NFL Free Agency Fantasy Impact – Dwayne Bowe Signs With Browns, Clay Officially A Bill
Keep this link handy to get insights on all of the latest NFL Free Agency news from Fantasy perspectives.
More NFL Free Agency Fantasy Impact and Trade Breakdowns: LeSean McCoy, Bills | Brandon Marshall, Jets
Torrey Smith, 49ers | Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs | Julius Thomas, Jags | Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets
Shane Vereen, Giants | Bradford-Foles Swap | Owen Daniels, Broncos | Jimmy Graham, Seahawks
Frank Gore, Colts | Andre Johnson, Colts | Eddie Royal, Bears | DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, Cowboys
Darren McFadden, Cowboys | Jordan Cameron, Dolphins | Kenny Stills, Dolphins | Percy Harvin, Bills
Dwayne Bowe, Browns - Good for the Browns, and… well… good for Bowe that he got a new contract? Truthfully, it would be hard to disappoint as much as Bowe did last year with zero touchdowns and a WR62 finish. It's was Bowe's worst season of his career, and while Alex Smith did him no favors, Bowe is going to be 31 and Josh McCown isn't exactly an enormous upgrade. Smith averaged 30.9 passing attempts and 217.9 YPG (10.8 yards per completion) while McCown averaged 29.7/200.5/12.0. The yards per completion looks better - not by much - but McCown also had a much better receiving options.
Bowe's time as a Fantasy WR2/3 are gone, and his days of even being start-worthy are in question. The Browns did need a receiver and made Bowe "a top priority" after losing Josh Gordon to off-field issues again. Bowe will line up wide across from Brian Hartline with some mix of Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel inside. However, being on the field as a team's No. 1 option and translating that opportunity into numbers are two entirely different animals. Bowe will improve on his WR62 ranking from last year, but not by much, and he is only worth a late-round flier at best.
Charles Clay, Bills - As expected, the Dolphins didn't match the Bills poison-pill contract and the signing is official. Clay was an intriguing later-round option last year after finishing as TE7 in 2013 with 759 yards and six touchdowns. However, due to injury, Clay started slow and didn't top 3.5 Fantasy points until Week 7. Clay was TE10 from that week on, even with his 0.1 FP effort in Week 8, so the TE1 potential is still here. The quarterback situation is a downgrade, but Scott Chandler has averaged 75 targets over the past three years. In addition, under Greg Roman in San Fran, Vernon Davis averaged 80 targets over the three years prior to 2014's collapse. Overall, Davis carried a 53/730/8 line those years, and the Bills offense is more pass-friendly even with Roman coming in to town. Clay has similar potential to Davis and more upside than Chandler, who is gone, and while it's on the low-end of the tier, Clay still brings TE1 value over a healthy 16-game season.
Travaris Cadet, Patriots - Out one goes receiving RB and in comes another. Cadet steps into to compete for the void left by Shane Vereen's departure, and yes, I said compete, not "take." Cadet would appear to have the inside track, but as we know with the Patriots, nothing is ever a certainty at running back. Brandon Bolden, James White and Tyler Gaffney are all in the mix with Gaffney being the most explosive. As it stands, Vereen finished as RB27 (non-PPR) and RB20 (PPR) last year with 391 rushing yards and 53 catches for 447 yards. Cadet saw much less work with just 32 yards rushing and 296 receiving on 38 catches. Cadet could come in, take Vereen's role and become a RB3 with RB2 upside in a PPR league, or more likely, he'll be part of the Patriots backfield committee and frustrate owners all year. Unless the Patriots clear out the backfield, Cadet is better off left as someone else's problem.
Stevie Johnson, Chargers - This is one of the best possible landing spots for Stevie. Last season, Johnson dropped off a cliff with his worst season since 2009, and that includes a 12-game season for the Bills in 2013. Johnson averaged just 4.7 FPPG, but to be fair, he was the third option in the passing game and in an offense that attempted the fourth fewest passes and had the third fewest passing yards. Conversely, the Chargers ranked 14th and 10th, which included the now-departed Eddie Royal. Johnson steps in as competition for Malcom Floyd, but should be the team's No. 3 option. Royal finished with 778 yards and seven touchdowns last year, which is a fair mark to put on Johnson - maybe a few more yards and less touchdowns, but a threat to be a WR3/4 nonetheless.
