4 NFL Free Agents Every Team Must Avoid
Free agency is one of the riskiest ways to go about building a team. While you can hit big, like Drew Brees with the New Orleans Saints, the wrong move can hamstring a team for years to come. Just look at the Washington Redskins $100 million signing of Albert Haynesworth.
Undoubtedly, teams will dive into the murky waters of NFL free agency yet again this season, but franchises should use a little more caution when evaluating these four free agents.
1. Bud Dupree, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Viewed as a bust for the first four years of his career, Bud Dupree broke out in a big way in 2019. He racked up a career-high 11.5 sacks, topping his previous career best of 6.0 in 2017. The thing is, sacks can be a fluky stat, and some of the more advanced numbers don't necessarily support the idea that Dupree made a huge leap. He recorded 13 hurries, 6 QB knockdowns and 25 pressures in 2018, but put up just 11 hurries, 5 QB knockdowns and 28 pressures in 2019. In fact, of the 12 defenders to have racked up at least 11.5 sacks, Dupree is the only one to not have recorded at least 34 pressures. None of this is to say Dupree isn't a good player, but it's fair to wonder if he'll live up to a big contract if he's no longer playing alongside T.J. Watt, one of the most disruptive defenders in football.
2. Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Another player coming off a career year, Austin Hooper isn't nearly as dynamic as his stats would lead you to believe. He finished with 787 receiving yards, the sixth-most among tight ends, but he did that with thanks to some heavy volume, seeing 97 targets in 13 games. In fact, his yards per target was 8.1, just 13th most at the position. He also benefited from playing with Matt Ryan, who attempted the third-most passes in the NFL (616) despite missing a game. If Hooper signs with a less pass-heavy offense, it could be tough for him to duplicate the production he had in Atlanta. Notably, this was Hooper's first season above 675 receiving yards, and he's not without injury concern, having sprained his MCL last season.
3. Jack Conklin, Tackle, Tennessee Titans
Jack Conklin is a good right tackle. But entering free agency at 25 years old in a relatively weak class of O-Lineman, he's going to get paid like an elite one. That's not to say Conklin isn't a high-level starter – he had the eighth-highest pass blocking win rate among tackles in 2019 – he just might not be worth the price tag he's sure to command. Someone will probably have to make him one of, if not the, highest-paid tackle in the league in order to lure him out of Tennessee and that's undoubtedly a risky proposition, even for someone as solid as Conklin.
4. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans
Ryan Tannehill is coming off a magical run, but it's more than fair to wonder if his production is sustainable. He led all NFL passers with 10.2 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) in 2019. For context, Patrick Mahomes averaged 9.6 AY/A during his record-breaking 2018 campaign. Considering Tannehill had never been above even 7.4 AY/A prior to last season, it seems likely that some regression is imminent. And we already saw that manifest itself in the NFL Playoffs, as he averaged 123.0 passing yards per game in three postseason appearances. If Tennessee ultimately doesn't bring back Tannehill, it'd be hard not to have some reservations about signing him to a massive contract.
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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.