Fantasy football free agent outlook

By now most of the pieces have fallen into place in the puzzle that is NFL free agency. While Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Jay Cutler have yet to find new homes, there have been quite a few moves that will affect the upcoming fantasy football season. Here’s a look at 15 of the biggest names, where they ended up and what kind of impact their new situations will have on fantasy football.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles—If you have any faith in Jeffery’s ability to stay healthy, this is the situation you want him to be in. Though he’s with a new team, he signed a one-year deal which automatically puts him in a contract year. He should be the No. 1 WR on the team, unless Jordan Matthews shows improvement. He’s a mid-level to high end WR2 with a second-year quarterback at the helm in Philly.

Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears walks across the field after another Bears turnover in the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on December 18, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Brandon Marshall, WR, Giants—Either this will turn out to be a major shot in the arm for an offense that is already pretty good, or Marshall’s interest in life outside football becomes even more apparent. He made sure he stayed in New York, which allows him to keep hosting Inside the NFL during the season. He called himself the No. 2, alongside Sterling Shepard, behind Odell Beckham Jr. Check out his ADP before you waste a WR2 spot on him. Do not reach for him.

Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins—It’s unclear whether or not he’ll be able to reproduce the numbers he put up in Cleveland. Josh Doctson should be healthy this season and Jamison Crowder is likely to be the No. 1 receiver on the team. Pryor is a unique talent and could end up recording similar numbers to last season, but there are a lot of mouths to feed in Washington especially if Jordan Reed can stay healthy.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Seahawks—You may not want to touch him with a ten-foot pole after last season. But that means he might be available on the cheap. I don’t think you can expect to take him as a No. 1 or No. 2 running back on your team with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise in Seattle. He’s going five RB spots after Thomas Rawls in some early mock drafts. If he slips to the sixth round, go ahead and give him a shot.

Kemal Ishmael #36 of the Atlanta Falcons defends against Eddie Lacy #27 of the Green Bay Packers in the second half at Lambeau Field on December 8, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

DeSean Jackson, WR, Buccaneers—If he can be himself for at least three quarters of the season, it will be a big help for Mike Evans owners. Evans had a monster season and that was with Adam Humphries being the second-most effective wideout. Jackson will be good for WR1 numbers in a handful of games but most likely a good flex option for most of the season.

Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings—His situation in Oakland has been really good for the past few years but he hasn’t been more than solid. He enters a much tougher situation in Minnesota so we’ll get a clearer picture of what kind of running back he really is. He’s going late in the third round in mock drafts, but even that is too early for me.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Packers—It always seems to be about potential with Bennett. He has a lot of it, but will this be the set of circumstances that will help him truly break out? If I had to choose, I’d say yes. Aaron Rodgers all but catches the ball for tight ends. He is going as early as the fourth round and as late as the 14th. Don’t pay too much, but if you get him late it could be a nice surprise.

Martellus Bennett #88 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the first half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Kenny Britt, WR, Browns—He has the talent and the size to put up solid WR2 numbers. He might put up numbers comparable to Pryor’s from 2016, but getting him early would be a risk.

Jared Cook, TE, Raiders—The playoff hero for Green Bay will try to add some firepower to a solid receiving corps. With Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree putting up nearly equal numbers on the outside, Cook could make some hay in the middle of the field.

Pierre Garcon, WR, 49ers—He’s reunited with his old coordinator from Washington in head coach Kyle Shanahan. The last time the two worked together, Garcon put up career numbers (113 receptions, 1,346 yards) with the Redskins in 2013. He should be the clear No. 1 in San Francisco and could do a lot worse than Brian Hoyer at quarterback.

Danny Woodhead, RB, Ravens—The versatile veteran puts a dent in the hopes people have for Kenneth Dixon. Woodhead will be a good dump off option and third down back for Baltimore.

Shaun Draughn, RB, Giants—This move is more about the impact it will have on Paul Perkins. The Giants signing Draughn seems to be a sign that they are happy with the backfield they have in place, meaning Perkins will have the best shot to be the 1st and 2nd down back.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots—Something tells me he may end up getting the ball in goal line situations. Dion Lewis and James White are threats to catch the ball out of the backfield so I would be surprised if Burkhead is anything more than a bye-week desperation play.

Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans tackles Rex Burkhead #33 of the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Brian Hoyer, QB, 49ers—He regains some fantasy relevance as the likely starter for the 49ers. He has some pieces to work with in Garcon and Carlos Hyde.

Mike Glennon, QB, Bears—Much like Hoyer, he may end up being serviceable in a pinch as a starter in Chicago.

Fantasy football Week 1 preview

It’s finally here.

The NFL season starts Thursday night as the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos in a Super Bowl rematch. With that kickoff, another fantasy football season gets underway.

Even if you’re not a fan of either team, it’s likely you’ll still be watching closely as a fantasy football owner.

If you drafted Cam Newton, you’ll be a Panthers fan for at least this season. And you’ll be rooting for the Broncos if you picked up Demaryius Thomas, Denver’s top wideout.

The opener represents a tough matchup for both of those players. Newton will have to withstand solid pressure from the Broncos’ pass rush while Thomas will have to help break in a new quarterback while also getting over last year’s case of the drops.

Regardless, both players have to be considered must-starts, alongside Greg Olsen and both defenses.

Moving on to Sunday’s action, one of the best matchups will pit Derek Carr against the Saints pass defense. The game is indoors, and Carr has Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Latavius Murray at his disposal. The third-year quarterback finished just outside the top-12 in standard leagues last season, and I expect him to enter that QB1 status this season.

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Another great situation this week could be the Chiefs’ Spencer Ware facing the San Diego run defense. The Chargers were 29th in points allowed to running backs last season, and Ware is getting the start for Jamaal Charles, who continues to recover from a torn ACL.

Switching to wide receivers, there’s no doubt that Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins will be must-starts all season, but don’t forget about Dez Bryant just because his starting quarterback is sidelined. Bryant is a proud competitor and desperately wants to show the NFL that he’s still a top-tier wideout.

He faces a Giants pass defense that was 26th in points allowed to wide receivers last season. And rookie quarterbacks like Dak Prescott tend to rely on their star players whereas veterans like Tony Romo will try to get the ball to the open receiver. Prescott may do well to just give Bryant chances to make plays.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) warms up before taking on the Houston Texans in a preseason NFL football game, Thursday Sept. 1, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) warms up before taking on the Houston Texans in a preseason NFL football game, Thursday Sept. 1, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

On the other side of the coin, Alshon Jeffery will face a tough defense this week. I’m not sold on him returning to previous form after an injury-plagued 2015 season. The Texans were fifth best in slowing receivers in fantasy scoring last year.

One running back I’d avoid starting this week would be Jeremy Hill. He’ll definitely split time with Gio Bernard and he’s facing the Jets, who were third best in points allowed to running backs last season. I do expect him to deliver more even output this season, not just one reliant on goal-line plays, but this is a bad matchup for him.

Finally, you may have to sit a typically solid fantasy quarterback if you’re a Philip Rivers owner. He’s not projected to do well against a good Chiefs defense that was fifth best in points allowed to quarterbacks last season. The Chiefs will be without Justin Houston, who is out with a knee injury, but if you have another QB with a better matchup, make that play instead.