Fantasy football is back, starting with our look at key players who have switched teams, and how that change of scenery will affect their fantasy outlook.
Here’s what you need to know:
▪ It will be exciting to see Adrian Peterson (New Orleans) on a new team, though you should remain a little cautious about a 32-year-old player who missed 13 games last year and 15 games in 2014. The Saints also should employ a committee approach with Mark Ingram and 3rd-round pick Alvin Kamara.
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▪ Marshawn Lynch (Oakland) makes his NFL return after a year off to a team ranked sixth in rushing last year. Lynch will play behind one of the NFL’s better offensive lines. However, Lynch probably won’t return to being force-fed 300 carries with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington both deserving to be mixed in (and to keep Lynch fresh for a playoff run).
▪ Going in the seventh round on average, Eddie Lacy (Seattle) is being drafted about five rounds cheaper than last year. That still seems too high. Lacy is atop the Seahawks’ depth chart but Thomas Rawls will split carries (and could eventually win the starting job) while C.J. Prosise should get passing-down work.
▪ Jamaal Charles (Denver) was once an elite fantasy pick so you don’t want to entirely dismiss him. Despite coming off multiple ACL surgeries, Charles is worth a late-round flyer but chances are someone in your league will take him too early based on name recognition.
▪ While LeGarrette Blount (Philadelphia) isn’t likely to come anywhere close to 18 touchdowns in a season again, he should be the lead back for the Eagles this year and showed last year he can withstand 300-plus touches.
▪ When in doubt, adding more Patriots to your roster is likely going to be a good strategy including Mike Gillislee (New England), who should be the leading candidate to replace Blount and his NFL-leading 18 rushing touchdowns last season. Gillislee averaged 5.6 yards per carry in three seasons with Buffalo and converted on 15 of 17 attempts last year when the Bills needed a yard.
▪ Danny Woodhead (Baltimore) should be a productive pass-catcher for the Ravens after the team lost Kenneth Dixon and multiple tight ends to injury. Plus, they liberally pass to running backs – last season Baltimore’s running backs had 118 receptions (2nd-most in the NFL).
▪ Alshon Jeffery (Philadelphia) gives the Eagles a true No. 1 receiver option. They needed it – they had just eight touchdowns to wide receivers last year (2nd-worst). I wouldn’t overpay for Jeffery who has battled injuries throughout his career and the Eagles have a tough schedule (not only will Jeffery face NFC East corners, but the Eagles also draw games against Arizona, Carolina, Denver, Kansas City and Seattle).
▪ Brandon Marshall (N.Y. Giants) moves to a higher-rent New York district, switching from the Jets to the Giants. Marshall caught just 47 percent of passes thrown his way last season – worst among receivers with 100+ targets – although a lot of that can be attributed to the Jets’ quarterback play. Marshall should be a solid No. 3 fantasy receiver.
▪ DeSean Jackson (Tampa Bay) delivers big-play opportunity (17.7 yards per catch career average) and he hasn’t lost any speed (17.9 yards per catch last season). Jackson will surely connect on some big plays from Jameis Winston drawing single coverage opposite Mike Evans. Winston/Jackson could be a fun combo to draft back-to-back with your 7th and 8th round picks.
▪ Eric Decker (Tennessee) enters 2017 off serious hip and shoulder surgeries, though he looks good to go and has instantly created a connection with Marcus Mariota in off-season practices. Decker has 43 touchdowns in his past 65 games, while Mariota has been the best quarterback in the NFL inside the 10-yard line over the past two seasons. Mariota to Decker is a good match.
▪ Kenny Britt (Cleveland) won’t generate a ton of excitement playing for the Browns but he should get plenty of opportunity as the Browns likely No. 1 receiver. Britt has averaged 16.0 yards per catch over the 2014-2016 seasons. Only T.Y. Hilton and Sammy Watkins top that over that time frame among starting receivers.
▪ Like Britt, Pierre Garcon (San Francisco) goes to a lesser offense but Garcon nonetheless should be a solid mid-round selection as he’ll easily be the Niners’ top option. Garcon last played with Kyle Shanahan running the offense in 2013 where he caught 113 receptions.
▪ Ted Ginn Jr. (New Orleans) averaged seven touchdowns over his past two seasons with the Panthers. He could match that mark in 2017 with the Saints as a deep-ball threat for Drew Brees. Ginn adds speed to replace (to some extent) what Brandin Cooks brought to the offense.
▪ Anquan Boldin (Buffalo) is set to extend his NFL career for a 15th NFL season and should again be serviceable fantasy depth. (Bolding ranked 42nd among wide receivers last year.) Boldin isn’t likely to miss time (he has played 202 of 224 career games) – with another 50 receptions, Boldin would move into fourth place all-time in NFL history.
▪ Robert Woods (Los Angeles Rams) leaves Buffalo and somehow landed a $34 million contract despite averaging 600 yards and three touchdowns per season. Woods will cost only a 14th- or 15th-round selection – still, you can find better (or perhaps add depth at another position instead).
▪ In recent news, and you don’t see this every day, but Sammy Watkins (Los Angeles Rams) was traded in a double-swap where Buffalo sent Watkins to the Rams and then simultaneously traded for Jordan Matthews (Buffalo). It’s hard not to drop both considerably as they try to quickly learn a new playbook and get integrated. For Buffalo, quarterback Tyrod Taylor also get a downward bump as he loses the one big-play receiving threat he had in Watkins.
Alan Satterlee is in his fourth year of writing about fantasy football for The Charlotte Observer. Find him on Twitter at @Speedkills_DFW.