FANTASY PLAYS: Changing fortunes for players on new teams
Changing teams alter a player’s value and role in fantasy — the new circumstances change the opportunity for each player and lead to new outlooks on carries, touches and other factors.
As the new season approaches, here is a fantasy look at some players who ended up with new teams this season:
KIRK COUSINS, Minnesota
In Cousins’ past three seasons in Washington, he has not finished outside of the top 7 fantasy quarterbacks. He has had at least 4,000 passing yards and 25 passing touchdowns through that stretch. Cousins now finds himself in a Vikings offense with upgraded weapons, including arguably the best WR duo of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Cousins provides a safe floor with the upside of being a top 5 fantasy QB in 2018.
TYROD TAYLOR, Cleveland
One of the many offseason acquisitions the Browns made was trading for Taylor. His passing numbers have not been very impressive, hovering around 3,000 yards in each of the past three seasons. Taylor remains fantasy relevant because of his rushing production. Since 2015, Taylor has averaged 525 rushing yards per season with five rushing touchdowns. The Browns have remained committed to Taylor starting since he walked in the door, even after spending the first overall pick on Baker Mayfield.
SAM BRADFORD, Arizona
Even after bringing in Bradford, the Cardinals still traded up to select UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen in the top 10. Bradford is the Cardinals’ projected starter for 2018, but Rosen will be breathing right down his neck. Health has always been Bradford’s biggest enemy. Given a healthy season, this job should be Bradford’s to lose. He came out of the gates last season torching a top 10 Saints defense for 382 yards for three touchdowns while completing 84.4 percent of passes. Bradford looked as good as ever and should find success with the Cardinals. Rosen is an afterthought if Bradford can stay on the field.
JERICK MCKINNON, San Francisco
There are some high expectations surrounding McKinnon. The former Vikings running back is now among the highest paid backs in the league. He was a highly coveted player of 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan in the offseason. Though McKinnon has never been a three-down back thus far in his career and is dealing with a preseason knee injury, the 49ers have significant plans for him. McKinnon has more upside as a point-per reception (PPR) option, as he will have heavy involvement in the passing game.
DION LEWIS, Tennessee
The Titans were not in desperate need of a running back yet still dished out some money to acquire Lewis. DeMarco Murray’s departure led many to believe that Derrick Henry was going to completely take over as lead back. Now with Lewis in the mix, touches are expected to be split right down the middle.
CARLOS HYDE, Cleveland
The Browns brought in Carlos Hyde after a very productive season with the 49ers. Hyde had career highs in carries (240), receptions (59) and rushing touchdowns (eight). Listed as the presumed starter for Week 1, Hyde will have to hold off rookie Nick Chubb. With so many mouths to feed, volume could be all that stands in Hyde’s way.
After finishing in the bottom half of most rushing categories in 2017, the Jets went and addressed their need. Crowell was in a bad spot last season with the Browns, limiting how efficient he could be. He now has an opportunity to be an every-down back. Bilal Powell is the only other running back that will push for time due to his help in the passing game. Crowell is a great value in drafts, currently going in the ninth round.
ALLEN ROBINSON, Chicago
Coming off a torn ACL, Robinson now finds himself as the top option in the Bears offense. He has shown us the WR1 upside in the past. Robinson should see well over 100 targets in an offense that is expected to be improved.
JARVIS LANDRY, Cleveland
Another big move the Browns made this offseason was acquiring Landry from Miami in exchange for draft picks. Landry has been a PPR monster in his first four seasons, hauling in a combined 401 receptions. Look for Landry to continue his quality production.
For the second year in a row, Cooks was dealt for a first round draft pick. He has shown consistency over the past three years with at least 65 receptions, 1,000 yards, and seven touchdowns in each season. Cooks will be looking for targets in an offense with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. The Rams have many ways to spread the ball around, which may hold Cooks back. He is being drafted in the fourth round as the 21st wide receiver off the board. That is a nice value for Cooks with the upside he brings to the table.
SAMMY WATKINS, Kansas City
Watkins is now on his third team in the last three years. He was very touchdown dependent with the Rams last season. In fact, 20 percent of his receptions resulted in touchdowns. Expect the Chiefs to use Watkins all over the field. Don’t be surprised if Watkins tops his career high in receptions (65). Watkins has as much upside as any wide receiver being drafted in the 10th round.
MICHAEL CRABTREE, Baltimore
After being released by the Raiders in March, Crabtree signed with the Ravens just a day later. The Ravens’ top three targets from last season in Mike Wallace, Ben Watson, and Jeremy Maclin are no longer with the team. That leaves 243 targets on the table. Crabtree is the clear-cut No. 1 target for Joe Flacco. He should have a floor of 100 targets and be the primary option in the red zone. This is a change of scenery that should benefit Crabtree.