With the fantasy season at an end most Chum will pack up their fantasy research tools, crack open a cold one and watch the playoffs but if you’re a Shark you know that now is the time to start your research for next season. Sure there are playoffs to enjoy but with the majority of players packing it in and buying their round trip tickets to the Bahamas this is when things start to happen. You can find evidence of that in the canning of 3 coaches the day after their final game.
Imagine Terrell Owens and Warren Sapp in a Silver and Black. Picture Peyton Manning with a fish on his helmet. Will the “Freak” be somewhere freaking else and who in the hell will McNair throw to if Bennett and McCareins beat feet out of Tennessee? Will they be chanting “Rudi” in Detroit? Do you think that Charles Woodson is on anyone’s shopping list?
Sure most of you are saying, “why start now? Nothing is going on!” but I strongly disagree. Now is the perfect time to look at the free agency market and see who could potentially be moving to other area codes and how their arrival and departure will affect the respective teams fantasy wise. If you still think that its no big deal then I would like to point out what Drew Bledsoe did for Travis Henry’s fantasy value last season or how Lorenzo Neals arrival in San Diego helped LT reach new heights this season.
Now, I am not saying Owens is going to Oakland or that Miami will steal Manning. Matter of fact it is possible that these players wont be going anywhere. But lets face the facts; this isn’t a game of loyalty and honor anymore. Gone are the days of players sticking with their teams for years and years. Whether through rabid trading or free agency this game has become more about showmanship and dead presidents then pride and courage. With the rising salaries come the demands from owners that their coaches produce winning teams. Oakland will be looking to revamp their aging wide receiver corps, Miami will be looking to revive a passing game that ranked 26th in the league, and Detroit needs to let Barry Sanders rumors go and really focus on getting a running back. These teams will be flashing big cash to free agents to shore up their weak spots so knowing who is a available and who is looking for what could give you an edge. Thinking that free agency and contracts have very little to do with players stats will only leave you absent of some valuable information.
Another valuable piece of information is who is on the last year of their contract. There is no doubt that players on their ”contract year” (the last year of their contract with their current organization) tend to have better seasons. Hell in 1997 Marshall Faulk had 1054 yards rushing, 471 receiving, and 8 total TD’s for the Colts. But in 1998, his “contract year” in Indy, he had 1319 yards rushing, 908 yards receiving and 10 total TD’s. Come 1999 he found himself rolling in the big bucks in St. Louis. Tell me that his sudden stat surge had nothing to do with his contract coming to a close. The fact that the game was turned down the ugly path of instant gratification may be revolting to some but it does have its advantages when it comes to fantasy football especially when you know what to look for.
Let me make it perfectly clear, finding this information could be very difficult even with the use of the Internet. I had to look far and wide to find a list of Free Agents (both restricted and unrestricted) for each team and finding a compiled list of players on players on their contract year has proven unfruitful thus far but I do keep a list of contract year players that I update as I find out. During the off-season I am hoping to find a more detailed list and if I do I will be sure to provide that to you.
Just because the regular season is over doesn’t mean that you should stop researching because come draft day next year it the information that you get now that could give you an edge.