NFL "Offseason" 2013: Fantasy Football Winners & Losers from the First Week of Free Agency
It says something about the NFL in that its dullest day of the year is probably Pro Bowl Sunday. Social media has done wonders for the league, and when free agency opened on Tuesday it was almost impossible to put the Twitter machine away, as rumors ran wild as to where big name fantasy studs like Josh Brown (kidding) would sign. Now that the dust has settled some, we’ll examine who were the biggest winners and losers from the first week of free agency.
Steven Jackson - Jackson is going to crush in Atlanta. Coming into a situation where Michael Turner had double digit touchdowns over the last 5 seasons, Jackson will finally be in an offense that doesn't solely rely on him to move the chains. Of the 24 running backs that have over 2300 carries, Steven Jackson has the 2nd fewest rushing touchdowns...56 to Warrick Dunn's 49. I expect that to finally change in Atlanta in 2013.
Reggie Bush – This is really just for PPR formats, but I fully expect Reggie Bush to catch 60+ passes for the Lions next year (I’d take the over on 70 too). Joique Bell caught 52 passes in Detroit last year and wasn’t even really that involved early in the season. While he’ll struggle to see 200 carries, this is still a better situation for his fantasy outlook.
Lamar Miller – Reggie Bush (see above) is gone. Lamar Miller will be freed. It’s too early to make guarantees, but Miller has the look of a RB1 upside guy. Miami continues to add pieces (Mike Wallace & Dustin Keller) around Tannehill, and that offense is on the way up.
Mike Wallace – Not so much of a winner, but knowing he wasn’t going to be back in Pittsburgh there were worse spots he could have landed. I really like his potential in Joe Philbin’s offense, and it’s certainly an upgrade from Todd Haley’s offense that was not built around Wallace’s strengths (i.e. running really deep and catching the ball).
Danny Amendola – Let’s not try to complicate things here: Danny Amendola is going to be Wes Welker 2.0 for New England. After Welker balked at the Pats’ initial offer, they moved on and signed the younger Amendola to a 5yr/$31M contract. Amendola has only appeared in 12 games over the last 2 years due to injuries, so join my cause to make him “injury-prone” come fantasy draft day so that he slides down boards a bit.
Mike Goodson – Rex Ryan loves to pound the rock and Goodson finally finds himself in a situation where he’ll have a great opportunity to get the rock on a regular basis. Goodson only has 160 carries in 4 seasons as he was buried on Carolina and Oakland's depth charts, but has averaged 4.5 yards per attempt. He also caught 40 balls for Carolina in 2010. Bilal Powell is the only legitimate threat in New York (though they could add a RB in the draft), so there is a decent shot he ends up as a guy who gets 250 touches next year.
James Casey – It’s tough to say what Casey will do in Chip Kelly’s offense, but he’s a versatile TE/H-Back that really has endless possibilities when it comes to how he’ll be utilized. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on come draft season as a late round flyer. Dynasty leaguers should already be acquiring him if he’s available.
Jared Cook – The Rams gave Cook $19M guaranteed, so there is no question they think he can be a tremendous asset for them. At 6’5”/248lbs with a 4.49 40-time, Cook has an extremely rare size/speed combo. It was always said that he was underused in Tennessee, so the change of scenery is encouraging. Jeff Fisher drafted Cook when he was the head coach of the Titans. I’m telling you, he really sees something in this guy to give him $19M guaranteed. I think I know who my tight end will be in every league this year (provided the hype doesn’t get too crazy).
Matt Ryan – 3rd down and redzone binky Tony Gonzalez, who was 97% sure he was retiring after last season, decided to come back for a 17th season. The greatest tight end of all time is showing no signs of wearing down after a remarkable 93rec/930yd/8TD season.
Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker – I touched on this on last week’s podcast. While the pie will get slightly bigger in Denver, they’re still sharing it. Thomas and Decker both exceeded 1,000 receiving yards and had double digit TDs. That will be tough for both of them to maintain with Welker in town. If you put a gun to my head, I’d say Decker is the biggest loser here, but all 3 figure to take a hit on their top line numbers.
Ryan Williams – After the Cardinals cut Beanie Wells one day before free agency opened, it looked as if Williams would be “the guy” in Arizona. On Wednesday, the Cardinals signed Rashard Mendenhall to a 1yr/$2.5M deal. Williams will still have some fantasy value, but he’ll be lucky to have anything more than a 50/50 timeshare.
Chris Johnson – Shonn Greene comes to town and I have no doubt that he will just vulture touchdowns from CJ?K. My early guess is that Greene has 3x more touchdowns than Johnson (9 to 3).
Greg Jennings – To be fair, Jennings is a winner…to the tune of 5/$45M ($18M guaranteed). I just don’t like this situation for him. Anytime you go from Aaron Rodgers to Christian Ponder/Matt Cassel, your fantasy value is going to take a hit. But hey, $18M to block for AP ain’t a bad gig.
Donnie Avery – The speedster had his best season as a pro with Andrew Luck chucking him the ball. He didn’t have much value, other than in deeper/bigger leagues. In Kansas City with Alex Smith, he’ll be off the radar.
Kevin Kolb, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kevin Walter, Matt Cassel – Losers.
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