With all the free agency and draft buzz going on, it has been awhile since we have looked at any fantasy football news. For those of you that are true die-hards in the fantasy world, I hope that you have already thought about free agency, looked at doing some fantasy mock drafts, and even reviewed some early rankings.
If you have not taken the time to look at anything yet, and you have clicked on this article, I am going to offer some fantasy opinions for a handful of players that have switched teams in free agency. These are obviously preliminary opinions as the draft will also affect the value of a couple of the following players, as will possible injuries between now and when fantasy drafts actually happen.
DeMarco Murray – I would say he is still a RB1 at this time depending on work load, and what Chip Kelly does in the red-zone. DO NOT expect him to do what he did in Dallas last year, as his workload will be diminished in Philly. Star RBs are getting harder and harder to come by in fantasy, and for the moment Murray remains an every week starter, but do not draft him looking for 2014 numbers.
Jeremy Maclin – While I think that the receptions and yards will be good for Maclin, I am having trouble seeing any more than 6 TDs this year. Of course, even six would be a huge improvement for the Chiefs’ wide receivers from last year, but not when looking for a WR1. He should be better in PPR leagues, as I expect Smith to look his way an awful lot, but expect Maclin to be a WR2 this year.
Torrey Smith – It will be interesting to see how the new regime in San Francisco uses Smith. Smith lost a lot of looks last year to Steve Smith, but was still relevant many weeks because he was finding the end zone. Kaepernick still has something to prove as it comes to helping fantasy receivers. At this time Smith has the opportunity to have WR2 numbers, but will start the year as a WR3.
Julius Thomas – Thomas is one player who I see taking a drop this year. He has never been a big yardage guy, and Manning has done wonders getting him in the end zone while in the red zone. Unfortunately, Thomas now has Blake Bortles as his QB and is in a much less potent offense. He will need to stay healthy, which has been a problem, and pick up more yards to stay on the fantasy radar. At this time he can be started as the TE position in fantasy is not that strong, but there are 8-10 other TEs that I am taking before him this year at this time.
Frank Gore – I think Gore will have a good year in Indy, but do not expect him to get the same kind of workload he has received in past years. Gore will take pressure off of Andrew Luck, and will get plenty of carries, but make no mistake, this team will live and die on the right arm of Luck. There is a good chance that Gore will lose third down touches as well, and the red zone could be infuriating for Gore owners as Luck throws a lot of short TDs to his tight ends. At this time, Gore is a solid RB2, but if he is receiving goal line carries, and the Colts make a commitment to the run, he might be able to get one more RB1 season under his belt.
Andre Johnson – No longer the same guy he used to be, Johnson will not be the focal point of this offense. Hilton will still be the big play threat over the top, and Moncrief and the TEs have earned a spot in the offense. Johnson could still approach the 800-1000 yard plateau, but don’t look for much more. He is playing with the best QB he has ever played with, so maybe he can take advantage of TD opportunities, that he has seemed to lack over his great career. Personally, I am looking at Johnson to start the year as a WR3.
Owen Daniels – Daniels has always been a good pass receiving TE, and he at this time has the fortune of playing with a QB that LOVES throwing to TEs. Daniels has a real chance to have one of his finest seasons at this late stage of his career with Manning as his QB. If the yardage is not great, he will be a week to week red zone threat. If he is getting red zone looks, he stands a very good shot at being a top 10 fantasy TE.
Darren McFadden – Count me on the team of people that does not have high expectations for McFadden at this time. I expect Dallas to draft another RB, making this paragraph on him wasted space. McFadden has never been able to stay healthy, and even when healthy has not produced in several years. No matter how good Dallas’s offensive line is, I am not buying in on McFadden as a fantasy contributor. Personally, I am avoiding him in drafts at this moment, and letting someone else deal with the injuries and lost carries.
Stevan Ridley – Someone who could put together a real nice season is Ridley. If they get ANYTHING out of their QB position (or trade for someone like Rivers) Ridley could quietly put up some good numbers. He has shown the ability to get in the end zone in the past, albeit with Brady as his QB, but he has a chance in NY to do some good things. Of course everything for Ridley will depend on what happens at QB, but the only other RB that he has to beat out at this time is Chris Ivory. I am starting the year with the thought of Ridley as a RB3, but he is someone who I want to keep an eye on with potential upside.
Charles Clay – For Clay the potential is there to have a good season. Always a good pass receiver, Clay is another guy that will need consistency at the QB position and will need to avoid injuries. The Bills offense has weapons all over the field in McCoy, Harvin, and Watkins, and Clay should get a lot of single coverage. Clay could be a sneaky good TE play this year, depending again on what Bills do with their QB position. As it sits with Cassell, he will start the year as a TE2, but upside is there for him as well.
CJ Spiller – Right now Spiller will hold more value in PPR leagues than standard leagues. The Saints are not afraid to rotate RBs and Ingram has yet to produce for an entire season. Draft as a RB3 and bye week replacement.
Shane Vereen – The potential is there for Vereen in that offense, but at this time they still have Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams. This backfield is a fantasy mess right now, so avoid Vereen until something more plays out. This is one of those backfields that you keep an eye on, and if nothing changes, you avoid it!
Jordan Cameron – Cameron is another player with upside, but not someone I would draft as a starter until he can prove he can stay healthy and on the field. Cameron is very much worth drafting as a TE2 with hopes he can stay healthy.
Eddie Royal – Royal will not replace what Marshall has done in the past, but if Cutler can be consistent (LOL I know) there is a chance that Royal can produce out of the slot with Jeffery, Bennett, and Forte drawing coverage. At this time I am not drafting him unless the roster is very deep, but might worth a flyer if other guys are on bye.
Percy Harvin – Avoid unless he can prove that he can contribute to fantasy on a consistent basis.
Dwayne Bowe – Bowe had poor numbers with Alex Smith, and is going to a worse QB situation. Avoid unless he can contribute on any regular basis.
This column was written by Ryan Thyer. Follow him on Twitter: @BigNoahD05
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