2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

8 Key 2017 Fantasy Football Off-Season Moves

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If you’ve ever wondered about the origin of bubble wrap, it may surprise you that it came as an unintended off-shoot invention by a couple of guys trying to come up with 3D wallpaper in the 1950s. The home decorating angle turned into a flop, but along the way they discovered their stuff made great packing material. They became multi-millionaires.

The moral of the story is that when you start with something that looks like a good idea, but goes pearshaped, moving that idea into a different sphere of thinking can explode into great opportunity. Some NFL players apply themselves better in other team systems than the original one they started with.

Knowing a team personality is so important in understanding if a player’s talent can revive or re-invent should he move to a new organization. And that’s the key term. The organization.

It’s probably more accurate to think of an  NFL team expressed as an organization. All teams organize differently and players either flourish or wither depending how they fit. So how can we tell a good fit? Depending on the circumstances, it can range from the very obvious to wait and see. This is the key to understanding your fantasy target levels for every case.

8 Key 2017 Fantasy Football Off-Season Moves

Let’s look at some of the key off-season moves and grade the level of targetting attention to pay to them.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Steady production, even at the best of times, was always problem for Eddie Lacy in Green Bay. Most of this was stubborn game planning by the Packers. In his rookie season, Lacy had 20+ carries in 10 of the 15 games he started. In 2014 and 2015 combined, he had a total of five games with over 20 touches.

The Packers just weren’t giving him the rock. It is also important to note that in 2015 the Packers were without Jordy Nelson and Lacy’s role still didn’t expand.

Then there’s the weight issue. For two years now it remains a major issue with Lacy in fantasy and real football. The Seahawks have set targets for Lacy to get that weight down. So far, he has met them. If Lacy holds steady to his diet and exercise, then we might get a strong fantasy player by Week 1.

Target Temperature: Medium
There are things to consider about the Seahawks offense since Marshawn Lynch left. They have gradually become balanced  and unlike most other teams, they play their schedule in phases. A steady performer at running back is possible, but is it really the destiny for Eddie Lacy?

Selecting Lacy would almost commit you to drafting CJ Prosise or Thomas Rawls as well. I just wouldn’t feel comfortable owning him without a cuff. His touches may end up no better than his latter years at Green Bay.

Terrelle Pryor, WR, Washington Redskins

It seems hard to imagine today how Terrelle Pryor ever thought about anything else except playing at wide receiver. The evidence suggests, by a mile,  he obviously suits that role than at quarterback.

Fantasy Football welcomed the surprise. His breakout game in 2016 against Miami made everyone stand up and take notice of his versatility. The Browns inexplicably stopped doing the gadget stuff with Pryor after Week 6. His production dropped further and significantly after Robert Griffin III returned from injury. So although Pryor emerged solidly enough, the consistency tailed off because the Browns moved on to other offensive experiments after the 2016 season went beyond worth saving.

The Redskins left themselves in a precarious position by allowing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon into free agency. Kirk Cousins wasn’t happy until just recently when negotiations for a new contract found new life. Things are looking a little better than they did in the early spring for the team and Pryor is developing a rapport with Cousins.

Target Temperature: Medium – High
Pryor is on a one-year “show me” contract, but it is one with a load of incentives. The market for Pryor was mild and still the Redskins didn’t allow him to linger.  Pryor is in great situation and the only issue is the share of targets.

Considering the low-tier quarterbacks he caught balls from in Cleveland, it’s a notch up having Cousins in any case. So the upside remains strong for Pryor – just keep any wild expectations from making a reach too deep.

Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Giants

Well, here we are… team number five for Brandon Marshall. A guy who can even get a 1000+ yard season with the New York Jets. That doesn’t happen often. In fact, he now holds the Jets record for most receiving yards (1502) in a season.

It’s nothing but impressive stuff when we start talking about Brandon Marshall and his career. 2017 is going to be a little different. For the first time he won’t have billing as the top dog in a passing offense. That said, Marshall always has a way to make you feel he is the number one receiver.

Target Temperature: High
Odell Beckham Jr still holds strong as the number one on the Giants. Sterling Shepard is the only solid player who loses fantasy interest with this move.

There’s just one thing concerning me with Marshall. In recent years, he is showing those wear and tear injuries. It’s never anything too serious and he rarely misses time, but the nature of his injuries have at times affected his performance. Despite this, and OBJ’s presence, Marshall is capable of another 1000+ season.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders

Lynch began his interest in returning to football around August of last year. The notion generated some fantasy excitement because he was looking at a 2016 return sometime in mid-season. The notion faded, but revived in the spring.

