10 NFL Free Agents That Could Mean the Most to Fantasy Football in 2012
While the NCAA tournament will grab the attention of most fans this month, it’s not the only form of “March Madness” that sports fans will be witness to.
March 13 is the date free agency commences, and it will be a mad dash to see where some possible free agents start ending up. It will only be a matter of time before the dominoes start to fall and teams start reshaping their roster before the NFL Draft.
Of course, where some of those free agents end up could have huge ramifications on fantasy football. So, in this slideshow, I will outline 10 possible free agents whose fantasy stock could be changed if they switch teams.
Mike Wallace: Pittsburgh Steelers
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After breaking out a few years ago, Wallace has emerged as one of the league’s most feared deep threats.
No doubt the Steelers will want to lock him up and keep him on the team for the foreseeable future. However, with promising receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders already on the roster the organization may feel Wallace is out of their price range.
If Wallace stays, his value will be at its best knowing he has a competent quarterback throwing him the ball in Ben Roethlisberger. If he switches teams and goes to a place like say, Jacksonville or Cleveland, his value will decrease dramatically.
Mario Manningham: New York Giants
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It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Super Bowl hero Manningham has played his last game for the Giants.
The Giants are already stocked with a terrific receiving duo (Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz), so it’s doubtful that the Giants are going to pay No. 1 wide receiver-money for a receiver who would be third on their depth chart.
With that said, Manningham’s value is at its highest after his performance in the postseason, and a potential big payday is imminent. If he lands with the right team, he could get the lion’s share of targets and make for a solid middle round selection in fantasy drafts.
Matt Flynn: Green Bay Packers
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Now that the Packers didn't place the franchise tag on Flynn, he is all but certain to call a new place his home next season.
And where else would that be than Miami?
With the Dolphins already hiring ex-Packers Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin to be their new coach, this move makes all the sense in the world. The only holdup is what Peyton Manning decides to do. If the Colts let Manning walk, Miami has always been looked at as a possible destination spot.
Regardless, Flynn should land with a team where he’ll have a strong chance to start. And if he does, he’ll go into drafts next year as a great sleeper.
Marques Colston: New Orleans Saints
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With Steve Johnson signing a lucrative deal with the Bills yesterday, you can bet a guy like Colston has to be grinning from ear to ear, since arguably he has been a more productive receiver than Johnson in the last few years.
With the Saints tying a lot of money into Drew Brees and with him relying more and more on tight end Jimmy Graham (and other dependable threats), the need to sign Colston to a sizeable contract is not much of a pressing need.
Much like Wallace, Colston will need to latch onto a team with a good passing attack, or his value could plummet.
Brandon Lloyd: St. Louis Rams
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The worst-kept secret in the NFL has to be the possible reunion of Lloyd joining back up with the Patriots’ offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels.
At this point it seems inevitable and if that were to happen, Lloyd’s value will skyrocket with him joining forces with Tom Brady and the Patriot’s high-powered passing attack.
Peyton Hillis: Cleveland Browns
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Hillis goes into the free agency period as one of the most enigmatic cases.
There were stories of him retiring and him wanting to join the CIA. Huh?
In any event, Hillis is downplaying those rumors and says he wants to keep playing football. It’s just not going to be with the Browns.
Hillis still has value, and if he can join a team in need of a good timeshare, Hillis has the chance to rebound and be a late-round steal in drafts next year. He is still a physical runner who should get many looks around the goal line.
Vincent Jackson: San Diego Chargers
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Much like Colston, Jackson must be happy with the deal that Steve Johnson got since it will be a good source of leverage when teams start inquiring about his services.
Jackson may have worn out his welcome in San Diego, and a fresh start is just what he might need.
Jackson has always been a boom or bust type of receiver, and in the right situation, Jackson could be in for a rebound season with another club.
Cedric Benson: Cincinnati Bengals
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It seems apparent that the Bengals are shifting towards a youth movement.
With young stars such as Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati may want a bit of new blood at the running back position.
At age 29, Benson is in the process of slowing down. Benson is unlikely to sign on with a team where he’ll be the featured running back. At best, Benson will be part of a running back by committee. If such is the case, Benson’s draft stock will spiral, and he’ll only be worth a late-round selection in most drafts.
Reggie Wayne: Indianapolis Colts
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It will be out with the old and in with the new in Indianapolis as the Colts figure to say goodbye to Manning, Wayne and perhaps Pierre Garcon too as they usher in the (most likely) Andrew Luck era.
Wayne still has enough juice left in his body to make an impact, and if he lands in a good system (and the strong rumor is his wagon is hitched to Manning’s and they might reunite with a new team), Wayne will be a great value pick in next year’s fantasy drafts.
Michael Bush: Oakland Raiders
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With the Raiders not placing the franchise tag on Bush, it will undoubtedly make Bush perhaps the most sought after running back on the market.
Bush has excelled in a timeshare with Darren McFadden, but when he gets his chance to start, he shines. Bush could get a chance to earn the majority of carries on a new team. One such team that makes sense is the aforementioned Bengals, who as I pointed out earlier, will likely say goodbye to Benson.
If Bush winds up with a team where he’ll see the bulk of the carries, such as the Bengals, Bush’s value will increase tenfold and could go as high as the second or third round in drafts next summer.
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