2019 NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 1: Offensive Skill Positions

Welcome to the first article of my 2019 NFL free agency prediction series!  Today, I’ll be sharing my predictions for where offensive skill position players (QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs) end up signing.  Where will Le’Veon Bell be headed after a year away from football?  Where will Nick Foles find himself a starting job?  Keep reading to find out what I think, and you check out my tentative schedule for the entire series below.  In later articles, I will include links to the previously posted articles:

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2019 NFL Free Agency Predictions

Series Schedule

Monday, March 4: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 1: Offensive Skill Positions

Wednesday, March 6: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 2: Linemen

Saturday, March 9: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 3: Linebackers and Defensive Backs

 

QB

In my eyes, Foles is the only viable starter that’s currently on the free agent market. Blake Bortles or Ryan Tannehill could eventually be released/traded, but for now, the choice is targeting Foles or waiting for the draft. Unlike other QB needy teams, the Jags could easily return to the playoffs with the right QB leading them. That being said, a veteran QB makes sense. The Giants, Redskins, and others will go for a combo of a rookie and a veteran mentor.

For Washington, Alex Smith will not be able to serve as a veteran mentor considering his severe knee injury in 2018. Colt McCoy isn’t a viable starter in my eyes either. However, Teddy Bridgewater is a free agent who has experience starting, so he could serve as Washington’s bridge starter (no pun intended) until their young QB, whether it be Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, or someone else, has time to develop.

The Bucs and Dolphins will also be on the lookout for veteran backups. Look for them to resign their 2018 backup QBs, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brock Osweiler. The Bills could also use some depth at QB behind Josh Allen, so bringing back their former QB, Tyrod Taylor, could be smart.

That would leave Josh McCown as the best free agent QB left. I have him going to LA to backup Philip Rivers until they draft Rivers’ successor.

RB

Viable Starters

Bell might be the best player on the open market in a long time. The Steelers refused to pay him what he wanted. But who will be up to pay him? He reportedly wants $25 million annually. I don’t think anyone will give him that, but I think he’d settle for $20 million/year if he ever wants to play again. If the Eagles free up enough cap between Foles’ departure and a release or two, they will be willing to pay for him for some answers at RB. Right now, they have a surplus of RBs, but no clear cut starter.

I see Ajayi, Philly’s last starting RB, leading a refined RB committee in Tampa. Expect an aging Adrian Peterson to do the same in Indianapolis. On the contrary, Ingram and Coleman will leave RB committees to become full time starters on RB needy teams. Coleman will replace Kareem Hunt, while Ingram will replace Marshawn Lynch (I see him retiring). The Ravens’ backfield is getting pretty crowded after the emergence of Gus Edwards, but I think Alex Collins will wind up back in Baltimore.

RB2 Options

The 49ers may have Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida at RB, but a veteran mentor like 3-time Super Bowl champion LeGarrette Blount could be helpful if they resort to an RB committee.  Yeldon will serve a similar role in Green Bay, playing alongside young RBs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.  The Steelers could also use a veteran in their backfield behind new starter James Conner, and I think Martin could be a good fit.  Despite leading the Rams in the playoffs, Anderson may have to settle for a backup/committee role as well.  He could be a good replacement for Coleman in Atlanta.  Murray was successful in Minnesota, and there’s room for him in the backfield, so I see him coming back.  With Coleman headed to Kansas City, the Chiefs will move on from Spencer Ware as he heads to Dallas to backup Ezekiel Elliott.

WR/TE

Top Tier WRs

Sam Darnold showed flashes of talent in his rookie year.  I think a better RB and a #1 receiver could make all the difference for him.  They should chase after Tate aggressively if they cannot land Antonio Brown (I have him going to San Fran).  Bryant barely played last year, but he still could serve as a WR1.  The Bills could be a fit, but if they pass up on Bryant, they could also take D.K. Metcalf in Round 1 of the draft.

Cobb looks to be leaving Green Bay, and the Steelers may seek depth options at receiver after Antonio Brown leaves.  Cobb could be a fit to play across from JuJu Smith-Schuster.  The Lions have no clear cut WR1 after Tate’s departure, but if they sign a lower tier option like John Brown, Matthew Stafford could look evenly split targets among Brown, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay.