You can’t look at Lynch believing his best is still to come. Yet, no one would ever discount a “last hurrah.” Although he’s healthy and happy playing with his hometown Raiders, we await the proof.

His mentoring to the younger backs on the team is having a profound locker room influence and everyone is happy Beast Mode is there. So it’s all good on the surface.

Target Temperature: Medium – High
The arrows still point up for Lynch, but my sense is that the Raiders will shy away from overworking him so he can put in a full season comfortably. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard will maintain their roles.

The wild-card here is Elijah Hood, a rookie who stands directly behind Lynch as the next “size” running back. If you want a hedge on matters, keep Hood in consideration as a late round cuff if you drafted Lynch.

Part of the Raiders bravado decorum will have Lynch carrying the ball on short yardage near the goal line, so if the overall numbers don’t peak, the scoring certainly will.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

The move to sign Jeffery obviously addresses the need for weaponizing Carson Wentz. The group still appear hodge-podge in my book and no one player stands out. Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham look like players who are constantly on the roster bubble. Torrey Smith, another Eagles’ 2017 addition, helps to patch the holes, but this receiving corps still lacks cohesiveness. All this matters because a player like Jeffery gets key coverage unless alternative threats can loosen him.

Target Temperature: Low – Medium
No matter what shape the Eagles are in on offense, I won’t ever rush to put chips on Alshon Jeffery. He has a history of banged up injuries and on occasion misses time too. In 2016, it seemed his name always had a “Q” next to it every single week. This type of thing puts pressure on setting your weekly lineup which I really hate.

The upside of course is that Jeffery is a great receiver. The situation could provide Wentz with that needed boost of a player that can actually catch a ball. Wentz was only one of five quarterbacks that surpassed 600 pass attempts in 2016. However, his completion percentage put him at 20th. Jeffery should help to improve that disparity – that is if he can stay on the field.

Adrian Peterson, RB, New Orleans Saints

Like several other free agent running backs in this off-season, Peterson was a hard sell. Nobody showed interest for weeks, but the Saints went ahead and signed him to a two-year deal. Peterson’s career has taken a sporadic turn in recent years, but no one will dare say it’s over until it’s over.

The Saints have made attempts at balancing a heavy passing attack with some grind in the running game. This weakness of the team is the reason for the hiring of Peterson. The offense needs a closer. The Saints want to avoid losing games by trading 4th quarter touchdowns with a tired defense – something which has plagued them in the past.

Target Temperature: Medium
An awkward fit and hard to forecast. Mark Ingram loses value, that we can see, but what about Peterson? Peterson has developed as a pure running back, with scattered pass catching targets. The Saints are working on increasing this, but teaching the old dog new tricks is something I wouldn’t bank on.

I think the best measuring rod is to consider Peterson an upgrade of Tim Hightower. If you start there, then upside has to be somewhere on the back pages.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

In 2016, Blount had his first 1000+ rushing season since his rookie year and led the league in touchdowns (18). His career path has always caused fantasy head scratching. Everyone knows he’s a good player, but a guy who only excels in a environment suited to him. New England finally discovered the simple key – give him the ball more.

Fantasy Temperature: Medium – High
There’s really no one else to challenge Blount for the bell-cow role in Philadelphia. What holds Blount back is the amount of touches on offer in this backfield. The word on the street has him projected well under 200 carries, which seems reasonable considering this is in step with the Eagles’ backfield workloads of recent years.

Adding Darren Sproles into the mix, doesn’t change the algorithm much. New England had a diverse backfield too and Blount soared, but that was with 299 carries.

Eric Decker, WR, Tennessee Titans

This is a recent move. It came as a surprise that the Jets would release their only receiver of high calibre – especially in trying to guide the young Jets quarterbacks. But, meh, the Jets, you know.

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Decker escapes the Jets! He has proven fantasy credentials. Yes, he missed most of 2016 because of injury, but appears good to go in 2017.

Fantasy Temperature: Medium – High
Decker suddenly makes the Titans a team loaded with weapons. The downside is that there are many mouths to feed. The upside is that Decker automatically goes to the top of the heap. I would argue that this is the season where Mariota needs to turn the corner. If he doesn’t crack the top five quarterback level this year, he never will. Mariota will need Decker to help get him there.

About Richard Savill

Richard is an NFL Fantasy Football Writer and Editor of Fantasy Six Pack. Host of The Fantasy Edge Podcast. FantasyPros Contributor. Member of the FSWA. Richard is known for his "outside the box" insight into NFL fantasy football. Winner of the 16-Team 2015 FSWA challenge.

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