Fantasy Football: A look at the new rosters May18


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Fantasy Football: A look at the new rosters


Last year I took a look at how free agency and the NFL draft affected rosters for Fantasy Football. Let’s do the same thing this year!

Atlanta Falcons

Key Arrivals: None

Key Departures: Tony Gonzalez

Key Draft Picks: None

The loss of Tony Gonzalez can’t be understated. He was Matt Ryan’s security blanket for years. While Atlanta hasn’t picked up any major skill position players, their offensive line got a big boost with the drafting of Jake Matthews from Texas A&M. This should help give Matt Ryan some more time, as well as open up some more holes for Steven Jackson. Look for Jackson to be a nice value as an RB2, provided he can stay healthy. When he returned from injury last year, he managed to find the end zone. Jacquizz Rodgers is always a good back-end of the draft pick as well.

Arizona Cardinals

Key Arrivals: Ted Ginn, Jonathan Dwyer

Key Departures: Rashard Mendenhall

Key Draft Picks: Logan Thomas, Troy Niklaus

Dwyer replaces the retired Mendenhall as the ex-Steelers back in a very crowded Arizona backfield that already includes Andre Ellington, Stephan Taylor, and Ryan Williams (who might likely be cut). Ellington is the best back of the bunch, but he’ll be on a snap count and won’t have the kind of workload that other backs would have taken ahead of him. Michael Floyd had emerged as a solid fantasy option last year across from Larry Fitzgerald, and might provide some mid-round value as a WR2 or WR3. Logan Thomas might be the quarterback of the future for Arizona, but this is still Carson Palmer’s job to lose. I expect him to have another solid year.

Baltimore Ravens

Key Arrivals: Steve Smith, Owen Daniels

Key Departures: None

Key Draft Picks: None

Steve Smith could reinvent himself as a possession receiver in Baltimore, and along with a now-healthy Dennis Pitta, could keep defenders honest and open up Torrey Smith as the deep threat. I like Steve Smith (and Pitta) in PPR leagues, but I think the draft day price might be too high on Torrey. Flacco has a tendency to overthrow Smith on deep balls. Owen Daniels is a second tight end, so it should be interesting to see how much he has left in the tank. The jury is still out as to what punishment (if any) Ray Rice would receive, but his draft stock is already low because of his subpar season last year. I’m willing to roll the dice on Rice as an RB2 in the middle rounds if he falls that far.

Buffalo Bills

Key Arrivals: Mike Williams, Bryce Brown

Key Departures: Stevie Johnson

Key Draft Picks: Sammy Watkins

Watkins and Williams’s arrival, along with the ascension of Robert Woods, put the writing on the wall for Stevie “Why So Serious?” Johnson, who Buffalo traded to the San Francisco 49ers. Johnson was a big-headed, big-play receiver that struggled over the past couple of years. People might bite on Watkins’s talent, forgetting of course that he has EJ Manuel throwing to him. I would not pick up Watkins as a WR1. Williams and Woods might both yield some late-round value. As for the backfield, CJ Spiller will again entice, but I’m going to try and land the ageless Fred Jackson, as I’m willing to bet he has more left in the tank. Bryce Brown’s addition throws a bit of a wrench into the gears, but I expect him to act in the Tashard Choice role of the third back.

Carolina Panthers

Key Arrivals: Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant

Key Departures: Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn

Key Draft Picks: Kevan Benjamin

Cam Newton lost all three of his 2013 receivers over this offseason, and while Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant arent complete substitutions, they aren’t chopped liver either. Cotchery emerged as a red-zone target for Ben Roethlisberger with the Steelers last year. Avant was always the third option on the Eagles, but might get an opportunity with more targets in Carolina. Benjamin is a rookie, so he’ll make rookie mistakes. I think the departure of the receiving corps might lower the draft stock of Cam Newton, and he will end up yielding some decent value as the seventh or eighth QB taken off the board. If the price is right, I’m snatching him.