Moncrief and Wallace aren’t viable #1 receivers at this point, but they could still be a big help for WR needy teams.  Moncrief could be a good option for the Pats, rather than overspending for Golden Tate.  I have Wallace returning to the Eagles to play alongside Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor.  This trio never played together despite being lined up as Philly’s top 3 receivers on the depth chart in 2018 training camp.

WR Depth Options

The Bills need more than just Bryant or Metcalf – maybe they can pair up Bryant with Beasley, his former teammate.  The Ravens could also use some more depth at WR.  Funchess isn’t a top tier option, but if they cannot land or draft someone top tier, he will have to do.  Maybe they can pair Funchess with a rookie WR1.  The Chiefs may not bring in anyone new, but they could bring back Conley to play behind Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.

The Colts could use some more experienced options across from T.Y. Hilton – Matthews could be a good choice.  They could always draft someone to split time as the #2 receiver with him.  Williams upped his value this season, but I still cannot see many teams paying him WR1 money.  The Jets could use another depth option behind Tate, especially if Robby Anderson leaves.  The Patriots need all the quality WRs they can afford, so Dorsett could be a good option to bring back considering his developing chemistry with Tom Brady.

Top Tier TEs

Eifert has a concerning injury history, and I think it’s time for Cincinnati to move on.  But Detroit could pair him with a drafted TE to ensure security at the position.  Kroft will return to Cincy with Eifert on his way out.  Kroft will return to Cincy with Eifert on his way out.  The Saints could also use a veteran TE alongside the young Dan Arnold, and Cook might be the most consistent veteran on the market.  It would be smart for the Texans to target Noah Fant or T.J. Hockenson in the draft, but signing a veteran in the meantime couldn’t hurt, and James could be a good mentor for their new TE.

Lewis and Rodgers are not cut out to be a team’s #1 tight end at this point.  But they can provide depth as a TE2, with Lewis backing up Vance McDonald and Rodgers backing up Chris Herndon IV.

WR/TE Depth Options

Darnold needs more consistent receivers, so I could see the Jets moving on from Robby Anderson.  Anderson could be a good depth piece in Cleveland, serving as the WR2 over Antonio Callaway.  Humphries is also going into free agency expecting WR2 money.  But I think he will have to settle for a little less, and if his price drops, the Pats may be willing to pay for him for additional depth.  He is a good fit in New England.  Despite a disappointing 2018, I could still see Benjamin contributing behind Davante Adams in Green Bay.  They’ll need to draft a younger receiver to play alongside them though.

If the Lions sign anyone else at TE besides Eifert, I don’t think it will be their 2018 tight end Luke Willson.  Josh Hill has a slightly better track record and could be a good bargain for the Lions.  I see Willson returning to Seattle to compete for playing time with Will Dissly, Ed Dickson, and others.  Kendricks was the most consistent of Green Bay’s tight ends this year, so look for them to retain him alongside Jimmy Graham.

 

Wow, that’s a lot of quality free agents.  The madness will begin in a little over a week.  Stay tuned for more predictions later in the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pats Stun Pittsburgh and Steal Win

With 8 minutes left in the game, the Pats were down by eight points, and I was losing hope.  I don’t know how they won.  They had a nice drive going, but Pats QB Tom Brady was sacked, and they were held to a field goal.  Then they took a 27-24 lead in a 2-minute drill by scoring a TD and a 2-point conversion.  But they left 1-minute for the Steelers.  They almost blew it.  On the first play with 52 seconds left, the Pats couldn’t get their hands on Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster on a short pass over the middle as he escaped tacklers and scurried down the field for 69 yards.  On the next play, TE Jesse James scored a TD on a pass up the middle diving into the end zone.  But video replay reversed the call.  2 plays later with no timeouts left and about 15 seconds left, Big Ben faked the spike and then tried to force a pass up the middle.  Eric Rowe deflected it right into the hands of Harmon, stunning the Steelers, and stealing the win

The Patriots won in comeback fashion in what was arguably the game of the year, as the Pats beat Pittsburgh 27-24.  You could argue that there was no tangible evidence to overturn the Steelers last-minute touchdown but the resilience the Pats showed leading up to the play, they deserved a call in their favor.  It all started on New England’s first drive.

QB Tom Brady and WR Brandin Cooks tried to set the tone early as Brady threw Cooks a 43-yard pass that brought the Patriots into the red zone within the first five minutes of the game.  RB Rex Burkhead ran in for the TD and the Pats took the early 7-0 lead.

