2024 NFL free agency: Fantasy football winners and losers


Derrick Henry, Baltimore Ravens

From an age and workload standpoint, there’s plenty of negative history to reference on running backs who reach this point of Derrick Henry’s career. However, the term “built different” quite literally applies to Henry. Essentially, no running back in NFL history has been constructed like the hulking back, so we can't be shocked if this outlier remains an outlier.

Henry can be the icing on the cake for a run game that was already a top-three unit last season. Henry ranked fifth in yards after contact per rush (3.06) among backs with 200 carries last season despite having the eighth-highest stuff rate (48.6%, per Fantasy Points Data). It doesn’t look like he’s lost a step yet and will now be in a far superior ecosystem. There’s a chance he could have been an avoid had he gone somewhere else. In Baltimore, I think he’s a draft target.

Also, if you aren’t jacked up to watch Henry and Lamar Jackson team up in this Ravens’ run game, do you even like the sport? I’d vote no, you do not.

Drake London and Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons suffered through uniquely poor quarterback play last season. Desmond Ridder ranked 15th in passing success rate, so there was some level of stability down-to-down but he was 25th in EPA per dropback. Sacks, turnovers and woeful inaccuracy were debilitating issues for the Falcons' passing game. It was not a stable environment to get development from wide receivers or tight ends.

Enter Kirk Cousins.

While he isn’t a risk-free option at this stage of his career coming off an Achilles injury, he presents excellent odds of upgrading the position. Cousins has played in this offensive system before and works well throwing in the middle of the field. That should overlap with where Drake London — a strong dig- and crossing-route runner — and Kyle Pitts draw most of their targets.

We’re going to have to have a conversation at some point this summer about “how high is too high” when it comes to draft rankings for these two young, potential stars. Today is not that day. For now, few pass catchers experienced this much of a dramatic quarterback upgrade in free agency. London and Pitts are clear and obvious winners.

Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams

The 2023 season already went so well for Kyren Williams and there’s plenty of reason to believe this coming year could be even better.

Williams had the lowest stuff rate among backs with 200-plus carries at 37.7% and had the highest success rate on man/gap runs, per Fantasy Points Data. The Rams found an identity that was in contrast to the unit they’ve been for the majority of the Sean McVay era and they doubled down on it this offseason.

The re-signing of Kevin Dotson at right guard and the addition of Jonah Jackson at left guard for a combined $99 million is a clear signal they prioritize that run game. Jackson’s signing also allows the 330-plus-pound Steve Avila to move to center. That’s now over 1,000 pounds of people movers aligned along this line at left to right guard.

Williams stands alone on that depth chart to be the primary runner of a man/gap system that just got reinforcements.

Nico Collins and Tank Dell, Houston Texans

There seems to be a general anxiety in the fantasy community around the standing of the Texans wide receivers. Frankly, it’s unwarranted and, in my opinion, still based on how people perceived these players before the 2023 season and C.J. Stroud’s breakout. I do not think people realize how good Nico Collins is as a pure talent and that lack of understanding informs the opinion. They will not find an X-receiver who can even approach his level.

The Texans were involved in the Keenan Allen trade discussions and they do need more depth at the position. It makes sense to add to that room beyond Collins and Dell. For now, they have not acquired a player who would dig into that duo's target totals.

Josh Jacobs, Green Bay Packers

Jacobs is a quality back who thrived on gap and zone concepts during his excellent 2022 season. It’s easy to see why he was coveted by a Packers coaching staff that loves to build their play-action and RPO packages around various concepts.

I want to find ways to invest in the Packers offense this season because it’s so obvious this unit is on a screaming upward trajectory. And yet, that wide receiver room and tight end duo could force a target squeeze because of so much young talent. Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks are my guys but there are other solid players around them so it’s a muddy picture.

So, Jacobs might be the most clear path to get involved in this ascending offense, even if he will go much higher in fantasy drafts.

Joe Mixon, Houston Texans

I have reservations about the wisdom of trading for Joe Mixon and the right to not compete with another team in giving him a three-year, $27 million deal — but that’s what happened.

Mixon ended up in the most desirable running back landing spot. Mixon ranked eighth in success rate on zone concept runs last season, so he’s a system fit in Houston. Almost any running back tethered to Stroud’s offense should be squarely on our early-round radar. Mixon’s pedigree certainly makes him a strong option.

