Fantasy Football

6 Key Fantasy Football Off-Season Moves


Six Key Off-Season Moves

Key Fantasy Football Off-Season Moves

Credit: Angie Six

When we had the barrage of free agency moves back in March, the changes were so new that the impact at that time was only subtly realized. Now that we’ve had some time to let it all sink in with the OTAs done, we are finding that the once fertile ground for some players is not as good as for others.

If we look at Frank Gore from 2015, who just moved to the Colts then, we factored in his age and fit into the system. It seemed at the time the fit was good, but once again the beating Gore has taken over the years had to be taken into account. Gore plowed on though, as he does with his full set of experience, and put in several profitable fantasy scoring weeks. If Gore busted, we wouldn’t have gasped as if LeBron James threw an air ball, but probably would have excused it – realizing that his time had come.

More good fits…

Or take Brandon Marshall. With some injury issues coming out of Chicago and landing with the quarterback deficient Jets, there were causes of concern with him too. Like Gore, it turned out to be business as usual in 2015 for Marshall. And I might add, Eric Decker who settled in very well from Denver.

So the point is that the better players can be counted on for being “system proof” and live up to their contracts – providing they are healthy.

And some not so good…

You could point to Julius Thomas or Jimmy Graham as exceptions, but tight ends are more inclined to react in fantasy value after a move into another system.

Jimmy Graham had potential in Seattle and was a source of interesting fantasy conversation in the 2015 preseason. However, despite Seattle’s endeavors in 2015 to morph into a balanced offense with Graham as the red zone hog, their ground game nature stubbornly prevailed.

The changes to the offensive complexion of the Seahawks appeared to be shelved for over half the season; but by that time Graham was injured.

Key Fantasy Football Off-Season Moves

This year we’re looking at a few more players to see if they can carry their fantasy value to other teams. It is true some of these players are grayish fantasy targets, but you shouldn’t just dismiss them out of hand in favor of a safer choice.

Here are six big moves that you’ll be interested in.

Note: Rankings as of June 23

Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets

From: Chicago Bears
F6P Rank: 25th – RB11 ECR Rank: 35th – RB15

Key Fantasy Football Off-Season Moves

Credit: John M Pavliga

Upside: Proven fantasy performer. Three down high volume receiving back. Holds record for single season running back receptions (102 in 2014). Has never been below 1200 yards from scrimmage in his career. No real backfield competition.

Downside: Over 30 and wear started to show in 2015. Overworking Forte could weaken his value later in the season. Comes into a Jets offense with quarterback futility. Perennial vulture Bilal Powell hasn’t gone away as yet.

Summary: There should be plenty left in the tank for Matt Forte to have a productive season with the Jets. Like Jamaal Charles in Kansas City, Forte will seem like a bargain compared to the high ADPs he’s had in recent years.

The Jets have to pace Forte carefully and not throw the offense entirely on his shoulders if the passing game becomes stale, as Forte will thrive better in a well-balanced offense. If Fitzpatrick signs, that will help fantasy confidence in Matt Forte substantially.

Target Interest: High and depending on how your snake draft unfolds, Forte is worth your while to give a good reach for.

Chris Ivory, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

From: New York Jets
F6P Rank: 78th – RB29 ECR: 85th – RB33

Upside: Brings experience to backfield that is need of some veteran guidance. Tough north-south runner. Notched his first ever 1000+ rushing yard season in 2015. Sized perfect for goal-to-go situations.

Downside: Injury history. A strong first half to 2015 was followed by a tepid second half. Doesn’t have much dual-threat capability in the passing game. Committee backfield expected.

Summary: Chris Ivory comes into an RBBC type of backfield, but there is some opportunity for him to gain status as the “hot hand.” His experience will give him every chance to upend the committee, but chasing Yeldon off will be a challenge.

His value has taken a severe hit coming to Jacksonville and dragged Yeldon down with him. He is draftable, but more as a speculative prospect or cuff. An injury to either Yeldon or Ivory will make the other more valuable, but I suspect by only a modest leap.

Ivory will probably get red zone touches, but just barely enough for a few flex starts based on matchup. The good news recently has suggested the Ivory will be first on the field over Yeldon, so take that for what you will.

Target Interest: Unfortunately, it has to be medium-low. I say unfortunately because I believe Chris Ivory is a good football player. If he went to the Browns let’s say, then I’d be jumping for him. Jacksonville habitually runs their backfield like a two-stroke engine; whereas everywhere else on the Jags offense has significantly improved.

Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans

From: Miami Dolphins
F6P Rank: 18th – RB8 ECR: 14th – RB6

Key Fantasy Football Off-Season Moves

Credit: Pete Sheffield

Upside: Steadily rising all-purpose back. Uncontested backfield. With an often uneven offensive role in Miami, Miller was still able to put together good fantasy stats. Versatile in the passing game and gadget plays.

Downside: A streaky player who has slumps. May go too high throttle in Houston from the medium workload in Miami. Osweiler and freshly designed offense needs time to gel.

