Happy new league year to all who celebrate! The NFL’s 2023 season officially begins today, with trades and signings announced the past few weeks all becoming official. Yesterday I looked at the first wave of big news from the Free Agent Frenzy, today I’m looking at the second wave, which includes a big trade for the Giants, plenty of running back news and the Jets landing a new receiver. Let’s dive in.
Waller to the Giants
The Giants locked up Daniel Jones but another big mission this off-season was improving his weapons. The team re-signed Isaiah Hodgins and Sterling Shepherd at wide receiver, but the first big move was a trade with the Raiders Tuesday to land Darren Waller. The Giants sent a Third-Round pick to acquire the pass-catching tight end.
Waller blossomed in his five years with the Raiders, catching 286 passes for 3,469 yards and 17 touchdowns. That included back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020. Injuries and increased competition for targets limited him in 2022, but he figures to be the best weapon in the Giants’ arsenal at this point, solidifying his spot as a Top 12 option for fantasy at the tight end position.
The Jets land a new target
Rumors surfaced on Tuesday that Aaron Rodgers presented the Jets with a list of players he wanted them to acquire, three receivers and a tight end, despite the fact the team is fully stocked at both positions. Nevertheless, the Jets landed Allen Lazard, formerly of the Packers, on a four-year, $44 million deal on Tuesday. That could be the first salvo in a big week for the Jets as they look to make a playoff run by securing a new franchise quarterback.
In 2022, Lazard had a career-best 60 receptions for 788 yards and six touchdowns. He joins a receiving group that includes second-year man Garrett Wilson, third-year man Elijah Moore and veteran Corey Davis. It’s unclear what role he’ll play but for now I have Lazard as a WR3 with the idea the Jets will land Rodgers. If that trade flames out, it will depend on how the Jets solve the quarterback riddle.
Panthers lock up some security
The Panthers traded for the No. 1 overall pick on Friday, leading most to believe they’ll snag a rookie quarterback at the top of the draft. On Tuesday, they provided some veteran insurance by signing veteran Andy Dalton to a two-year deal. Dalton began his career with the Bengals but spent the last three years as a veteran depth option for the Cowboys, Bears and Saints. He’s made starts for all three teams and figures to be a perfect bridge quarterback or backstop to a rookie franchise option.
Running backs on the move
After a quiet first day, we got a lot of running back movement on day two. The biggest signing was David Montgomery, who got a three-year contract from the Detroit Lions. Montgomery rushed for 3,609 yards and 26 touchdowns in four years with the Bears and figures to be an early down and goal line pounder for the Lions, who also have D’Andre Swift. Montgomery’s arrival also likely signals that Jamaal Williams won’t be back with the Lions after scoring 17 touchdowns in 2022. Given Montgomery’s body of work and potential role, he has fringe RB2 potential while his signing means that Swift’s fantasy upside remains capped.
The Miami Dolphins also made movies, re-signing veterans Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson, Jr., both of whom joined the team last year after playing with Head Coach Mike McDaniel in San Francisco. Mostert signed a free agent contract last off-season and reupped on a two-year deal. Wilson was acquired in trade last season and also signed a two-year deal. The pair filled the backfield decently in 2022 but the signings don’t preclude the Dolphins from drafting or signing another option at running back. For now, I prefer Wilson, who I have as a low-end RB3.
The Denver Broncos also added insurance in the backfield, signing Samaje Perine to a two-year deal. Perine was with the Bengals last year, rushing for 394 yards and two touchdowns, catching 38 passes for 287 yards and four more touchdowns. He showed himself a capable spot starter and solid pass blocker, adding depth behind Javonte Williams, who is coming off an ACL injury. The Broncos might not be done adding backfield pieces but Perine seems to be a solid handcuff who could have an expanded early season role.
Finally, the Eagles made moves in the backfield. With starter Miles Sanders a free agent, the Eagles added free agent Rashaad Penny, who spent his first five years with the Seahawks, rushing for 1,918 yards and 13 touchdowns. He averaged more than six yards per carry the last two seasons but has consistently struggled to stay on the field, including in 2022 when a broken leg limited him to five games. The Eagles also re-signed Boston Scott, with both players pairing with third year back Kenneth Gainwell. It appears the Eagles will use a committee but for fantasy I prefer Gainwell of the three. I think he’s poised to take on a bigger role with Sanders departure.
Finally, the Bears lost starter Montgomery but added some depth in former Seahawk running back Travis Homer. In four years, Homer saw 83 carries, rushing for 453 yards and a touchdown, adding 52 receptions for 464 yards and 2 touchdowns. He gives the team an interesting trio at running back with Khalil Herbert and Tristan Ebner. The Bears likely aren’t done shaping their running back group for 2023 despite the signing.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.
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