Now that the dust is beginning to settle on the NFL's whirlwind free agency period, a few of our staff members got together to discuss the following topics:
Matt Forte appeared to land in an ideal situation with the Jets, but it didn’t take long for New York to re-sign Bilal Powell and add Khiry Robinson to their backfield mix. Are you targeting Forte as a member of the Jets or avoiding him?
Jeff Tefertiller: I am avoiding Forte this season. He hauled in at least 50 receptions in all but two of his seasons in Chicago. Even in an injury-shortened 2015 campaign (13 games), Forte had 44 catches. These receptions have buoyed his fantasy value. It is doubtful that he can sustain the number of catches in New York. I cannot get behind a 30-year old running back switching to a less-favorable situation, with two capable backs behind him on the depth chart. Let the other owners chase Forte while you nab Bilal Powell and Khiry Robinson on the cheap instead. The Jets gave Powell almost as much money as they handed Forte, so the investment - and expectation level - is real.
John Norton: I would not use the term avoiding when it comes to Forte though I do agree with Jeff T that his value is somewhat diminished in his new situation. It is a given he will not have as many targets in the passing game, but Forte should run the ball plenty this season. If the Jets viewed Powell as a feature back they would have given him the keys to the Caddy by now. New York did give Powell similar money to Forte as Jeff pointed out, but that had more to do with Forte’s age and this year’s running back rich market. With a 31 year old back comes the risk of injury so the team wisely covered their backs by adding quality (reasonably priced) young runners to fill out the depth chart. I believe Forte will have every opportunity to claim the lion's share of opportunity (think 65% of running back touches) so long as he shows he deserves it. While Forte is certainly not an RB1 target for me, I would be happy to nab him as a reasonably priced RB2 in these days of running back by committee in the NFL.
Jeff Haseley: As Jeff T pointed out, Matt Forte's strength has long been his pass-catching ability, which seems to be a good fit with the Jets and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. The Jets went from 57 running back receptions in 2014 (28th in the league) to 94 receptions in 2015 (9th in the league). Bilal Powell led the running back corps with 47 receptions last year, while Chris Ivory chipped in 30 himself. It is assumed Forte will be the Jets primary back, but there is the threat of Powell vulturing some of the team's receptions. We may start to see Forte's involvement decrease this year, but he still projects to be a top-15 running back and should be drafted as such.
Will Grant: I've watched Forte for many years here in Chicago, and it will be sad to see him in a new uniform next season. That being said, he's got a lot of miles on his 30 year old body, and his best years are clearly behind him. The Jets were smart to sign backup running backs because with over 2500 career touches, Forte probably doesn't have another 300 touch season in him anymore.
I'm with John - I wouldn't avoid Forte completely but I expect that someone else will see him as a high RB2 or even RB1 in a PPR league. My expectations are more of a mid-range RB2 with some upside in a PPR league but probably not a RB1 status anymore.
Phil Alexander: If everything goes according to plan for the Jets, it's doubtful we'll see Forte rack up any of those 25-30 touch games we came to know and love during his time with the Bears. I saw nothing last year from Forte to suggest a steep decline in efficiency is coming in 2016, but a reduced workload should cap his ceiling in the high RB2 range. If you can draft him for that price, I'm all for it. As Jeff H alluded to, Chan Gailey offenses have produced at least 80 running back receptions in each of his last three seasons as a head coach or offensive coordinator, and Forte is still at his best catching passes out of the backfield. We can pencil him for a minimum of three catches per game to go along with 15-18 carries most weeks.
Chris Feery: While I won’t necessarily be avoiding Forte, I agree with the majority that it will be wise to temper expectations for 2016. We have a 30-year-old back with a lot of tread on his tires heading to a new environment, which just happens to be one with a currently uncertain quarterback situation. As of this writing, the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick have not made any progress on negotiations, which opens up some risk that the team may take a step backward offensively with a new signal caller at the helm. That being said, Forte can still produce at a solid level in 2016, but it likely won’t be at a workhorse type of production level.
