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 4 preview

Fantasy owners already know who their must-start players are, but everyone has a few decisions to make when it comes to setting a lineup. We’re here to help with those tough decisions.

Each week this space will be dedicated to whom you should start or sit for your coming fantasy matchups.

Starts

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins — The Browns have given up at least 270 yards passing, 80 yards rushing and 25 points in every game this season. Cousins has had two good games in a row and should keep it rolling Sunday.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers — He failed to throw a touchdown pass last weekend, but he gets to face the Saints’ woeful defense. In fact, Rivers should be good to go for two straight weeks since he faces the Raiders in Week 5.

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Theo Riddick and/or Dwayne Washington, RB, Lions — They’ll face a Bears defense that gave up 140 yards to Ezekiel Elliott and three rushing touchdowns to three other Cowboys on Sunday night. There’s running room enough for both Lions to be productive.

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints — Owners breathed a sigh of relief last weekend when he finally found the end zone. He faces the Chargers’ defense, which is 26th-worst in points allowed to running backs.

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks — Though he faces a tough matchup in the Jets, he’s the main man right now, with Thomas Rawls out because of an injury. Volume of carries alone could make him worth the start.

Seattle Seahawks' Christine Michael carries against the San Francisco 49ers in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Seattle Seahawks’ Christine Michael carries against the San Francisco 49ers in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs — You’ll have to keep an eye on this one before kickoff. Jamaal Charles is listed as questionable, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that Charles was expected to make his debut Sunday night. If he’s out or limited, Ware gets to face a Steelers defense that is 28th in points allowed to running backs.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts — He’s likely to continue to play well against a Jaguars defense that has given up six touchdown passes and ranks 21st in points allowed to wideouts.

Travis Benjamin, WR, Chargers — He and Rivers should connect well against the Saints, who are 24th in points allowed to wide receivers.

Terrelle Pryor, WR, Browns — He’s been doing it all for Cleveland, and he should continue to make an impact against the Redskins, who struggle against wideouts.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) runs the ball during an NFL football gamea, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) runs the ball during an NFL football gamea, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Zach Miller, TE, Bears — He had good numbers in a losing effort last week, and he gets to face the Lions, who are last in points allowed to tight ends.

Sits

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Jets — The Jets’ play-caller was spectacularly bad last week against the Chiefs, throwing six picks. Facing the Seahawks is not going to help him get back into a groove.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants — He faces a Vikings defense that has five interceptions, 15 sacks and five forced fumbles this season. Minnesota’s great against the run, and if the Giants’ offense is one-dimensional, then Manning will suffer for it.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) and Washington Redskins' Chris Baker (92) react after Manning threw an interception during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) and Washington Redskins’ Chris Baker (92) react after Manning threw an interception during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders — Unfortunately he’s not the workhorse owners were thinking he’d be, as some carries go to Jalen Richard or DeAndre Washington. Will he score a TD for a fourth straight week? Probably not.

Quincy Enunwa, WR, Jets — With Eric Decker out, he’s the No. 2 wideout on the team, but he faces a tough Seahawks pass defense.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Steelers — Don’t be asleep at the wheel. Le’Veon Bell is back, so put Williams on your bench.

Tajae Sharpe, WR, Titans — He let me down last week in a good matchup, despite getting plenty of targets, so he’ll have to earn my trust again. He probably won’t do that this week against the Texans.

Fantasy football mock draft before dress rehearsal week

It’s dress rehearsal week for NFL teams so we should get a better look at the talent available for upcoming fantasy drafts. Before a majority of those games kicked off, I decided to take another look at where players are going in a mock draft. With a better idea of players average draft positions (ADP), I think I assembled a high value team. There were a couple of missteps along the way, though.

You can see my first mock draft here and my second one here. Here’s what I ended up with this time around, drafting in a 12-team standard league.

