It is not true every year, but this edition of the free agent frenzy included a bevy of signings and trades that will impact the 2024 fantasy football season.

Running backs came off the board fast, disgruntled receivers were traded, and several big-name quarterbacks found new homes.

With the dust settled, let’s look at the most important moves of the NFL free agency period from a fantasy football lens.

Free Agency Fantasy Impact:

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Fantasy Impact: Big-name running backs on the move

There was an almost unprecedented number of big-name running backs who moved during the free agency period, and Rich Hribar has already done a deep dive on most of them:

Those names have been covered comprehensively, so I do not want to spend too much time on them.

That said, it feels worth noting just how much better Derrick Henry’s situation is in Baltimore than it was last season in Tennessee.

The Titans finished 21st in ESPN’s run block win rate and 28th in yards before contact on running back runs.

The Ravens finished fifth in run block win rate and sixth in yards before contact on RB runs.

The will be a lot of turnover on Baltimore’s offensive line with both guards gone in free agency and their right tackle traded to the Jets, and that is a concern.

But that yards before contact number has remained strong through several seasons and interactions of this Ravens line.

There is also the offensive environment.

The Ravens finished sixth in points per drive last season and have averaged 5.9 yards per play with Lamar Jackson on the field since 2019.

That yards-per-play number would have ranked third last season.

The Titans finished last season 26th in points per drive and yards per play.

Ravens running backs had 22 total touchdowns and 20 on the ground last season. Those 20 rushing touchdowns were the third-most among RB groups.

There have to be concerns about Henry’s age, but he has traded a bad offensive environment for one of the best in the league.

Fantasy Impact: Bears add D’Andre Swift

D’Andre Swift is heading back to the NFC North after agreeing to a three-year, $24.5 million contract with the Bears.

Swift finally saw extended usage with the Eagles last season, and he delivered with 1,263 yards from scrimmage and six total touchdowns.

From a fantasy perspective, Swift was just the RB24 in half-PPR per-game scoring thanks in large part to his lack of touchdown equity playing with Jalen Hurts.

That was something of an issue for the Bears last season with Justin Fields finishing sixth in goal-to-go rushes (8) among quarterbacks despite playing in just 13 games.

now plays in Pittsburgh, of course, but expected No. 1 pick Caleb Williams had seven rushing touchdowns from inside of the five-yard line at USC last year.

While touchdowns could remain a concern for Swift, he is headed into what was a good situation for running backs in 2023.

The Bears finished seventh in yards before contact per rush on RB runs last season and second in ESPN’s run block win rate despite facing a lot of loaded boxes.

That success does raise questions about how much the Bears really needed Swift, but at worst he should be a plus in the passing game.

Last year, the Bears ranked 31st when targeting RBs in both yards per attempt (4.4) and success rate (31%).

Swift’s yards per target did fall back to 4.4 with the Eagles last season, but he averaged 5.8 yards per target in 40 games with the Lions.

From an opportunity standpoint, Swift is not stepping into a perfect situation despite a pretty sizable investment from the Bears.

Khalil Herbert has consistently produced as a runner when given the opportunity.

He is 14th among 70 qualified backs in explosive run rate over the last three seasons, 26th in avoiding negative runs, and 15th in yards after contact per rush.

He was not as good last season, though, and sophomore Roschon Johnson did not blow anyone away as a rookie, either.

The fact the Bears went out and got Swift says a lot about their feelings about Herbert and Johnson, but this is still a situation to watch in camp.

Fantasy Impact: Aaron Jones jumps to the Vikings

Just a day after Green Bay decided to replace Aaron Jones with Josh Jacobs, the former Packers back landed with the division-rival Vikings, signing a one-year, $7 million contract.

Jones struggled with injuries last season, playing in just 11 games and being limited in several of those.

He showed his class late in the year, though, rushing for 5.7 yards per carry over his final five games including the playoffs.

He recorded an explosive run on 15.4% of his carries in those playoffs and scored three touchdowns in Green Bay’s win against the Cowboys.

Before his injury in Week 1, Jones put up 127 total yards and two touchdowns.

So while his age (29) and injury issues last year are a concern, Jones is still one of the top backs in the league when healthy.

That will be a big upgrade for Minnesota.

Over the last two seasons, the Vikings are 23rd in yards per carry and 29th in negative run rate on running back runs.

At least some of those struggles can be attributed to the offensive line, but they were a reasonable 12th in yards before contact on running back runs.

Kevin O’Connell talked up Ty Chandler at the Combine. He almost certainly will have a role, but this looks like Jones’ backfield with Alexander Mattison no longer in the picture.

That could change if the Vikings add someone else in the draft, but this is also a weak rookie running back class.

As it stands, Jones looks like the clear No. 1 back with receiving upside in an offense that finished middle of the pack in points per drive last year despite missing Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins for a large chunk of the season.

