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Fantasy football risers following 2023 NFL free agency

Who got a fantasy boost after the free agency pieces fell?

Running back Tony Pollard #20 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on before kickoff against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

NFL free agency is mostly wrapped up for the bigger free agents that were available. The next big influx of talent will come through the NFL Draft in a month. Moves during the draft will change the fantasy football landscape, but for now, we have some interesting moves to discuss.

Below, we’ll take a look at some of the news and which players came out of free agency on the rise in fantasy football.

Tony Pollard, Cowboys, RB

The Dallas Cowboys franchise-tagged Pollard and released Ezekiel Elliott, giving Pollard the lead job at running back for the moment. There is some chance the Cowboys go after a Top-10 back in the draft, but Pollard has proven himself to be a rising star and should hold that No. 1 spot unless the Cowboys make a splash pick of Bijan Robinson in the first round, which I don’t see happening.

Miles Sanders, Panthers, RB

Sanders leaves a great spot for running backs, but also lands in a spot where he can see more work as the no-doubt lead back in Carolina under Frank Reich. We knew he was on his way out of Philadelphia, so landing somewhere as the no-doubt No. 1 back is a good thing for his fantasy future.

Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots, RB

The Patriots added James Robinson and let Damien Harris go to the Bills, leaving Stevenson as the No. 1 back. Robinson has proven he can be a No. 1 back, but he’s fallen from grace with injuries and getting buried on the Jets depth chart last season. I expect Stevenson to get all the work he can handle if the depth chart remains the same going into the season.

Irv Smith Jr., Bengals, TE

Smith has been a “sleeper” for a couple years now, but injuries have been a major impediment for his development. Thankfully for him, he landed in Cincinnati, which should be a good place for efficiency and touchdowns.

Garrett Wilson, Jets, WR

Wilson was incredibly good his rookie season and he had some real duds throwing him the ball. He now gets a four-time MVP in Aaron Rodgers targeting him (most likely). The Jets also let Elijah Moore go in a trade and don’t have anyone close to Wilson’s talent at receiver at the moment, but they do have their starters and likely won’t reach for a top wide receiver in this year’s draft.

Samaje Perine, Broncos, RB

Perine showed well in his limited touches in Cincinnati, playing even better than the starter Joe Mixon on a per-touch basis. He now heads to Denver and could be the Week 1 starter if Javonte Williams isn’t fully back from his ACL injury. And even if Williams does return, there is a real chance he will lose work to Perine as he works through returning from a severe injury.

Rashaad Penny, Eagles, RB

Penny has been one of the best per-touch running backs in the league over the last couple seasons, but injuries continue to plague him. The good news is that he landed in a great place for efficiency on the ground with the Eagles. And, if they don’t add anyone in the draft, he profiles as the lead back when healthy.

Kenneth Walker, Seahawks RB

With Penny out of the way, Walker is the no-doubt lead back and would be set to take on a huge role on a team that was much better offensively without Russell Wilson than anyone thought. There’s no reason to think Walker won’t be one of the top fantasy running backs in 2023.