Image result for brandin cooks 43 yard catch vs steelers

But the Steelers weren’t about to let New England win easy.  Using the Patriots’ defensive weaknesses to their advantage, they marched down the field and responded with an 18 yard TD of their own, tying the game at 7.

The Steelers didn’t stop there.  In the next drive, their defense thrived, sacking Tom Brady and forcing them to punt.  Led by a 39-yard Martavis Bryant reception, they had another big drive following that.  But after Bryant’s nice catch, the Pats were at least able to hold Pittsburgh to a field goal.  It was now 10-7 Steelers as Chris Boswell made a 51-yard field goal.  But Steelers superstar WR Antonio Brown had hurt his calf, and he was taken to the hospital.

Image result for antonio brown injury

The Pats countered with another big play drive, this time a 31-yard catch by Pats TE Rob Gronkowski and the Pats were able to tie it up again at 10.   This was just one of two catches Gronk made in the 1st half, but he made a huge impact in the 2nd half.  But before the half, the Steelers were able to score 1 more TD, while also preventing a Patriots double score opportunity as their drive burned most of the 2nd quarter clock.  The Steelers clock-eating drives were led by star RB Le’Veon Bell, who dominated against the depleted Pats front seven.  They did not slow down even with Brown out of the game.  The Pats would get the ball in the 2nd half but would have to do so without RB Rex Burkhead who was knocked out of the game with a knee injury.

Image result for leveon bell vs pats

The Pats began the 2nd half with a strong drive as Brandin Cooks scored a touchdown after Gronk began to make a bigger impact.  But they missed the extra point which put them down by one 17-16.  After they shut the Steelers down, the Pats were ready to score again.  But Tom Brady was intercepted early in the drive.  Le’Veon Bell led the Steelers into the end zone quickly, and the Pats were now down by eight, 24-16.

As the 4th quarter began, the Steelers had the ball, and they began to eat up a lot of time as they tried to hold off the Patriots.  They held onto the ball for the first 7 minutes of the 4th quarter, leaving the Pats down by eight with just 8 minutes to come back.  In their first drive of the 4th quarter, they started off strong.  Gronk almost caught a 23-yard pass and the Steelers were penalized for clear pass interference.  However, Brady got sacked on third down after a pair of incompletions, and they were held to a field goal.

It wasn’t over though.  The Pats shut down the Steelers on the next drive with the only 3 and out for either team and got the ball back with a little over two minutes to go.  If they could successfully complete this 2-minute drill for a TD, they could secure a victory.  They marched down the field, as Gronk caught three straight passes for a total of 69 yards.  You could argue that his final catch was almost as good as WR Julian Edelman’s catch in Super Bowl LI.  Gronk just barely saved the ball before it hit the ground.

Image result for rob gronkowski vs steelers 2017

RB Dion Lewis ran it in for the touchdown, but New England scored too fast going 77 yards in 1:10.  They needed to go for the 2-point conversion to take a 3-point lead and at the very least hold Pittsburgh to a field goal and head into overtime.  Brady tossed it to Gronk for the conversion.  Gronk finished the 2nd half with 7 receptions for 135 yards, making a huge impact.  The Steelers had a little under a minute to respond.

The Steelers were confident that they could still win it, and Big Ben completed one 69-yard pass to WR JuJu Smith-Schuster.  As the Pats couldn’t get their hands on Smith-Schuster, the Steelers were able to do what the Pats did in three passes in just one big play.  The Steelers then scored with what was ruled a touchdown by TE Jesse James.  But the call was reversed, giving hope to all the Patriots fans out there, including me.  Two plays later, Big Ben tried to throw a TD again, but this time, he was picked off by Duron Harmon!  The Pats had done it again!

Image result for juju smith schuster vs pats

A couple minutes earlier, I had thought the Pats were done, and I was hoping they could hold on to the 3rd seed.  But now they lead the AFC after a stunning comeback victory.

There were two huge plays that secured the Pats their current #1 seed edge showing #1 seed confidence under tough road pressure in Pittsburgh.  Without the 2-point conversion, Pittsburgh would’ve likely won on a field goal after Smith-Schuster’s catch and run play.  The Pats held on with a great goal-line interception by Harmon.  The Pats lead the league in goal-line stops and today’s play was arguably the most clutch of the year.

