Sunday, April 8, 2012

Free Agency 2012: Fantasy Fallout


After a brief hiatus following another great NFL season we are ready to hammer out some NFL free agent fall out. It's never too early to start looking to 2012 and here at Show Fantasy Sports we want to give you some insight to how the following player movements will affect player values in the upcoming season. In this article we will look at a few interesting players by position. Check out the information and give us your comments.

Quarterbacks
Peyton Manning was possibly the biggest free agent the NFL has ever seen once he was released by the Colts. When word came out that he had signed with the Broncos Jim Rome tweeted "I think the Internet just broke" due to the surge of news this signing stirred up. I think Peyton is going to put up nice numbers in Denver and get back on the fantasy map quickly. Think Philip Rivers numbers and similar draft positioning. Many times when players move teams they go earlier than they should in fantasy drafts...maybe it's because it's fun to roster the trendy player that will headline Sports Center. Don't let the new digs sucker you into drafting Peyton in the first round or even early 2nd. If you are in the position to take him at a value after the big dog QB's have gone then that is where I would look to take him. I will be looking for Peyton in the 3rd round if he comes out and slings it well this preseason. Hopefully for you guys that draft him there will be no "Curse of Tim Tebow" that follows Elway and his new look Broncos.

Matt Flynn is now a Seahawk and fans that I talk to could not be happier. Seahawk fans would settle for about anyone after watching T.Jackson and his backups stink up the joint last season. Jackson was one of the worst free agent signings I have seen in years. The management had to do something to get back the fans confidence so they made bringing in Flynn a priority. Flynn made his name in Packer land by torching the Lions for 6 tds in one game last season subbing in for A-rod. Seahawk brass hope that Flynn brings some of that backup Packer magic that made Rodgers a star in Green Bay to Seattle. Flynn is an interesting fantasy prospect and will be taken at a nice value after the Big Ben's and Eli's are gone off the board. Think Kevin Kolb in last years draft. Flynn is a better QB than Kolb and will be one of those guys you can grab with upside. If you do jump on Flynn make sure to get another QB to go with him because we are dealing with unknowns here.

David Garrard was signed by the Fish after they lost out on Flynn. Everyone thought that Flynn's ties to the Fins new management spelled out him becoming a Dolphin. Sadly for Dolphin fans they are stuck with an also ran QB in Garrard. Garrard will be a one year fix most likely unless there are draft day deals in the works. I would not rule out the Dolphins making a draft day play to add some spark to their QB situation and get fans buzzing. Something must be in the works because things have been quiet in Dolphin land and I just can't believe they are happy starting a new era out in Miami with Garrard at QB. They have a nice team, but there is only so far David can take them and a .500 is probably what they are looking at with Garrard in for a full season. Fantasy impact...none unless you are in a very large league or a 2 QB league looking for a number 3.

Alex Smith stayed in SF and will try to repeat the magic of the 2011 season that saw Harbaugh and Smith leading the Niners back to the playoffs. Fantasy impact is minimal here..Smith won't start for too many fantasy teams, but he makes a nice backup if you get a stud you can start most every week and just need someone to play for the bye week or occasional bad match up.

In the land of backup QB's there are still signings to come with many of the typical backups unsigned. Two recent signings that jump out to me are the Cowboys bringing in Kyle Orton and the Bears bringing in Jason Campbell. Both the Bears and Cowboys have had to go to their backup QB's over the past year and have got very little from the position. Both these guys are veterans that give you a chance to win that week. From a fantasy perspective...we all need backups from time to time so it's signings like these you make note of for when the injury bug hits and the wire is looking thin.

Wide Receiver
The Skins snatched up Pierre Garcon' and overpaid to get him. Garcon' is a number 2 WR in the league and the Redskins as they often do paid him like a #1. I hear critics bashing the signing, but the Redskins could have done worse here. Sure it wasn't a prize catch like Vincent Jackson or Brandon Marshall, but with RGIII (assuming they draft him) coming to town a healthy combo of Santana Moss and P.Garcon along with a viable TE in Fred Davis and an emerging 2nd year RB the Skins do have some sunlight coming over the horizon offensively. Garcon' will be one of those late fill in WR's most will view as a number 3 fantasy WR. Garcon's is a risk coming into a new offense with a rookie QB, but on the flip side RGIII can and will chuck it deep so the explosive plays will be there. Garcon' will be a week to week all or nothing play next year, so draft with expectation of some huge weeks, but also be cautious of match ups and the occasional zero that will come along with this pick. In leagues where you get extra points for longer TD's Garcon' is a sneaky pick.

Brandon Lloyd gives the Patriots what Ocho-Cinco could not give them...stability at the outside WR spot. Like Ocho last year Lloyd will most likely be over drafted, but do not doubt that he will be productive. I say over drafted because Tom Brady will not change the way he spreads the ball around just because Lloyd is in town. Lloyd will catch 65-70 balls for close to 1,000 yds and probably have 8 Td's. I can see him being a nice pick in the 5th-6th round in most leagues. The Pats also signed A.Gonzalez who had his best days as a Colt. Gonzo is another player in the mold of Welker and Edleman so don't be too excited about him unless injuries really hit the Pats WR corp. Gonzo's fantasy impact right now - minimal. Donte' Stallworth is a sneaky Hoodie signing that could be interesting before the year is out...keep tabs on Stallworth and his targets as the year progresses. Stallworth will go undrafted in most leagues and has no fantasy impact on my draft sheets at this time.