It would be easier to invest in Minnesota’s offense for fantasy if they can improve the quarterback situation somehow, but even if Sam Darnold ends up as the starter, this is a pretty good landing spot with limited competition for Jones.

Fantasy Impact: Zack Moss joins the Bengals

The Bengals moved on from Joe Mixon – more on that below – and replaced him with Zack Moss on a two-year, $8 million contract.

It is not a massive investment, with the $4 million average annual value ranking 19th among running backs, tied with Jamaal Williams.

That money suggests this could look more like a timeshare with Chase Brown or at worst an open competition.

As for Moss, he is coming off a solid season with the Colts in which he gained 986 yards from scrimmage and scored seven touchdowns filling in for an injured Jonathan Taylor.

His efficiency was up and down throughout the year, however, and overall his final numbers were mostly average.

Among 68 running backs with at least 50 carries last season, Moss finished 27th in EPA per rush, 27th in explosive run rate, and 42nd in negative run rate.

Next Gen Stats did rank him fifth in yards over expected per attempt, so it is possible he was getting more than what was blocked for him most of the season, although it has to be noted he was 16th among those 68 backs in yards before contact per run.

Ultimately, Moss is probably just an average back, but Mixon has been no better than that for a couple of seasons.

Mixon finished below Moss in EPA per rush and was only slightly better in explosive run rate and negative run rate last year.

So if Moss ends up around the level of Mixon, could we see Brown take on a large workload?

Brown was already eating into Mixon’s workload at the end of last season, seeing around nine touches per game over the final six.

He left something to be desired as a runner, failing to gain yards on 22.7% of his carries, but he also flashed big-play upside.

He had two runs of more than 25 yards on 44 attempts, and three of his 14 receptions went for at least 19 yards including a 54-yard touchdown on a screen.

That play was well executed by the entire team to get him into open space, but it did show off Brown’s speed.

That speed makes Brown more interesting from a fantasy perspective than Moss, but it won’t matter if Moss is getting the bulk of the carries, especially in goal-to-go situations.

Mixon led all running backs in goal-to-go carries last season, was third in 2022, and was fourth in 2021.

Moss has a lackluster 40% success rate on goal-to-go carries throughout his career, but he only has 48 of those in four seasons.

If the Bengals see him as the “Mixon replacement,” Moss has a path to double-digit touchdowns.

This is another situation to watch throughout camp.

Fantasy Impact: Texans trade for Joe Mixon

This is the other side of the Moss deal.

The Bengals reportedly planned to cut Mixon, but the Texans jumped in at the last second to acquire the veteran back via trade.

As mentioned above, Mixon has not been an elite running back over the last couple of seasons.

Although he did have more long runs last year, Mixon ranks 46th in explosive run rate and 28th in negative run rate among 72 qualifying running backs over the last two seasons.

He actually finished just below ex-Texans back Devin Singletary in explosive run rate last season despite the Bengals ranking ninth in ESPN’s run block win rate. The Texans ranked 25th.

Mixon was given 1.51 yards before contact per carry last season. Singletary was given 1.31.

There are not many reasons to believe Mixon is a significantly better runner than Singletary at this point in his career.

That said, Singletary was the RB17 in per-game, half-PPR scoring after he took over the starting job in Week 9, and Mixon has a much stronger track record as a receiver than Singletary.

C.J. Stroud targeted running backs on 13.4% of his throws last season, 30th among 32 qualifying quarterbacks, but personnel certainly could have played a role in that rate.

The most interesting thing about this trade is it did not significantly change the fantasy outlook for Mixon.

The Texans have a good offense. Mixon should be able to dominate most of the work given how last season went for Dameon Pierce. And he can offer a better option in the passing game for Stroud.

All in all, this is a decent fantasy outcome for Mixon and a cheap solution to Houston’s running back vacancy.

Fantasy Impact: Gus Edwards joins the Chargers

From getting rid of receivers to talking up offensive linemen at the league meetings to signing Gus Edwards, it has been beautiful watching how on-brand Jim Harbaugh can be.

That is not to criticize the Edwards signing at all.

Edwards averaged 4.9 yards per carry during his six seasons in Baltimore. His career 11.6% explosive run rate is solid, and his 11.4% negative run rate is elite.

Those explosive runs did fall off last season along with his yards after contact, but he finished second in negative run rate among qualifying backs.

Edwards is reuniting with ex-Ravens OC Greg Roman in Los Angeles.

The running back missed one of Roman’s four seasons as Ravens coordinator, but he averaged 5.1 yards per carry over the other three seasons.

Put simply, Edwards is the perfect fit for what the Chargers want to do under Harbaugh and Roman, and the GM has already called him “the bell cow.”

Of course, that was before news broke about the team meeting with free agent J.K. Dobbins, who played with Edwards in Baltimore.

While Dobbins joining would not be perfect for Edwards’ fantasy value, it is important to remember Dobbins has played nine games since 2020.