George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s certainly on my radar that the fantasy community could push George Pickens into a range where he’s drafted a bit too early based on the free agency events of the last few weeks but there’s no doubt he’s a big winner. For starters, losing Diontae Johnson creates a massive hole at the other outside receiver position and Pickens is the odds-on favorite to fill that target vacuum. That’s true even if Pittsburgh drafts a wide receiver early.

Secondly, I absolutely have my reservations about Russell Wilson as a starting quarterback this season. Even if/when Justin Fields replaces him, he isn’t about to operate a high-octane passing offense. However, both guys present a tangible upgrade on what Kenny Pickett offered last season. I cannot convey to you just how alarming the Pickett film was last season.

Pickens could end up being the classic, extremely high-target share, low-volume volatile receiver who can get overdrafted in fantasy. But there’s no question his outlook is better right now than it was a month ago.


Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

It was extremely likely that the Chargers could move on from one or both of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen this offseason. Yet, now that the depth chart has Joshua Palmer and Quentin Johnston at the top, Justin Herbert is in a precarious position.

I think the fantasy community is destined to overrate some of the run-heavy rhetoric coming out of this new coaching staff. It would behoove the Chargers to improve their run game but Herbert can still be a hyper-efficient passer in this style of offense. However, the current receiver room is going to make that latter part difficult. Even if they add a wide receiver high in the draft, which is by no means a lock, this would still be a pretty uninspiring room. It’s going to be impossible to click Herbert anywhere near where he was going in fantasy drafts the last two seasons.

Jordan Addison and Ty Chandler, Minnesota Vikings

Any time you go from a proven starter like Kirk Cousins to Sam Darnold at quarterback, everyone on the offense is a loser.

There’s only so far a guy like Justin Jefferson is going to fall. He’s an elite player and will be productive, even if it’s more of a slog than it was previously. The ancillary players, though, are going to be difficult to project under new quarterback play.

Jordan Addison is a good player but is a true No. 2 receiver in my eyes. He took advantage of soft coverages and ripped big plays during his monster weeks. Those favorable coverage looks will still be available to him this season when Jefferson is healthy, but his new quarterback may not get off his first read fast enough. Even if this team drafts a rookie in a trade-up scenario, they can’t realistically get into the top two picks, so the prospect may not be ready to roll from Week 1. I can talk myself into Jefferson a little later in Round 1 of a draft but I won’t go too far down the line with this offense.

Ty Chandler is also a loser because of the offensive environment likely declining and Aaron Jones’ arrival. Chandler flashed a bit to end the season and got some positive reviews from the coaching staff, but Jones’ signing changes any big plans they may have had for him this year.

Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans

An obvious selection, Tyjae Spears was going to be everyone’s favorite breakout candidate this season with Derrick Henry moving on. Perhaps that still comes to pass but Tony Pollard’s signing clouds the picture.

Spears is an electric back who can contribute in the passing game. That also sounds like how we’d describe Pollard’s game during his peak seasons. The way their skill sets overlap could make this one of the toughest committees to crack. The Titans offense is going to need to be much better — certainly possible — under Brian Callahan for both backs to be startable fantasy options.

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars passing game was a frustrating disappointment last season. Subbing out Calvin Ridley for Gabe Davis does not in any way make them better. In my opinion, Davis’ skill set at the X-receiver position will only increase the volatility that plagued this unit last season.

Trevor Lawrence is a good young quarterback but we’re asking him to be a significant teammate elevator given what’s around him. At this point, other ascending young passers are in better situations and have shown enough peaks to pass Lawrence on draft boards this summer.

Brian Robinson Jr., Washington Commanders

You can debate what you think Austin Ekeler has left in the tank. I think, if he’s healthy, he can still be a quality two-way NFL back and an effective, dynamic piece of a committee. But there’s no debating that he’s in line to take passing-down work for the Commanders and as a proven threat in the scoring area, could inherit goal-line work.

That’s going to leave Brian Robinson, whom I like a decent bit as a power runner, stuck in the dreaded early-down, between-the-20s role. Those carries make it tough to return steady fantasy production or hit ceiling weeks. I like how Robinson and Ekeler will complement each other in a tandem backfield and their roles seem quite clear to me. Robinson just likely loses out on the money touches for fake football.