Trent Richardson, Raiders - Move along, nothing to see here. If you have even a sliver of hope for TRich's Fantasy value, you need to get your head checked. Or, did Richardson's pitiful finish to 2014 not convince you? Richardson averaged 6.4 carries for 17.2 yards over the final five games, or 2.7 yards per carry. The Colts even benched him in the playoffs. This is nothing more than a depth move with the slimmest of hopes from the Raiders that Richardson turns into Cedric Benson for them.
Cecil Shorts, Texans - If not for injuries, Shorts would rank higher on all Fantasy draft boards. After all, Shorts did finish the 2012 season as WR22 with 979 yards and seven touchdowns in just 14 games. And that was with Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. To be fair, Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer aren't exactly huge upgrades over that duo, but Shorts does slide in as the No. 2 option with Andre Johnson now in Indy. That is, Shorts is the No. 2… for now. The Texans aren't done addressing their receiver situation, and depending on who they add via free agency or the draft, Shorts could move inside and play primarily out of the slot instead of a mix of outside and in. Johnson posted 936 yards and three TDs on 147 targets (team high) last year, and with DeAndre Hopkins being the top option, 110-120 targets would be a ceiling for Shorts. As of today, Shorts should (if healthy) post 60-plus catches, 700-plus yards and a few touchdowns. That's WR4/5 territory, more of a solid WR4 in PPR leagues.
Reggie Bush, 49ers - There weren't many teams rumored for Bush's services, and the 49ers make sense with Frank Gore off to Indy. Bush finished as RB50 last year, posting his worst FPPG average (6.1) since his injury-filled 2010 season (5.2). While he did have at least 11.0 FPPG in each of the previous three years, Bush is nearing the end of his career, at least Fantasy value wise, and this appears to be a strange fit, although Jim Tomsula and Geep Chryst could be changing up the offense. However, last year the Lions attempted 604 passes with 164 of them going to running backs for 113 receptions. The 49ers? 487/64/44. Of Bush's 56 targets, he caught 40, or just four less than the entire 49ers backfield... in 11 games. As for those 11 games, Bush has played in 16 games just once since 2006.
While the 49ers certainly hope Bush can stay healthy, they would need to do a lot more with their running backs in the passing game for Bush to near his value from 2011-13. Bush will step in ahead of Kendall Hunter, but Carlos Hyde is still the lead option. Assuming the 49ers make a dramatic change offensively, Bush could near RB3 value with more potential in PPR leagues, but we all know how low his floor can be. Back to Hyde, this hurts his value somewhat, but not drastically even if the 49ers change it up. After all, Gore was the RB16 last year with just 11 catches and 111 receiving yards. Hyde is still a high-end RB2 with RB1 potential and a lock to top 1,000 yards.
Mike Wallace, Vikings - I was a bit surprised that the Dolphins found a taker for Wallace given his contract, but a fifth for seventh round pick swap isn't much compensation. The Dolphins wanted to rid themselves of the salary - and a player who didn't fit (on or off the field). Wallace wasn't awful last year; he did finish as WR18 and has never finished lower than WR28, which was his rookie year. After that season, Wallace has finished with at least 838 yards and five touchdowns every year.
Wallace gives the Vikings a desired downfield threat, something that fits Norv Turner's offensive approach. Teddy Bridgewater still needs to improve in that area, but he now has Wallace, Charles Johnson and Cordarrelle Patterson as his three main weapons, and that's before you account for Kyle Rudolph or a potential Adrian Peterson return. Last season, it was clear that Patterson didn't fit the Turner's gameplan, but Patterson is still young and carries upside given his talent.