Brandon Marshall is a risk. Brandon Marshall is also a freak of nature at WR that the Bears have needed for years. Mike Martz has to be thinking, "Now you bring in a big time WR!" Curious that they didn't give Martz more to work with than just Forte during his tenure as offensive coordinator. I am a big Martz fan, but the guy cannot work miracles with the weak ass crew of WR's the Bears have started over the past few seasons. If Marshall can stay out of jail and the commissioners office this makes the Bears, Marshall and QB Jay Cutler look better on draft day. Stay tuned....fantasy impact is depending on a pending legal matter involving Marshall that was leaked after the trade with the Dolphins. If Marshall starts day one...I am looking at drafting him early 4th round and believing that he could end up a steal in that 4-6 round area for bold owners. Marshall getting on the field for the Bears is also good news for Forte owners as teams will not be able to focus as much on stopping him using safety help.

Mario Manningham was a nice grab by San Francisco. Critics point out his inconsistent play over last season and believe that Super Mario is just cashing in on his SB performance. I think that Manningham is young enough that he is still growing as a player and that this is a very very good signing for the Niners and especially for Alex Smith who needs viable targets on the outside. Mario will be on my radar in 2012 as a solid number 3 that could give low end number 2 stats if things go right.

At the beginning of last season Laurent Robinson was cut by the St. Louis Rams then picked up by the Cowboys where he was a big time fantasy surprise during the 2011 season. Robinson became one of Tony Romo's favorite red zone targets running tight routes and showing good hands. Of course, the Cowboys who tend to make really dumb free agent calls failed to resign Robinson so L-Rob now ends up in Jagsland on a team and organization that has many question marks right now. This is good news for 2nd year QB Blaine Gabbert who endured typical growing pains in his rookie campaign and was even being dissed in many media outlets as critics called for Tim Tebow in the off season. I think the Jags did the right thing here by not bringing in Tebow from a football perspective. Sure Gabby is not going to bank like Tebow would have when it comes to tickets and merchandise, but the Jags were smart by not taking their early 1st round pick last year and tossing him down the toilet and throwing his development into a tailspin. L-Rob will provide a solid number two WR in Jagsland which will give the Jags some fantasy relevance in the upcoming season that injuries stole away in 2011. Robinson could be a 2b or 3a fantasy WR depending on how much more the Jaguars throw this year. I do expect them to open things up abit more this year so watch those Jags WR targets closely. Robinson not being with the Cowboys will drop his draft position so you can wait until late in drafts to snag this possible diamond in the rough.

Vincent Jackson is a huge signing for a team that was dismal offensively in 2011. Mike Williams terrible sophomore campaign made this signing a priority for the Bucs and the development of their young QB Josh Freeman. Mike Williams will be more comfortable in the number two WR role as his lack of speed made it hard for him to break away from number one corners in his 2nd season. This may be a demotion for Mike, but it will jump his poor 2nd year numbers in year 3...there is no doubt about that. Vjack, may not be "Mr. Team Player" but he is a viable number one guy when he is motivated. My fear is will he be motivated when this team starts losing ball games? The potential here is too hard to overlook and if you like Vjack you will have to have him this year with less competition around him than in SD means more touches and a career high in catches. Mad upside, slight risk and a team that will play from behind make Vjack one of the most interesting fantasy draft dilemma's out there....he will be taken as a top 10 WR in most leagues...upside, downside, this pick has it all...and it's why I love fantasy drafts. This offense is going to get mighty interesting if the Bucs draft Trent Richardson, RB from Bama(this is an assumption seeing as the Bucs have not resigned Ernest Graham and they let Lumpkin go to another team)... the Tampa offense would be back as far as fantasy relevance goes with a good young QB, a stud WR and franchise RB...Tampa fans can only hope.

Since we are talking about Jackson's...Philly's Desean Jackson finally got paid which means we have a happy Desean going into the 2012 season. Look for a big bounce back season as long as Vick is upright. Desean is an explosive number 2 or 1b for those of you who wait around or two longer to grab your top WR. I avoided Djax like the plague last year with the contract unrest and I was glad I did, but this year I will not hesitate to grab him in the early 4th round or later if in need of a home run hitter at wide receiver.

There were other WR signings, but they were little more than a blip on the fantasy radar in my opinion. If there is someone specifically you would like me to address let me know. The biggest unsigned WR right now is speedster Mike Wallace.

