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: Keenan Allen heads to Chicago

One of the biggest receiver moves in free agency was actually a trade, with the Bears acquiring Keenan Allen from the Chargers as they look to get as many weapons around likely No. 1 pick Caleb Williams as possible.

Rich Hribar already covered the Allen trade in detail, so I will let him have the final word on the fantasy implications.

Fantasy Impact: Calvin Ridley joins division-rival Titans

Calvin Ridley was consistently linked with both a return to the Jaguars and the Patriots during the tampering period, but he finally ended up with the Titans, signing a four-year, $92 million contract.

Ridley was just one of the Titans’ big-money additions on the offensive side of the ball, with Tony Pollard and Lloyd Cushenberry joining during the tampering period.

The Titans are a tough team to figure out from a fantasy perspective given all the moving pieces.

The coaching staff is new, the backfield is new, Ridley is now there, and we still have a lot to learn about Will Levis given the terrible situation he was thrown into as a rookie.

This offense will almost certainly look a lot different under Brian Callahan.

The Titans never ranked higher than 25th in total passing attempts in six seasons with Mike Vrabel at the helm.

In Callahan’s five seasons with the Bengals, they finished sixth, 14th, 20th, sixth, and seventh in passing attempts and were 3% over their expected pass rate.

Given the uncertainty around Levis, Callahan may aim for somewhere between those two approaches, but this offense is almost certainly going to throw more moving forward.

That is good because both Ridley and DeAndre Hopkins are accustomed to getting the ball.

Hopkins has been targeted on 25% of his routes throughout his career, and Ridley has been targeted on 21.7%.

The league average among all receivers last season was 18.6%.

Levis locked onto Hopkins last season, targeting him on nearly 29% of his official targets.

No other receiver saw more than 10% of the targets with Levis at quarterback. Treylon Burks did miss some of those games, but it was clear the Titans needed another option.

The other interesting aspect is what the target profile will look like for both players.

22.4% of Levis’ throws last season traveled at least 20 yards downfield. The next closest qualifying quarterback was Justin Fields at 14.6%.

Hopkins’ average depth of target from Levis was 16.5 yards, which would have ranked seventh among receivers with at least 200 targets last year.

That is a massive departure from what we saw when Hopkins was with the Cardinals, but his 7.9 yards per target from Levis was nothing better than average.

Still, Hopkins was reasonably effective in that role even with a rookie quarterback and as the only real receiving option.

Ridley was used mostly around the line of scrimmage early last season, but from Week 3 on he was 26th in air yards per target and 29th in deep target rate among that aforementioned group of 109 receivers.

Overall, those numbers looked very similar to his career averages.

The Bengals did limit their downfield passing over the last two seasons – Joe Burrow’s deep target rate fell from around 11.5% in his first two seasons to around 8.5% the last two years – but it seems like the personnel here is suited to trying to push the ball if that’s what they want to do.

That would create two outs for this passing game to beat their current draft cost.

The first is just Levis being good enough and the team throwing enough to support two fantasy-viable receivers.

The second is the possibility of a bigger play passing game that, while volatile, would create some good scoring weeks for both players.

It makes sense to approach this situation with trepidation, and the current WR36 draft cost for Ridley and WR42 for Hopkins make sense.

But there is at least some upside here that might not be reflected in those prices.

Fantasy Impact: Jaguars add Gabe Davis and Devin Duvernay after losing Ridley

Ridley jumping to their division rivals was a tough blow, but the Jaguars did add Gabe Davis and Devin Duvernay to the receiving corps.

Davis feels like a better fit to take over for Zay Jones than Ridley, suggesting the Jaguars never thought they would lose their former No. 1.

As it stands there is room for both Davis and Jones on the depth chart, but that could change if Jacksonville dips into a hyper-talented rookie receiver class.

For Jones, there have been big moments, but he has been one of the more inefficient receivers over the last two years. His 1.31 yards per route run mark ranks 59th among 79 qualifying receivers.

Davis has not been much better (1.39, 53rd), but the point can be made he was playing with alpha target hog Stefon Diggs during that run.

Jones has averaged 6.2 yards per target over that span. Davis has averaged 9.1, albeit with a considerably deeper average depth of target.

While Jones has seen a target on 21.1% of his routes over the last two years, Davis has earned one on just 15.3%.

Would a better receiver have taken more targets away from Diggs than Davis was able to?

Maybe, but the Jaguars paying Davis that much money strongly suggests they want him to be a nearly every-down player.

That’s what Jones was when active last year, running a route on 72% of Jacksonville’s dropbacks when all three of Ridley, Jones, and Christian Kirk were healthy.

Will that trio now be Davis, Jones, and Kirk? Davis, a rookie, and Kirk?

That remains to be seen, but Davis will likely play a large percentage of the snaps if healthy.

As for Kirk, the real difference between his 2022 and 2023 was not targets. He averaged roughly the same number per game and actually saw an uptick in his target rate per route.

The difference was touchdowns and touchdown opportunities.

