Continuing what is looking like it could become an ongoing series here on NFL Spin Zone, editor Joe Soriano and I decided to take a look at some guys who will be dawning new uniforms in 2014 and, in turn, could see a bump in their fantasy football value.
Joe: The two players who stand out to me the most are wide receivers Eric Decker and Golden Tate. I don’t believe any of the running backs or tight ends who switched teams could have a major fantasy impact (though Chris Johnson could make a nice splash if things go well for him with the New York Jets), but both Tate and Decker could easily have monster seasons with their respective teams.
I already took a deep look at Tate’s possible impact in his first year with the Detroit Lions HERE
, and I’m very bullish on the former Seattle Seahawks WR1 (albeit briefly). Tate led the league in yards after the catch per reception last year, was top five in lowest drop rate, and he regularly catches over 65% of everything thrown at him with about 9.2 yards per target over the past two seasons.
If you extrapolate that over 120 targets (about 26th in the NFL, which is right in line with how much the Lions pass-heavy attack could afford him next year across from Megatron), then that’s around 1,100 receiving yards. Coming from a run-heavy offense in Seattle that didn’t use his talents enough, Tate could explode and become a household name with the Lions.
Decker is already a household name for his part as one of Peyton Manning’s “Four Horsemen”, and he’s now “the guy” for the Jets. An excellent deep threat, Decker is more than just a one-trick pony, and I’m willing to bypass the drops, especially when it comes to fantasy. The bottom line is numbers.
Although the Jets won’t pass as much, Decker is the biggest mouth to feed in the passing game and will get No. 1 WR targets. Rookies Jalen Saunders and Jace Amaro aren’t to be ignored in the fight for targets, but Decker will “get his” and then some.
After being 17th in the league in targets last year, Decker will find that ranking as his floor, but the deep threat’s 9.5 yards per target will go down next season as a result of worse QB play. Smith has the arm and willingness to go deep, as not many QBs went deep more often than he did. That will be a boon to Decker, who also had a 64% catch rate despite averaging 14.8 yards per reception. He was a fantasy monster last season and with 32 touchdowns in the past three seasons, I don’t see that changing in New York despite the vastly different surroundings.
J.P.: I do feel like there are a couple of running backs who could emerge as solid starters in 2014. Starting in Jacksonville, I love the idea of Toby Gerhart as the primary ball-carrier in the Jaguar offense. The Jags went out of their way in the draft to grab a couple of college football’s finest receivers from a year ago in Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. They want opposing defenses to respect the weapons they have in the passing game, regardless of who is throwing at them. This is only going to create more running room for Gerhart.
At 6’1, 230 pounds, Gerhart is built to tote the rock 20 times a game at a minimum. He’s never started, but he’s racked up a season’s worth of carries in his four-year career. The end result was 276 carries for 1305 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. If he does get his 20 carries a game and averages a half yard less per touch, you are still looking at nearly a 1,350+ yard season. Furthermore, there isn’t a back on Jacksonville’s roster built to vulture goal line touches from him, so look for Gerhart to be the guy punching it in when the Jags get inside the five.
Another guy I like is a former Jacksonville Jaguar, Rashad Jennings. I think he’s in for a big year with the Giants. The guy is an amazing physical speciman and is as powerful a runner as their is in the NFL. He’s battled injury throughout his career, and that has largely been what’s kept him from a full-time starting gig. Like Gerhert, however, he’s made the most of his touches. He’s rushed for 1,677 yards in four season at 4.3 yards a touch. The only Giants running back to crack the four-yards-a-carry barrier in 2014 was Brandon Jacobs with 4.1.
I have to think Tom Coughlin is going to lean heavily on Jennings to help get Eli back to form and close out games whenever the Giants have a lead. Given the numbers that Couglin’s platoon-systems have genereated in the past, I love how high the ceiling looks for Jennings in this offense as the primary ball carrier.