2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Brandin Cooks, Marshawn Lynch highlight old faces in new places
Every year, Fantasy owners get excited about players who change teams, including guys like Brandin Cooks, Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson and Alshon Jeffery this season. Jamey Eisenberg breaks down players benefit most from a change of scenery.
Every year, Fantasy owners get excited about players who switch teams, whether via free agency or trade. And every year, Fantasy owners tend to get disappointed.
In 2016, DeMarco Murray went to Tennessee and was great. Lamar Miller , however, was just mediocre in his first year in Houston, while Marvin Jones was a flop in Detroit. We can go over plenty of scenarios like this in every season where there's likely one good transaction compared to two or three bad ones.
The trick is finding the right move to help your Fantasy team.
This season, there were a flurry of prominent offseason transactions that should impact Fantasy owners. We've highlighted 25 of them here and ranked them in order of how Fantasy owners view them, mostly because everyone nowadays seems to like a ranked list.
You'll notice no quarterbacks on this list because, really, who is drafting Brian Hoyer , Mike Glennon or Josh McCown in the majority of leagues? Let's just skip to the good stuff, and these are 25 most impactful old faces in new places for 2017.
1. Brandin Cooks , WR: New Orleans to New England
Cooks will do fine going from the New Orleans Saints to the New England Patriots because he's going from Drew Brees to Tom Brady , which could be considered an upgrade. The problem for Cooks is all the mouths to feed in New England with Rob Gronkowski , Julian Edelman , Chris Hogan , Dwayne Allen and the running backs out of the backfield. Cooks also has to prove he can succeed on a consistent basis outside of the Superdome. He's still worth drafting as a No. 2 Fantasy receiver, but his early Average Draft Position is too high in early Round 3. I won't draft him before Round 4 in the majority of leagues.
2. Marshawn Lynch , RB: Seattle to Oakland
Lynch is in a different situation than the rest of the players on this list because not only is he changing teams, he's also coming out of retirement. And that's among the biggest concerns with his Fantasy value this year. He's going to a Oakland Raiders team with a tremendous offensive line, and he has the chance to replicate what his predecessor, Latavius Murray , did in 2016 with more than 1,000 total yards and 12 touchdowns. But he's 31, didn't play last year and battled injuries in 2015 that limited him to seven games. It's a big risk to trust him at his current ADP in Round 2 at No. 19 overall. I won't draft him until Round 5.
3. Adrian Peterson , RB: Minnesota to New Orleans
Peterson was a disaster in 2016 in his final season with the Minnesota Vikings when he was limited to three games because of a knee injury. Now, at 32, he's trying to prove he can still be a factor on the field and as a Fantasy option with the Saints, where he will open the season as the backup to Mark Ingram . His ADP is Round 5 as the No. 19 running back off the board, and that's just silly. He's being drafted ahead of Ingram, and there's no reason that should happen in any format. Peterson will have some good moments in New Orleans. But he's only worth drafting with a mid-round pick as a reserve running back this year.
4. Terrelle Pryor , WR: Cleveland to Washington
We've come to the first player on this list where I expect better production with his new team compared to his old one. Pryor was solid in 2016 with the Cleveland Browns , but he did so with terrible quarterback play. Say what you want about Kirk Cousins , but he's a clear upgrade over Robert Griffin III , Cody Kessler and Josh McCown. And Pryor should continue to see a hefty amount of targets with the Washington Redskins , who lost DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in free agency. Pryor's current ADP is Round 5, which is a steal. I'll take him as early as Round 3.
5. Alshon Jeffery , WR: Chicago to Philadelphia
Jeffery is another player that could be overdrafted this season, especially since his current ADP is No. 30 overall as the No. 13 receiver off the board. He should be a quality No. 2 Fantasy receiver in the majority of leagues, and I like that he bet on himself since he signed just a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles . But he's also struggled with injuries and inconsistent play for the past two years. and he might not dominate targets in Philadelphia with Zach Ertz , Jordan Matthews , Torrey Smith and Darren Sproles also expected to get plenty of looks. I'm looking for Jeffery in Round 4, which means I likely won't draft him this year.
