It’s never to early to start thinking about fantasy football, especially if you’re in a dynasty/keeper league. The NFL never sleeps and neither should you if you have any hopes of making the playoffs in any league you play in.
Here are a couple of offseason stories and moves you should familiarize yourself with as the free agency and draft seasons approach.
Jeremy Maclin‘s Destination — It was easy to forget about Maclin and his explosiveness with the way the Philadelphia offense performed last season. He’ll be on the free agent market in 2014 and should have plenty of suitors. The New York Jets appear extremely interested at this point, but don’t be surprised if you see a contender like New England, Denver or Carolina take a shot at him. All three would make him more valuable in fantasy than a move to the Jets, where he would be the clear cut offensive threat and the target of entire defensive schemes week after week.
The Cincinnati Backfield Situation — Gio Bernard exploded onto the NFL scene in 2013 with his electric running style and elite pass-catching ability out of the backfield. The Bengals owe BenJarvus Green-Ellis $2.3 million in 2014 and I’m not sure they want to pay him that kind of money to split carries with Bernard. It’s looking like they think they can get Darren McFadden on the cheap. McFadden has been a disappointment in Oakland but is two years younger than Green-Ellis and comes with more upside going forward.
The Saga of Justin Blackmon — There are few receivers in the NFL with more raw talent than Blackmon and he made that known during the short time he played in 2013. His seemingly boneheaded suspension curiously came shortly after the trade deadline. Given that a number of experts and insiders were assuming the Jaguars were going to unload Blackmon during that time, I don’t know that he wasn’t extremely disappointed to learn he’d be staying in Jacksonville.
Put on your tin foil hats, but is it crazy to think that Blackmon’s positive drug test was a gamble on his part to force the Jags to let him go? Whether or not that is true, it doesn’t appear he’ll be going anywhere. Jacksonville owner Shad Kahn has stated that he wants Blackmon to remain a Jaguar.
With the interest that the Jags have showed in Teddy Bridgewater, it’s plain to see that Kahn envisions Jacksonville boasting one of the most prolific quarterback-receiver combos of the future. If he stays in Jacksonville and the Jags draft Bridgewater, Blackmon’s value could skyrocket, especially in keeper leagues.
Percy Harvin and Golden Tate — Anyone who watched the Super Bowl and saw Percy Harvin at full speed had to be looking ahead to next season and thinking about his potential. Harvin can be elite — both on the field and in fantasy — but not without other talented players on offense for opposing defenses to focus on. This puts a premium on retaining Golden Tate if you’re Seattle. Tate is on record saying he’d take a hometown discount to stay in Seattle. That should be a no-brainer for the Seahawks. Harvin is always an injury and concussion risk, but I like the gamble of targeting him early if Tate is still in the fold.
Johnny Football in Houston? — Bill O’Brien went to the Texans because he loved the talent on the roster. It has become almost cliché this offseason to mention the Texans as the Chiefs of 2014. When healthy, they appear to be a quarterback away from being a serious contender.
Many mock drafts I read have Johnny Manziel going to the Texans. Love him or hate him, Manziel is electric and the thought of giving him the toy box of offensive talent to play with in Houston should scare fans of opposing teams around the league. With O’Brien being the quarterback whisperer that he is, I can see him bottling, controlling and unleashing Manziel’s talents to the tune of the same or similar video game-like numbers he put up in college almost immediately.
Quite simply, if Manziel ends up with the Texans, grab him.