By: Aaron Schillinger @aaron_schillUpdated: 8/4/2017

Contract Year Motivation


Kirk Cousins:
Once again, we saw Kirk Cousins and Washington come to an agreement on a long term deal. There were stories that came out that Washington did send Cousins a substantial offer over the offseason, but obviously nothing came of it. Cousins will enter free agency once again after this season, and talks of him heading the San Francisco are becoming a popular topic. Either way, we know that Cousins is likely a very motivated individual with a ton of weapons around him in what should be a fairly high powered offense.

We can expect Cousins to make a push this year and do all that he can to lock up a big time deal in the future. Whether he ends up a Redskin, a 49er, or some other team…One thing is certain. Kirk Cousins is going to come out firing again in 2017 and should put up some excellent fantasy numbers.

Drew Brees:
It’s worth noting that Drew Brees will become a free agent after the 2017 season. Whether it’s worth debating that he’ll be a Saint again or not, that’s another story. We can all assume that Brees will come to an agreement with New Orleans, and return in 2018. I find it hard to even picture Drew Brees in anything but that Saints uniform. Regardless of whether you believe Brees will be back in New Orleans in 2018 or not, we know that once again he’s got a plethora of weapons around him, and should do his usual thing for fantasy owners in 2017; that being, ball out.

Matthew Stafford:
Matthew Stafford has been going back and forth with the Lions and have not been able to come to an agreement on a deal. Apparently there is still a “substantial gap” between the Lions and Stafford, per http://www.mlive.com/lions/index.ssf/2017/08/report_theres_still_a_substant.html

Stafford has been in the league since 2009, and is just 29 years old. In quarterback years, we know that isn’t anything to worry about. Stafford has been a fairly underrated name in fantasy football over the years, but there’s not much of a reason why the Lions wouldn’t lock him up for the long haul. Unless of course you care about winning playoff games, which most people do. This situation will be worth monitoring, but I’d imagine Stafford is a Lion for years to come.

Other Notable FAs in 2018: Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Running Backs

Le’Veon Bell:
As of now, Le’Veon Bell remains in holdout from the Steelers training camp. Apparently he wants to be paid like the best RB in the league AND a WR, which would be a whole lot of cash. This is definitely a lot to ask for a RB in the NFL, but we all know how talented Bell is, and he probably deserves the contract. I can’t imagine he would leave Pittsburgh, but with the uncertainty of Ben Roethlisberger’s future and Antonio Brown did just get a massive deal.

The future of this ridiculous fantasy trio may be up in the air, but whatever happens, Le’Veon Bell is going to come out as healthy and as motivated as ever. Bell has a fairly easy schedule in 2017 and appears to be getting his off the field issues together. Expect another huge season from Bell.

Carlos Hyde:
From talks about Carlos Hyde possibly being a cut during training camp, to talks of him being the best guy out on the field, fantasy owners are all over the place with Hyde. He will be a free agent in 2018, and with the direction that 49ers team is headed, you better believe Hyde needs to prove it this year. He’s still very talented, but injuries have kept him off the field far too much. With talks of rookie Joe Williams giving Hyde a run for the starting role, Hyde is someone that absolutely should be motivated heading into 2017.

Jeremy Hill:
From being a late 1st round draft pick in fantasy leagues just a few years back, to basically falling flat on his face, Jeremy Hill has to be motivated. He’s got rookie Joe Mixon coming in looking to take over that backfield, and Giovani Bernard is coming back from his last injury, and looks promising heading into the season. Gio should have that typical pass catching role and Jeremy Hill better hope he is at least the goal line back in 2017. Between Joe Mixon coming for him and becoming a free agent in 2018, Jeremy Hill should be just as motivated as anyone this year.

Other Notable FAs in 2018: Devonta Freeman, Isaiah Crowell, Spencer Ware, Terrance West, and LeGarrette Blount.

Wide Receivers

DeAndre Hopkins:
After an absolute bust of a season in 2016, DeAndre Hopkins looks to bounce back in 2017. Whether his QB is Watson or Savage, there is one thing that is certain; it can’t get any worse. With free agency looming in 2018 and an improvement at the QB position, we can expect ‘Nuk’ to come out and show us that he deserves our first round picks.

Sammy Watkins:
Sammy Watkins is a guy I just can’t get myself to walk away from. The talent is undeniable, the QB situation is improving, and the injuries are finally looking somewhat positive this off-season. This is the first training camp that Watkins is coming into completely healthy. With free agency coming in 2018 as well, we know Watkins wants to get paid and land himself a big deal for the future.

Alshon Jeffery:
Heading into Philadelphia under a one-year deal, Alshon Jeffery looks to make a name for himself once again in the fantasy world. Unfortunately, it sounds like Alshon is already dealing with some shoulder issues that are definitely a cause for concern. With Jordan Matthews and Torrey Smith looking to make a statement this year, along with a handful of rookies and Nelson Agholor, Alshon better stay health and step it up, or he may very easily end up somewhere else in 2018.

Other Notable FAs in 2018: Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams, Terrelle Pryor, and Jordan Matthews.

Tight Ends

Tyler Eifert:
There is no denying that when Tyler Eifert is healthy, he’s a TD machine. After a career filled with injuries, at this point we can only hope and pray that he stays healthy. As far as a TE goes, Eifert is still fairly young (26) and still could have a long career ahead of him. He will be a free agent in 2018, and as of now him being healthy, offers an opportunity at an excellent season ahead of him in 2017.

Jimmy Graham:
Let’s not forget that just a couple years ago, Jimmy Graham received a massive $40 million-dollar deal in 2014. After coming off a nasty injury, he finally started to put it together in 2016. I was never a huge fan of Graham heading into Seattle, but the end of 2016 was encouraging. If he wants to find another big deal in 2018, he needs to keep it together and pick up where he left off last season. We all know he’s definitely got the talent to do so.

Antonio Gates:
Coming into 2017 at 37 years old, Antonio Gates actually still has something to play for. After talks of retiring prior to the 2016 season, Gates ended up playing in 14 games, scoring 7 TDs, and putting up 548 yards. Gates is now just one TD away from setting the NFL record for the most TDs scored by a TE. Hunter Henry is a popular dynasty name right now, and assuming this is Gates last year in the league, Henry should be even more popular next year.

Other Notable FAs in 2018: CJ Fiedorowicz and Austin Seferian-Jenkins