6. Eddie Lacy , RB: Green Bay to Seattle
Lacy's ADP is just about right in Round 5 as the No. 21 running back, and I expect him to be a solid No. 2 Fantasy option this season. He's done everything right this offseason by meeting his weight targets, and we hope he's in his best possible shape come training camp, especially coming off last year's ankle injury. Lacy is a prime bounce-back candidate, and the Seattle Seahawks want to be more run-oriented this year compared to 2016. Lacy will have to hold off Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise for playing time, but this should be a good move for his Fantasy value. I'm buying an improved Lacy this year.
7. Jeremy Maclin , WR: Kansas City to Baltimore
Maclin might be starting to fade with his production at 29. And he might have lost a step as the reports out of Kansas City suggest. But he should still step into a quality role with the Baltimore Ravens , who need a No. 1 receiver with only Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman on top of the depth chart. And he could easily be the No. 1 target for Joe Flacco on a pass-happy Ravens team. Maclin knows this offense having played for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg in Philadelphia. And Flacco should be better for Maclin than what he left behind with the Kansas City Chiefs in Alex Smith . Maclin is worth drafting as early as Round 6 this year.
8. Martellus Bennett , TE: New England to Green Bay
Bennett definitely knows the right career path to take. If you have to leave Brady then the only real upgrade is Aaron Rodgers , so kudos to him for signing in Green Bay. But he could let Fantasy owners down since the Green Bay Packers have plenty of weapons in the passing game with Jordy Nelson , Davante Adams and Randall Cobb , and Bennett won't likely overtake that trio in targets. He also has a somewhat high ADP in Round 7 as the No. 9 tight end off the board, which is too early for me. I would only draft Bennett with a late-round pick as a fall-back No. 1 tight end this year.
9. Mike Gillislee , RB: Buffalo to New England
I like this move for Gillislee, who should replace LeGarrette Blount as the starter and have the chance to lead the Patriots in touchdowns. It's hard to expect him to replicate Blount's production from 2016 when he led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 18, but Gillislee could score 10 touchdowns, which would easily justify drafting him in Round 5 in standard leagues and after Round 6 in PPR. His ADP is Round 7 in standard formats as the No. 30 running back off the board, which is a steal. Gillislee is one of my favorite players on this list, and I consider him a breakout candidate.
10. Brandon Marshall , WR: New York Jets to New York Giants
Marshall is one of only three receivers in 2016 to have at least 120 targets and fail to finish as a top 24 option, joining DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson . That trio had something in common, which was poor quarterback play, and Marshall should benefit going to play with Eli Manning instead of what he had with the Jets. But he also has to share the field with the best teammate he's ever had at receiver with Odell Beckham . Marshall is also 33 now and could be headed toward a decline in his production, which might have started last year. He should not be drafted before Round 6 in the majority of leagues.
11. Eric Decker , WR: New York Jets to Tennessee
Decker turned 30 in March, and he's coming off a lost season in 2016 when he was limited to three games because of hip and shoulder injuries. His addition to the Tennessee Titans is great for the team and Marcus Mariota , but this is a crowded receiving corps that should limit his upside. Tennessee added Decker and rookies Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor this offseason to Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker . We doubt Decker will lead the team in targets, but he should be heavily involved. And he knows how to score touchdowns with 14 in his last 19 games prior to getting hurt in Week 3 last year. He's no longer an elite Fantasy option, but he should be considered a solid reserve with a mid-round pick in all leagues.
12. DeSean Jackson, WR: Washington to Tampa Bay
Jackson is going to be a good player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a great weapon for Jameis Winston , but his Fantasy value should take a hit with this move. He'll play second fiddle to Mike Evans , and Winston will also lean on several of his other guys, including Cameron Brate , O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin. Jackson has always been more of a big-play threat then a consistent playmaker, and we doubt that changes on his new team. He's a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best, and he's only worth a mid-round pick in the majority of leagues.
