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Draft Plan 2014 – Free Agency’s Effect

Last week the fantasy world was set ablaze by free agency. NFL teams were trying to improve their roster in accordance with the new $133 million salary cap (what in the heck is the Dallas Cowboys’ plan?). As the week moved on players around the league were being dropped, added, restructured or given a raise. This article covers some of the fallout affecting our 2014 draft plan.

Toby Gerhart, 

RB, Jacksonville

Flying completely under the radar,
Toby Gerhart

was a surprising Day 1 signing by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The swift signing tells us that the Jaguars had him pegged as a player they wanted months ago. Underrated as Adrian Peterson’s backup, and playing in limited action, Gerhart rushed for 7.9 yards per carry in 2013. On many runs, the former Stanford star showed excellent burst to the hole with enough agility and speed to break long runs. By now I’m sure we’re all aware of coach Gus Bradley’s ties to the Seattle Seahawks’ ground-and-pound offense, as Gerhart fits that role, especially at the goal line (I should say “if” the Jaguars get to the goal line). We should note Gerhart is also a “viable” member of the passing game, with solid blocking skills. The cautionary tale is running behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Let’s not forget the passing game is a mess, led by
Chad Henne

, a player better suited as a perennial backup. Gerhart is also a yellow flag injury risk. Given the “positional fantasy value” of the three-down running backs, one big run in the preseason and Gerhart’s followers will skyrocket. According to my crystal ball, his risk-reward reaches a head in the middle of the sixth round.

Eric Decker, 

WR, New York Jets

I understand that in order to get paid, Decker he had to land on a wide receiver-needy team like the Jets or the Buffalo Bills. However, this union only spells doom for a guy most aptly titled “not a No. 1 wide receiver.” While
Geno Smith

showed some play making ability, his game tape showed a consistent lack of accuracy, while seeing ghosts in the secondary. A deficiency of elite talent from both the quarterback and wide receiver typically spells disaster. Targets should also be factored into our decision making, as Decker will see 6-9 per game. By my calculations, Decker’s is a “spot start/low-end WR3” with value somewhere in the 11th round.

Golden Tate, 

WR, Detroit

As a lifelong Seattle Seahawks fan, I hate seeing Tate go. Reminiscent of
Steve Smith
Tate is amongst the league’s toughest, often playing bigger than his size. Like Smith, Tate has kick returner skill in the open field, combined with the ability to high point the deep ball over a defender. Hooked up with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, Tate has a projected production of 1,000 yards with 5-8 touchdowns. That equates the solid WR2 upside, worthy of being selected in the middle of Round 6.

The Baltimore Passing Attack

Under former offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell via Cam Cameron, Baltimore’s passing game had been amongst the league’s most unimaginative over the last decade. Insert Gary Kubiak. A disciple of Bill Walsh via Mike Shanahan, Kubiak will reassume his natural role as an offensive coordinator and play caller. Also flying under the radar was the re-signing of left tackle Eugene Monroe. I’m not ready to go off the deep end, but that spells good news for certain members of the Ravens’ aerial attack.
Dennis Pitta

has mid-TE1 written all over him.
Torrey Smith

regains low-end WR2 status, as
Steve Smith

can be penciled in as a mid-to-low end WR3/situational starter. While many will continue to shy away from
Joe Flacco

(for good reason), I’m willing to take a stab in the 13th or 14th round as a QB2.

Kenny Stills, 

WR, New Orleans

During his rookie season,
Kenny Stills

displayed enough vertical speed and great hands to be an option for
Drew Brees
Lost in the
Darren Sproles

trade, and
Jimmy Graham

restructuring, was the release of Lance Moore. With an aging
Marques Colston

the lone returning starter, Stills will assume a much larger role in the Saints’ pass heavy attack. The sheer number of targets should warrant solid WR3 upside.

Terrence Williams, WR, Dallas

Like Stills mentioned above, the Cowboys releasing
Miles Austin

will give Williams, a second-year receiver, an opportunity to emerge as a weekly starter. Williams also has increased value due to the double teams commanded by
Dez Bryant
and the added attention of
Jason Witten
After losing their top two defensive linemen, the Cowboys are rostering one of the league’s worst defenses. This will in turn force the Cowboys offense to put points on the board. Williams is worth a stab in the middle of the ninth round.

Justin Hunter, 

WR, Tennessee

Another player given his walking papers was Kenny Britt. With the Titans investing heavily in the position, Britt’s antics and injuries were too much to bear. Kendall Wright is a player of intrigue, but for my mid-to-late round draft value I’m targeting
Justin Hunter
The more “prototypical” wide receiver, Hunter fell in the NFL’s 2013 draft due to off-the-field issues at the University of Tennessee. Hunter flashed enough big play ability in limited action that he’s entered my radar. Combined with the hiring of Ken Whisenhunt, and a crippled defense, Hunter could present high-end WR3 status, certainly worthy of a late-round stab

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