The Fantasy Football offseason is typically when a lot of casual players will take a break from thinking about the NFL. But not me, and since you’re reading this, apparently not you either. 

 

The best fantasy managers are those who are willing to make a year-round commitment to the game. They get excited about the offseason and love gaining an edge while others aren’t paying attention. To help you do that, I’m identifying the five biggest pending free agents by position and talking through how the offseason could impact their value. Then, I’ll provide you with a final buy/sell verdict. 

This piece is primarily geared toward dynasty managers since moves can be made throughout the offseason, but even season-long managers can learn a thing or two here.

Quarterbacks

Star quarterbacks don’t typically hit free agency, so the names in this category aren’t as enticing as some of the names at other positions. Still, there’s plenty of value to be gained – especially if you play in Superflex formats – if you can get ahead of the market here.

  • Tom Brady – Once again, we see the battle of Tom Brady vs. Father Time. Eventually Tom’s not going to win this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he keeps fighting for at least one more round. For QB-needy teams, I’d kick the tires and see if Brady can be had for a late-round pick. The gamble that he provides value in 2023 is worth more than a third- or fourth-round pick in my eyes.
  • Daniel Jones – The Giants may just be onto something. After being one of the worst teams in the league in 2021, they just won their first playoff game with Brian Daboll at the helm. Despite a weak supporting cast around him and a lack of certainty around his future in New York, Daniel Jones had a career year and appears to be trending upward. It sounds like the Giants are trying to keep the band together in 2023, and I’d gladly buy Jones from any manager who’s itching to sell.  
  • Jimmy Garoppolo – We thought it was happening last year, but I think we can all say with confidence now that the Jimmy Garoppolo era is all but officially over in San Francisco. There’s a chance Garoppolo starts elsewhere next year, but there isn’t a world where a change of scenery improves his production. The supporting cast he had with the 49ers was the best in the league, and I’d sell now if anyone thinks him starting elsewhere is a good thing for his fantasy value. 
  • Geno Smith – Who had Geno Smith leading the Seahawks to the playoffs on their bingo card entering the season? No one? Ok I thought so. Smith has had an unexpected career year as Seattle’s starter, and it looks like he’ll be given that role again at least for one more year (even if Seattle drafts someone). Smith isn’t the long-term answer, but QB-needy teams should at least do a price check on his buying window
  • Jacoby Brissett – While filling in for a suspended Deshaun Watson, Jacoby Brissett played admirably. He wasn’t a fantasy superstar, but he posted solid numbers and was a high-floor, low-ceiling QB2. There’s a chance Brissett starts somewhere next year, but I’d consider him the least likely name on this list to do anything. If someone in your league feels otherwise, I’d gladly sell for whatever I can get.
 

Running Backs

Now this is where the fantasy offseason is going to get crazy. The names below have all shown an ability to post RB1 numbers, and there’s plenty of additional RB talent not listed here that could land in a comfortable spot as a team's lead back. Some of the names below will frustratingly get stuck in a committee, while others could wind up in dream landing spots. Predicting this isn’t easy, but this is a good reminder to bet on talent and age more than landing spot in dynasty formats.

Saquon Barkley RB New York Giants
  • Saquon Barkley – Throughout most of this season, Saquon Barkley was my dynasty RB1. The talent is there, the workload was too and his age puts him right in the heart of his prime. Barkley is 26 years old, which means his value is at its peak. It may be hard to stomach, but I’d shop Barkley around to see if another manager in your league is willing to give you a massive haul for him. It’ll suck seeing him produce elite numbers for another team for the next year or two, but I'd rather sell a year too early than a year too late.
  • Tony Pollard – After being stuck behind Ezekiel Elliott for the start of his career, Tony Pollard and his fantasy managers are likely salivating over the idea of an RB1 workload in 2023 and beyond. Pollard was fantastic this year, and toward the end of the year he started out-touching Elliott consistently. It may not feel like it because he’s been a backup for so long now, but Pollard is about to turn 26 as well. Unlike Barkley, though, Pollard doesn’t come with the same injury and work load history. I’d bet on him being able to continue producing at a high level a little later into his 20’s.

Update: Pollard suffered a broken leg in Sunday’s NFC Divisional game in San Francisco. Make sure to read up on his potential recovery time before making any decisions in dynasty. 

