The 2016 NFL offseason is fully underway. Fantasy drafts are just a couple months away, pretty soon guys will start running plays without pads and we'll get some fake football in just about 3 months! (August 7, HOF game, GB v IND). There have been lots of big free agent moves, as well as some big time draft picks.
(Listen to the Fantasy Football Podcast: 5/3/16, NFL Draft 2016 Rookies & Free Agents)
Free Agent Moves
Brock Osweiler (HOU, 4yr, 72mil) - Signed a massive contract with Houston - with numbers like that, he's undoubtedly the starter this year. I see his value as a mid to low QB2, but with the good receiving threats in Houston, he could have some decent upside.
Robert Griffin III (CLE, 2yr, 15-22mil) - The guy who wasn't even given the honor of Kirk Cousin's clipboard last year has signed with Cleveland for a modest deal, worth up to $22 million. RG3 still has to compete to earn his job against Josh McCown and (possibly) 3rd Round pick Cody Kessler. Given the rest of the offensive roster, particularly the receiving core, I don't know who'd even want the job.
Sam Bradford (PHI, 2yr, 36mil) - Re-signed with Philly for a number that might indicate he could be their starter. But then the Eagles traded up to the 2nd pick, drafted a QB (more on him later) and Bradford has been pouting ever since. Now, as of March 9th, it looks like Bradford has ended his holdout.
Mark Sanchez (DEN, Traded from Eagles) - Sanchez was traded for only a conditional 7th round 2017 pick AND the Broncos drafted a QB near the end of the first round. Despite this, it seems like Sanchez is currently the front-runner to start in Denver this year. The strength of the run game, WR core and that defense immediately puts him in the upper QB2 discussion, possibly a lower QB1.
Other moves: Ryan Fitzpatrick is still without a contract. It's been quite a drawn-out negotiation with the Jets, and a few other teams have dipped their toes into the water, but now it seems like there's a 50/50 shot that the Beard doesn't get anything done before the season starts. Chase Daniel signed for 3 years, 21 million with the Chiefs, but he's just their very well paid backup QB. Brian Hoyer signed on with the Bears as their backup (a position that has seen at least 1 start each of the last 6 years).
Running Backs -
Matt Forte (NYJ, 3yr, $12mil) - Forte is certainly going to be the opening day starter on the Jets, however he has both Bilal Powell and Khiry Robinson behind him. Powell already is a solid 3rd down back, so Forte's role may be limited compared to what he's been used to most of his career. Forte being here in the first place is possible, due to the exit of...
Chris Ivory (JAX, 5yr, $32.5mil) - Ivory's landed himself a decent contract on a team that was not blown away by TJ Yeldon's performance last year, though it was still respectable. Ivory will be a serious weapon on a team that had the best pair of WR's last year, one of the best young QB's in the league, and some say, the best looking draft in 2016.
Lamar Miller (HOU, 4yr, $26mil) - Miller also landed a big contract, though it's still a little surprising that Miami let him go. In Houston, Miller will be the main head of a timeshare, though he's slated to get decent majority of the touches. He should be the RB1 we all have expected him to be in the past.
Alfred Morris (DAL, 2yr, up to $5.5mil) - At first, this move looked like a good one for Morris - he would be running behind an offensive line that got Darren McFadden over the 1000 yard mark last year. Then draft day came and now it looks like Morris will be firmly in the 2nd position on the depth chart where he might just be called in for short yardage situations when Elliott needs a breather.
Demarco Murray (Traded to TEN) - Most people would agree that Murray was not used right in Philadephia last year, and he should improve just by moving to a new team. Despite the Titans selection of Derrick Henry in the 2nd round this year, Murray should be a guy who gets a lot of carries this year.
Other RB Signings: Arian Foster is still a free agent, having stated that he will wait until he's fully healthy before signing with a team. Stevan Ridley signed with the Lions. Marshawn Lynch retired, leading the way for Thomas Rawls to take over.
Wide Receivers -
Marvin Jones (DET, 5yr, $40mil) - Wide Receiver was clearly the thinnest position in free agency this year, this being the biggest move and the best free agent is proof of that. Jones will attempt, with Golden Tate, to fill some megatron-sized shoes.
Travis Benjamin (SD, 4yr, $24mil) - Leaving the depleted Browns WR core in even worse shape, he arrives in San Diego, a team that had a very depleted WR group last year. Hopefully Keenan Allen returns to form this year - if so, he and Benjamin could provide a solid 1-2 punch for Philip Rivers, with Antonio Gates taking care of the middle of the field.
Mohamed Sanu (ATL, 5yr, $32.5mil) - It's been a good off-season for ex-Cincinnati Bengals wide receivers. Sanu will be replacing Roddy White in the Falcons offense, and should prove to be a lot more useful than White's last couple of years. Sanu could wind up as an every week starter as a WR3/flex early on in the season.
Other WR moves - Mike Wallace signed with the Ravens. Brandon LaFell signed with the Bengals - they're one of the only teams that really lost depth this year. Nate Washington signed with the Patriots. Rueben Randle signed with the Eagles. Rishard Matthews is on the Titans now. Still unsigned: Anquan Boldin, Roddy White, Andre Johnson
Tight Ends -
Ladarius Green (PIT, 4yr, $24mil) - Green moves into the Steelers' high powered offense to replace the retiring Heath Miller (pause for Heeeeeeaaaaath). Green wasn't going to be the featured guy in San Diego, with Gates coming back for another couple years. We can assume that he's going to love his new spot, and so will, I assume, Ben Roethlisberger. Green is an easy TE1 this year.
