Making Moves: A look at the 2010 Off-Season
Don't wait to find out Jamaal Charles is no longer the lone back in Kansas City or that Anquan Boldin will line up alongside Derek Mason and not Larry Fitzgerald. Off-season news matters, and it matters in the off-season. If you aren't preparing for your fantasy draft or at least keeping track of the deals going down in the off-season, you will be far behind in 2010 fantasy knowledge. And if you want a championship, bragging rights, and those green face Benjamin Franklins in your hand come Week 16, then take advice from the $100 man himself: “ By failing to prepare-you are preparing to fail.” And failure in fantasy football is NOT an option. Luckily FFChamps.com will catch you up on all the 2010 Off-Season movement.
LaDainian Tomlinson: Perhaps the most valuable fantasy player from 2000-2008 is LaDainian Tomlinson. But in the last few seasons, LT got older, slower, more fragile, and less useful in your fantasy lineups. He was cut from the Chargers a month ago, but now signed on with the New York Jets. In 2009, the Jets led the league in rushing but decided to cut their leading rusher (more on this later) at the start of the 2010 Free Agency Period. Their offensive line is among the league's best, which bodes well for LT, considering he now needs big holes in order to be productive. But last year's explosive rookie, Shonn Greene, will handle the bulk of the carries for Gang Green. Plus the NYJ get back the shifty and speedy Leon Washington, who is expected to make a full recovery from his '09 season injury. Tomlinson is still a great pass catcher, so expect some dump offs and bubble screens on passing downs. Add in the occasional goal-line plunge and the Jets inclination to dominate opponents with their run game, and LT will finish the season as a bye week replacement or low end flex play option in your lineups.
Thomas Jones: In 2009, Thomas Jones finished with the 3rd most rushing yards in the entire NFL. Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones Drew and Michael Turner, all of who were drafted in the first round, possibly the first three overall picks in your fantasy draft, finished with less yards. Jones' average draft position was anywhere between the 3rd and 6th round. That is what we call VALUE. And the Chiefs got plenty of it by signing Jones. That being said, the 2009 Breakout Player Of The Year, Jamaal Charles, could have been the hands-down starting RB in KC. But expect Jones to have a significant role. Remember back to Charlie Weiss' OC days in New England where he favored an RBBC approach. Expect the same as Weiss takes over the Chiefs' Offense, meaning both Jones and Charles will get plenty of playing time and plenty of production. Let your opponents pass up Jones on draft day. Just reserve a pick in rounds 4-6 for him. Remember VALUE!!!
Larry Johnson: The Redskins signed Free Agent Running Back Larry Johnson, to a 3 year deal worth $12 million. LJ might have one of the fastest declines in production the NFL has ever seen. In 2006 he rushed for 1,789 yards, the following year he rushed for 559 yards and hasn't been the same since. So what would the rebuilding Redskins want with a 30 year old problem child like LJ? Perhaps a supporting actor for Clinton Portis's crazy press conferences. Unfortunately I doubt that's the reason, but in all seriousness I don't know what the Redskins see in LJ. But I do know that Mike Shanahan can take almost any running back and turn them into a 1,000 yard rusher. Just look at how Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell, Olandis Gary and Rueben Droughns performed in Shanahan's system while in Denver. Given his track record, Shanahan could transform Johnson back into the old LJ. Unless of course, Shanahan favors Clinton Portis, the current starter and alumni of the acclaimed "Mike Shanahan 1,000 yard rusher fraternity." But Portis was injured much of last season and in attempt to keep him healthy, LJ may see a significant role. Shanahan or no Shanahan, the Redskins MUST address their Offensive Line, QB, and WR issues, if they want to succeed in the run game.
Chester Taylor: Chester Taylor signed a 4 year contract with the Chicago Bears. He leaves behind his former role as backup to Adrian Peterson for a new role splitting time with Matt Forte or possibly replacing Forte as the starter. Forte and the Bear's Offense may have been the biggest fantasy disappointment last season and like fantasy owners, the owners of the Bears share the same feelings. So they add a back like Chester Taylor who is extremely useful both rushing and catching the ball. He should fit nicely in Offense Coordinator Mike Martz's system who demands versatility from his backs. The Bears made a quick fix to keep up with conference opponents and score happy offenses like the Packers and Vikings. Expect an RBBC approach from Taylor and Forte. Considering they both have similar skills neither will be declared the “3rd down back.”
On another note: Vikings' Adrian Peterson is now the sole RB in Minny HALLELUJIAH.
Anquan Boldin: For the last two seasons, Anquan Boldin, asked to be traded out of Arizona. Boldin, now a Baltimore Raven, got his wish and was dealt for two 2010 draft picks. His trade has a big impact on players from the Ravens and Cardinals. The Ravens get a top threat at the receiver position that will put Joe Flacco's strong arm to good use. Though Derrick Mason is a solid option, he doesn't attract the attention from defenses like Boldin, which will now free up the Raven's powerful run game. Boldin's former teammates, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet, will see more playing time for Arizona, as they move up the depth chart. And don't forget Larry Fitzgerlad's stats improve drastically when Boldin was injured or out of the lineup. Will that trend continue with Matt Leinart at the helm and not Kurt Warner? Well that is TBD. Draft Boldin as your #2 WR and laugh at your opponents when he puts up #1 type stats.
Nate Burleson: Former Seattle Seahawks Wide Receiver, Nate Burleson, signed a long term contract with the Detroit Lions. Burleson's addition will prevent defenses from triple teaming Calvin Johnson and gives QB Matthew Stafford a viable 2nd option at the receiver position. Last year Burleson had 63 receptions and 812 yards in 13 games. Due to the fact that the Lions often play from behind and are forced to throw, look for Burleson to improve on his stats from last season. Megatron should also see an increase in production.
Antonio Bryant: The Cincinnati Bengals added to their depth at Wide Receiver by signing 29-year-old Antonio Bryant. Chad Ochocinco and Carson Palmer will benefit the most from this addition. Palmer now has the option of throwing to a quality #2 receiver and Ochocinco won't see as much double coverage compared to last year. Bryant was injured much of last season, but finished with a career best and very promising 1,248 yards in 2008. Draft him as one of your many WR backups and cross your fingers in anticipation that Carson Palmer returns as one of the NFL's elite QBs.
Brady Quinn: The Cleveland Browns are having a busy off-season. So far they made four roster changes at the Quarterback position alone. First they signed QB Seneca Wallace, then dropped Derek Anderson, then signed Jake Delhomme, and most recently traded Brady Quinn. The former Notre Dame standout was supposed to be the future star of the Browns organization. Instead, Quinn was traded to Denver for a full-back and a few conditional draft picks. Whether or not you think Quinn has talent, you can't deny the Broncos got him for CHEAP. Head Coach Josh McDaniels has said Kyle Orton will remain the starter, but after last season's second half collapse, I don't know how long Orton will retain the role. If the Broncos can hold onto disgruntled WR Brandon Marshall they would have a solid core of young offensive players with Quinn at QB and 2nd year RB Knowshon Moreno in the backfield.
Jake Delhomme/Seneca Wallace: As you just read, Brady Quinn is out of Cleveland. Jake Delhomme was signed via Free Agency and Seneca Wallace was acquired via trade. But which will start in 2010? Based on the amount of money the team is paying him and his past experience as a starter, it appears Delhomme will likely be the team's 1st string QB. But Wallace is very mobile and could be used in some type of formation with Do-It-All-Man, Joshua Cribbs. We will pay attention to the QB battle throughout the off-season and update you accordingly.