The SFFS brings you five under-the-radar free agent signings for 2018 who could have a major impact on your fantasy rosters.
C.J. Anderson, RB Carolina Panthers:
Despite 1,007 rushing yards and three TD’s in 2017, C.J. Anderson found himself the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason. When no trade partner could be found, the Broncos released C.J. (and his $4.5 million 2018 cap hit) on April 16th. After being linked to the likes of the Packers and Dolphins, Anderson signed with the Carolina Panthers on a one-year deal. Anderson instantly slots into the Panthers’ starting power back role that had opened up when Jonathan Stewart was released. C.J. will look to form an effective duo with the dynamic Christian McCaffrey, with Anderson seeing the majority of early down and short-yardage work. It would not be a surprise to see both players lined up in the backfield on the same play. Even though Carolina will look to get the ball to McCaffrey as much as possible, there will still be plenty of opportunities for Anderson. Last season, Jonathan Stewart had 206 touches to McCaffrey’s 197. We predict Anderson to get at least 140 carries this year for 630 yards and 5-7 touchdowns, making him a great handcuff or late round fantasy pick.
Terrelle Pryor, WR New York Jets:
Pryor’s plan to cash in on himself by signing a one-year deal in 2017 with the Washington Redskins failed miserably, with Terrelle posting just 20 receptions for 240 yards and one TD. This season, Pryor is shooting for a mulligan after signing another one-year deal with the New York Jets. Believe it or not, there is some real optimism for Pryor and the Jets; expected to be fully healed from an ankle injury that cost him seven games last year, Terrelle should be targeted often with a thin wide receiver corps that contains the troubled Robby Anderson and returning-from-a-major-injury Quincy Enunwa. We saw what Pryor is capable of after his 2016 season in Cleveland, and there is potential for him to repeat that performance in 2018. If he clicks with the offensive scheme, he has a great shot at the #1 receiver job, and will be catching passes from Jets’ QB Josh McCown, who just happened to be his QB for for the Browns in ’16. Pryor is still a size/speed freak, and will provide a big target on the outside for whoever ends up throwing the ball for New York. The pure definition of a boom or bust candidate, Pryor is a great late-round pick and depth player who has the potential of being a fantasy WR2.
A.J. McCarron, QB Buffalo Bills:
Yes, the Bills drafted Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, but for now, the reins to Buffalo’s offense will be held by McCarron. Though A.J.’s only career NFL starts came in 2015 (three), he became one of the more intriguing backups in the league after throwing for 854 yards and six TD’s compared to just two interceptions. He would only play sparingly over the next two seasons, and though he was expected to be a major free agent target, McCarron signed with the Bills for just two years and $10 million after his market fizzled out. Technically, A.J. will be competing with Nate Peterman for the starting gig, but McCarron is fully expected to get the job out of training camp. If he is indeed named the starter, McCarron will have a couple of solid weapons at his disposal. He’ll have a healthy, big bodied receiver on the outside in Kelvin Benjamin to throw to and he’ll get to hand off to the dynamic LeSean McCoy. Then there’s steady Charles Clay at tight end, and if Zay Jones’ off-field issues are cleared up, he could be a big factor after flashing at times in 2017. If he plays like he did in ’15, McCarron could be a borderline QB2. A definite early-season waiver priority add, A.J. might end up being the fantasy surprise of the year.
Isaiah Crowell, RB New York Jets:
Another Jet signing coming off a down year, Crowell could actually put up some solid fantasy numbers in 2018. With the retirement of Matt Forte, Isaiah has a great opportunity to seize the starting early-down role for the Jets. An every down back who has the power to move the chains, Crowell will battle incumbents Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire and newly signed Thomas Rawls for the starting job. Isaiah has the best all-around skillset of the group, and should emerge as the favorite early down back in New York. Look for Powell to return to his third-down role, with McGuire chipping in as the change of pace back. Crowell is the favorite to see goal line and short-yardage work and should earn 150 touches, with 4-6 touchdowns in reach. A perfect late-round depth add, Crowell is capable of putting up RB3 numbers in 2018.
Allen Hurns, WR Dallas Cowboys:
Now that Dez Bryant has moved on, the Dallas Cowboys are in sore need of a go-to receiving threat. Though Dallas did draft Michael Gallup out of Colorado State in the third round, Hurns has an incredible opportunity to be a target monster in 2018. There isn’t another proven receiver on the roster and the cupboard is bare at tight end after the retirement of Jason Witten. The Cowboys did add Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin through free agency and a trade, but Hurns has as good a chance as any of seizing the #1 wide receiver spot. A former 1,000 yard receiver in Jacksonville, if Allen can quickly click with QB Dak Prescott, expect him to see 125 plus targets in 2018. A true sleeper, Hurns can absolutely put up WR2 numbers this year.