This game reminded me of Super Bowl XLIX.  The Pats won in a comeback, a lot of points were scored late in the game, and the Pats secured victory with an interception after the opposing team almost scored.  The one major difference was the time left on the clock.  Super Bowl XLIX ended with a bad coaching decision, but in this game, Big Ben made the mistake forcing a pass instead of throwing it away to give his team a shot in overtime with a short field goal.

With this win, the Pats clinch the division and take the AFC lead.  They control their own destiny and will secure the #1 seed with 2 division wins at home.  Can they do it?

 

 

Fantasy Football Must-Starts and Must-Sits for Week 10

At this point in the season, from a fantasy point of view, things are getting harder to decide.  So it’s about time I give you some advice to help sort out your starters from your bench players.  First off, here are my rankings at the 4 major positions for this week.  I have included ratings that I have found by combining the what the player’s rank would be if your draft was today, and some match-up analysis ratings.

week10ratings

Okay, so I’m going to go through each match-up, and for each match-up I will have a must-start or must-sit and the rating for that player.  The ratings are from 0 to 60, 60 is absolutely insane, and 0 is terrible.  Most players are somewhere in between.  Anyone who I say has a must-start match-up should be started under all means.  A must-sit should not be started under any conditions.

gbpackers2.jpg @ tennessee-titans.

Must-Start

Image result for randall cobb Randall Cobb, WR, GB (43.5, WR11)

The Titans defense doesn’t have much against the Packers.  Their number 1 corner is Perrish Cox, and I think especially if the Titans offense presents a bit of a surprising challenge like they have several times this season, the Packers will rely on throwing to Nelson and Randall Cobb.  Nelson always gets a lot of points, but there would be a significant increase this week for Cobb, especially with the backfield lacking depth.

 

denver-broncos-logo @ nosaints

 

Must-Start

Image result for devontae booker DeVontae Booker, RB, DEN (40.5, RB13)

C.J. Anderson is likely out for the season, and despite being the underdog in this match-up, the Saints pass rush is pathetically bad, and it will cost them.  The Broncos will take advantage of this, and it will be easier to get big time yardage from running the ball, possibly even more TDs.  This will be good for Booker, as he should get most of this backfield work.  So he should get you at least 10 points.  Trust me on this.

 

Image result for los angeles rams @ Jets-Logo

Must-Start

Image result for quincy enunwa Quincy Enunwa, WR, NYJ (34.5, WR26)

With Eric Decker on IR, Enunwa has gotten a lot more work.  The Rams secondary isn’t great, so I would start both Enunwa and Brandon Marshall.  Trumaine Johnson is really the only reliable corner for the Rams, and he’ll be covering Marshall, making things even easier for Enunwa.  The Jets are in favor here, but they will have to pass.  Things will be tough because both teams have their weaknesses.  Enunwa will be a key factor in whether the Jets win or lose.

atlfalcons @ philadelphia-eagles-logo

Must-Start

Image result for carson wentz Carson Wentz, QB, PHI (36, QB12)

I know Wentz has struggled lately, but I just have a feeling that the Eagles will take advantage of the Falcons’ weaknesses at home, look like themselves from earlier this season, and take the win.  Wentz should have it relatively easy as the Falcons do lack depth on defense, and there will be match-ups that other Eagles players take advantage of.  Jordan Matthews will take advantage of the fact that the Falcons only have one strong  corner.  Zach Ertz will also take advantage of the defensive depth problems that could help Wentz.  So, this is definitely a good match-up for Eagles offensive players.  It’s all in the hands of Carson Wentz how well they do.

Image result for chicago bears @ tampabaybuccaneers
Must-Start

 Jameis Winston, QB, TB (42.5, QB8)

This is like the ultimate must-start here.  The offense should improve with Doug Martin back, and the Bears defense may not be able to handle the offense.  Their pass rush is pathetic and the secondary is lacking depth and superstars.  After what he did last week, Mike Evans should be a major target too, and this is a great match-up for him too, because it could be a close game that’s decided by big plays if the Bucs defense lets their guard down too.  Either way, Winston should get involved in the action.