  • Round (overall pick)–Player, pos., team
  • 1st (8)–DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans
  • 2nd (17)–Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
  • 3rd (32)–Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
  • 4th (41)–Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders
  • 5th (56)–Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos
  • 6th (65)–Drew Brees, QB, Saints
  • 7th (80)–Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars
  • 8th (89)–Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars
  • 9th (104)–Michael Thomas, WR, Saints
  • 10th (113)–Julius Thomas, TE, Jaguars
  • 11th (128)–DeAndre Washington, RB, Raiders
  • 12th (137)–Panthers Defense/special teams
  • 13th (152)–Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
  • 14th (161)–Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals
  • 15th (176)–Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
  • 16th (185)–Chris Boswell, K, Steelers

My first four picks went as well as could be expected. I took DeAndre Hopkins with the eighth pick and he’s going one spot higher in most drafts. Ezekiel Elliott was taken seventh, allowing me to snag Hopkins.

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) keeps his balance after a catch against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Houston, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) keeps his balance after a catch against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Houston, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Jamaal Charles was available at No. 17 because someone picking 16th reached for Doug Martin, even though he’s normally taken around the 25th spot.

Taking Keenan Allen with the 32nd pick was very nice since that’s about 10 spots lower than his ADP. Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins, Demaryius Thomas, Alshon Jeffery and Amari Cooper went ahead of him.

Latavius Murray was my fourth pick, taken six spots after his ADP. He’s expected to do it all for Oakland so I felt comfortable having taken two good WR1s and a proven RB1.

My biggest mistake came in selecting Emmanuel Sanders nearly 20 spots before his ADP. A minute goes by fast so make sure you have the appropriate amount of windows open while drafting online. I missed out on Andrew Luck, Michael Floyd, Frank Gore and Ben Roethlisberger.

Drew Brees and Allen Hurns made me feel better in the next two rounds. Brees was available six spots after his ADP while Hurns was available 20 spots after his. Hurns also started a run of Jaguars for me. Before you judge, let me explain.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns (88) makes a catch for a 24-yard touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns (88) makes a catch for a 24-yard touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Chris Ivory was too good to pass up in the eighth round as he was available 25 (!) spots lower than his ADP. He’s been going as high as the third round. I took Julius Thomas in the 10th round because the tight end pool was getting pretty shallow.

Sandwiched between Ivory and Thomas was rookie Michael Thomas, who is on my sleepers list. I may have reached a bit, but he’s gone as high as the sixth round in some drafts. If he pans out as a WR2, I’ve got the QB-WR link with Brees.

DeAndre Washington serves two purposes as the 128th pick. He’s a handcuff for Murray but could carve out a role for himself as a third-down option.

 

De Andre Washington #33 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
De Andre Washington #33 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

With the Panthers defense slipping to 137th, I decided to fill a starting spot with a top-four defense.

After taking Derek Carr at the 152nd spot, a whopping 48 spots lower than his ADP, I took another shot at a sleeper, selecting Tyler Boyd. He’s gone as high as the sixth round, but don’t take him before the 11th. His ADP is early in the 12th.

With my final pick, disregarding the kicker, I decided to go with a steadying influence in Jason Witten. If Thomas turns out to be a bust, I’ll have insurance.

Other notes and trends:

  • DeMarco Murray is clearly on the rise. He went 90th overall in my first mock but leaped to the 37th pick in this one.
  • Jamaal Charles is nearly falling to the middle of the second round. Don’t be afraid to take him late in the first.
  • Alshon Jeffery continues to hold onto second-round status, but injury concerns could cause him to slip to the third.
  • Don’t take Carlos Hyde in the third round or earlier. Either Murray is a better option.
  • The top three Cardinals receivers all went within eight spots of each other, in the late fifth and early sixth rounds.
  • Tyrod Taylor is a sleeper, but someone drafted him in early in the seventh round when he likely would have been available in the 10th.

More fantasy football mock draft notes and trends

With NFL training camps in full swing, I decided to take another stab at a mock draft to help prepare for the upcoming fantasy football season. This time I entered a standard league, 12-team draft on ESPN’s website. Last time out, I drafted in a 10-team standard league on NFL.com. Here’s a look at the team I selected this time around.

