As many of us saw these past couple of days, free agency can be a fun and interesting time for NFL fans. The 2017 quarterback-running back free agency hasn’t been as active as other positions so far. There will be many new faces on different teams at the start of the 2017 season. It’s always interesting to see where some of the top names in free agency land.
The lack of signings from these positions may be limited with the upcoming rookie class set to come in. There have been a handful of players switching teams so far but free agency is far from over. I will take a closer look at the recent quarterbacks and running backs who got signed during free agency.
For the latest on the Wide Receivers and Tight Ends, check out Richard Savill’s column here.
2017 Quarterback-Running Back Free Agency
Mike Glennon, Chicago Bears
Status: Signed 3 year deal worth $45m
Last Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This deal caught a lot of NFL fans attention. Mike Glennon instantly went from a backup in Tampa Bay to what looks like the new franchise quarterback of the Chicago Bears. He doesn’t have the experience as some of the other free agent quarterbacks left on the market. He has only played in a grand total of 21 games in his brief three year career. The Bears obviously saw something in Glennon as he now faces a big task of being the main guy in Chicago. He comes into Chicago with a very young, and inexperienced wide receiver core.
What hurt the most is the departure of star wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Mike Glennon now has limited options to throw the ball to heading into 2017. Drafting a wide receiver early on might be one thing the Bears should consider as Glennon needs some threats to throw the ball to moving forward.
It’s very hard to predict what Mike Glennon will bring to the table for fantasy owners in 2017. After playing just 14 snaps all year in 2016, he will now be brought in as the starter day one in Chicago. Chicago tends to lean more on the run with Jordan Howard leading the backfield.
Mike Glennon has produced average quarterback numbers in his first two years in the league and that is all I see from him moving forward. The limited receivers and overall play from Mike Glennon make him out to be a low end QB2 in fantasy. He can end up being a quarterback to fill in on your bye weeks in the 2017 season.
Brian Hoyer, San Francisco 49ers
Status: signed 2 year deal worth $12m
Last Team: Chicago Bears
The 49ers are a team that is in a big load of trouble. The signing of Brian Hoyer brings in a new quarterback who has some experience with several different teams. He was arguably the best quarterback for the Bears last season in the time before he got hurt. The 49ers do not plan on bringing Colin Kaepernick back in 2017 and Blaine Gabbert didn’t prove much in his time as the starter last year. With the second overall pick in the draft, the Bears may be in line to draft another quarterback.
It seems as of right now that Brian Hoyer is the main quarterback for the 49ers heading into the new season. This may lead to a change come draft time, but it’s Hoyer’s time right now. The limited talent at the receiver position brings the quarterback play down in San Francisco.
The 49ers are known to be a run first team with workhorse running back Carlos Hyde. The quarterback situation is one to avoid this season in San Francisco as no quarterback will be more than a QB2 in fantasy. The whole 49ers team is far from complete and until you see some improvements within the quarterback play, stay away.
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Status: Signed one year deal worth $23m
Last Team: Washington Redskins
There were several different teams we thought Kirk Cousins would be signing with for next season . There were some speculations going around as Kirk Cousins asked to be traded from the Redskins. It’s clear that Kirk Cousins wants a change of scenery and to be the franchise quarterback of another team.
At the end of the day, he is staying in Washington. A place in which he can continue to thrive in under new management in 2017. He definitely showed what he can be in this league last year as he posted career high numbers and led the Redskins back into the playoffs.
Staying in Washington may not necessarily be a bad thing for fantasy owners this upcoming season. He finished as a top five quarterback in 2016 and all signs are pointing forward for him again. With Terrelle Pryor recently signing with the team, that helps Kirk out as they lost DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in free agency. He’s got some serious weapons as incoming sophomore Josh Doctson is getting back to the field healthier than before.
The Redskins offense was one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. It’s looking like it will be like that again in 2017. Kirk Cousins posted weekly QB1 numbers in 2016 and with all the weapons he’s got to throw to, he will remain a top quarterback in fantasy terms. I expect Kirk Cousins to be a borderline QB1 and high end QB2 several different weeks. Look for Cousins to finish inside the top 10 again this season in fantasy.
Danny Woodhead, Baltimore Ravens
Status: signed three year deal worth $8.8m
Last Team: Los Angeles Chargers
Coming off a season ending injury in week one and Melvin Gordon dominating touches, it didn’t really come as a big surprise to see Woodhead leave the Chargers. He is now 33 years old and injuries may be a concern to him moving forward. He was one of the leagues best receiving running backs in the league in previous years as he averaged 78.5 receptions during his two full seasons with the Chargers.
