Fantasy Football News Roundup
Ted and Doc give their fantasy football takes on the most important moves from this week.
Although we haven't yet reached the true offseason, the franchise tag deadline meant this week had plenty of big NFL moves. I've already covered the Derek Carr signing in-depth, but now I'm teaming up with Dr. Roto to give you some quick-hitting fantasy analysis on the rest of the relevant moves from this week.
Dallas Cowboys Franchise Tag Tony Pollard
In an expected move, the Cowboys hold on to one of the league's most efficient runners for one more year. From a fantasy perspective, this is good, but not great, news for Pollard. Dallas has made it clear they don't view Pollard as a true workhorse back, giving him over 60% of snaps just twice in 2022. It is still unclear whether Ezekiel Elliott will also be around in 2023, but if not, expect Dallas to add another back, whether through the draft or free agency, especially given that Pollard will be coming off a broken ankle suffered in the playoffs. Pollard has shown he can produce as a top-10 fantasy back in a timeshare role in this offense, and we can expect that again in 2023. Just don't expect him to be handed complete control of the backfield and elevate to top-five status.
Doc’s Take: Lots of rumors have been surfacing recently that Zeke might be a cap casualty which will really benefit Pollard. However, HC Mike McCarthy seems to be committed to the run game and Pollard is awful in pass protection. Look for Dallas to likely draft an RB and pair him with Pollard for a one-two punch.
Las Vegas Raiders Franchise Tag Josh Jacobs
A year after they declined his rookie fifth-year option, the Raiders paid a slightly more expensive price to hold onto last season's top rusher. This locks Jacobs into another year of elite volume and almost certainly another season of RB1 production. Fantasy players are clearly expecting some regression from Jacobs, who is being drafted as RB10 in early Best Ball drafts despite finishing 2022 as the RB3 overall. To me, that's a discount worth taking.
Doc’s Take: Just last year, I was burying Jacobs and buying into all the Zamir White hype. That turned out to be a major disaster. Jacobs is the clear lead back in Las Vegas and I expect him to contend for a rushing title.
NFL Reinstates Calvin Ridley After Year-Long Suspension
This is another move that shouldn't move the fantasy needle much, as we almost 100% knew this was coming – the Jaguars wouldn't have traded for Ridley without being fairly confident they would see him on the field. But it will, especially considering the hype that will be generated by Ridley's incredible Player's Tribune piece. If you roster Ridley on a rebuilding Dynasty team, now might be a good time to cash out on the 28-year-old who hasn't played since Week 7 of 2021, although you could also wait for the inevitable training camp hype to push him even higher. On the other hand, Ridley was the WR4 the last time he played a full season, and now he gets to play with ascending star Trevor Lawrence. His huge upside will see him drafted in the early rounds, and I can't disagree with the logic – upside wins championships, after all. Just don't let the hype blind you to the real risk that comes with his season-and-a-half-long absence.
Doc’s Take: I just shared Ridley's Player's Tribune article on Facebook as I was so impressed with Ridley’s statement and think that Jacksonville is the perfect place for him to continue his career. Paired with Trevor Lawrence and surrounded by Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram, Ridley feels like a late sixth-round pick as of today, but I can see him steaming up to a fourth by Labor Day.
Geno Smith Signs Deal With Seahawks
As the former first-rounder cashes in on his late-career renaissance, this likely takes the Seahawks out of the running for a rookie signal-caller in this year's draft. Geno finished 2022 as a top-five fantasy QB, but don't expect another elite season in 2023. His peripheral stats went from actually elite early in 2022 to just okay in the second half of the season. On the other hand, his current ADP of QB17 in Best Ball Drafts is a value now that he is locked into what was a very productive environment in 2022 with two elite receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Doc’s Take: I’m happy to see Geno get paid, but it would not shock me to see the Seahawks draft a “project” QB (Anthony Richardson?) and have Geno mentor him for a couple of seasons.
Daniel Jones Extends With the Giants
Danny Dimes became Danny Dollars this week, signing a four-year $160-million contract to stay in New York. Coming off a breakout season under new Head Coach Brian Daboll in which he was QB9 in both total points and points per game, Jones will likely have another backend QB1 season in 2023. Expect some regression from his career-high seven rushing TDs, but his WR group has nowhere to go but up, and we've seen the impact adding WR talent can have on young QBs.
Doc’s Take: Last week on SiriusXM, I discussed that Jones relied on his mobility for much of his 2022 success, and I wonder how good of a QB he really is without it. The Giants were painted into a corner as they had few options if they didn’t sign Jones. For better or worse, they are tied to him for the next four seasons – which could be a good thing if he continues his ascension under Brain Daboll and Mike Kafka.
New York Giants Franchise Tag Saquon Barkley
With Jones locked up, the Giants were free to use their franchise tag on Barkley. The only question with Barkley is health, but assuming he can stay on the field in 2023, expect another elite season from the former second-overall pick.
Doc’s Take: The Giants were going to franchise either Jones or Barkley and sadly Barkley lost. He will make a little over $10 million next season as the team tries to secure him to a long-term deal. My guess is that the deal gets done before Week 1.
Baltimore Ravens Place Non-Exclusive Tag on Lamar Jackson
Despite being a move with huge NFL implications, this doesn't move the needle much in fantasy terms. Just like before the tag was placed, Lamar could start the 2023 season as a Raven, or on another roster. Until we know for certain what team he will play for, there's no need to overreact to this news from a fantasy perspective. One thing worth noting is that some teams considered likely landing spots for the former MVP (most notably the Falcons) have gone out of their way to declare themselves out of the running. Putting aside the suspicious vibes surrounding the whole thing, this should slightly lower the value of players like Drake London and Kyle Pitts, who had seen their values creep up as hype grew that they could benefit from Lamar's potential arrival.
Doc’s Take: I don’t blame Lamar one iota for wanting Deshaun Watson-type money. He has lacked receiving weapons in Baltimore, but I think they will address that with this year’s deep WR draft class. I expect Lamar to be a Raven in 2023, and I think he will be worth drafting in Rounds 6-8.
Minnesota Vikings Release Adam Thielen
The name that will likely come up the most following this news is K.J. Osborn, who looks like the Vikings' de facto WR2. However, T.J. Hockenson will still be their clear second receiving option after Justin Jefferson, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them add someone in the draft. Osborn is a very valid pick in Best Ball, but I doubt he ever has the consistency to be a weekly starter in Redraft leagues. As far as Thielen goes, his landing spot is worth monitoring, but at 32 years old coming off by far his worst season in recent memory, the former UDFA may be done as a fantasy-relevant option unless he lands in a dream scenario.
Doc’s Take: The WR free agency market is really weak and Thielen goes to the top of the class now that he has been released. Teams like New England and Baltimore should be very interested, as I don’t see Thielen playing for a non-contender at this point in his career. K.J. Osborn immediately jumps up all draft boards becoming a solid WR2 in Kevin O’Connell’s offense.