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Fantasy Football Mailbag: Breaking Down Impact of NFL Free Agency

SI Fantasy answers all of your pressing fantasy football questions. This week, we delve into how the free agency impacts fantasy rankings.

The dust is finally starting to settle on the NFL free agent frenzy and the 2020 NFL Draft is on the horizon. For many, the fantasy football itch is starting to come back, especially with all sports leagues taking a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

SI Fantasy is going to answer the most pressing questions you have throughout this offseason and all the way up to your fantasy drafts and beyond. We asked for your questions via Twitter or email. If you have a question we didn't get to in this article, reach out to us there.

Which rookie are you most looking forward to having on your fantasy team in 2020? — Kyle

Whichever running back the Kansas City Chiefs draft in the first or second round. No, seriously. Whether it's D'Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, etc., I want the back Andy Reid adds to this offense in 2020. 

I don't think this'll be another Darwin Thompson situation where the player coming in gets all the preseason hype and barely plays. As long as expectations are kept in check—Damien Williams is still the No. 1 RB and will get the majority of the touches when healthy—fantasy managers will be quite happy with a potential weekly flex play that has low-end RB1 upside if/when Williams misses time. 

Is Tom Brady a top-5 QB with Bruce Arians? — Paige

I do a deeper dive into Brady's 2020 fantasy value here, but the short answer is no. I think Brady will be a top-10 fantasy QB in 2020, but getting into the top 5 is asking a lot. Brady always gets overdrafted and the hype this year will be greater than anything we've seen in the past half-decade. I'm on team wait-on-QB, so I won't be drafting Brady in any leagues where he's going in that area.

Throwing to stud receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will surely help Brady's numbers. But here's a nugget about volume from that aforementioned article that fantasy managers should keep in mind:

The Buccaneers threw the fourth-most pass attempts in the NFL last season, averaging 39.4 per game. A lot of that was out of necessity because of the amount of turnovers and pick-sixes Jameis Winston threw. Arians' Cardinals teams averaged about 36.9 pass attempts per game when he was the head coach there.

Who’s your early QB1: Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson? — Alex

You're always splitting hairs when it comes to elite talents like Mahomes and Jackson, but I'll ride the hype train and stick with Jackson as my choice as the No. 1 overall fantasy quarterback. I know everyone is worried about regression, but Jackson has a ton of room to regress and still be elite. 

If Jackson’s passing touchdown rate dropped from 9% to 2019's league average, he still would have been the QB1 last season. If you dropped Jackson's passing touchdown total from 36 to 19 and his rushing total from 1,206 yards to 983 yards, he still would’ve been the QB1. That's quite remarkable. 

You can't go wrong with either Mahomes or Jackson, but don't be scared off by the "regression" monster that's sure to dominate fantasy headlines over the summer. 

Can Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay both be worthy of starting in fantasy? — Cody

Is it possible? Yes. Do I want to draft Lindsay and find out? No. 

Gordon is an elite, three-down talent that should dominate the touch share in Denver after signing a two-year, $16 million contract. It appears likely that either Lindsay or Royce Freeman will be traded (or both), but if Lindsay and Gordon are on the same team to begin the year I don't want the former as anything more than a bench player. 

We saw a lot of 60-40 and 40-60 snap shares between Lindsay and Freeman last season. I don't expect that to be the case with Gordon and Lindsay in 2020. Gordon is a second-round pick for me, while Lindsay is more of a ninth-round option.

Who has the better season: Diggs in Buffalo or Thielen in Minnesota? — MossFan4Life

The Diggs or Thielen question just won't go away. Sadly, I think it'll stick around awhile because both players should be ranked within a few spots of each other.

There is the assumption by some that Diggs is going to a worse situation in Buffalo. However, that's an antiquated view of what the Bills are. Josh Allen took a big step forward in his development last season and the Bills averaged 3.8 more pass attempts per game in 2019 than the Vikings. You can read more about that and the Diggs trade here

It's tough to gage the injury factor with these guys. Thielen missed six games last season but played every game over the previous five years. Diggs never misses a lot of time, but one has to expect he'll miss about two games per season. 

On a per-game basis over the last four seasons, Diggs got the best of Thielen in 2016 and 2019 while Thielen was better in 2017 and 2018. Even on different teams the battle should be close, but I'm going to give Diggs the slight edge. Buffalo throws more and I believe he's the more talented of the two.


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