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Fantasy Football's Biggest Winners and Losers This Offseason

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystApril 5, 2013

Fantasy Football's Biggest Winners and Losers This Offseason

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    We're less than three weeks away from the 2013 NFL draft, and it's already been another wild and wacky offseason in the National Football League.

    A number of prominent NFL players will be sporting different helmets in 2013. These moves will have a big impact on Sundays this fall, and the player movement this offseason has also affected the fantasy football value of any number of pros.

    For some players, these roster shakeups were a significant boost to their fantasy fortunes, while others weren't so fortunate.

    With that said, here's a look at some of this offseason's biggest winners and losers fantasy-wise.

WINNER: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

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    The Seattle Seahawks were a surprise playoff team in 2012, thanks in large part to the excellent play of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.

    Wilson's play got steadily better as the season wore on, and by year's end, the third-round pick had thrown 26 touchdown passes and finished inside the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks.

    This season, there's plenty of reason to think that Wilson could move up a few spots.

    The team added wide receiver Percy Harvin in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings, giving Wilson a true No. 1 wideout.

    If Sidney Rice can stay healthy in 2013, then he and Harvin present Wilson with an excellent duo of targets in the passing game.

    Add in Wilson's mobility and the Seahawks' read-option offense, and fantasy owners should definitely keep an eye on the player that Seattle head coach Pete Carroll expects to "break out" in 2013.

LOSER: Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans

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    At the beginning of the 2012 season, things did not look good for Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson.

    The 27-year-old got off to an absolutely terrible start to the season, but by the end of the year, Johnson had topped 1,200 yards on the ground, scored six touchdowns and finished as a fantasy RB1 in leagues that award a point for receptions.

    With that said, Johnson is going to be hard-pressed to better that finish in 2013, because of the most unlikely of culprits.

    Shonn stinking Greene.

    The Titans added the former New York Jets plodder in free agency, and while Greene isn't a threat to steal significant carries from Johnson (assuming the Titans have seen Greene play), he is likely to steal some short-yardage and, more importantly, goal-line work.

    Once again, Greene has found a way to leave fantasy owners cursing his very existence.

    He's good at that, at least.

WINNER: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

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    For Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and his fantasy owners, Christmas came in April in 2013.

    After a 2012 season of catching passes from everyone from Kevin Kolb to Joe the liquor store clerk, Fitzgerald's fantasy value was as low as it's ever been. The 29-year-old was probably considering spending his 10th NFL season selling nachos, where he'd have been both more productive and safer.

    Now, after a trade with the Oakland Raiders, Carson Palmer is in the desert, Fitzgerald will be catching passes from a player that actually resembles an NFL quarterback, and Fitz is right back in the conversation as a top-10 fantasy wideout.

    The only people who didn't like the trade were Drew Stanton and Stanton's mother.

    They're just going to have to get over it.

LOSER: Brandon Myers, TE, Oakland Raiders

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    Tight end Brandon Myers was one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 fantasy football season, coming from nowhere to post 79 receptions for 806 yards and four touchdowns as a member of the Oakland Raiders.

    That production ranked sixth among fantasy tight ends a year ago, but this year, Myers' Cinderella season is apt to turn back into a pumpkin.

    Not only is it risky business to count on a repeat of such unexpected production, but Myers is also now a member of the New York Giants, a team not known for using tight ends a ton in the passing game.

    Martellus Bennett finished 12th among fantasy tight ends in 2012 while with Big Blue, and that's just about a best-case scenario for Myers this season.

WINNER: Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis Rams

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    Jared Cook is one of the vertical threat tight ends that are all the rage in the NFL now, as he's shown by averaging more than 13 yards a catch over his career and hauling in touchdowns of at least 60 yards in each of the past two seasons.

    However, Cook never emerged as a consistent option in the Tennessee Titans offense, making fewer than 50 catches in each of his four years in Nashville.

    That should change now that Cook is in St. Louis.

    The Rams didn't ink Cook to a fat contract for him to play part-time, and with both Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson gone, Cook may be not only the Rams' top tight end, but also their top receiver period.

    That will mean targets, and targets mean opportunities for fantasy production.

LOSER: Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos

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    From an NFL perspective, the free-agent contract that brought Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos was a great move. In Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Welker, the Broncos now have arguably the best trio of wide receivers in the National Football League.

    However, from a fantasy perspective, the move west doesn't bode well for Welker.

    The reason is simple. Even if the Broncos are as pass-happy as any team in the NFL, there are only so many targets to go around, and now Welker is likely the third option in Denver's passing game.

    Welker hauled in more than 100 catches in five of the past six seasons, but the odds of the 31-year-old making it six years out of seven in the Mile High City aren't good.

WINNER: Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots

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    The departure of Wes Welker from the New England Patriots may have hurt his fantasy value, but the same certainly cannot be said for his replacement.

    The Patriots had Plan B ready to go before Plan A had even packed his luggage, as Welker will be replaced in the New England offense by fellow Texas Tech alum (and Welker clone) Danny Amendola.

    Durability has been an issue for the fifth-year pro the past two seasons, but when healthy, Amendola has shown himself more than capable of functioning in a role nearly identical to Welker's while he was in St. Louis.

    Granted, it may be reaching a bit to just assume that Amendola is going to start reeling off 100-catch seasons, but as long as he stays healthy, I don't know that I'd bet against it either.

LOSER: Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings

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    If Danny Amendola went from a so-so fantasy situation in St. Louis to a great one in New England, then the offseason of wide receiver Greg Jennings was its mirror image.

    Jennings' wallet isn't hurting after leaving the Green Bay Packers for a $47.5 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings, a deal that includes $18 million in guaranteed cabbage.

    His fantasy value, on the other hand?

    Ouch.

    It doesn't exactly take a rocket surgeon to figure out why Jennings' fantasy fortunes took a nosedive with his move across the NFC North.

    In Green Bay, Jennings caught passes from Aaron Rodgers. In Minnesota, Jennings will catch passes from Christian Ponder.

    At least he'll try to.

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