Justin Howe: When I see a team pair co-lead running backs with particularly similar skill sets, I immediately assume they don't have faith in either. Perhaps Forte's age and recent injuries were a concern, or perhaps they don't envision him as a truly complete back. But in any event, the Jets paid Forte significantly less than the rest of the free agent running back crop. Backs who've signed similar deals over the last two years include Shane Vereen, Roy Helu, Toby Gerhart, and Donald Brown - veteran reinforcements, not offensive focal points or even necessarily starters. Suffice it to say that the Jets' interest in the old(er) man is present, but not overwhelming. It's unlikely he'll be installed as the Jets' workhorse, but he's being drafted that way so far (currently the RB14 in MFL10 drafts, going in Round 4 on average).
If the consensus is that Forte will no longer be a workhorse with the Jets, where does that leave Bilal Powell? Do you view him as something more than a handcuff?
Chris Feery: As we saw towards the end of last season, the Jets are clearly high on Powell and his fit in the Chan Gailey offense. For the month of December, he averaged about 12 touches per game. That may be a good benchmark for where we can pencil him in for the upcoming season.
John Norton: My biggest concern for Forte is that Powell takes on the majority of the goal line work.
Will Grant: I agree there, John. Inability to score has always been a knock on Forte. He's been through several coaching changes in Chicago now, and still can't seem to find the end zone more than eight or nine times a season. The Jets are almost certainly going to give Forte the majority of the carries, but it could very easily be a 60-40 split with Powell getting most of the red zone touches.
Phil Alexander: Over the last two seasons, the league average touchdown conversion rate on carries from inside the opponent’s five yard line is 37%. Forte has converted just 24%, so it would make sense for the Jets to give Powell a shot at the goal line. I’m not underestimating his involvement between the twenties either. In the first three games last season (before suffering an ankle injury that cost him four games), Powell averaged 15.6 touches per game to Chris Ivory's 22. And as fantasy owners who rode him to a 2015 championship will tell you, Powell was phenomenal once he got healthy. He ranked as the PPR RB4 from Weeks 11-16, with averages of 5.3 receptions and nearly 50 receiving yards per game. It's clear the Jets coaching staff loves Powell and if he looks anything like the player we saw during last year's stretch run, he'll have standalone value in PPR leagues as more than just Forte's handcuff.
Justin Howe: As Phil points out, Powell isn't just a pass catcher. He proved his worth to the offense last offseason and took hold of a fair share of touches from Chris Ivory. If Ivory is a superior runner to 2016 Forte (and he is), then I feel comfortable expecting a slightly increased rushing role. That said, if the Jets had any faith in Powell as anything close to a bellcow, they likely wouldn't have added a big name (and Forte likely wouldn't sign if he'd gotten that sense). Powell isn't a special runner, and with fewer targets coming his way, he'll probably need an injury to seize weekly RB3 utility.
Both Ladarius Green and Coby Fleener presumably landed starting jobs in high-scoring offenses, Dwayne Allen no longer has to compete with Fleener for targets in Indianapolis, and Eric Ebron figures to take on a more prominent role in Detroit’s passing game due to Calvin Johnson’s retirement. Which one of these tight ends do you see making the biggest statistical leap next season?
Jeff Tefertiller: Fleener landed in the best situation. In 2015, he had his highest number of catches (54) and lowest yards per reception (9.1) of his short career. Yes, the Colts offense was a mess, but the opportunity was there. Considering Ben Watson finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end last season, Fleener has a chance to be a solid fantasy starter. He should put up better numbers than either Ebron or Allen. Green is the interesting one. The Steelers will throw a ton, and the targets will be plenty for the young tight end, especially with Martavis Bryant suspended. He should be viewed in the same tier as Fleener with a little more upside and higher floor. Unless Fleener gets back to his higher yards per reception average (15.2 in 2014), he might struggle for fantasy points many weeks unless he’s getting red zone targets.
