2015 Free Agency Fantasy Stock Watch

Going Up

Jets D/ST, Bengals D/ST, Rams D/ST- I really liked what these teams did with their defenses in free agency. The Rams and Bengals were already pretty high profile fantasy defenses but I think with the Rams adding Nick Fairley to their already stacked front 7 and the Bengals quietly getting back Michael Johnson to improve their pass rush after Tampa Bay released him are significant moves. The Jets also added an entire secondary(Revis, Cromartie and Buster Skrine) and should improve from being tied for last in interceptions last season and giving up a 31:6 TD to interception ratio.

Jarvis Landry, Alshon Jeffery, DeAndre Hopkins, Jordan Matthews-  All of these guys are in the same general situation. Due to player movement on their teams they are now the #1 receiver on the roster(obviously pre-draft).The Dolphins gutted their WR corps by trading Mike Wallace and letting Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson leave in free agency. That quietly leaves Landry as the default #1 receiver in Miami with Kenny Stills next to him(also moving up a little). Jeffery and Hopkins no longer have to deal with Brandon Marshall or Andre Johnson taking targets and production away from them and fantasy owners don’t have to worry about that either. Jordan Matthews is much more speculative than the other 3 but I think he becomes the #1 receiver on the Eagles.

Mark Ingram- The Saints offense is changing. They parted ways with Kenny Stills, Jimmy Graham, Pierre Thomas(remains unsigned) and guard Ben Grubbs and added CJ Spiller. I think the Saints will have to be more run oriented after getting rid of those receiving threats and Ingram proved, when healthy, that he could shoulder a heavy load and be productive with it.

Darren McFadden, Sam Bradford- Sub-par to bad players in great situations. The Eagles QB has had fantasy value during the Chip Kelly era and the Cowboys are claiming to be committed to the run despite losing DeMarco Murray. Joseph Randle may compete with McFadden for the starter role.

Russell Wilson- Hard to think that Wilson could be getting better but whenever you add a weapon like Jimmy Graham to your offense that’s huge. I also think keeping Marshawn Lynch was the most important thing for Wilson’s value, I am one of the people who is skeptical to see what he would do without Lynch in the backfield.

Owen Daniels- Julius Thomas is gone and Daniels is following Gary Kubiak again to probably be the #1 tight end in Denver. Virgil Green is also a player to watch as the Broncos resigned him and he may compete for that spot.

Going Down

Drew Brees- He finished 6th among QB’s last year in scoring but if you owned Brees you knew how frustrating he was to have on your team last year. He only had five games all year without an interception(compared to 8 in 2013), only threw for 300+ yards in 8 games(compared to 11 games in 2013), He only had five 20+ fantasy point games(compared to 7 games of 20+ fantasy points in 2013 and 4 games with 19 fantasy points in ESPN standard scoring) and really killed you in the fantasy playoffs with just one game with more than 10 fantasy points in ESPN standard scoring. Tack this on with the fact that Brees is 36 and the Saints just traded away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills and Brees is clearly trending downwards.

Jimmy Graham- While Graham’s presence in Seattle should help the offense overall, I think it will hurt his fantasy value. Seattle has ranked last in passing attempts since Russell Wilson has become the QB in 2012 and that doesn’t bode well for Graham. With less opportunities to make plays I think Graham slides way down the draft board.

Nick Foles- Foles was due for regression from his unbelievable 2013 season and he did just that during the games he played in 2014. He played exactly one turnover free game in 2014(against the putrid Washington defense) and posted a 13:10 touchdown to interception ratio through seven full games and what he played of the Texans game where he got hurt. Now he is trading down in talent in terms of receivers to the Rams? No thanks. Unless the Rams acquire better receivers than just Kenny Britt, Brian Quick(recovering from a torn ACL) and Tavon Austin I’m not sure how Foles is anything other than a late round flier.

Lions D/ST- Losing Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley is going to affect this defense negatively, it’s just a fact. Getting Haloti Ngata to try and replace them helps but it’s not enough.

Emmanuel Sanders- This one is a little tricky because Sanders is so good I think he may be able to buck this trend. Under Gary Kubiak the #2 receiver in the offense has not been fantasy relevant, ever. There would be games here and there from guys like Jacoby Jones, Kevin Walter, whoever but it didn’t last. Even last season when he was with the Ravens Steve Smith(the #1 receiver) had 42 more targets than Torrey Smith. Torrey Smith’s saving grace for fantasy last year was his 11 TD’s but he posted career lows in receptions, targets and receiving yards, while in Kubiak’s offense. It’s a trend worth watching to see how it affects Sanders.

Jeremy Maclin- Alex Smith threw 0 TD’s to wide receivers last year.

Rashad Jennings- He wasn’t healthy last year and now the team has a logjam at running back with the addition of Shane Vereen, who should at least carve out a role as a passing downs back. Curious as to what his role will be this upcoming season but I imagine he won’t be the lead back as he was when healthy last season.

Julius Thomas- Welcome to Jacksonville! Thomas cashed out in free agency by signing with the Jaguars and downgraded QB’s from Peyton Manning to Blake Bortles. That’s going to affect his production period.

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