Chicago Bears

Key Arrivals: None

Key Departures: None

Key Draft Picks: None

There are no major changes to the Bears offense (unless you want to count Earl Bennett as “major”). It’s still the Forte, Marshall and Jeffery show. I really like Forte as a first round draft choice, especially in PPR.

Cincinnati Bengals

Key Arrivals: None

Key Departures: None

Key Draft Picks: AJ McCarron, Jeremy Hill

The Bengals haven’t made much noise this offseason because they had spent much of the past few seasons building up their offense. AJ Green is still an elite option. Giovani Bernard will more than likely get more carries over BenJarvis Green-Ellis. The person who I’m looking to make the second-year leap is TE Tyler Eifert. Yes, there’s still Jermaine Gresham to deal with, but Eifert was a high draft pick last season for a reason. I’d stay away from Andy Dalton in one-QB leagues. McCarron was a star at Alabama, but is more known for his wife than anything else. He’ll do good to ride the pine while the Bengals decide if Dalton is their QB of the future.

Cleveland Browns

Key Arrivals: Ben Tate

Key Departures: Brandon Weeden, Josh Gordon*

Key Draft Picks: Johnny Manziel, Terrance West

Boy, things went from awesome to terrible in Cleveland in the manner of a day. They got Johnny Football, but they may have lost the best offensive weapon on the team for the season. Josh Gordon has had a history of bonehead behavior, and because he couldn’t go an offseason without smoking weed, he is facing a suspension for the entire 2014 season. And the Browns didn’t come up with any contingency plan and draft a single wide receiver in a WR-rich draft pool. Manziel himself will stir up some excitement in Cleveland, which is sorely needed. How that translates to fantasy is anybody’s guess. If I own Cameron, aside from not having Gordon, having Manziel starting should concern me. Brian Hoyer proved to be very good for Cameron’s value, more so than any other QB the Browns trotted on the field last year. But Manziel doesn’t have the pocket poise of Hoyer and may opt to try and make a play himself than to find his playmaker, especially with Gordon gone. If the price tag is too high on Manziel (if he starts), I’m staying away. But I’d definitely try and scoop him up as a QB2 and hope for the ceiling rather than the floor. Ben Tate has some competition with second-round pick Terrance West, but Tate has the capability of being a bell cow back. The dude is tough. He played many games last year with four cracked ribs. I really like Tate (always have), and if there are no reports of West being in a timeshare during training camp, and I can get Tate in the second or third round, I’m going for it.

Dallas Cowboys

Key Arrivals: None

Key Departures: Miles Austin

Key Draft Picks: None

I don’t count Brandon Weeden as a key arrival, sorry. The Cowboys dodged a bullet by not letting Jerry Jones draft Manziel. Instead, the Cowboys got Zack Martin to provide more protection for the offensive line. That’s good news for Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and DeMarco Murray. I’m interested to see how Terrence Williams makes the second-year leap. Plus, Cole Beasley can establish himself as a possession receiver. The fantasy news looks good for the Cowboys offense in 2014.

Denver Broncos

Key Arrivals: Emmanuel Sanders

Key Departures: Eric Decker, Knowshown Moreno, Trindon Holiday

Key Draft Picks: None

Letting Moreno go to the Dolphins says volumes about the confidence Denver has in Montee Ball, who is now a top fantasy RB next year. Here’s hoping he can pick up the blitzes as well. Losing Decker hurts Peyton slightly, but he’s going to go high in drafts regardless. There’s still Demariyus Thomas, Wes Welker, and Julius Thomas as options. Sanders is a tad below Decker on the talent scale, but Sanders can find the end zone. As long as Montee can pick up the blitz, Denver should be fine.

