The first week of a wild free agency period is winding down and with it the pace at which names are coming off the board. After an initial burst of signings that saw players being plucked as fast as vowels on Wheel of Fortune (any chance to mention Wheel of Fortune and I’m jumping on it), things have slowed way down.
The fruit is being looked at more closely now and the purse strings are tightening as most of the big-name items have been snatched up (cut to a shot of
, “Hey!”). It’s a nice chance for all of us to collectively catch our breath before NFL Draft-mania kicks into high gear.
It occurred to me that as the author of the weekly start/bench article here at Fantasy Sharks (which I’ve graciously been tabbed to write again in 2014) that it’s past time for me to offer up some initial thoughts on what has transpired to date.
This will be a quick-hitting look at my feelings as to how these early signings will play out in terms of fantasy value for 2014. Keep in mind that the draft and future signings in free agency will continue to keep this list a fluid one.
There will be different numbers of players listed at some positions, as there have been more significant signings at those spots. Let’s face it, folks, the quarterback position isn’t exactly littered with free agent gems.
Some of the players listed have re-signed with their former teams while many will be new additions and the idea is that if they merit mentioning then they will be addressed. The names will be ranked because … well, we all love rankings right?
1. Josh McCown, Tampa Bay
finds a new home, McCown is the only free agent quarterback to move on to a situation where there is a legitimate chance to start. Do not overspend or overdraft McCown. Despite a nice group of receiving options he is nothing more than a No. 2 quarterback option that should be selected late in drafts.
2. Chad Henne, Jacksonville
Henne didn’t move on to a new team but may very well be the opening week starter. We’ve seen this movie before and it isn’t very good.
3. Matt Cassel, Minnesota
Charlie Whitehurst, Tennessee
How bad would
have to look for the Titans to turn to Whitehurst? Ugh.
5. Kellen Clemens, San Diego
go down with an injury, look at Clemens’ numbers from last year to set the bar. Then begin crying if you are a Chargers fan.
6. Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco
No, no, no and no.
1. Ben Tate, Cleveland
It took awhile but Tate finally signed in Cleveland. He has little competition for carries and will continue to work in a familiar zone-blocking scheme. Injuries are a concern and his ceiling is that of a RB2, which is good enough to lead this list of running back free agents.
2. Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville
Steps in as the unquestioned starter with little wear and tear on his body and is guaranteed touches. Unfortunately, the Jaguars running game averaged 3.3 yards per attempt last season. He will bring RB3/flex value with upside.
3. Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
With the numbers Jennings amassed in place of Darren McFadden last year, many pundits like him over Toby Gerhart. His past health issues along with the fact that the Giants managed only 3.5 yards per attempt as a team rushing in 2013 keep me from elevating Jennings over Gerhart.
4. Joique Bell, Detroit
Bell isn’t great at any one thing but does do many things at a productive level. Coming off a career-high in total touches (219), total yards (1,197) and touchdowns (8), he is poised to take on a bigger role. Solid flex play with RB2 upside in what will be more of a timeshare situation in 2014.
5. Darren McFadden, Oakland
In line for plenty of touches as the only game in town as far as the Raiders backfield is concerned. He has missed 19 games the past three seasons and carries huge injury concerns. Be afraid, Raiders fans. Be very afraid.
6. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans
With the Saints trading
to Philadelphia, Thomas has huge upside in points per reception formats coming off a season in which he had 77 receptions (Sproles had 71). The other remaining backs in New Orleans combined for 23 with fullback
accounting for 14. Yes please, for points per reception purposes.
7. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia
Count me out on Sproles moving forward. He’s on the wrong side of 30 and New Orleans moved him for a reason. The Eagles will play 14 games outdoors next season and that’s not Sproles’ ideal environment. Getting a late-in-his-career Charlie Garner vibe here.
8. Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis
Bradshaw will still only be 28 years old (how is that possible?) when the 2014 season kicks off. As always, it is about the feet and whether or not he can play enough games to be a viable fantasy contributor. I’m passing on him and that risk.
9. Donald Brown, San Diego
Still scratching my head over this one. It’s back to fantasy obscurity for Brown. There are simply too many options at running back on the Chargers for him to warrant drafting at this point.