2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Free Agency Stock Down
In the first of many of my 2010 Fantasy Football articles, here are 15 players whose stock has gone down based on what happened in free agency. There will be many more 2010 Fantasy Football features in the late spring and summer, including tons of 2010 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts, Player Rankings, Sleepers and Busts. I'll also have an extensive 2010 NFL Fantasy Football Preseason Stock Report.
2010 Fantasy Football Quarterbacks - Stock Down:
Tom Brady, Patriots
There was some speculation early this offseason that the Patriots would use one of their second-round picks to trade for Anquan Boldin. That didn't happen, and Bill Belichick didn't acquire anyone else to help Brady.
Aside from some rookies, Brady will have to rely on an aging and disinterested Randy Moss, a hobbled Wes Welker coming off a torn ACL (if he even plays), Sam Aiken and Julian Edelman.
Brady is now healthy and should have a solid year, but he won't come anywhere near the monstrous 2007 campaign he compiled before his ugly knee injury.
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
No one was going to draft Josh Freeman as their starting quarterback, but he's still worth noting. The Buccaneers allowed Antonio Bryant to walk away (I would have as well, but that's beside the point). With Bryant gone, Tampa Bay's top returning receiver is Sammie Stroughter (31 catches, 334 yards, 1 TD).
I'm not going to count on a quarterback whose top targets aside from Kellen Winslow Jr. are Stroughter, Reggie Brown and some TBD second-round rookie.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
The last time Ben Roethlisberger had this many distractions, he threw more interceptions (23) than touchdowns (18) in 2006. Roethlisberger could be facing a possible suspension even though it looks like he'll be eluding prison time. I seriously doubt Big Ben has been putting in time in the film room, and I'm sure he hasn't been working out nearly as much as he would under normal circumstances. So even if everything blows over, Roethlisberger is due for a down year.
2010 Fantasy Football Running Backs - Stock Down:
Marion Barber, Cowboys
Marion Barber is on the trading block, but the Cowboys may not receive any offers because Barber is so injury-prone. If Barber isn't moved, it's likely that he'll take a back seat to Felix Jones - at least that's what everyone in the Dallas media believes.
Let's say Jones gets hurt again and the Cowboys move Barber back into the starting lineup. What then? Well, he still won't be productive. Health aside, Barber lost a great run-blocker in Flozell Adams. Doug Free, who will now start at left tackle, is better in pass protection, but won't be able to blast open the running lanes like Adams used to.
Matt Forte, Bears
The offensive line had some say in it, but Matt Forte was terrible last season. He simply regressed from his dynamic rookie year.
Chicago signed Chester Taylor in March. Taylor had a 1,200-yard rushing year in 2006 and is not some glorified backup, though I do think he declined a bit last season. Nevertheless, the former Viking is getting paid $7 million this year, so he won't be sitting on the bench. It should surprise no one if Taylor becomes the starter sometime in August or September.
Chris Johnson, Titans
This isn't a huge deal, but it's important enough to warrant a notice. The Titans lost Alge Crumpler this offseason. You may think, "Big deal, he was a 300-pound fat slob, so what?" Well, Crumpler was a great blocker; in fact, he was pretty much a sixth offensive lineman, and played in almost three-quarters of Tennessee's snaps.
Johnson will still break plenty of long runs and may secure the league's rushing title again, but some of the vast running lanes he enjoyed last year won't be there anymore.
Clinton Portis, Redskins
When a team signs a complete scumbag (Larry Johnson) and an over-the-hill has-been (Willie Parker) to compete for your starting job, you know your employer no longer has any faith in you. Mike Shanahan originally drafted Clinton Portis, but he apparently doesn't think Portis can carry the load. No one else should either.
LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets
LaDainian Tomlinson sucked last year, but he was still a good fantasy player because he scored a ton of touchdowns. That's not going to happen in New York. Shonn Greene will get the bulk of the carries; Tomlinson is simply there just in case Greene gets hurt or Leon Washington's recovery stalls.