The Chargers were always going to add someone, and Dobbins joining instead of a Day 2 rookie might actually be a positive for Edwards’ workload.

Even if he has the backfield mostly to himself, Edwards will be up and down for fantasy because of his lack of involvement as a receiver – he has been targeted on 7.8% of his routes throughout his career – but this is the kind of offense that can support a fantasy-viable running back who has little involvement in the passing game.

Look at where Roman’s offenses have ranked in rushing yardage over his 10 seasons as an offensive coordinator:

  • 2011 49ers: 8th total rushing, 9th in RB rushing
  • 2012 49ers: 4th total rushing, 9th in RB rushing
  • 2013 49ers: 3rd total rushing, 11th in RB rushing
  • 2014 49ers: 4th total rushing, 17th in RB rushing
  • 2015 Bills: 1st total rushing, 4th in RB rushing
  • 2016 Bills: 1st total rushing, 2nd in RB rushing
  • 2019 Ravens: 1st total rushing, 3rd in RB rushing
  • 2020 Ravens: 1st total rushing, 6th in RB rushing
  • 2021 Ravens: 3rd total rushing, 25th in RB rushing
  • 2022 Ravens: 2nd total rushing, 11th in RB rushing

Fantasy Impact: Giants replace Saquon with Devin Singletary

With Saquon Barkley jumping to the division-rival Eagles, the Giants brought in Devin Singletary on a three-year, $16.5 million contract.

It is a reunion for Singletary, who played for Brian Daboll in Buffalo.

Singletary did not set the world on fire for the Texans last season, but he was clearly better than Dameon Pierce and gave the team some semblance of a running game later in the season.

Unfortunately, the Giants finished 31st in ESPN’s run block win rate last season, creating just 0.88 yards before contact on running back runs (29th).

The Giants did make a big move in signing Jon Runyan early in free agency, and they likely will look to bolster the offensive line more in the draft.

But this is also an offense that just lost their best player in Barkley and finished 29th in points per drive last season.

With a healthy Daniel Jones over the first four weeks of the season, the Giants were 30th in points per drive.

Singletary is the clear favorite for touches in this backfield, but it is fair to wonder how much fantasy upside there is if this offense and offensive line do not take a big step forward.

Fantasy Impact: Patriots bring in Antonio Gibson

Antonio Gibson joining the Patriots got lost among the bigger running back moves on the first day of free agency, but it is an interesting signing.

Gibson never lived up to the fantasy hype in Washington, but he quietly averaged nearly 1,100 yards from scrimmage over his four seasons with the Commanders.

He was also a solid enough receiver, averaging 1.3 yards per route run on nearly 1,000 routes.

That receiving ability could be his calling card with the Patriots.

While Rhamondre Stevenson is still there and has caught 107 passes in 29 games over the last two seasons, he has been more of a check-down, emergency option than a true receiving threat.

Stevenson’s 4.7 yards per target ranks 47th among 66 qualified backs over the last two seasons.

Gibson ranks 15th among that group with 6.3 yards per target in a similarly difficult offensive situation.

It makes sense for Gibson to take on a bigger role in the passing game, something that is more likely to tank Stevenson’s fantasy value rather than give Gibson real standalone appeal in what is likely to be a lackluster Patriots offense.

Quick Hits

  • Alexander Mattison does not have a ton of fans in the fantasy football community, but there is at least a chance he has a notable role after signing with the Raiders. Zamir White had good moments last year and should be the favorite for the lead job, but he also finished near the bottom of qualified backs in explosive runs and was mid-pack in the rate of negative runs. This could be one of those fantasy situations where the confidence in White, in part because of the distrust of Mattison, is too high, creating too large an ADP spread between the two players.
  • AJ Dillon signed a small, one-year deal to return to the Packers, so it is not like he represents a massive investment. That said, he consistently got high-value carries even with Aaron Jones leading the backfield, and that could be a concern for Josh Jacobs’ fantasy value. Since 2021, Dillon has handled 53.4% of the goal-to-go carries for Green Bay. Of course, his success rate on those carries ranks 61st among 70 qualifying backs during that time, two spots ahead of Jones. Jacobs ranks 26th in success rate on goal-to-go carries over that span.
  • The Cowboys will likely add a running back in the draft. Even so, it is interesting that Rico Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn sit clearly atop the depth chart of an offense that has been near the top of the league in scoring for several seasons.

Don’t miss out on the best fantasy football coverage in the business

Like the NFL, fantasy football never sleeps.

Best ball season is in full swing, and Dynasty rookie drafts will be here soon.

Sharp Football has everything you need to get ready for both in our Fantasy Football Draft Kit, powered by premier fantasy football analyst Rich Hribar.

Save more by bundling the Draft Kit with our in-season fantasy package that features Rich’s comprehensive “Worksheet” preview of every game, every week of the NFL season.

Click here for more information about our fantasy coverage!