The free agent frenzy has slowly begun to quiet, though there are still a few guys out there worth mentioning. As things begin to calm, I wanted to take this chance to let you know where several of these big-name free agents have landed and what type of fantasy impact they might have.
Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle — Jackson joins a corps of QBs who would be lucky to make a lot of NFL rosters, but this is Seattle where they don’t really seem to give a crap. OC Darrell Bevell saw something in Jackson he liked, and with Sidney Rice and Zach Miller now in the fold, anything’s possible.
Alex Smith, San Francisco — Smith signed a one year deal to stay in SF, so we’ll see Jim Harbaugh can bring out the best in this former number one overall pick. Smith has all the weapons in the world to get the job done, but still isn’t worth drafting him where his ADP says to.
Donovan McNabb, Minnesota — The Vikes only coughed up a sixth-rounder for him, so it’s not like they expect this guy to come in and be their franchise QB. McNabb has two jobs in Minnesota. First, he’s expected to produce in 2011. Does he need to win a Super Bowl? No, but that would definitely be a bonus. Second, he’s expected to help Christian Ponder learn all the aspects of being a quarterback in the National Football League.
Tyler Thigpen, Buffalo — Nothing more than a backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Let’s move on.
Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee — Much like McNabb, Hass has two jobs… and they’re the exact same. The Titans took Jake Locker with the 8th overall pick, but they want to bring him along slowly. Now if they can only get Chris Johnson signed and back in camp.
Kevin Kolb, Arizona — The Cards might have given up too much to get Kolb in Phoenix, but at least they got the guy they coveted. With Kolb under center instead of Skelton or Hall, they now have a legitimate QB who has proven he can lead an offense down the field. Larry Fitzgerald’s fantasy value just skyrocketed.
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina — The Panthers parted with a lot of money to get D-Will back in Carolina, but they still believe he can be their franchise back. This absolutely sucks as a Stewart owner, and it sucks even more because I can’t call Mike Goodson a sleeper anymore. If Williams stays healthy all season, he could be a 1200-yard, 10 TD guy, though it’s unlikely. If you draft Williams, you almost have to draft Stewart… just in case.
Reggie Bush, Miami — Does his role in Miami change compared to what he did in New Orleans? Not really. He still has a tremendous amount of talent, but he’s not capable of handling every down duties and must make a name for himself in the passing game.
Darren Sproles, New Orleans — Could end up being a better version of Reggie Bush because he doesn’t seem to get hurt as much and has never really had a problem holding onto the ball. Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas will get the majority of the touches, but Sproles can still score any time he touches the ball.
Willis McGahee, Denver — I don’t think the Broncos believe he can take Moreno’s job, but they do believe he’s good enough to provide a challenge and maybe light a fire under his butt. McGahee is good around the goal line, so that might cut into Moreno’s touchdowns, but the job still belongs to the third-year RB.
Joseph Addai, Indy — The Colts brought him back this year because he seems to flourish in odd years. Look at his numbers and you can see his best years have been 2007 and 2009. 2008 and 2010 were forgettable seasons. Addai isn’t going to be anywhere close to a fantasy RB1, buthe could be a good flex option if he stays healthy.
Cedric Benson, Cincinnati — His better days are behind him. I’m still scratching my head as to why the Bengals brought him back, but they must see something the rest of us don’t. Benson looks slow and old and broken down, and without the threat of a passing game, his numbers will suffer even more.
Tim Hightower, Washington — The Washington backfield is more “muddy” than the Arizona backfield, so I’m not sure this is a good move for Hightower’s fantasy value. He needs to take a course in “holding onto the football” before I can even take him seriously. Hightower is nothing more than a third down back who might get a few cheap receiving TDs this year. Stay away. The Beanie Wells camp immediately threw a party upon Hightower’s departure.
Ahmad Bradshaw, NY Giants — He was rumored to go to the Dolphins, Redskins, and Bengals, but eventually re-signed with the Giants because he was asking for too much money. New York knows what he’s capable of and realized it was probably better to spend the money to keep him than let him go to a competitor. If he can avoid the fumbles, Bradshaw is a legitimate RB2 in most leagues.
Ronnie Brown, Philadelphia — He signed in Philly? Oh yeah, he did. Does anyone care? Brown might battle Dion Lewis for some carries and catches, but he’s nothing more than an insurance policy to LeSean McCoy and should only be drafted late as a handcuff.
