Eight NFL Free Agents Who Will Make a Fantasy Impact in 2013
While all eyes this week will be centered on the Super Bowl and all its grandeur—as we are now a few days away from the festivities—other teams are gearing up for their offseason preparations.
And no offseason would be complete without the usual bevy of free-agent activity. Which free agents will stay with their current squad? Who will leave for greener pastures? Who will be placed with the franchise tag?
In the following slideshow I will highlight eight players whose fantasy value will be significantly impacted on where they ultimately end up the offseason. Monitor these names, as their destination spots could prove to be critical to their fantasy impact.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Flacco has been playing some inspired football of late and is about to cash in on his recent playoff success.
Flacco has been all that and a bag of chips this postseason, passing for 853 yards and eight touchdowns (zero interceptions) in three playoff games. With Flacco leading the Ravens to the Super Bowl, there is no way the Ravens will let him walk. Chances are the Ravens will place the franchise tag on Flacco, and thus giving Baltimore more time to restructure a long-term deal for him.
With the postseason run he is on, Flacco should definitely be considered a solid, starting option at quarterback next season after the first half-dozen signal-callers or so come off the board.
Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins
It seems apparent that Bush is likely to bolt South Beach this offseason and make his pay with a team closer to contention.
Bush revitalized his career in Miami, rushing for 2,072 yards and 12 touchdowns (plus 288 receiving yards and three touchdowns) while only missing one contest in two years with the Dolphins.
Now that he appears to be the picture of perfect health, Bush will make for a solid addition to any club looking to upgrade its running attack.
Look for the Steelers, Lions and the Packers to be among his suitors. If Bush ends up on an offense more dynamic and explosive than the Dolphins, expect Bush’s fantasy value to climb.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
It will be interesting to see what new coach Any Reid will do with Bowe in Kansas City.
Obviously, Bowe is the unquestioned go-to-guy in the Chiefs’ passing attack, but Bowe has suffered of late as the quarterback play for Kansas City has been pathetic. The three touchdowns Bowe had in 2012 represented a career low.
Bowe needs a new quarterback to thrive and unless the Chiefs make an adequate upgrade there, Bowe may take his talents elsewhere. A lot of teams (Miami, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo) would love Bowe’s services and if he lands in good spot, he’ll have increased fantasy value in 2013.
Shonn Greene, New York Jets
After failing to meet expectation in 2012, the Jets need to upgrade at a lot of positions. But running back may not be one of those positions.
After rushing for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons (and increasing his touchdown totals from six in 2011 to eight in 2012), Greene is giving the Jets their money’s worth. Greene, though, may be too pricey for the Jets this offseason, as they try to navigate through an unforgiving salary cap.
The Jets may let Greene walk, but who would they turn to if Greene were to leave town? Bilal Powell? Perhaps.
There’s probably a 50/50 chance Greene stays with the Jets and if does look elsewhere, some of the teams that may be interested in Greene could be the Cardinals, Chargers, Colts and Steelers. If Greene stays with the Jets, he’ll at least be the primary ball-carrier. That’s not certain to be the case if he signs elsewhere.
Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
Wallace had a contentious relationship with the Steelers this year and odds are that Wallace has played his last snap in Pittsburgh.
After a holdout to begin the season did him no favors, Wallace was simply not the same receiver in 2012 as he was in years past. For the first time in three years, Wallace failed to top 1,000 yards receiving, as he was good for just 836 yards this year.
Playing and continuing his relationship with Ben Roethlisberger would probably be best for all involved, but that does not seem likely at this point. Monitor where Wallace ends up this offseason, as it will severely affect his fantasy value. If he ends up with a team like the Lions or the Dolphins, there could be a lot to like with Wallace.
Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
Just as they’re likely to re-sign Flacco, expect the Ravens to keep their core intact and keep the emerging tight end threat Dennis Pitta happy.
Pitta is ending his season on a high note and his play in the postseason is a key reason why the Ravens have advanced to the Super Bowl. On the year, Pitta caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Ravens assumingly will offer Pitta a high-tender offer, as he is a restricted free agent. As long as Flacco and Pitta are teammates, expect their rapport to only grow stronger.
Wes Welker, New England Patriots
There is a lot of debate in New England on whether or not Welker has played his last game with the Patriots.
Why would the Patriots mess with a good thing and break up Welker and his quarterback Tom Brady? After all, the Patriots appear to have enough cap space to splurge on Welker. And why not spend some of your bucks on one of the best (if not the best) possession receivers in the game. Welker is coming off his second consecutive 100-plus (118) reception season, while also topping 1,000 receiving yards for the fifth time in six seasons.
Whether it is placing the franchise tag on him again or not, I can’t imagine a scenario in which Welker is not part of the Patriots’ plans in 2013.
Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
With the Packers having an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver (Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb), Green Bay is more than likely to let Jennings walk this winter.
Jennings had a down campaign in 2012 in which he missed eight games with a nagging groin injury and only recorded four touchdowns.
With the Dolphins (coached by Jennings’s ex-offensive coordinator Joe Philbin) having money to spend and in need of some offensive playmakers, this pairing makes the most sense.
If Jennings lands in Miami his value will decrease a little, but with Ryan Tannehill set to make the next step in his game, there could opportunities where this connection could rival, say, what Andrew Luck had with Reggie Wayne this year in Indianapolis.