13. Jamaal Charles , RB: Kansas City to Denver
Charles, who has been limited to eight games over the past two seasons because of knee problems, hopes to be ready for training camp. He'll need to put on quite a show for Fantasy owners to buy into him this season. He's 30 now, and even though playing in Denver is a good spot for him since starter C.J. Anderson has struggled with injuries himself the past two years, it's hard to expect a big, bounce-back performance. I'm also counting on Anderson to play well this year. Charles is only worth a late-round pick in the majority of league.
14. Pierre Garcon, WR: Washington to San Francisco
This is another move that I'm excited about this season because I like that Garcon is being reunited with coach Kyle Shanahan, who was his offensive coordinator in Washington in 2013. That year, Garcon had 113 catches for 1,346 yards and five touchdowns on 184 targets. We don't expect Garcon to replicate those stats, but Shanahan has a great track record of leaning on his No. 1 receivers, including Garcon with the Redskins, Andre Johnson with the Houston Texans and Julio Jones with the Atlanta Falcons . San Francisco also has little to nothing in its receiving corps, so Garcon should be able to soak up targets. He's an excellent mid-round pick in all leagues, especially PPR.
15. LeGarrette Blount, RB: New England to Philadelphia
Blount's Fantasy value was going to take a hit no matter where he ended up this season because he had a career year in New England in 2016. He led the NFL in rushing touchdowns, had the first 1,000-yard season of his career and won the Super Bowl. It's hard to top that. But landing in Philadelphia, where he should take over as the starter for Ryan Mathews and share playing time with Sproles, is a good destination since the Eagles offense should play well in 2017, especially if Carson Wentz improves as expected with his improved weapons. Blount is more of a No. 3 Fantasy running back now, but he's worth a mid-round pick in all leagues.
16. Danny Woodhead , RB: Los Angeles San Diego Chargers to Baltimore
Woodhead picked a good landing spot with the Ravens. They aren't locked into a workhorse running back with Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon , who is suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, on top of the depth chart. And Baltimore has led the NFL in pass attempts for the past two seasons, with the Ravens top three players in the backfield (West, Dixon and fullback Kyle Juszczyk ) combining for over 100 catches last year. The concern for Woodhead is he's 32 and coming off a torn ACL last year, but he's still worth drafting with a mid-round pick in standard leagues. In PPR, he has the potential to be a top 24 option since he has the chance for 65-plus catches when healthy.
17. Latavius Murray, RB: Oakland to Minnesota
You kind of have to feel bad for Murray. He leaves the Raiders to join the Vikings with the thought that he'll take over for a legend in Peterson, only to see Minnesota draft Dalvin Cook in the second round, and Cook should be the starter. Then, the Raiders almost celebrate his departure with the additiion of Lynch. Murray is also coming off ankle surgery, and it's doubtful he'll dominate touches if Cook plays as expected, as well as Jerick McKinnon also in the mix for playing time. Murray should only be considered a low-end No. 3 Fantasy running back at best coming into the year.
18. Dwayne Allen, TE: Indianapolis to New England
The No. 2 tight end for the Patriots has always been an intriguing Fantasy option during the Gronkowski era, especially once he started racking up injuries. Last year, it paid off to buy into this role when Gronkowski was limited to eight games because of a back injury. Bennett came on and was the No. 7 tight end in standard leagues, and Fantasy owners this year will look at Allen as someone with that potential. He does have two seasons with at least six touchdowns in his past three years, but he's not worth a big investment. Take a late-round flier on Allen if you want to look at him as a lottery ticket, but his production will be limited if Gronkowski is able to play at least 13 games.