John Norton: Eric Ebron's career is off to a slow start, but he is a good receiving tight end and the absence of Calvin Johnson will be a factor. I like his chances of becoming a fantasy contributor but will stop short of saying I am high on him. Fleener however is a different story. He doesn't block particularly well, but is an excellent receiving threat. This is the same way we describe Jimmy Graham, who was a monster in the Saints offense, especially in the redzone. Ben Watson has moved on and Josh Hill might be on his way to the Bears. There is plenty of risk Fleener will flop, but he has the right skill set and opportunity to realize his potential in New Orleans.
Justin Howe: Allen's and Fleener's careers have gone just as expected once the Colts drafted Andrew Luck: rarely used between the 20s, but thrown to heavily near the goal line. That's why I'll always believe in Dwayne Allen, who's drawn eight targets from inside the 10 (and five from inside the 5) over his last 26 games. Even if he remains a 40-catch type of guy, he could easily reach 8-10 touchdowns. He's a much better best ball option than a standard one, but all owners need to be mindful of his massive touchdown potential.
Fleener carries even stronger upside. He's upped his game since being one of football's least efficient tight ends at the start of his career, but remains a catch-first target up the seams and in the red zone. And at that, he's been very effective. Fleener's 2014 was, at times, a thing of beauty - 51-774 is all you could ask of a TE fighting for snaps AND targets in a crowded passing game, and his 16 catches of 20+ yards and eight touchdowns were elite. Clearly, Fleener can produce when given snaps, and he'll have next-to-no competition at tight end in New Orleans. A high-volume offense that trails a lot and lacks reliable targets is a picture-perfect landing spot for a guy like this.
But the most exciting option, as always, is Green. Oh, Ladarius and your monstrous athletic gifts. Your absurd playmaking prowess. We bow at thy altar, especially as you jump into a Garden of Eden type of situation.
Put it this way - even with Heath Miller's game winding down noticeably, Pittsburgh fed him 5.5 targets a game as a strict dump-off option over the last two years. Green, however, is a downfield playmaker - and Ben Roethlisberger just loves that. Consider just how deeply Martavis Bryant was woven into the passing game from Day One, then incorporated as an all-around target in his second year. This offense greatly values instinctive wideouts that can use their tools (Antonio Brown's quickness, Bryant's size and athleticism, Mike Wallace's speed, etc.) to win short-area battles over the middle. Green is so loaded with physical tools - a blazing 4.45 40-yard dash and strong jump numbers at the 2012 NFL Combine, all at a towering 6'6" and 238 pounds.
Green's price tag is fairly steep (MFL10 ADP since signing in Pittsburgh: 96.8, Round 9), so he's hard to catch in early drafts at the moment. Just don't let him slip from your mind, and don't forget just how absurdly gifted the man is. He deserves to be a top-10 TE off the board, and his dynasty value is significantly higher than that.
Will Grant: Green's probably the best of this group, but as Justin mentions, his price tag is a bit higher than you'd hope at this point. The others have already given lots of good info on Green, Fleener, and Allen, so I’ll go in a different direction. I'm keeping my eye on Martellus Bennett as a late round flyer. The guy has great physical skills and creates match-up issues, especially in the short passing game. With the move to New England, he'll be starting opposite Rob Gronkowski and drawing significantly weaker coverage with Julian Edelman on the outside. Last season, Tom Brady was begging for someone to catch the ball, and did reasonably well despite being short handed again. Bennett gives him another great option. He has an outside shot at being a starter in a 12 team fantasy league, and if Gronkowski goes down to injury as he typically does, Bennett could easily become a top five TE during that stretch.
