Players acquired by new teams:
A.J. Bouye (CB, signed by Jac from Hou) – Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Bouye moves to Jacksonville, forming one of the best CB duos in the league with Jalen Ramsey.
Fantasy Analysis: Bouye held quite the coming out party last season, as a true “shutdown corner.” That term gets overused, but it’s warranted in Bouye’s case. Pairing him with Ramsey will be fun to watch on the field, but Bouye’s talents don’t necessarily translate to elite fantasy production. As anyone who has tried to use Darrelle Revis in their lineups knows, “shutdown corner” usually equals “shutdown fantasy points.” Bouye did manage 5 FPG in 2016 - good for 30th among CBs – but that’s just a CB3, so you’d need to be in a deep league to consider Bouye. Having Ramsey across from him will help though, as teams can’t avoid both of these talented corners.
Johnathan Cyprien (SS, signed by Ten from Jac) – After the Jaguars signed Barry Church, it was only a matter of time before Cyprien landed elsewhere. He found a team hurting at safety.
Fantasy Analysis: Cyprien had another top-5 DB fantasy season in Jacksonville, and now moves up the road to Nashville, where he will be asked to solidify a messy rotation in Tennessee. Rookie Kevin Byard could have a bright future in the NFL, but last season the Titans rotated between Da’Norris Searcy and Daimion Stafford trying to find the magic combination that would plug the holes in their secondary next to FS Rashad Johnson. The Cyprien signing indicates they didn’t feel comfortable with their options at safety, so Cyprien should provide some much needed stability. Cyprien should benefit from an average LB corps, and provide some much-needed run support. However, the Titians may recognize his liability in coverage and create another platoon situation at SS, so he’s one to watch closely in the pre-season. He’ll need all three downs to be considered a DB1 candidate.
J.J. Wilcox (FS, signed by TB from Dal) – The Bucs locked up their new FS on a two-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Wilcox may finally get a chance to put up numbers on his new team.
Fantasy Analysis: Wilcox didn’t do much for fantasy in his time in Dallas. His 3.6 FPG in 2016 was only slightly higher than his 2.9 FPG from 2015. When you play behind tackle machines like LB Sean Lee and SS Barry Church, there’s not gonna be much meat left on the bone for you. Well, we hope Wilcox is hungry, because he’ll be playing behind perennial sieve SS Chris Conte. The last person to play that role was FS Bradley McDougald, who finished 2015 with 87 tackles, and 2016 with 91 tackles. Wilcox is capable of rising to the challenge, as he put up 70 tackles in 2014 when he was forced into a larger role on an injury-ravaged Dallas defense.
Nolan Carroll (CB, signed by Dal from Phi) – The Cowboys signed Carroll to a three-year, $10 Million contract, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. He switches sides in this rivalry to shore up a suddenly thin secondary.
Fantasy Analysis: With safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox signing elsewhere, and CBs Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne still free agents, the already shaky Dallas defense needs some reinforcements. Enter Carroll, who was one of the few bright spots in the Philly CB corps. Carroll has more value in big play leagues, as he has double-digit PD in three of his last four seasons. With 56 and 55 tackles respectively over the last two seasons, Carroll is also a solid tackler. He could be busy as teams try and keep up with the new Dallas offense.
Nate Allen (S, signed by Mia from Oak) – Allen signed a one-year “prove it” deal in Miami, where he will get to watch SS Reshad Jones make lots of tackles.
Fantasy Analysis: Allen never put together the kind of season the Raiders were hoping for, as Oakland let him walk after a disappointing two years. He heads to Miami as either a solid backup to stud SS Reshad Jones, or to compete with FS Michael Thomas for the honor of watching Jones make all the tackles. Still, if Allen can refocus his talents, he has a chance to be a good centerfielder behind Jones and LBs Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons. That would help a retooling Miami defense, but shouldn’t lead to much fantasy production.
Stephon Gilmore (CB, signed by NE from Buf) – According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the deal is for five years with $40 Million guaranteed. Gilmore likely replaces CB Logan Ryan, and comes to the Patriots as a CB loaded with talent, yet wildly inconsistent.
Fantasy Analysis: Gilmore has been a CB3/CB4 over the last few seasons, but his value may take a hit as he moves out of one of the friendliest stadiums for recording tackles. New England’s crew won’t be so kind, so Gilmore’s 35-40 solos and 5-10 assists per year may slip to more of a 50/50 split in solos-to-assists. However, Gilmore’s big play potential is where he makes his name. With 40 PD and 8 INTs over his last two seasons, he’ll likely be asked to remain aggressive. If you believe in New England’s ability to coach players up, Gilmore could make a splash in big play leagues.
Logan Ryan (CB, signed by Ten from NE) – According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Ryan signed a three-year contract to play in Tennessee.