Coby Fleener (NO, 5yr, $36mil) - It seems that the Saints have realized that they need to have a serious TE in their offense, and Ben Watson is not going to last much longer, so they turn to youth. Fleener should be an easy TE1, as he was a good receiving TE when he had Andrew Luck throwing him the ball, he just wasn't getting enough chances.
Martellus Bennett - (Traded to Pats) - Bennett's act was wearing thin in Chicago, so the bears sent him to New England (what a terrible punishment). He'll be the best compliment to Gronkowski since Aaron Hernandez - let's just hope he can keep his head on straight.
Other TE Moves: Ben Watson signed with the Ravens. Gates, Zach Miller, Dwayne Allen re-signed. Vernon Davis signed with the Redskins. Jared Cook signed with the Packers.
2016 Fantasy Rookies (see Shawn's Article for in-depth player profiles)
Jared Goff (Rnd 1, Pick 1, Los Angeles Rams) - The Rams traded an awful lot away to acquire the number 1 pick. I expect to see him under center for their first game in L.A.
Carson Wentz (Rnd 1, Pick 2, Philadelphia Eagles) - This is the pick that has Sam Bradford's panties in a bunch. The Eagles traded up to pick Wentz, but with the money they just paid Bradford, it's hard to know who will be the starter this season.
Paxton Lynch (Rnd 1, Pick 26, Denver Broncos) - The third QB taken in the first round, the Broncos also traded up to pick this QB. Lynch doesn't seem like he's going to start right away in Denver, probably to get some time behind a veteran QB.
Christian Hackenberg (Rnd 2, Pick 51, New York Jets) - This pick adds to the mystery surrounding who will start this season for the Jets. Will it be Geno Smith? Will they sign Fitzpatrick? Can the rookie compete for a starting job?
Ezekiel Elliott (Rnd 1, Pick 4, Dallas Cowboys) - Some people thought that the Cowboys would go elsewhere with the 4th overall pick, but I see this as Jerry Jones being unable to pass up the shiniest, best toy in the store. Lucky for him, this one is real gold, rather than the fool's gold Manziel pick that he almost took a few years ago. Elliott should start right away, and I'm already hearing people talk about him as a potential overall #1 RB in fantasy for this season.
Derrick Henry (Rnd 2, Pick 45, Tennessee Titans) - Henry will get plenty of work in his rookie campaign, but may not be very fantasy relevant with DeMarco Murray carrying the load this year in Tennessee.
Kenyan Drake (Rnd 3, Pick 73, Miami Dolphins) - Drake is a speedster that will be a compliment to Jay Ajayi in the running game. This is good news for Ajayi owners, as it seems that this pick indicates that the Dolphins will be full speed ahead with Ajayi as the starter.
C.J. Prosise (Rnd 3, Pick 90, Seattle Dolphins) - Shawn's overhyped sleeper did indeed shoot up the draft board, being the 4th overall RB taken.
Corey Coleman (Rnd 1, Pick 15, Cleveland Browns) - The Browns needed WR depth perhaps more than any other team. They wound up taking three more WR's in the 4th and 5th rounds. It's clear that the WR position is as up for grabs as any in the league this year.
Will Fuller (Rnd 1, Pick 21, Houston Texans) - Shawn predicted that some team would fall in love with Fuller and his deep ball capability, and he was right. That team was Houston, and it might actually be a good fit. With Fuller lining up opposite of DeAndre Hopkins, Brock Osweiler has some fancy new toys to play with this year.
Josh Doctson (Rnd 1, Pick 22, Washington Redskins) - Shawn's favorite WR in the draft, Kirk Cousins has a nice compliment to DeSean Jackson. Add Jordan Reed to the mix, and you have a receiving core than can keep up with some of the other big names in the division.
Laquon Treadwell (Rnd 1, Pick 23, Minnesota Vikings) - Can someone say WR run? The Vikings haven't had a proper number 1 at WR in a while, so this pick was obvious. Pairing 3rd year QB Teddy Bridgewater with some rookie talent is just the ticket now that the Vikings are moving their games back indoors.
Sterling Shepard (Rnd 2, Pick 40, New York Giants) - As Shawn said, Shepard is the best slot receiver in the draft, and filling that need is going to help the Giants a lot. Odell will be able to hang out on the outside more often, and they need to replace Rueben Randle's receptions anyway.
Michael Thomas (Rnd 2, Pick 47, New Orleans Saints) - The Saints always cycle through a lot of WR's every year - heck, every game really. There will be chances for the rookie, but I don't think he'll be emerging as a fantasy starter this year.
Hunter Henry (Rnd 2, Pick 35, San Diego Chargers) - Shawn went three for three on the TE draft order, and had Henry at the top. Henry was clearly the top TE this draft and went to a team that doesn't take the position lightly. Knowing that Gates will be gone in a few years and Green is now in Pittsburgh, drafting Henry is a smart move for the long term, but don't worry about him in redraft leagues this year.
Austin Hooper (Rnd 3, Pick 81, Atlanta Falcons) - The Falcons are still trying to replace Tony Gonzalez, and while Hooper isn't exactly anything special like Gonzalez, he should get some opportunities right away.
Nick Vannett (Rnd 3, Pick 94, Seattle Seahawks) - He's a big TE that got drafted by a team that has a lot of buyer's remorse with the currently injured Jimmy Graham. He'll certainly take some time to develop into a regular starter, but he could rise fast if Russell Wilson likes throwing him the ball.