Welcome to a late June edition of the Brew Crew Corner. Since my last article the labor talks have gained momentum and I’m optimistic that the season will be saved. One of the reports from the meetings is the new collective bargaining agreement proposal would set free agent requirements to four years instead of the six we had last year. That would put about 450 free agents out in the market. Some of those free agents that were restricted would become unrestricted and allowed to sign with other teams. I took a quick look at some of the free agents that will be available at the quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end positions.
2010 Fantasy Rank by Position
Hasselbeck has struggled with injuries for years but he's the best quarterback option for Seattle. There have been rumors of other places such as Tennessee but Hasselbeck has made his home in Seattle and is familiar with coach Pete Carroll. It depends if the Seahawks get a player like Matt Leinart or some other free agent. In terms of fantasy, he'll be a great low-end QB2.
Bulger did not play last season so he’s had time to let his body heal since leaving the Rams. There has been talk of Bulger going to Miami or Arizona but he could stay put and just enjoy being a back-up at this stage of his career. Unless he moves to a team where he starts, his only value is to the quarterback he’s backing up. Potential waiver fodder.
The San Francisco 49ers look to be committed to Alex Smith as their quarterback but Smith has not been consistent throughout his career. When given the opportunity to lead the team he has fallen short. You can blame the infinite amount of coaching changes or the receiving talent with which he’s had to work. The team could use another receiver to push Michael Crabtree and give Smith another target. Smith is a low-end QB2 but should play better than any of the rookies that may start.
Collins is more valuable to an NFL team then he is to a fantasy roster. He may stay in Tennessee to mentor Jake Locker or start if the rookie is not ready to step in and play. This situation should be monitored if you’re looking to draft Kenny Britt or other Titan receivers (although I wouldn't draft any).
Jackson looked like he could have emerged until the team changed gears and went to Brett Favre. With Brad Childress out, the team is clear on making changes at the quarterback position which will most likely have Jackson signing elsewhere. Keep an eye on where he goes and the status of the guy in front of him.
Croyle has had some flashes of potential but has battled injuries throughout his career. I don't think he will go somewhere to start but he makes for an interesting backup. His days are done in Kansas City.
Beck has had little fantasy impact since entering the league but if the Washington Redskins are serious about having Beck lead the team then he will have some value this season. The receiving group is a mess and there are plenty of issues this team needs to address. Having Beck lead the team isn't going to fix their problems.
See John Beck …
2010 Fantasy Rank by Position
Williams is already rumored to go to Denver but would share the load with Knowshon Moreno. The Carolina Panthers have the cap space to resign him. Miami would be another team that could go after Williams. Luckily the injury that ended his season was only a sprain and did not require any surgery. After his 2008 season he has been overvalued in drafts in 2009 and 2010 but I expect him to slip in some drafts this year, making him a good value play.
Benson had a quiet yet productive season last year. If you drafted him in the first two rounds, you were probably disappointed. But if you got him in the third round or later, then he made a good RB2 or RB3. Cincinnati looks to be his best option and he should return there. Expect to grab him around the same spot this season.
Bradshaw has all-around talent and produced well in fantasy leagues as a duel threat player. I was surprised that he did not score any receiving touchdowns even though he had 47 receptions. He has durability and fumbling issues which will keep him from being an elite fantasy back.
Addai entered the league with two good seasons but has been a role player since then. He did manage 10 touchdowns in 2009 but that total dropped to just four last seasons. Like Dominic Rhodes before him, his best option is to take handoffs from Peyton Manning every once in a while. I’m not drafting him unless he falls way down in the draft. The Redskins look to be interested.
Brown’s time in Miami is just about over after the team drafted Daniel Thomas. As far as his fantasy value, he’ll be 30 in December and has missed time in four seasons, including two season-ending injuries. He will probably end up being a handcuff in leagues this year.
Under the proposed new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Bush would be eligible for free agency but the Oakland Raiders would like to keep him. He put up 655 rushing yards and eight touchdowns playing behind Darren McFadden, who has missed time with injuries. He is a good mid-round selection.
