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Fast Forward: The 2013 Free Agents

Most dynasty league owners are combing through the list of 2012 free agents and determining who they want to target in trades or unload this offseason.  They’re determining if it’s best to keep Peyton Manning, analyzing where Marques Colston may end up and trying to get Matt Flynn or Mario Manningham on the cheap.

Pfft.  Rookies.

Professional dynasty league owners made those decisions long ago, way before the free agent frenzy that’s about to hit was even remotely on the radar for most owners in their leagues. They targeted players like Flynn off the wire or as a sneaky throw in with a bigger trade last season, before others connected the dots.

With most owners spending their time analyzing the 2012 class, let’s take a look at 2013 to determine some viable targets and take some educated guesses on who may be changing addresses about this time next year.

Quarterbacks

Joe Flacco, QB BAL

It’s tough to imagine a scenario where the Ravens let Flacco go. You would expect him to sign some type of extension here in the offseason. While he’s no fantasy superstar, he’s still a viable QB2.

Matt Schaub, QB HOU

Schaub should have one more season to prove he can take the next step. Much like Flacco, it’s difficult to imagine a non-Peyton Manning signing scenario where the Texans let him go.

Matt Leinart, QB HOU

Unlike Schaub, you could certainly see the Texans let this Matt find a new home. This year is critical for Leinart – if he doesn’t get any time at all in Houston, his career is likely getting shorter and shorter.

Stephen McGee, QB DAL

The quarterback class of 2013 is really pretty awful and McGee may be the only player who may be worth monitoring this year. If he has a solid preseason, keep an eye on him. He may just be a player who gets an opportunity here in the next couple of seasons.

Running Backs

LeSean McCoy, RB PHI

The Eagles may be forced to use the franchise tag on DeSean Jackson this year, but there’s no way they do that again and choose him (or anyone else) over McCoy. Expect Shady to get his money from the Eagles at some point here in the next year or so.

Curtis Brinkley, RB SD

Brinkley is an interesting player on this list. He’s an RFA, so it’s a bit more complicated to predict his future, but he could get some time this season if the Bolts let go of Mike Tolbert. He’s a good buy low target for the time being and makes for a good roster stash.

Mike Goodson, RB CAR

Everyone talks about Jonathan Stewart getting his value crushed with DeAngelo Williams re-signing in Carolina last season, but it was Goodson who really got the shaft. He’s available in a ton of leagues right now and has shown a good amount of ability in limited time. For owners not paying attention, you could get him for next to nothing right now. He likely won’t be back in Carolina and could be a good weapon for another team.

Shonn Greene, RB NYJ

I’m not convinced he even makes it through next season as the starter. He’ll be an RFA at the end of next year and it’s hard to see the Jets (or anyone else) giving him starter’s money if he doesn’t improve. If you can find an owner who is sold on him long-term, stop reading this and make the deal.

Fred Jackson, RB BUF

This will be a big season for Jackson. If CJ Spiller impresses and Johnny White can show anything, Jackson could become expendable. He’s looking for an extension right now, but it’s tough to say what will happen with him coming off a big injury. He’s a “hold” because his value is really in flux right now.

Rashad Jennings, RB JAX

Jennings was put on IR last season, but quietly rehabbed himself back to nearly full strength before the end of the year. Maurice Jones-Drew was dominant last year, but Jennings is a player to target at the moment. Many owners have simply forgotten about him and he could emerge in Jacksonville or elsewhere.

Felix Jones, RB DAL

It’s a big year for DeMarco Murray. If he can stay healthy, Jones becomes expendable. While Jones’ value isn’t likely to increase much if he goes elsewhere, Murray’s certainly would. Just keep that in mind when you’re valuing these two players.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB PIT

Keep an eye on what the Steelers do in free agency and with the draft this year. Any running back they take (even if it’s late in the draft) would be worth a serious look. There’s no telling what Mendenhall will be able to do next year coming off his ACL injury and neither Isaac Redman or Jonathan Dwyer are likely the long term answer there.

Javon Ringer, RB TEN

Ringer took a big step back last year as he failed to capitalize on a big opportunity with CJ2K struggling. This year will be big for him. If Johnson struggles again, Ringer could find himself with another great chance to produce. He’s a great “buy low” at the moment, even with Jamie Harper in the mix.