Chris Wells, Cardinals
Chris Wells will have more rushing opportunities in 2010. There was never any question about that. However, a few things have changed for the worse (or as Emmitt would say, "for the worsterer.")
First, Kurt Warner retired. Opposing defenses will now respect the passing game a lot less and will play the run more. And second, Anquan Boldin is gone. That's one less receiver to stretch the field, and Boldin's excellent run blocking will be missed.
2010 Fantasy Football Wide Receivers - Stock Down:
Anquan Boldin, Ravens
Anquan Boldin goes from a pass-happy Arizona offense to a run-first Baltimore scoring unit. The Ravens threw the ball 510 times in 2009, which really pales in comparison to Arizona's 594 attempts. That's about 15 percent less targets for Boldin.
Boldin should help Baltimore win more games and potentially claim the AFC North, but don't expect a phenomenal fantasy year from him or anything.
Antonio Bryant, Bengals
Antonio Bryant is a talented receiver, but he plays for contracts. He has always thrived in contract seasons, but whenever he has signed a new deal throughout his career, he simply stopped trying and began yelling at his own quarterback.
The Bengals gave Bryant a 4-year, $28 million deal this offseason. Do what Cincinnati should have done and stay away.
Nate Burleson, Lions
Nate Burleson had a great 2009 season, compiling 63 catches, 812 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. He looked a lot like the guy who came out of nowhere to notch 68 receptions, 1,006 yards and nine scores back in 2004.
Burleson will be the starter across from Calvin Johnson in Detroit this season. However, I'm recommending that you stay away. Whenever Burleson has signed a new contract in this league, he has mysteriously suffered a decline. The Lions foolishly gave Burleson $25 million, so it's likely that he'll have a "surprising" down year.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
This dropoff is an obvious one. Kurt Warner has retired, leaving the Cardinals with Matt Leinart and the Nick Lachey Hot Tub Offense. While some may consider hanging out in a hot tub with Lachey a pretty good time, it doesn't make for a great fantasy season.
Let's go back to 2007. Leinart was in his second year. He started five games before getting replaced by Warner (though Warner took about half of Leinart's snaps in Weeks 3-5). Check out Larry Fitzgerald's stats with each quarterback (it adds up to 15 starts because Fitzgerald missed one game):
With Leinart (5 starts): 15 catches, 212 yards. 0 TDs.
With Warner (10 starts): 85 catches, 1,197 yards. 10 TDs.
Now, because Warner took half of Leinart's snaps in three games, it's reasonable to say that Fitzgerald's numbers with Leinart translate to 3.5 starts. With that in mind, here's what you get if you extrapolate those statistics over a full 16-game slate:
69 catches, 969 yards. 0 TDs.
Ouch. Guess the Nick Lachey Hot Tub Offense isn't all it's cracked up to be, huh?
Hines Ward, Steelers
As mentioned in the Ben Roethlisberger write-up, it's highly doubtful that Big Ben will be mentally and physically prepared for the 2010 season even if this whole sexual assault scandal doesn't lead to a suspension (and that's a huge if). Hines Ward had 95 catches for 1,167 yards in 2009, but the last time Roethlisberger was distracted (motorcycle accident, appendix burst in 2006), Ward compiled only 74 receptions for 975 yards.
Santonio Holmes, Jets
Santonio Holmes goes from a team that had 536 pass attempts to one that put it up on only 393 occasions. The Jets will pass more in Mark Sanchez's second year, but they still have a run-first offense. Holmes' numbers will decrease.
Again, this is the first of many of my 2010 Fantasy Football articles. Come back in May-August, where there will be tons more 2010 Fantasy Football content, including tons of 2010 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts, Player Rankings, Sleepers and Busts. I'll also have an extensive 2010 NFL Fantasy Football Preseason Stock Report.