For all of the excitement surrounding Johnson, he was only the 81st receiver last year. Yes, I know he got a "late start," but even so, Johnson still only had two double-digit games and Weeks 11 (8.7 FP) and 15 (7.2 FP) were the only other two times he topped 4.1 Fantasy points. Johnson certainly has potential, but he was merely a WR4/5 before this signing, and his projection now slips to around 50-60 catches, 700 yards and a few touchdowns. Wallace takes the lead role, but he won't score 10 touchdowns again. Even if he repeats last year's other numbers, which is a reasonable projection, 850 or so yards and 5-6 touchdowns put Wallace in low WR3 territory. The Vikings cut Greg Jennings and Patterson has questions, but Bridgewater sees a decent boost from the trade. Bridgewater already had the potential to surprise in 2015 and adding Wallace only helps. He averaged 17.2 FPPG over the last six games and makes for an intriguing high-end QB2.
C.J. Spiller, Saints - If you can figure out the Saints offseason, please, let us all know. Sensible or not, they send Jimmy Graham to Seattle, let Travaris Cadet go, traded away a cheap Kenny Stills and then signed Spiller. Hmm, okay. While this does little to change Spiller's value, this hurts Mark Ingram's outlook. With less and less offensive options in New Orleans, Ingram's arrow was pointing significantly up. Don't forget, Khiry Robinson is still hanging around.
Spiller averaged 14.5 touches per game over the last three years with Buffalo. The immediate comparisons to Darren Sproles in the Saints offense will be made, and while Spiller is more complete of a running back than Sproles is, the per-game usage is a fair comparison. Sproles averaged 9.5 touches per game in his three years. Spiller can do better, bringing a bit more skill, but he likely won't reach 14.5 per game. Something more in the 10-12 range is reasonable with a yardage output around 1,000 total yards. That's RB3 level in standard formats with Spiller obviously hitting RB2 territory in PPR leagues.
As for Ingram, he was flirting with RB1 status before this signing and now is back to being a RB2 with a riskier floor. There will be a few frustrating weeks when Ingram doesn't even provide starter value. Robinson goes back to being an afterthought and immediate waiver grab if Ingram gets hurt again. In the end, Spiller looks to be the most consistent option on the ever-frustrating Saints offense.
Percy Harvin, Bills - Harvin said this offseason that he wanted to be used as a more "conventional" receiver. We'll see if that's the case, as signing back with a Rex Ryan team certainly leaves that in question. Usage isn't the only concern with Harvin, as he's carried character and injury concerns for his entire career. Add quarterback play to Harvin's usage and character concerns and can anyone definitively say Harvin has a better outlook? We are talking Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel under center.
Harvin still carries plenty of upside with his great all-around talent, and he should step in as the No. 2 receiving option, even though Robert Woods would line up outside in three-receiver sets. Harvin's best season came in 2011 when he had 87 catches for 967 yards and six touchdowns while chipping in another 345 yards rushing and three TDs (one kickoff return). It's been all hype since he left Minnesota with a lost season in Seattle and finish of WR58 last year with both the Seahawks and Jets. Before signing Harvin, I would have said Woods was a decent bet to improve on his 699 yards and five touchdowns from 2014, albeit not by much. With Harvin, the Bills have a more dynamic No. 2 receiver than Woods and LeSean McCoy making defenses account for more weapons. Harvin should post his best numbers since 2011, but I'd still temper your excitement (if there is any left). Harvin will run for 200-plus in 2014 and add in around 700 receiving yards, and while touchdowns are tough to predict with Harvin, we can give him 4-5. In the end, we have a solid WR3 on our hands with upside for more. Yes, I know, with Harvin it's always the "for more" that lures us in time and again.
Kenny Stills, Dolphins - If you can figure out the Saints offseason, please, let us all know. Sensible or not, Stills heads to Miami with terrific upside now that Wallace is heading to Minnesota. How things change over just a few hours. Stills steps in as a candidate for No. 1 receiver duties, but it doesn't really matter if you call him or Jarvis Landry the No. 1 or 2 option.
Many think of Stills as pure downfield threat. While Stills is a good downfield weapon, that’s pigeonholing him and not being fair to his skills. Stills posted the fourth highest catch rate of 78.8 percent last year, and as Mike Clay of Pro Football Focus pointed out, he also caught 82 percent of passes from behind the line of scrimmage to 20 yards. Sure, you can say that Ryan Tannehill doesn’t have the accuracy of Drew Brees, but this is more about the point of Stills not being one-dimensional as most assume.
