By: Nate Leer
With the first 2 weeks of the NFL new year complete, we look back at the flurry of changes to NFL teams, in particular those signings and trades that have fantasy football repercussions. There were a bunch of impact free agent signings as well as several trades with fantasy ramifications. These moves affect the fantasy football landscape more than the upcoming draft with it’s dozen or so players that will impact fantasy leagues.
Here are the 20 moves so far this NFL offseason with the biggest potential fantasy impact:
1. WR Brandin Cooks – NE: Cooks goes to one of the few offenses that features a better QB than his New Orleans teammate Drew Brees. One of the things Tom Brady does better than Brees is throw the deep ball and that works well for Cooks. Not only does Cooks trend up for fantasy but Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski, slot WR Julian Edelman and whoever is playing RB for the Pats also should benefit from having the best deep threat in New England since Randy Moss.
2. WR Alshon Jeffery – Phi: Jeffrey bet on himself in free agency by taking a 1 year contract so he should be motivated. QB Carson Wentz has the size and arm to utilize Jeffrey’s length and head coach Doug Pederson seems competent at getting the ball to playmakers. Classic high-risk, high-reward player as a WR going to a new situation.
3. WR Brandon Marshall – NYG: Marshall looks to me like a perfect fit in this O. That is good for his fantasy prospects as well as those of his teammates on the Giants. WR Odell Beckham Jr should benefit from having a complementary WR and QB Eli Manning becomes a bit of a sleeper considering the weapons he has at his disposal.
4. TE Martellus Bennett – GB: Bennett goes from the best QB ever to the best right now. Not a bad move. If he can stay a bit healthier this year than last, he certainly looks like a top 5 TE in an otherwise weak group.
5. WR DeSean Jackson – TB: I mentioned Jackson’s signing as one of several good moves the Bucs have made so far this offseason in a 6 Questions post a couple weeks ago. I am not a huge fan of Jackson’s fantasy upside but he creates so many opportunities for the rest of this O by being on the field. QB Jameis Winston benefits from Jackson as a deep target, a possible short pass/big YAC guy and a decoy while WR Mike Evans and the rest of the Bucs skill players profit from the attention Ds will have to pay to D-Jax.
6. WR Terrelle Pryor – Was: This looks like an ideal landing spot for Pryor: solid QB play, lack of top flight competition for targets at his position and an elite receiving option also on the field in TE Jordan Reed. Reed will certainly be the focus of Ds whenever he is on the field. All that adds up to Pryor seeing lots of targets all over the field while not being the primary focus of Ds. Good times!
7. QB Brock Osweiler – (leaving) Hou: The trade that sent the Blizzard of Oz to Cleveland helps WR DeAndre Hopkins the most. Any QB that Houston installs should be better than Os-Why? at delivering footballs to one of the largest catch radii in the NFL.
8. RB Latavius Murray – Min: Murray goes to a team with less OL talent but potentially more touches available. Expect similar mid to low end RB production but he should also help the rest of the O be a bit more productive, particularly QB Sam Bradford with his pass blocking and receiving skills.
9. WR Ted Ginn – NO: Ginn is not a starting fantasy WR at this point but could be useful for bye weeks. However, his biggest impact is on the rest of the Saints O. They needed a deep threat to replace traded Brandin Cooks and Ginn, though inconsistent catching the ball, still outruns everyone. He’s just good enough to keep safeties off Michael Thomas and generate some big plays for QB Drew Brees.
10. TE Julius Thomas – Mia: Adding a big TE to this talented WR group after the re-signing of Kenny Stills has the biggest impact on QB Ryan Tannehill and his upside.
11. DE Kony Ealy & CB Stephon Gilmore – NE: The Pats D is retooling on the fly and could be a value pick next year. Along with the re-signing of LB D’onta Hightower, Gilmore could be an upgrade at CB over Malcolm Butler and Ealy provides another pass rusher.
12. CB Captain Munnerlyn, S Mike Adams & DE Julius Peppers – Car: The Panthers are putting the band back together in an attempt to re-establish defensive dominance. They could be worth betting on if the value is right.
13. TE Jared Cook – Oak: Cook was productive last year and managed to land in another decent spot as long as QB Derek Carr gets healthy.
14. RB Eddie Lacy – Sea: It will be interesting to see how Seattle uses it’s 3 RBs – Lacy along with Thomas Rawls and CJ Prosise. Lacy would likely be at least the goal line RB with upside if Rawls is injured or ineffective.
15. WR Kenny Britt – Cle: The Dawg Pound is less than as an ideal landing place for a WR but Britt has produced in other bad offenses such as LA last year. He could have sneaky value as a low end WR.
16. TE Dwayne Allen – NE: Allen is unlikely to be viable for fantasy purposes if Gronk is on the field. However, he could have value should Gronk miss time, which seems to be the norm in recent years. Gronk owners may want to handcuff him.
17. WR Torrey Smith – Phi: Smith is not on the fantasy radar with much more talented WRs ahead of him. However, his signing is noteworthy as a deep passing option to open up things for the likes of Alshon Jeffrey, Jordan Matthews and TE Zach Ertz. Smith rounds out the receiving core for Wentz who could build on his productive early season in 2016 to be a viable fantasy option.
18. CB AJ Bouye, S Barry Church & DT Calais Campbell – Jac: Even in deep leagues, I believe in waiting until one of my last picks to take a D. That usually means speculating on an upside play. The Jags have pumped a ton of talent into their D over the last couple years so they could be a gamble worth taking.
19. DE Chris Baker & S Chris Conte – TB: The Bucs were good at times last year so a couple key additions could make them worth owning.
20. DT Sylvester Williams, CB Logan Ryan & S Jonathan Cyprien – Ten: Another team that is trying to improve their D through free agency and could be a decent matchup play.
Other signings: QB Mike Glennon – Chi, QB Josh McCown – NYJ, RB Brian Leonard – NE, WR Cordarrelle Patterson – Oak, TE Rhett Ellison – NYG.
Free agents remaining with possible fantasy juice: QB – Tony Romo (expected to be released or traded), RB Jamal Charles, RB Adrian Peterson, RB Marshawn Lynch (rumored to be considering unretiring to go to Oak).