Wide receivers are the new standard currency in dynasty fantasy football. Once upon a time, it was the bell cow running back. But they are quickly becoming extinct. 

The trustworthiness and career longevity of wide receivers make them a popular asset in the pass-heavy NFL, especially given how the new NFL rules continue to favor the offense more and more. And, once again, the NFL Combine and the 2024 NFL Draft have been dominated by talk of the hot new pass-catchers. 

But there will be plenty of time to talk about guys like Marvin Harrison Jr and Malik Nabers in our next series. The draft is still a month away, after all. For now, however, we are focusing on NFL free agency news. We don’t know what will happen in the draft and NFL pundits are speculating everything including wild Kyler Murray trade rumors to the Vikings to draft offseason riser J.J. McCarthy

The possibilities are endless, so we’ll stay here in reality and sort through the aftermath of an NFL free agency that saw quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson changing hands, Mike Evans and Michael Pittman staying put, and Calvin Ridley finding a new home. Let’s take a look at some of the NFL free agency winners and losers at wide receiver from a fantasy football value standpoint. 

*Editor's Note: Uncover Coop's other fantasy football dynasty free agency winners and losers concerning this past NFL offseason!




NFL Free Agency Winners: Fantasy Football Wide Receivers

Drake LondonLast year, Drake London accumulated his stats the hard way. Head coach Arthur Smith is a “pound the rock” guy at heart so they did not throw the ball frequently. And, when they did throw it, Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke were not delivering quality targets. 

Player Profiler had Drake London ranked as WR36 in catchable target rate. Even then, London led the entire NFL in contested catches with 17 and that was while missing a game. Like we said - he got it done the hard way. Now things should get quite a bit easier for London. 

The Falcons first changed out the coaching staff, bringing in head coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Zac Robinson. Robinson will bring some of that gunslinging attitude over from the Los Angeles Rams. But the most important part was the addition of the actual gunslinger - Kirk Cousins

Cousins already had zero interest in running the football and that was before his recent injury. We’ve seen his ability to deliver high-quality targets to Justin Jefferson in huge quantities which is great news for Drake. And the Vegas sportsbooks have the Falcons set at 10.5 wins - only the Chiefs, 49ers, and Ravens are higher. So, they expect big things from Kirk Cousins as well.

Marquise BrownSome might look at only a one-year, $7 million dollar deal and wonder how this guy could be a “winner”? First off, we are looking at things from a fantasy football perspective, not Brown’s bank account. But I actually do think this is a savvy business move. 

He’s young enough to do a one year “prove it” deal. You go to the Chiefs, pad your stats with Patrick Mahomes, and maybe even win a ring. Then you get paid. JuJu Smith-Schuster did that with KC on a one-year, $4 million dollar deal and didn’t even play particularly well then got paid the following year on a multi-year, double digit guaranteed money deal by the Patriots. 

Calvin Ridley was out of the league for a year then just now at 29 years old got a four-year, $92 million dollar contract. Marquise Brown is 26. There’s money to be made here if he markets himself right. 

Last year Travis Kelce (121 targets) and rookie Rashee Rice (102) led the Chiefs in targets - the next highest target-getter was Justin Watson with 53. Yikes. Hollywood Brown will immediately step in and compete with Rice as the top WR. Travis Kelce also turns 35 this year and we saw that they didn’t quite lean on him as heavily during the regular season in 2023 as years past. 

Over the last three years, Brown has averaged 8.4 targets a game which is a pace of over 140 a season. The Chiefs led all teams in WR screens last year with 53 so there should be plenty of manufactured touches on top of quality targets from the best QB in the league. That’s how he plans to earn his money.

Marvin MimsLast October, reporters asked Sean Payton why the explosive rookie, Marvin Mims, wasn’t getting more snaps. Here is what Payton had to say:

And it makes a lot of sense. You’ve got your QB, your linemen, your split end, your tight ends, your running back, and they used fullback Michael Burton as well. It’s not always easy to get two guys with overlapping skill sets on the field at the same time. Well, Jerry Jeudy was shipped off to the Cleveland Browns. I know the QB situation looks dire, but the QB doesn’t matter much if you can’t get onto the field. 

