While there are some free agents still on the market, most of the big names have already signed and are gearing up for the 2013 season. For those of you looking to get a head start on your fantasy research, scoutPRO expert Nelson Sousa is here to talk about the fantasy implications of all the free agent moves. Let’s see what he has to say:
With Welker heading west to Denver, he will continue to compete with some talented players for receptions, just like in New England. The only difference is he must now compete with WRs rather than TEs (Demaryius Thomas/Eric Decker vs. Rob Gronkowski/ Aaron Hernandez). Although Decker runs shorter routes in a similar fashion to Welker, I think they can coexist along with Thomas. On the flip side, I see Thomas’s value going up. He will continue to be a threat on deep routes, which will lead to explosive plays for the 4th year pro. As for Welker, he will continue to be a valuable fantasy WR and his role in Denver will be basically the same. All in all, more weapons for Peyton Manning means nothing but good things for him. His first year in Denver was a huge success, and adding a weapon like Welker will only add to his value.
Honestly, I haven’t been a fan of his for a few years now. But that was in part to him being on a terrible St. Louis Rams team. With him now in Atlanta, my views have changed. The Falcons have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, with a bunch of guys to account for on each and every play. With that being said, I think Jackson is going to have a really good year. He won’t face many guys in the box due to Julio Jones and Roddy White garnering so much attention on the outside. Michael Turner ran out of gas two years ago and still managed to put up decent numbers in this offense (double digit TDs both years). Jackson still has some gas left in the tank, and he could have a monster year for the defending NFC South champions. I could see a 1,300 yard, 15 TD season, while at a minimum he should be able to top 1,000 yards with 10 TDs.
While he was acquired via trade rather than free agency, nonetheless he is a big time fantasy player and will continue to do the same thing in Seattle. The Seahawks are a run-heavy team, but they are much different from Minnesota. Harvin was having a really good year in 2012 before he got injured and I expect the same from him in 2013. If he can stay healthy, he will no doubt be a top fantasy WR.
The Rams shelled out some big time cash ($16 million guaranteed) for the former Tennessee Titan, so I expect them to actually use Cook in their offense unlike the Titans. If they don’t, Rams GM Les Snead will be sharpening his resume in a few years. Since the Rams already have Lance Kendricks at TE, I believe Rams HC Jeff Fisher is looking to go New England style with two TE sets. Kendricks and Cook are different types of players just like Gronk and Hernandez. Cook is a big, fast and physical target, while Kendricks is pretty quick for a TE. I really like him this year and will be interested to see how this plays out.
Wallace reaped the benefits of free agency by signing a lucrative deal with the Dolphins worth over $60 million. I am a little unsure about this and I think the jury is definitely still out on him. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill is a good player, but he is not Ben Roethlisberger. He will now being lining up opposite Brian Hartline, who is a good WR, but nothing special. I think it could be a struggle for Wallace in his first year as a Dolphin. Defenses will look to take away the deep ball from him by playing man coverage with a safety deep. That is where he does a ton of damage, which could no doubt affect his fantasy value.
With Wes Welker gone, Amendola is now the man at WR in New England. Since Donald Jones is currently slated to be the #2 WR, more moves are in store for the Patriots. There is no way they are going to go into the season with him at that position. Something is going to happen, whether it is a trade or free agent acquisition (Emmanuel Sanders?). Along the same lines, I think they are going to run more 3 TE sets this year with Jake Ballard as the 3rd TE, and put a greater emphasis on the power running game. Back to Amendola, he is a feisty, motivated player who has had some bad breaks with injuries over the past few seasons. He has had no consistency in his career up until last year, but that was catching passes from Sam Bradford and dealing with the Rams turnstile offensive line. Now insert Tom Brady and the Patriots dynamic offense into that last sentence and the future could be bright. I will wait to see what else the Patriots do this offseason before I make a final judgment on him.