  • Round (overall pick) Player, Pos., Team
  • 1st (4) Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
  • 2nd (21) Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets
  • 3rd (28) Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders
  • 4th (45) Jeremy Maclin, WR, Chiefs
  • 5th (52) Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals
  • 6th (69) Drew Brees, QB, Saints
  • 7th (76) Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles
  • 8th (93) Ladarius Green, TE, Steelers
  • 9th (100) Willie Snead, WR, Saints
  • 10th (117) Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons
  • 11th (124) Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers
  • 12th (141) Texans defense
  • 13th (148) Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
  • 14th (165) Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings
  • 15th (172) Matt Prater, K, Lions
  • 16th (189) Jordan Cameron, TE, Dolphins

With 12 teams in this mock league I decided to make sure I went with running backs in two of my first three picks. Interesting to note is that before I selected Adrian Peterson with the fourth pick, three receivers were already off the board (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr., in that order). Also of note, the next three running backs selected were Todd Gurley (5th), Ezekiel Elliott (6th) and David Johnson (8th). Dez Bryant went 7th overall, which is a bit high in my estimation, since he went ahead of DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Jamaal Charles.

Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at TCFBank Stadium on January 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at TCFBank Stadium on January 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

It was a little surprising that the suspended Le’Veon Bell, who’s set to miss the first four games of the season, managed to sneak into the first round at no. 12 overall. That seems a little high for a player that will miss a quarter of the season. I’d look for him early in the second round of a 12-team league. He can put you over the top, but not if you’re using your first pick on him.

My WR1 is Brandon Marshall, and I see no reason he’d  drop off, especially now that he has Ryan Fitzpatrick back behind the center. Fitzpatrick knows how to get the ball to his big receivers and Marshall going at 21 overall went right about where he probably should. I selected Jeremy Maclin as my WR2 and if he’s targeted 124 times, like he was last season, he could prove to be a solid pick at 45th overall.

Jeremy Maclin #19 of the Kansas City Chiefs bobbles the ball at Arrowhead Stadium during the third quarter of the game agains the Cleveland Browns on December 27, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jeremy Maclin #19 of the Kansas City Chiefs bobbles the ball at Arrowhead Stadium during the third quarter of the game agains the Cleveland Browns on December 27, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

I was able to grab an aging Drew Brees with the 69th overall pick, so I have to hope he stays healthy and that his young receivers come along. Derek Carr, who I picked in the 13th round, is my backup and we’ll see if he makes a big jump with weapons like Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray. Murray, who I selected in the 3rd round is expected to be a do-everything back for the Raiders if he doesn’t let rookie DeAndre Washington take away touches.

That leaves me with Jeremy Hill and Jordan Matthews as my flex options. I feel good about both, hoping Hill has a bounce-back season, though he did score 11 rushing touchdowns last year. Matthews has scored eight touchdowns in each of his first two seasons and looks to go over 1,000 yards for the first time. If he’s around in the seventh, you’d be lucky.

Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Baltimore 24-16. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Baltimore 24-16. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Ladarius Green, the tight end who I selected at 93 overall, should excite some owners as he joins a prolific Steelers offense.

Other notes from this mock draft:

  • Seven wide receivers were selected in the first round, including Allen Robinson.
  • Jamaal Charles was taken in the second round, he should go higher.
  • Jordy Nelson went 14th overall and I’d be nervous about that if I made that selection early in the second. I’m in the minority.
  • Lamar Miller, who the Texans will let loose on the field, went 16th. Wouldn’t be surprised if he goes higher in most drafts.
  • There are options at RB in the third round, with Eddie Lacy, Matt Forte, Murray and Carlos Hyde all going in that round.
  • T.Y. Hilton, who went 39th overall, might be undervalued if Andrew Luck returns to previous form.
  • The Cardinals defense was the first to go at 89, followed by the Broncos at 95 and the Seahawks at 113.