Free Agency Thoughts

It’s been a fairly quiet and pretty anticlimactic free agent period so far. The one thing I’ve learned over the years about free agency is that its impact is pretty top-heavy, and overall overrated – at least when it comes to fantasy football. There are usually 3-4 major moves that have big impacts, and there are always a few moves that appear to be under-the-radar, yet wind up being key. But for the most part, the excitement some people feel in March and April dwindles down to next to nothing come September.

That said, I still have some thoughts on what’s gone down the last 5-7 days or so, and here’s a quick review. If you’re interested, we are keeping up on all the moves each day with our 2010 Free Agent Tracker.

The Chester Taylor signing by Chicago still boggles my mind a little bit. I understand you can never have too many quality veterans like Taylor, but let me put it this way: I don’t think he would have been much better than a healthy Matt Forte behind that terrible line and on a shaky overall Bear offense last year. So considering Forte is six years under than Taylor, it makes little sense to me. Solid backup/changeup RBs are a dime a dozen in this league right now, so their money could have been better spent elsewhere.

There was a thread on our MB wondering about our somewhat conservative ranking of Jamaal Charles for keeper leagues. I love the guy, and we were talking him up all off-season in 2009, but while he’s small guy who was surprisingly effective running inside late in 2009, he is still a small guy. I was waiting to see if they added a quality “bigger back” and it appears they have in Thomas Jones. That’s a pretty major monkey wrench in the 2010 Jamaal Charles plan. Jones can still play, and he’ll certainly get carries, so Charles has to slip down to the mid-to-late 20s at the RB position. He’s still unproven, as evidenced by the team’s signing of Jones.

The addition of WR Anquan Boldin is certainly good for QB Joe Flacco. I’m pretty sold on Flacco, and I think his issues last year had a lot to do with his receiving corps, not Flacco taking a step back. I’d like to see Derrick Mason back for 1-2 more years, and that’s not a lock now, and Boldin is a pretty major injury risk, but Flacco’s long-term value is on the rise. Clearly, the team (finally) understands he needs more help.

I really like Detroit’s signing of Nate Burleson. Sure, they overpaid for him, but that’s not my concern, really. The fact is Burleson is a really nice complement to Calvin Johnson. He is an injury risk, but he’s a smooth route-runner with great hands and he’s an ideal guy in terms of taking advantage of the coverage Johnson commands. Burleson should help Calvin, and he will definitely help Matthew Stafford.

The rumors of LaDainian Tomlinson to Minnesota are starting, and this is something I brought up two weeks ago. LT is a great fit, and if he goes there you can probably lock it in that Brett Favre will return. If not Favre, then a trade for Donovan McNabb. Basically, if Tomlinson signs with the Vikings, it’s a lock that he’ll be playing with either Favre or McNabb. To put it another way, I don’t think LT will be a Viking if Tarvaris Jackson is the QB.

The Bengals need to sign either Terrell Owens or Antonio Bryant because their receiving corps is horrible right now and they’re starting to really waste an elite passer in Carson Palmer (granted, Palmer’s slipped the last couple of years).

By bringing back Kevin Walter on the heels of a down season, it’s now clear the Texans don’t have much confidence in Jacoby Jones. Oh well, on to the next young prospect with upside.

I suppose bringing Chris Chambers back was a good idea for the Chiefs, but I don’t think he’s a great answer. He’s never been very precise, and watching him play late in the season I think he just made a few big plays in garbage time, not exactly in the flow of the offense.

Granted, they were lower-end moves, but can the Steelers possibly have more talent and versatility in their receiving corps now that they have Antwaan Randle-El back and also Arnaz Battle? Their depth is excellent, and they should find ways to take advantage of both in special teams. Now all they need is the serious criminal charges against their QB to stop.

Bronco WR Brandon Lloyd may be a sleeper this year if the Broncos lose Brandon Marshall, which appears to be a formality. I don’t have a lot of trust in Lloyd or QB Kyle Orton for that matter, but I’ve always felt that Lloyd was better than anyone gave him credit for.

The addition of veteran Brandon Manumaleuna and of course the arrival of Mike Martz is not good news for Greg Olson, who might be my least favorite player in the league right now after his terribly uneven 2009 season. As it stands now, I’m really hoping I can find 12 guys at his position to rank over him for 2010.

I’m okay with the Giants’ acquisition of Antrel Rolle. I know he’s been toasted at times, but they desperately needed help, and he’s a playmaker. If that front seven can return to form, he’s going to make a lot of big plays for them.

I loved the addition of Dunta Robinson for the Falcons. Yes, he’s an injury risky, but they really needed a potential #1 corner, and Robinson is just that. Those guys don’t grow on trees, so that was a very worthwhile risk.

                        Category: Fantasy Football

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                        14 Responses

                        1. steve says:

                          John,
                          Thanks for the early off season info every little tid bit helps….I really enjoy your blogs out Steve

                        2. [...] impact on the Chicago backfield, Nate Burleson in Detroit, Thomas Jones in Kansas City and LaDainian Tomlinson visiting the Vikings. [Fantasy [...]

