Fantasy Football

2011 NFL free agency fantasy impact

Nnamdi Asomugha (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE)
The Philadelphia Eagles won the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes, but have to pay him.
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Ryan Fowler

Ryan Fowler has spent the past 10 years covering and talking sports on TV and radio, in newspapers and on the web. He joined FOXSports.com as lead Fantasy Sports Editor and also acts as Digital Content Manager at WhatIfSports.com. Follow him on Twitter. Listen to his FOX Sports Team Report Podcasts on SoundCloud and iTunes

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With the NFL lockout so focused on money, it's only fitting that even the league's free agents are anything but on the house.  As we know football's free agency period is normally spread out over five months, but thanks to the "extended vacation" we are about to enjoy a free agent frenzy like we've never seen before. To keep owners informed, we'll be updating all major fantasy acquisitions, adds, cuts, depth charts changes and personnel moves right here in this running blog.

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***UPDATE 2:35 p August 12***

Transaction: Lee Evans traded to the Ravens

Fantasy Impact: Hey Leeeeeeee! (that was for all the Family Guy fans out there).  Evans heads to Baltimore who parted ways with WRs Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Donte' Stallworth.  He becomes the third offensive option for Joe Flacco behind Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin.

Evans' best fantasy season came in 2006 with the Bills, when he recorded 1292 receiving yards and scored eight touchdowns.   Over the last two seasons, Evans has averaged 41.4 yards per game with 11 touchdowns total.

Evans is a very low-end #2 WR/flex in my book.

In Buffalo, Ryan Fitzpatrick may lock in on Stevie Johnson as his #1 WR draft stock gets a nice boost with the trade.

- Ryan Fowler

***UPDATE 2:25 p August 11***

Transaction: Jerricho Cotchery signs with the Steelers

Fantasy Impact: After re-signing Santonio Holmes, picking up Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason, Cotchery was the Jets WR left without a chair.   Pittsburgh won't need him to start, but will add depth to a corps that includes Mike Wallace, Hines Ward (who may be suspended), Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.

Unless somebody gets injured, he's not worth a draft pick.   Not like you were going to if he stayed in New York, right?

- Ryan Fowler

***UPDATE 2:25 p August 11***

Transaction: Steve Smith signs with Eagles

Fantasy Impact: The question you have to ask yourself is: can you wait until week seven for Steve Smith to have a chance at helping your fantasy team.  All signs point to the former New York Giants WR starting the season on the PUP list (microfracture surgery in December).  That would place him on the shelf for at least six weeks.  Then there is concern he won't be the same Smith who racked up over 1700 yards and 10 touchdowns over the last two seasons.  And then you wonder where he fits behind DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin (if he can go in 2011) and Jason Avant.

I'm not saying don't draft him.  I'm saying ask yourself a bunch of question before you do.

- Ryan Fowler

***UPDATE 2:10 p August 9***

Transaction: Jerome Harrison/Mike Bell sign with Lions

Fantasy Impact: Jahvid Best's fantasy value has spun 360-degrees over the last 24 hours.   Before Mikel Leshoure's season ended with an Achilles tear, Best and Leshoure were poised to be one of several RBBC in the NFL.  After the injury to the rookie RB, Best's draft stock received a little bump.   With the arrival of not only Jerome Harrison, but Mike Bell - Best's best chance at hoarding carries has come and gone.  Oh, and Maurice Morris - sorry about that.

Bell has suited up with four teams in five seasons.  He split time with the Eagles and Browns in 2010, but only carried the rock 47 times and hauled in seven receptions.   The year before, with New Orleans, he did score five touchdowns.

Harrison was the Browns first-string running back in 2009 when he rushed for 862 yards with five touchdowns.  He also chipped in 34 receptions for 220 yards and two touchdowns.   He's averaged 4.8 yards per rush (342 attempts) in five NFL seasons.

Best has the upper-hand in the Lions offense (low #1 RB), but don't be surprised if Harrison (low #2 RB/flex) challenges him for carries as the season progresses.  He may be a buzzkill to those jacked up at the thought of drafting Leshoure, but sometimes you have to buy the sedan when you really want the coupe.

- Ryan Fowler

***UPDATE 2:30 p August 8***

Transaction: Ricky Williams signs with Ravens

Fantasy Impact:  The Baltimore Ravens ranked sixth in rushing attempts in 2010.  Ray Rice carried the rock 307 times.  Second on the list was Willis McGahee's 100 rushing attempts.   If the Ravens wanted to extend the running back's career beyond 2012, being that Rice is a dual threat in the running/passing game, Baltimore needed a second-string option who could ease (not share) the workload.

Williams won't be fantasy RB 1a (more like RB 1c) in Baltimore like in Miami, but with 400 carries (13 rush TDs) over the last two seasons, Rice wins, Joe Flacco wins, John Harbaugh wins and the Ravens find a versatile RB to replace McGahee.

Rice remains a #1 RB.   Williams is a low-end flex option as of right now.  The good news for Rice owners is his back-up is less likely to vulture a touchdown inside the five.

In Miami, it's the Daniel Thomas/Reggie Bush show.  The duo are both #2 RBs on my board with Bush slightly ahead of Thomas.  

- Ryan Fowler

***UPDATE 1:30 p August 8***

Transaction: Mikel LeShoure out for season

Fantasy Impact: The loss of LeShoure is a major blow to a Detroit Lions team that many are expecting to make noise in the 2011 campaign.

LeShoure’s absence immediately raises the value of Jahvid Best, the incumbent in the Detroit backfield whose worth had initially dropped with the addition of LeShoure. While his 3.2 yards-per-carry weren’t that impressive in 2010, Best was extremely active in the passing game, snagging 58 balls for 487 yards.

