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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Cory Bonini

Ranking the top fantasy football free agents for 2024

The NFL’s annual trek into free agency gives teams a chance to retool and rebuild. Franchise leadership needs to balance single-year needs with stop-gap options, long-term mega-signings, and take consideration of future NFL draft additions, all while managing to fit the contracts under the salary cap.

Below is a ranking of noteworthy players contractually eligible for free agency, ranked in order of likely 2024 fantasy football importance. Several players will hit the market after eventually being released, such as Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. We will address those specific situations in future articles.


Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

After the year of the backup quarterback, positional depth on the market is glaringly weak. There are several promising NFL draft prospects, which is where we’ll see many QB-needy teams turn to satiate their appetite. The top handful of veteran options will be sought after, but there’s a precipitous fall from No. 1 to No. 2 and really only two players who have a concrete chance to score a starting gig.

Rk Player 2023 team Status Notes
1 Kirk Cousins MIN UFA Returning to MIN is on the table, but Cousins is poised to be a top fantasy QB regardless of where he signs.
2 Baker Mayfield TB UFA Will not be tagged but figures to be re-signed after a career resurrection in 2023.
3 Ryan Tannehill TEN UFA Will he follow Arthur Smith to PIT for a veteran presence?
4 Gardner Minshew IND UFA Minshew continues to flash starter potential everywhere he goes, but the ceiling is rather low in any setting.
5 Carson Wentz LAR UFA Still only 31, Wentz could find himself in a starting role given the extreme positional scarcity exemplified in ’23.
6 Mason Rudolph PIT UFA Did he do enough to return to PIT for a QB competition? Probably not. In the right situation, he could vie for a QB1 spot.
7 Sam Darnold SF UFA Seems destined to be a career backup at this point
8 Joe Flacco CLE UFA Can he find a chance to start in 2024 after a late-season comeback from his couch?
9 Drew Lock SEA UFA Arm talent galore, Lock has flashed here and there but remains a turnover-prone liability.
10 Joshua Dobbs MIN UFA We saw Dobbs make a little noise in 2023 but ultimately proved why he’s a journeyman backup.
11 Jacoby Brissett WAS UFA We know exactly what he is at this stage of his career — a veteran insurance policy.
12 Mitchell Trubisky PIT UFA Nothing to date has given any confidence he is capable of winning a starting job.
13 Marcus Mariota PHI UFA Mariota is a mistake waiting to happen and may struggle to find a backup opportunity.

Running backs

Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

This is one of the deepest classes of impending free agents the position has offered in years, and the types of available backs run the gamut. Expect a high degree of player movement this spring, and the fantasy backfield landscape will look much different in ’24.

Rk Player 2023 team Status Notes
1 Saquon Barkley NYG UFA Elite versatility and team-first traits; could be tagged or re-signed, but we may have seen the last of him in New York.
2 Austin Ekeler LAC UFA New coach wants him to return. Coming off a down year, entering age-28 season, Ekeler’s versatility offers value potential.
3 Josh Jacobs LV UFA Will he get tagged? Signed to a long-term deal? Still has elite ball left in him, so it comes down to money.
4 Derrick Henry TEN UFA Hard to see him coming back to TEN. BAL makes a lot of sense, and he’ll have no shortage of teams kicking tires.
5 Tony Pollard DAL UFA His lone year as the full-time back was underwhelming but serviceable. DAL may make a strong push for a huge FA splash signing.
6 D’Andre Swift PHI UFA Started hot and cooled dramatically. Despite durability being an ever-present issue, Swift’s versatility makes him an intriuging target.
7 Devin Singletary HOU UFA Closed the year strong and could return; turning 27 in Aug., Singletary is likely a short-term solution anywhere he lands.
8 Zack Moss IND UFA Moss filled in admirably for Jonathan Taylor and could have earned himself an opportunity for compete for a job elsewhere.
9 Kareem Hunt CLE UFA Remains versatile and has a nose for the end zone, but Hunt isn’t more than a piece of the puzzle entering his age-29 season.
10 AJ Dillon GB UFA The bulldozing veteran could be done in GB with Aaron Jones set to return. Dillon hasn’t met expectations and may find an icy market.
11 Gus Edwards BAL UFA He’ll be 29 years old and is one-dimensional. BAL is expected to make run at a big-name back in a loaded FA class.
12 Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC UFA Is there a coach who feels he can coax the most out of the former first-rounder? Perhaps, but CEH is little more than a JAG, or “just a guy.”
13 Antonio Gibson WAS UFA Likely done in WAS, Gibson will land softly thanks to his chops as a pass-catching outlet.
14 Jerick McKinnon KC UFA Getting long in the tooth, the one-trick pony won’t have many suitors. Re-signing in KC might be his best option.
15 J.K. Dobbins BAL UFA Coming off another major injury and offering a limited skill set, Dobbins may struggle to find a favorable opportunity.
16 Joshua Kelley LAC UFA Kelley has yet to showcase anything warranting more than a backup roster spot.
17 Rashaad Penny PHI UFA The talent is there, but mounting injuries and age (28) will keep his options to a minimum.
18 D’Onta Foreman CHI UFA Career journeyman with limited offerings and a similarly narrow market makes Foreman largely forgettable.
19 Cordarrelle Patterson ATL UFA Patterson’s hands and special teams game will give him some chances to sign, but he’s entering an age-33 season.
20 Boston Scott PHI UFA Scott has yet to flash for stretches. Limitations aside, he’ll at least get a few calls to serve as a change-of-pacer.
21 Damien Harris BUF UFA Low mileage but also slim offerings … Some team may find utility in his experience and goal-line potential.
22 Cam Akers MIN RFA Another Achilles tear severely hinders any chance a team will make an offer to lure him away.
23 Rico Dowdle DAL RFA Some NFL-caliber traits but didn’t do enough in limited touches to suggest a team will pay the cost of stealing him from DAL.