The big upgrade for Mims is that he now has a chance to be a full-time player opposite Courtland Sutton. Opportunity is the most important piece of the puzzle. And I don’t think signing a role player like Josh Reynolds changed the upside that Mims has. Sutton also publicly expressed his disappointment with management over the Jerry Jeudy trade so maybe he’s next on the block…

George PickensSpeaking of opportunity, George Pickens is now looking at a huge one. Diontae Johnson has been an absolute target hog, essentially averaging NINE targets a game over the last four years. That’s a 150+ target pace. Well, the Steelers shipped Diontae off to the Carolina Panthers which is going to jumble up the target pecking order for the guys still in town. And Pickens is likely at the top of that order.

But that’s not all. They then turned around and traded Kenny Pickett while acquiring Russell Wilson and Justin Fields. Say what you want about Russell Wilson but he is undoubtedly a better quarterback right now than Kenny Pickett. And his favorite target on the Broncos last year was the big split end Courtland Sutton who managed to score 10 touchdowns even in a rough season. That’s the role that the 6’3” Pickens plays so he’s looking like a winner in free agency.  




Fantasy Football Wide Receivers: Other Winners

Joshua Palmer/Quentin JohnstonI didn’t do a full write-up on this above because it’s too obvious for a big, long write-up. The top four pass catchers in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, and Gerald Everett are all gone. Even if they draft a wide receiver or tight end, these guys are better off than they were in December.

Michael WilsonMarquise Brown and Rondale Moore are gone. And, last I checked, Kyler Murray is still the QB. Even if they take a WR at 4 overall in the draft, I think Wilson pretty easily beats out Greg Dortch as the WR2. Wilson has the size to play outside. But Greg Dortch takes over that Rondale Moore role as well regardless so have to mention him as a winner.

Jerry JeudyHe’s a winner here in the sense that he escaped a team that currently doesn’t have a QB. I’d much rather go play with Deshaun Watson. Off-field stuff aside, he is a top-five QB in fantasy points per game of all time. 

Jameson WilliamsThe Lions could have gone out and added a split end. And they still could in the draft. But so far they haven’t done much while also letting Josh Reynolds test the market. Dan Campbell has said Williams could push to be a full-time player in 2024.

Kendrick Bourne - Bourne was the leading target-getter for this team before he got hurt. And he got a nice little payday. The Patriots were outbid for Calvin Ridley which is great news for Bourne. They’re also expected to draft a QB but even Jacoby Brissett is an upgrade over what they had. We also like Demario “Pop” Douglas - what a fun player to watch.

Rashid ShaheedWe don’t know for sure if he will graduate to a full-time player opposite Chris Olave with Michael Thomas gone. It could be the big-bodied AT Perry. But Shaheed has been able to flash his explosiveness on a limited snap share. So it would be fun to see him out there every snap. And that path is a little clearer now.

Curtis SamuelIt’s kind of an odd fit as you’d think the Bills would go for more of a true flanker opposite Stefon Diggs to replace Gabe Davis. But Samuel will now battle with Dalton Kincaid to be the second target on a Josh Allen-led team. Plus Samuel is still 27 and eventually Stefon Digs won’t be there.

Jalen TolbertLast year he was splitting snaps with Michael Gallup, now Michael Gallup is gone. Brandin Cooks didn’t look super special so Tolbert’s role could grow. If they draft a wide receiver, he could be in trouble though, but we are just talking about free agency here.




NFL Free Agency Losers: Fantasy Football Wide Receivers

Justin Jefferson (and Jordan Addison) - Say what you will about Kirk Cousins as a leader or a winner or whatever - the dude can sling the rock. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2015, his ~267 passing yards per game is top five among active QBs - just ahead of Matthew Stafford

His lack of mobility is what holds him back in fantasy football but, when it comes to distributing the football, Cousins on average throws for more yards than Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, Trevor Lawrence, etc. In the later rounds of fantasy football drafts, we lean into uncertainty hoping for upside. We use it to our advantage. 

But, at the very top of drafts, we do not like change. We do not like variance. So you can still draft Justin Jefferson early in your fantasy drafts and trade for him in dynasty if you don’t mind a little risk. But going from Kirk Cousins to an unknown commodity at QB is absolutely a risky proposition. There’s simply no way we can sit here and say the idea of Sam Darnold, a rookie QB, Nick Mullens etc. is equal to Kirk Cousins

Maybe it will be when all is said and done but that’s projecting the high end of the range. Which makes Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison losers in free agency as of now. Even if we don’t like to hear it. 