Jonathan Stewart, RB CAR

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Stewart could very well be the best buy of this offseason in dynasty leagues. Many owners are still reeling from the Williams signing in Carolina as it zapped Stewart’s value to some degree. However, it’s very difficult to see the Panthers paying both of these running backs big money past this season. Whether Williams gets released after the year, or Stewart signs elsewhere, it looks like 2013 is finally setting up as “The Daily Show’s” big opportunity. He’s shown top 10 ability and you could get him for top 30-40 re-draft value in some leagues right now.

Wide Receivers

Antonio Brown, WR PIT

It’s tough to imagine the Steelers letting him go, especially if they work out a long term deal with Mike Wallace. Brown could be a candidate for the franchise tag next year.

Josh Cribbs, WR CLE

I find myself wondering what Cribbs could do on a good team. We may be a year away from finding that out.

Victor Cruz, WR NYG

Anything remotely close to last year’s production will net Cruz a long term deal in the Big Apple.

Malcom Floyd, WR SD

Floyd is, well, Floyd. You get some good games and get some clunkers. It’s hard to see a team looking at him as more than a WR2, and that’s hard to get excited about.

Greg Jennings, WR GB

Hmm. If there’s one team that’s stacked at position players, it’s the Packers. That being said, it’s really tough to see them letting Jennings walk. If he did, his stock would have nowhere to go but down. Randall Cobb would be a major beneficiary of this happening. With Driver aging and Jennings unsigned beyond next year, Cobb is a major buy candidate anyway.

Calvin Johnson, WR DET

The Lions will give him whatever he wants and probably a lifetime supply of Ford Fusions, to boot. Nothing happening here, move along.

Mohamed Massaquoi, WR CLE

Massaquoi has dealt with his fair share of injuries, but you have to wonder what he (like Cribbs) could produce on a decent team. He’s available for next to nothing in most leagues and patience could eventually pay off here.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR PIT

Sanders is a guy to keep your eye on this season. He’ll be an RFA at the end of the year, but it’s hard to see the Steelers paying big money to Wallace, Brown AND Sanders. He’s flying under the radar and is a player to keep tabs on for sure.

Steve Smith, WR CAR

Much like Jennings in Green Bay, it’s hard to see Smith leaving the Panthers. Cam Newton has revitalized his value and he’ll probably play out the string in Carolina. Regardless, Smith’s value wouldn’t change dramatically one way or the other if he was to bolt.

Tight Ends

James Casey, TE HOU

Casey is a player to keep tabs on as well. He’s likely on the wire in many leagues, but he does have some ability. Owen Daniels has never been the healthiest player and Casey is laying in the weeds. If the Texans let him walk, he could emerge if he finds himself in the right offense as a FB/TE hybrid player.

Jared Cook, TE TEN

Cook is a serious breakout candidate this year. If he plays well, look for the Titans to lock him up long term. The window to buy low on Cook is evaporating quickly.

Dustin Keller, TE NYJ

It’s tough to see Keller’s value skyrocketing outside of New York, but just keep his status in mind as the season progresses. If he finally emerges, remember there are no guarantees on his address beyond this year.

So, there you have it – that’s a very early look at what free agency could look like a year from now. While many of these players (Schaub, Flacco, McCoy) have next to no chance of hitting the open market, there are other players who you can get now before their price gets inflated.

Successful dynasty league owners need to plan ahead and look to the future. While many owners in your league are taking a myopic approach to free agency and only looking ahead to 2012, championship level owners have a read on what’s going to happen much later on.

Ken Kelly
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Meens
10 years ago

Good Article overall I just disagree with the stewart portion.

Stewart is obviously talented, but i dont see that situation changing for at least 2 years
Deangelo just average 5.4 ypc, hasnt even had 1000 career carries yet, and signed a contract that guaranteed him 21 million. He is on this team through 2013 at least.

So assuming Stewart has the ability to become the workhorse that everyone has been drooling about since he was drafted (me included up until Deangelo resigned, he wont be able to showcase it until 2014, when he’ll be 27.

I think the better advice to give people is too sell Stewart now while everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid and willing to pay feature back money for a committee back.

Another thing for people that havent actually watched alot of Stewarts games, Theres no doubt that the dude is really good, but I have noticed him calling to the sidelines himself tocome out of the game than I have noticed him look frustrated to come out. My point? I think those feet problems bother him every game, and he actually likes the carry split.

