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NFL Barometer: Martin Wins Bucs-Pats Trade

Mario Puig

Mario Puig

Mario sets the direction of RotoWire's college football and NFL draft content, with his other responsibilities primarily resting in those same subjects. He's a fan of Chip Kelly, James Harrison and David Bowie.

RISING

Tim Wright, TE, NE


Despite Rob Gronkowski's late-season ACL/MCL tear and a general lack of depth at the position, the Patriots surprised many when they decided not to add any tight ends in the 2014 draft. For an offense that recently relied heavily on the "move" tight end (Aaron Hernandez) in addition to the traditional tight end (Gronkowski), it seemed odd to head into the year with just Gronkowski and the likes of Michael Hoomanawanui and D.J. Williams. New England's trade for Tim Wright on Tuesday makes all kinds of sense, then, because the former Rutgers wideout has the skill set necessary to plug into the move role in New England. Even if Gronkowski hits the ground running in Week 1, as expected, Wright has to be a second tight-end consideration in most formats. It would be unreasonable to expect Wright to approach Hernandez's level of dominance, however. Wright went undrafted last year for a reason.

Doug Martin, RB, TB

Not only will Martin get more touches this year than previously expected in light of Charles Sims' ankle injury and resulting 12-to-14 week absence, but his offensive line just got a significant boost due to the Tim Wright-Logan Mankins trade. The Buccaneers interior offensive line looked like it might be one of the worst, but adding a top-level guard like Mankins should yield immediate positive results. Between his increased workload and improved between-the-tackles blocking, it's hard to see why Martin shouldn't be an RB1 consideration in a lot of leagues.

Jonathan Dwyer, RB, ARZ

Andre Ellington looks pretty great, and the Cardinals will give him all the work he can handle as the team's lead runner, but it's fair to wonder whether Ellington can handle much more than a modest workload. He's always been an electrifying talent, but injuries constantly got in his way at Clemson. The backup role in Arizona could, therefore, hold significance in fantasy football this year. And the previously presumed owner of that role, Stepfan Taylor, seems to be rapidly losing ground to free-agenct acquisition and former Pittsburgh Steeler Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer was the first Arizona running back off the bench against Cincinnati on Sunday, and there's even a chance that he'll steal short-yardage work from Ellingotn in the regular season.

Greg Jennings, WR, MIN

Most of the fantasy football world probably couldn't find the energy to care all that much when Matt Cassel was announced Minnesota's starting quarterback for Week 1, but it's probably safe to say that Cassel's presence in the starting lineup is a good sign for the value of Jennings. Even if his first year in Minnesota was mostly a bust, Jennings' struggles mostly correlated to games played by Christian Ponder and Josh Freeman. When it was Cassel in the starting lineup, Jennings showed WR2 upside. In the seven games in which Cassel attempted at least 25 passes, Jennings totaled 41 catches for 491 yards and four touchdowns. That would project to 94 catches for 1,122 yards and nine touchdowns over 16 games. Expect some regression in Jennings' per-game production - he'll be 31 on Sept. 21, and Cordarrelle Patterson will eat up more targets than last year - but considering he's going off the board around WRs like Jordan Matthews, Danny Amendola, Marqise Lee and Steve Smith, Jennings looks like a clear bargain at the moment.

FALLING

Wes Welker, WR, DEN


He might be able to play against the Colts in Week 1, but the fact that Welker suffered another concussion during the Broncos' preseason game against Houston on Saturday clearly has to hurt his season-long prospects. He suffered two concussions toward the end of 2013, and odds are that his head has absorbed plenty of other hits after totaling 1,100 receptions, 98 carries and 607 kick/punt returns going back to his college days at Texas Tech, and that's not counting NFL preseason or postseason games. If Welker were to miss any time this year, it's anyone's guess just how those targets might get distributed between Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.

Matt Schaub, QB, OAK

It's generally a good rule to pay little attention to preseason stats, but when a player with Schaub's discouraging recent history faceplants like he has through his first three showings with the Raiders, there's little reason to give the benefit of the doubt. He's completed just 24-of-47 passes for 218 yards (4.6 YPA) and an interception, and he's dealing with elbow tendinitis as well. Oakland won't have a good reason to keep Schaub in the starting lineup if he doesn't improve in a hurry.

Allen Robinson, WR, JAC

Plenty of draft observers ranked Robinson ahead of teammate and fellow rookie second-round pick Marqise Lee prior to the draft, so the idea of Robinson making the bigger rookie-year impact likely existed in some places. It's appearing more and more as if Lee will win the race, however, as Robinson has sat for more than five weeks with a hamstring injury, allowing Lee to soak up first-team snaps all the while. Even though he holds value in dynasty formats, Robinson's name is all but faded as a 2014 consideration.

Marcus Lattimore, RB, SF

The 49ers selected Lattimore at the end of the 2013 draft with the intention of redshirting him in his rookie year, theoretically allowing him to recover from the devastating knee injury he suffered in his final season at South Carolina, but Lattimore remains on the shelf as the 2014 season nears. He'll start the year on the non-football injury list, ruling him out for the first six weeks, and it's not clear that he's even all that close to practicing. It'll mark two full years from his injury on Oct. 27, and his career has to be in question at this point. Rookie second-round pick Carlos Hyde should have a stranglehold on the off-the-bench snaps behind Frank Gore.