Early Fantasy Football Preview
By Adam Hayes
Special to Pro Football Guru
The NFL offseason is in full swing. Players have been moving all over the league, through trades, free agent signings, releases, etc. Still weeks away from the 2017 NFL Draft, the league looks much different than it did a season ago.
Some of the big names that have been in-transit will have large impacts on fantasy football. The running back position is one that has felt the largest amount of flux. And we are still in flux, despite names like Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles not having homes at all yet.
In terms of new starting running backs, Latavius Murray is now in Minnesota and Eddie Lacy is with the Seahawks. Danny Woodhead signing with the Baltimore Ravens is also incredibly interesting from a fantasy football perspective.
Both Murray and Lacy change scenery to find an empty backfield with every-down carries waiting for them. Murray is a lower-upside player, but one who can impact a game in a major way. He isn't a big-play guy and doesn't have a large role in the passing game. Murray is comfortably good, though. And according to Lindsay Young at Vikings.com, Zimmer says he should have an extensive role on the Vikings; a team that loves to run the ball and has for years.
For Lacy, the upside is bigger, but so is the risk. He hasn't stayed healthy for some time and has routinely been out of shape. Reports are that weight requirements were entered into his new contract with the Seahawks. According to Travis Strickland of Fantasy Footballers, Lacy changes the Seattle offense and gives them that bruising back they haven’t had since Marshawn Lynch (if he can slim down and stay on the field).
Woodhead is not going to generate the production or carries of a top running back, but he could have just as big of a fantasy impact. When healthy, Woodhead is one of the best receiving backs in the league and a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. After Conor Orr of NFL.com reported he’d be missing the 2016 season with a torn ACL, Woodhead will come into this season motivated and a chip on his shoulder.
On the outside, receivers finding new homes were even in greater supply. The Eagles brought in two new weapons for Carson Wentz in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. DeSean Jackson will be the deep threat opposite of Mike Evans in Tampa Bay. The Giants may have the best receiving duo in football now they have Brandon Marshall alongside Odell Beckham Jr. Last but certainly not least, the rich got richer when the Patriots acquired Brandin Cooks to give Tom Brady another deadly weapon.
Jeffery should be the best of the guys in new homes. He is a game-changer when healthy and not suspended. Caron Wentz will love finally having a reliable pass-catcher to throw to as well. Via Isaiah Houde at Patriots Wire, Cooks (moving from one potential Hall of Fame quarterback to another Drew Brees to Brady) shouldn't see much change in his value positively. His upside will be determined by how well he is inserted into the New England lineup. If anything, his presence negatively impacts Julian Edelman and doesn't do much for his own value. It is one of many fascinating transactions this offseason.