Detroit Lions

Key Arrivals: Golden Tate

Key Departures: Nate Burleson

Key Draft Picks: Eric Embron

Matthew Stafford has to be licking his chops at his two new offensive weapons in Tate and Embron. Tate is automatically an upgrade over the aging Nate Burleson. Embron was a huge draft pick for the Lions, but much like Eifert last year with the Bengals, I’ll have to temper my expectations as long as Brandon Pettigrew’s still hanging around. Look for Joique Bell to eat a little more into Reggie Bush’s playing time. I’d rather take Bell a couple rounds later than Bush in the early rounds.

Green Bay Packers

Key Arrivals: None

Key Departures: James Jones

Key Draft Picks: Davante Adams

The departure of James Jones isn’t too terrible considering the rise of Jarrett Boykin, who should fit nicely along with Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson in the Packers’ aerial onslaught next year. The Pack spent a second round pick on Davante Adams at WR, but I don’t think he’ll make much of an impact this year with so many mouths to feed. Note that TE Richard Rodgers from Cal went in the third round to Green Bay. We’ll see what happens with him and Andrew Quarless, as well as the possibility of Jermichael Finley returning. I like Eddie Lacy to continue on his tear as one of the few workhorse backs left in the league.

Houston Texans

Key Arrivals: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andre Brown

Key Departures: Matt Schaub, Ben Tate, Owen Daniels

Key Draft Picks: Tom Savage, CJ Fiedorowicz

Andre Brown is a great late-round pick considering the health of Arian Foster and the capability of Brown when he has a full workload. Schaub is gone, and the bearded man from Harvard Fitzpatrick takes his place, but Tom Savage might be the QB of the future. He will most likely sit this year and learn from Fitzy, but the moment Ryan falls into some trouble, Savage might be ready to step in. Andre Johnson is a year older, but he put together one of his best years last year. With Daniels gone, Garrett Graham steps up and could contribute as a sleeper fantasy tight end in a major way, depending on how much competition CJ Fiedorowicz, the big playmaker from Iowa, gives him in training camp.

Indianapolis Colts

Key Arrivals: Hakeem Nicks

Key Departures: Donald Brown, Darius Heyward-Bey

Key Draft Picks: Donte Moncrief

Despite his issues last year with the Giants, Nicks is a tremendous improvement over DHB, and a tremendous complement to TY Hilton. Along with Dwayne Allen (who returns from injury) and Coby Fleener at TE, Andrew Luck has lots of weapons to choose from. Donald Brown is gone, but the three-headed monster of Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Vick Ballard remains in the crowded Indy backfield. Remember, T-Rich is technically the Colts’ first round pick of the 2014 draft!

Jacksonville Jaguars

Key Arrivals: Toby Gerhart

Key Departures: Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Blackmon*

Key Draft Picks: Blake Bortles, Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson

The answer to the trivia question of which free agent running back got the most money this past offseason, the answer isn’t MJD to the Raiders, Rashad Jennings to the Giants, or even Chris Johnson to the Jets. It was Toby freakin’ Gerhart to the Jaguars. Between that and drafting Blake Bortles with the third pick when the QB market at the draft seemed lukewarm at best, the Jags have ensured their run of futility at the bottom of the NFL pecking order. London, here we come! If they drafted Johnny Football, they’d still be losing games, but at least they’d make money selling jerseys. Gerhart is worth a mid-round look, but I’m willing to bet Jordan Todman (who looked great at the end of last season) beats him out in training camp. I like Todman as a late round lottery ticket. Cecil Shorts gets some help in the receiving corps with Marqise Lee from USC and Allen Robinson from Penn State, both second rounders. Based on pure talent alone, Lee looks like the better fantasy option of the two new receivers.

Kansas City Chiefs

Key Arrivals: None

Key Departures: Dexter McCluster

Key Draft Picks: Aaron Murray

Aside from losing a dynamic special teams playmaker like McCluster and adding a backup QB in Murray, it’s business as usual for the Chiefs, who will have the majority of their core players return next season after overachieving this past season. Jamaal Charles will most likely go first overall in the majority of drafts, but if I have the number one pick, I would be very wary. Charles is only a couple years removed from missing the entire season after tearing his ACL. He does have an injury history, and I would rather draft a sure thing with the first overall (possibly going for a quarterback).

