Here are the top 10 moves to this point of the NFL offseason, along with the fantasy impact (winners and losers):
1. Anquan Boldin
- Winner - No one benefits more from this trade than Flacco. As you can see from the chart below, Flacco's second year was just under Peyton Manning
's second and actually better than Drew Brees
'. Flacco now has an upper-echelon/borderline elite wide receiver on one side, a much-underrated one on the other in Derrick Mason
, and the talented Ray Rice
in the backfield. The future looks very bright here.
- Winner - Though the future starting quarterback for Arizona will have a lot more influence on Fitzgerald's fantasy dominance, I'll remind you of this: In the five games Boldin missed over the last two years, Fitz has averaged six catches, 100 yards and two touchdowns (never not getting to the end zone in any game Boldin missed).
- Winner - Whoever ends up getting the starting nod opposite Fitzgerald will be fantasy-relevant this year. With that said, remember Kurt Warner
is no longer the starting quarterback, so I don't believe you can expect the five-catch, 70-yard, almost-one-touchdown performance Breaston was averaging when Boldin didn't play over the last two years either.
- Unchanged - Finally out of Fitzgerald's shadow, Boldin will get to prove that he's the true No. 1 receiver he's claimed to be for the last couple of years. Boldin comes into a Baltimore offense that is young, has a good offensive line, and an offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron who loves to get his playmakers the ball. Though the setting seems right for him, I'm still reluctant to upgrade expectations for him from previous years. The fact of the matter is that he's only played a full 16-game season in two out of the last seven years (averaging more than two missed games a season) and he no longer has Kurt Warner
throwing him the ball. Currently, I see him at what he's been averaging for roughly his entire career - two games missed, 84 catches, a little above 1,000 yards, and around 7-10 touchdowns.
- Unchanged - Though I'm on board with Rice as a star-in-waiting, I find the Boldin deal more of a wash for him. The new and improved offensive juggernaut known as the Ravens should help his eight touchdowns from last year, but Boldin's 84-catch career average has to take away from someone. Rice looks like one place to start, so all of you in PPR leagues, be forewarned.
- Loser - Speaking of players who will be affected by Boldin's catches this year, no one will be more adversely affected than Mason. Over the last nine years, Mason has averaged 84 receptions, six touchdowns, and has had less than 1,000 yards just once. Hopefully those savvy enough to own him over that time enjoyed the ride because Mason's fantasy relevance may stall except for the two or three games Boldin will more than likely miss this year due to his seemingly annual injury.
2. Larry Johnson
- Winner - If the Bengals are fine with letting go of Johnson, that means they are fine with Benson being their featured guy. This is good news for whoever owns Benson in 2010 for fantasy purposes.
- Loser - Johnson has always been overrated to me. Fantasy owners often fail to see just how good his offensive line was in 2005 and 2006 when he averaged 1,770 total yards, 111 yards per game, and 19 touchdowns, en route to becoming an elite fantasy back. To put it into perspective, during those years when he came onto the scene in such a big way, he had the following big bodies blocking for him - Willie Roaf
, Will Shields
and Brian Walters. If you combined their NFL accolades, they had 10 first-team All-Pro selections and 27 Pro Bowl selections to their credit. This past year, six-time Pro Bowler Chris Samuels
decided to retire from the Redskins. Add to that fact that Johnson is slated to battle Clinton Portis
for playing time and you can understand why I just don't think he's going to be very relevant in 2010, at least without Portis going down for an extended period of time.
- Loser - Take a two-time Pro Bowler who is 28 years old, has carried the ball 2,176 times in his career, and is coming off a season-ending concussion. Now his team has lost its best offensive lineman to retirement, and his management has decided to get insurance in the form of another player who's past his prime, and I will show you someone who is on the tail end of his career. Thanks for the good times, Clinton.
3. Chester Taylor
- Winner - At press time, there was no one in the Vikings' backfield of significance besides Peterson. If this remains the same and the Vikings decide he's going to get third-down duties, there is no one higher on my draft board than AP (for the record, I've never had him there before).
- Winner - Besides 2006, like Johnson in 2005 and Ladell Betts
in 2006, Taylor has always been my stud on the bench who was going to be my stretch-run difference-maker. The problem the last couple of years however, was that Peterson managed to play a full 16-game slate. I've never questioned Taylor's talent, but now with him turning the dreaded 30, I am starting to wonder if he's past his prime. If he's ever going to be something, this will be the year, as he should see more than just third-down duties. Though he is relatively old for a running back, he does have 1,100 fewer carries on his record than Portis (who was drafted in the same year), so there is some promise.
- Loser - As if Chicago looking to phase him out toward the end of last year wasn't bad enough, in comes Taylor to steal his catches (the reason he was so valuable in 2008). Any way you look at this, it doesn't look good for Forte in either the short or long term.
4. Thomas Jones
to Kansas City:
- Winner - With the Jets confident enough to let Jones go to Kansas City, a great offensive line in place, and hits on (restricted free agent) Leon Washington
's small frame starting to finally take their toll, Greene is on my short list of 2010 fantasy breakout players now that he has the opportunity to be the man. (Editor's note: the Jets' signing of LaDainian Tomlinson
will reduce Greene's opportunities, but he remains penciled in as the team's lead back).