It’s not clear if the Lions will claim a back or stick with the existing components on their roster, but Detroit’s backup could become valuable if Best struggles on the ground coming out of the gate.

- Joel Beall

For more on Leshoure's injury, check out Mike Harmon's fantasy impact piece.

Transaction: Derrick Mason signs with Jets

Fantasy Impact: The Jets quickly filled the role of the recently departed Jerricho Cotchery by signing Mason as the team’s third receiver.

Although he will be turning 38 in January, Mason is still a productive wideout who amassed 800 yards last season with 61 receptions in Baltimore. Mason provides quarterback Mark Sanchez a presence over the middle, opening the sidelines for Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress.

While Mason is capable of producing similar output to his 2010 performance, the Jets employ a run-oriented offense, meaning Mason is unlikely to see his usual allotment of targets. However, the addition of Mason continues to increase the value of Sanchez, who now has an assortment of weapons in his arsenal. Sanchez becomes a solid sleeper pick in deeper leagues.

- Joel Beall

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***UPDATE 8:40 p August 4***

Transaction: Braylon Edwards to San Francisco

Fantasy Impact: The much-maligned wideout heads to the Bay Area to a team short on viable receivers.

With starter Michael Crabtree on the sidelines with a foot injury, the 49ers filled a desperate need by bringing in Edwards, who will compliment Josh Morgan and Vernon Davis in the passing game. The former Wolverine led the Jets with 904 yards and seven touchdowns last season, although became expendable thanks to New York re-signing Santonio Holmes and acquiring Plaxico Burress.

In terms of fantasy impact, Edwards should see plenty of passes in the San Fran aerial game, especially with Crabtree out. Davis remains the primary target, but Edwards will see his fair share of balls in his direction. However, be wary of Edwards’ ongoing legal issues, which could lead to a suspension. View Edwards with a No. 2 receiver’s ceiling, but draft him as backup on your fantasy squad.

As for the rest of the 49er WR corps, Morgan loses almost all of his value, as the wideout will be the fourth option once Crabtree returns. Speaking of Crabtree, although heralded as a college prospect, he has yet to prove himself worthy in the NFL. Don’t be surprised if Edwards beats out Crabtree as the best receiver on San Fran this season.

- Joel Beall

***UPDATE 6:20 p August 2***

Transaction: Zach Miller signs with the Seahawks

Fantasy Impact: The hits just keep on coming for the Oakland Raiders.   First, Nnamdi Asomugha leaves for Philadelphia.  Then, second-year wide receiver Jacoby Ford broke his hand and will miss two weeks.  Now, the most consistent option in the Raiders' passing game, Zach Miller, has signed with the Seattle Seahawks.   It's going to be a long season in the Bay.

Miller was the leading receiver for the Raiders the last three seasons (Note: to put that in perspective, Ronald Curry held that title 2006-2007).   He scored nine touchdowns and averaged 49.3 yards per game from 2008-2010.   Jason Campbell just lost a huge asset and safety valve.   Darren McFadden and Michael Bush MUST share carries just so both can survive the 16-game season.

Seattle's other tight end, John Carlson, was a favorite target of Matt Hasselbeck in 2008 and 2009.  His production was cut last season (21.2 YPG / 1 TD) when Mike Williams became an integral part of the Seahawks passing attack.   But if Pete Carroll is thinking the same thing most fantasy owners are thinking, Tarvaris Jackson is going to need some assistance.  Carlson and Miller will bail out T-Jax often and deserve some attention heading into drafts.

I think Miller's fantasy value is slightly less than it was in Oakland.  Before he settled on Seattle, Miller was the seventh-best TE in our Top 200, but I would draft Brandon Pettigrew (eighth TE), Tony Gonzalez (ninth TE) and even Marcedes Lewis (tenth TE) ahead of him now.

- Ryan Fowler

***UPDATE 4:50p August 2***

Transaction: Ronnie Brown signs with Eagles.

Fantasy Impact: You have insurance on your car, your house and your hand of blackjack.  The Philadelphia Eagles just added some insurance to their backfield.  The ground game is going to belong to Mike Vick and LeSean McCoy, but now Ronnie Brown enters the picture on third down and could vulture a touchdown here and there.

Brown averaged 3.7 yards per rush attempt and 46 rush YPG last season.   He finished with 734 yards on the ground and five touchdowns with the Dolphins in 2010.

I still believe the value of Vick and McCoy remains high, especially with the latter's pass-catching ability out of the backfield.   Although, I'd be remissed if I didn't suggest picking up McCoy's fantasy insurance, aka the handcuff, if you draft him in the first round.

- Ryan Fowler

***UPDATE 4:30p August 2***

Transaction: Tim Hightower traded to Redskins.

Fantasy Impact:  It's been a few days since the Arizona Cardinals dealt Hightower to Washington, D.C., but we needed to take a step back and process (again) what Mike Shanahan plans to do with his deep backfield this season.

With the addition of Hightower, the 'Skins RBBC breaks down like this: Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, James Davis, Hightower, and rookies Roy Helu, Evan Royster and Shaun Draughn.  

Rex Grossman and/or John Beck behind center doesn't exactly ooze fantasy confidence.   The trickle down effect has caused Santana Moss' fantasy value to sink and with the uber-RBBC rolling seven deep, it's difficult to label one Redskin fantasy draft worthy prior to the 10th round.  

Even Mr. Reliable, tight end Chris Cooley, would be a stretch with the quarterback options in Washington.

I'm boycotting the Redskins in fantasy drafts.

- Ryan Fowler

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