If you are a fantasy football owner and thought you could spend the offseason sipping martinis and tracking your fantasy basketball and hockey teams, you were sadly mistaken.
The NFL has been busier this offseason than Lindsay Lohan’s lawyer. Blockbuster trades, multi-million-dollar signings and soap opera storylines have kept the NFL on the front pages since the Super Bowl ended, and most of the news made has had a direct or indirect effect on fantasy football.
So here are four ways this offseason has screwed with fantasy football for next year:
The Peyton Manning Saga
Manning owners in dynasty leagues have been hanging on every word reported by every television station, newspaper, fantasy guru, Indianapolis beat writer, Manning family member and TMZ paparazzi since Manning went on his tour of NFL organizations desperate for a quarterback.
Manning FINALLY picked the Denver Broncos to be his soft place to fall, and Manning owners who protected the cranky-necked QB must be a little nervous about their boy hooking up with the Broncos.
Denver’s roster is not loaded with Hall of Fame receivers. Former first-rounder Demaryius Thomas did come on strong at the end of last season, and Eric Decker has a Cris Carter-like nose for the end zone, but the Broncos lost slot receiver Eddie Royal and tight end Daniel Fells to free agency, plus Reggie Wayne did not decide to wait and join his buddy Manning for fun in the thin air.
Denver head coach John Fox is not a man known for loving high-flying offenses, and Manning has never fared overly well in frigid conditions.
Couple this with Manning’s tenuous health and shaky receiving corps and fantasy owners have to wonder if Manning can do in Denver what he did in Indianapolis, and if he is worth protecting in keeper leagues and worth drafting in the first round in leagues that start from scratch.
And what about the Tim Tebow owners? Some dynasty/keeper league owners may have considered holding onto Tebow because of all the rushing yards and touchdowns he accounts for when he is on the field. Flush that idea down the toilet now that Manning is taking over.
Manning has also screwed fantasy owners because they have probably been paying too much attention to the Manning saga and have not been paying enough attention to their fantasy basketball, hockey and baseball teams, along with their spouses, children, pets and jobs.
Washington Trading Up For the No. 2 Pick
The Washington Redskins, who have never met a free agent they would not sign or a college phenom they would not draft, traded three first-round draft picks, a second-round pick and possibly the rights to the Fun Bunch’s touchdown dance to the St. Louis Rams for the second overall pick in April’s NFL draft.
This was because head coach Mike Shanahan has realized that while he is arguably an offensive genius, he is not a miracle worker. He could not turn over-10-hills Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman or John Beck into anything resembling a winning quarterback.
Shanahan needs a young talent he can mold into a Pro Bowl signal caller, and that can now happen because Washington can draft Baylor’s Robert Griffin III.
If RG3 starts right away like Carolina’s Cam Newton and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton did last season, he could turn into a top-15 fantasy quarterback, maybe even a top-10 QB depending on how many rushing yards he racks up. Newton’s 2011 numbers might make fantasy owners take Griffin too high because they believe he can replicate what Newton did in and throw for 4,000 yards and scramble for another 700.
Griffin’s certain arrival in Washington also shook up NFL free agency and fantasy football because the Redskins went out of their way to sign him some receivers. With Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan in the fold, that makes Griffin more attractive and likely boosts the fantasy values of his receivers as well.
Receivers Switching Teams
Wide receivers have been changing teams quicker than Billy Crystal changes tuxedos during the Oscars. Now that the NFL is a pass-first league, more teams than ever are in need of receiving help this offseason, and they have been writing out checks with plenty of zeroes in them to free agents.
Besides the aforementioned receivers Washington signed for Griffin, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers broke the bank in inking Vincent Jackson, the San Diego Chargers signed Robert Meacham to replace Jackson, the New England Patriots brought in Brandon Lloyd, the Jacksonville Jaguars wrested Laurent Robinson away from the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco acquired Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.
All of these receivers moving to different teams definitely throws the fantasy world into a frenzy. Most of the time the rule of thumb is that when a player changes teams his fantasy worth goes up. But that might not be the case with Jackson and Robinson considering the quarterbacks and offenses they used to play with are better than their new ones.
NFL free agents are never truly free, especially if they are the best players on their teams or among the premier players at their positions.
The dreaded franchise tag was placed on 22 players before the free-agent period kicked off. In some instances it was a good thing that certain players stayed stuck with their teams. The last thing fantasy owners needed was Drew Brees leaving New Orleans, Ray Rice leaving Baltimore or Wes Welker leaving New England.
Chicago’s Matt Forte, Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe and Washington’s Fred Davis were all tagged, too, and maybe that is not good for fantasy owners, though. Forte will likely be unhappy in Chicago since he did not sign a long-term deal, Bowe would have been better off with a quarterback other than Matt Cassel and Davis’ numbers might take a hit in Washington with all of the new wideouts the ‘Skins signed.
One of the larger and more surprising stories related to franchise tags was how many kickers were tagged by teams. Not sure if it was because the kickers were that valuable to their squads or the organizations really had no one else to pin their tags on, but five kickers were franchised.
So if you were the proud owner of Connor Barth or Phil Dawson and you wanted your kicker to sign with a high-scoring team, this offseason really screwed you.