                        3. JBeau says:

                          Hey John, think the Cards sign Derrek Anderson or Jake Delhomme? I don’t think they are sold on Leinart…makes sense for them to bring in a backup plan.

                          Do you think Randle-El will bump Mike Wallace’s value down some?

                          LT in Minn, makes too much sense…I can definitely see him there. Its a perfect fit.

                        4. John Hansen says:

                          Derek Anderson would make a ton of sense for the Cards. Braylon did have a huge season with Anderson two years ago and he has a much stronger arm than Leinart.

                          Randle-El is certainly another mouth to potentially feed, which isn’t great, but I would think Wallace’s role as their deep threat is pretty secure. With Ward playing a lot in the slot, I wouldn’t be surprised if Randle-El didn’t catch more than 20-25 passes.

                        5. JOOCE says:

                          I’m surprised that Vikings are not interested in Westbrook. Wouldn’t he be an even better fit in MIN than LT?

                          Actually, I haven’t heard of anyone being interested in Westy. Is everyone scared off by his concussions?

                        6. JBeau says:

                          I think LT is the better fit. Better pure runner, can pass protect and catch the ball just as well. I think he has a little more in the tank than Westy, and the concussions are a huge cause for concern.

                        7. John Hansen says:

                          Westbrook’s likely due to the injury concerns. He could be fantastic for a team to use for 1-2 years (especially the Vikings) like the Rams used Marshall Faulk with Steven Jackson, but the injury issues are severe.

                        8. GQ1NYC says:

                          John,
                          Good stuff. I would like to see the Giants add a vet like Keith Bulluck before the draft as they are bleeding at the LB position and need some stability. They may land Mclain from AL. but they still need more help. Fantasy wise, looks like Westbrook might hang it up according to rumors. LT would hurt APs scoring chances. Do you see AP sliding outside the top 3 with LT in the mix? Bryant is now a Bengal but they could still draft a WR or TE Jermaine Gresham which could have huge fantasy potential if he goes to Cincinatti. What are the real chances McNabb gets traded to a Rams, Seahawks or Vikings?

                        9. John Hansen says:

                          Keep in mind Chase Coffman is a really good receiving prospect. I doubt they give up on him so soon despite his slow start. I’ve said all along if Favre isn’t back, McNabb is a Viking. However, I’m slowly coming to the realization that Favre’s likely back. If LT signs there, you can lock that in, I think.

                        10. clevage says:

                          besides chris johnson, jamal charles was the best running back in my league (ppr and pts for return yards) last year for the last 6-8 weeks. i believe all the recent chatter about charles value taking a severe hit is unjustified. he’s too small? he’s the same size as chris johnson, almost to the inch & pound and i don’t hear too many people complaining about him. thomas jones signed? sure he may snake a TD here and there, but charles is an elite talent that is a big play waiting to happen every time he touches the ball. GURU, i am shocked to read your comments above stating charles should/will “fall to the mid to late 20′s at the RB position”. what are you smoking? he’s a top 10 RB this year in most scoring systems period. jones is a good player, but i can’t count the number of times i’ve heard the GURU or Adam Caplain talk about RBs over 30, and jones has avg 300 carries the past 5-6 year. he’s nearing the end of his career and will not impede the progress of what should be a great career in charles……i just hope the chiefs can improve their OL thru the draft. peace all

                        11. John Hansen says:

                          Top-10 is too much for Charles now, but I agree 20s is too low, too. I didn’t think that comment through. Right now I’d have to rank these guys over Charles simply because they’re a lock to get a lot of touches, however. And a few more may slip in.

                          Michael Turner
                          Ray Rice
                          DeAngelo Williams
                          Jonathan Stewart
                          Cedric Benson
                          Ryan Grant
                          Maurice Jones-Drew
                          Adrian Peterson
                          Shonn Greene
                          LeSean McCoy
                          Rashard Mendenhall
                          Frank Gore
                          Steven Jackson
                          Chris Johnson

                        12. The Gooch says:

                          Great analysis as usual, John. I’d like to hop aboard the J. Charles bandwagon myself, but you’re right: TJ cannot be ignored. Granted, of all the RBBCs out there, Charles has a real chance to surprise and produce. Ton of upside here . . . he is worth a high-teens pick at this point.

                          I’m not sure if I agree that LeSean McCoy ranked in there with the guys you have listed. I like the guy’s explosiveness, but will he really get any more that 15 touches a game? You have to figure they’ll get another RB in Philly. I hear Fargas is visiting today, and I think he has some juice left. Seems like Fargas usually does well when he’s actually given some carries. Of course he is 30 now . . . so who knows.

                        13. JBeau says:

                          I think I would take Charles over McCoy too.

                        14. John Hansen says:

                          Yeah, it really takes a long time to figure this all out and come up with the best possible rankings with as much information as we’ll know before the season starts. This is why doing a magazine can be pointless in some respects because it’s so early. On the other hand, Miles Austin, Mike Sims-Walker, and Jamaal Charles were all listed in our 2009 magazine as sleepers/undervalued.

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