DLF’s Weekly Impact Events

Ryan McDowell

brown

The 2014 off-season 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.

Andrew Quarless, TE GB

The Green Bay Packers re-signed tight end Andrew Quarless, following his flirtation with a few other teams on the open market. Quarless was drawing interest from a number of tight end needy teams, but chose to re-up with the Packers, where he’ll have a chance to start, assuming Jermichael Finley’s Green Bay career is over. Wide receiver James Jones is also likely gone, so there should be some targets to go around behind receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. Also, don’t be surprised if Green Bay selects a tight end early in the NFL Draft. For now, Quarless has some upside, but is only worthy of a roster spot in deeper leagues.

Andrew Hawkins, WR FA

Restricted free agent Andrew Hawkins has signed an offer sheet with the rival Cleveland Browns and the Bengals are reportedly unlikely to match the four-year pact. The Browns lack depth and talent behind star Josh Gordon and Hawkins could slide right into the slot receiver spot left by troubled Davone Bess, who was released earlier this off-season. Hawkins should see his dynasty value increase considered he was buried on the depth chart in Cincinnati, but it’s difficult to envision him ever becoming a fantasy starter.

Garrett Graham, TE HOU

Tight end Garrett Graham re-signed with the Houston Texans, agreeing to remain with the team for the next three years. This has been a busy few days for the Texans and their tight end position. It began with the release of veteran former starter Owen Daniels. That move, along with the interest in Graham from several other teams led to speculation that second year tight end Ryan Griffin would claim the starting job. While that still could happen, he’ll have to battle with Graham for snaps. Graham started much of last season as Daniels missed most of the year with an injury. Griffin finished up the season after Graham suffered an injury of his own. Both tight ends should have some value, but could end up canceling each other out. Daniels has been making the rounds as a free agent and has been linked to Baltimore and Washington. He maintains a little dynasty value, but can’t be relied on as a starting fantasy tight end.

Steve Smith, WR FA

After much speculation, the Carolina Panthers finally released veteran wide receiver Steve Smith. Smith has spent his entire thirteen year career with the team and has been the only quality wide receiver for much of that time. The team that seems to be constantly searching for a second wide receiver is now left with Marvin McNutt and Tavarres King as the top two on their depth chart. The team continues to show interest in Hakeem Nicks and have also been reportedly interested in bring back their own free agent Brandon LaFell. Expect the wide receiver position to be a priority in the draft. Smith, on the open market for the first time, has shown interest in the Baltimore Ravens, who could use an offensive boost.

Darren Sproles, RB PHI

The New Orleans Saints traded veteran running back Darren Sproles to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fifth round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. It was reported late last week that Sproles had been released by the Saints, but that was premature, as the team discovered that multiple teams were interested in Sproles. After learning that, the Saints set out to deal Sproles get something of value in return, rather than cutting him outright. Sproles has lost a step, but should be a big part of Chip Kelly’s offense backing up LeSean McCoy. It had been earlier reported that Bryce Brown had fallen out of favor with the Eagles and could be dealt himself, so adding another back makes sense. It’s one of the best places Sproles could have landed, considering the offense. He’s a solid depth back in fantasy and could end up as a decent starter based on his receptions alone.

Eric Decker, WR NYJ

Wide receiver Eric Decker, formerly of the Denver Broncos, signed a five-year deal with the New York Jets. The Jets were clearly in need of help at the wide receiver position and nabbed the player widely considered to be the top available free agent wideout. Of course, going to the Jets is not what Decker dynasty owners wanted, considering the current state of the team, especially the quarterback position. Decker’s dynasty value likely remains steady for most as the offense will be much worse than what he enjoyed in Denver, but he will likely see the large majority of targets in the passing game.

Brandon Weeden, QB FA

The Cleveland Browns parted way with quarterbacks Brandon Weeden along with veteran Jason Campbell this week. Neither of these moves is especially surprising, given the struggles of both players last season, but it’s a clear sign the team will add a quarterback, likely through the draft. Even if they do use their fourth overall selection on a signal caller, they could still rely on veteran Brian Hoyer early in the season. While Weeden and Campbell might both be finished and certainly have no dynasty value, Hoyer remains a sleeper with upside.

Golden Tate, WR DET

The Detroit Lions agreed to a five-year deal with former Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate. Tate will step in as the second wide receiver alongside Calvin Johnson and should be an instant success. Tate played well in Seattle, but was never featured in the team’s run heavy offense. When they did throw, quarterback Russell Wilson spread the ball around to his wide receivers, limiting Tate’s upside. With the Lions, Tate should see a nice increase in targets and can be considered as a low-end fantasy starter. His dynasty value has dramatically increased and he might be the biggest fantasy “winner” up to this point in the free agency process.

Josh McCown, QB TB

Quarterback Josh McCown agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a two-year contract. The early expectation was that McCown was brought in to compete with last year’s starter Mike Glennon, but head coach Lovie Smith had a surprise for everyone as he named McCown the starter for the 2014 season. McCown excelled for the Chicago Bears last season in Marc Trestman’s offense, but this is a different system with fewer weapons. Expect McCown to sling it around early and often, likely to the benefit of wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Meanwhile, Glennon is left to be the backup and has little dynasty value left.

Pierre Thomas, RB NO

There had been rumors that the New Orleans Saints were looking to either trade or release veteran running back Pierre Thomas, but following their other moves, specifically at the running back position, the team instead extended Thomas’ contract, which will keep him with the Saints through 2016. It is still expected that the roles of younger back Khiry Robinson and Mark Ingram will increase, though the Saints are well known for using multiple backs, making all risky fantasy plays.