19. Robert Woods , WR: Buffalo to Los Angeles Rams
Is it OK to admit in public that you're excited about a receiver for the Rams? What about if that player is Woods, who has never had more than 65 catches, 700 yards or five touchdowns in any season? But the Rams need someone to step up as a No. 1 target, and Woods should be that guy, ahead of Tavon Austin and rookies like Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds. There's no guarantee Woods post dynamic stats, but he's also just someone to take a flier on with a late-round pick, especially in PPR. If new coach Sean McVay can make something out of quarterback Jared Goff then Woods could be a pleasant surprise in 2017.
20. Kenny Britt , WR: Los Angeles Rams to Cleveland
Cooks goes from Brees to Brady. Bennett goes from Brady to Rodgers. Britt goes from Goff to Kessler, Brock Osweiler or DeShone Kizer. Yes, that actually happened. Now, give Britt credit for not taking the easy path, and he could easily be the No. 1 target for the Browns ahead of second-year receiver Corey Coleman , who is battling a hamstring injury heading into training camp. But the quarterback situation in Cleveland is clearly messy, and Britt is coming off career-highs in receptions (68), targets (111) and yards (1,002) during a contract year. He could easily revert to his previous form, which makes him just a late-round flier in most formats.
21. Julius Thomas , TE: Jacksonville to Miami
Speaking of career paths, Thomas is hoping a reunion with Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase can help revive his career. In 2013 and 2014, when Gase was the offensive coordinator in Denver and Thomas was catching passes from Peyton Manning , the tight end accounted for 24 touchdowns over that two-year span and was a Fantasy sensation. He took a big contract and ended up as a bust in Jacksonville, but Gase has still gotten quality production from his tight ends in stops in Chicago and Miami over the past two seasons. Thomas isn't a No. 1 Fantasy tight end coming into the year, but he is a sleeper to target with a late-round pick. This reunion should help Thomas trend up.
22. Ted Ginn , WR: Carolina to New Orleans
Ginn steps into a great situation with the Saints, and he's a sleeper to target in all leagues with a late-round pick. Cooks is gone, and New Orleans has to replace 78 catches for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns on 117 targets. A good portion of that production will go to Michael Thomas and Willie Snead , among others, but Ginn should have the chance for career highs in targets, catches and yards. He's also a year removed from scoring 10 touchdowns with the Carolina Panthers in 2015, and Brees should love taking chances with Ginn down the field, especially at home. This is a great move for Ginn's Fantasy outlook.
23. Rex Burkhead , RB: Cincinnati to New England
Burkhead is a wild card for the Patriots and Fantasy owners this year. It looked like when he signed with New England in March that he could end up in the lead role, but that should belong to Gillislee. And James White is locked into the passing-downs role out of the backfield. Dion Lewis and Burkhead could end up as featured options, or Burkhead could be a jack-of-all trades and see plenty of time on special teams. He's a late-round pick in the majority of leagues at best heading into training camp, but if he could easily turn into a waiver wire addition during the year.
24. Torrey Smith. WR: San Francisco to Philadelphia
Smith had two lost years in San Francisco, where he combined for 53 catches, 930 yards and seven touchdowns, and hopefully a return to the East Coast will help his Fantasy value. He was a good Fantasy option when he played in Baltimore to start his career, but he has plenty to prove before Fantasy owners can trust him again, especially since he could be potentially fifth in line for targets behind Jeffery, Ertz, Matthews and Sproles. We doubt Smith gets drafted in the majority of leagues, but he could be a waiver wire addition during the season.
25. Jared Cook , TE: Green Bay to Oakland
Cook should be the best tight end that Derek Carr has played with during the first three years of his career. And Cook's stats from last year are misleading because he was great in the playoffs, with 18 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns on 32 targets in three games. There is plenty of potential for Cook this season, but he has to prove himself first, especially in an offense that will feature Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree , as well as a strong run game. It's best to treat Cook as a streaming option or waiver wire addition instead of drafting him in the majority of leagues.
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