Summary: Miller’s move to Houston practically guarantees RB1 status.

Miller complained he was boxed up at Miami with less of a workload that he wanted. In Houston, he should get more touches and with extra passing game stats to be added as well.

I disagree with Miller on his lowish workload, I prefer to think it was more about way he was used and the turbulent times that the Dolphins were going through in 2015. Miller’s numbers in 2015 are actually good considering the team had a mid-season coaching change.

Target Interest: High. I don’t see anyone looking at that huge upside and not penciling in Miller as a prime draft target. He could breakout beyond expectations and be fantasy gold. I’m not as concerned about him having games with 15 or less touches in Houston – he had 12 of those in 2015. Miller could offset low touches with receptions as he often did in Miami.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans

From: Philadelphia Eagles
F6P Rank: 36th – RB16 ECR: 49th – RB20

Upside: Ready for a fresh start after a dismal throwaway season with the Eagles. Appears to have the backfield edge against Derrick Henry. Murray not a three down back, but pretty close to a two and one half if the offense permits. Held rushing records in 2014 with the Cowboys.

Downside: His attitude gets in the way sometimes and it made Murray low man on the Eagles backfield rotation for two or three games in 2015. Although the news is consistently positive so far for Murray’s usage with the Titans, an atmosphere of a committee in Tennessee prevails.

Summary:  After the Cowboys didn’t use the franchise tag or pursue with much vigor to extend Murray in 2015, it started becoming clear that Murray was never going to be interested in any “team friendly” $5m contracts. He was a tough sell at $8m per year, because other teams knew that the Dallas offensive line was the true vehicle of Murray’s success.

Philadelphia came along and decided to pay him the asking price anyway with perks. Telling signs of discontent seeped through Chip Kelly’s Eagles in 2015. DeMarco Murray was one of the players most notably affected and the situation was ultimately cited as a main part of Kelly’s undoing in Philly. Murray comes to Tennessee with yet another fantasy downgrade, but he is at something of a base level where the only direction to go is up.

Target interest: Medium. At least we’re not thrown off by expectations that are too high or too low with DeMarco. Fantasy owners will know what they are getting into by drafting him. A committee looms, but if he somehow averages say 15-20 or more touches out of it, hey, you more than broke even.

Coby Fleener, TE, New Orleans Saints

From: Indianapolis Colts
F6P Rank: 106th – TE11 ECR: 89th – TE7

Key Fantasy Football Off-Season Moves

Credit: Erik Drost

Upside: Straight up pass catching tight end with some speed. Drew Brees’ trademark offensive handiwork over the years includes heavy tight end involvement. Expected to well surpass regular target averages he had at Indy.

Downside: Patchy as a TE1 prospect. With quick release of Brees, needs to avoid drops. Multifarious offense with many mouths to feed.

Summary: There cannot be a better landing spot for any tight end than in New Orleans.

That said, we always see the promise of players like Josh Hill work up our fantasy senses, but in the end we get disappointment. Not that we thought Josh Hill was a Jimmy Graham; perhaps more of a Jeremy Shockey, but we at least expected the right guy to get the load. Instead we got the lumbering Ben Watson.

The Saints pull lots of tricks like that on fantasy football and some of them aren’t very funny (ref. Coleman and Snead). So Fleener comes to the Saints and we pin our hopes that he is now “the next one”, unless the Saints decide to pull the football as we are about to kick it again.

Target interest: It still has to be medium-high for Coby Fleener as he looks like a really good fit in New Orleans. The Saints are starting to put it all back together after wandering in the wilderness for the past few years. So I can’t see Fleener’s sound enough talent being wasted.

Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions

From: Cincinnati Bengals
F6P Rank: 90th – WR39 ECR: 88th – WR38

Upside: A WR2/3 that performs like a WR1 on good days. Player that can beat top corners in the league. Explosive big play receiver. Only has Golden Tate and Eric Ebron as primary competition for targets. Good speed and hands.

Downside: Hamstring history and missed 2014 with other foot and ankle injuries. Unknown quantity in a new offense without Calvin Johnson. Recent signings of Andre Roberts and possibly Anquan Boldin complicates value.

Summary: Marvin sparked a lot of interest around the league in the free agency frenzy of March. I think Detroit is a good place for Jones – good, but not great.

That said, I feel he’s a bargain receiver for where he’s ranked and well worthwhile to keep on your target list. The ability Jones has will surpass that of Golden Tate I feel, but the Detroit offense as a whole needs to maintain drives to get regular fantasy points from anyone.

Target interest: High. Definitely a good grab in your draft as long as you don’t make too long a reach for him off the ADP. The best thing about Marvin Jones with the Lions is that there is really no one on the team that can overtake him.

As of writing the word came down about Boldin and Roberts joining the offense. I think the Lions are just addressing a depth issue, so Marvin should be still okay in his elevated role. Whatever happens there, you’ll have a decent receiver for flex starts, bye weeks and injury replacement.

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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