At the conclusion of the 2018 NFL free agency frenzy, several players signed with new teams, and these players will be in better situations this season to impact your fantasy football team in 2018. Today we are taking a look at new faces in new places, who should see a major uptick in production, and provide additional fantasy football value in 2018. Let’s get to it:
Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead – Wide Receivers, Baltimore Ravens – The Baltimore Ravens passing offense was absolutely embarrassing in 2017, they provided their Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Flacco with no viable targets a wide receiver, and as expected the Ravens offense faltered in passing situations. The sad thing is, despite the Ravens struggling mightily through the air all season long, they went 9-7 and just missed the playoffs. The Ravens were not letting that happen again, so they went out and got two targets during free agency, Michael Crabtree from the Raiders and Willie Snead from the Saints. While Michael Crabtree never became the superstar that many thought he would develop into when he was the tenth overall pick out in the 2009 NFL Draft, he is a very productive player, who has 579 receptions and has scored 51 career touchdowns. Willie Snead was extremely productive as a slot receiver for the Saints in 2015 and 2016, catching a total of 141 passes and scoring seven touchdowns during that two year span, but suspension and injury limited Snead to eight catches in only 11 games played in 2017. Both Crabtree and Snead will have plenty of opportunities to produce in Baltimore this season, they will see a huge increase in targets from Joe Flacco, which will lead to increased production.
Dion Lewis – Running Back, Tennessee Titans – There is no doubt that Derrick Henry will handle the heavy lifting at running back, he scored ten touchdowns during his first two seasons in the NFL, and proved he is ready to carry an increased load in 2018 which led the Titans to release DeMarco Murray. However the Titans signed a different type of running back to supplement massive Derrick Henry, former Patriots star Dion Lewis, who will complement Henry’s power style with his speed and quickness. Dion Lewis is also a great receiver, he will serve as the team’s third down back, and anyone who has watched the Titans knows quarterback Marcus Mariota has a tendency to check down to a running back after avoiding a rush with his athletic ability. Dion Lewis will carry the ball against defenses that have been worn down by the power of Derrick Henry, he will catch the ball in space from Marcus Mariota in passing situations, and while he may not score a lot of touchdowns he will see a heavy increase in production.
Jerick McKinnon – Running Back, San Francisco 49ers – The San Francisco 49ers were the most improved team in the NFL during the second half of the 2018 season, led by franchise savior quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and many experts think that the 49ers are playoff bound in 2018. The 49ers let their incumbent starting running back Carlos Hyde walk, and replaced him with former Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon, who should see a huge increase in touches in San Francisco. In Minnesota, Jerick McKinnon started the 2017 season buried behind Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray on the depth chart, but when Cook suffered a torn ACL during week four, McKinnon saw an increase in usage and made the most of his opportunity. In San Francisco, McKinnon is the perfect fit for head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme, and he will have plenty of opportunities as both a runner and a receiver as the unquestioned number one running back on the roster.
Jimmy Graham – Tight End, Green Bay Packers – If you have played fantasy football before, you have probably owned touchdown machine tight end Jimmy Graham, and he has probably made your team very competitive. Last year, Jimmy Graham only caught 57 passes in the Seattle Seahawks run heavy scheme, and he still scored 10 touchdowns. According to the NFL betting sites, in 2018, Jimmy Graham will be playing in the Green Bay Packers pass happy scheme, where he will be catching passes from the great Aaron Rodgers. Expect Jimmy Graham to catch more passes in 2018, while still scoring double digit touchdowns, he is a player who’s value will greatly exceed his draft position in fantasy football.
Paul Richardson – Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins – In 2017 Paul Richardson proved that he was one of the most dangerous vertical threats in the NFL, when he caught 44 passes for 703 yards and 6 touchdowns in Seattle’s run heavy offense, and earned himself a large contract from the Washington Redskins. A team that lacks wide receiving threats, Richardson should have plenty of additional targets, but not just on the deep ball. Richardson wants to prove he is capable of producing on short and intermediate routes as well in Washington, that he is not just a deep threat, who is only capable of tracking down jump balls. I would normally skeptical of rostering a wide receiver who excels at catching passes downfield on an offense being run by Alex Smith, but in 2017 Alex Smith proved that he is capable of throwing the deep ball, and both Richardson and the Redskins state that he will be more than just a deep threat in 2018.