Typical of the NFL, a lot of well-known players have changed teams. The player movements of free agents can single-handedly be the most important piece of information when looking at who will do well and who might underperform. With movement comes opportunity to shine for some while loss of playing time for others. Lets look at some of the movements from this offseason and what they could mean come draft day.
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City
Our boy Andy Reid traded the 33rd pick overall for Alex Smith this offseason and for Alex, I see it as a plus for him from a production standpoint. For all of his faults, Andy Reid has made QBs look good in fantasy leagues. He loves to throw the ball and can completely forget about the passing game. Smith should produce significant numbers with Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles in this West Coast offense. Reid’s offenses have passed for 4,000 or more yards the past 7 seasons so I expect that to continue this season. The main beneficiary in this move will probably be Dwayne Bowe as Smith is easily the best QB he has ever worked with. Smith should get to about 4,100 yards passing, 26 TDs and 14 INTs which should be good for a high-end #2 QB in 12 team leagues.
Wes Welker, WR, Denver
I’m sure Tom Brady was pretty upset when the Pats front office decided to let Welker go and sign with the Denver
Mannings Broncos. I’m sure Tom’s even more livid considering how the rest of the season went with the Gronkowski surgeries and the acts of the sub-human Aaron Hernandez. On the flip side, Wes is probably relieved to have left that rigid team. Fantasy wise though, I think Welker’s production might slip a little bit. Most of Welker’s TDs in New England were from inside the 15 yard line and everyone knows Manning is all about audibling to a run inside the red zone unlike Brady who did audible, but would only audible the type of pass play. I still think Welker is worth drafting as a #2 WR in PPR leagues, but the days of 110 catches are over now that he is in Denver. Eric Decker might see some slip in production now that Welker will be working the short/intermediate routes. Thomas should see more single coverage over the top with Welker in the slot now.
Danny Amendola, WR, New England
With Welker in Denver, the Patriots brought in as close of a clone to Welker as they could find. Danny Amendola, former Eagles practice squad player, is expected to replicate the role Welker had while in New England, but I have my reservations. Danny has great hands and runs crisp routes, but I don’t think he is as quick as Welker and I think it is a matter of time before Danny gets hurt. He has missed the majority of the past 2 seasons when he was in St. Louis and I think he will miss at least 2 or 3 games this season. In fantasy terms, that could be 15% (2 out of 13) of the regular season in standard leagues. All in all, don’t expect Wes Welker type numbers from Amendola. He will be a nice flex player in PPR, but the uneasiness that comes with an injury prone player should force him to be drafted as a mid round player until he proves he can handle the role.
Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets
With a career yards per carry of 5.1, Ivory really pops off the page as a player with sleeper potential now that he is the odds on favorite to be the cow bell for the New York Jets. But please, I pray you, remember where he was when he got those numbers. In New Orleans, the Saints rarely saw more than 7 defensive players in the box on first and second due to the high percentage of passes that Drew Brees attempted. Defenses played the averages and prepped for a pass on 1st down, but once in a while the Saints would run the ball on first down and more than 60% of Ivory’s carries came on first down. Seeing less than 7 players inside the box on first down for the Jets won’t happen often. The QB situation for the Jets is less than ideal and teams will stack the box with up to 8 players at a time. A hand full of RBs can beat a stacked box like that; Ivory isn’t one of them. Ivory will be over-drafted often this summer. Stay away from him until you need to start looking for a 4th RB.