NFL Fantasy Football: Free Agent TEs To Watch… Plus Tony Gonzalez
It’s that time of year again, when Twitter is aflutter with free agency rumors and factoids, non-franchised players are steeling themselves for negotiations and Fantasy owners are in a frenzy over where they might land – for better or for worse. Teams can start negotiating with players Saturday, but free agency won’t open officially until 4 p.m. EST Tuesday. And we’re going to highlight the most intriguing prospects before the bell. First up, tight ends. All photos via Getty.
If I’m the Atlanta Falcons, I want this guy back for one more year. It sounds like he’s been wavering on retirement, so it’s a definite possibility. If Gonzo does return to Atlanta for one more season, he’ll still be a Top 5, Top 10 TE at worst.
If I’m the Atlanta Falcons, I also know Gonzo won’t be around for more than another year, and I’m more than intrigued by a big TE like Cook. It looks like the Titans let him hit the market, after pledging a week ago they’d keep him by tag or by deal, and Fantasy owners are hoping a new team will utilize him in a way that maximizes his potential. Cook only had 44 receptions with Tennessee last season and missed his last two games due to injury, but the 6’5”, 248-pounder will only be 26 in April and has the ability to make significant contributions to a team for years to come. Wherever he lands, he should be more productive than he was in Tennessee. But if he landed in Atlanta … he would take Tony’s spot in the Top 5 at the position, more than likely. The Bears are also rumored to have interest in Cook, which would be another Fantasy-friendly landing spot considering Kellen Davis hasn’t exactly gotten it done at the position. Of course, he and the Titans could always reach an 11th-hour deal before free agency begins next week, but he wants out.
I was fiercely high on Davis going into his franchise tag-year with rookie Robert Griffin III under center, but he started off slowly and suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 7 after only a few mediocre-at-best games and zero TDs. Davis was cleared to start running a week ago and supposedly planned to be 100 percent for OTAs, but last season’s disappointment has hampered my enthusiasm. The Redskins say they want to hold off talks until the spring to gauge his health, and other potential suitors may feel the same way. His 2013 Fantasy value, while obviously contingent upon health, also depends on where he plays. Places like Denver, New York (Giants), Seattle or whichever contender doesn’t take Cook would be good spots; Tennessee, Miami and the like would not. Kansas City, newly outfitted with Alex Smith, for better or worse, and a contractually pleased Dwayne Bowe, is an interesting option – we know how well Smith used his TEs in San Francisco. (Speaking of ‘Frisco, Delanie Walker is also a free agent.) Davis recently said it’d be “awesome” to play in his hometown of Cleveland, but while he might like it, Fantasy owners would frown. He could be a TE steal late in drafts if one of the “good” teams gives him a shot, but if he doesn’t make it work somewhere this season, I’m over it.
Myers came crashing onto the TE landscape this year to a resounding, “Who?” from Fantasy owners. His reception to target ratio was among the league’s best, and he did that with the Raiders and Carson Palmer. I’m not ready to say it was a fluke, nor am I willing to call him more than a one-season “wonder,” but his reliability is intriguing for any QB – and Fantasy owners. He’s another one who fits the Giants style of no name-TE who becomes name-TE because he’s used frequently and efficiently in Manning’s system. You’ve seen Eli’s face when his receivers aren’t where they’re supposed to be. Myers is. His 2012 production gives him an edge in negotiations, and considering the Raiders are busy
trying to clear out cap space to use in free agency, it sounds like he might ride that ticket out of Oakland. If he ends up a Giant, I’m drafting him – would be huge value pick.
If Bennett thinks he’s indispensable to the Giants, it’d just go to show that the
unicorn lives in a world of fantasy, not Fantasy relevance. Bennett had three TDs in his first three games with Big Blue (just two over the next 13 games) and clearly had a more significant role than as Jason Witten’s backup in Dallas the previous year. But Bennett’s comparative success is a function of how the Giants use the TE, not his sheer ability. The Giants have a history of making their TEs Fantasy relevant, if not weekly starters, and that should continue no matter who they have starting at the position. I doubt it’ll be Bennett in 2013. Remember, former Giants Kevin Boss is also hitting the market after a Chiefs season cut short after two weeks by injury. He put up similar numbers to Bennett when he played with Eli Manning and the Giants might try to bring him back on a cheap one-year deal, similar to what they did with Bennett last year. Sure, Bennett could be a starter on another NFL team in need of a TE (he’d start with the Titans, but not be worth anything, for example), but his draft stock is in the tank.
Speaking of draft stocks tanking, Keller’s couldn’t get much worse. He had the opportunity to showcase his big play ability to earn a new contract with the Jets, and probably would have if he hadn’t gotten hurt early in the season and the Jets offense had been less putrid when he was healthy. He’ll land somewhere if the Jets release him, but I don’t see it being as an every-down starter. If he stays a Jet, it’s too early to tell what his value would be – the QB and rest of the offensive mess needs to be addressed first.
Note: Since we haven’t heard anything yet about Dallas Clark requesting a one-day contract with Indianapolis so the 33-year-old can retire a Colt, it’s fair to say he’s likely to stay in the league for at least one more year. (Of course, this could also change when free agency opens next week.) He’s up there in age, but has a penchant for denying that stereotype when given the chance – hardly Tony G-style, but could have surprise productivity if he gets out of Tampa Bay. Problem is he isn’t likely to get a starting job anywhere, so his numbers would be hampered by lack of playing time. Perhaps it’s time for Fantasy owners to bid Clark farewell; perhaps Peyton Manning pulls a fast one and somehow convinces John Elway to bring him to Denver for a year. We’ll see.