Fantasy Football: New Faces in New Places
As promised in the last fantast football article, we are going to cover a lot of different news before the season begins, so let’s take a look at the skill players that have jumped teams, and are getting settled in their new environment:
• Mike Wallace – The lightning fast wide out formerly from Pittsburgh has now moved on to his new home in Miami. That bodes well for him being targeted as much as humanly possible considering the rest of the targets Ryan Tannehill has on staff (Bynes, Bumphis, Collins, Fuller, Gibson, Hartline, Matthews, McNutt, and Stafford.) If you just asked yourself WHO??, you’re not alone. Other than Brian Hartline, no one on that staff has made an impact at the NFL level, and at least 3 of them may not even make the roster for the season opener. With that in mind, Wallace should be the clear cut #1 target in the Miami offense. This situation would seem fantastic from a fantasy prospective, except from all the news I can find, Wallace and Tannehilll are not clicking by any means. Sometimes chemistry between a QB and his favorite target takes some time, but Wallace was known in Pittsburgh as being a little bit of a hot head and that scares me. There’s nothing worse than having your star player upset with his QB and not willing to put his ego aside in order to try to create a better bond between the two. Look for Wallace to have similar numbers as last season, but he will not jump into the elite category of fantasy wide outs.
• Wes Welker – Speaking of elite Wide Receivers, Welker has been a standout performer for his entire career in New England, but after what New England was able to get from their once elite 2 tight end sets, they felt as though the 32yr old receiver could be replaced within their system. Welker got the message and signed with the Denver Broncos. Now instead of future hall of famer Tom Brady throwing to him, he has future hall of famer Peyton Manning throwing to him. He will continue to play the slot, which is his natural position. Denver will also ask him to go deep sometimes and give the slot to Eric Decker. Though he has the ability to catch nearly 100 passes, he won’t. Denver has a very balanced passing game, especially after his arrival, and will look for Demaryius Thomas to continue to be Manning’s #1 target. Welker’s value will dip a bit in standard leagues. His true value is in PPR leagues, but we’ll get into that on another day. What people need to realize is that his days of catching 100 passes are likely over, but he is still tremendously valuable to any fantasy team regardless of how often he is targeted.
• Steven Jackson – Jackson never seemed to stay healthy in St. Louis. I can’t imagine that will change with his arrival in Atlanta. Still, his fantasy output has a great chance to improve. Jackson is a power runner. He pushes through blockers instead of avoiding them completely. That has a lot to do with his injury history. His new Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter will give him plenty of looks in the backfield, and may also be able to save his legs considering the much improved passing game around him. Michael Turner had much success with Atlanta, but his body couldn’t handle to rigors of the NFL. Hence the reason he is still a free agent. I don’t see Jackson ever holding RB1 status again, but much like Welker, he is a true asset to any team that drafts him. Any concerns with Jackson are not about attitude, or commitment, it’s all about if he can stay healthy and on the field for all 16 games. Jacquizz Rodgers should be on anybody’s radar that drafts Jackson. According to Jackson’s history, he will be a lock to start at least 2 games this season, and that’s enough of a reason to make sure you get him as a handcuff. Should you draft Rodgers? Maybe in the last round, but I think most fantasy players will ignore him, and he may be available off the wire in week 1.
• Greg Jennings – For years, Jennings was a favorite target for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, but during this off-season he moved to the dark side and signed with their longtime rivals the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota desperately needed help after losing Percy Harvin to the Seahawks, and Jennings was the man they wanted. Unfortunately for Jennings, his impact will be leaning on the performance of his new QB Christian Ponder, who up until now, has not filled the expectations the Vikings had for him when they spent the 12th pick in the 2011 draft. Jennings is on the decline on his career, but is still a relevant player and is likely to catch plenty of balls for the Vikings. Is he a WR1? I wouldn’t bet on it. He will be very useful in PPR leagues since much like Mike Wallace, he is the only legitimate target Ponder will have. The offense will be run through Adrian Peterson, as it should be, but Jennings ability to catch virtually anything thrown at him will make for some fantastic highlights, and high WR2 status.
• Andy Reid – YES, I know, he’s not a player. He makes this list because of the amazing ability to change a culture on a team and his outstanding capacity to change the outlook of a team after he becomes a coach. What most people forget is 2 years ago, some people had the Chiefs winning their division. The roster is loaded with talent (Bowe, Charles, etc..,) and Andy’s pass first mentality should mean a lot of extra production for a few of his players. Specifically Jamal Charles. If you have been playing fantasy football for a number of years, you should think back to the type of production Brian Westbrook had under Reid’s tutelage. According to NFL.com, the Chiefs did not practice a single running play in their first few days of training camp. That is classic Andy Reid. What it should show you is that Alex Smith will be relevant, their receivers will be targeted nearly twice as many times as years past, and that Charles may have his greatest season in the NFL if he can remain healthy. If I seem to be drooling and showing some seriously affection towards the Chiefs, than you’re reading me right. Will they win their division? No because the Broncos are absolutely loaded on both sides of the ball, but this team will contend and it will surprise the doubters. I project the Chiefs winning 10 games with a poor record in their division, but doing damage against the rest of the NFL.