Chris Feery: All great points so far. Of the tight ends mentioned, I like Fleener to take the biggest statistical leap in 2016. Flashing back to last year, many were high on Josh Hill to provide plug-and-play production reminiscent of the departing Jimmy Graham. Lo and behold, Ben Watson swooped in and stole Hill’s thunder, finishing the season as a Top 10 TE in the process. Look for Fleener to pick up where the now departed Watson left off, and perhaps even exceed his production as a new toy for Drew Brees down in New Orleans.
Will any of these tight ends be overvalued in 2016 fantasy drafts?
Jeff Tefertiller: I’m often guilty of chasing upside at the tight end position without looking at why the player has yet to break out, and I’m determined not to make the same mistake this year. Ebron is overvalued until he proves he is past the dropped passes and mental mistakes. I was very high on Ebron coming out, but he has done little to elicit confidence in fantasy owners. Allen is similar in that he has the physical tools to succeed, but is hindered by injuries. The major injuries make Allen difficult to endorse, especially on a team which asks him to stay in and block frequently and does not throw to the tight end as much as fantasy owners would like.
John Norton: Green had plenty of opportunity to shine while Antonio Gates was banged up over the past couple of years. He made a few plays but was unimpressive in my opinion. With the retirement of Heath Miller, I think second year pro Jesse James is the guy to watch in Pittsburgh. Having been an Allen owner in several dynasty leagues over the past couple years, I sometimes wonder if the Colts even realize the tight end is an eligible receiver. If you combine the numbers of Fleener and Allen from last season you get a decent backup tight end. So I am not all that excited about Allen.
Will Grant: I agree with the 'show me' aspect of Eric Ebron's potential in Detroit. You could just as easily see their passing game take a big hit with teams spreading around their coverage more now that they don't have to double-team Calvin Johnson. If Ebron can't separate or frequently drops passes, he's going to be just as irrelevant now as he was last season.
Chris Feery: I’m with the majority on Ebron, it’s clearly time for him to step up – but I won’t be holding my breath waiting for it to happen. As for Green, if we flash back to the preseason of last year, the consensus opinion that we would finally see his coming out party due to the impending suspension of Antonio Gates. It failed to materialize, and while Green possesses phenomenal athletic ability, it may be time to realize that those gifts just may not translate into consistent production. That being said, he finds himself in a great situation in the Pittsburgh passing game, so maybe we'll finally see the breakout we’ve been hoping for.
Brock Osweiler signed a four year, $72 million contract ($37 million fully guaranteed) to be Houston’s starting quarterback. Clearly they’re expecting him to be a significant upgrade over Brian Hoyer. Do you agree with the Texans’ opinion of Osweiler?
Jeff Tefertiller: Osweiler did not play well as a starter last season, even in the conservative Broncos offense. The Texans will be disappointed if they’re expecting Osweiler to step in and lead the team to a 10-win season.
John Norton: I thought Osweiler played well at times, though I agree he was not consistent enough to earn the fat contract Houston threw at him. But how much was his productivity affected by game plans and conservative coaching? I thought he showed plenty of arm strength and accuracy to get the ball down field when he did go there. Ultimately, it’s hard to judge Osweiler on all of seven NFL starts. I like his upside and potential but he has a lot to prove. Consider him as a fantasy backup with some long term upside at this point. Is he an upgrade over Hoyer? The jury is still out on that one, but I doubt he will be a step in the wrong direction for Houston as Hoyer will never be more than a quality backup in NFL terms.
Will Grant: I'm with John and Jeff that the Brock Osweiler signing is a giant question mark. I don't think he played well enough to warrant a monster free agent contract and the fact that Houston paid so much for him up front speaks to the complete lack of quarterbacks on the open market in the NFL. I really don't see Osweiler as that significant of an upgrade to the Houston passing game. Many people were quick to point out that Peyton Manning wasn't much more than a game manager in the playoffs for the Broncos, and they let their defense carry them to the Super Bowl win. If that's the case (and I think it was), what does that say about Osweiler? Yes, it made a great story in the end, but if the Broncos thought Osweiler gave them a better chance to win, he'd have been the starter 100 times out of 100. The fact that the Broncos were not willing to spend a ton to retain him knowing that Manning was going to retire should have been a clue. I don't think they saw Sanchez as a 'better' option, but they were not going to break the bank to retain a QB that really wasn't going to be their future. I think Houston returns to what they were last season - a team to avoid for fantasy unless you can get DeAndre Hopkins.
