The landscape of the 2014 fantasy football season is certainly different from a year ago due to all the moves that have happened thus far in free agency. I cannot remember so many starting running backs changing teams and the fact that two top receivers (in terms of fantasy production) switched teams is also something we rarely see. Let’s take a look at the biggest offseason moves that are most likely to impact your fantasy draft for the 2014 season.
As soon as Trent Richardson was traded to the Colts the reports came out that the Brown wanted Ben Tate. Then the Colts go out and get Kyle Shanahan so getting Tate was virtual lock at that point. Shanahan and Tate were on the Texans years ago so Tate knows the zone blocking scheme and Shanahan knows good he fits into that system. Tate did not get a huge contract with the Browns however, it is not due to his talent but, due to his durability. Tate has been banged up quite a bit in his young fantasy football career but if he can stay healthy he could prove to be a draft day steal in 2014.
Moreno was a beast last season but how much of that was simply a product of arguably the greatest NFL offense in history? Well, the Dolphins are betting that Moreno was a main contributing factor not just a product and signed him this offseason. Maybe the best value in the 2013 fantasy draft a season ago Moreno has a chance to be a draft day steal again. Sure, the line he is running behind is not nearly as good as it was in Denver but he has all the tools to make him a fantasy stud once again. Tough runner, nose for the goal line, and great hands making him an every down back in Miami. Now, do not expect a repeat of his 2013 numbers but he might go late enough making him a bargain again simply due to his volume of touches.
Long gone are the days of Johnson being a first round fantasy talent but I do believe there is a chance he has a good return on the investment this coming season. The Jets always have loved to run the ball so Johnson should get penalty of touches. Always the boom or bust play I see Johnson being a solid RB3 this coming year and in point per receptions leagues having even more value.
After years of service Jones-Drew has finally left Jacksonville so they picked up Gerhart to fill the void. I find this quite surprising as Gerhart was never too stellar in Petersons absence and I thought Jordan Todman did well enough to get a shot but that is not the case. All reports are saying that Gerhart will be the man while Todman will be the change of pace back. Regardless, of whoever starts this is a situation I will avoid heading into a draft. I do not trust that offense, Gerhart, or the offensive line either back will be running behind.
David Wilson was one of the biggest disappoints of last year’s fantasy football campaign and the Giants must have been quite disappointment as well as they went out and signed Rashad Jennings. When given the chance Jennings has always performed and that did not change last season in Oakland. After McFadden went down Jennings came in ran well and found the end zone five times. Coming into this season he is not a lock as the starter but certainly has some later round appeal. Tom Coughlin typically likes to roll with the hot hand and if Jennings gets the chance to start early, he might just be the hot hand all season long.
I am still confused on how the Saints could let Sproles go but if there was anywhere he could have landed to keep close to his 2013 value Philadelphia is that town. The Chip Kelly offense loves to rotate players in and out and Sproles seems like a perfect fit for that offense. Now, due to LeSean McCoy his touches will go down year over year but Sproles is one injury away from having his best season ever possibly.
Due to all the news coverage he got DeSean Jackson is going to be one of the most over drafted players that made a team change this off-season. Jackson might have off the field issues but no one can deny that he makes the Redskins offense quite better. So why is he going to be over drafted you ask? Because Jackson has always been a better real life player for a team than a fantasy asset especially in a point per reception leagues. He will create space for the other pass catchers in Washington and even provide better running lanes for Griffin and Morris as he will ensure the safeties have to stay at home but do not expect wide receiver one numbers out of him. He has always been a boom or bust fantasy play and that does not change in 2014 be careful when drafting him this season.
The biggest change in fantasy goodness will come from Eric Decker this year. It is a big difference going from Peyton Manning to Geno Smith or maybe Michael Vick. Not only will Decker not be catching balls in stride but he is the man for the Jets and therefore will see coverage rolled over the top every game. I am staying away from Decker this coming season who is going in the early middle rounds in the most recent mocks I have seen. (yes people mock draft in April)
He is 6’2” and 210 pounds, Randy Moss is 6’4” 210 pounds so they are very similar in size but do not think LaFell will blow up this year. Yes, some crazy people are citing that for a reason he breaks out. Everyone also assumes that anyone that falls in the Patriots system will automatically have amazing fantasy stats but other than the Tight Ends and the slot receiver for the Pats over the past few season no pass catcher has been fantasy relevant. We will see how camp goes but there is a chance LaFell is not even a lock to start, if he does, I do not hate him as a late round sleeper but early mock drafts have him going in the middle rounds – which is way too high.
Tate is leaving the Superbowl champion Seattle Seahawks for the pass happy Detroit Lions offense and I believe it was a great move (in terms of his fantasy production). Playing opposite Calvin Johnson will yield single coverage for Tate and he should be primed for his best season ever. Over a 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns is a very reasonable expectation for Tate.