Fantasy Football: 4 Free agents who could make an impact

With the NFL Draft over, fantasy football owners are ready for the season to begin. Keep in mind there’s a few free agents who could make an impact in 2017.

It’s now the month of May and all the players who needed to find a new home have done so. Well, not all but a large majority of them have. All the remaining players on the free agent market are no better than you and I, right? They might be able to crack a team’s 53-man roster if they are lucky but as far as making a fantasy football impact? Psh, no way.

I hope you detected the large amount of sarcasm I was putting out there, because there are still a few players out there who could make a difference this year. We are still over four months away from Week 1. In that time, there will be players who get injured and suspended. I can promise you it’ll happen, because it happens every year.

Last year it was Tony Romo, Ben Watson and Teddy Bridgewater who all went down with an injury during the preseason. Tom Brady and Le’Veon Bell are two of the biggest names in the NFL and they were both suspended for the start of 2016.

In 2015, Julius Thomas, Kevin White, Kelvin Benjamin and Jordy Nelson all went down with an injury before Week 1. Notable players who missed the start of the season due to suspensions: Martavis Bryant (big surprise), Le’Veon Bell (bigger surprise) and Josh Gordon (biggest surprise).

Keep these four free agents in the back of your minds when injuries and suspensions happen anytime from now until September.

Dec 10, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) scores a touchdown in the second half against the Minnesota Vikings at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

4. Michael Floyd, WR

If this list was based purely on talent and youth, Michael Floyd would be No. 1 instead of 4. The 27-year old former first-round pick has never lacked the skills it takes to be successful in the NFL. He has however, gotten in his own way on multiple occasions.

During Floyd’s senior year at Notre Dame in 2011 he was arrested and charged with a DUI. This incident wouldn’t be worth bringing up if it was a one-time thing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Floyd was once again arrested and charged with a DUI in December 2016. His latest DUI forced the Arizona Cardinals to release him and it’s the main reason he’s still a free agent today.

We’ve seen Floyd be an effective playmaker since coming into the league in 2012. Between 2013-15 Floyd had 840+ receiving yards and five or more touchdowns in all three of those seasons. Floyd is still young enough to turn things around and his age will be the main reason he’ll more than likely get another shot in the NFL.

If he can successfully put his baggage behind him and focus on football, Floyd could easily be a difference maker in real life and in fantasy football this year. Whether or not he does it remains to be seen.

Miami Dolphins

Oct 23, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Anquan Boldin (80) makes a touchdown catch against Washington Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller (38) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Lions won 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

3. Anquan Boldin, WR

In the last slide we talked about Michael Floyd’s youth and alluded to his remaining potential. In this slide, we get the complete opposite in Anquan Boldin. The 2003 first-round pick is entering his 15th season in the NFL. The reason he still has a career playing football is because the soon-to-be 37-year-old still remains effective.

Last season with the Detroit Lions, Boldin caught 67 passes for 584 yards and eight touchdowns. In fantasy football, Boldin finished just one spot behind Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs and ahead of both Jordan Matthews and DeVante Parker.

Boldin has never had fewer than 56 receptions and 584 yards in any of his 14 seasons in the NFL. He obviously will not be posting anymore 1,000-yard seasons and will not be a WR1/2 in fantasy football. He still could make sense for 14-team leagues and/or leagues who start three wide receivers and a FLEX.

We could see Boldin return to Detroit where his eight touchdown receptions led the Lions in 2016. Other than their third-round selection of Kenny Golladay, the Lions did nothing to upgrade their wide receiver corps.

Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge (82) canoot get the second foot down on a potential touchdown catch as New York Jets strong safety Rontez Miles (45) defends during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

2. Gary Barnidge, TE

Believe it or not but Gary Barnidge is entering his 10th season in the NFL. I say “believe it or not” because for most his career, Barnidge was an irrelevant and unknown name in fantasy football.

Between 2008-14 Barnidge only totaled 603 yards and three touchdowns for his entire career. He could have retired after 2014 and nobody in fantasy land would have blinked an eye. That was until the former Louisville Cardinal broke out in 2015.

Barnidge was one of the few bright spots on the 3-13 Cleveland Browns in 2015. That season, Barnidge set career highs across the board with 79 receptions, 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns. He career highs also led the Browns in all three of those categories. Last year he took a step back with 55 receptions, 612 yards and two touchdowns. The main reason for his dip in production was due to the Browns making changes to their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks.

The Browns spent a first-round pick on Miami tight end David Njoku in this year’s NFL draft, which compelled them to release Barnidge. With the right landing spot, Barnidge could be a top 12-15 fantasy football tight end this season.

Oct 9, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) runs the ball into the end zone for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

1. Running Back LeGarrette Blount

Last year, LeGarrette Blount was one the best running backs in fantasy football. He had over 1,100 yards rushing and led the league with 18 rushing touchdowns. This year, he’s still a free agent.

Blount had an opportunity to re-sign with the New England Patriots, but refused to sign the offer because he thought he deserved more money. Since then, the Patriots have signed both Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee. These signings have virtually shut the door on any chance Blount had returning to the Patriots. During the NFL Draft a week ago, 27 running backs (not including fullbacks) were drafted. This no longer makes adding a running back to some of those team’s backfields a need.

By not returning the Patriots, Blount basically has no chance of repeating as a top-seven fantasy running back. His 1,000-yard season in 2016 was his first since 2010. His previous high in rushing touchdowns before 2016 was seven, and that came back in 2013.

This isn’t to say Blount can’t make a significant impact in fantasy football this year. One injury to one superstar running back and the door would be open. The problem is, there’s a chance Blount might not wait until an injury occurs to sign with a team. If that happens, he might miss a great opportunity.

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