With “Spring Christmas” (The NFL Draft) right around the corner, the staff at Five Burning Questions thought it would be a good time to do a quick review of the offseason moves that have captured our attention the last month or so. If you’re looking for a more in depth review of these transactions and many more, be sure to check out our site search and article archive.
- What move has received the biggest overreaction?
When The Saints traded Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks, people reacted as though the Ruskies were launching nukes at the East Coast. His first round ADP from our December mocks now a thing of the past, many analysts, including a few of DLF’s own dynasty denizens, went as far as to drop him to third or fourth in their TE ranks. Once the belle of the ball, when the clock struck 12, Graham somehow became just another tight end.
Here is the dirty little secret that seemingly nobody knew – he hasn’t been an elite fantasy producer for nearly a season and a half. Graham has been over-drafted and over-valued for months and months. Where people are considering him now is where he should have been all this time.
Did you know that after posting 100 yards receiving seven times in a 12 game span, Graham has reached that number only once in his last 22 tries? Over that same stretch our subject averaged 14.4 PPR PPG, a pace that is far below his 17.7 average since the start of the 2011 season. 230 points in 16 games is a pretty solid effort from a tight end, but last season alone five players at the position topped 217.
[inlinead]Before the angry letters come in, yes, I’m aware Graham has been hurt much of the past season-and-a-half and that most certainly has something to do with his fall off. Of course, we hold this level of recent injury history against most players (Calvin Johnson, for example), so perhaps it is another reason we should have had tempered expectations regardless of what uniform he has on.
Most of the handwringing seems to be over an assumed, based on past data, 20-25% drop in targets for Graham. A quick poll on Twitter and of DLF writers bears this out with an average predicted point total of 215 this season versus a projected 255 if JG had stayed in NO. Assuming the 215 is close, the dip from the 230 point pace we’ve seen for 22 games is 7%, a much more palatable, reasonable figure.
Concerning the 255-point prediction had Graham stayed in the black and gold, I have to wonder how realistic people are about the Saints’ current situation. They a regressing franchise with an aging elite quarterback, awful cap situation and a shifting offensive philosophy. The Seahawks are an ascending franchise with an in-his-prime elite quarterback whose pass attempts have seen an increase every season of his career. At the end of the day, Graham moved from a spiraling situation to a good one. I’m not sure how that’s a terrible thing.
- What move has the biggest negative impact in fantasy?
You want me to say Jeremy Maclin to the Chiefs, but I’m not going to. The thing is, aside from what that did to torpedo the former Eagle wide receiver’s value, it helps everybody else around him. Maclin will take pressure off Travis Kelce, give Alex Smith a legit outside threat, and help unstack the box for Jamaal Charles.
The signing that really messed things up was Percy Harvin going to Buffalo.
The first thing I should mention here is I’m not too sure Harvin would have a ton of value on any roster. Due to the nature of his skill set, He’s been a player I’ve not held in high regard at any point in his career. As I droned on last fall when discussing Cordarrelle Patterson, non-traditional receivers rarely, if ever, have a measureable impact in fantasy football. (go ahead, find one who did. I’ll wait here). So while the signing won’t hurt him, it is painful for the owners of the players around the mercurial receiver.
While Sammy Watkins usage in gadget plays is overstated, the things Harvin does aren’t entirely dissimilar in many regards. Watkins is a better pure receiver, but he also excels at plays where he gets the ball in space. It is reasonable to wonder if Harvin will eat into that. At the very least I’m confident he won’t do much to help take the pressure off the Bills’ young number one.
Robert Woods posted double digit fantasy points in seven of his last 11 outings. His PPG over that stretch was 12.1, which works out to a mid-range WR3. And at only 23 years old there was plenty of room for optimism Woods had more to offer going forward. For at least one season, Harvin destroys that. And for what? I can’t see Percy doing any better than what I expected from the former Trojan.
Charles Clay was a in a tier of tight ends who all had the potential to post low-end TE1 numbers. Now he’s no better than fourth in the pecking order and will be lucky to end up a mid-range TE2 as long as Harvin is there. From an NFL perspective he makes the Bills offense better. From a fantasy perspective we get nothing but agony.
Even LeSean McCoy figures to lose a few touches. Assuming Harvin works some out of the backfield and is involved in the screen game, he certainly won’t make things easier for McCoy’s owners.
So in the midst of the “Spring Christmas” season, I say bah humbug to Harvin and Rex Ryan for making my holiday a little more miserable.
- What player improved their stock the most by changing teams?
It has to be Andre Johnson. Before his move to Indy I had him in the high 40’s-low 50’s among WR’s, a ranking that that could have been considered optimistic. In DLF’s rankings I currently have him seated at WR31, with the esteemed Jeff Beran tabbing him as high as WR25. The rationale is simple: Andrew Luck > Any Texan QB. It’s a point that’s difficult to argue.
I’d expect steady WR2 numbers from Johnson this year and perhaps next. A line of 75/950/6 seems about right.
If you were wondering who the runner up would be, I’d go with C.J. Spiller signing with the Saints.
- How bad will it really be for Maclin in KC?
Everybody is worried about Alex Smith’s pop-gun arm and lack of willingness to throw the ball more than six yards down the field. The thing is, Maclin doesn’t have to catch the deep ball to be an effective player. Prior to this past season, his career YPR hovered around 13.4, which would have ranked him 32nd among receivers (minimum 75 targets) in 2014. From 2010-2012 he posted 14.3, 13.6, and 13 PPR PPG with a mix of Mike Vick, Kevin Kolb, Nick Foles and Vince Young under center. There is no way Alex Smith is worse for his fantasy value than those guys.
Currently going as the 31st wide receiver in our latest ADP data, Maclin could be an attractive buy-low who should have a safe floor, even if his ceiling is a bit limited.
- Which left-for-dead player gives you the most hope based on his landing spot?
After considering Michael Crabtree, Dwayne Bowe, Denarius Moore and Darren McFadden, I can confidently say Smashburger has the best fast-food burger around. (Get the truffle mushroom and swiss. Trust me.) This is my way of saying I’d prefer a six dollar sammich to any of the above players.
Crabtree had one and a half good seasons and has otherwise been nothing more than a WR4, Bowe hasn’t mattered since Obama’s first term, and McFadden looks as bad on tape as I do after a marathon session at the craps table. Only Moore has any hope for anything going forward and his 2015 best case is competing with Mohammed Sanu for Andy Dalton’s table scraps.
If forced to rank them for dynasty purposes I’d go with mustard, mayo, Moore, BBQ sauce, ketchup, Crabtree, Bowe, pickle relish, McFadden. And I hate relish.
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