& Jamaal Charles
- Losers - Scott Pioli + Charlie Weis + the Chiefs wanting to become the New England Patriots circa 2004 = Death to the Fantasy Football Running Back. After what Charles was able to do at the end of last year with the backfield essentially to himself, the acquisition of Jones -- and the resulting time-share -- just cements that fact boldly for me.
5. Nate Burleson
- Winner - I was down on him last year but I think he's going to be the wide receiver to target in 2010. Other than Larry Fitzgerald
and Andre Johnson
, there is no one in the league more talented at the position than Johnson. If the Lions' offensive line can give Matthew Stafford
any time at all this year, Megatron is going to bounce back in a big way with Burleson running on the other side.
- Winner - The offensive line is the problem in Detroit, but Burleson's presence should help with regards to being able to get Calvin Johnson
the ball. That can only mean good things for Stafford.
- Unchanged - Not much fantasy relevance until he can prove something again. He's only topped 1,000 yards once in his seven-year pro career.
6. Antonio Bryant
- Winner - If Palmer is ever going to be the Carson Palmer
of old, it will be this year. He's over a year removed from his elbow injury/recovery, his offensive line has improved, his running game is now as solid as it was during the Corey Dillon
years, and he has two legitimate weapons on the outside. Though his fantasy value has fallen over the last couple of years, keep in mind that from 2005 to 2007, we're talking about a player who averaged 250 yards per game and 29 touchdowns. If you find yourself punting on quarterbacks early in the 2010 draft, Palmer is definitely a high-upside play to strongly consider this year.
- Winner - To most, Bryant looks like a player that, in his seven-year career in the NFL, has only eclipsed 65 or more receptions, the 1,000-yard mark, and scored more than six touchdowns twice; however, if you look a little deeper, you will see that the best quarterback he's ever played with was Jeff Garcia
. This is definitely going out on a limb, but with Palmer at quarterback, an improving offensive line, a solid running game, and Chad Ochocinco
on the other side, Bryant has a shot to be a fantasy surprise if he can stay healthy this year. I don't expect huge numbers, but as a bye-week filler, or one that you store on your bench to play the good matchups, he might be someone to consider.
- Loser - The acquisition of Bryant is an interesting one for Ochocinco. For the most representative example of what you might expect from him in 2010, you can look back to 2006 and 2007 when Palmer was healthy and he had a legitimate threat on the other side in T.J. Houshmandzadeh
. On the surface he looks very good within those years (averaged 90 receptions, 1,400 yards, eight touchdowns), but when you dive a bit deeper it gets a little trickier. In 2006, all seven of his touchdowns came in four out of the 16 games he played. As in 2006, in 2007 all eight of his touchdowns came in four of the 16 games that he played. Sure, you are probably going to win those four weeks in 2010, but what about the other 12 or 13? Is that worth where you're going to have to take him in the draft?
7. Julius Peppers
- Winner - If he can stay healthy (and that's a big if), Urlacher could see himself back to 2007 form where he had 92 solo tackles, 31 assists, five sacks and five interceptions. Gaining Peppers means that Urlacher should be allowed to play the middle more rather than cover the entire field. You're also finally going to be able to get him a little bit later in the draft since he missed all of last year to injury.
- Winner - Like Urlacher above, the addition of Peppers theoretically should mean Briggs will be left free to blitz more often and effectively, which is good news for his fantasy owners.
- Unchanged - No one ever questions the talent; they just question the desire with Peppers. Look for him to stay true to his career average next year of 47 total tackles and 10 sacks, but not much more.
- Loser - Though I still think he's a top-five IDP selection, the loss of Peppers means he's going to have to worry about coverage more, which downgrades him a bit (but not much) because he won't be as free to make plays on the ball alone.
8. Antonio Cromartie
to New York Jets:
- Winner - Whenever you're the guy on the opposite side of the best cornerback in the NFL, you're going to get opportunities. The last time Cromartie was given big opportunities was in 2007, when he had 18 pass deflections and 10 interceptions. He's never going to be a high-tackle guy, but in big-play IDP leagues, you definitely need to consider him in 2010.
9. Aaron Kampman
- Winner - Though I'm not high on Kampman himself in 2010, I am high on his presence helping Durant get more tackles. Less time for the quarterback means less time Durant will need to be in coverage and the more time he'll be free to roam the middle to make plays. If he can stay healthier than he did in 2009, he's definitely a 2010 IDP sleeper.
- Unchanged - Kampman was never made for a 3-4 defensive scheme. Add an ACL injury in 2009 and it was a very forgettable year for him. Now he goes to Jacksonville where he can be deployed in a 4-3 again. The only problem is he goes from having to sack Jay Cutler
, Matthew Stafford
, and Brett Favre
twice a year to Peyton Manning
, Vince Young
and Matt Schaub
. As a result, the rebound year most will think is coming is not likely to happen in 2010.
10. Karlos Dansby
- Unchanged - Like Julius Peppers
, the talent has always been there, but not necessarily the drive (at least until he thought he was playing for a contract the last two years). Now that he's been paid, expect him to go back to what he was doing before the money was an issue - 80 solo tackles and 20 assists. I plan on letting someone else draft him this year based on where I'd have to tab him to get him.
- Loser - Any way you look at it, this isn't good for Crowder from an IDP perspective. He already made fantasy players weary with his performance last year and this is just another reason to stay away from him in 2010.
So, that's what I think. What about you? Where am I right? Where am I completely wrong? I would love to hear your reactions.