Last season, Ridley was targeted 11 times in goal-to-go situations. Kirk was only targeted twice.

Ridley was targeted in the end zone 24 times. Kirk was only targeted in the end zone four times.

In 2022, Kirk led the Jaguars with 10 targets in goal-to-go situations and finished just behind Jones with 11 targets into the end zone.

His expected touchdown total fell from 7.3 to 2.9 according to PFF.

There is now a path for that usage to bounce back with Ridley gone, although Jones and Davis can certainly be used in those areas as well.

Ultimately, this is an incomplete situation until we see what the Jaguars do in the draft.

As it stands now, though, Kirk looks like decent value as the WR34 in Underdog drafts.

Fantasy Impact: Mike Williams cut by Chargers, lands with Jets

Not only did the Chargers trade away Keenan Allen, but the “fake cap” forced them to cut Mike Williams, as well.

Despite his age and the fact he is coming off a serious knee injury, Williams did not have to wait long on the open market, signing a one-year deal with the Jets.

That is not surprising given the way Williams has played the last several seasons.

Among players with at least 100 targets over the last three seasons, Williams ranks 19th in yards per route run and 14th in yards per target.

As Warren Sharp noted, Justin Herbert had markedly better numbers when targeting Williams over that span.

If healthy, Williams should be a big upgrade for the No. 2 receiver spot, but what does that mean for fantasy?

Fantasy Package

We did not get to see what the offense would have looked like with Aaron Rodgers last season, but I had concerns entering the season about passing volume.

The Packers were seventh in neutral pass rate and 3% over their expected pass rate with both Rodgers and Nathaniel Hackett from 2019-2021, but they finished 18th, 31st, and 32nd in situation-neutral pace over that span.

Outside of that run with the Packers, Hackett has traditionally leaned more into the run, and the Jets have a good defense and a defensive-minded head coach.

A more traditional Hackett offense plus a slow pace would be tough for passing volume.

There is also the possibility Rodgers locks onto Garrett Wilson as he has some of his WR1s in the past.

Davante Adams averaged a 27.6% target share and was targeted on 29.3% of his routes over his final four seasons with the Packers.

Williams represents a real No. 2 option, something that Rodgers has not always had, but it is fair to wonder what kind of target share Williams can command.

To take a more positive view, Williams had averaged a solid 1.6 fantasy points per target throughout his career, so he can be usable on more limited work, and his current WR49 draft cost means the downside risk is already baked in.

Fantasy Impact: Diontae Johnson traded to Panthers

Diontae Johnson was seemingly not a good fit for where the Steelers were going on offense and heading into the final year of his deal, so it was not a shock when he was traded to the Panthers.

For the Panthers, they had to add receiving talent around Bryce Young, and Johnson should step in as the No. 1 target in the passing game.

That No. 1 target role was filled by Adam Thielen a season ago, and he rode it to a WR30 finish in half-PPR per-game scoring last season despite the massive offensive struggles and a sharp falloff late in the year.

Those offensive struggles could certainly be an issue for Johnson, and there are now more mouths to feed in the passing game.

There are two ways to go if making the case for Johnson.

First, despite finishing 2-15, the Panthers were only 13th in pass attempts last season in part because they were 5% under their expected pass rate.

New HC Dave Canales did not lead a pass-heavy attack last season with the Bucs, but they were just 1% under their expected pass rate.

That could mean we see more attempts even if the Panthers are not in as bad of game scripts this season, although Canales has already talked about never giving up on the running game.

The second case is that Young takes a big step forward.

The Panthers made two big signings on the offensive line, brought in a new coach, and brought in Johnson all to help Young put his awful rookie season behind him.

If that happens, there are a lot of fantasy points Young left on the table last year, and many of those would be funneled toward Johnson.

According to PFF, Young underperformed more than any other quarterback against his expected fantasy points.

Young scored 61.7 fewer fantasy points than expected. The next closest quarterback was Mac Jones at 33.7.

Ultimately, investing in a receiver who has been somewhat reliant on volume throughout his career (1.21 career fantasy points per target) and plays in what is mostly likely to be a lackluster offense is not exciting.

But at least Johnson comes relatively cheap and has some paths to upside.

Fantasy Impact: Receiver-needy Chiefs sign Marquise Brown

The Chiefs won their second Super Bowl in a row despite having a clear weakness at receiver.

They took their first step in addressing that issue, signing Marquise Brown to a one-year, $7 million contract.

For Brown, joining the Chiefs could be something of a culture shock.

The Ravens were near the bottom of the league in pass rate during Brown’s time there, and the Cardinals were 3% under their expected pass rate during his two years there.

The Chiefs have been 9% over their expected pass rate since Patrick Mahomes took over including 7% last season.

Brown should also benefit from much better quarterback play with the Chiefs.

21.6% of his targets were deemed inaccurate during his two seasons with the Cardinals.

Mahomes has been under a 10% inaccurate rate in each of the last three seasons.

While Brown is not exclusively a downfield threat, 21.7% of his career targets have been 20 air yards or more. The NFL average last season among qualifying receivers was 17.3%.

