Dynasty: 2021 Free Agent Targets
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
By Ron Brown @Headbutturface
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Finding underused and misused players that could have a new team in the subsequent years free agency class is always something I evaluate when making moves in my dynasty leagues. Bare in mind, it’s not the only driving factor for making a move, but one of many. This exercise can drive some of my decisions especially when you find a player that can take the next step and gain value. I like to try and preemptively make the move(s) now (the offseason before the player becomes a free agent) to avoid the rush and value spike that is inevitable. Below is a non-exhaustive list of players that have a shot to increase in value once they have found a new home.
All players are UFA’s with contracts expiring in 2021.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the absolutely tremendous 2021 WR free agent class. I am going to be fascinated how this plays out. The talent is outstanding and the salary cap is bound to increase giving teams the means to resign or sign these studs. Contrary to that, the 2021 WR class in the draft is going to be loaded once again. This is really an interesting position the teams are being put in. Do they draft a rookie to save money and allocate funds to other positions of need? Do they keep their own? Or do they go big in FA and sign a big money new comer? From a macro/league-wide perspective, this is something I “nerd out” over. I have a feeling the mid-tier WRs will suffer, but time will tell.
The 2021 RB Free Agent class is similarly loaded. There is serious star power in this group. I will say this, there are very few RBs I would ever give a second contract. There are a few are in this crop that would make me reconsider this approach. It is that good.
Using significant resources on running backs is where the analytics community and the NFL diverge. I don’t mean to get into a RB’s don’t matter debate, but they just don’t move the needle when it comes to wins or rushing efficiency. This has been written about ad nauseam by some very smart folks and their content is all over the Internet. Please give it a read for context. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, this 2021 class will be a great litmus test to see where the NFL teams stand on this topic.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – It is debatable if a new potential landing spot in 2021 will have much bearing on JuJu’s value. If he can rebound from his disappointing 2019 and perform like he did in 2018, it will go a long way to gaining his value back. Amazingly, Smith-Schuster will only be 24 going into free agency. There is nothing but upside here. With his current discount, I would be looking to grab all the JuJu you can get.
Curtis Samuel – Curtis, you burned me last year. You burned me, but I cant quit you now. I can’t quit you on the precipice of your freedom. Samuel constantly creates separation and just needs a system that will effectively use him and feed him targets. His game still needs some refinements and I am not sure what he will do in Carolina this year. The right landing spot could really boost his value in 2021.
Corey Davis – Corey Davis has disappointed so many in the dynasty community. He was the 1.01 in many 2017 rookie drafts and has crushed that many souls. Landing spot is key here, but with his current low price tag and the fact he is still only 25, there is still hope for a late breakout for Davis.
Allen Robinson – What do Christian Hackenberg, Blake Bortles and Mitch Trubisky all have in common? They have been the QBs throwing Allen Robinson the ball the past 10 years. This is objectively terrible and despite this, Robinson has transcended the horrid QB play and been a star. Please Football Gods, give Allen Robinson a competent QB in 2021. For this reason alone, Robinson’s value could explode in this age 28 season.
Other Notable Free Agents
Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images
Joe Mixon – I know what you are thinking, “Joe Mixon gaining value after hitting free agency? You lost your mind.” The thing is that while Mixon is heavily used in the run game, the Bengals are yet to take advantage of his passing chops. He is very good out of the backfield and underutilized. If Mixon was to sign with a team that will fully tap in to his passing game upside , it could result him being the top scoring RB in the league.
Matt Breida – I am not sure Matt Breida will ever be a bell-cow running back. However, I can certainly envision him as a lead back ala Austin Ekeler. With the Ekeler comparison I am referring to usage rather than skill sets. Breida is still only 25. I have a strong inkling that Breida will get the majority (over 50%) of touches in Miami this year. If he can stay healthy I have no doubt that he can provide an lead-back presence in 2021 if provided the opportunity.
Kareem Hunt – Hunt didn’t lose value in because of talent or performance. His off-field transgressions are well documented and there is no need to rehash them here. If he can land in a good spot, his value could really skyrocket. He isn’t cheap now, but compared to what he could be, he is well worth the risk.
Tarik Cohen – Whether is Mitch Trubisky and his woeful play or Coach Matt Nagy not utilizing his skill set correctly, the Bears are not taking advantage of what Cohen can provide. He is such a mismatch in the passing game its criminal not to involve him regularly. A change of scenery could just be the ticket for Cohen reestablish himself as a PPR dominator once again.
Other Notable Free Agents
Michael Zagaris / Getty Images
Jonnu Smith – This is the year for Jonnu. Delanie Walker is no longer in front of him. The job is his and his future is his to grab. With a great season, he could the #1 TE in the free agent class (This assumes Kittle resigns with the 49ers). He ADP is currently the 14th or so TE. His arrow is pointing up.
Gerald Everett – For my thoughts on Everett, read my write-up here. With the TE pool in 2021 free agency relatively shallow (esp if Kittle resigns) Everett should be inline for a starting gig in 2021 and the subsequent value increase that accompanies a starting gig in the NFL.
George Kittle – Kittle is a monster. He is a monster that has done so with Jimmy G and the combination of Nick Mullens and CJ Bethard as his QB’s. Yes, I know his value is sky high. I know Kyle Shanahan is an elite schemer and play-caller, but imagine Kittle with an upper tier QB. Kittle has never had more than 5 TD’s in a season. Envision double digit TDs for consecutive years. It’s tantalizing. In all likelihood he will either be resigned or franchised. And to be fair, Garapolo is only in his second full season of starting so the upside remains. The dreamer in me is the reason he makes this list.
Other Notable Free Agents
Dak Prescott – Dak is going into 2020 on the Franchise tag. The dude is a stud and wants a lot of green from the Cowboys. If negotiations fall apart and he hits free agency, he could easily be the highest paid player ever. He has a great surrounding cast on offense this year and is primed for a great season. Its hard to imagine going into a better situation than this one in Dallas, but he will have the luxury of selecting his next landing spot that could be equal to Dallas in 2020.
Andy Dalton – Dalton signed a one-year deal to back up Dak Prescott in 2020. He isn’t ever going to be a long-term starter again. However, he could be a viable bridge QB for a team that drafts a rookie in 2021. With his low price tag, he could very easily be a buy in SF or 2-QB dynasty formats.
Other Notable Free Agents