Stills is the new Wallace for the Dolphins, and even as Landry emerged last year and averaged 7.0 targets per game, Wallace still saw 7.2 per game. Stills can easily replicate Wallace's 2014 numbers, likely with a bit more yards and a few less touchdowns. After all, Jordan Cameron is now in the mix, and there is still talk of the Dolphins retaining Charles Clay. Nevertheless, we can now say the Dolphins have two solid WR2s for 2015.
Jordan Cameron, Dolphins - The Charles Clay news swings by the hour, so for now, let's assume he doesn't return. With Cameron, it's never been a question of talent. After all, Cameron has flashed his big-game potential several times… while playing for the Browns. The only question with Cameron has been his ability to stay healthy. Concussions are becoming a concern, but if Cameron is healthy, he's an easy TE1 in the Dolphins offense. To say Ryan Tannehill is a quarterback upgrade for Cameron is the understatement of the offseason.
In 2013, Cameron finished fourth for tight ends, only behind Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis and Julius Thomas. Those 133.7 points (NFL.com) would have ranked him fifth in 2014. Again, this is while playing for the Browns. Clay struggled last season and wasn't 100 percent for most of the season. In 2013 however, Clay finished as TE7 with 119.4 Fantasy points. If Clay doesn’t return, Cameron is locked in as a TE1 and in the conversation for the Top 5. If Clay does come back, Cameron would still have TE1 upside but would carry much more risk… don't let the "we'll use them like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez" hot takes fool you.
Darren McFadden, Cowboys - The Cowboys found a replacement for DeMarco Murray rather quickly, but it's clearly not an even swap. This is one of the times where you should take note of the contract. Of McFadden's 5.85 million-dollar contract, only $200,000 of it came as a signing bonus. That means, there is little cost in cutting McFadden if need be, and thereby, little security in McFadden's roster spot.
As we sit today, McFadden is the favorite for lead duties, but you shouldn't simply dismiss Joseph Randle. While the Raiders offensive line is a far cry from the Cowboys, McFadden still only averaged 3.34 YPC over the last three years and a mediocre 6.08 yard per catch. Last year was also the first time McFadden played 16 games, and when you look at his three-year performance, you have to believe the injuries have taken their toll even if DMC can make it through 16 games.
There is upside here. We all know the level of talent McFadden has - if he could ever return to his early career days - and behind the Cowboys line, McFadden will see plenty of open space… and a better chance to make it 16 games. However, as mentioned, Randle is still in the mix and averaged 6.7 YPC in limited action last year. Plus, the Cowboys signed Ryan Williams, a rather talented running back in his own right with major health issues. Don't get me wrong, McFadden will put up good numbers behind the Cowboys offensive line… for the 6-10 games he plays. Kidding aside, McFadden will have better success in Dallas, but the workload could easily top out at 200 touches. With an expected improvement in YPT and touchdowns, you can project DMC for 110-130 Fantasy points, which puts him in the RB20-28 range from last year. Randle is more of a RB3/4 as of today and obviously one of the best, if not the best, handcuffs. But, that's all before the Cowboys make their draft pick. I expect them to pick up their running back of the future in the draft, and if it's someone like Todd Gurley, McFadden's value would take a significant hit.
DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, Eagles - The Cowboys didn't want to overpay for Murray, and now they've lost him to their division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. We all know what Murray did last year, but we're also wary of the toll Murray took. Murray had 392 rushing attempts and 57 receptions during the regular season and another 44 attempts and four receptions in the playoffs. Why not chip in the four touches from the Pro Bowl so we can say Murray had 500 touches instead of 497? Yes, I know, techincally 501. In any case… that amount of work has to make any team take pause, but the Eagles are making moves this offseason, and it's hard not to love Murray's potential in Philly... but wait, Ryan Mathews is still signing with the Eagles. Oy vey.
The Cowboys' offensive line was widely regarded as the best in the league, but even with its problems, the Eagles' line rated as the top run blocking unit according to Pro Football Focus. Football Outsiders wasn't as loving, rating them 30th in Adjusted Line Yards, but they do rank the Eagles as the top power blocking unit. That's big for both Murray and the offense that Chip Kelly wants to run (pun not intended).
