NFL Free Agency Fantasy Football Winners: Miles Sanders, Rashaad Penny, and Chris Olave Are Trending Up

Following the first wave of NFL free agency, let's take a look at some of the biggest winners from a fantasy football perspective.

With a week of NFL free agency in the books, dozens of players have signed with new teams. As with each of the three key offseason events (free agency, the draft, preseason), player values are impacted. Here are some of the key fantasy football winners after the first week of free agent signings.

NFL Free Agency Fantasy Football Winners

Free agency is one of the most exciting events of the offseason. From following the Super Bowl through the fantasy draft season in late August/early September, there’s a whole lot of downtime. For much of the spring and summer, not much is going on. Right now, we’ve got news breaking every hour.

A whole host of fantasy-relevant names have been on the move. Those signings not only impact the players themselves but their new teammates, as well as the ones they left behind. Let’s take a look at some fantasy football winners.

Miles Sanders, RB, Carolina Panthers

Miles Sanders is one of the most polarizing players in fantasy. I’ve always thought he was overrated — a replacement-level talent. But his 5.0 yards per carry and general efficiency metrics suggest otherwise.

While I am a believer in analytics and advanced metrics, efficiency is not always a reflection of a player’s ability. It can often be a reflection of an offensive scheme. The Eagles’ run-blocking scheme is such that just about any running back could thrive.

Last season, Sanders ran for 1,269 yards and scored 11 touchdowns — averaging 12.7 fantasy points per game. Yet, Philadelphia had no interest in bringing him back. Head coach Nick Sirianni openly said he didn’t believe they had anyone on the team who could be a three-down back.

MORE: Top Dynasty RB Trade Targets 2023

Sanders was always going to have a tough time finding a landing spot where he could be a clear starter. Well, he found one.

In Carolina, Sanders is poised to be the clear RB1. While I still don’t envision him doing much in the passing game, it wouldn’t be a surprise for him to improve upon his 5.2% target share. The offense is obviously a major decline from the Eagles’, but the volume and goal-line work should be there. This was about as good as it was going to get for Sanders.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Speaking of the Eagles’ incredible run-blocking scheme, Rashaad Penny is set to be their new starting running back. Philadelphia, however, will once again use three backs in a rotation. They still have Kenneth Gainwell and recently re-signed Boston Scott. Even so, Penny will be their primary early-down back. Hopefully, he gets goal-line carries, too.

Throughout his career, Penny has dealt with a bevy of injuries. I’m not one to ever advocate predicting injury, but Penny has missed 42 games over his first five seasons.

At 27 years old, he’s not exactly young, but he also has very little tread on his tires. He won’t do much in the passing game, but he’s a better runner than Sanders. In this offense, if he can stay healthy, Penny has 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown upside.

Jamaal Williams, RB, New Orleans Saints

I was convinced Jamaal Williams would be back with the Detroit Lions. Once they signed David Montgomery, that was obviously not going to happen. The timeline of events suggests Williams felt the same.

Shortly after Montgomery went to Detroit, Williams agreed to a deal with the New Orleans Saints. This is such a fantastic landing spot for Williams. He will take over the Mark Ingram role alongside Alvin Kamara — a role we’ve seen have a fair amount of success in fantasy.

In 2017, Ingram averaged 17.4 ppg, and in 2018, he averaged 11.9 ppg — his two seasons with Kamara.

Williams averaged 13.3 ppg last season, finishing as the overall RB18. He can easily be a low RB2 once again, especially behind the Saints’ strong offensive line. Add in the fact that Kamara is likely facing a suspension, and Williams could end up being a valuable fantasy asset you can draft in the later single-digit rounds.

Allen Lazard, WR, New York Jets

Of course, Allen Lazard being a fantasy football winner is predicated on Aaron Rodgers following him to the New York Jets. Rodgers said that’s his intention, but I will believe it once it actually happens.

Assuming Rodgers does follow through, this is about as good as it could get for Lazard. Last season, Lazard played way above his pay grade as the Green Bay Packers’ WR1. He had the best season of his career, averaging 11.7 ppg, and finished as the overall WR34.

MORE: Aaron Rodgers Trade — Fantasy Impact for Jordan Love, Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, and Others

On the Jets, Lazard will be their WR2 or WR3, which is closer to where I think he belongs in an offense — a WR3/4. If Elijah Moore is included in the Rodgers’ trade package, that would solidify Lazard as the WR2.

Either way, this is his best shot at fantasy relevance. Four years, $44 million, suggests the Jets believe in him a whole lot more than I do. I won’t be interested in Lazard in fantasy this season, but there’s no denying he did really well with both his contract and landing spot.

Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints

This one doesn’t take much to figure out. You are all going to be sick of me hyping up Chris Olave by the time the season rolls around. Sorry, not sorry.

Olave caught 72 passes for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. He averaged 14.5 yards per reception and had a 14.5 average depth of target. He’s a true do-it-all receiver and can be a downfield threat and a possession man underneath.

Olave did all of that last season with mostly Andy Dalton at quarterback. Now, he has Derek Carr. While Carr isn’t a top quarterback, he’s certainly a competent one, and undoubtedly a significant upgrade on Dalton and Jameis Winston. Carr’s skill set meshes perfectly with Olave. And we know Carr will pepper his WR1.

Despite the Saints bringing back Michael Thomas, this is Olave’s team now. I fully expect him to be a WR1 in fantasy.

Other Winners

Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Tony Pollard was always going to be the Cowboys’ lead back in 2023. But with Ezekiel Elliott released, Pollard has a shot to really go nuclear. After averaging 15.6 ppg in a timeshare, Pollard has 20 ppg upside if the Cowboys don’t do something rash like draft Bijan Robinson.

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots

The Patriots’ big offseason move at running back was to sign James Robinson. In terms of bringing in competition for Rhamondre Stevenson, that’s about as minimal as it gets. Absent another move, Stevenson is poised to be a three-down back in 2023.

Samaje Perine, RB, Denver Broncos

Samaje Perine had a nice role on the Bengals, but he was still sharing a backfield with Joe Mixon. In Denver, Perine has a shot to be the Broncos’ feature back for part of or perhaps the entire 2023 season as Javonte Williams works his way back from a torn ACL.

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