Free agency has a major impact on fantasy football. We’re a long way from the 2018 league year, but for dynasty team owners — especially those who’ve missed the playoffs — it’s never too early to start thinking about how player values could change.
I’m going to take a look at Washington’s fantasy-relevant free agents. I will also look at some players who may not be long for the team. After a look at the free agents and possible cut candidates, I’ll circle back and do some more player or position-specific analysis.
Free Agents information and cap numbers are courtesy of OverTheCap.
As it stands, Washington currently has $52,166,676 in projected cap space heading into the new year, assuming a team salary cap figure of $178 million.
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When healthy, there are few better tight ends in the NFL than Jordan Reed. However, injuries restricted Reed to just six games in 2017. When he was on the field, his 27 receptions came with merely 7.8 yards per catch. His long injury history includes at least three concussions in the NFL. Washington could decide to wave goodbye. Colt McCoy has attempted 11 passes in the last three seasons. He was a steady if far-from-exciting presence behind Kirk Cousins. If Cousins does not return to the team, Washington could probably look to upgrade this spot.
QB, WR, TE
The biggest question mark heading into a new league year is at quarterback. Kirk Cousins has played the last two seasons on the franchise tag, and he has indicated that he would sign the tag for the third time. I find it highly unlikely that Washington would part with $34 million for one year’s work, but I didn’t think they would tag him last year either. Until this is sorted, the rest of the offense is something of a mystery.
Most of the wide receivers behind Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson are free agents and are unlikely to be back in 2018. Crowder has been a solid contributor, with 133 receptions for 1,636 yards over the last two seasons. Doctson did rebound after a dreadful rookie campaign, but he didn’t rebound that far. He scored six touchdowns but had more than 52 yards in a game just four times. He caught a disappointing 44.9 percent of his targets. Terrelle Pryor was an unmitigated disaster as a free agent signing. He ended up catching just 20 passes for 240 yards and a single TD before landing on injured reserve. Whoever lines up behind center will need some serious assistance from his skill position colleagues.
The same goes for the TE spot. If Reed is released,1 it would leave the veteran Vernon Davis and second-year player George Sprinkle as the only recognized TEs on the roster. Davis is 33 years old, while Sprinkle caught just two passes in 2017.
Washington hasn’t been afraid to make a splash in free agency during the Dan Snyder era. With the check of Scott McCloughan no longer staying Snyder’s hand, they could be players again come March. Jimmy Graham is unlikely to return to the Seahawks and could be open to chasing the dollar with Washington. Within the NFC East, Trey Burton may have played himself out of the Eagles’ price range with his play in relief of Zach Ertz.
Jay Gruden was the offensive coordinator for the Bengals when the team drafted Tyler Eifert in 2013. With his injury history, he may have to settle for a prove-it deal somewhere other than Cincinnati. As far as WR goes, the biggest name that could be on the market would be Sammy Watkins. But given the presence of Doctson, Washington may decide not to throw money after a player who has become seriously boom or bust on diminished volume.
All of these questions fade into secondary importance behind the team establishing the identity of their QB for 2018, and maybe beyond. The QB market is distressingly barren outside a controversial rookie class. It would seem ridiculous for Washington to allow Cousins to walk out the door…but they’ve painted themselves into quite a corner.
- With Niles Paul also likely out the door (back)