Murray averaged 0.655 Fantasy Points per touch last year, and while I doubt that changes significantly, the workload is the main question. Darren Sproles is clearly the pass-catching option, even though Murray is quite accomplished, and Mathews is now officially in the mix.
Neither running back concerns me much with Murray. When projecting Ryan Mathews as the only Eagles addition, a 16-game season would include around 300 touches (275 carries) with Sproles around 150 and Polk 100. So now what? Murray won't near 450 touches again, but that was going to be the case no matter his decision on whether to return to Dallas. Of all four running backs, I think Polk gets left out now. Sproles maintains his scatback roll with Murray in the lead and Mathews sharing some of the work. In fact, you could swap the names with workloads listed above and say Murray 300, Sproles 150 and Mathews 100.
You don't bring in Murray, even with Mathews, to not use him significantly. Using Murray's per touch scoring, we get 197 Fantasy Points on 300 touches. That would have ranked Murray ninth in 2014. Obviously, Murray has a higher ceiling than that, whether it's more touches or a per play offensive boost and he finished the 2013 season as RB7 with just 270 touches. The only problem is that now Murray has a lower floor versus returning to Dallas or not having Mathews in the mix. If you drop Murray's workload to 250 touches, we now have 164 FP or RB15 from last year. You can't truly project placement off last year's results, but Murray was a Top 3 RB with a Top 10 RB floor if he headed back to Dallas or had the Eagles backfield to himself. Now, Murray could finish anywhere from the Top 5 to mid-teens. Nevertheless, if Murray is around at the back end of Round 1 this year, I'm pouncing. The upside is just too great.
With Mathews, this is a killer for his value compared to when we thought he was the only running back signing in Philadelphia. With just 100 touches, we're now talking about a RB4/5 come season's end, but that's at the end. Mathews won't be a weekly lineup option with this much uncertainty, and his value would only improve if Murray or Sproles were to get hurt.
As for the Cowboys, they're now searching. They might not be upset for too long if the result is what I told Pat Mayo on a show back in December… Adrian Peterson to the Cowboys. Oh boy! If only. I'll save you the long breakdown if that did happen: Adrian Peterson would be the No. 1 pick if he's on the Cowboys.
Eddie Royal, Bears - Certainly a lesser impact compared to most of the other players, Royal is coming off his best season since his rookie year. Much of that was thanks to seven touchdowns and the opportunity to be involved more (91 targets). Royal is familiar with Jay Cutler but will simply man the slot in Chicago, which helps secure Marquess Wilson's value (covered in Brandon Marshall trade). Royal is just a WR6/7, who will have an occasional Top 30 game, or two.
Andre Johnson, Colts - There aren't many better landing spots for this future Hall of Famer. Johnson is averaging 1,133 yards a season with missed time and having Matt Schaub as his best quarterback ever. On a per game basis, Johnson averages six catches and 80.5 receiving yards. Project that over 16 games, and you have 96 catches for 1,288 yards… again, with Schaub being the best slinger Johnson ever saw in Houston. Oh, and let's not forget Johnson dealt with a washed up Schaub, Case Keenum, T.J. Yates, Ryan Mallett and Ryan Fitzpatrick the past two years.
Landing in Indy has to be like trading in your Yugo for a Ferrari. Texans QBs threw for 3,460 yards, 22 TDs and 13 INTs last year. Andrew Luck threw for 4,761/40/16. Just a bit of a difference, huh? Johnson is far from "done" as a NFL receiver. The man is built like a rock at 6'3" 230 lbs. and only missed a game last year due to a concussion - nothing bone/muscle related. Reggie Wayne is gone, and Johnson will form a formidable duo with emerging star, T.Y. Hilton. Wayne saw 116 targets last year, even with Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief in the mix. If you take Johnson's average on a target basis from 2012-13 (can't use 2014, as that's just horrid quarterback play), you can project 75 receptions 1,000-plus yards and around four touchdowns. You can't tell me that's not attainable for Johnson in the Colts offense. In fact, I'd give that touchdown total a small bump, and even if Johnson falls more into the 60-70 reception/900-1,000-yard range, the touchdown boost still has him as a locked-in WR2. Johnson's career and Fantasy value are far from over.
