UPDATED Sunday, March 8th, 2012: The 2012 NFL free agent market has already given fantasy owners plenty of reason to switch over to rethink mode and we've haven't even begun discussing OTAs and camp. I mean really: Vincent Jackson, Laurent Robinson, Peyton Hillis, Brandon Marshall and Randy Moss have already cornered water-cooler talk for a few weeks now, and there's bound to be even more names making similar splashes in the coming days.
So what does this all mean in regard to this year's 2012 fantasy football season? How will the free agent market flux affect your draft strategy?—why is John Carlson's name in the title above???
Let's see if we can make some early sense of every move for everyone.
Vincent Jackson to Tampa Bay:
At first glance many owners may think to themselves that Vincent Jackson's fantasy value will take a hit now that he is in Tampa Bay, but I'm not so sure.
Two factors here: Head Coach Greg Schiano and Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan.
Schiano was a "run-heavy" coach at Rutgers (mainly when Ray Rice was on the team), but that was Rutgers. Schiano does feel he can let the passing game open up a bit which counters the notion he will deploy the same "run-heavy" approach he did in college.
Mike Sullivan has yet to show us what type of signal caller he'll be, but the man did work under Kevin Gilbride's system in New York, and is expected to deploy a similar system—both coaches have already discussed expanding the passing game since arriving in Tampa—Sullivan is also the same man who helped cultivate Eli Manning, so again, there's reason to suspect this team will pass more than run.
I think if you devalue Jackson simply because he moves to Tampa, you're setting yourself up for a big fall. He may fall shy of his 1,106 receiving yards from last season, but I do believe his catches and TDs will increase with the growing offensive philosophy in Tampa.
Remember something, Tampa never truly viewed receiver Mike Williams as a certified No. 1 receiver and the man still caught 65 balls and 11 TDs—Vincent Jackson caught 60 with 9 TDs in San Diego last season, so you can just imagine the possibilities in Tampa. V-Jax is still an elite WR 1 in my book no matter what league type you're in.
Brandon Marshall to Chicago:
Amazing how a single individual with such a sorted past can still be paid $47.5 million dollars from a new team, but then again, that's how good this guy really is—something you must remember on draft day.
Marshall never had an elite quarterback situation in Miami and he never had a solid complimentary receiver to draw defensive attention away from him and the man STILL averaged 83.5 catches and 1,114 yards receiving in just two years as a Dolphin.
Now? Now the guy reunites with Jay Cutler—ya know, the same tandem in Denver that afforded Marshall 327 catches, 4,019 receiving yards and 25 TDs in four years—and is placed in an offensive system that is designed for vertical receivers...a match made in heaven, perhaps.
Marshall is projected to be one of the best PPR receivers in 2012 with his new digs, and hopefully he grades out that way in the end. Those who compete in standard scoring systems and/or modified systems should also see an increase in his fantasy output this year too.
Laurent Robinson to Jacksonville:
Now THIS was a bad move. Robinson showed everyone last season how talented he really is, but the QB situation in Jacksonville isn't projected to get any better anytime soon.
Missouri quarterbacks (like Gabbert) almost never make it in the NFL thanks largely to their offensive setup. The scheme plays the quarterback out of the gun almost 70% of the time, and requires the QB to make one or two quick predetermined reads before throwing, so in college, the QBs look very impressive until they hit the pros and have to learn the art of being a pocket passer.
Blaine Gabbert showed little poise and basically looked like a deer in headlights every single game last season, and did not show any improvement before finally getting benched in favor of...*cough*... Luke McCown.
Robinson provides Jacksonville with a vertical threat indeed, but Jacksonville provides little upside for fantasy owners kicking the tires on Robinson, even as a WR 2 at this point.
John Carlson to Minnesota:
I can see it now. Someone, somewhere—probably on a drunken bet—decided it would be a larf to sign John Carlson (formerly of Seattle) to a five-year, $25 million dollar deal, only to wake the next morning in their stuporous-funker and say: " We did what?"
But is this deal really that bad?
Well in regard to money, probably. But in regard to fantasy, this technically has sleeper potential written all over it.
OK, yes this guy did miss all of 2011 with a shoulder injury, but this is also the guy who averaged 53 catches, 600 receiving yards and 6 TDs in his first two years. This is also a guy who is familiar with the two-TE system that Minnesota deploys.
I wouldn't consider Carlson a TE 1 by any stretch of the imagination—the Vikings need to repair their O-line, get Adrian Peterson healthy, and help Christian Ponder turn the corner first—but I am saying that Carlson is an excellent value pick as a second TE who could wind up being a legitimate sleeper.
[box] A Few Quick Slants:
- Randy Moss to San Fran means the 49ers are just as crazy as New York, Tennessee and New England. HOWEVER, keep you eye on him when camp opens up...he's still Randy Moss.
- Peyton Hillis to Kansas City? Great RB2 upside, but nothing more.
- Does everyone know there is a chance that Rams receiver Brandon Lloyd could play in New England this year? Well, according to the Boston Globe the Patriots are "still working to get him into the fold". Lloyd is already crazy-stupid good, but having Tom Brady as your QB will only make him that much better. If Lloyd does sign, you could be looking at WR 1 potential. Update: Lloyd has signed a three year deal worth $12 million dollars. It is a very intriguing development in fantasy football, so be sure to keep your eye focused on his development with QB Tom Brady.
- RB Michael Bush is in the news as he met with the Bears yesterday (Wednesday) and the Bengals today. Obviously his stock would hold more value in Cincinnati than in Chicago, but we'll have to wait and see how things unfold.
- Update: Mario Manningham has finally signed with the San Francisco 49ers for two years and $ 12million dollars according to NFL.com. Manningham, however, could be a victim of an unavoidable situation in San Francisco which could hurt his fantasy value. If Alex Smith is allowed to walk WITHOUT the 49ers grabbing Peyton Manning, then his value is shot. If the 49ers miss out on Manning but keep Smith, then his value could hold true as a fantasy WR3, but then again, we still have to wait and see what his role will be with Moss and Crabtree already on the roster.[/box]
Have a question regarding a player? Leave it below and I'll be sure to respond.