Chris Feery: I agree with Jeff – I don’t view the loss of Osweiler as a huge blow to the Broncos. Quite frankly, I think the Texans overpaid and will find that Osweiler is not that much of an upgrade over Hoyer – if any. They likely would have been better served with a veteran at the helm and looking for their quarterback of the future in the upcoming draft.
Justin Howe: Like the rest of the guys, I think the Texans got trigger-happy in their quarterback search and landed on something of a dud. Osweiler looks like a backup talent, and while his contract isn't deadly, it's still crippling if he's indeed not the answer (dead money totals of $25M next offseason and $6M in 2018).
And for what? Is he expected to revitalize, or even manage, the Texans' passing game after the poor 2015 he posted? Last year, Demaryius Thomas posted only a slightly better adjusted yards per attempt (AYA) number with Osweiler (a very poor 6.2) than with the remains of Peyton Manning (5.8). In fact, only slotman Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Owen Daniels saw strong AYAs alongside Osweiler. In other words, Osweiler's massive size and supposedly cannon-like arm didn't boost anything as planned, and he still lived/died on the backs of his dumpoff targets. And what really caught me was how blah Osweiler was in the red zone. He completed just 47.4% of his throws there, and his 18.4% RZ touchdown rate was among the lowest in football.
All told, I'm bracing for a poor, Hoyer-esque campaign, one that's barely worth drafting in any fantasy format. There's moderate upside - Hoyer found himself in fantasy relevance at times in 2015, thanks to volume from trailing late in several games. But after seeing Osweiler in action, I expect similar inefficiency in Houston, but with less margin for error - Denver's defense was historically great for stretches, making things that much easier for him. I'm confident he'll lock up and struggle mightily without the benefit of big leads.
What does Osweiler mean for DeAndre Hopkins’ fantasy value?
Jeff Tefertiller: I actually see Hopkins getting fewer targets (especially deep) with Osweiler. Hoyer would throw the ball up deep and expect the star receiver to go up and get it. Osweiler is too timid to throw 50-50 balls deep and trust his receiver.
John Norton: I have a hard time imagining Hopkins’ numbers will go down. The Texans gave Osweiler a lot of money because they have confidence in his ability to make all the throws. If anything I can see Hopkins targets going up as young quarterbacks often tend to lock onto their best receiver as a crutch. Lets face it, unless the Texans address the receiver and/or tight end positions Osweiler is not going to have an abundance of quality options.
Chris Feery: We saw what Hopkins did last season with less than stellar play from the quarterback position. As Keyshawn Johnson once proclaimed about his own abilities – just give him the damn ball. Hopkins will figure it out once he has it in his hands.
Jeff Tefertiller: I am on record with Mark Sanchez (or other veteran acquired) as an upgrade over Osweiler. The transition should not impact the Broncos receivers. The offense was fairly conservative in 2015 and the receivers should see similar numbers if healthy.
John Norton: Even if Denver fails to add a better veteran talent than Mark Sanchez, there is no need to downgrade the Denver receivers. Sanchez will make mistakes that cost his team games, but he is capable of getting the ball to his receivers often enough for them to post good numbers. Unless Sanders or Thomas start losing points for interceptions thrown by the quarterback, they will be fine.