26% of Marquez Valdes–Scantling‘s targets, whom Brown is essentially replacing, were 20 or more air yards during his time with the Chiefs including a third of his targets last season.

Brown has only caught 27.2% of his deep targets over his career, but again quarterback play, especially in Arizona, has left a lot to be desired.

The fantasy concern for Brown could be target share, although the current situation involving Rashee Rice has put a cloud over this receiver room.

As of now, we will work as if Rice will be available for most of the season.

From the Week 10 bye on last season, including the playoffs but excluding when the starters sat in the season finale, Rice and Travis Kelce combined for 47.7% of Kansas City’s targets.

No other pass catcher had a target share over 10% during that stretch.

That was obviously at least in part because of circumstance, but it is fair to expect Brown to slot in as the third option in this passing game assuming Rice is there.

That said, Brown has been targeted on 22.5% of his routes in his career, a number that would have been 32nd among qualifying receivers last season, and has averaged 7.3 targets per game.

Even with Rice and Kelce dominating targets in the run of games mentioned above, there were nearly 18 throws to other pass catchers per game.

While he likely will take a volume hit with everyone healthy, it might not be that big given Kansas City’s pass rate, and the targets will be more efficient coming from Mahomes.

Overall, this is a good fantasy outcome for Brown.

Fantasy Impact: Curtis Samuel lands in Buffalo

With Gabe Davis gone, the Bills brought in Curtis Samuel on a three-year, $24 million contract.

Samuel spent the last three seasons with the Commanders, working out of the slot on nearly 70% of his snaps and sporting one of the lower air yards per target among wide receivers.

That is very similar to the way now Bills OC Joe Brady used Samuel when the pair was together with the Panthers in 2020.

That was the most productive season of Samuel’s career with the receiver posting a 77-851-3 line in 15 games.

That line highlights the issue with investing in Samuel as a fantasy asset.

Even in his best season, Samuel finished as the WR27 in half-PPR per-game scoring, and that was with 200 yards and two touchdowns as a runner.

He could certainly get involved on the ground again – he did have 187 yards and a TD rushing with the Commanders in 2022 – but for the best part of his career he has been a low fantasy point per target kind of player.

Samuel’s usage history means he is not a like-for-like replacement for Davis, and Khalil Shakir has been used more around the line of scrimmage throughout his career as well.

The Bills may be looking for that Davis type in the draft, or they could try to get by with new addition Mack Hollins outside. They could also give fifth-round sophomore Justin Shorter a chance to earn that role.

Whatever happens, this receiver corps is currently less threatening down the field than it was before free agency.

Fantasy Impact: Darnell Mooney joins the Falcons

In addition to signing Kirk Cousins, the Falcons looked to upgrade their passing attack by signing Darnell Mooney to a three-year, $39 million contract.

Mooney broke out with an 81-1,055-4 line back in 2021, but he has struggled to replicate that over the last two seasons.

Of course, the quarterback play in Chicago left something to be desired over that span, and he was playing second-fiddle to D.J. Moore in 2023.

He is unlikely to be any higher on the target pecking order in Atlanta with Drake London, Kyle Pitts, and Bijan Robinson all expected to command targets, but Mooney does theoretically offer more down the field than everyone on that list besides Pitts.

It is theoretical because 20% of his career targets have been at least 20 air yards downfield (would have ranked outside the top 30 of qualifying receivers last year), and he has caught just 17 of his 72 career targets in that range.

Nearly 40% of those have been inaccurate, to be fair to him, and he certainly profiles as a receiver who can take the top off a defense.

Now, he gets to play with Kirk Cousins, who ranks No. 1 in accuracy on 20-plus yard passes over the last four seasons.

With better quarterback play from Cousins, that could result in some big outings for Mooney this season, but it is an open question if he can command enough targets to be a weekly fantasy option.

Quick Hits

  • After striking out on Calvin Ridley, the Patriots once again have the worst receiver situation in the league. Kendrick Bourne is back, they signed K.J. Osborn, and DeMario Douglas was solid enough last season. But everyone they have is a No. 2 option at best, and the draft capital they could use on a real No. 1 like Marvin Harrison Jr. will instead be (correctly) spent on a quarterback. Given the state of the depth chart, New England will be a spot where a Day 2 receiver can immediately earn targets.
  • The Saints have Chris Olave, which puts them in a better position than the Patriots, but the receiver room is still not great in New Orleans. They will likely look to address that in the draft, but their Cedrick Wilson signing is interesting. He did nothing in two seasons with the Dolphins, but he was solid enough in 2021 with the Cowboys.
  • With both Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore gone, the Cardinals receiver depth chart looks wide open. That will almost certainly change during the draft, perhaps even with their first pick, but there could be an opportunity here. As always, the fantasy football community is on board for Greg Dortch season, but Michael Wilson is the more likely beneficiary if Arizona does not spend a high draft pick at the position. Wilson only earned a target on 14.1% of his routes as a rookie, which is not great, but he did average 9.7 yards per target.

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!