July is the last full month without football for the rest of the year. That means that not only is the preseason right around the corner, but fantasy football is right around the corner as well! The NFL Draft is in the books and free agency has been active. Here are the 13 off-season moves that you need to know about before you embark on your next fantasy football championship.
Brock Osweiler Traded to the Browns
The Brocketship has left Houston. After a disappointing season where he threw more picks than touchdowns, the Texans traded him to Cleveland along with a second-round draft pick. Houston essentially paid Cleveland to take Osweiler off their hands, and while that might seem rash, this made room for Deshaun Watson. Watson, who is projected to score 137 fantasy points this season. Hopefully that helps bring DeAndre Hopkins back to fantasy relevance as well.
DeSean Jackson Joins the Buccaneers
Jameis Winston now has two talented receivers to stretch the field. In addition to Mike Evans, Winston now has another deep threat in DeSean Jackson. DJax should be a strong compliment here and his fantasy stock should be slightly better than last year. Evans finished the season with over 1,000 receiving yards for the third straight year. Jackson is projected for 937 yards and could easily hit the 1K mark. With the drafting of O.J. Howard at tight end, Winston will have his choice of targets both downfield as well as 10 yards out. This should be a high-powered offense this year.
Martellus Bennett Joins the Packers
After earning his Super Bowl ring and hauling in 55 of Brady's passes for 701 yards and a career-high 7 scores, Bennett is on his way back to the heartland. He's trading one elite QB for another. With Aaron Rodgers under center, Martellus Bennett is projected to be a Top 10-ranked TE this season with 62 receptions for 650 yards and 6 scores. Given the prolific passing game in Green Bay, do not be surprised if we find Bennett near the Top 5 at the end of the season.
Brandin Cooks Joins the Patriots
The Patriots may have lost Bennett to Green Bay, but they picked up some new weapons in their attempt to repeat last year's success. Dwayne Allen will fill in for Bennett, and Brandin Cooks will help stretch the field for Tom Brady. While it might be a bit early to say this, comparisons are already being made between Cooks and Randy Moss. Our concern is that there are a lot of mouths to feed in New England including Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and a backfield that now includes former Bills' RB Mike Gillislee. Cooks is ranked 12th among WR's in today's wide receiver draft rankings - just one spot ahead of Michael Thomas who will be Drew Brees's #1 target in NOLA. With all the weapons at their disposal, expect the Pats to be a sure-bet playoff team once again.
Brandon Marshall Joins the Giants
Perhaps the most dynamic wide receiver duo this year will be in New York. Brandon Marshall has traded locker rooms at MetLife Stadium to line up opposite Odell Beckham Jr. The combination of Marshall and Beckham should give Eli Manning plenty of options downfield. With OBJ ranked 2nd overall among WR's on FantasyFootballNerd.com, you'll find Marshall ranked 29th. Think about that for a moment. With 32 teams in the league and as the WR2 on the roster, Marshall is ranked higher than at least three #1 rostered wide receivers. He's projected to haul in 72 receptions for 904 yards and 7 scores which would be higher than his stats from last year (60-787-3). Given his ADP, you're likely to see him go in the 5th-8th rounds making him a solid WR3 with upside.
Adrian Peterson Joins the Saints
Normally the addition of a 32-year-old running back wouldn't qualify for notable news, but even after suffering a season-ending knee injury, Adrian Peterson isn't your typical running back. From a fantasy perspective, this certainly impacts Mark Ingram. We don't know yet how Sean Payton will be managing the touches between these two players, but you can bet that Peterson will get his fair share. The FFN projections show the split between them at 181 for Ingram and 152 for AP. It wouldn't be any stretch of the imagination that Peterson will be this year's most valuable fantasy handcuff.
Alshon Jeffery Lands in Philadelphia
The Eagles' top receiver last year was Zach Ertz. What does it say about the passing game when the leading receiver is the Tight End? This year, Carson Wentz will have two new targets at this disposal. Alshon Jeffery adn Torrey Smith will serve as his first and second options when wants to spread the field. Jeffery is clearly the more talented of the two; however, he has a history of injuries that have limited his value. He's ranked 16th on FFN's draft rankings and projected to haul in 71 receptions for 980 yards and 6 scores. He's going to be a tempting pick in the first three rounds, but he carries additional risk that could come back to haunt you later in the season.
Marshawn Lynch Un-retires and Joins Raiders
Open up your bag of Skittles and get ready for some more media mumbling as Marshawn Lynch dons #24 (with the blessings of Charles Woodson) for the Black and Silver. Will he be the Beast Mode that we all remember? Probably not, but his rankings and projections have him as a legit RB2 for any fantasy team. His return should also bode well for Derek Carr and the passing game as it will force defenses to be honest. Lynch is projected for a heavy-ish workload with 215 carries for 908 yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. That's roughly 13 carries a game for a guy who just took a year off from the game and has only been an observer during OTA practices so far.
Danny Woodhead Joins the Ravens
Anyone in PPR formats who has had Danny Woodhead on their teams will be very interested in seeing what happens now that he's part of the backfield committee in Baltimore with Kenneth Dixon, Buck Allen, and Terrance West. It could be very difficult to repeat the 80 receptions for 755 yards in 2015 he had for the Chargers, but at 32 years old and fresh off a torn ACL that ended his season after Week 2 last year, Woodhead is still the back we'd want to own this year. Look for him to be your RB3 in all formats.
Jamaal Charles Signs with the Broncos
The Jamaal Charles that was once the #1 pick in fantasy football is not the same Charles that has landed in Denver. Ranked 44th among RB's on FantasyFootballNerd.com, Charles may struggle not only with the Broncos, but also with fantasy football owners. In 12-team leagues, he's barely an RB4. After tearing his ACL in 2015, undergoing meniscus surgery on the same knee the following year, and arthroscopic surgery on his other knee last year, there's not much to get excited about here. You're going to see his name on the draft board next month, and as tempting as his brand name might be, ask fantasy owners in 2015 if they regretted that pick.
Jaguars Draft Leonard Fournette
The odds-on favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year will be on someone's fantasy team. He's projected to get a heavy workload. FFN has him projected for 248 carries and 1,082 rushing yards with 8 trips to the endzone. He's ranked 11th among RB's on FFN putting him squarely in the RB1 category for fantasy drafts. The comparisons to Ezekiel Elliott are bound to happen, but lower your expectations. It's rare for a rookie to make that kind of fantasy impact, and Jacksonville line isn't the same as the Dallas line. That being said, even though there's always some risk in drafting a rookie, Fournette is a pick that we'd be willing to pull the trigger on. We anticipate him making fantasy owners awfully happy this year.
Latavius Murray Lands in Minnesota
We fully anticipate Latavius Murray to be the starter in Minnesota come Week 1, but Dalvin Cook will be hot on his heels as the future starter for the Vikings. Our projections show Cook getting the majority of touches by the end of the season; however, the presence of both players dilutes their fantasy values considerably. Cook is ranked 24th and Murray is ranked two rounds later at 37th.
Eddie Lacy Signs with Seattle
Lacy has made progress with his weight this year and should be fresh after missing most of last season. He'll face his old team in Week 1 so perhaps that's where the motivation is coming from to keep his weight manageable. Here's yet another timeshare situation that we'll have to keep an eye on. Thomas Rawls will share touches with Lacy. Our projections show the split heavily favoring Lacy (192 touches to 109), so Lacy is the back to own here. Ranked 22nd among RB's, the value is there as your RB2 with upside potential.
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