If you’re looking for splashy fantasy football moves, then day one of free agency (and the moves that preceded it) aren’t really the ones that you’re looking for. It was mostly middle-and-lower-tier quarterbacks and blocking tight ends shuffling around. But, let’s take a quick look at all the fantasy-relevant moves from day one of the free agency tampering period!
Derek Carr from Las Vegas to New Orleans
We will talk about the Vegas ramifications of Carr moving on in just a second, but the New Orleans ones are incredibly interesting. First, we’ve seen Carr support highly fantasy-relevant receivers in the past. In 2015, Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper finished 17 and 21, respectively. In 2016, they finished as WR12 and WR14. Then, in 2021, Hunter Renfrow finished as WR10; last year, Davante Adams finished as WR3. So, I don’t particularly worry about the ramifications of this move for Chris Olave, as Carr can (and will) air it out. According to PlayerProfiler.com, Carr finished top-ten in deep ball attempts in each of the last three seasons and top-five in each of the last two years. Olave will finish solidly inside the top 20, with top-15 potential, building on his top-25 finish from 2022. If Michael Thomas sticks around, then he has top-30 potential, but the last time Michael Thomas played more than half a season, COVID-19 was just an obscure rumor bubbling up in China.
As for the other weapons there, the Saints re-signed Juwan Johnson, signaling a desire to continue to build on his 508-yard, seven-touchdown breakout 2022 campaign. He falls firmly within the tight end blob, with a likelihood to be a top-twelve tight end again when all is said and done. Alvin Kamara is Alvin Kamara, and it doesn’t matter who is under center, just if he gets suspended or not.
As for Derek Carr, he remains a solidly unspectacular top-end QB2. You can get him late in 1QB drafts and see how far his weapons can take him, but ultimately, I don’t want to get him on my roster in a 1QB league, as he will fall somewhere above Andy Dalton’s finish last season. Unfortunately, “better than QB22” isn’t going to move many needles in 1QB leagues.
Jimmy Garoppolo from San Francisco to Las Vegas
With Derek Carr and Jarrett Stidham (to Denver) both moving on, and Aaron Rodgers likely landing in New York, the Raiders needed to get another marginally league-average quarterback under center, and they certainly did that with “Handsome” James “’Jimmy’ GQ” Garoppolo (who played under Josh McDaniels in New England). Carr and Garoppolo are roughly the same skill level, but Carr has his points in deep balls and Garoppolo has them in quick strike accuracy. As a 49ers fan, I can tell you that Garoppolo loves to second-guess passes, especially if they’re not wide-open, and that’s precisely where Davante Adams thrives. He’s still Davante Adams, so I’m not particularly worried, but I am going to look to soak him up in the late second or early third round, instead of him being a locked-and-loaded first/second-round turn pick. Garoppolo and Adams just don’t have matching skillsets.
Garoppolo is used to throwing short to a group of receivers who call themselves the “Super YAC Bros.” Adams isn’t really a YAC slouch (5.2, 4.8, and 4.9 yards after the catch per reception the last three years), but his average depth of target hovers between 9 and 11 yards downfield. Of Garoppolo’s primary targets in San Francisco, only Brandon Aiyuk had a consistent aDOT over 8 in the last few years with Garoppolo. This will benefit Hunter Renfrow greatly as the primary short-area target. Garoppolo’s time with George Kittle makes Darren Waller have some bounce-back appeal, as well. Garoppolo also has a history of throwing to the running back (though that was mostly Kyle Juszczyk in San Francisco), so Josh Jacobs remains a top-ten quarterback. All-in-all, Jimmy G is a slight downgrade for Adams and a slight upgrade for Renfrow and Waller. Josh Jacobs stays even. As for Garoppolo himself, see what I said about Carr in New Orleans, and slap it here. He stays a QB2 in Las Vegas, and one you hope to get as a QB3 in 2QB leagues… for as long as the injury-plagued signal-caller can stay healthy.
Sam Darnold From Carolina to San Francisco
While my current Twitter schtick is to believe in Sam Darnold, r/the_darnold style, I don’t think he’s particularly great at football. However, we have seen C.J. Beathard lead George Kittle to the tight end receiving yards record in San Francisco, we’ve seen people think that Nick Mullens was a starting-level quarterback in San Francisco, and Brock Purdy, Mr. Irrelevant, had an all-time story last season, where an injury kept him from going undefeated as a starter and caused him to miss a chance at a Super Bowl start. What do they all have in common? They weren’t all that great outside of their stints in San Francisco. So, that’s what I’m hoping for with Darnold in San Francisco: he can come in, not hurt the weapons too much, and keep their value buoyed. Strangely enough, this doesn’t change much for Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk, for me, at least. This is an insurance case against Brock Purdy and Trey Lance not being ready for the beginning of the season. It’s not thrilling, and you shouldn’t talk yourself into Sam Darnold. The best-case scenario here is to hold course and enjoy the fact that it’s March and we don’t have to worry about Sam Darnold/Brock Purdy/Trey Lance and the weapons in San Francisco until August.
Not much else happened on day one of free agency, at least from a fantasy football standpoint. Some backup QBs switched teams (Mike White to MIA, Jarrett Stidham to DEN, Case Keenum to HOU) and Josh Oliver signed with the Vikings. Oliver’s contract has a $7 million per year average annual value, which is a lot for a blocking tight end. With T.J. Hockenson on the roster, I doubt Oliver does anything, but if something happens to Hock, my former favorite sleeper tight end has some juice. Other than that, free agency day one was mostly a whole lot of nothing from a fantasy football perspective.
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