Frank Gore, Colts - Wait, what happened to "Frank Gore, Eagles"? Ah, what could have been and the pitfalls of the "legal tampering" period. Gore balked at heading to Philly and apparently talked with Johnson about heading to the Colts together. Gore's value takes a hit compared to his projected value with the Eagles, but not much. Trent Richardson probably gets released now, but honestly, even if TRich is still around, does it matter? No matter the case, Gore heads in as the lead option with some mix of Richardson, Dan Herron and Zurlon Tipton behind him.
To pull from my Gore to the Eagles breakdown, here is what you need to know about age-32 running backs: "Looking back on all age 32-plus running backs in the Super Bowl era, there were nine that topped 1,000 yards. Those backs averaged 15.3 games played and 1,123 rushing yards with John Riggins’ 1983 blowing nearly everyone out of the water (1,347 yards and 24 touchdowns, rushing). There are another nine running backs that had 800-plus yards, averaging nine rushing touchdowns between them. To be fair, only five of those 18 running backs were from the last decade: Ricky Williams, Mike Anderson, Thomas Jones, Fred Jackson and Corey Dillon. In addition, Gore has a higher workload than any with 2,442 attempts (Dillon 2,419, Jones 2,280, Williams 1,923, Jackson 932, Anderson 626)."
There is a fair share of risk and upside, even at 32 years old for Gore.
Gore averaged 2.3 yards after contact (YACo), ranking in the Top 10 for running backs with over 600 snaps, and the Colts offensive line didn't rate far behind the 49ers for run blocking. Football Outsiders had the 49ers at a 4.05 Adjusted Line Yards mark and the Colts at 3.93. For comparison, Ahmad Bradshaw averaged 4.7 YPC and 4.7 YACo last year. Now, their games aren't the same, but Gore should be able to near Bradshaw's Fantasy success with the Colts, albeit with a more reasonable (see: lower) touchdown rate. After all, Herron averaged 4.5 YPC and 2.1 YACo and isn't as powerful. Gore won't match the reception or red zone target levels of Bradshaw, but he will out-produce Bradshaw's ground game in attempts, yards and rushing touchdowns. Bradshaw was the sixth best running back through Week 9 last year, and even if you chip off some of that touchdown production, we still have Gore as a solid RB2. Gore won't push the low-end RB1 range as he would have in Philly, but the opportunity is there to finish in the Top 15.
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks - What is happening right now? Did the Seahawks feel the need to trump the entire NFL offseason news wise? Let's take a breath because within minutes, we had Jimmy Graham traded to the Seahawks, Haloti Ngata traded to the Lions and a Sam Bradford for Nick Foles swap happening. Mind.Blown.
As for this Graham deal, obviously, we can say Russell Wilson stock up, Graham and Drew Brees stock down. Rob Gronkowski is the clear No. 1 tight end in Fantasy Football, but I don't think the move hurts Graham enough to definitely knock him off the No. 2 tight end throne. Antonio Gates won't repeat his touchdown success from 2014, so there are only 2-3 real threats to being the No. 2 TE in Fantasy. Graham immediately becomes the Seahawks best receiving option. Yes, the Seahawks are a run-first team, but that won't stop Graham from being a big red zone threat for them. If anything, Graham is coming off a down year anyway and coming close to his 2014 numbers is plausible. I might drop Graham's 2014 stats a tad, but even so, Graham is a lock for Top 5 tight end status.
For Drew Brees however, Josh Hill is now the Saints No. 1 tight end, and the passing game takes a big hit. Only Gronk causes the same level of matchup issues for tight ends. Brees had already fallen into the Wilson/Tom Brady/Matt Ryan tier of quarterbacks for much of the Fantasy world, and this cements that belief along with Wilson now being in his own tier between the Big 3 and Brees/Ryan/etc. Mark Ingram sees a boost with this trade now, as he should get a bigger share of the red zone and goal line work with Graham gone. Ingram is a high-end RB2 with this news. The one bright side to the passing game in New Orleans is that Brandin Cooks and Kenny Stills see their value and safety improve. As has been the case with the Saints, it was always tough to trust anyone after Graham and the No. 1 receiver.