Miami Dolphins

Key Arrivals: Knowshown Moreno

Key Departures: None

Key Draft Picks: Jarvis Landry

Moreno takes over as the lead back over Lamar Miller, but considering Miller’s still in the fold and “Fantasy Herpes” Daniel Thomas can always vulture a score or two, I would try and stay away from this backfield unless I can get good value for Moreno (rounds 7-8). Mike Wallace will probably improve with his second year on this team, and since the Jonathan Martin situation has calmed down (although Maurkice Pouncey stuck his foot in his Twitter account again), the offensive line might do a better job keeping Ryan Tannehill upright so he can hit Wallace and newcomer Jarvis Landry with accurate throws.

Minnesota Vikings

Key Arrivals: None

Key Departures: Toby Gerhart, Josh Freeman

Key Draft Picks: Teddy Bridgewater, Jerick McKinnon

It’s not popular anymore, but I’d seriously consider taking Adrian Peterson number 1 overall if I had the pick. Ideally I’d want the number 2 pick so I could just take the other of Charles/Peterson. Minnesota taking Bridgewater says all they need to say about their faith in Christian Ponder (aside from not picking up Ponder’s fifth-year option). Matt Cassel re-signed with the Vikings, so he’s still in the mix as well. The fans will be calling for Bridgewater to start, however. Regardless of who’s throwing the ball, I’m targeting Cordarelle Patterson in every draft I can possibly get him in this season. I think the shackles are going to be taken off and he’ll make the sophomore leap. Kyle Rudolph will remain a solid TE option. Greg Jennings might start being an afterthought.

New England Patriots

Key Arrivals: Brandon LaFell

Key Departures: LeGarrette Blount

Key Draft Picks: Jimmy Garoppolo

Although I’ve identified these transactions as “key,” they’re relatively minor, and the status quo in New England will remain the same. Tom Brady is still the QB, throwing to Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. Gronk may never be fully healthy again, so it’s imperative to monitor his status this off-season. The running back corps lost LeGarrette Blount to the Steelers, so Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden have less competition. Ridley is one more fumble away from being vaporized. Vereen might be a trendy sleeper for the second year in a row, as his inactivity last year on the injury list may have led some people to forget about him.

New Orleans Saints

Key Arrivals: None

Key Departures: Darren Sproles

Key Draft Picks: Brandon Cooks

Cooks has already been heavily hyped as a fantasy aspect, so much so that I think he might get overdrafted the same way Tavon Austin was overdrafted last year. Keep in mind that while Marques Colston is on the decline, he’s still heavily involved in the offense, as is number one target Jimmy Graham, and second-year receiver Kenny Stills. Sproles’s departure opens the door for Pierre Thomas, who I would gladly have as my RB2. Mark Ingram is still in the mix as well. Brees is still Brees. He will have a bounce-back year.

New York Giants

Key Arrivals: Rashad Jennings, Trindon Holiday, Mario Manningham, Kellen Davis

Key Departures: Hakeem Nicks, Andre Brown, Brandon Myers

Key Draft Picks: Odell Beckham, Jr., Andre Williams

It’s going to be a very new-look Giants next year. With no guarantee of David Wilson returning, Rashad Jennings will tote the rock for the majority of carries, with Peyton Hillis and third rounder Andre Williams backing him up. The receiving corps will be drastically different. Gone is Hakeem Nicks, replaced with Reuben Randle (who hops up a spot on the depth chart) and first rounder Odell Beckham, Jr. Also in the mix is former, now current Giant Mario Manningham. I don’t expect Super Mario to do much, but it’s nice to have a former Super Bowl hero back. I have no idea what the Giants are doing at Tight End, which was a serious position of weakness last year. All I know is that Kellen Davis is not the solution to the problem.

