Free agency is off to a roaring start in the NFL, as money has been flying off the board in some very smart deals and some very bone-headed moves. The most desperate and needy teams tend to be the ones blowing through deals early in the process, and it usually shows in the contracts given out. When it comes to Fantasy Football, how will these signings impact the potential of players new to the team, or even the mainstays? There are some big names with quite the Fantasy potential still out there after Day 1, with Tony Romo and a slew of RBs (Peterson, Charles, Lacy, Murray) still dangling on the tree. Once those shoes drop, we will talk about them, but for now I take a look at a few of the signings to date and how they should affect your mindset for the 2017 drafting season.
Brandon Marshall, WR New York Giants- This move provides perhaps the most Fantasy potential so far with Marshall now playing alongside OBJ with the Giants. Sure, he is 33 years old, but he has plenty left in the tank. Now, with Marshall on the outside and Sterling Shepherd in the slot, loads of pressure from the defense will be taken off Odell Beckham. The move will undoubtedly muddy the waters in terms of targets among the receivers, but the most benefit will be the production uptick that Eli Manning should now see. Manning should easily move into the Top 10 at the position when early ADPs begin to come in. Expect Marshall to play a role similar to that of Anquan Boldin with the Lions; a chain-moving type of receiver with his greatest chance of production coming from the red-zone looks that he should receive. Marshall could be in store for a double-digit TD year in 2017, making him a WR2 target in drafts.
Danny Woodhead, RB Baltimore Ravens- When this deal was first signed, I immediately was bummed about the potential for Kenneth Dixon coming into 2017. Turns out I had just cause, because Kenneth Dixon was popped for PEDs and now will miss the first four games of the year. Now with Woodhead as the solid RB1 for the Ravens, he will have every opportunity to run away with the job. And as he has done with the Patriots and Chargers, he should produce mightily. Even while splitting reps, Woodhead consistently finishes as a low-end RB2 or high-end RB3 in PPR formats. Look for this to continue in 2017, with Woodhead being a RB that you may have to reach for around Rounds 5-6 given the situation that has unfolded. Some owners love the guy more than you, and are licking their chops to grab him while he owns the job.
DeSean Jackson, WR Tampa Bay Bucs- With D-Jax now in Tampa, Jameis Winston now has a full complement of legitimate weapons, with Mike Evans and Cameron Brate also in tow. No longer will Winston be called a “sleeper.” It’s put up or shut time for this offense, and the team in general. Winston should now crawl into the Top 12 QBs off the board, and has all the potential to sneak into the Top 6 with the running game in a state of flux. This signing will probably mean more for the production of Evans, giving him more single coverage looks and a steady stream of targets. Coming off a 1,000-yard season in Washington, I expect Jackson to exceed the yardage output, and definitely go over the four TDs he scored in 2016. Look for him as a high-end WR3 at the moment with some upside.
Honorable Mention- Kenny Stills staying put in Miami is a very intriguing move. Coming off a nine-TD season, and another offseason for Ryan Tannehill to learn the Adam Gase system, Stills could continue to build on a strong 2016; he’s a WR3 with upside currently. In a move that probably won’t be talked about much, the Rams signing T Andrew Whitworth could serve to be the beginning of rebuilding this offensive line and perhaps the Fantasy potential of Todd Gurley in 2017.
What are the Bears Thinking?
In one day, the Bears cut bait from everyone’s favorite QB, Jay Cutler, and completely overpaid for Mike Glennon to be their starting QB in 2017. Reports are that the Bears were essentially bidding against themselves for him, which should tell you exactly what you need to know about his talent level. To make matters worse, the Bears failed to bring back Alshon Jeffrey, which could have greatly helped a new QB coming to town. Now, with the oft-injured Kevin White and young Cameron Meredith as the primary receivers, one has to think that Glennon is set up to fail from the start. Adding insult to injury, the Bears’ front office could not come to terms with either of the top CBs on the board in free agency, both of whom they were in talks with. The bummer about this signing is the possibility of a regression from Jordan Howard now, as he will be facing stacked boxes. Needless to say, I will be steering clear of this passing game in draft season, as I don’t expect much coming from this group.
Philly Adds WRs Left and Right
The Eagles were busy adding weapons for Carson Wentz today as they brought in Jeffrey and Torrey Smith to add to Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor. A lot of analysts are liking the one-year deal for Alshon going to Philly, but I am somewhat skeptical myself. Jeffrey, albeit talented, is extremely injury-prone, and counting on him to play a full complement of games is a stretch. If he stays healthy, he could be in store for a very good year, but I will be counting on him missing time. Don’t be the owner who jumps the gun on Jeffrey based on his name. Let another owner deal with this headache for 2017. Now, when it comes to Smith, well, never mind, it’s Torrey Smith, I’ll be just fine without him.