This was one I called from the beginning, and signing with the Lions was something that just made sense for him. They are looking for a guy to replace Jahvid Best, who has been severely affected by concussions his entire career. I like Bush this year and am going to be targeting him in my drafts. He has the potential for 75 catches in this offense as he has the ability to line up all over the field (backfield, slot, out wide). With defenses focusing on trying to contain Calvin Johnson, Bush should be able to get some favorable matchups that he can exploit. He is going to get a full workload (Leshoure will get some short yardage carries and the occasional drive). Factoring in all of these things, I see the potential for a big year from Bush.
By signing with Minnesota, it looks as though Jennings chose money over winning and competing for Super Bowls. Green Bay made him an offer, and there were reports that New England did as well. If this is true, I’m not sure how you can justify choosing Christian Ponder over Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. The good news about Minnesota is they do not have many weapons and Jennings will no doubt get a ton of targets. Teams will continue to focus on containing Adrian Peterson, giving Jennings the opportunity to surprise some of the people who are already writing him off. He will still go fairly high in drafts, but I believe he will fly a bit under-the-radar. I could see him going in the 6th round, and I would have no problem drafting him there.
Keller had some ups and downs in his time with the New York Jets. He had his moments with some big games, but could never find any consistency. With the combination of bad QB play, a bad OC in Tony Sparano and just an overall bad team, it wasn’t exactly a recipe for success. Couple that with some injuries problems in 2012 and Keller was probably thrilled to be a free agent. Ryan Tannehill is heading into his second year in the league and will improve, but there is no better safety valve for a young QB than a TE. Additionally, Mike Wallace is going to draw a ton of attention from opposing defenses when he is on the field. This situation could lead to Keller catching a lot of passes and being Tannehill’s best friend out on the field.
I have been high on Ryan Williams for a while now, so it was a shame to see the Cardinals sign Mendenhall. New Cardinals HC Bruce Arians trusts him from his time working with him in Pittsburgh. Mendenhall could get a shot to carry the load at RB. Both guys have had injury problems, so it will be interesting to see what plays out with the situation.
Many were surprised when he signed with the Titans, but personally I was not. They need to keep Chris Johnson fresh and can’t wear him down. His 2009 season when he went for over 2,000 yards may have messed with his head. Nowadays, he is always dancing and looking to hit the homerun, rather than just trying to gain what is there. All the fault cannot be put on his shoulders as the ball is often forced to him. With Greene now in town, maybe he can apply a little pressure to Johnson and force him to step up his game.
Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown
With Brown re-signing and Woodhead coming in from New England, this could ultimately put a damper on Ryan Mathews’ value. I have been a fan of his, however he just hasn’t been able to put it all together (did have a nice run down the stretch in 2011). With a new coaching staff in town, that should mean nothing but good things for the offensive line, which was nothing short of pathetic in 2012. It remains to be seen how this will impact Mathews. While he may drop in draft position, that could present a buying opportunity for owners willing to give him another shot.
He will replace Martellus Bennett in New York. Personally, I don’t think he is all that good. He will catch some passes, but don’t expect anything special. The Giants offense is the Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz show and will continue to be in 2013. Also, they don’t feature the TE as much as other teams around the league. If you look back to last year, Bennett started the season on fire, catching a TD in each of the first three games. After week three, he was basically nowhere to be found the rest of the season.
Casey signed a three-year deal with the Eagles worth $14 million. He will be an afterthought to most, which will allow you to pick him up much later in drafts. While playing for the Texans, he lined up all over the field (fullback, H-back, tight end). His versatility is something that new Eagles HC Chip Kelly loves and was one of the main reasons they targeted him. Look for him to pair with Brent Celek in two TE sets, with Casey being the Aaron Hernandez of the offense. Celek will be the in-line guy and focus on blocking. I think Casey could explode this year and be a great pickup as a 2nd TE.
The Titans got one of the best blocking TEs in the NFL when they signed Walker. While they are going to focus on running the ball, don’t sleep on him. He had some drop issues last season, but he could get some opportunities with Jared Cook no longer around.
I think this is a good signing by Chicago. They desperately need some more weapons for Jay Cutler, and Bennett will provide a big target for him. He can also block, which is always helpful in the run game. Overall, he is a solid TE and a nice pickup by the Bears.
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