The 2014 offseason is now fully underway with free agency upon us. As you prepare for next season, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of the news. You have to pay close attention to everything to stay on top of your dynasty league. For most of us, we do well to steal some time away from our families and jobs to watch the games on Sunday. It becomes difficult to monitor the daily happenings around the league and even more demanding to process how that news affects your dynasty team. That’s why we’re here!
Here is a quick look at the events of the past week and how they impact the players on your team.
DeSean Jackson, WR PHI
There have been many rumors circulating this week about Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson and his future with the team. There has been some speculation the Eagles could trade Jackson, who has already looking for a new contract just one year into the long-term deal he signed last off-season. The contracts given to Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin added to the idea the Eagles might be willing to move on without their electric playmaker. Jackson and his camp seem offended even by the idea the Eagles could deal him. It still seems to be a long shot, but if Jackson is dealt, his dynasty value would suffer.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR CAR
I normally would not include news regarding former Steelers wide receivers Jerricho Cotchery, but it’s almost a necessity when he’s been the bog move made so far by the receiver needy Carolina Panthers. The team had been linked to nearly every free agent wide receiver this off-season, especially newly signed Colt Hakeem Nicks, but failed to seal the deal with any of them. This week, they finally nabbed Cotchery, who agreed to a two-year contract. It may actually give the long-time role player some dynasty value, even though the team is still expected to make more moves in free agency and the draft.
Cam Newton, QB CAR
This off-season has not been kind to the Carolina Panthers, who have struck out on nearly every free agent wide receiver and now comes the news that star quarterback Cam Newton would require ankle surgery, which will keep him out of action for four months. Though Newton should be back in time for training camp, he and his new wide receivers could suffer without the full off-season to become accustomed to each other. Newton’s dynasty value is unlikely to be affected and this could present a good buy low opportunity.
Andrew Hawkins, WR CLE
The deadline came and passed and the Cincinnati Bengals declined to match the four-year offer sheet signed by wide receiver Andrew Hawkins with in-state rival Cleveland. Hawkins is a player who has flashed talent, but has not been used consistently in the Bengals offense during his time there. It is almost a lock he’ll see more targets for the Browns, who could use him in place of the departed Davone Bess. Hawkins should see an increase in value, but will only be the third or fourth option in the Browns’ passing game. He’s a player I’d move for a third round rookie pick, if possible.
James Starks, RB GB
Free agent running back James Starks re-signed with the Green Bay Packers, coming to terms on a two-year deal. The free agent market for running backs has been dry, as predicted, so it made sense for Starks to return to the comfort of the only team he’s known. He’ll continue to play behind Eddie Lacy, but offers some handcuff value for Lacy owners.
James Jones, WR OAK
Wide receiver James Jones, a longtime Packer, signed a three-year pact with the Oakland Raiders, which will pay him over $11 million. It’s a curious move for the team, who seem to have needs all over the field. With a bevy of young wideouts, such as Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes, the team could have spent their money elsewhere. There have been rumors Moore is being dangled in trade talks, which would be great news for his dynasty value. As for Jones, his best years have come when he has scored an abundant amount of touchdowns, something that certainly cannot be counted on with the Raiders. Jones value is in the tank and he could be close to roster clogger status for dynasty owners.
Brandon Weeden, QB DAL
The Dallas Cowboys signed free agent quarterback Brandon Weeden to a two-year deal to backup Tony Romo. It’s a great move for Weeden who still has plenty to learn about playing to position in the NFL and it’s somewhat surprising he even got a second chance, considering his poor play for the Browns and his age. He can only be viewed as a backup NFL player and has no dynasty value. If Romo were to get injured, he’d be worth one more look.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB FA
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater participated in the University of Louisville’s pro day this week and things did not go in has favor. Most reports called Bridgewater inaccurate, something not often seen at a scripted pro day. Though he was once considered the favorite to be the top overall pick, his draft stock, and as a result, his dynasty stock, have been falling since the end of the football season. Even after his disappointing performance this week, Bridgewater should still be a high first round NFL pick and should be considered in the middle of the second round of dynasty rookie drafts.
Brandon LaFell, WR NE
It takes the perfect landing spot for a player like wide receiver Brandon LaFell to get the attention of dynasty owners and for many players, New England has proven to be the perfect spot. LaFell signed a three-year deal with the Patriots and is now a part of a very crowded depth chart. His contract nearly guarantees him a roster spot and gives him some dynasty value. How the rest of the depth chart shakes out is worth watching over the next few months.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR DEN
There had been much speculation about how the Denver Broncos would fill the void left by the departure of Eric Decker and they responded by signing former Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who had the best season of his career in 2013. The prolific Broncos offense is highly unlikely to repeat the record-breaking performance they enjoyed last season, but the targets should still be plentiful for Sanders, playing alongside Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker. Sanders gets a huge spike in value and has already become somewhat of a litmus test for dynasty owners. Some are already plugging him in as a WR2, while others don’t believe the hype and are selling high.
Julian Edelman, WR NE
After flirting with some other teams, receiver Julian Edelman re-signed with the New England Patriots after his career year of 2013. The deal will keep Edelman in Boston for four more years and he is expected to be the team’s top receiving threat again in 2014, though the depth chart is stacked behind him and is difficult to predict. My personal favorite is Aaron Dobson, but there are multiple talented young wideouts who could earn a significant role next season and beyond.
Ben Tate, RB CLE
One of the most heavily predicted free agent signings was running back Ben Tate to the Cleveland Browns and that is exactly what happened as Tate and the Browns agreed to a two-year contract. There were reports soon after the Browns traded Trent Richardson early in the 2013 season that their top target would be Tate, so this seemed to be destiny. The Browns were in no hurry and seemed to take advantage of the weak running back market, giving Tate an incentive laden short-term deal. It’s a smart move for the team considering Tate’s injury history, but he will still see a nice jump in dynasty value due to the new starting role.
Steve Smith, WR BAL
Veteran wide receiver Steve Smith, who was finally granted his release from the Carolina Panthers, wasted no time in signing a three-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens. Smith has already discussed his role with the Ravens and he seems to understand age has caught up to him a bit. It seems to be a good match as the Ravens offense struggled last season and Smith still has enough speed to take advantage of quarterback Joe Flacco’s big arm. Smith is not really a fantasy option, but should have some big weeks. He’s a great option in best ball leagues.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE DET
The Detroit Lions are keeping another one of their own after they agreed to a four-year deal with starting tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Fantasy owners and Lions fans everywhere have seemingly panned Pettigrew, but Detroit made retaining him a priority from the beginning of the off-season. He should continue to start, though Joseph Fauria made many more plays in 2013. With a new wide receiver in town and the team rumored to be looking at more pass catchers in the draft, this is a situation to avoid.
Hakeem Nicks, WR IND
The Indianapolis Colts signed free agent wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, formerly of the Giants, to a one-year deal. The market for Nicks was not as high as many once predicted following a growing injury history and some concerns about lack of effort last season. The fact Nicks could only garner a one-year commitment says a lot about his current NFL and dynasty value. If Nicks can show the Colts and other teams he is healthy and fully committed, his value could rebound in a big way. At this point, he is still a risk for dynasty owners.
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