

Mike Gesicki, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have been cycling through one-year tight ends like Boy Meets World cycled through classmates in the Death Chair, and 2024 is Mike Gesicki’s turn. It didn’t work out for Irv Smith in 2023, but the Bengals saying goodbye to Tyler Boyd and potentially Tee Higgins leaves Gesicki more of an opportunity.

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Fantasy Football Losers of Free Agency

Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

The most obvious fantasy loser of the free agency period. Justin Herbert went from Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler and Gerald Everett to … well, calling the guys in Los Angeles now “flotsam” feels mean, but it doesn’t feel incorrect. (To be fair, the team is reportedly interested in a Williams reunion.) Herbert is still a star, but he’s super going to have to be. He’s a mid-range QB1 at best at this point.

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars 2024 Fantasy Football Free Agency Winners and Loser

The Jaguars pounced on Gabe Davis during the tampering period, but they waited until actual free agency started to try to retain Calvin Ridley, ostensibly because of their trade with the Falcons that would have made the third-round pick they sent to Atlanta into a second if they had extended him. By waiting for the league year to start, the Jaguars retained their second-rounder … but they left themselves open to being sniped on Ridley, and that’s what happened. So now the team’s receiver room is Davis, Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, which is a definite step down from what it was in 2023, when Trevor Lawrence disappointed as it was.

Ty Chandler, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Ty Chandler’s hot end-of-2023 stretch set him up to be the starter in 2024, especially once Alexander Mattison was sent out of town. That changed in a big way when the team signed Aaron Jones, fresh off his release in Green Bay. Jones might be a step down from his peak, so Chandler won’t be forgotten, but that exciting role has gotten less so.

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots

Rhamondre Stevenson is sixth among running backs in receptions across the last two seasons, with 107. And while he of course gets plenty of work on the ground, getting that many receptions is a huge boon to his fantasy output. And the arrival of Antonio Gibson in New England is very likely to undercut that — Gibson’s best skill is as a receiver (he’s ninth in RB receptions in that time span). Stevenson will still get the lion’s share of the work on the ground, but his receiving is likely to be slashed.

Khalil Herbert/Roschon Johnson, RB, Chicago Bears

This would have made for an interesting duo out of the backfield in 2024. Instead, the Bears sprinted to the metaphorical podium as soon as the legal tampering period started to sign D’Andre Swift. And while Swift has missed time in each of his four NFL seasons, he’s certainly to be the RB1 out of the gate. Give me Roschon Johnson over Khalil Herbert in 2024, but neither shapes up to be a fantasy starter.

Brian Robinson, RB, Washington Commanders

Brian Robinson Washington Commanders 2024 Fantasy Football Free Agency Winners and Loser

Brian Robinson went from winner to loser quickly over the free agency period. When Antonio Gibson headed to New England, it looked like Robinson might get a chance to be a borderline bell cow in 2024. Instead, the Commanders replaced Gibson with a former (and future?) stud in Austin Ekeler. Robinson won’t disappear, but suddenly his best chance is roughly repeating his 2023, not taking the next step.

Keaton Mitchell, RB, Baltimore Ravens

We’re not likely to see Keaton Mitchell for a bit in 2024 after a late-season torn ACL, but he could have carried a lot of promise as a De’Von Achane-ian option getting a lot of yardage on light work. And that might still happen, but there’s no running back in the league more likely to dominate his team’s work out of the backfield than Derrick Henry, so Mitchell will get fewer touches with Henry than he would have with any other running back in Baltimore.

Justin Jefferson/Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings might end up with a better quarterback than Kirk Cousins, but they are unlikely to land one who is fantasy-friendlier. And that presumes the first half of that sentence is even true, because right now their quarterback is slated to be Sam Darnold, and all we know about their draft prospects is that they definitely want to trade up. Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison are still good receivers (Jefferson especially), but an inexperienced quarterback and an up-and-coming defense makes the passing game less exciting.

Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chris Godwin managers probably wanted to find a way to thread the needle and have Baker Mayfield stay in Tampa but Mike Evans leave town so he could become the WR1. Instead, both return, and also Trey Palmer looked good down the stretch last year. Godwin’s upside didn’t get to climb like it could have.

Davante Adams, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

While a bunch of teams have been trying to find stars at quarterback this offseason, the Raiders appeared to settle, instead signing only Gardner Minshew to go along with 2023 rookie Aidan O’Connell. And they don’t currently have the ammunition of a team like the Vikings to trade up and get a starter in the draft. Rolling into 2024 with that duo at quarterback has to lower Davante Adams’ ceiling, and that’s even before we consider that he’s 31 now.

Adam Thielen, WR, Carolina Panthers

Adam Thielen Carolina Panthers 2024 Fantasy Football Free Agency Winners and Loser

Adam Thielen’s biggest virtue in 2023 was being the only game in town in Carolina. Now, we already know he’s not that, with Diontae Johnson coming in via trade, and the Panthers are still attacking the position, reportedly interested in signing Mike Williams

Elijah Moore, WR, Cleveland Browns

I wouldn’t be surprised if Elijah Moore still plays ahead of Jerry Jeudy in 2024, but the fact that the Browns are still poking around at buy-low receivers says they aren’t sold on Moore’s upside. He’s already behind Amari Cooper and David Njoku, and now he’s in a battle for the No. 3.

Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

We saw the Chiefs go a little easy on Travis Kelce in the 2023 regular season, ostensibly in an effort to keep him fresh for the playoffs (and it worked). Now, he’s 35 in October, and they brought in Marquise Brown, and of course they signed an interesting backup tight end in Irv Smith. Kelce is still a TE1, of course, but he won’t be ranked as the TE1.

Cole Kmet, TE, Chicago Bears

Like Adam Thielen above, Cole Kmet’s best virtue was being the only game in town, so to speak. After DJ Moore, the Bears didn’t have a trustworthy target in front of Moore last year. Now, they still have Moore, they traded for Keenan Allen, they signed D’Andre Swift, and they got a competent pass-catching TE in Gerald Everett. Kmet’s still the TE1 in Chicago, but his upside is lower.

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