FANTASY PLAYS: Prospects for old faces in new places
When players join new teams, fantasy owners need to generally proceed with caution. There's no guarantee a player will put up the same numbers with a new team as they did with the old one.
Fantasy leagues saw that a couple years ago when DeMarco Murray played in Philadelphia. Old faces in new places raise a number of key questions: How much should we upgrade or downgrade a player who has changed teams since last season? If he is a receiver or tight end, will he have enough time during camp and practice to develop chemistry with his new quarterback? Does the blocking scheme utilize what a running back does best?
There were 35 players who changed teams from last year that could have a fantasy impact this season in most leagues. That sounds like quite a bit, but only Brandin Cooks in New England and Martellus Bennett in Green Bay can be considered top 12 fantasy players at their positions. We all know how dangerous it can be to rely on just about anyone outside of Tom Brady in New England. Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn't care about his own players' personal feelings, only about winning games, and if that means during certain weeks Cooks isn't part of the game plan, so be it. Tight end is extremely deep, so although Bennett could be a No. 1 with Aaron Rodgers throwing to him, you don't have to reach for him as he's in the same tier with Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, and Hunter Henry.
Still, there are valuable players who changed locations. Sammy Watkins, Brandon Marshall, Terrelle Pryor, Marshawn Lynch, Alshon Jeffery, Pierre Garcon, Julius Thomas, Jared Cook, and Dwayne Allen are in the next tiers at their positions. We can move on from the tight ends as they only have value if you play in a league that starts more than one.
- Buffalo trading Watkins to the Rams was a surprise and it hurts his value. Sure, he can be a number one WR for the Rams but there are still quite a few questions regarding if the Rams have a number one QB in Jared Goff. It doesn't matter how good a WR a player is, if he doesn't have a QB that can get him the ball on a regular basis, he is not going to put up great numbers.
- Marshall probably deserves some more love. Yes, he had a terrible season last year for the Jets, but who didn't? Now he's with a good team that can't run the ball whatsoever and will look to throw to Marshall and Odell Beckham Jr. early and often. Also, he will rarely see the opposing team's top cornerback or a safety over the top with Beckham on the opposite side.
- Who knows why Cleveland let Pryor go, but Kirk Cousins will love throwing to him.
- On Lynch, when was the last time we had a 31-year old RB who came out of retirement and play well, after he was injured during his last NFL season?
- Jeffery still has to prove that he can be a true No. 1 WR, as his best seasons have come when he had a top threat opposite him.
- The 49ers will likely lose more than their share of games, but Garcon is still going to see a truckload of targets in this offense. He could be a steal in the mid-rounds of your draft.
When it comes to the next group, we no longer have studs, but still useful players who will start for your fantasy team more often than not. Danny Woodhead, Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews, Kenny Britt, Latavius Murray, Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, Adrian Peterson, LeGarrette Blount, Eddie Lacy, DeSean Jackson and Eric Decker round out this bunch. We'll avoid Gillislee and Burkhead - as mentioned above, there is no winning the Belichick guessing game. We should also stay away from Woodhead and Maclin also until we find out positive news about the health of Joe Flacco.
- It would be nice to see Matthews get some repetitions with Tyrod Taylor before investing there and it also looks like Buffalo is playing for the future and not this season.
- On Britt, it could be smart to avoid Cleveland's passing game completely.
- Murray looked like a nice back to pick in Minnesota until the Vikings selected Dalvin Cook in the draft.
- On Peterson, it's hard to see the future Hall of Famer relegated to a backup role when it sure looks like he still has tread left on the tires and it also seems like coach Sean Payton doesn't like Mark Ingram all that much.
- All starting RBs have value, but Blount and Lacy may put that theory to the test.
- Jackson will once again be a deep threat that will keep defenses from paying too much attention to Mike Evans.
- It's hard to see Decker putting up solid fantasy numbers for a team that will run the ball first and has plenty of options in the passing game when they do decide to throw.
As for players who could take up a spot on your bench depending upon how deep you league is, Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, Mike Glennon, Josh McCown, Brock Osweiler, Markus Wheaton, Robert Woods, Ted Ginn, Michael Floyd, Kamar Aiken, Torrey Smith, and Jamaal Charles could help fill those slots.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com