NFL free agency is a fun time, but let’s face it: Great players seldom enter March completely free to sign with whoever they choose.

Imagining Mike Evans or Tee Higgins in a Chiefs uniform is all good. What about Baker Mayfield in Las Vegas? Or Michael Pittman with the Bills? The possibilities seem endless … until all parties involved are simply franchise-tagged and once again back with their incumbent squads.

Weird things occasionally happen; just realize the track record of players changing teams in free agency is pretty brutal for all parties involvedGood teams generally don’t let good players walk away for nothing.

That said: Teams can and will improve their rosters during the month of March, even if their corresponding Super Bowl odds are unlikely to change all that much.

This brings us to today’s goal: Four under-the-radar “dream” free-agent landing spots that help fill key needs for the real-life team involved *and* present fantasy-friendly opportunities for the free agents in question.

As always: It’s a great day to be great.

WR Curtis Samuel: Buffalo Bills

Samuel is still just 27 years young despite entering the league all the way back in 2017. While the Ohio State product has just one career season with over 1,000 total yards, he’s proven capable of helping an offense in a myriad of ways over the years:

  1. Stretching the field. There's high-end speed here (4.31-second 40-yard dash) inside of a small, albeit not tiny frame (5-foot-11, 196 pounds). I maintain Samuel should have had 1,500 yards back in 2019 with competent QB play. He’s caught 25 of 29 deep targets (20-plus yards downfield) that were deemed catchable by PFF over the past five years.
  2. Versatile playmaker. There’s just something about the last name Samuel that apparently enables people to play both WR and RB at a high level. Ironically, only Deebo (6.3) has averaged more yards per carry than Curtis (5.9) among all non-QBs with at least 120 rush attempts since the latter playmaker entered the league back in 2017. Arbitrary cutoff aside: Curtis is a legit playmaker as a rusher.
Curtis Samuel

Dec 17, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Washington Commanders wide receiver Curtis Samuel (4) catches a touchdown pass in the second half against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Bills join the Buccaneers as the only two teams that haven’t used a single day one or two pick on a WR over the past five drafts. There has NOT been an overly reliable secondary option here since John Brown and Cole Beasley got old. Gabe Davis is fine, but his boom-or-bust nature hasn’t led to much consistent production over the years — and reports seem to be hinting at the possibility that his free-agent market could be much larger than expected.

Samuel isn’t about to walk into Buffalo and take over as Josh Allen’s new No. 1 WR, but the walking Swiss Army knife is an affordable mid-level option at the position capable of adding a much-needed YAC dimension to a Bills offense whose WRs rank just 29th in yards after the catch per reception over the past three seasons.

WR Marquise Brown: Jacksonville Jaguars

The artist known as Hollywood has dealt with hamstring, foot and heel injuries during the last two seasons, preventing him from building on what was truly an electric start to his tenure with the Cardinals. Only Aaron Jones (7) spent more total games on the injury report listed as questionable than Brown (6) in 2023 (per Scott Barrett).

Still, fans and fantasy faithful got a glimpse of what Brown was capable of during the first month and a half of 2022 when DeAndre Hopkins was serving his six-game suspension. Overall, only Stefon DiggsCooper KuppTyreek Hill and Justin Jefferson had more PPR points than Brown before he broke his foot in Week 6, 2022.

Brown (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) might not boast the world’s largest catch radius, but it’s hard not to be at least a bit critical of the quality of targets he received in Arizona: No offense had a lower rate of deep targets than the Cardinals over the past two seasons.

Meanwhile in Jacksonville: Watching these pass-catchers find one way after another to not *quite* come down with TDs last season was tough to watch.

Twenty-seven in June, Brown probably shouldn’t be leaned on as the quasi-No. 1 WR he’s been asked to be in both Baltimore and Arizona, but what about as a co-star in Jacksonville alongside Christian KirkEvan Engram and perhaps even Calvin Ridley if he re-signs? Sign me up — especially on a reasonable one-year, $12 million deal like PFF currently projects.

TE Gerald Everett: Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have *zero* 2024 dollars currently devoted to the TE position. Irv Smith Jr.Drew SampleTanner Hudson and Mitchell Wilcox are all unrestricted free agents.

Of course, the Bengals haven’t exactly made a habit of featuring the position while equipped with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. In terms of expected PPR points per game from Bengals TEs:

  • 2021: 7.6 (No. 31)
  • 2022: 9.0 (No. 27)
  • 2023: 10.8 (No. 20)

Enter: Everett, who doesn’t even need that many targets in order to create some big-time plays. Just look at this man go after the catch.

Everett has never reached 600 yards or five TDs during his seven-year career, but he’s also played with the Rams, Seahawks and Chargers — offenses blessed with multiple talented WRs and/or RBs who deserved to be ahead of him in the pass-game pecking order.

Yes, if Everett was an out-of-this-world elite TE he probably would have managed to put up bigger numbers at these stops despite the competition at hand. Also yes, few players at the position have matched his consistent elite-ness with the football in his hands along the way.

  • 2023: 5.4 yards after the catch per reception (No. 5 among all TEs with 50-plus targets)
  • 2022: 5.8 (No. 7)
  • 2021: 5.2 (No. 9)
  • 2020: 5.9 (No. 3)

Bengals TEs rank just 26th in yards after the catch per reception over the past two seasons; Everett is a low-cost veteran addition to an offense that could use a bit more juice after the catch from pass-catchers not named Ja’Marr Chase or Chase Brown.

RB Antonio Gibson: Los Angeles Chargers

It sure looks like the Chargers are moving on from Austin Ekeler, and typical No. 2 RB Joshua Kelley is also an unrestricted free agent. This leaves a LOT of vacated carries inside of an offense that can’t stop talking about how much they want to run the damn ball in 2024:

Teams with highest % of 2023 RB rush attempts entering free agency:

  1. Cowboys (94%)
  2. Giants (92%)
  3. Chargers (87%)
  4. Eagles (76%)
  5. Titans (74%)

A similar sentiment is true when looking at available targets, which is where Gibson — a former collegiate RB/WR hybrid — could truly have a chance to shine. While Gibson never quite lived up to the “DC CMC” propaganda in Washington (thanks a lot, Kyle Allen), he joins Ekeler, Joe MixonAlvin Kamara and Saquon Barkley as the only five RBs to catch at least 40 passes in each of the past three seasons.

The fun part about Gibson is that his receiving success hasn’t been limited to simple check-downs. The man has been making plays while lined up as a true WR as well as downfield throughout his short NFL career.

Still just 25 years old with minimal between-the-tackles wear-and-tear dating back to college, Gibson isn’t likely to be someone Jim Harbaugh looks to feature on a three-down basis, but the 6-foot, 228-pound playmaker is an ideal low-priced 1.B change-of-pace option capable of shining in the passing game when called upon.

Ian Hartitz
Ian Hartitz
Ian is a senior fantasy analyst at Fantasy Life and he truly believes every day is a great day to be great. He's spent time with Action Network, NBC Sports and Pro Football Focus over the years, writing and podcasting about all things fantasy football along the way. Ian's process relies on a mix of film analysis and data study; whatever is needed to get the job done (job done). There's no reason fun can't be had along the way — we do live on a rock floating around a ball of fire after all. Outside of football, Ian enjoys MMA, his dachshund Lilly and candles.