Fantasy Analysis: Ryan was the #1 CB for fantasy in 2016, with 6.4 FPG. He recorded at least 7 tackles in eight games last season, and had his second year in a row of averaging over 5 FPG. However, part of that production comes from playing on a team that leads early and often. The result is usually a steady diet of passing to try and keep up, which leads to a truckload of opportunity for their CBs. Ryan was thrown at over 100 times last season. Now he moves to Tennessee, where leads aren’t as plentiful. Ryan could still have a good career for fantasy in Nashville, but his top CB spot might move south when he moves down South.
Micah Hyde (CB/S, signed by Buf from GB) – Hyde signed a five-year deal to play in the other frozen tundra. But will he play safety or Corner?
Fantasy Analysis: Hyde spent much of his time in Green Bay as a jack-of-all-trades. Corner, Safety, Punt Returner…and while he flashed at all three, he seemed out of sorts for much of last season. He was partly to blame for the sieve that was the Packers secondary, so the question becomes: how will Buffalo use him? They just lost two CBs (outside CB Stephon Gilmore and slot CB Nickell Robey-Coleman), but they also signed an under-the-radar talent in S/CB Jordan Poyer. New DC Leslie Frazier will have a lot of moveable chess pieces, and he was previously a secondary coach for Baltimore, so Hyde’s role is hard to pin down. This leaves his fantasy value up in the air.
Barry Church (S, signed by Jac from Dal) – Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Church has a shiny new four-year/$26 Million contract via the Jaguars. Church should replace Johnathan Cyprien as the team’s strong safety.
Fantasy Analysis: The Jaguars continue to stockpile talent on the defensive side of the ball. Church is underrated as an IDP, and should thrive in the old Cyprien role in Jax. Cyprien was able to put up solid DB1 production almost exclusively as a run defender, while Church should be more effective against the pass while being nearly as good against the run. Church has a good shot at remaining a top-10 DB going forward.
Tony Jefferson (S, signed by Bal from Ari) –According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens beef up their secondary, adding Jefferson to match up with FS Eric Weddle.
Fantasy Analysis: The Cardinals are stocked with DBs, but Jefferson emerged as one of their best playmakers as injuries slowed Tyvon Branch and Tyrann Mathieu in 2016. With less competition in the secondary, Jefferson put up easily his best season. He posted 6.5 FPG, with a career-high 92 tackles. While the signing is a good one for Baltimore, Jefferson’s IDP value could take a hit. The Ravens have stud FS Eric Weddle, who had a great season in 2016. There’s a good chance these two safeties will eat into each other’s production, sending Jefferson’s value back down to the DB2 range, where he lived the previous few seasons. Jefferson finished as the #13 DB in 2016.
D.J. Swearinger (S, signed by Was from Ari) – NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has the safety’s new deal as three-years/$4.5 Million. He’ll bring some much needed youth and stability to the safety position in Washington.
Fantasy Analysis: After a disappointing 2015, Swearinger had a nice bounce back season in 2016, getting back to his Houston days of 60-70 tackles and 6-8 PD. However, his 4.8 FPG ranked 74th among DBs, so he was still well off the pace for fantasy relevance. Washington is desperate for some safety help, as they spent much of 2016 piecing together two safety positions with 5 players. Enter Swearinger, who should be able to lock down either safety role. This is also an indication that Washington plan on using S/LB Su’a Cravens more in the box going forward.
Antoine Bethea (S, signed by Ari from SF) – The veteran safety replaces the recently-departed Tony Jefferson, but might be competing with several other DBs for playing time.
Fantasy Analysis: The Cardinals needed a replacement for Jefferson and they found it in the physical Bethea. Bethea has been a strong presence against the run for years, but tailed off a bit in 2016. His production was still strong (101 tackles), but that was partly a result of the lack of LB play after NaVorro Bowman went down. Bethea still has a good chance to repeat his DB1 production in Arizona, but it should be noted that there are more DB mouths to feed in the desert. With Tyvon Branch and Tyrann Mathieu, younger and playing well (when healthy), Bethea isn’t a lock to stay at the top of the DB food chain. Mathieu may stay in the slot, but HC Bruce Arians used him as a safety regularly in the early part of 2016, so that may happen again. Bottom line:
Mike Adams (S, signed by Car from Ind) – Adams will move to Carolina to help out a much-maligned secondary. The deal is for two years, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
Fantasy Analysis: The 14-year veteran should step in and help out an inexperienced secondary and start next to Kurt Coleman. Tre Boston wasn’t cutting it last season, so he started splitting playing time with Michael Griffin. It could be that Adams is the new Griffin, in which case he wouldn’t play a full-time role. That remains to be seen, but what is for certain is the lack of solo tackles coming his way. Carolina is known for their pretty even split between solos and assists, so unless Adams can continue to make a splash with his big play ability (he had back-to-back seasons of 5 INTs in 2014-2015), his stock is likely to fall a bit.