Running Back
While much less interesting than the WR and QB Free Agency moves there are a few RB signings worth a look.
Mike Tolbert was signed to a big contract by a team that was already loaded with RB talent. The Panthers are deep at RB which leads many including myself to believe that a draft day trade will happen. There is no need for Tolbert on a team that features DeAngelo Williams (who just last year got a monster contract) and Jonathan Stewart who has tried for a few years now to grab the starting job from Williams. I think Stewart is on his way out leaving D.Will and Tolbert to hammer behind Cam Newton. This is a lateral move for the Panthers who could have used this coin to spend on defense or maybe a TE or WR weapon for Cam. As far as fantasy value for Tolbert goes I think this hurts his value and plummets his draft stock because not only does he have D.will who is not a small back and can carry the load at the stripe to compete with he has the most prolific rushing QB in the league as far as scoring TD's under center. Move Tolbert down and don't be taking him too early unless you are doing it to backup your selection of Williams. On the flip side moving Tolbert out of San Diego gives a huge boost to Ryan Matthews. The Bolts did sign Leron McClain but he will not eat up much of Matthews possibly huge 2012 value. Matthews is a 1st rounder for sure without Tolbert around and he'll end up on some of my teams this year. I imagine he will be taken from 6th-10th in the first round this year, similar to the way Lesean McCoy was drafted last season.

One of the most interesting running back signings of the off season so far has been the Bears snatching up former Raider Michael Bush. Bush who looked great last year backing up Darren McFadden cashed in with the Bears giving the team a monster two back look along with Matt Forte. Some think this signing was a message to Forte who is looking for a deal right now... a message that he can be replaced. If Chicago is smart they will pay Forte who has been their offense two years running and pair him with Bush in those cold weather games in Chicago and pound teams into the ground. Not sure this will hurt Forte's value that much...it may keep him more fresh for the fantasy stretch run. One thing it does do though is give Forte owners a must own handcuff. I am not about to draft Bush unless its towards the end of my draft unless I have Forte...so in the end it does hurt Bush's fantasy relevance...but we thank him for his work last year in relief of McInjury.

Green-Ellis to the Bengals....snoooooozefest. Well, Bengal fans at least you know he won't fumble. Look for the Bengals to bring in a rookie running back in the draft to further muddle the RB situation in Cincy. Benson wasn't great, but at least he was a feature...now even his value goes down even if the Bengals resign him as the feature backs in the league get even more rare.

Brandon Jacobs to the Niners - Not sure why they signed Jacobs when they have a good little backup in Kendell Hunter behind Frank Gore. The RB situation in SF just got muddier. Look for Gore to excel early on and lose carries as the season goes on to both backups...draft Frank Gore with caution and Jacobs most likely in TD leagues only or 75-25% TD over yardage leagues. If you have Gore in keepers and he starts out like a house of fire...trade him!!!

The signing of Peyton Hillis by the Chiefs was one of my favorite signings of the preseason. I love this signing for KC if super speedster Jamal Charles comes back strong from him knee injury. Hillis is a hammer that can also catch the ball and Charles is a game breaker supreme. Paired they could be a devastating real life and fantasy backfield. Mr.Madden cover from last year got a raw deal in Cleveland where they seem to mess up everything so look for him to come out super strong this season. Hillis draft stock from last year is going to fall possibly more than anyone's but as a late round grab...maybe 7th-even 10th round he could be someone you brag about later on in the season that you snagged. With no real stable QB in KC at this moment and the likelihood of them going with a retread veteran or possibly a rookie at QB you can bet the Chiefs are going to be running the ball in 2012. So look out for the white boy with the arms that would make Tebow envious.

Some interesting unrestricted free agents are still out there for the taking including the previously mentioned Benson along with list of what I would consider viable fantasy contributors if placed in the right environment.
*Ronnie Brown, Kahlil Bell (had a nice cup of coffee with the Bears last year during the fantasy playoffs), Caddy Williams, Lerod Stephens-Howling, LT, Joseph Addai and Ryan Grant. Most of these guys will find themselves on a team post draft once teams evaluate where they are at the running back position so stay tuned.

Tight Ends
Not alot to talk about here, but there are a few signings that make ya go "hmmmmmmm?"

One I do like...former Colt TE Jacob Tamme to the Broncos...nice sleeper...we all know Peyton and Tamme's history sans Clark in 2010. Could Dallas Clark be on his way? Probably not with the signing of Joel Dreessen from the Texans, a very capable TE with great hands. I like the Dreessen signing not for the fact that it increases his fantasy value..he probably has more real life value to Peyton Manning and the Broncos than he does in the fantasy arena...but what makes me happy is he is done vulturing TD's from our boy Owen Daniels. In 2011 it became more than irritating that Dreessen would play 5 plays all game and some how end up with the TE touchdown while Daniels disappointed.

The only other signing that catches my eye for TE's is Martellus Bennett going from the Cowboys to the rival Giants. We have always heard about how good he could be if he didn't live in the shadow Jason Witten...well we are about to find out. As we have seen before Eli will throw to any TE that can get open so Bennett will have a chance to make a name for himself on the NY stage. There are other TE's in town but none so gifted that Bennett could not vie for his share targets...he'll probably disappoint...at least that is my gut, but he is worth keeping an eye on.

Not going to get into IDP signings or we will be here all day. The draft and more fantasy news are on the way....because the NFL season never ends. We are back at it here on Show Fantasy Sports and as always we value your opinions and comments.

later - Wes "theShow"

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