With the second week of free agency now in the books, a number of key free agent moves have adjusted our pre-draft player assessment. This article takes a look back at the tier two roster changes that will affect our 2014 draft plan.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos – I ‘m not ready to anoint him the next Eric Decker, but Sanders does have the requisite skill set to become a solid fantasy producer. Let us not forget Sanders will lavish in single coverage all day long opposite Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker, leading to some big days. With Manning tossing him the rock, I see Sanders as a mid-level WR3 worthy of a 10th round pick. This signing also assures Manning will be the first QB taken on draft day.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Panthers – In a surprise move the Panthers let the only face of the franchise, Steve Smith, walk straight to Baltimore for nearly the same money. The Panthers also saw last year’s starters Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn depart to sign with other teams. Their big free agent splash so far is former Steelers WR Jerricho Cotchery. Better suited as a No. 2/possession receiver, Cotchery doesn’t present enough athleticism to overcome double teams. Let me also remind everyone that Cam Newton won’t be available to throw with his new No. 1 for a minimum of four weeks. With so many obstacles, Cotchery should be viewed as a late round flyer, at best.
Lance Moore, WR, Steelers – And that brings us to Pittsburgh’s replacement at wide receiver, Lance Moore. An aging and injury-riddled slot receiver, Moore prospered just once in five seasons with the league’s most prolific passing offense. The loss of Cotchery and Sanders only spells more opportunity for Antonio Brown, and not Moore, while putting Markus Wheaton on the radar. Best to leave Moore alone on draft day.
Mike Vick, QB, N. Y. Jets – Why does everyone keep loving this guy? Yes, I’m talking to you Deion Sanders. I will agree that when on the field Vick displays amazing talent, capable of putting up astronomical fantasy numbers any given Sunday. It’s that athleticism that has kept Vick relevant all these years. However, he continues to see ghosts in the secondary, while trying to play the hero instead of avoiding the big blast. To my recollection, he’s only played a complete full 16 games once in 11 years. Joining a Jets WR corps led by Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley doesn’t scream confidence. Vick is what he is every year; to be drafted in the late rounds and hope you can trade him by Week 5.
Matt Schaub, QB, Raiders – Doesn’t this feel like same song, third verse. The Raiders have become a landing spot for older/mediocre quarterbacks to flounder. As of late, they’ve tried this maneuver with Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell and Matt Flynn. Let us remember that Denarious Moore is undersized and injury prone. Rod Streeter is reminiscent of Greg Jennings; solid route running, above average hands, but no real speed or athleticism. With HC Dennis Allen sticking to a run-first-offense, and Matt Schaub under center, the Raiders are no-mans land for fantasy talent.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Texans – This signing had me absolutely perplexed. Fitzpatrick has shown flashes of talent to earn the moniker; Fitzmagic. But you’re only as good as your next card trick, of which the Harvard grad has few. DeAndre Hopkins could climb to a low-end/spot-start WR3 worthy of a late round swing, but he won’t be this year’s Alshon Jeffery. A constant red-flag injury risk, and on the back side of a Hall of Fame career, Andre Johnson has fallen to mid-6th round status.
Denver Broncos Defense – I feel under-matched talking about defenses on the Shark because our IDP crew is the best in the business. However, the new additions made to the Orange Crush are tantalizing. Damarcus Ware opposite Von Miller is going to wreak havoc on Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub and Alex Smith. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention shutdown CB Aqib Talib. Also, factor a defense led by Jack Del Rio and John Fox and the Broncos are a near lock to finish the season ranked in the top-six amongst fantasy defenses.
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints – Remember all that Khiry Robinson chatter we were hearing three weeks ago? The Saints squashed our sleeper dreams after re-signing the PT Crusier to another three year ride. Mark Ingram is still in the mix, vulturing his usual nine carries per game and random touchdown. This all adds up to another Sean Peyton led RBBC (see Bill Belichick) meaning no Saints RB should be trusted in 2014.