As we close the book on the 2017 season, it’s time to take a look at 2018’s free agent market. In this series I will identify free agents I find fantasy relevant, rank them by position, and include my projected landing spots. As each player is signed to a contract I will give that player a specific write up providing you with everything you need to know about their fantasy value in their new home.
Jimmy Graham, Age 31
DLF ADP: 110
In 2017 Jimmy Graham scored more touchdowns than his first two seasons with the Seahawks combined. Though his yardage total was down, he made up for it with a seemingly unfair red zone presence. In eight seasons in the NFL Graham has five Pro bowls, and one All-pro selection to his name. Two of those Pro bowl nods have come in his last two seasons when he finished as TE4, and TE6 in PPR formats.
At age 31 he still has the ability to produce. As mentioned in my “Off-season Outlook: Oakland Raiders” piece, Graham would fit in perfectly with the Raiders to fill in the target void they lose if they choose to release Michael Crabtree. Crabtree was targeted 101 times in 2017 with a 57.4% completion rate, while Graham was targeted 96 times with a 59.4% completion rate. The Raiders can fill Crabtree's productivity instead at the tight end position with Graham, and draft a talented rookie like James Washington or Coutland Sutton at wide out.
Tyler Eifert, Age 27
DLF ADP: 156.8
The injury history is well documented with Tyler Eifert. To avoid beating a dead horse I’d like to discuss what we saw when injury-free. In Eifert’s most recent 13 game season(2015) he finished as TE6 in PPR formats. He caught 52 passes for 615 yards, and 13 touchdowns. His catch rate was an impressive 70.3% as he proved to be the safety net Andy Dalton so desperately needed. In 2016 he seemed to be on a similar pace had he played more than 8 games. His production has been largely based on red zone efficiency but he’s shown that wouldn’t be an issue, if he was able to remain on the field.
He’s just 27, so essentially a new born in terms of the tight end position. The Packers are in need of a big time target. The common misconception is that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t throw to tight ends but in actuality, he simply avoids unreliable receivers. In Jermichael Finley’s best season(2011) he had 55 receptions for 767 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Since Finley’s injury the Packers have made a push at the position in free agency twice; landing the ghost of Martellus Bennett’s past, and a mediocre Jared Cook. Cook produced 377 receiving yards in his 10 healthy games. Bennett managed only 233 yards receiving before he kicked rocks after 7 games due to an injury debacle,
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Age 25
DLF ADP: 152.5
Seferian-Jenkins was a highly coveted prospect coming out of Washington college to the Buccaneers in the second round. Though his metrics are impressive, they have failed to translate to his play in anything more than flashes. This past season he seemed to have won his battle against alcohol, and took some of the extra weight off of his frame. The progress was evident as he caught 50 passes for 357 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Though not eye popping, 2017 was his most productive season yet. His catch rate was a solid 67.6% which helps make the case to keep him on the field.
Though he’s shown promise, and progression he likely didn’t earn himself any long term, large money contract. He’s proven that he belongs in the lineup, but not quite that he deserves a large roll. He will likely take a one year "prove it" deal and would be best suited to stay in New York. As reported by SNY-TV, he has already turned down a 2 year, $8 million offer from the Jets. This does not mean the two sides won't find common ground but Seferian-Jenkins is in search of guaranteed money that the Jets have not brought to the table. If he were to stay in New York he could prove to be the talented young tight-end that Kirk Cousin’s loves to pass to; should Cousins accept his alleged “$60 million in the first year” offer.
Cameron Brate, Age 26
DLF ADP: 218.67
Cameron Brate is an RFA this off-season, and will likely be free to walk if another team offers him a contract. This could prove huge for O.J. Howard’s production, but Brate loses value when he loses the ole’ ball and chain; Jameis Winston. Over the past two seasons Brate has produced 105 receptions, 1,251 yards, and 14 touchdowns. In week 9, Jameis Winston re-aggravated an AC joint injury, and left the game. Between week 9, and Winston's week 13 return, Brate had just 4 receptions for 37 yards, and 0 touchdowns. In the week 13 return Brate managed two scores. His production will largely depend on the rapport he develops with his new signal caller.
Brate should draw interest from a team like the Broncos who could look to pair a trusted veteran with their young talent; Jake Butt. Denver is also in the running for Kirk Cousins, and Brate could prove to be the versatile tight end Cousins loves to target. If the Broncos miss on the quarterback free agent market then Brate could find himself becoming a security blanket for a rookie.
Trey Burton, Age 26
DLF ADP: 179.83
In his four seasons with the Eagles, Trey Burton “started” just 5 games. Predominantly known for being “Zach Ertz insurance", Burton came in to his own in 2017. He was given full time work two times this past season. In week 9, and 14 combined he was targeted 10 times, hauling in 7 for 112 yards, and 3 scores, Against the LA Rams, he marketed his worth by producing 5 receptions, 71 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
The Bears are reportedly making a push to sign Burton in free agency. While a plus for the Bears, and a plus for Mitchell Trubisky, the signing could be a minus for Adam Shaheen, and Burton. Though, if the Bears don't come to terms with a big time free agent receiver, there will be plenty of targets to go around.
A huge thank you to DynastyLeagueFootball, and Ryan McDowell for creating amazing, up to date ADP data. Thank you to Pro-Football-Reference and RotoWire for player stats. Also thank you to FantasyData for scoring history. I would have no content to provide if it weren't for all of your hard work. Cheers!