Think of Stewart as a slightly better version of Bradshaw at this point rather than the next Superstar RB.

DLF_KenK
10 years ago

I think we’ve got two different areas I can clarify in regards to Stewart.

1.) I believe this is likley the last year of both Stewart and Williams co-existing in Carolina. Williams may stay through the length of his contract, but it would be highly unlikely the Panthers would re-sign Stewart for the type of money he’d command at the end of next year since he’s a FA. That would put him on the free agent market at 25 (just shy of 26), likely just shy of 1,000 career carries as well.

2.) The other issue at play here is price point. If you have owners willing to pay feature back money to get Stewart, yes, you should sell on him. After all, the worst case scenario for you would be getting fair market value if he does become a featured runner somewhere else after next year.

However, in many leagues, he can be had for much less. Point is, his value is deflated in the eyes of many right now. If you can get him for a committee back price, you could really hit the jackpot. If he doesn’t emerge as a featured runner after next season, you’ve paid market value for him. At worst, he’d still be a really good committee back. That’s a win-win, even if he is no better than a slightly improved version of Bradshaw.

In my mind, there’s little risk in that scenario – it just depends on how the owner who has him in your league perceives his value.

o0flipz0o
Reply to  DLF_KenK
10 years ago

I’m intending on making a push for Stewart once our off season FA begins in the salary cap league I participate in.

I’m trying to decide how much of my cap I should spend on him though… I’ve got roughly 50% of my cap next season already accounted for, and need to fill 7-10 roster spots.

In a $50m league, would spending 10-15% of my cap on him be his expected price?

Meens
Reply to  DLF_KenK
10 years ago

Fair enough, I assume he gets franchised by Carolina next year rather than just walking away. If not, then maybe they know something we dont. I would guess that there is at least a couple owners in each league that would pay more for stewart than they would marshawn lynch, which i think is an improper valuation.

Reply to  Meens
10 years ago

first off i cant imagine anyone paying more for stewart then lynch…not saying he maybe worth it, but the comparison cant be made at this time because lynsh owns the job and stew is in a comm. 2nd no way caro. franchises stew….they have too much in deango and stew would have to be paid in the top percentage of rbs which would be about what deango is bringing in. you cant afford 2 rbs with that $. stew or deango will be gone.

Schiltbomb23
10 years ago

I really enjoy all the articles and information regarding Dynasty leagues on this site. I just recently discovered this site and now look for new articles daily. But onto my comments on Steward.

I am in a third year, 12 man, dynasty league and Steward was one of my key running backs during our original draft because I thought D Williams would be gone in a year and he was really young and talented. Didn’t work out as well as I hoped.

Last week I was offered a trade of Ryan Williams, 1.10 and 2.11 for Steward and 3.4. After much debate with myself and others I excepted the trade. The two main reason I did this were one more year of the current time share with Carolina and once he does hit the free agent market where is he going to go?

The NFL is moving away from a one back system. So more than likely where ever he ends up there is going to be somewhat of a time share. I would agree that if you can get good market value for Steward now, trade him. If not hold on two him and see what happens.

DLF_KenK
Reply to  Schiltbomb23
10 years ago

Thanks for supporting the site. Welcome aboard!

Chris R
10 years ago

I agree with Casey. I grabbed him RFA because I think his talent shows when he gets the chance to play. If Joel Dreesen walks this year he may shine in 2012. Will be interesting to see what the Texans do at fullback also.

Draho
10 years ago

One minor disagreement…on Greg Jennings…I actually see leaving GB potentially increasing his stock…anywhere he would land would be a team with a true hole at #1 WR with not as many WR/TE mouths to feed as green bay. Increased volume for him elsewhere, I believe, would make up for the prolific-ness of the Packer offense.

To put it succinctly…I think his production over the past couple years is much closer to his floor than his ceiling.

David
10 years ago

Ted Thompson will not let Greg Jennings walk. Aaron Rodgers’ best playmaker will sign another extension.

Casual Backhand Sauce
10 years ago

Left out at QB is Brian Hoyer…

Gregofthedead
10 years ago

Nice tip on Goodson, I’ve got a packed roster at the moment but I’ll snag him on waivers soon

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