Wide receivers

Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a quality blend of top-flight receivers, midrange puzzle pieces, high-upside fliers, and one-trick ponies available in this year’s free-agent class of wideouts. That said, due to tagging and extensions, expect the field to substantially narrow before free agency officially opens.

Rk Player 2023 team Status Notes
1 Mike Evans TB UFA The two sides remain far apart in negotiations, and he is not expected to be franchise tagged. Evans is a fantasy WR1 anywhere he signs.
2 Michael Pittman Jr. IND UFA Indy’s GM said he will use the franchise tag if necessary, so it doesn’t look like this blossoming star is headed anywhere.
3 Tee Higgins CIN UFA Higgins is a candidate to get tagged if the team cannot work out a long-term deal. CIN has the 7th-most cap space.
4 Calvin Ridley JAX UFA His season-long stats were respectable after missing a ton of games from 2021-22, but the sporadic production left much to be desired.
5 Marquise Brown ARI UFA Hollywood isn’t an A-list star, but he will shine in the right ensemble casting. He’s one of the more intriguing FA WRs on the market.
6 Gabe Davis BUF UFA An erratic vertical threat doesn’t usually spell strong value in fantasy, but Davis’ profile translates to a WR2 spot in real life.
7 Tyler Boyd CIN UFA Presuming he indeed doesn’t return to Cincy, Boyd following OC Brian Callahan to TEN makes some sense. Regardless, he’ll have choices.
8 Curtis Samuel WAS UFA Versatile with extensive starter experience are pluses, but Samuel has failed to wow year after year. He’ll get WR3 attention.
9 Noah Brown HOU UFA Flashed a few times in both DAL and HOU. It’ll be interesting to see if the Texans saw enough to offer him a contract.
10 Josh Reynolds DET UFA Familiarity with Jared Goff could see Reynolds return to DET. He will be on the field for three-down sets but is unremarkable.
11 K.J. Osborn MIN UFA Sneaky contributor who has stepped up his game in key situations, but Osborn is a situational role player through and through.
12 Darnell Mooney CHI UFA Starter experience, offers some downfield skills … Will have offers from multiple teams looking for a low-cost sidekick.
13 Kendrick Bourne NE UFA Quality possession receiver who will have a few options, even after tearing an ACL in late Oct.
14 Jauan Jennings SF RFA Has flashed his potential at times and is a reliable third-down weapon, but teams may not be willing to pay the RFA price.
15 DJ Chark Jr. CAR UFA Despite being oft-injured, Chark’s vertical traits endear him to coaching staffs seeking a field-stretcher for balance. Irrelevant otherwise.
16 Donovan Peoples-Jones DET UFA DPJ wound up in Detroit but never managed to catch on last year. There’s possession talents that will get him rostered somewhere.
17 Odell Beckham Jr. BAL UFA Injuries and age have taken an undeniable toll, and OBJ is no longer a fantasy asset.
18 Chase Claypool MIA UFA Three teams in as many years despite having plenty of starter traits. His career is teetering on the brink.
19 Parris Campbell NYG UFA Blazing speed but has yet to indicate he can offer much of anything for fantasy purposes.
20 Mecole Hardman KC UFA Has not once lived up to the potential of his freakish athletic traits.
21 Sterling Shepard NYG UFA North of 30 with a checkered injury history, Shepard’s fantasy-relevant days are done.
22 Van Jefferson ATL UFA A couple of years removed from a promising season, Jefferson has fallen flat since and will be on a short leash if he signs.
23 Quez Watkins PHI UFA Purely a deep threat, Watkins has given glimpses of his vertical potential and will wind up rostered.

Tight ends

Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a rather shaky class of free agents once again, but it’s not entirely barren of proven talent. While none of the available players are game-breakers, serviceable options exist for teams looking to ink a warm body.

Rk Player 2023 team Status Notes
1 Dalton Schultz HOU UFA Mixed results after taking a one-year deal to sign with HOU. Certainly could return but may once again test the market.
2 Mike Gesicki NE UFA Largely irrelevant the last two years, Gesicki is still young enough (age-29 season) to redeem his once-promising career.
3 Hunter Henry NE UFA Henry still has something in the tank but is far more of a red-zone weapon than a game-changing TE.
4 Gerald Everett LAC UFA The seasoned veteran has basically no upside but should find a limited role.
5 Noah Fant SEA UFA Offers almost nothing in terms of fantasy utility but is an experienced starter who will wind up on a roster.
6 Austin Hooper LV UFA Once a top-flight fantasy TE, Hooper’s best days are long behind him. A team will sign him, but gamers can punt.
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