  • Josh Jacobs – If we remember back to the preseason, many fantasy analysts were quick to bury Josh Jacobs in their rankings after he got snaps in the Hall of Fame game… Oops. All Jacobs has done since then is finish the season as RB1 in fantasy. Someone’s going to pay him to be a workhorse next year, and it’s going to cause his fantasy value to go through the roof. If you can buy now, I’d do it while the uncertainty is still swirling and suppressing his value.
  • Miles Sanders Similar to Jacobs, Miles Sanders was another back fantasy analysts wanted to bury in their rankings during the offseason. He’s always posted great efficiency numbers (career avg of 5.0 yards per attempt), but he surrendered valuable touches to other backs in Philly, and Jalen Hurts has been the team's best goal-line weapon. Some NFL teams may look at his efficiency numbers and pay him to be their RB1. I’d hold until that happens and try to sell high when it does. Sanders is a good player, but much of his efficiency came from running behind the league’s best offensive line and the threat of Hurts’ legs.
  • Kareem Hunt – For years, Kareem Hunt’s fantasy managers have been begging for him to get the opportunity to serve as a team's RB1. This may finally be the year it happens, but I’m starting to think it’s a year too late. Hunt posted a career-low 3.8 yards per carry this year, and it looks as though the decline is coming. If anyone’s buying based on the idea of him landing an RB1 role somewhere, I'd sell ASAP.

Wide Receivers

The wide receiver position is much weaker in 2023 free agency compared to past seasons. There aren’t many superstar names who are going to be available, but a few WR2/WR3 type players could see a change of scenery that could help build some valuable depth.

  • JuJu Smith-Schuster – Unfortunately, the time to sell the landing spot hype on JuJu Smith-Schuster has already passed. After signing a one-year deal with the Chiefs, he was fine yet unexciting. It’s becoming increasingly clear that his early-career stardom was largely a reflection of the double coverage Antonio Brown received. The best way for Smith-Schuster to improve value may actually be to play second fiddle on a team with a bonafide No. 1 option.
  • Darius Slayton – Another New York Giant appears on this list. Darius Slayton quietly averaged a whopping 15.7 yards per catch this year. His big-play ability wasn’t consistent from a fantasy perspective, but it provided value in the much-improved Giants offense. If Slayton finds a home with an offense more dedicated to the vertical passing game, he could provide sneaky value in 2023 and beyond. I’d throw a dart and see if you can buy on the cheap before free agency.
  • Jakobi Meyers – The Patriots offense was a mess this year, but Jakobi Meyers was one of the few bright spots. He didn’t play like a superstar, but he saw consistent targets and finished the season with 67 catches despite missing a few games. Meyers is a guy who’s worth trying to acquire as a depth piece – especially in PPR leagues.
  • Allen Lazard – It’s hard to imagine Allen Lazard’s landing spot does anything to boost his fantasy value this year. Even with all the hype around him being Aaron Rodgers’ No. 1 option entering 2022, there wasn’t much excitement on the field. Much like Smith-Schuster, the best time to sell Lazard was this past offseason, but the second-best time may be right now.
  • DJ Chark – The DJ Chark signing didn’t end up panning out for the Lions, but he still has one of the most impressive resumes of anyone on this list. He was a force in his early days in Jacksonville before his knee injury, and it wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world to see him get closer to that form another year into his recovery. I’d try buying Chark on the cheap because we’ve seen the upside before, and it likely won’t cost much to get him.

Tight Ends

Much like the tight end value in fantasy football, the outlook for tight ends in free agency isn’t too promising. Few names on the below list have proven to be reliable starters throughout their careers, but a change of scenery could do wonders – or completely erase – their fantasy value.

  • Dalton Schultz The headliner of this year’s tight end class is Dalton Schultz, and it’s anyone’s guess where he’ll end up. The Cowboys have some tough cap decisions to make, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Schultz wind up playing elsewhere in 2023. I’ve always thought Schultz’s production was more a reflection of Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense than individual talent, so I’d consider selling if another landing spot gives the illusion of a value increase.
  • Mike Gesicki – Typically the tight ends who play like big slot receivers are gold for fantasy football. Unfortunately that hasn’t really been the case for Mike Gesicki. He’s more of a matchup piece than an every-down player, and I’m not sure he has the well-rounded skill set for that to change regardless of landing spot. If a team pays him WR-like money to play for them, that could change things. Gesicki is a guy whose value will hinge not so much on where he lands, but on how much he gets paid. If it’s a big number, the team signing him will likely have bigger plans for him than Miami did.
  • Evan Engram – Was late-season Evan Engram a fluke or is he just a late bloomer? Engram tore it up throughout the latter portion of the season, and his growth moved in tandem with the emergence of Trevor Lawrence. It’s unlikely Engram continues posting elite numbers moving forward, but we saw glimpses of what he can do with a good quarterback on his side, and that upside alone makes him a hold.
  • Irv Smith – Irv Smith has been a popular sleeper for a while now, but he’s yet to provide any real fantasy value. T.J. Hockenson proved that situation wasn’t what was holding back the TE position in Minnesota, so if anyone in your league believes a new landing spot for Smith will drastically boost his value, I’d try to sell for whatever I can get.
  • Donald Parham – This is one of my favorite DEEP sleepers at the tight end position. Donald Parham has a freakish combination of size and athleticism, but he’s yet to put it all together to become a consistent football player. Much like with Gesicki, Parham’s more of a matchup weapon than a true tight end right now. For those same reasons, paying attention to the money rather than the destination will once again be the savvy move to make.