Each off-season I go through a process to get ready for the upcoming campaign, and it starts with pouring over stats from the previous season and familiarizing myself with the upcoming rookie class. But things always heat up when the league year kicks off and players start changing teams. It’s the first event on the NFL calendar that tangibly effects the fantasy landscape, and while the draft is really the final piece of the puzzle, free agency gives us our first opportunity to really dig in and start analyzing depth charts and slotting assets on a fantasy draft board.
This year’s NFL draft will definitely complicate certain positions this year, namely RB, but overall this year’s early free agent movement has been positive for fantasy football. We’ve seen some QBs get the help they need at receiver and on the OL and some wideouts emerge with better situations, for example. It hasn’t all been positive for our purposes, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far.
In what has become an annual endeavor for me, here’s my look at how I see the marketplace shaking out based on the first week of free agency activity.
Tom Brady (NE) – It’s tough to project the numbers we can expect from Brandin Cooks now that he’s in New England (yet our Graham Barfield tried like heck here). But when it comes to Brady, there’s only upside to having such a dynamic weapon at his disposal. The team lost some multiplicity with Martellus Bennett leaving, but they should make up for that with Cooks, whose straight-line speed and short-area quickness should seriously challenge defenses both vertically and horizontally. They’ve also added TE Dwayne Allen, who’s not quite as versatile as Bennett, but he can do a lot of things Bennett did. I feel the Saints have done only a so-so just using Cooks near the line of scrimmage and that he’s been a little too much of a boom-or-bust guy, as evidenced by how his YPC averaged has gone from 10.4 to 13.5 to 15.0 in 2016. Especially with Michael Thomas emerging, Cooks was trending toward being big-play reliant in N.O. But that probably won’t be the case in N.E., as Cooks can be a devastating weapon for innovative OC Josh McDaniels from anywhere on the field; in almost indefensible short-to-intermediate routes, on screens and jet sweeps, and on vertical routes from inside and outside the numbers. Brady just won the Super Bowl without Cooks and Rob Gronkowksi, an...