Free agency and fantasy football
March 12, 2013 @ 18:57:15 PDT
The floodgates have opened, and free-agent moves are flowing steadily. What are the early fantasy football implications, you may ask?
Mike Wallace, wide receiver, Miami Dolphins: This offense could be surprisingly effective. They have a slot possession guy in Davone Bess, a deceivingly fast outside man in Brian Hartline, and now Wallace, who can take the top off a defense all day long. Running back Lamar Miller is lightning in a bottle and could give this backfield the spark it needs to take it to the next level. The only main concern right now is left tackle, with Jake Long testing the market.
Wallace could be a capable WR1 in fantasy, but you may be able to snag him cheaper than that because of perceived QB concerns.
Wes Welker, wide receiver, free agent: Talks with the New England Patriots have broken down, and reports say Welker will test the free-agent market. I still think he returns to the Pats, but this latest news is not encouraging. New England seemed quite intent on significantly limiting Welker's role in 2012 until Aaron Hernandez went down with an injury.
New England's brass would be foolish to think they can rely on both Rob Gronkowski and Hernandez to remain healthy for 16-plus games in the same season, and Welker is quarterback Tom Brady's most trusted target. It isn't smart to upset the Golden Boy.
Welker's fantasy value is up in the air, for the time being. He's a low-end No. 1 in PPR leagues and a quality WR2 in standard scoring, in best-case scenario, should he return to the Patriots.
Tony Gonzalez, tight end, Atlanta Falcons: Gonzo sided with the 5 percent of him that wasn't retired and will rejoin the Falcons with an imminent deal. He was unbelievable last season, but one more year has to make you pause. Gonzalez is a low-end No. 1 tight end with injury risk based on his age (37).
Percy Harvin, wide receiver, Seattle Seahawks: I really don't see Harvin's value changing much, if any, for the time being. That will change if Sidney Rice is cut. Harvin is more valuable in reception-rewarding formats, although he'll be one of many mouths to feed in an offense that runs through Marshawn Lynch's legs.
I can see Harvin being grossly overvalued by fantasy owners. He still has major durability concerns and is developing a reputation as a problem child. He is a No. 2 fantasy receiver in PPR leagues for me, depending on what remains on the board. I don't like him as anything more than a strong third in standard-scoring leagues, because he struggles to find the end zone and is not likely to improve upon that as long as Lynch is pounding the rock near the stripe.
Martellus Bennett, tight end, Chicago Bears: Interesting. I really don't know how I should feel about this one, but Bennett has some talent. Chicago needed a tight end with athleticism, but this show goes through Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. Bennett has excellent TE2 worth but is passable - although likely overvalued - as a No. 1.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback, free agent: Fitz was released by the Bills, which ensures they will target a quarterback in the NFL Draft or free agency. The Harvard product really has nowhere to go for a starting job, unless he enters the fray with the New York Jets or heads to the Arizona Cardinals. It is nearly impossible to gauge the value of Buffalo's skill position players without knowing their quarterback options, so stay tuned for more analysis of this situation down the line.
Anquan Boldin, wide receiver, San Francisco 49ers: The veteran receiver refused to take a pay cut, so he was dealt between the league's brother coaches. I question just how much faith the 49ers have in Mario Manningham (knee), and reports say he may not be ready for training camp. Boldin gives this offense a veteran presence, a sure pair of hands, and a player who knows how to step up his game when it matters most. Fantasy owners are left with a marginal WR4 who is entering the twilight of his career.
Beanie Wells, running back, free agent: Wells was given the axe, which wasn't particularly surprising. He cannot stay on the field and has trouble in short-yardage situations. Perhaps a fresh start could do him wonders. I like the New York Jets, St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and San Diego Chargers to be in play for Wells, but he won't be a primary back entering 2013. He has shaky No. 3 running back intrigue until his situation is more clearly defined.
Jared Cook, tight end, St. Louis Rams: Quarterback Sam Bradford was given a new midrange weapon to work with, and Cook could be exceptionally valuable in PPR leagues if Danny Amendola indeed departs. Cook has plenty of potential that he has yet to live up to for anything longer than a New York minute. I suspect he, too, will be an overrated commodity this summer.
Delanie Walker, tight end, Tennessee Titans: The athletic Walker appears to be in line for a starting job in Nashville. The Titans want to use a more wide-open offense, which will take advantage of Walker's speed down the seam. While we haven't seen what he can do in a featured role, Walker has enough potential to consider as a midrange backup option in fantasy circles.
Anthony Fasano, tight end, Kansas City Chiefs: Head coach Andy Reid's offense has always featured the tight end position with moderate success. Fantasy owners should consider the veteran Fasano a sly sleeper target as a backup in deeper leagues.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, wide receiver, free agent: DHB will hit the market and see what is out there for him. Until he lands, his value is nothing better than a fourth fantasy wideout.
Jerome Felton, fullback, Minnesota Vikings: Running back Adrian Peterson's lead blocker is returning, which is great news for No. 28 being able to punish defenses All Day in 2013. Peterson is a top-two pick in fantasy football drafts.
Check out KFFL's full free-agent tracker to keep up with the madness that is underway.
Also see: Free Agency and Fantasy Football: Day 2
About Cory J. Bonini
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors. Follow @CoryKFFL
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