Wow! That is all I can say after the last week plus in the NFL. The moves, shake-ups, suspensions, trades, and non-trades are making for one of the craziest off-seasons in quite some time. If you don’t lock yourself onto ESPN or NFL Network every second of the day you are sure to miss a lot.
As you all know, all these moves will somehow affect Fantasy Football drafts, good or bad, and you will have to start now to be able to get a grip on it. I’m here to try and catch you up on who is where and what impact it will have come time for the new season to begin. I have for you the NFL Fantasy Stock Market where I will break down new faces in their new places and if it means they will rise or fall.
Get your notebooks ready class as we have a lot to cover here!
Peyton Manning, QB, to the Broncos: It is being called the biggest free agent signing in NFL history, as Manning, one of the best QBs of all time has moved on to the Broncos. We still need to see how well he can play after recovering from neck surgery and missing the entire season last year. Manning is always a good bet when healthy. He spreads the ball around and is always cool in the pocket. Now he needs to get some more weapons, perhaps former Colt TE Dallas Clark? Either way as long as he is in the NFL, Manning is a guy you have to go to.
Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, WRs, Broncos: Both are young and talented and both did pretty good, despite what many said about Tim Tebow’s passing skill, or lack of. Both have showed the ability to get scores deep and each possesses nice hands. The key will be for them to learn the timing of Manning, and be able to work within his perfectionist style. There is little doubt that if Manning comes in healthy that these guys go from 14th or 15th rounders up to 7th or 8th at the latest. Of course seeing some practice and pre-season action will help greatly.
Tim Tebow, QB, Jets: Traded to the Jets, only to have that trade catch a snag, “Tebow-mania” has had quite a fall out from last season. We all know he has the heart and soul of a true competitor, and can run like any back in the league. However Tebow wants to be a QB, and there just does not seem to be any team ready to make him the starter. He may have to find himself as a gadget player and will have to wait for a possible injury to get a full-time gig under Center again. Until we know where he lands, this is really tough to tell.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints: How can you go wrong with a guy with numbers like Brees? Well I’ll tell you. Last season when head coach Sean Payton broke his leg and was forced to coach from the booth, the offense wasn’t quite the same, and Brees admitted it affected him. So now Brees will have to go all year without his coach after he was served a 1 year suspension by the NFL for his part in the Bounty Case. He also lost Guard Carl Nicks and WR Robert Meacham this off-season, and has a little thing like a Franchise Tag hanging over his head. It seems like Drew is having a bad off-season, so I urge you to beware.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots: You want a potential fantasy jackpot? Suddenly you have to love Brandon Lloyd, a WR with great speed, excellent hands and is ready to be the leader of a very good crop of TE’s and WR’s. Lloyd has spent his pro years on some very poor teams, but has always managed to deliver highlight reel catches and big numbers. He is also reuniting with Josh McDaniels who is now the offensive coordinator for the Pats and was his head coach in Denver when Lloyd posted 77 catches for over 1,100 yards. Oh and did I mention a QB named Tom Brady?
BenJarvis Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals: A new look for both Green-Ellis and the Bengals here, but this one has me concerned. Bernard Scott is still here waiting for his chance to be the lead back, and Green-Ellis lacked big numbers last year. Cedric Benson did decent in this system last year, but the Bengals with QB Andy Dalton have become a passing team again. Not a great sign for Green-Ellis who is not known for his hands and skills in the passing game. This is one that we will have to see to judge, but I won’t be too excited yet.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: Sometimes all a player needs is a change of scenery. Jackson in the past has shown that he has the skills to be a great WR, but also has shown the ability to quit when unhappy. In Tampa he has a QB in Josh Freeman who has shown us Jekyll and Hyde so far in his career. If we get the guy from 2010, Jackson will be insane, if not he may be sorry for this move, well despite all the money. Tampa has been busy this off-season let’s see if it pays off.
Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers: Huh? Did he not just leave San Diego for a chance to see more carries? This makes very little sense to me. Not only do they have DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, but from 1 or 2 yards out they also have Cam Newton at QB who likes to run them in too. He may get some action in the passing game, where they lacked as a team in the backfield, but he is not taking over anyone else’s job yet.
Robert Griffin the Third, QB, Rookie: After an excellent combine and a good pro day, it is obvious that RG3 will go early in the draft, and has the skills to be the next Cam Newton. Sure it is hard to trust rookie QBs, but if he goes to the Redskins as expected he will be met with new signings Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. Griffin is looking like a safe bet, if not this year, in the near future. Keeper league alert!
Alex Smith, QB, 49ers: Turned out to be a pretty good move for Smith to go back to San Francisco as he got a nice big contract and has improving weapons and a good head coach. Smith showed last season that he can run the ball, and guys like TE Vernon Davis, and WR Michael Crabtree got better as the season rolled along. Now he gets to add a veteran star WR in Randy Moss. Has Smith’s career been revived? We will soon find out.
