NFL Free Agency Speculation: The Best Fantasy Football Free Agents

May 5, 2011

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Assuming NFL free agency eventually begins, there will be be some frantic player movement. Teams are already behind the eight ball considering the NFL Draft has come and gone. The teams that failed to address their holes in the draft will be looking do so in free agency. A lot of the movement will depend on the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The assumption is that the league will operate under last year’s system. If you are interested in free agency in greater detail, KFFL did a great job breaking it down.
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Quarterbacks
Matt Hassellbeck is the cream of the crop, though Marc Bulger could get some run depending on where he lands. Both of those veterans have some potential in two-quarterback leagues, but probably aren’t even worth roster spots in standard leagues.
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Running Backs
DeAngelo Williams could be the top prize, if he is available. The Panthers will look to bring him back. It will depend on whether he is a restricted free agent or not. Wherever he lands, D-Will will be a solid fantasy asset, though he will likely be part of a committee like in Carolina. That said, he’s been quite effective in that role.
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Cedric Benson is even more likely to stay put. The Bengals’ draft clearly indicates that they are committed to having him in their rebuilding plans. Benson is a strong option wherever he lands, which will most like be in Cincy.
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Ahmad Bradshaw will be an attractive free agent option if he is granted unrestricted free agency. If he gets the restricted tag, he’s likely to remain a Giant. Like D-Will, Bradshaw is a solid fantasy option that will operate out of a RBBC once again wherever he lands.
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Mike Tolbert tentatively has a second round tender as a restricted free agent. Given the injuries and ineffectiveness of Ryan Mathews, Tolbert won’t make the free agency splash that Michael Turner did a few years back. My guess is that Tolbert will be overdrafted this year as Mathews plays a larger role.
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Ronnie Brown has likely played his last game in South Beach. He will draw plenty of interest, but his days of being a primary back are over. At best he is the lead back in an RBBC.
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Ricky Williams will be 34 when and if the season begins. He may have some value to an NFL team, but his days of fantasy glory are over.
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Wide Receiver
Perhaps the biggest prize in the free agent market is Vincent Jackson. The Chargers could try to bring him back, but wherever he lands he should have a much more productive season.
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Sidney Rice is another big prize.  If he is an unrestricted free agent, he’s as good as gone. Rice has dealt with injuries during his career, most notably the hip injury that cost him most of last season, but he had a huge 2009 campaign. When healthy he can both separate from cornerbacks and jump over safeties.
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Santonio Holmes is a curious case. He has already stated that he won’t sign a restricted free agent tender. He wants a long-term deal. If he’s unrestricted, he will go the highest bidder, making him hard to quantify as a fantasy prospect. That said, he will be a WR2 or a WR3 regardless of where he lands. If he is restricted and the Jets don’t want to offer a long-term deal, he will holdout.
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Braylon Edwards is also a potential free agent. He would like to return to the Jets, but could make a healthy payday if he tests the waters. His hands keep him from being a WR2, but he does have value wherever he lands.
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James Jones is one to keep an eye on. If he is an unrestricted free agent he is gone. Depending on where he lands he could be a nice WR3. If he stays in Green Bay, I’d pencil him in as a WR4.
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Then you have the old divas Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. Who knows where they will land? They are a risk in the locker room and on your fantasy team.

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