Will Grant: As others have mentioned, I'd hold steady on Thomas and Sanders. It was criminal how much Thomas underperformed last season, and he was frequently the guy many DFS players were expecting to have that 'get right' game that never really happened. He finished the season with 1300 yards on 105 receptions, but only reached the end zone six times and definitely didn't live up to the 2nd round pick that most people spent to get him last year. Expect more of the same from Thomas and Sanders this year - 1100-1300 yards and six or seven touchdowns. Solid, if not special numbers. The Broncos will continue to be a defense driven team, and I don't see them adding anyone to the mix to change that at this point.
Chris Feery: I’m with the others as far as placing a hold on Sanders and Thomas. I don’t think we’ll see much of a dip regardless of who is at the helm, and I think we may even see a bump with a live-armed quarterback behind center. I’m admittedly a Sanchez apologist and stand firmly in my belief that he got a raw deal with the Jets (thank you for helping us get to back-to-back AFC title games, you can show yourself out now). Assuming the Broncos signed him without other moves in mind, I see him being a nice fit in the offense. Will he be a Top 10 quarterback? No, but what most people tend to forget is this – there’s a tier right outside the top-10 jockeying for position each year that could leap right into it with the right set of circumstances. Not saying Sanchez finds himself there this year, but I can easily see him in the next tier down in 2016, offering up some consistent QB2 production in the process.
Are any recent transactions flying under the radar for fantasy purposes?
Jeff Tefertiller: The transaction I liked most received very little ink -- the Saints allowing Khiry Robinson to walk in favor of Tim Hightower. Hightower played well down the stretch last season and is a very solid dynasty stash given Mark Ingram's injury history. In addition, Zach Miller re-signing in Chicago right before the Martellus Bennett trade received little press. Many forgot about Miller after his stint in Jacksonville, but he is very athletic (a former QB at Nebraska-Omaha). In the last three games of 2015, Miller led fantasy owners to championships with 18 receptions for 211 yards. He has a chance to sneak into the TE1 conversation in 2016.
Phil Alexander: I'm a little torn on MIller. When I first heard about the Martellus Bennett trade, I immediately thought of the 2015 stretch run Jeff T pointed out and my gut reaction was that Miller would make a fine (and sneaky) back-end TE1 target. When I said as much on Twitter, our pal Sigmund Bloom was quick to remind me the Bears played their last two games with Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, and Marquess Wilson all on the sidelines. With Jeffery coming back next season and Kevin White finally healthy, Miller will no longer have the benefit of being the last man standing in Chicago. And with tight end looking a lot deeper than it did last season (see Question #2) I see Miller as more of a tight end streamer than someone you want to rely on week-to-week.
Jeff Tefertiller: Great point on the depleted Bears offense down the stretch, Phil. But one thing to consider is the loss of Forte - and his 3-4 receptions per game. There is upside for the Bears tight end, in my opinion.
Will Grant: Agreed, Jeff. It's hard to compare apples to apples because there were so many changes in the Chicago offense over the last two years, but White hasn't played a down yet for Chicago and Alshon Jeffery battled injuries for much of the 2015 season. With Forte and Bennett gone, and question marks at the WR position, I think Miller has a reasonable chance to make an impact. He's a sneaky pick that could have low TE1 potential in an offense that will look to redefine itself again this season.
Chris Feery: I’m also in on Miller as having sneaky TE1 upside. Jeff touched on Miller's solid close to 2015, and while we can't expect that kind of production on a weekly basis, the potential is certainly there.
Jeff Haseley: I’m with the majority on MIller in Chicago, but I'd also like to include Ryan Mathews as someone with increased fantasy value in Philadelphia by virtue of DeMarco Murray being traded to Tennessee. It's still a possibility that Philadelphia will draft a running back to compete with Mathews, but it's looking like he will have a considerable role in Doug Pederson's offense (at least for now). The running back position was instrumental in the Chiefs offensive attack during Pederson's tenure as offensive coordinator. Mathews' yards per carry average has increased each of the last three years going from 4.4 to 4.5 to 5.0 yards per carry in 2015. As the veteran rushing presence on the team, save Darren Sproles, Mathews could be called upon to handle more of a load in 2016.
