2014 Free Agent Moves And Impacts
By Jake Ciely
Josh McCown (TB) – Top.QB.Overall. After all, when you project McCown's 2013 season to 16 games, you get 26 touchdowns and two picks. Peyton who? Okay, McCown won't go 26-and-2 with the Bucs, and honestly, he'll be lucky to throw those 26 TDs. McCown is a career backup, and while Lovie Smith already said McCown is his starter, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Mike Glennon under center at some point.
Rashad Jennings (NYG) – With Andre Brown gone and David Wilson a question mark for the 2014 season, the Giants brought in Jennings to lead the backfield. Jennings proved what he could do as a starter last season when Darren McFadden went down (shocker, I know). His 733 yards (4.5 per carry) came behind a poor offensive line. The Giants brought in Geoff Schwartz to strengthen their line, and with Ben McAdoo looking to breathe new life into the offense, Jennings is in store for his best year yet (Top 20 RB).
Ben Tate (CLE) – If not for health concerns, Tate would rank higher than a low-end RB2, even as a lead back. However, the man just can't stay healthy. Add in a downgrade in offensive lines from Houston to Cleveland, and we have plenty of reason to be cautious about Tate's outlook. Tate certainly could approach the RB1 level, but his cost will likely be around that based on hype, and that's too pricey.
Golden Tate (DET) – Love this move. Simply love it. Tate was miscast as a No. 1 option in Seattle. Now alongside Calvin Johnson, Tate will have his best year yet. The fact that Tate put up 898 yards on 64 catches for the run-heavy Seahawks is a testament to his ability. With the pass-happy Lions, Tate will surpass 1,000 yards and is a Top 30 receiver.
Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) – The new third option in Denver will be a great fit. Sanders is already a lock for WR3 numbers and could easily reach the WR2 tier. You've certainly heard by now that Sanders had the third most broken tackles for receivers in 2013, and with 67 catches for the Steelers last year, imagine what he can do catching passes from Manning. Smart move Sanders.
Eric Decker (NYJ) – Decker couldn't have picked a worse situation for his potential. Okay, wait, we still have the Raiders. Peyton Manning to Geno Smith. Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas to Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill and Jeff Cumberland. Hrmm. Yea. This drop-off is similar to when Wily E. Coyote ran off a Grand Canyon-sized cliff. Decker fantasy outlook go boom! Even as the No. 1 option for the Jets, Decker is no more than a low-end WR3 given the difference in situations.
James Jones (OAK) – Going from Aaron Rodgers to Matt Schaub will hurt anyone's value. Granted, Schaub's 2013 was not on par with the rest of his career, so we should expect better. However, we're also talking about a team with one of the worst offensive lines in the league, which won't let Schaub stand back and wait for Jones often. You can argue the increased targets will offset the playing situation, but Schaub's inferior Completion Percentage and QB Accuracy Percentage (PFF) counteracts that argument. Jones is no more than a WR3 in Oakland. This also opens the door for Jarrett Boykin though, as Boykin proved there is potential within him. Boykin jumps to low-end WR3 status with Jones' exit.
Hakeem Nicks (IND) – Nicks doesn't see much of a boost by signing with the Colts. Sure, Andrew Luck has proven to be a better quarterback than Eli Manning of late, but it was the quarterback play that hurt Nicks' outlook. In fact, Nicks' play actually played a part in hurting Manning's numbers. Nicks used to be bordering on elite because of his route tree running and ability to separate. The injuries have taken their toll, and those strengths are gone. Nicks may get some of that back, as he is further removed from his last injury, but until we see it on the field, I can't move Nicks into my Top 40 receivers.
Steve Smith (BAL) – Smith was the heart and soul of the Panthers for so long, and it pains me to see him with another team. It especially pains me to see him in Baltimore, as his numbers won't improve. Joe Flacco can sling it, but for all of his plusses, there are as many minuses in comparison to Cam Newton. Finishing with 700-800 yards and a handful of touchdowns is all we should expect from Smith, and that has him in the mid-40s.
Andre Roberts (WSH) – Last season, it was Pierre Garcon and… and… um… yea. Jordan Reed, who played about eight and a half games, was the team's second best receiver in receptions (45), yards (499) and touchdowns (3). He is also their tight end! The Redskins need someone besides Garcon to help their passing game, and it certainly isn't Santana Moss. Still, Roberts is best served in the slot, and the Redskins are still looking – even kicking the tires on Kenny Britt. Roberts doesn't reach Top 50 WR status even with the need in Washington.
Brandon LaFell (NE) – LaFell has never lived up to his potential, but it's New England. And we all know that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady can make mediocre receivers into good or even great ones. I'm not ready to call for that though, but LaFell is worth monitoring or even taking that late-round flier on.
Darren McFadden – It's DMC. It's the Raiders. It's the same ol' mess and wasted draft pick as always.
Jeremy Maclin – This could get interesting if the Eagles do trade DeSean Jackson. Maclin has borderline WR1 talent, and with the way Chip Kelly's offense and Nick Foles blindsided the league last year, Maclin has the potential to near WR1 value. Until we see Maclin and Foles develop some chemistry and a resolution to the D-Jax drama (ranked WR21), Maclin sits in the high 30s for receivers.
Anquan Boldin – With Michael Crabtree back and healthy, we likely just saw Boldin's best year for the rest of his career. Boldin posted his highest fantasy output since 2008 (171 points) and his fourth highest ever. I can't even slide Boldin into the Top 50 at this point… unless Crabtree goes and gets hurt again.
Riley Cooper – Cooper's status could drastically trade with the aforementioned D-Jax talk. As with Maclin, Cooper's value would jump significantly if Jackson were traded. As it stands, Cooper is the third man in line, simply based on D-Jax and Maclin being better talents.