With the vast majority of offseason personnel moves in the books, we can take a look at what teams made the most impactful fantasy decisions. Here’s a run down of the top five teams whose real life player decisions will equate to fantasy numbers.
5) Minnesota Vikings
One move and one move alone has the Vikings on the offseason winners list. RnF cannot recall a single instance where a single 40-yard dash Combine time has changed so many GMs minds. Laquon Treadwell has never been and will never be a speedster-type of burner. He’s not in the mold of a T.Y. Hilton or a DeSean Jackson. He will never be a NFL receiver that takes the top off of defenses. He is, however, a wildy productive college receiver, with a massive build that will physically dominate matchups. Teams get too carried away with the idea of top end speed. There are simply too many Al Davis-type of idealists getting stars in their eyes for the Darrius Heyward-Beys of the world. Wide receivers, far more often than not, find themselves working their way through traffic, getting jammed, and going for contested balls than they are sprinting down the side line unopposed a la Usain Bolt.
Treadwell is a steal with the 23rd pick of the 2016 draft. His selection will also benefit the growth of the previous late round steal in Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgwater now has a deep ball threat in Stefon Diggs and a physical, go up and get it receiver in Treadwell. If Laquon’s 4.64 40-time still deters you, please remember these previous 40 times and how these players turned out: Anquan Boldin wih 4.71, Larry Fitzgerald with 4.63, Kelvin Benjamin with 4.61, and perhaps most surprisingly of all, DeAndre Hopkins outran Treadwell by a meager .07 seconds. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s football, not track.
4) New York Giants
The Giants have been very busy this offseason. Their wallet suddenly has the padlock smashed off as the spending spree has been crazy to this point. The additions of Janoris Jenkins, Olivier Vernon, and Eli Apple has the Giants defensive unit creeping up the ranking board. Also on the defensive side of the ball, they were able to re-sign Jason Pierre-Paul, helping stabilize their defensive front.
On the offensive side of the ball, the front office has also handled the Victor Cruz situation in the same manner as JPP. They were able to restructure him to open up more cap while also retaining him for a potential comeback. As the old addition by subtraction saying goes, moving on from Rueben Randle needed to happen. They’ve held on to too much hope for far too long. As the new saying of addition by addition goes, bringing in Sterling Shepard in the second round provided protection for Odell Beckham in the event Cruz can not return to form. Both the potential return of Cruz or the potential production of Shepard limit the amount of defensive attention coordinators can afford to pay ODB, increasing the value of both Beckham and quarterback Eli Manning.
3) San Diego Chargers
Risers and Fallers has not shied away from applauding San Diego for the acquisition of wide receiver Travis Benjamin. Philip Rivers needed help at wide receiver and also someone who could chase down the deep ball. He gets two birds with one stone in the former Cleveland Brown. The front office also deserves credit for taking a look at the remaining talent in the second round and deciding it was time to add another offensive piece. San Diego showed a lot of poise in selecting tight end Hunter Henry, who will ultimately be groomed to replace the legendary Antonio Gates. In the interim, Henry will step in to take over the spot vacated by Ladarius Green. The Chargers decided that they’d rather go a year early on a replacement for one of their most integral offensive components than to wait a year too long between the end of the Gates era and the new regime.
Getting Keenan Allen back from injury, having Melvin Gordon seasoned and healthy, adding deep threat Benjamin, and a mismatch receiving tight end in Henry all have the needle pointing straight up for the Chargers’ offense.
2) New Orleans Saints
The Saints made some really smart decisions this offseason. The first was deciding to retain head coach Sean Payton instead of letting him relocate. Once the head coaching decision was determined, they cleared the air as to what Drew Brees‘ future in New Orleans looked like. Thirdly, they allowed Ben Watson to leave after a monster season instead of paying a large sum for a player over 35 years old. Bringing in the much younger and equally athletic Coby Fleener instead of inking a poor contract was borderline Einstein. Lastly, the Saints made another great offensive move in selecting wide receiver Michael Thomas in the second round of the draft.
Thomas will give Brees a big body receiver to target, which is needed now more than ever. In moving on from Marques Colston, the Saints were left with all shorter and fast receivers, mainly Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead. Thomas will become a complementary piece who will use his physical stature to move the chains and provide a red zone target on the outside. The Saints offense could suddenly jump back into top-five consideration with these great offseason moves.
1) Houston Texans
Never has a team flipped the script so drastically in just one season. Just last year, Houston had a quarterback battle between two players who didn’t really deserve to be considered as starters to begin with, an aging and oft-injured running back in Arian Foster, and almost no one playing opposite of DeAndre Hopkins. Well, things have certainly turned a corner in Houston. The Texans signed the biggest free agent quarterback in Brock Osweiler, replaced Foster with a proven and reliable running back who is just entering his prime in Lamar Miller, and then selected two of the better wide receiver prospects in the draft . Holy smokes, things are getting hot in Houston.
In selecting Will Fuller in the first round, the Texans have ensured that their new quarterback will have a speedster to chase down his long bombs while also protecting DeAndre Hopkins from triple coverage. In selecting Braxton Miller in the third round, they now have a receiver who can provide big-time yards after the catch who should find a nice home in the slot position. Houston should find it much easier to move the football and hang points on the board this year thanks to all these well calculated moves.
All of this could blow up in their faces but as of now, Houston has won the “On paper” trophy for most drastic offensive changes with pending fantasy implications. There is a lot to be optimistic about with the Texans’ new puzzle pieces.