Will Grant: I also like an NFC East running back here Jeff, but I’m going with Washington’s Chris Thompson. The Cowboys signing of Alfred Morris clears the path for Thompson to take over the starting job. Thompson was under the radar for most of the season, but after Morris and young Matt Jones couldn't get it done, Thompson was given his chance and did a reasonable job with it. He averaged more than six yards per touch in his limited appearances, and Washington made sure to re-sign him this offseason. Jones will certainly see some time and there is always the possibility that Washington could add another back in the draft , but for now, it looks like Thompson is the guy to have from the Washington backfield and he has the upside to be a solid RB2, especially in a PPR league.
Chris Feery: Love the call, Will. Morris to the Cowboys opens things up for Thompson. I don't expect him to be handed the lead back role outright, but in a war of attrition through camp and the early part of the season, I like him by a solid half length over Jones.
Justin Howe: Chris Hogan came to the Patriots cheaply (3yr/$12M) for a starting-caliber wideout, and that stands out as the best under-the-radar pickup thus far. He may have the reputation of an athletically-challenged slot guy, but note that Hogan posted better agility and explosion numbers at his Combine than ex-teammate Sammy Watkins did at his. He did it at a great size (6'1", 220 pounds), and has experience playing both inside and out. Hogan is no slouch, and he steps into an offense that's finished 5th, 7th, and 7th the last three years in pass attempts and needs to replace gobs of targets from Brandon LaFell and perhaps Danny Amendola.
At this point, I'm comfortable expecting Hogan to play nearly every down alongside Julian Edelman. If that's the case, and he claims some mixture of LaFell's and Amendola's roles, he'd be hard-pressed to land below 95-100 targets. With the high completion rates and touchdown numbers in that offense, he has the look of a 65-850-7 type of guy with upside for more. And that upside is easily worth his almost-free cost in early fantasy drafts. But beware - beat reports over the summer will probably hype him much closer to his real value.
Which free agency period transaction are you most excited about for 2016 fantasy purposes?
Jeff Tefertiller: If the Broncos do not trade for Colin Kaepernick, I really like the chances of Mark Sanchez becoming a Top 15 fantasy quarterback. Yes, Denver will likely draft a quarterback (Connor Cook would be my guess), but Kubiak loves veterans.
Chris Feery: I'll second all of Jeff's thoughts on Sanchez. Barring other moves, I'll pencil him in as a top-15 quarterback, but I also fully expect the Broncos to draft a quarterback if they enter the season with Sanchez at the helm. Connor Cook also sticks in my mind as a potential target, so apparently Jeff and I have recently shared some Kool-Aid from afar.
Jeff Haseley: Lamar Miller was criminally misused by the Dolphins coaching staff in Miami and therefore was wildly inconsistent week to week. Despite that he still managed to put up a top-10 ranking in each of the last two years. Miller has prime years remaining and I expect the Texans offensive staff to use him like they did Arian Foster. I'm expecting a 1,000 yard rushing season with 50-plus receptions and ultimately a Top 7-12 finish with the number of touchdowns being the determining factor in how successful he'll be.
Chris Feery: Exactly, Jeff. Miller is stepping into a running back’s dream offense, and appears to have workhorse level production in his future. Combine that with his home run ability, and we're looking at a very intriguing running back for 2016.
John Norton: Being an IDP guy, this question opens the door for me to send our IDP subscribers some love. There are two signings I am excited about. Danny Trevathan never returned to an every down role in 2015. Coming off a serious injury, he was eased back into the fold early on. By season’s end he was playing 85-90% of the snaps while Brandon Marshall was the every down guy. Over the final three games, Trevathan had 21 solo stops and eight assists. He is now two years removed from the injury and set to be the centerpiece of a Bears defense that has given us some outstanding linebacker production over the past twenty years. Trevathan is a proven playmaker who will be a three down player in a target rich environment.