Matt Flynn, QB, Seahawks: Possibly the Seahawks believe in deja vous? Last time they went out and got a former Green Bay back up it turned out to be Matt Hasselbeck who had a decent career in Seattle. Now it is Matt Flynns turn, a guy who has started 2 games, but has thrown 9 TDs and just 2 INTs in those starts. Yes he has the advantage of learning behind a great QB like Aaron Rodgers, and the Seahawks have a good run game working and lots of young quick receivers, but is Flynn worth the deal he signed? Heck will he even beat out Tavaris Jackson? We will need a lot of video here.
Stock: Tip Toes Up
Texans Defense: A few key losses here have some wondering. Mario Williams is now in Buffalo, and DeMeco Ryans has been dealt to the Eagles. Yes, they have some nice pieces, but have lost 2 big leaders.
Stock: Free Falling
Arian Foster, RB, Texans: I ask you all to watch closely here. Houston has watched half of last years steady offensive line go elsewhere in free agency, and QB Matt Schaub is coming off of an injury. Foster has all the tools, but he could suffer from losing key pieces. Also we have to mention how good Ben Tate looked last year when given a chance. Now that Foster has his money, will he remain huge?
Laurent Robinson, WR, Jaguars: Why would any WR make a move from a pass-happy offense like Dallas to go to a place like Jacksonville where WRs career go to die? Well money and a chance to be a number 1 for sure. Robinson after traveling around the league and never really finding a home, had a nice season last year after stepping in for an injured Miles Austin. He may have used that to land a nice pay day, but I’m not too sure that he is the guy the Jags think he is. Also QB Blaine Gabbard has a lot to learn about playing QB in the NFL. This is a head-scratcher.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Chiefs: Another surprising spot for a free agent to land. Sure we need to see how Jamaal Charles’ knee will be this season, but Hillis needs to find his game again after struggling with injuries in 2011. He is still a big, bruising back, but K.C. loves to spread the ball around and he may find himself unhappy all over again.
Donald Brown, RB, Colts: Joseph Addai and Peyton Manning are gone and so in comes a rookie QB, so is this Browns chance to be the leader? They did bring in Delonne Carter last year who showed flashes, but Brown picked it up late in the season, and might be quick enough and good enough in the passing game to have a nice season. If the Colts stay still at RB in the draft, you may have to consider Brown in the middle rounds.
Trent Richardson, RB, Rookie: We don’t know for certain where he is going to end up, but if he does end up in Cleveland with the Browns you have to like his chances of seeing loads of playing time. The Browns rid themselves of Peyton Hillis so are looking for a new lead back. If they land Richardson, we can be looking at a rookie of the year candidate.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Rookie: Once again his landing spot is not known, but a good chance says he ends up in St. Louis, and if that is the case it will be huge for him. Young QB Sam Bradford needs a good target, and many believe Blackmon will be the best rookie WR since Calvin Johnson. He is big and strong and plenty fast with good hands and work ethic. If he does not go to the Rams and ends up with the Browns you may have to think twice.
Robert Meacham, WR, Chargers: Philip Rivers is a QB that loves tall, quick WRs and Meacham comes in here with a chance to steal the number 1 spot. Over the last few years this former first-round pick was lost in the shuffle in New Orleans, but here he gets his chance to get more looks and I think he can capitalize. Some out there have little faith in Meacham and believe he has been around long enough to develop bad habits, but I say he is worth a mid-round pick to see what he has.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: He got his big contract and his team got that disaster of a season out of the way. The Eagles still have a good core, and Jackson can go back to try and be that deep threat he has become famous for. The hype of “Dream Team” is well behind them, role players are being worked in rather than superstars, and many of the team’s top assets have been locked in long term. As long as QB Michael Vick can stay healthy, Jackson should be back, and worthy of our trust.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears: This could be the best move of the off-season, as long as Marshall faces no suspension time. When he was with Jay Cutler the last time in Denver, he was a constant 100 catch, 1,000 yard and double-digit TD guy, so it should come easy for these 2 being together again. Marshall truly is gifted, but this is his third team in his career, so the time is now for him to focus and succeed.
Stock: ( barring a suspension ) Booming!
David Garrard, QB, Dolphins: Yikes! I for one have always liked Garrard. I think he plays smart, with fire and has shown he can be a winner. However, Miami has seen many run out of here, traded Brandon Marshall, could not land Peyton Manning, and have very little in the pass game. Garrard missed all of last season, and his reward is a team in trouble. He is not a guy that gets drafted that’s for sure, but even as far as a free agent fantasy guy, we would have to see a tremendous turn around.
Stock: Bottomless Pit
So here are some players to keep an eye on, and we still have plenty more free agents to sign up and make a difference. Next I will take a look at some of the top draft prospects at the skill positions. Who do you want for your team? Comments here are always appreciated!