The NFL’s “legal tampering period” (AKA the real start to free agency, but with a delayed signing) started on Monday. Through the first couple of days, some clear winners and losers emerged. It’s been long enough for us to do a quick round-up of the fantasy football implications from the first 48 hours or so of NFL free agency. So far, the weirdest market has been running back. Here are some winners and losers from that position in the first couple of days of free agency.
Isaiah Crowell, New York Jets
Isaiah Crowell broke free from a franchise who wanted to platoon him with Duke Johnson to a franchise that wants to platoon him with Bilal Powell. I don’t think much of Crowell, to be honest, but I think much, much less of Bilal Powell. Powell is a third-down back at this point in his career, leaving Crowell to rule the first couple of downs. The downside of landing with the Jets? He landed with the Jets. His signal caller is a brewing competition between Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Freaking Hackenberg, literally the first QB to be drafted in the first two rounds and not play a single snap in his first couple of years. On the plus side, he may be literally the only quality offensive weapon they have for the entire season.
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina
The Panthers jettisoned New Frank Gore (Jonathon Stewart), who signed with the Giants on day two of free agency madness. This leaves Christian McCaffrey as the preferred back in Carolina, a role that should build upon his 2017 success as a satellite back by adding some additional between-the-tackles banging to his game. The Panthers are now front runners to add a big bruiser back to spell McCaffrey (Eddie Lacy, maybe?), but for the time being, he’s a big winner in free agency via addition by subtraction. Either way, his bigger pie means good things for his fantasy football stock in 2018.
Carlos Hyde, Not a Single Dang Place
Every running back of any value has at least a couple suitors rumored to be in on their services. The newest Titan, Dion Lewis, reportedly had literally 25% of the league vying for his services. For some insane reason, the closest thing we get is that maybe the Colts might be somewhat interested in perhaps signing Hyde to reprise his role as “guy who follows up Frank Gore.” The Niners aren’t interested in bringing him back, and seemingly nobody is interested in bringing him in. It’s going to be a rough go for Hyde, as apparently nobody wants an extremely talented running back at his asking price.
[Editors Note: between writing this and publishing, Carlos Hyde signed with the Browns. The Browns are almost certainly going to draft Saquon Barkley, and they already have Duke Johnson. There’s no role for him in Cleveland, so he’s still a loser here]
Derrick Henry, Tennessee
It’s been an overwhelming couple of days for Derrick Henry truthers and dyno stock owners. The Titans jettisoned his only competition for production in the Tennessee backfield when they bounced DeMarco Murray. This had Henry Stans were cheering in the streets. Then the Titans went out and got a complimentary back in Dion Lewis at an insane contract value (4/$20 million). This suggests that he will share more than just third-down duties with Henry, and they were jeering in the streets. By the thousands. It’s going to be a rough go of it for Derrick Henry owners this season, right up until Dion Lewis literally breaks in week two.