Most fantasy leagues are nearing their trade deadline and now is the time to start tweaking your roster to set up your team for 2012. Whether you are making a championship run in 2011 or are already out of the running, carefully planned acquisitions or trades can make all the difference for next year. Following is a short listing of those more notable free agents:
Drew Brees, NO
Sure he’s a free agent but he’s not going anywhere.
Matt Flynn, GB
He’ll be a starter somewhere next year and should be owned in all formats. As it sits now, he’s the highest ranked non-starting free agent QB on the board.
Jason Campbell, OAK
Could be back with the Raiders on a short term deal, but not likely. You could do worse for a QB3.
Kyle Orton, DEN
You have to feel a little bad for Orton. He’s a good game manager and a capable Sunday quarterback, just not elite. He’ll be elsewhere.
Dennis Dixon, PIT
He could be a surprise in 2012. Good size, mobility and a relatively live arm. He’s an add in leagues with a deep roster.
Alex Smith, SF
Going to be an interesting situation with Smith. He’s playing the best ball in his career right now and Colin Kaepernick is waiting in the wings.
Vince Young, PHI
Another interesting situation. Something tells me that VY will be content to resign in Philly, even if it’s to play backup to Michael Vick and hold a clipboard.
Brady Quinn, DEN
He’d be well advised to take his talents somewhere else. Elway is in town now and the Broncos will be in the market for a mini-Elway come the 2012 draft.
Caleb Hanie, CHI
He signed a one year deal in 2011 and will likely be elsewhere in 2012. He’s not as highly coveted as Flynn but will compete for a spot and playing time.
Cedric Benson, CIN
Almost certain to be playing elsewhere next year unless Cincinnati believes he’s at least partially responsible for their 2011 success thus far.
Matt Forte’, CHI
I have thought often “What are the Bears doing?!?!?”. They should have extended Forte’ by now rather than being penny pinchers. Kudos to Forte’ for not allowing his ridiculous final year salary to be a distraction to him and the team. The Bears deserve to lose him in free agency and you can be sure he feels the same way. It will be a bidding war and Forte’ will be the ultimate winner unless the Bears use the dreaded franchise tag on him, and they will. Next year he won’t be so merry or accommodating.
Arian Foster, HOU
Another interesting situation. Houston has a great offensive line and if they believe Ben Tate can be just as successful as Foster, they may elect to not get into a bidding war for Foster’s services. In the end I believe they’ll resign him and keep both backs in the fold. If they don’t want a bidding war, they should extend him now!
Ryan Grant, GB
He’s likely gone next year unless he wants a chance at more rings while being a backup to Starks. Starks will only continue to garner more carries and the Packers don’t rely on the run. Look for Grant to sign one more good sized contract, even if it is for only two years.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, NE
Just too many backs in New England’s backfield and BGE isn’t special enough to keep around with both Vereen and Ridley equally capable.
Adrian Peterson, MIN
It’s going to be as expensive as it gets, but the Vikings will pay him.
Ray Rice, BAL
Won’t be quite as expensive as Peterson, but Rice will retire a Raven.
Jason Snelling, ATL
Snelling is one of those players that has always been on the cusp of breaking out as a capable runner. In the right situation without too much competition, I think Snelling could be a fantasy producer. The odds are stacked against him as he ages, but stranger things have happened.
Michael Bush, OAK
Bush signed a one year extension in August of this year and he’s going to want a chance to start. I could see him moving to Denver or Seattle.
Mike Tolbert, SD
Signed a one year deal in July of 2011. He’ll want to test the market but my money is on him resigning in SD.
Marshawn Lynch, SEA
Lynch is more capable than his offensive line but obviously doesn’t have the skills to overcome the deficit. He’s still young and should be a time-share starter somewhere in 2012.
LaDainian Tomlinson, NYJ
The most notable thing about his free agency is that it will open up the spot for either Bilal Powell or Joe McKnight. McKnight is a better fit for replacement of Tomlinson’s skills.
Dwayne Bowe, KC
Little way he’s back in Kansas City. Poor quarterback play and a dictator for a coach means Bowe will be playing elsewhere and for a lot of money.
Plaxico Burress, NYJ
He’ll resign in New York but he doesn’t offer a lot of upside.
Marques Colston, NO
It’s a race between the 2011 season ending and his body breaking down further. Likely will resign in New Orleans, but his knees are terrible.
Early Doucet, ARI
Doucet is finally getting looks and proving his worth as a capable receiver. If he can stay healthy, he can be a producer. Look for him to resign in Arizona.
Braylon Edwards, SF
Just never got going in 2011 but he shouldn’t have a high price tag. San Fran will likely resign him unless they have their eye on a true WR1 like Bowe.
Pierre Garcon, IND
50/50 that he’s back in Indianapolis.
Mario Manningham, NYG
The second half of 2011 will dictate his value. With Victor Cruz emerging, he could be allowed to walk but I believe the Giants will want to go three wide with Nicks, Manningham and Cruz.
Robert Meachem, NO
Almost certain to depart for a chance at a greater role.
Reggie Wayne, IND
He’s none too happy right now and shows it on the field and on the sidelines. If Manning doesn’t return, neither will Wayne.
Wes Welker, NE
He’ll be a Patriot for life
Jake Ballard, NYG
The relatively unknown tight end has proven that he’s capable. He’ll resign as a Giant.
Joel Dreesen, HOU
I’m expecting Dreesen to depart for a bigger role after proving that he has the skills to be a TE1.
Jermichael Finley, GB
He causes much more defensive heartburn than his 2011 stats would suggest. Green Bay will bring him back for that reason in addition to the fact that Aaron Rodgers loves him.
Greg Olsen, CAR
Shockey will likely depart leaving Olsen as the true TE1.
Jeremy Shockey, CAR
As good as gone.
Marcedes Lewis, JAX
Too many changes hurt his value in 2011 but he’s the only consistency JAX has had. They’ll resign him.
You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff