The NFL offseason has not been kind to many players thanks to injuries, new teammates coming in to take their jobs or the lack of interest they have received on the open market. But the offseason has been much kinder for others.
If you are a fantasy football addict with plenty of time on your hands, like me, then you have been ranking and re-ranking players at different positions during the offseason in preparation of your August/September drafts and auctions.
This offseason has had more interesting storylines than an episode of Mad Men, and some of the soap opera-like plot twists have helped boost the fantasy values of several players.
Here are three players whose fantasy values have skyrocketed this offseason:
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles (RB)
A serious concussion, an injury-riddled offensive line and the emergence of backup Bryce Brown triple-teamed McCoy’s fantasy value in 2012.
McCoy’s 2011 campaign that saw him rack up 1,624 combined yards and 20 total touchdowns feels like it happened in 1989. He was limited to only a dozen games last year due to his concussion and only managed 1,213 combined yards and five touchdowns, leaving fantasy owners who drafted him in the first round very disappointed.
But McCoy’s fantasy value should turn around in 2013. Because new head coach Chip Kelly’s up-tempo system will run more plays than the average offense due to its hurry-up offense, McCoy should get more touches in both the running and passing attacks and find more wide open lanes to sprint through.
McCoy will be given the ball early and often as he will stave off Brown’s advances, and Philadelphia’s upgraded and healthier offensive line should protect him 1,000 times more than it did last season.
McCoy is only one year removed from being one of the top five running backs in fantasy football and a guaranteed first-round pick in drafts. Flush his mediocre 2012 down the toilet, and feel free to draft him in the late first round or early part of the second round of your drafts because he is about to bounce back in a big way.
Chris Ivory, New York Jets (RB)
Ivory’s claim to fame was being arguably the best fourth-string tailback in the NFL. That is akin to being the youngest Golden Girl or the most talented member of Honey Boo Boo’s family, but during those brief moments when Ivory was handed the ball while he was on the New Orleans Saints, he made the most of it.
Now Ivory has parlayed his limited string of success to a probable starting role with the Jets, but that came about more due to New York’s weakness at running back than Ivory’s talent. While Ivory has averaged 5.1 yards per carry in 24 career games, no one is ready to call him the next Barry Sanders.
Ivory was likely ahead of holdovers Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight on the Jets depth chart, but the one running back who could have stolen his supposed starting spot or at least dented his carry total was Mike Goodson, who signed a $6.9 million deal in the offseason—for reasons fantasy owners still cannot understand considering Goodson has always been an injury-prone and fumble-prone backup.
But Goodson had the brain cramp of the offseason so far by getting arrested recently for drug and gun possession. This could cause the Jets to eventually release him, and even if his roster spot is spared, he could face a league suspension if found guilty of the criminal charges.
So with Goodson possibly getting cut or at best being demoted, Ivory’s fantasy stock has shot up the charts quicker than a new One Direction single. Running behind one of the better run-blocking offensive lines in the NFL could make Ivory a fantastic fantasy sleeper.
Shonn Greene rushed for 1,000 yards the past two years behind Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and others, and Greene has no speed, no moves or no ability to break tackles. Ivory can certainly break the 1,000-yard barrier if he starts, and Goodson’s arrest increases the chances of that happening.
Danny Amendola, New England Patriots (WR)
Amendola was already being coveted by fantasy owners, especially in points-per-reception leagues, because he signed with the pass-happy Patriots in the offseason. On paper it looks like Amendola and New England are a match made in heaven, just like chicken and waffles.
And during the offseason, events have occurred that could definitely impact Amendola’s target total.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski just went through his fourth operation on his ailing forearm. Who knows if he will be ready for the start of the season? And New England’s other talented tight end, Aaron Hernandez, is recovering from his own offseason surgery on his shoulder and is no guarantee to be ready by Week 1.
Tom Brady throws the ball as often as Kanye West throws tantrums. If Gronkowski and/or Hernandez are not ready for the start of the season, Amendola will be targeted more than President Obama is by Fox News. Amendola might not only be a younger, faster version of the departed Wes Welker, he could end up being even more productive down the line.
If Amendola can just drink his milk, take his vitamins and steer clear of black cats to stay healthy, he is going to have one amazing fantasy season. One full season as part of New England’s offense with Brady throwing to him could get Amendola 100 receptions for 1,300 yards and several scores—which would obliterate his previous career highs—and possibly even better numbers if Brady’s terrific tight end twosome misses the first couple contests.
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