It would be naive to say there won’t be more players changing teams, but it’s never too early to start analyzing the impact of players changing teams. I will be breaking this into two articles, today focusing on the AFC’s most significant off-season transactions.
Peyton Manning, DEN – You have to start here. It is still too early to know for sure how he will start the season. This is a QB that makes himself great by routine and practice with his receivers. Will he have the time to build that rhythm and timing with players like Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker? Or will he rely heavily on Jacob Tamme? I actually see this as a situation I plan on completely avoiding. Yes, this could turn into a Hollywood-like story, but Manning could also never be the same QB. John Fox is still a run-first kind of guy, so I think there will be a long stretch of the season that the Broncos will be trying to “figure it out.”
Tim Tebow, NYJ – I’m sorry, he just isn’t that good in the real world NFL. They Jets signed him to give the media something to talk about and to motivate Mark Sanchez to care. I am not opposed to taking a flyer on Tebow very late if you are weak at QB, but don’t draft him expecting him to take the job and do what he did in Denver.
Kansas City – I really like what they have done this off-season. Peyton Hillis is going to be a great value this year. I see him starting the season as the primary FB and goal line RB. In a year with so many question marks at the position, he is a good gamble to take. I feel for Brady Quinn, this kid has been tossed around the league and never really had his “shot.” This is the first landing spot for him with no expectations and no drama. I think he will develop considerably this year and could be ready to step in if — sorry, when — the Chiefs realize Matt Cassel is, well, not good. Tony Moeaki is clearly the guy if healthy at TE, but Kevin Boss is a legitimate threat. The offense is still capped by mediocre QB play, but there will be much more fantasy appeal on this roster than in past years.
Steve Hutchinson, TEN – When a team with an atrocious offense line and one of the most dynamic RBs in the NFL signs a veteran stalwart lineman, it makes me take notice. Count me as an owner that was burned by Chris Johnson last year, but I think he is back to being a top-five RB this year. He will be playing with a chip on his shoulder, and Hutchinson will help that entire line.
Robert Meachem, SD – The Chargers lost a very talented WR that never seemed to put it all together in Vincent Jackson, and replaced him with a decent WR that also has not put it all together in Robert Meachem. You know what, I don’t hate it. I think Malcolm Floyd will fill in just fine as the No. 1 guy and Meachem will produce consistent statistics in an offense that doesn’t spread the ball around quite as much as the Saints did. The Chargers also signed Roscoe Parrish and Eddie Royal, but they will only matter in fantasy if injuries occur. I’m not sure I will have the guts to make the selection on draft day, but I honestly think the loss of Mike Tolbert makes Ryan Matthews the 4th selection in PPR formats. No running back in the league had his situation improve more this off-season, and he is almost ensured top-five status if he can stay healthy.
New England – I hate Bill Belichick. No relevance, just wanted it stated. The Patriots did their normal off season “under the radar” improvements. Brandon Lloyd fills the void of downfield threat the Patriots lacked last year. I expect Lloyd to be a weekly WR2 this year. Jabar Gaffney gives Brady another sure-handed target over the middle. Then there is Joseph Addai. I know Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are getting all the attention and sleeper talk, but don’t sleep on Addai, a guy who is the definition of unselfish that brings elite blocking skills and sure hands out of the backfield to a team that loves to pass.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, CIN – I’m having a hard time getting excited about him landing in Cincinnati. Cedric Benson still doesn’t have a gig and may come back, but I don’t think it matters. The Bengals offense is evolving around A.J. Green, and BJGE isn’t talented enough to steal carries away from the passing game.
Laurent Robinson, JAX – I know money drives a lot of decisions, but what makes a young receiver coming off a career year sign with the Jaguars? Yes, he flourished in Dallas, but he was in a pass-heavy offense, was covered by nickel backs and had Tony Romo throwing to him. Now he will likely draw the opposing teams best cover man (at least until we see what Justin Blackmon brings to the table), and Blaine Gabbert is throwing him the ball. Remember when he played in St. Louis?
Indianapolis – There is a lot to talk about with them, mostly the players that are gone: Peyton Manning, Pierre Garcon, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez and Jacob Tamme. Newly acquired Donnie Avery has a decent shot of consistent playing time opposite Reggie Wayne, but he is no better than a late round gamble.
Mike Goodson, OAK – Here’s a sneaky add for the Raiders. The odds of Darren McFadden staying healthy are minimal and I think Goodson could easily pass Taiwan Jones on the depth chart.
Just an average guy that enjoys talking fantasy. Follow me here in the forum under username murphysxm.
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