With moves slowing down, the first wave of free agency is over, and a lot has changed in a crazy week since the start of the open negotiating period last Monday. Led by a couple of quarterbacks and a few wide receivers, there were several big fantasy winners from the early part of the 2019 NFL offseason.
[Editor’s Note: For Fantasy Consigliere members, analytics are being updated throughout the offseason, with most big changes not coming until after next month’s draft.]
Baker Mayfield, Browns
The comparison to the Browns being like a Madden team fits after the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, as this offense is stacked with talent at the skill positions. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield now has a supporting cast that includes: OBJ, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, David Njoku, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt (suspended eight games). 2018 second-round pick Austin Corbett needs to step up at right guard for Cleveland, but if the offensive line plays well, Mayfield and this offense could put up some huge numbers. It’s only March, but the former Heisman Trophy winner should have obvious top-five upside this season.
Derek Carr, Raiders
While the Browns are the talk of the offseason to this point, the Raiders might’ve improved more than anyone on paper since last season. Antonio Brown is just as good if not better than Beckham Jr., and he was acquired without giving up a premium draft selection and a starter—he’ll make the entire offense better immediately. The Raiders also added former Charger Tyrell Williams opposite AB, along with speedster J.J. Nelson as at least a situational deep threat to stretch the field. But perhaps the most important acquisition was monstrous tackle Trent Brown for a record-breaking contract. Derek Carr has new toys to play with, and he should be comfortable in the pocket after he was pressured too often in 2018. In his second season in a Jon Gruden offense, things look promising for Carr right now.
Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
Leonard Fournette is a fantasy winner from the early portion of the 2019 NFL offseason for a couple of big reasons: 1) To this point, the Jaguars have lost three players at his position (though it’s possible T.J. Yeldon and/or Corey Grant re-sign) without adding any aside from Thomas Rawls weeks ago, and 2) Nick Foles should help bring more balance to the offense, which should put Fournette in more favorable scoring positions. Jacksonville likes to punch the ball into the end zone with their former No. 4 overall pick, and that could happen more often in 2019 if the offense improves with Foles and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
Tyrell Williams, Raiders
We’ve already established Derek Carr as a big early fantasy winner from the 2019 offseason, but one of his new receivers looks like his numbers could take a jump from last season, too. The draft could change things, but Tyrell Williams is currently the clear No. 2 receiver for the Raiders, which means a lot of single coverage with Antonio Brown drawing double-teams on the other side. Williams is a former 1,000-yard receiver for the Chargers, so he has that kind of upside if he immediately forms a nice connection with his new quarterback.
John Brown, Bills
Incumbent starting quarterback Josh Allen could also be considered a winner because the Bills added several pieces on offense, but John Brown could be the biggest beneficiary among Buffalo’s new additions. Brown’s great speed and ability to get open deep is a perfect match with Allen’s rocket arm, and Brown was an excellent fantasy asset last season when a similar quarterback was under-center for the Ravens (Joe Flacco). Brown looks like he should be at least a FLEX option in 2019.
Devin Funchess, Colts
While Dontrelle Inman and others played well during stretches opposite T.Y. Hilton last season, the Colts were aggressive in addressing one of their biggest holes on the roster, paying Devin Funchess $13 million to be their No. 2 receiver. Indy has the cap space to splurge on big one-year contracts like this, but the money still indicates they expect production from the former Panther. With Andrew Luck at quarterback, Funchess clearly has the potential for 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns as he looks to earn a long-term contract next offseason.
Phillip Dorsett, Patriots
Josh Gordon obviously cannot be counted on, and the Patriots haven’t re-signed Chris Hogan yet, so Phillip Dorsett is currently an early favorite to be a starting receiver for New England in 2019. The former first-round pick could have a sizable role increase this year after he again made clutch plays for Tom Brady last season—in which case consistent starting fantasy production would certainly be attainable.