Free Agency and Fantasy Football: Day 2

      March 13, 2013 @ 18:08:08 PDT

Free agency's second day of action brought about some interesting developments, no more controversial than wide receiver Wes Welker walking away from the New England Patriots' two-year, $10 million offer to accept a pact worth $2 million more with the Denver Broncos.

Welker has been involved in an ongoing saga over his contract for the last 18 months or so with the Pats, and the writing was on the wall. Clearly, to me, anyway, the Patriots simply didn't want him around. Wide receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Aaron Hernandez were utilized in Welker's role as an underneath slot wideout. Welker felt disrespected. Denver has Super Bowl aspirations and a guy named Peyton Manning. Sold.

Danny Amendola will replace Welker in New England. He's a similar receiver but has durability concerns and will need to build chemistry with Tom Brady. Don't expect that to happen right away. Gronk and Hernandez should see bigger roles in the passing game, assuming they can remain healthy.

Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots

I find this move to be curious on New England's part, although they likely will implement a slightly different offensive game plan going forward. Expect a lot of two-tight end sets and more power running with Stevan Ridley. Hernandez can play in the slot, while Amendola has experience playing outside. Brady's fantasy value is impacted somewhat. I see a reduction in yardage and touchdowns as a safe bet, without crunching the numbers yet. He'll remain a No. 1 fantasy quarterback, albeit closer to the middle of the pack.

The Detroit Lions signed running back Reggie Bush (Miami Dolphins) to a four-year deal. The electric back gives the Lions a backfield jitterbug with explosive playmaking ability, especially in the passing game.
Calvin Johnson's ability to take the top off a defense at any given time will force defenses to leave Bush to face six- and seven-man boxes with regularity. Count on some work from Mikel Leshoure around the stripe, which could limit Bush's touchdown total to modest numbers, which isn't anything unusual in his historical stat lines.

The Tennessee Titans added former New York Jets running back Shonn Greene to bolster their backfield and combo with the ever-dangerous Chris Johnson. The carry share ratio is unknown, but Greene's burly body bodes well for keeping CJ2K healthy and explosive. The former Iowa standout should see goal line work and could scarf scoring chances from Johnson, although the latter has always been a greater threat from distance than around the end zone.

Running back Rashard Mendenhall (Pittsburgh Steelers) followed his former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, now a head coach, to the Arizona Cardinals. A one-year deal and the departure of Beanie Wells means Mendy should be the primary ball carrier, but he will share work with Ryan Williams. At best, I see suspect No. 3 fantasy value from Mendenhall. Arizona's offensive line and quarterback mess will hold him back.

Statistical predictions

Welker: 84 receptions, 1,035 yards, six touchdowns
Amendola: 79 receptions, 903 yards, four touchdowns
Bush: 1,533 offensive yards, 73 receptions, nine total touchdowns
Greene: 542 rushing yards, six touchdowns
Mendenhall: 890 rushing yards, seven touchdowns

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Also see: Free Agency and Fantasy Football: Day 1

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.

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