New York Jets

Key Arrivals: Michael Vick, Chris Johnson, Eric Decker, Jacoby Ford

Key Departures: Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes

Key Draft Picks: Jace Amaro, Tajh Boyd

The Jets will also look very different on offense. QB is as wide open as it gets. Not only was Michael Vick brought in to compete with incumbent Geno Smith, but Gang Green also drafted Clemson QB Tajh Boyd. Somebody had to feed Sammy Watkins those balls to make him look good. Dissatisfied with having Jeremy Kerley as the lead receiver, the Jets drafted a slew of receivers in the fourth and sixth rounds to help out new arrival Eric Decker. This is a make-or-break year for Decker to prove that it was more his talent and less Peyton Manning’s talent that made him successful. Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory will make an interesting thunder and lightning combination. Jace Amaro will compete with Jeff Cumberland for the starting TE job.

Oakland Raiders

Key Arrivals: Matt Schaub, Maurice Jones-Drew, James Jones

Key Departures: Rashad Jennings, Jacoby Ford

Key Draft Picks: Derek Carr

Schaub will most likely be the week 1 starter, but Derek Carr is the QB of the future in Oakland. At least, that’s what they’d like him to be. Hopefully he’s nothing like his brother. Having MJD and Run DMC in the same backfield is a fantasy football player from 2009’s dream. Maybe if they do an even 50-50 split, they won’t get hurt all the time. The Raiders added James Jones from the Packers to their receiving corps, and with Denarius Moore and Rod Streater, it’s a pretty formidable aerial attack. I’m interested to see Mychal Rivera make the leap at TE this year. He showed some flashes last year.

Philadelphia Eagles

Key Arrivals: Darren Sproles, Mark Sanchez

Key Departures: DeSean Jackson, Bryce Brown, Jason Avant

Key Draft Picks: Jordan Matthews

It remains to be seen how a returning Jeremy Maclin and the newcomer Jordan Matthews make up for the production lost by the mercurial DeSean Jackson. Riley Cooper got re-signed, and if you’re okay with racists on your fantasy team, by all means draft him. Mark Sanchez will back up Nick Foles, which speaks volumes about the Eagles’s feelings for Matt Barkley. At least the two of them can reminisce about all the co-eds they nailed at USC on the sidelines while Napoleon Dynamite does work. Sproles won’t eat up too much into LeSean McCoy’s workload, and will act more like Shane Vereen in New England, so Shady becomes the de-facto #3 overall pick in drafts behind JC and AP.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Key Arrivals: LeGarrette Blount, Darius Heyward-Bey

Key Departures: Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, Jonathan Dwyer

Key Draft Picks: Dri Archer

Those who have Le’Veon Bell in keeper leagues (coughcough) are a little distressed by the arrival of LeGarrette Blount. Hopefully he won’t treat Le’Veon the way he treated Doug Martin two years ago and Shane Vereen last year. Dri Archer getting drafted in the third round adds another body to the backfield, but for all intents and purposes this is Le’Veon’s backfield. The Steelers didn’t do much to account for the losses of Sanders and Cotchery. DHB has been a DHBust. So this means Antonio Brown and a lot of him. A healthy Heath Miller might also do Pittsburgh some good. Still, it pushes Ben Roethlisberger into QB2 territory.

San Diego Chargers

Key Arrivals: Donald Brown

Key Departures: Danario Alexander

Key Draft Picks: None

Donald Brown’s addition definitely hurts Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead’s value. It’s unknown as to why the Chargers needed to throw so much money at Brown. Still though, Keenan Allen remains a top fantasy receiving option, especially with the Chargers releasing Danario “DX” Alexander. Despite having the coolest nickname in football, DX was too injury prone to stay on the team. I’m looking for Ladarius Green to make a big leap at Tight End. I’m not drafting him, but at the first sign of a good game, I’m picking him up with the quickness. Rivers might net some good value at QB too.

