NFL Players Ready to Thrive in New Atmosphere
Sometimes, all it takes for an NFL player to rejuvenate his career is to switch teams.
They say a change of scenery is all that is needed to help jump-start a struggling career. Maybe a player has burned bridges in one particular city; maybe he clashed with teammates or the front office; maybe he was buried on the depth chart; maybe he was part of a lousy team.
For each of those reasons, a player could feel he has a new lease on life if placed in a new environment. All that said, here are 10 (ranking in order of impact) players ready to thrive in their new digs.
10. Jared Cook: St. Louis Rams
Although moving to St. Louis from Tennessee can be viewed as a lateral move, Cook should at least have the benefit of having a better quarterback in Sam Bradford throwing him the ball.
With the Rams void of a legit playmaker in the red zone, Bradford could target Cook a ton this coming season. It’s not like the Rams have a ton of reliable options in the passing game and remember first-round pick Tavon Austin is still just a rookie—and more of a possession receiver at that.
Cook is a nice sleeper tight end to target on fantasy draft day.
9. Brandon Myers: New York Giants
Myers is another tight end who should vastly improve in his new setting.
Myers goes from an inconsistent offense in Oakland to one of the more polished offenses in the game in the Giants. Myers is a pass-catching magnet, having recorded 111 receptions on 154 targets in three years in Oakland.
Now that he has, arguably, a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Eli Manning throwing him the ball, the chances for Myers to break out appear strong.
Don’t be surprised if Myers is a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end this year.
8. Anquan Boldin: San Francisco 49ers
Although Joe Flacco proved himself to be more than an adequate quarterback en route to being named Super Bowl XLVII MVP, he has not proven to be a consistent fantasy option and that in turn has affected the value of Boldin.
Boldin has been underutilized for years in Baltimore. Maybe the move to San Francisco while playing alongside Colin Kaepernick can do wonders to Boldin’s value.
Remember the 49ers lost Michael Crabtree for the season and Boldin will be looked upon immediately to fill his shoes as the primary receiver in San Francisco’s passing offense.
7. Rashard Mendenhall: Arizona Cardinals
Mendenhall ended his time in Pittsburgh in coach Mike Tomlin’s doghouse and perhaps a move out West is all he needs to get going again.
Doing him no favors was his inability to stay healthy while he was also trying to share carries with Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman. Now that he has a new lease on his football life, maybe Mendenhall can recapture his old mojo.
Although he’ll have to contend for carries with Ryan Williams and rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington, Mendenhall has the experience to at least win the starting job in camp. After all, the Cardinals did not sign him in the offseason to let him rot on the bench.
6. Wes Welker: Denver Broncos
It’s not like Welker needed a change of atmosphere to revive his career. Welker was basically at his apex in New England, being Tom Brady’s go-to-guy in the passing game.
That said, it’s not like Welker won’t thrive in Denver.
While he may see a dip in targets and receptions, playing alongside Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker will help keep Welker a relevant weapon for fantasy purposes—especially in PPR leagues.
5. Danny Amendola: New England Patriots
While Welker is no longer on New England's roster, Amendola is set to fill his shoes.
This is a classic example of a player leaving a bad situation behind only to land in an optimal setting. Amendola languished in St. Louis, as the Rams have had a subpar offense for years (especially when it comes to passing the ball). Now Amendola will be part of an explosive offense with Tom Brady throwing him the ball.
Suffice to say, Amendola’s fantasy value has increased tenfold.
4. Chris Ivory: New York Jets
Granted Ivory left a winning franchise to a team in turmoil, all of us who play fantasy football can care less about that.
Ivory has a great opportunity in front of him. He left behind a crowded backfield in New Orleans and will only have to compete with Mike Goodson and Bilal Powell in New York.
In limited time in New Orleans, Ivory showed he can be counted on to be a dependable back. Now that he is on a team that likes to pound the rock and has a solid offensive line, Ivory should be in line for his best season yet.
3. Reggie Bush: Detroit Lions
Bush did well in his two years in Miami, rushing for 2,072 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Now Bush is taking his talents from South Beach to the Motor City—a place more suited for his exploits.
With the Lions being more of a pass-oriented team, Bush—who is good at catching passes out of the backfield—will flourish in the Lions’ high-octane offense. Bush should get most of the carries, while incumbent running back Mikel Leshoure will be used at the goal line and in short-yardage situations.
2. Percy Harvin: Seattle Seahawks
Harvin was like a man on an island all to himself in MInnesota.
Minnesota’s passing offense has been stuck in neutral for the last couple of years and Christian Ponder is not the quarterback who can get the most out of Harvin. Now that Harvin is hooking up with Russell Wilson in Seattle, he should be able to ascend the ranks as a No. 1 wide receiver for fantasy purposes.
As it was, even with Ponder as his quarterback, Harvin was an elite receiver, but the possibilities are now endless with him moving to Seattle.
1. Steven Jackson: Atlanta Falcons
Talk about a huge spike in value.
Jackson left behind a ho-hum offense in St. Louis to be part of an explosive offense in Atlanta. Things couldn’t have been scripted any better for Jackson, as he won’t have to worry about carrying the Rams. Instead, he will just be another weapon in the Falcons' potent offense.
With Michael Turner gone, Jackson will get the lion’s share of the carries in Atlanta and prove to be a great No. 2 back for fantasy purposes.