Quintin Demps (SS, signed by Chi from Hou) – Demps gets a three-year, $13.5 Million deal, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
Fantasy Analysis: Demps should provide the big play spark that Chicago has been missing in recent years. Although he hasn’t been much of a fantasy asset (he’s only finished above 5 FPG once in his career), he is coming off his best season to date. With 9 PD and 6 INTs in 2016, Demps now has at least 7 PD and 4 INTs in three of his last four seasons. He will have tackle competition in Chicago between DBs Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey, as well as ILBs Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan, so don’t expect Demps to move up the ranks in fantasy production, as he’ll need every one of those big plays to be relevant.
Prince Amukamara (CB, signed by Chi from Jac) – Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafalo, Chicago signed Amukamara to a one-year deal.
Fantasy Analysis: As Jacksonville continues to get younger, Amukamara was allowed to walk after his one-year rental. In 2015, Amukamara was a DB1 (and the #1 CB for fantasy), but the move to Jacksonville brought a plummet down to the 75th CB. Part of that had to do with teams going after rookie corner Jalen Ramsey and SS Johnathan Cyprien when he was in coverage, so there wasn’t as much opportunity for Amukamara. A move to Chicago could provide a bounce back season for fantasy though, as Chicago’s front seven is stronger than some realize, opening the door for Amukamara to get thrown at more in 2017.
Brandon Carr (CB, signed by Bal from Dal) – The mass exodus of the Dallas secondary continues, as Carr signs an incentive-laden contract with the Ravens.
Fantasy Analysis: Carr hasn’t been a fantasy factor in recent years, and that trend is likely going to continue in Baltimore. Not only has Carr failed to reach 5 FPG in the last three seasons, only one of Baltimore’s corners even reached 4 FPG last season.
Bradley McDougald (S, signed by Sea from TB) – McDougald signs with Seattle for a chance to win as a backup, but also as insurance for two veteran safeties.
Fantasy Analysis: McDougald had a solid season in Tampa Bay, playing next to Chris Conte. Now he’ll move to a part-time role in Seattle behind two of the better safeties in the league: Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. McDougald made a smart career decision to back up two veteran All-Pros on a yearly playoff-caliber team. First, both safeties are recovering from surgery, and neither have too many years left in the league. There were even whispers that Thomas would retire after his season-ending injury. For fantasy, McDougald is simply a lottery ticket as insurance for either of those two, as McDougald can play in the box or centerfield. His fantasy relevance rests squarely on the shoulders (or legs) of Thomas and Chancellor.
Players re-signed by their 2016 teams:
Deshawn Shead (CB, Sea) – Even after tearing his ACL, the Seahawks re-signed the talented corner to a one-year deal.
Fantasy Analysis: Shead posted 80 tackles and 14 PD in his fourth season. He was a solid CB1/CB2 as both a steady tackler and a big play threat. He’s recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the playoffs, so he’s not likely to be a full go by Week One, but he’s one to keep an eye on when it’s time to hit the waiver wire. If he makes a full recovery and gets his old job back, he could provide a nice boost to your CB slot.
Jahleel Addae (SS, LAC) – The Chargers keep Eric Weddle’s replacement, with a four-year, $22 Million deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Fantasy Analysis: Addae only played half the season in 2016 due to a broken collarbone, but posted at least 7 FP in five of the eight full games he played. His 6 tackles per game extrapolate to almost 100 tackles over a full season. He has a good chance to be a DB2 with some DB1 upside going forward, and the Chargers have seen him as Weddle’s replacement for a few years, leading them to cut Weddle loose last season.
Eric Berry (S, KC) – The Chiefs didn’t use the franchise tag on Berry; instead, they inked him to a six-year extension, worth up to $78 million with $40 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Fantasy Analysis: Berry has put together two great seasons since he came back from cancer, and he had one of the more memorable performances of 2016. Playing in front of his friends and family in his hometown of Atlanta, he had a 37-yard pick-six and he scored the game-winning points with another pick return on a 2-point conversion. Berry finished the year with 77 tackles (62 solo, 15 assists), 4 INTs, and 2 pick-sixes, averaging 5.5 FPG in 16 games. Berry is one of the league’s best safeties because he can step into the box and stop the run or play deep in coverage.
Trumaine Johnson (CB, LAR) – The Rams have tagged Johnson for the second consecutive year, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Fantasy Analysis: The Rams tagged Johnson and let Janoris Jenkins walk, a decision they may have regretted. However, despite Johnson not necessarily playing like an elite corner, the Rams have opted to tag him again, and at $16 million, he’d be the highest-paid corner in the NFL if he plays under the tag again. We’re guessing that new DC Wade Phillips had a say in this decision. As a fantasy asset last season, Johnson finished the year with 57 tackles (47 solo, 10 assists), 1 INT, and 1 fumble recovery, averaging 4.8 FPG in 14 games. As a 6’2” corner, he has elite size, and Phillips must like that.