Tolbert was just as productive as Peyton Hillis as a waiver wire gem. He posted 11 touchdowns and 735 rushing yards as Ryan Mathews owners looked on. He’s a restricted free agent with a second round tender so I don’t think a team will make an offer for him but you never know. If he stays in San Diego, he is a must handcuff for Mathews owners.
Jones couldn’t beat out rookie Christopher Ivory for playing time when Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush were out of the lineup. Jones will be 30 this season and will likely sign on with a team that will give him a few carries.
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Dion Lewis but will look to add a veteran running back if Harrison doesn’t resign. Brian Westbrook has been rumored to be returning.
The New York Giants hold the rights to Barber but will release him once the lockout is lifted. Barber left after the 2006 season and was still playing at a high level but four seasons later he is 36. There are a few teams rumored to be interest like the Pittsburgh Steelers. A team in need of a change-of-pace back may use Barber in key packages but his days as a starter are over.
Sproles had his best year in 2009 where he scored three touchdowns on the ground and four touchdowns through the air. His best asset is in the return game. I expect the San Diego Chargers to let Sproles sign somewhere else where he will be more valuable on special teams than as a running back.
Portis’ production has been in decline since 2008. Injuries have ended three of his seasons and he is going to be 30 this season. Portis will likely be a last-minute addition for a team dealing with injuries.
Hightower will be a restricted free agent and will probably stay with Arizona but the team drafted Ryan Williams in the second round and has Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells which makes Hightower’s playing time very limited.
The Lions have six running backs on the roster including draft pick Mikel Leshoure and starter Jahvid Best. Smith has dealt with multiple knee surgeries and shoulder injuries and will find little interest on the market.
Taylor should have retired in 2008 as a Jacksonville Jaguar but he spent two more injury-plagued seasons in New England. Taylor probably retires this time unless a team signs him like the Houston Texans did with Ahman Green a few years back.
Green-Ellis is a restricted free agent, and even though the New England Patriots drafted two running backs, the team will likely re-sign him. Green-Ellis posted 1,008 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns so he can be productive if he is counted on to start in place of an injured starter. Don’t count out another team making an offer for him or the Patriots releasing him.
Williams is more likely to re-sign with Miami then Ronnie Brown would to be the back up to rookie Daniel Thomas. If Thomas struggles to make the transition to the pros, Williams will be a great last-round selection or waiver addition.
Maroney is done in Denver as new coach John Fox is looking to bring in a new running back to compete with Knowshon Moreno. There have been rumors of DeAngelo Williams signing with the team. I don’t see much interest from teams for Maroney and can see him out of football this year.
2010 Fantasy Rank by Position
After Rice’s breakout 2009 season, he battled injuries all season and was little help to his owners. The Minnesota Vikings will likely try to match any offer he receives, but the hip surgery he had could keep teams from getting into a bidding war. His draft stock will go up if he ends up on a team like the Chicago Bears.
Holmes will command big dollars from the New York Jets and the team won’t be able to keep him and Braylon Edwards so a decision will be made. I think the Jets will let him walk and sign Edwards to a cheaper contract. Let’s hope he signs with a team with a good quarterback situation.
See Santonio Holmes. If Edwards does not stay with the New York Jets, the best option for him would be to play for a team where he could be the No. 2.
I felt that Burress was on the decline even before he shot himself and went to prison. He could have had time to heal his ailments but the big question is if he is in football shape. Somehow I don’t believe he can just step in and play without a ton of rust. Remember Jamal Lewis when he came back from prison? It will be interesting to see where he lands. He’ll be worth a late-round flyer because the low investment and potential to have a few good games.
Steve Smith (NYG)
Smith is not a No. 1 receiver but he’s just as valuable to the New York Giants as a go-to player. In fantasy leagues, he’s more valuable in points per reception leagues where in 2009 he posted 107 receptions. Last season he was on pace for 85 catches and 950 yards before tearing cartilage in his knee. There is concern that he may not be ready for the start of the season so expect him to stay in New York. I can’t see another team signing him when he won’t be ready to step in and start. I’d love to sneak him on my fantasy team late in a draft.