The other move that excites me is Mario Williams going to Miami. It’s no secret Williams in not a fan of the 3-4 scheme, or that he was unhappy playing under Rex Ryan. Not only was Williams able to escape Buffalo, he landed in a aggressive 4-3 which fits his skill set perfectly. I look for him to once again join the ranks of the 40+ solo tackle and double digit sack defensive linemen. Welcome back Mario, we missed you last year!
There are three other moves worth honorable mention. Demario Davis to Cleveland, Kiko Alonso to Miami and Keenan Robinson to the Giants. All three of these guys stand to prosper in their new situations and have returned to our IDP radar.
Will Grant: I'll second John's love of Chicago signing Trevathan. The Bears have holes at every position on defense, and bringing in Trevathan is a step in the right direction. He's going to see plenty of opportunity as the Bears struggle to put pressure on the quarterback, and that will translate into a mountain of tackles and assists for a guy with Trevathan's talent. Chicago is still in the early stages of rebuilding, and it could take at least another year or two before they will be a competitive team again. That means Trevathan's numbers should be rock solid for the next two seasons in Chicago.
I also like the Titans going after Rishard Matthews. The offense in Tennessee was pretty horrible last season, and their total lack of a quality wide receivers was pretty obvious. When Delanie Walker is your top receiver and the next closest wideout has a third of his catches, you know they need help. Matthews showed a little potential last season, despite his limited action. If he can stay healthy and integrate into the Titans offense, he could quickly become their top receiving option.
Justin Howe: I really like the Buccaneers keeping Doug Martin on board. Martin isn't a perfect back - he struggles in short yardage and has typically been among the league's least efficient receiving backs. But Tampa Bay was just flushed with cash and cap room, so they made the right call in keeping a dynamic rusher to build around. And he'll be needed and utilized plenty in Dirk Koetter's unit. Koetter is a bright offensive mind who likes to lean VERY heavily on his top players, whether in the pass game (Julio Jones/Roddy White/Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta) or the run (Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville). It's clear that Koetter would rather follow his talent than try to shoehorn his guys into his own idea of a picture-perfect offense. As a result, some of the Charles Sims love we've seen should probably fade a bit, because Martin could easily push for another rushing title.
How about signings you didn’t like from a fantasy perspective?
John Norton: The trade of Chandler Jones to Arizona all but kills his fantasy value. This is a great move for the Cardinals, but Jones will now shift from the defensive end designation where he was a stud, to outside linebacker where his value will only be realized in big play based scoring systems.
Will Grant: The signing of Alfred Morris makes a questionable Dallas backfield even more of a mess. Darren McFadden had a serviceable season given the implosion of the Cowboys offense, but he's never been the most healthy guy and 250 touches is about all you can expect from him. The Cowboys cut ties with Joseph Randle and Christine Michael, but their numbers were nothing to get excited about anyway. Now add Alfred Morris to the mix and it looks like another season of questionable performance for the running back position in Dallas. Morris averaged just 3.7 yards per carry last season. Add in only 10 receptions for a putrid 5.5 yards per catch and you have to wonder what he's going to contribute in his fifth season. Unless McFadden is injured next year, Morris will be even less relevant than he was in 2015.
Justin Howe: It's hard to like Mohamed Sanu in Atlanta (or anywhere). He's simply one of the league's poorest full-time receivers, with shaky hands and ho-hum athleticism that have resulted in just 11 touchdowns across 57 career games (a weak 7.2% touchdown rate that doesn't suggest big things are coming). Sanu would likely need extraordinary volume to return fantasy WR3 value, but that likely won't be available in Atlanta. Their passing game is thoroughly Julio Jones-centric, and even though Jones' looks will almost certainly drop, everyone else's will come first - there's zero chance Sanu was brought in to do anything Jones can't.
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