After the Ravens got rid of Kyle Juszcyk, they were in need of a running back that can be a threat in the passing game. This led to the signing of Danny Woodhead.
When Danny Woodhead has been healthy, he’s been a go to pass catcher. Now healthy, he may have some juice left in the tank to produce on the Ravens. After hearing the news of Kenneth Dixon being suspended the first four games of the season, the Ravens might be on track to give Danny Woodhead the full workload in the first four weeks. It is still very possible that the team drafts a running back in the upcoming draft. It is safe to say that Danny Woodhead will have a pretty big role in the passing game in Baltimore.
This makes Woodhead an interesting running back to own in ppr leagues. He might not see as much volume as he previously saw, but he is going to a team with no starting running back the first four weeks of the season. The Ravens are a team that throws the ball the most in the NFL which makes Woodhead a solid running back to own. He carries flex appeal every week and may even move into the RB3 discussion once bye weeks start to hit. He’s not a guy that’ll win you weeks in fantasy but he makes a case for a mid to late round pick in fantasy drafts.
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Status: signed one year deal worth $12m
Last Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
A long term deal awaits star running back Le’Veon Bell. He has shown that he is one of the premier running backs in the league. A dual threat player who is dangerous in the passing game as well. He has had an issue with suspensions in recent years but has been a dominant force when on the field.
He has proven that he is one of/if not the most patient running back in the NFL. Averaging more than 100 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards per game in 2016. Le’Veon is a guy that is still in his prime and he will be one of the best running backs in the next few years in the league. Here is a guy that will be in the mix to be the number one overall pick in fantasy leagues moving forward.
Le’Veon Bell finished 2016 as one of the top rushers in the NFL even after missing three games due to a suspension. He has proven to wow fantasy owners each and every game. Whether it’s a ppr league or standard, Bell will produce as a high end RB1 for fantasy owners. He averaged just above six catches per game. His role in the passing game helps his overall value, especially in ppr leagues. He has some competition with Ezekiel Elliott and David Johnson for the number one spot.
Even after missing three games to start the season, Bell ended the season as the third best fantasy running back. The high volume of Bell is hard to pass up come draft time. I believe Bell is the number one overall running back in fantasy leagues. Passing up on him will be a tough decesion to make in the future.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Status: signed two year deal worth $3.3m
Last Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jacquizz Rodgers just signed a two year deal with the Buccaneers. The running back position is up in the air as Doug Martin is suspended the first three games of the season. This may lead to a new addition at the running back position in the draft next month. Adding Rodgers for an additional three years may be the Buccaneers saying that they trust him and Charles Sims to handle the workload during Martin’s absence.
Rodgers got some more carries as the season went on due to multiple injuries. This running back situation is one to keep an eye on come draft time. Charles Sims is more of a threat in the passing game rather than the running game. I would say that Rodgers has the advantage of handling carries early on in the season if they don’t end up drafting a running back in the draft.
Jacquizz Rodgers carries some interesting fantasy appeal in 2017. With the suspension of Doug Martin, Jacquizz has shown that he can handle a big workload as he ran the ball 15+ times five different times. If the Buccaneers indeed draft a running back, his fantasy stock will drop significantly. This is a backfield to watch closely moving forward. If Tampa Bay passes on drafting a running back, then Rodgers can have RB3 or even some RB2 appeal early on in the season.
Rodgers won’t be a long term running back for the team but he can be a temporary solution to a risky running game in Tampa. He may be a big risk/reward kind of guy if he does indeed hold onto the main spot early on. He is a nice emergency running back to plug in if troubles continue in this backfield. Keep an eye on Jacquizz Rodgers moving forward as he may be a sneaky running back in 2017.
Remaining Free Agents
There are still a ton of free agents that are on the market. Top names like Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy, Latavius Murray and LaGarrette Blount. The upcoming draft class has a deep selection of running backs. Teams in need of a running back may not want to pay these veteran guys the money they may think they deserve. It might be cheaper and wiser to get a running back in this draft class. The incoming running back class is one of the deepest that we have seen in a while.
There will be more signings coming soon during free agency. The running back position is one that has the most risk/reward. Not many teams today have the workhorse running back that carries the ball 20+ times per game. It’s all about opportunity and fit with the remaining free agents.
Many of these running backs will meet with more teams moving in the next couple of days. Teams may be more convinced on the rookie class than rolling with these guys left to sign on a team. Free agency has just begun so we will now wait to see what the future holds for the remaining free agents. Nothing is guaranteed and just because they are free agents doesn’t mean they will end up getting signed. This is what makes free agency a very important and exciting time for NFL fans.