San Francisco 49ers

Key Arrivals: Stevie Johnson, Brandon Lloyd

Key Departures: Mario Manningham

Key Draft Picks: Carlos Hyde

LaMichael James, we barely knew ye. With Frank Gore still trudging along, Anthony Dixon to vulture TDs, Marcus Lattimore waiting in the wings, and now the addition of Hyde, it looks like the former Oregon Duck might be the odd man out. It’s a shame because he had so much talent at Oregon. Stevie Johnson gets to join Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, which will make him an excellent WR3. Brandon Lloyd was signed, but it’s doubtful he remains on the team. People are going to be too high on Colin Kaepernick this year. I made that mistake last year. Not this time. Vernon Davis will also go too high, and I think there’s better value at TE out there.

Seattle Seahawks

Key Arrivals: None

Key Departures: Golden Tate

Key Draft Picks: Paul Richardson

Even with Golden Tate gone, it’s still the Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson show on offense. Enjoy this, Seattle fans, because the Seahawks won’t be able to pay Wilson after giving big deals to Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. Percy Harvin is made of glass, and I won’t draft him in any leagues.

St. Louis Rams

Key Arrivals: Kenny Britt

Key Departures: None

Key Draft Picks: Tre Mason

The big draft pick of Greg Robinson at Offensive Tackle will shore up an offensive line that will need to keep Sam Bradford upright. I was burned on Tavon Austin last year, but I’m willing to roll the dice again this year, as he’ll make the sophomore leap, as will Cordarelle Patterson for Minnesota. Zac Stacy now has competition in the backfield, as St. Louis has drafted a running back for the third year in a row in Auburn’s Tre Mason. If Mason lives up to how he played in Auburn, he may supplant Stacy, who may have possibly been a second round draft pick in fantasy leagues this year. Continue to ignore Sam Bradford. This will be his last year in St. Louis.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Arrivals: Josh McCown, Brandon Myers

Key Departures: Mike Williams

Key Draft Picks: Mike Evans, Charles Sims, Austin Seferion-Jenkins

Poor Timmy Wright. The arrival of Myers and ASJ has all but doomed him from a fantasy perspective at Tight End. However, the wide receiving corps got a nice boost with the drafting of Mike Evans, who may be even better than Sammy Watkins. I don’t know who’s going to start out of Josh McCown or Mike Glennon, but they’ve got serious sleeper potential at QB. I’m definitely going to take the winner of the competition as my QB2 wherever I can.

Tennessee Titans

Key Arrivals: Dexter McCluster

Key Departures: Chris Johnson, Kenny Britt

Key Draft Picks: Zach Mettenberger, Bishop Shankey

The Jake Locker experiment in Tennessee may be over after this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick is gone as well, so say hello to…Zach Mettenberger! Anyway, Chris Johnson is gone as well, and Shonn Greene just had surgery, so the first RB taken in the draft this year, Bishop Shankey, might get some work in this year. There’s always TD vulture Jackie Battle as well. For the receiving corps, it’s Kendall Wright or bust at this point. No more Kenny Britt to worry about.

Washington Redskins

Key Arrivals: DeSean Jackson

Key Departures: None

Key Draft Picks: None

Washington gave up a king’s ransom to get RG3, which means they lost out on the #2 overall pick this year. Still, getting DeSean Jackson might boost the offense significantly. Pierre Garcon is a PPR monster, and Jordan Reed will look to capitalize on an excellent year last year. Plus, there’s always Alfred Morris, who is heading into year 3 of a great career so far. Despite not picking up many good draft picks, offensively under Jay Gruden the Redskins might make a little noise.

That’s it for me. I’ll be back in July with some early draft thoughts. Remember to follow me on Twitter @PocketSeagull.