Grading the biggest offseason moves: Kirk Cousins to Atlanta, Derrick Henry to Baltimore and more

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NFL free agency is an annual seismic event — the dozens of players who change teams alter the NFL landscape in a major way. The 2024 offseason was no exception — there’s a new favorite in the NFC North, and the Buffalo Bills left themselves one step this side from holding wide receiver tryouts in the parking lot of Duff’s Famous Wings.

When the NFL landscape changes, the fantasy landscape changes right alongside it. The Athletic’s KC Joyner and Gary Davenport have come together to rate the impact of this year’s biggest signings — for better or worse.

NOTE: The grading scale is based on the value up or down for the player compared to his situation in 2023. As a baseline, a lateral move for a player would be considered a “C” grade. Also, trades were not included in these ratings.

Move Gary Davenport’s Grade KC Joyner’s Grade

Kirk Cousins to ATL

C+ (QB 8-11 – low-end QB1)

C (QB 9-12 – low-end QB1)

Russell Wilson to PIT

B- (QB 9-15 – high-end QB2)

B- (QB 10-15 – borderline QB1/QB2)

Derrick Henry to BAL

B- (RB 5-20 – risk/reward RB 1/2)

B (RB 4-15 – RB1 w/ durability risk)

Saquon Barkley to PHI

A (RB 3-15 – make-or-break)

A (RB 2-7 – cornerstone)

Josh Jacobs to GB

B+ (RB 5-15 – risk/reward RB1/2)

B (RB 7-15 – borderline RB1/2)

Aaron Jones to MIN

C- (RB 15-25 – value RB2)

B- (RB 10-25 – strong RB2 w/ upside)

Zack Moss to CIN

B (RB 20-30 – low-ceiling RB2)

A- (RB 15-25 – undervalued)

Austin Ekeler to WAS

D+ (RB 5-45 – upside dice roll)

D (RB 10-40 – high-volatility RB2)

D’Andre Swift to CHI

D+ (RB 20-30 – low-ceiling RB2)

B- (RB 18-35 – excellent RB3)

Tony Pollard to TEN

C- (RB 18-35 – high-risk RB2)

B (RB 15-30 – superb low-end RB2)

Calvin Ridley to TEN

D (WR 20-30 – WR 2/3 bubble)

D- (WR 15-25 – high-volatility WR2)

Gus Edwards to LAC

B- (RB 28-40 – flex at best)

B- (RB 30-40 – solid flex value)

Devin Singletary to NYG

B (RB 15-40 – low-upside RB2/3)

B- (RB 20-40 – quality RB3)

Sam Darnold to MIN

B+ (QB 20+ – SuperFlex prayer)

B+ (QB 25+ – longshot w/ upside)

Darnell Mooney to ATL

A- (WR 18-30 – Sneaky value)

B+ (WR 20-30 – upside WR3)

Gardner Minshew to LV

C (QB 11-30 – fear the ‘stache)

C+ (QB 15-25 – value prop)

Kirk Cousins, QB, Atlanta

Cousins is widely viewed as a QB2 due to his move to Atlanta, but don’t forget that he ranks 10th in QB PPG since 2021 (minimum 30 starts) and has the talent around him to repeat that performance level with the Falcons. Since his ADP is almost certain to be well below the low-end QB1 level, Cousins should be a great value pick in the later rounds. – Joyner

Derrick Henry, RB, Baltimore

There’s admittedly cause for excitement from fantasy managers regarding King Henry’s arrival in Charm City — Gus Edwards scored 13 rushing touchdowns a season ago, and he’s no Derrick Henry. Henry also topped 1,100 rushing yards last year, scored 12 times on the ground and finished 10th in PPR fantasy points. But Henry is also a 30- year-old running back with over 2,000 career carries, and the Ravens haven’t fielded a 1,000-yard running back since Mark Ingram in 2019. He’s the definition of a risk/reward pick for 2024. — Davenport

Saquon Barkley, RB, Philadelphia

Barkley ranks fifth in PPR PPG at running back over the past two years and was only 1.2 points out of ranking second in that category. A move to an Eagles offense that consistently ranks at or near the top of the league in my good blocking rate category (largely thanks to Jeff Stoutland, arguably the best offensive line coach in the NFL) ought to close that gap and place Barkley among the top three picks in this year’s fantasy drafts. — Joyner

Austin Ekeler, RB, Washington

There may not be a bigger lottery ticket at running back in fantasy football this year than Ekeler, who joined the Commanders on a two-year, $11.4 million deal. That relatively small contract speaks to a passing down complimentary role to Brian Robinson with limited fantasy value. But Ekeler is also a back who scored a whopping 38 touchdowns combined in 2021 and 2022. Robinson has never rushed for 800 yards or averaged more than 4.1 yards per carry — Ekeler could be a bigger part of the offense than some believe. — Davenport

Zack Moss, RB, Cincinnati

Moss will have competition for carries in the Bengals backfield, but it’s also worth noting that Moss gained 10+ yards on 10.4 percent of his carries in 2023. That pace was only one-tenth of a percentage point behind Joe Mixon’s 10.5 percent mark, and it shows that Moss can replicate Mixon’s breakaway production pace. It’s an element that provides an upside path that may make Moss a go-to RB2/RB3 in fantasy scoring this season. — Joyner

Aaron Jones, RB, Minnesota

Frankly, I’m not sure what the Packers were trying to accomplish when they signed Josh Jacobs and released Jones. But I know what the Vikings got out of the deal — a massive upgrade over Alexander Mattison in the backfield. Yes, Jones turns 30 in December. The Vikings also may not be very good. But Jones showed late last year that he has something left in the proverbial tank. There’s value here. — Davenport

Tony Pollard, RB, Tennessee

His former RB coach in Dallas once publicly stated that Pollard just couldn’t handle a bell cow-level workload. That proved to be the case last year, as Pollard saw a huge increase in scrimmage plays but also saw a notable drop in fantasy production. The Titans are likely to respect this limitation and cap his work, but that may be a fantasy plus since it could result in Pollard returning to a much higher fantasy points per scrimmage play level. — Joyner

Darnell Mooney, WR, Atlanta

Mooney joins Kirk Cousins in a suddenly crowded Falcons pass-catching corps, and some fantasy managers may see that as a less than ideal landing spot. But Atlanta didn’t give Mooney $13 million a season to be a decoration, and Newton’s Third Law of Fantasy Football states quite clearly that Kyle Pitts can’t be targeted more than three times in back-to-back games. Mooney is a mid-round wide receiver who is going to out-perform his draft slot. — Davenport

(Top photo of Saquon Barkley: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports)

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