Jerious Norwood, St. Louis — Norwood’s biggest problem is the fact he can’t stay healthy. Dude’s got plenty of talent, but he’s no more reliable than Steven Jackson. Should he stay healthy, he now gives the Rams a legitimate backup option to Jackson and he could actually have some sneaky “sleeper” value. He’s also a great pass-catcher, so keep that in mind.
Cadillac Williams, St. Louis — See Jerious Norwood.
Jason Snelling, Atlanta — All I can say is this… if you draft Michael Turner, you absolutely need to find a way to draft Snelling late.
Vincent Jackson, San Diego — Jackson made the best possible decision he could by re-signing for one year with the Chargers. He’s best suited to work in this offense with Philip Rivers and could be a legit WR2.
Sidney Rice, Seattle — Did you hear that? That was the sound of several fantasy owners committing suicide when news broke of Rice signing in Seattle. True, it’s hard to know what Rice’s fantasy value would have been without Brett Favre in Minnesota, but going to Seattle with Tarvaris Jackson is like Roseanne going on a diet… it just seems awkward.
Santana Moss, Washington — Was actually hoping to see Moss elsewhere, but now he has to figure out how to score with Rex Grossman or John Beck under center. Yikes!! I think Moss needs to get on the phone with Kyle Orton to see if he can convince him to come to D.C.
Steve Breaston, Kansas City — Love this move for Kansas City, though I’m not sure it helps Breaston’s fantasy value. Re-united with HC Todd Haley, so he’s at least familiar with what the Chiefs are trying to do on offense. If Matt Cassel can be consistent this season, then the Chiefs will have a fairly solid offense in 2011.
Chad Ochocinco, New England — Can Ochocinco do in New England what Randy Moss did in his first year with Tom Brady? Fantasy owners hope so, but this writer doesn’t believe that will happen. Belichick loves what Ochocinco brings to the table, but I need to see it first. He’s different than Moss and isn’t a huge TD threat regardless of where he plays.
Lance Moore, New Orleans — This was the best-possible decision for Moore as he’s familiar with Drew Brees and the offense and would likely struggle for a roster spot elsewhere. Caught a surprising eight TDs last season, yet isn’t talked about much in fantasy circles.
Plaxico Burress, NY Jets — He’s still in New York, just with a different team. The Jets don’t throw as much as the Giants, and I don’t trust Mark Sanchez like I do Eli Manning, but Burress fills a void left vacant by Braylon Edwards and will need to make those big third down catches over the middle like he used to do. I wouldn’t overspend or reach to own him, but you have to like his prospects in the red zone.
Mike Sims-Walker, St. Louis — His fantasy value takes a hit, even in a Josh McDaniels offense because he goes from being the clear-cut WR1 in Jacksonville to begging for touches in St. Louis. The Rams WRs are a young, up-and-coming group, but could use a veteran presence.
James Jones, Green Bay — Aaron Rodgers is the only one excited about this signing. It hurts Greg Jennings a little, Jordy Nelson a lot, and makes me nauseous even thinking about which Packers receiver will achieve his current ADP ranking.
Braylon Edwards, San Francisco — This might be Edwards’ last chance to make a name for himself. The problem is… he’s got Alex Smith passing to him. The only bright spot is the fact that Michael Crabtree could start the season on the PUP list with an injured foot, which should open the door for Edwards to shine early.
Todd Heap, Arizona — The Cardinals haven’t had a legitimate fantasy TE in light years, so Heap could be a big-time welcomed addition. The Ravens would have loved to keep him, but they believe Ed Dickson can do the same job for half the money, and Arizona was glad to hear it. Kevin Kolb loves using TEs too, so this could be a major sleeper alert at TE.
Greg Olsen, Carolina — I guess this shows us how much the Panthers trust Jeremy Shockey. The only problem with Olsen is that he can’t block in the run game, so when you see him on the field, chances are the Panthers are passing.
Zach Miller, Seattle — The Oakland Raiders need their heads examined… but that’s nothing new. You let Miller go to pick up Kevin Boss??? Tom Cable, the former Raiders head coach, is now in Seattle and begged Pete Carroll to take a look at this guy. Great move for the Seahawks, but bad news for John Carlson. Miller is one of the best overall TEs in the game today and could be a nice safety blanket for Tarvaris Jackson.