Donald Brown, RB SD

The San Diego Chargers surprisingly signed running back Donald Brown to a three-year pact. The Chargers had a great deal of success from their running game last season, led by Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, but evidently felt they needed one more piece. Brown finally lived up to expectations in 2013, when he overtook bust Trent Richardson for the starting job and had his best season as a pro. Mathews has often dealt with injury issues, so Brown could just be a very expensive insurance policy. This is probably another spot where all three backs cancel each other out, making all questionable fantasy plays on a weekly basis.

Toby Gerhart, RB JAX

Former Vikings backup running back Toby Gerhart signed a three-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars and with former starter Maurice Jones-Drew on his way out of town, Gerhart is the favorite to start. The Jaguars also have Jordan Todman and could still draft a rookie runner. Gerhart’s dynasty value will obviously increase with his new role, but his long-term upside is limited, especially in Jacksonville’s poor offense.

Miles Austin, WR FA

The Dallas Cowboys released wide receiver Miles Austin, a move that was widely expected following yet another injury riddled season for the former star wideout. When Austin succumbed to injury, rookie wide receiver Terrance Williams took over as a starter and impressed enough to claim the job going forward. Austin will get another shot somewhere, with the Jets already rumored as a landing spot, but his days as a reliable fantasy asset are over. In Dallas, Williams sees a nice bump in value, both short and long-term.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB IND

In somewhat of a surprise move, the Indianapolis Colts re-signed running back Ahmad Bradshaw to a one year deal. Bradshaw has had injury problems seemingly each year, including in 2013 when he missed much of the season following neck surgery. It appears as if the team made the decision to part ways with Donald Brown, who had claimed the starting job to end the season and opted for the much cheaper Bradshaw. The team has already made it known they plan to go back to the disappointing Trent Richardson as their starter entering the 2014 season. Bradshaw has no dynasty value, while Richardson could regain some of his value if he can get off to a strong start.

Darren McFadden, RB OAK

In another surprise move, the Oakland Raiders re-signed running back Darren McFadden to a one-year deal. After another disappointing season last year, McFadden was expected to walk away, while the Raiders seemed intent on bringing back veteran Rashad Jennings, who excelled last season. Instead, the Giants signed Jennings away and the Raiders, who have lacked direction early in free agency, returned to the oft-injured McFadden. Expect second year man Latavius Murray to play a big role in the Raiders’ backfield, while Jennings looks to be the Giants top runner heading into the season. David Wilson can’t be counted on and the team chose Jennings over last year’s starter Andre Brown, who’s still available on the free agent market.

Blaine Gabbert, QB SF

You might have noticed a theme of surprise acquisitions and here is another one. The San Francisco 49ers dealt a sixth round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for first round bust Blaine Gabbert. The 49ers have gained a reputation for taking on reclamation projects and Gabbert could provide head coach Jim Harbaugh with his biggest challenge yet.  The Jaguars are left with Chad Henne as their starter and are expected to add a rookie in the draft. Gabbert continues to have no dynasty value.

Dexter McCluster, RB TEN

The Tennessee Titans signed Dexter McCluster away from the Kansas City Chiefs, agreeing on a three-year deal. McCluster had been used as both a running back and a wide receiver during his time with the Chiefs and new Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt reportedly wants to use McCluster in a similar fashion to the way he used Danny Woodhead in San Diego last season. Woodhead didn’t see many carries, but was used extensively as a pass catcher out of the backfield, a role McCluster could fill well.

Brandon Myers, TE TB

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed former Giants and Raiders tight end Brandon Myers to a two-year contract and he is expected to start for new head coach Lovie Smith. While Myers has little upside following his disappointing season in New York, this greatly impacts the dynasty value of youngster Tim Wright, who came out of nowhere to have a solid rookie season for his former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. With Schiano gone, Wright lost his biggest fan and much of his dynasty value.

Joique Bell, RB DET

Restricted free agent running back Joique Bell will be staying with the Detroit Lions for the next three years. Bell had a breakout season, playing alongside Reggie Bush in the Lions’ backfield. We can expect Bell and Bush to continue their strong performances in 2014 and both should be solid values in dynasty leagues.

Andre Roberts, WR WAS

One of the first reports to break on the opening day of free agency was the move of wide receiver Andre Roberts to the Washington Redskins. Roberts was underused in Arizona and the Cardinals seemed to have little interest in bringing him back. The Skins continue to opt for undersized wideouts as Roberts will likely start alongside Pierre Garcon. The team also re-signed veteran and longtime Redskin Santana Moss, who will man the third wide receiver spot, barring a Leonard Hankerson breakout. Roberts should see a nice uptick in value with many more targets than the past two years in Arizona.

Aaron Dobson, WR NE

In one of the few stories this week not related to free agency, second year receiver Aaron Dobson of the Patriots underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. He’s expected to be out of action for the next two to three months. Dobson was a popular breakout candidate, but this hampers that somewhat, though this might just make his price tag a bit cheaper in dynasty leagues.

Santonio Holmes, WR FA

The New York Jets released veteran receiver Santonio Holmes. This is a move that we’ve seen coming for a couple of years and would’ve come sooner if not for the salary cap implications. Holmes has battled injuries and had little success with the Jets the past two seasons. Holmes attitude and effort have been questioned throughout recent years, which won’t help him land another job. He will likely end up getting a shot somewhere, but has no dynasty value at this point.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB FA

Soon to be free agent running back Rashard Mendenhall has opted to retire rather than searching for another team. While this is somewhat of a surprise, there had been hints suggesting this could happen the past couple of weeks. While Mendenhall was once considered a top ten dynasty running back, he has struggled the past couple of years and had little dynasty value. He can be dropped in all leagues.

Follow @RyanMc23 on Twitter

ryan mcdowell