We're almost a week through Free Agency, and there have been some big impact moves that will make a difference in fantasy football this year and in the future. Below are 10 men who have changed teams and how it may change things for fantasy in 2014 and/or beyond.
Emmanuel Sanders- The new Broncos receiver forced 15 missed tackles last season, one every 4.47 catches which was the fourth-best rate in the NFL. In an offense designed for quick hitting plays, Sanders will be an explosive option for Peyton Manning. But don’t expect the world of Sanders right out of the gate as he will be splitting time with Caldwell, which will lower his target opportunities. Expect 60 catches for 700 yards and 6-8 touchdowns.
Ben Tate- The former 2nd round pick out of Auburn will finally get his chance on top of the depth chart, signing with the Browns on a two year deal. The 25 year old has what it takes to be a solid contributor in fantasy football as long as he stays healthy. Depending on what the Browns do at QB, Tate could really emerge as a quality RB2 in most formats. We expect around 1200 total yards, and 8 TDs from Tate.
Steve Smith- The Baltimore Ravens signed the 14 year veteran to a three year, $10.5 million dollar deal which will firmly plant the playmaker as the number two receiver in Baltimore. Smith, who looked to have lost a step, will have something to prove in 2014. We believe he is still a viable short term WR3 and could push for 1000 yards with Flacco throwing him the ball, but in terms of dynasty value, Smith has little long term value.
Hakeem Nicks- Nicks has been a real disappointment since his 2011 campaign where he gained 1169 yards and scored seven touchdowns. Since, injuries and inconsistent play have caused the Giants to move on. Now, Andrew Luck gets another weapon to his disposal, and Nicks has a one year prove-it contract that should make for an excellent year from the 26 year old. Expect WR2 numbers this years, with Nicks pushing for 900 yards and 8 TDs with the Colts.
Julius Peppers- The Green Bay Packers have made an impact move in Free Agency, signing Julius Peppers to a three year contract. The 34 year old North Carolina Alum will stay in the NFC North, where he has working knowledge of many of the tackles he’ll face for the next few years. Peppers long term value is minimal, but for 2014 expect 40-50 tackles, 10 sacks and a few forced turnovers.
Lamarr Houston– The Texas product signed a 5 year, $35mm contract to play DE for the Chicago Bears. The 26 year old has played well over the last two years averaging over 50 tackles and five sacks a season. The Bears will expect more from him, but we think he’ll continue to produce similar numbers. If he can bump up his sack numbers, he’d be a solid DE in IDP fantasy, but if he continues as is, he’s a backup in most leagues.
Linval Joseph– The Minnesota Vikings were very aggressive in signing the 25 year old East Carolina product, setting him up as the main run stopping force in the middle of the Viking defense. Joseph’s track record is consistent, and he doesn’t miss games, so expect another 50-60 tackles, and 3-4 sacks out of the big fella.
T.J. Ward- Denver was very aggressive in the 2014 free agent market and signing Ward, the former Oregon Duck, is a strong move my the Broncos. Ward is in his prime, has the skills to produce big plays, and is always around the ball. He’ll be good for 100-125 tackles and 6 turnovers and is still considered a top 10 safety in IDP formats.
Aqib Talib- After being picked by Wes Welker in the AFC Championship game, the seven year veteran decided to join the Denver Broncos. Talib is a top flight CB with solid technique and an ability to break up passes. He has had some durability issues, but if he can stay healthy he can produce with the best corners in IDP fantasy. Expect 50 tackles, 5 INTs, 10 passes defensed, and possibly a TD out of Talib.
Donte Whitner- The former Buckeye signed a four year $28 mm contract with the Browns to be the replacement for T.J.Ward. Whitner is a hard hitting, rangy safety who can produce excellent numbers. We expect his production to continue around 80 tackles, 5 turnovers, and 10 passes defensed in Cleveland.