 

min-vikings-logo2.gif @ washingtonredskins2

Must-Sit

Image result for kirk cousins Kirk Cousins, QB, WSH (28.5, QB21)

This is really a tough match-up for Cousins.  He will be under a lot of pressure against a defense that has scored multiple TDs this season, and is one of the fantasy leaders defensively.  With that, it’s got to be hard for opposing QBs.  This entire offense will have a challenge, and it’s not any easier without Matt Jones at his best and DeSean Jackson or Josh Doctson even playing.  It’ll be hard or the Redskins to even win, even with a strong secondary of their own.

 

kansas-city-chiefs-logo @ carolina-panthers-logo

Must-Start

 

  Spencer Ware, RB, KC (40, RB14)

Ware should come back strong this week, especially after what he’s done so far this year, most of it with Jamaal Charles active.  Charcandrick West may still get some backfield work, but he was semi-bust material last week, and Ware’s been awesome all year.  Ware might have earned the job for even when Charles is active.  I know the Panthers pass rush is a lot tougher than the secondary, but the Chiefs are lacking receiver depth with Jeremy Maclin out, so the Chiefs may have to run the ball.  Just the fact that he’s getting a heavier workload could be to his advantage.

hou-texans @ jacksonvile-jaguars

Must-Sit

Image result for allen robinson Allen Robinson, WR, JAX

I actually just traded for Robinson, because somebody wanted to sell him high, and I needed an extra receiver. I have three other good receivers to start though, OBJ, Brandon Marshall and Jarvis Landry.  Now that I did my research, I realized I need to take my own advice.  This Texans defense is very good, Robinson hasn’t lived up to his expectations, and is only at about the level of Allen Hurns this year, and the Jags have had a tough time against tough defenses.  The Texans have one of those defenses.

 

Dolphins-logo @ San_Diego_Chargers

Must-Start

 Image result for antonio gates Antonio Gates, TE, SD (43, TE5)

There aren’t many must start tight ends, but Gates is in a pretty good match-up for this week.  Gates should take advantage of a Dolphins defense that has it’s problems.  Hunter Henry is questionable, and Gates is back to full health.  I think the Chargers will win this game because they will tsake advantage of favorable positional match-ups, and Gates is favored in his match-up.

 

sf-49ers.jpg @ az-cards.jpg

Must-Sit

 Carlos Hyde, RB, SF (27, RB35)

Hyde is already questionable, and may be limited if he’s active.  The Cardinals defense is also very tough, so Hyde will have additional problems that the entire offense will face.  Even with the Cardinals slumping, this is a tough, unfavorable match-up.  Hyde is a bust for this week, whether he plays or not.

dalcowboyslogonew @pittsburgh-steelers

 Must-Sit

Image result for jesse james steelers Jesse James, TE, PIT (27, TE20)

Image result for jason witten            Jason Witten, TE, PIT & DAL (32, TE16)

Both of thse tight ends are in a bad position.  James won’t get as heavy a workload with Ladarius Green returning, and the Cowboys have decent defense that can pressure him and his offense.  Witten is facing a pretty tough linebacker corps, along with a strong week for a lot of tight ends.  Witten’s value is going down solely because he’s not a Top 12 tight end.  He’s also getting older, so he can only do so much for your fantasy team.  Tight ends won’t be targeted much in this game, especially with Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant healthy for it.

seattle-seahawks.jpg @ New_England_Patriots.jpg

Must-Sit

Image result for christine michael Christine Michael, RB, SEA (28.5, RB32)

Michael has not been as good in the last couple of games, and the Patriots defense won’t let him bulldoze through.  C.J. Prosise is cutting into his workload, and soon Thomas Rawls will too.  He’s not the lock-in RB1 at this point.  Michael has a very tough match-up, his workload is shrinking, and he’s not a reliable option this Sunday.  Michael could soon become a drop candidate if he does not have another big game.

cincinnati-bengals @ new-york-giants-logo

Must-Start

 

 Sterling Shepard, NYG, WR (36.5, WR24)

        Victor Cruz, NYG, WR   (33, WR29)

OBJ has a good match-up, but he’s not the only Giants receiver that will get a fantasy workload.  Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz could be deciding factors in whether the Giants win or lose.  They have good match-ups has the secondary’s attention will be on OBJ, so all three receivers will put up a lot of points.  If you have OBJ, Shepard or Cruz, start your Giants receiver this week.

Okay, so this week is going to be a week of close match-ups.  But there shouldn’t be any tough decisions fantasy-wise if you start the must-starts, sit the must-sits, and go by my rating index at QB, RB, WR and TE.