By Tzali Nislick
The deadline to sign franchise-tagged players to long-term contract extensions was 4 p.m. on Wednesday, and only Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones and Titans running back Derrick Henry were able to come to terms on deals. Jones signed a four-year contract at $85 million with $60 million in guarantees and Henry signed a four-year, $50 million deal with $25.5 million guaranteed. Everyone else including, Dak Prescott, failed to agree on a long-term deal and will play the 2020 season under the franchise tag, if they choose to sign it. Now that the deadline has passed, let’s take a look at Henry’s fantasy outlook as well as those who were not able to reach agreements.
Dak Prescott’s contract negotiations with the Cowboys has been a long, grueling process, only for the two sides to fail to come to an agreement. I personally believe Prescott is worth a long-term extension worth up to $35 million per year, but that’s neither here nor there. For 2020, he’ll play under the franchise tag worth $31.409 million. And as long as he’s in Dallas, he’ll continue to deliver high-end fantasy production. Last year, Prescott finished as the QB2 overall the Cowboys’ weapons should only be better this season. Although center Travis Frederick retired, the offensive line still ranks among the league’s best. Dallas also spent a first-round pick on Oklahoma wideout CeeDee Lamb, who joins Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup to form the best receiving core in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Prescott’s rushing ability can’t be ignored either, as he’s scored 21 rushing touchdowns, the most of any quarterback since he entered the league. Dak has a great shot to repeat his fantasy success from a year ago, and he’s my QB3 overall entering the season.
As previously mentioned, Derrick Henry was one of just two players who were able to agree on a long-term extension prior to Wednesday’s deadline, and he deserves every penny of what he got. Henry’s contract makes him the fifth highest-paid running back in the league. The former Heisman winner finished as the RB5 last year and RB2 for non-PPR scoring formats. He won the rushing title and also led the league with 16 rushing touchdowns. He was nothing short of a monster, carrying the Titans to the AFC Championship last year with 377 rushing yards in the Wild Card and Divisional Round games. And although he led the NFL in rushing attempts last season, there’s no indication of any durability issues (knock on wood) as Henry has missed just two games through his four-year career. The Titans lost Jack Conklin on the offensive line but the Titans still boast an above-average unit. Henry is my RB4 for the season behind Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Ezekiel Elliot. The only reason he doesn’t rank higher is that he doesn’t offer the receiving upside that the three before him do. Otherwise, here’s to many more yards and stiff arms from Derrick Henry for the next four years. You got yourself a stud, Tennessee, and Dynasty managers should rejoice.
The Cardinals hit Kenyan Drake with the transition tag, and he signed it back in March. He’s scheduled to earn $8.5 million in 2020 and could be in for an even bigger payday this offseason if he plays as well as I think he will. He’s one of my favorite players entering the season. I go into more detail about him in my 10 players on my must-have list.
The Bengals used their franchise tag on their longtime star AJ Green at around $18 million. The two sides couldn’t come to terms on a long-term agreement, which makes sense for Cincinnati considering Green is entering his age 32 season after several injury-plagued campaigns. He still hasn’t signed his franchise tender, but assuming he does it’s possible he returns to fantasy prominence in 2020 if he stays healthy. But that’s a big if and at this point we have no evidence that suggests he can remain in the lineup over 16 games. That’s a main reason why I included him in my 10 players on my do not draft list.
Hunter Henry received the franchise tag in March and signed it in April, as he and the Chargers were not expected to reach a long-term agreement. As for his fantasy prospects in 2020, he’s a back-end TE1 for me. Henry has never played a full 16 game season. After missing all of 2018 with a torn ACL, he sat out four more games last year with another knee injury. He’s been productive when he’s actually been on the field, but now with Philip Rivers heading to Indianapolis, I question whether he can replicate his same success with Tyrod Taylor. It’s a small sample size, but in the three games Taylor started in 2018 (the last time he was a starter), his tight ends caught a combined 10 passes for 60 yards. I think Taylor could actually be a sneaky streaming option this year, but I don’t think he elevates his pass catchers like Rivers did with his insane volume. Henry finished as the TE9 last year and I think that’s about right for his prospects in 2020 as well.