It’s the middle of March, which means that NFL free agency is creating chaos in fantasy football leagues everywhere. We already talked about Percy Harvin heading to Seattle, and how that affects Russell Wilson, and now it’s time to talk about Steven Jackson heading to Atlanta, Danny Amendola heading to New England and Wes Welker heading to Denver.
How do each of these signings change the fantasy landscape for each team and its players?
Steven Jackson to Atlanta
You have to love this move for every fantasy player in Atlanta but Jacquizz Rodgers. I was extremely high on Rodgers last year, but Atlanta failed to use the Darren Spoles-like rusher. Rodgers is a player to keep an eye on, as I still see immense talent in the guy, but clearly S-Jax is ready to rumble as the Falcons’ top rusher in 2013. How good can the veteran be in 2013? Before I talk Jackson up heading into 2013, and I will, it’s important to note that he has more mileage on his person than most starting NFL rushers… on top of that, he is entering his 30-age season… extreme mileage, and I’m talking extreme (over 400 career receptions and eight-straight 237+ carry seasons), mixed with being 30, it feels like a recipe for disaster. That said, if there was a situation that could have Jackson cranking out one more elite season, it’s this one… Jackson won’t likely run the ball 300 times in 2013, and the Falcons would be smart to keep him far away from that number. However, 230-240 carries should put Jackson at roughly 1,000 yards rushing, and the end zone situations he will be shoved into in 2013 should have him punching in 10TDs (with ease). Of course, this is all if Jackson can stay healthy. Will he? Honestly, as much as I think this situation is ideal, and that Jackson does have elite talent left, age 30 is age 30 when it comes to running backs, and this is why I say don’t forget Rodgers’ name entirely… even missing a couple games, though, Jackson is a strong bet for 900-1,000 and those 10TDs. And, let’s not forget that Jackson averages 45 receptions per season (since 2005), so mixing in 40 or so receptions for 300+, and let’s give him 1-2 receiving scores, that’s a strong 2013 fantasy football season. While I’m advising that fantasy worlds believe in Jackson for one more season, investment has to be at value lower than his going ADP, which is starting to look late second- to early third-round ranges. Our 30-Year Old Running Back Article is screaming to approach Jackson with caution this upcoming fantasy football season… only buy/draft if the price is right, and just take a pass for a much safer option if you’re being forced to grab him at top going dollar! And, again, read the article on 30-Year-Old Rushers, as injury has taken out a lot of still-talented (at the time of injury) runners that had just turned 30 (Marshall Faulk, Eddie George, Larry Johnson, Brian Westbrook, Jamal Lewis… age 30 is no joke for rushers – read it!).
Wes Welker to Denver
This move might just make Peyton Manning a top 2-3 fantasy quarterback this upcoming season. In fact, it’s not unreal to think he could be this year’s top passer in fantasy football. Would I take him No. 1 for fantasy quarterbacks in upcoming 2013 fantasy football drafts? No, that’s not how you value draft, but I think Peyton could be one of the bigger steals in all of 2013 if he stays in the third-round or later, which is looking likely thus far. Wes Welker won’t likely pull in 100 balls ever again, not unless injury strikes Demaryius Thomas, which honestly isn’t crazy thinking. I admit, I was extremely unfair to Demaryius Thomas all last year, and have unexplainably unfair all the way up to this week… I didn’t know what it was, I could never put it into words, but I just didn’t trust the guy, not at the high-end WR1-type value he was starting to command. Well, I think it’s safe to say he no longer has high-end fantasy WR1 value, but low-end fantasy WR1 value is still possible, you just won’t find me investing in Thomas at that value range, as again, that wouldn’t be good value drafting. Thomas will either be a steal for me on draft day, or someone else is going to own him… I think 1,100 yards and 8-10 scores is much more likely than what most were projecting prior to the Welker signing, which was 90+ receptions for 1,400 yards and well over 10 scores. I don’t see that happening, not unless Welker suffers injury, which like with Thomas, that’s not outside of the realm of possibility given that Welker will enter the 2013 fantasy season at the age of 32. My overall take on the situation is this… Welker makes Manning absolute steal material anywhere in the third- or fourth-round in upcoming drafts, while Welker and Thomas are likely going to be a touch overvalued heading into 2013… that could change, so monitor ADPs! Eric Decker takes a round or two type hit with the Welker signing, how could he not? If you disagree, comment below as to why! And, back to Manning for a second, I can’t tell you how many people have recently asked me advice regarding trading Manning away before his decline… my response is always, what decline? The decline he might face two years from now? Two years is a lot of time! Manning will be a beast this year, ride the wave all you dynasty owners, and stop looking so far into the future!
Danny Amendola to New England
Enter the new Wes Welker. Ok, let’s not get carried away, as Danny Amendola has some injury concerns… he won’t be quite as good as the New England version of Wes Welker, but you have to think high-end WR2-type numbers (sure, with the upside for more) could be possible for Amendola heading into 2013! The crazy part is, and this could change quickly, his ADP isn’t climbing much past the 6th- to 7th-round range. Now, we’re talking about less than a day of mock drafting data, so don’t take today’s drafts as a certain trend, but I think it’s safe to say that there are not a ton of big-time knee-jerk reactions going on with Amendola – yet. As for Tom Brady, I think losing Welker hurts a bit, as Amendola again has that injury risk, and could take some time to adjust in New England… losing Welker, at least initially, is enough of a ding to make Brady fall to 5th out of the big five QBs.
Jared Cook to St. Louis
The Rams agreed to terms with tight end Jared Cook on a five-year deal. Cook is a monster breakout of mine heading into 2013… Danny Amendola leaving St. Louis freed up a lot of targets in St. Louis, and Cook, often looked at as a receiver, will see more targets than people think. He is 6-foot-5, 248 pounds, and he has 4.4-type speed. Because he has never fully reached is potential, or even cranked out consistent numbers, there will be a lot of haters heading into this upcoming fantasy football season. Take full advantage and realize that this situation could force Cook into the elite. How elite? While I don’t recommend anyone draft him as even a high-end fantasy TE1, because you don’t have to, I think this kid has top 2-4 fantasy TE upside. It’s been a long time since we have had a Jimmy Graham like breakout at the tight end position (something we predicted I might add)… this might be the next elite breakout tight end, so get your popcorn ready!
Our Upside Board already has #3 through #10 published!
Last year our Top 10 Bold Predictions included: 1) Russell Wilson, 2) AJ Green, 3) Cam Newton, 4) Julio Jones, 5) Dez Bryant, 7) CJ Spiller and 10) Brandon Marshall…