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Fantasy Football Winners and Losers from NFL Free Agency; Stock up for David Montgomery, Darren Waller

As NFL players join new teams, their ranking in fantasy football fluctuates. Michael Fabiano runs through the list of who got a bump and who is downgraded.

The free-agency frenzy in the NFL has been a wild ride, as several players will be wearing new uniforms in 2023. So, who have been the biggest winners and losers among players who have changed addresses? Here's a look at what’s been a mostly friendly free agent period, at least as it pertains to the world of fantasy football.

NFL Free Agency Fantasy Football Winners

Miles Sanders, RB, Carolina Panthers: Sanders is coming off one of his best stat seasons, and he’s now the projected starter in Carolina. While he can be inconsistent at times, Sanders is still in his prime and should lead the Panthers backfield in total touches. He’ll be on the low RB2 or flex starter radar in most 2023 fantasy drafts.

David Montgomery, RB, Detroit Lions: Montgomery will fill in the “Jamaal Williams role” in the Lions' offense, making him a viable flex option in fantasy leagues. While he loses some luster playing alongside D’Andre Swift, the latter back hasn’t been durable at the pro level. Montgomery could be as much as a high-end No. 2 back in 2023.

Raiders tight end Darren Waller celebrates after scoring a touchdown.

Darren Waller, TE, New York Giants: Waller was part of a big trade that sent him to the Big Apple, where he could be the top target in the passing game for Daniel Jones. In fact, he’ll have top-five tight-end potential if he can avoid injuries and stays on the field. Waller will be worth a middle-round selection as a risk, reward No. 1 tight end.

Jamaal Williams, RB, New Orleans Saints: Williams, who scored 17 touchdowns last season, could post flex starter numbers or better in New Orleans. He should see some early-down and goal-line work ahead of Kamara, and Williams could be even more prominent if Kamara is suspended for an off-field incident in Las Vegas in 2022.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, New England Patriots: Smith-Schuster posted modest totals last season in Kansas City, but he’s a free-agent winner as the projected No. 1 wideout in New England. I don’t think he’ll ever be the same fantasy wideout he was in Pittsburgh, but Smith-Schuster will have an opportunity to make an impact in 2023.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Penny is about as durable as a house of cards in a windstorm, but he’s a winner based on the Eagles current backfield. With Miles Sanders gone, Penny could be considered the favorite to start in an offense that will be one of the NFL’s best. He could be a viable flex starter in a best-case scenario.

Derek Carr, QB, New Orleans Saints: Carr will take over a Saints offense with a lot of talent, including Michael Thomas (if he can stay healthy), Chris Olave, and a strong pair of runners in Alvin Kamara and newly signed Jamaal Williams. This should keep Carr in the QB2 conversation, even after coming off a disappointing fantasy season.

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo signed a three=year deal with the Raiders in free agency.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Las Vegas Raiders: Garoppolo lands in a great spot, as he knows the offense of head coach Josh McDaniels from their time in New England. He’ll also have a stud wide receiver in Davante Adams at his disposal, not to mention the league’s rushing leader Josh Jacobs, plus WRs Hunter Renfrow and Jakobi Meyers.

Mike Gesicki, TE, New England Patriots: Gesicki was touchdown dependent and mostly non-existent in fantasy last season, so his move to the Patriots is a positive. While he will share time with Hunter Henry, Gesicki should see far more targets than he did in 2022. I wouldn’t call him a huge winner, but at least he’s back on the fantasy radar as a TE2.

Hayden Hurst, TE, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers' current roster doesn’t have a lot of playmakers in the passing game, so Hurst could play a bigger role than he has in recent seasons. Carolina is bound to make more moves via free agency and in the NFL draft, but for now Hurst is on the radar as a potential No. 2 fantasy tight end.

Panthers wide receiver DJ Moore celebrates a touchdown by taking his helmet off.

NFL Free Agency Fantasy Football Losers

D.J. Moore, WR, Chicago Bears: Moore’s move to Chicago feels a bit lateral from a fantasy perspective, but I’ve got him listed as a slight loser regardless. While Justin Fields is an obvious winner, he had a mere 52.5% accuracy percentage last season. Moore will also have to contend with Chase Claypool and Darnell Mooney for targets.

Jakobi Meyers, WR, Las Vegas Raiders: Meyers goes from being the top option in the Patriots passing game to second at best and maybe third in Las Vegas. He’ll have to contend with a target hog in Adams, not to mention slot man Renfrow and a good pass-catching back in Jacobs. Meyers is a borderline WR3 or WR4 in 2023 fantasy football drafts.

D’Onta Foreman, RB, Chicago Bears: Foreman is coming off his best season in the NFL, rushing for 914 yards and 4.5 yards per carry. Unfortunately, he’ll remain in a backfield committee with Khalil Herbert and fellow free-agent signee Travis Homer. At this point I’d project Herbert to be the lead back, hurting Foreman’s fantasy upside.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 27: Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard (13) prior to the National Football League game between the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles on November 27, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire) NFL, American Football Herren, USA NOV 27 Packers at Eagles Icon22112775

Allen Lazard, WR, New York Jets: Lazard was the top option in the Packers passing game last season, but he was usurped by rookie Christian Watson in fantasy land. Now he lands in New York, where Garrett Wilson is the unquestioned top wideout on a team that has a crowded receiving corps. Lazard will be worth a late-round choice.

James Robinson, RB, New England Patriots: Robinson’s stock has sunk since he posted a surprisingly solid rookie campaign, and things won’t get better with the Patriots. Rhamondre Stevenson will remain the top running back on the depth chart, so Robinson will be the No. 2 option and more of a handcuff in most fantasy drafts.

Robert Woods, WR, Houston Texans: Woods’ value was already declining before he signed with the Texans, so this is no surprise. The Texans still have Brandin Cooks (for now), Nico Collins and John Metchie III, so Woods could be the third or fourth wide receiver in an offense that will likely be starting a rookie quarterback next season.

Jonnu Smith, TE, Atlanta Falcons: The positive here is that Smith will be reunited with Arthur Smith, who was his offensive coordinator in Tennessee. The bad news is that he’ll be playing in an offense that already has Kyle Pitts, so his Smith’s ceiling and level of consistent production will be an issue for fantasy fans. He’s a flier at best.

Sam Darnold, QB, San Francisco 49ers: Darnold could be a fantasy winner if both Trey Lance and Brock Purdy have issues in their return from injuries, but I’m not sure that’s a likely scenario. He’s really no more than insurance for the team’s two young signal-callers, so keep tabs on the Niners quarterbacks during the offseason.

Mike White, QB, Miami Dolphins: I have White listed as a loser because he has no chance to start in Miami with Tua Tagovailoa ahead of him on the depth chart. If Tua’s concussion woes continue, however, White could be a winner playing in an offense with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. He’ll be a hot waiver add in that scenario.

Jarrett Stidham, QB, Denver Broncos: Remember when there was talk that Stidham could earn a starting job this season? Well, that goes out the window with his move to the Broncos. He’ll be playing behind Russell Wilson, who has been mostly durable in the NFL, so Stidham isn’t going to get a chance to make a real fantasy impact.