Owen Daniels, Broncos - Now for a move that was infinitely less surprising, the Broncos replace Julius Thomas with Daniels. Could Daniels step in a be a TE1? Absolutely. After all, Daniels finished as TE17 with just 78 targets in Baltimore last year. If you didn't notice, Thomas only averaged 3.6 catches and 41 yards per game in Denver. It was all about the touchdowns.
Daniels was the eight best tight end just two years ago in Houston, and Peyton Manning will give Daniels his fair share of red zone targets. Gary Kubiak also loves his tight ends, making Daniels a solid bet to near double-digit touchdowns. Again, Gates was last year's No. 2 tight end with 821 yards and 12 TDs. Daniels could easily put up 600-plus yards and 10 touchdowns, which would have him in TE5-8 range.
Sam Bradford, Eagles and Nick Foles, Rams - This is more about Bradford and less about Foles, as the Rams might even make another move at quarterback. With Bradford, it's always been about health too. We're talking about a potential franchise quarterback, if he could stay on the field. We didn't get to see Bradford yesterday, but in 2013 prior to injury, Bradford had 1,687 yards, 14 TDs and 4 INTs through seven games. That's a 3,856/32/9 line for a 16 game season, and with the Eagles, it's certainly feasible. This almost certainly takes the Eagles out of the Marcus Mariota conversation, so we can pencil in Bradford for Week 1… very light penciling. I'm more than willing to take a flier on Bradford now, as the potential is high, as those numbers put Bradford in QB1 territory.
Shane Vereen, Giants - Real life football response: "Yay! Great move for the Giants and Ben McAdoo's offense." Fantasy Football response: "No! Not again. Now the Giants backfield is a running back nightmare." Rashad Jennings looked like a solid value pick late in drafts, but now he and Vereen fall into Fantasy purgatory. Well, that's not to say they won't have value, but just as with Vereen in New England, predicting which week to use either, heck, even Andre Williams, will be frustrating. Some may say, "Well, once Jennings suffers an injury, Vereen's value will skyrocket." Well, Vereen hasn't been a picture of health, notching his first 16-game season ever last year.
Vereen averaged nearly 10 touches a game with the Patriots from 2013-14, finishing with 96 rushing attempts and 52 receptions last year. You can expect that to increase a bit with McAdoo not nearly as running back mad as Bill Belichick and company. Taking around 170 attempts for Vereen has a total yard projection in the 950-1,000 range with five-plus touchdowns as a reasonable expectation. That has Vereen as a Top 25 running back (Top 20 in PPR), but good luck picking out the weeks when he's a RB2-plus and not a RB4 or worse.
The best news from this move is for Eli Manning. Manning now has yet another weapon to go alongside Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz (have to hope he's at least 90 percent of what he was), Rueben Randle, Larry Donnell and Rashad Jennings. As Bruce Arians said heading into last season, quarterbacks switching to the west coast offense take 6-8 weeks to truly adapt. Well, from Week 7 on, Manning was the ninth best quarterback in Fantasy. Manning had 3,085 yards, 19 TDs and 9 INTs in that span, and that was without Cruz, Jennings at times and certainly didn’t have a Vereen-like running back. That's a 4,936/30/14 over 16 games. Do I think Manning puts up a near-Drew Brees line? No, but Manning should top last year's numbers and finish as a QB1 yet again.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets - Looks as though Geno Smith won't be the Week 1 starter for the Jets now. Fitz has played under Chan Gailey before (with Bills) and was fairly successful. In 2010, Fitzpatrick finished 18th and tied for 14th in FPPG on NFL.com with 18.9 (played 13 games), finished 12th/14th in 2011 and then 20th/23rd in 2012. Not the best finish, but Fitz also had 14 games where he posted at least 300 passing yards or three touchdowns. He can certainly provide the occasional big game. In addition, this is the best receiving group Fitz has seen with Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and the emerging Jace Amaro. Fitzpatrick isn't anything more than a mid-level QB2 at best; I'm not suggesting otherwise. However, if you need a bye-week fill-in, you'll be hard pressed to find better than Fitzmagic.
Main page photo credit: Satoshi Inoue
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