I don’t see why there would be a big interest in Moss. His production last year dropped off a cliff. His attitude isn’t winning any friends and he’s 34 years old. The New York Jets seem to be the only team mentioned, but only if they lost Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith.
Floyd has been a good, but not great, receiver for the past two seasons. He’s got the size to be a big-play receiver but I don’t know if he could serve as a team’s No. 1. The Chicago Bears have been reported as having interest in Floyd.
Moore is a great situational third down player. He scored eight touchdowns last season and I was able to get him at the end of all my drafts for the past two years. He and the New Orleans Saints would like to re-sign but it would be interesting if another team were to make a push for his services. His fantasy value depends on him playing for a team that would use him in key situations and not try to make him an every down receiver.
In 2008, Breaston benefited from Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and posted 77 receptions for 1,006 yards. In the past two seasons he’s posted an average of 715 yards but he’s not a big scorer as he has just seven touchdowns over the past three seasons with only one touchdown last year. He’s more than likely to move on from the Arizona Cardinals. I’d take him as a fourth or fifth wide receiver on my fantasy team.
After five mediocre seasons in Baltimore, Clayton became relevant in St. Louis. He averaged 76 yards per game in the four games he played before a knee injury ended his season. His best scenario will be to stay in St. Louis where he could continue his success with Sam Bradford. He should be a late-round flyer depending on his Week 1 status.
In limited action in 2009 where he had four touchdowns, some thought Aromashodu would have a bigger role last season. He was a non-factor much of the season, posting just 149 receiving yards. The Chicago Bears did not pick up his tender, meaning he will go elsewhere.
Doucet is coming back from a sports hernia and will more than likely stay in Arizona. If Steve Breaston leaves, that would make Doucet the No. 2 receiver in Arizona. He should still be restricted under the new agreement.
Johnnie Lee Higgins
Higgins showed flashes of talent but did not make an impact in 2010.Look for teams to pursue him as a return specialist.
He’s 34 and had his worst season since his rookie year with just 30 receptions for 398 yards and three touchdowns. He won’t get much interest on the market so his best option is to re-sign with Baltimore, who will use him less this season.
Moss is often an overlooked and undervalued receiver in fantasy drafts because many people expect his production to fall off. The Washington Redskins were ranked eighth in a passing offense led by Moss. He posted his best numbers since his first season with the Redskins in 2005 and almost had 100 receptions on the year. Moss will test the free agent market and see what the Redskins are offering before making a decision. Unless the Redskins sign a better receiver, he’ll be back.
The “Batman and Robin” show fell short of expectations, but Owens still put up decent numbers as he posted nine touchdowns to go with 72 receptions and almost 1,000 yards. He won’t return to Cincinnati, so look for him to sign with a team that misses out on the better options in free agency but still needs a player at the position. He may be a good value draft pick this season depending on which team signs him. *Update* Owens recently blew out his knee during private workouts. He had surgery and will be out at least 6 months which puts into jeapordy his 2011 season and might be the end of his career.
Is Sims-Walker a one-hit wonder? Many expected a breakout year but injuries and team chemistry hurt his season. He still posted seven touchdowns in 14 games. He’ll play elsewhere but his fantasy impact may be minimal.
Robinson, like many of the receivers last year in St. Louis, has dealt with injuries. The team will look to re-sign Mark Clayton and have Donnie Avery and Danario Alexander, which will put Robinson on the roster bubble.
2010 Fantasy Rank by Position
Zach Miller (OAK)
Like Michael Bush, Miller will be high on the Oakland list to resign. Miller posted lower receiving yards last year but did have five touchdowns. Fantasy owners have been waiting for Miller to become an elite tight end.
The free agency window will be really short, so expect a ton of deals to go out the minute the clock starts. There will be a handful of players that will end up re-signing simply because they will run out of time to get another deal done.
Get those draft sheets ready because it will be here before you know it!