Treylon BurksI was holding out hope for Treylon Burks. He’s dealt with injury and has a young quarterback. Plus he’s young himself. And year three is the classic breakout year for wide receivers right? Well, that usually happens when veterans leave and the young guy gets a bigger opportunity, like with Chris Godwin

In this case, the Titans gave Calvin Ridley a massive four-year, $92 million contract. And DeAndre Hopkins is sitting on the other side of him. Maybe Burks can find his niche as the “big slot” and prepare himself for a world after DeAndre Hopkins. But, for the short term, he’s a loser in 2024 free agency. 

Jonathan MingoIf Treylon Burks is a loser, Jonathan Mingo has to be as well. Again, we like to give rookies the benefit of the doubt in their rookie season. But Mingo’s bad offseason started earlier when the general manager and coach who drafted him were fired. The new group has no allegiance to Mingo whatsoever. So that’s strike one. And what was one of the first things the new group did? 

They added Diontae Johnson to mix via trade. We mentioned earlier that Diontae is a guy who has commanded nearly nine targets a game. And Adam Thielen, even at his age, beat out Mingo for targets and racked up 1,000 yards last year.  I distinctly remember a rookie Justin Jefferson beating out the same Adam Thielen for targets fairly easily. We don’t want to put the nail in the coffin on his career just yet. But this offseason certainly could have gone better for Mingo. 

Rondale MooreWe mentioned it above with Michael Wilson. Marquise Brown was a big-time target hog so his leaving the scene frees up some looks for whoever was left behind. Which was looking like Rondale Moore - until he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons.

The mantra in fantasy football, especially in dynasty, is that talent wins out and “targets are earned”. But, before you can get the targets, you need to earn the snaps. The problem for Rondale Moore thus far is that he’s only rarely been a full-time guy. Despite injuries to both Marquise Brown and Michael Wilson, Moore only cracked 80% of the snaps in one game. 

Moore already faced stiff competition on the Falcons with Drake London and Kyle Pitts but the three-year, $39 million contract that Darnell Mooney got likely makes him the flanker opposite London. Which is going to likely find Moore as a part-time guy once again, fighting with Darnell Mooney to be the third target. And we want our guys to be top two targets on the team. You can have two fantasy-relevant pass catchers but three is fairly rare. 




Fantasy Football Wide Receivers: Other Losers

Courtland SuttonQuarterback uncertainty can be a killer. And say what you will about Russell Wilson, Sutton was his favorite target and fed him 10 touchdowns. It could be ugly in Denver this year. This isn’t Marvin Mims getting a new opportunity - this is a guy that already has an opportunity getting a worse QB. 

Trey PalmerFor a moment there it looked like Mike Evans could be gone. Instead, he locked in another two years. Palmer remains the third fiddle for the time being.

Andrei Iosivas - Similar story to Trey Palmer with Tee Higgins. Except worse because Iosivas really only played when Higgins was out given their overlapping skill sets as split ends.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba - He’s not a full-on “loser” per say but there were rumors that Tyler Lockett could be released or traded. And where JSN “lost” was when Tyler Lockett restructured his deal to stay for this year and also lowered his cap hit for next year as well. 

The Seahawks getting rid of some tight ends should hopefully mean running more three WR sets. But it would have been nice for JSN to take a Godwin-like jump and be the man opposite DK Metcalf this year, if Lockett had left.

Demarcus RobinsonRobinson likes the Rams. And he took a very team-friendly deal to stay at one year $5 million. If he had waited, he probably could have gotten a bigger contract to have a shot at being a top-two target on the team. 

He’d probably have better odds at fantasy production on a team like the Cardinals or Patriots that need WRs than being behind Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua. So he’s a fantasy loser in that sense. 

Allen Lazard - His good buddy Aaron Rodgers got hurt year one. Then in year two they added Mike Williams. Rough sledding for his fantasy value but at least he got paid. 

DeVante Parker - Hard to call him a loser since he’s still getting paid based on the offset language, and he could win a ring. But in fantasy football, what is the path now? He’s behind AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert at the very least for targets. And will still likely split snaps.