Fantasy Football 2013: Need-to-Know NFL Changes Since Your Last Draft

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IAugust 13, 2013

Fantasy Football 2013: Need-to-Know NFL Changes Since Your Last Draft

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    On paper, every NFL team looks different in 2013 from how it looked in 2012—some significantly different, others with only slight variation from the previous season. 

    With the changes come new opportunities for a host of players you'll be targeting in your fantasy draft. 

    Here's a look at organizational alterations that specifically pertain to the 2013 fantasy football season. 

Scheme Change in Buffalo

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    What Happened? 

    Doug Marrone was hired as the Bills' head coach. He hired Nate Hackett as offensive coordinator. 

     

    Who's Affected?

    EJ Manuel, C.J. Spiller, Steve Johnson, Fred Jackson and Robert Woods.

    Doug Marrone and Nate Hackett will institute an up-tempo offensive in Buffalo this season. That means more plays and more touches for the offensive skill-position players, mostly feature back C.J. Spiller.

    In a dynasty PPR league, you can't draft Spiller early enough.

    Remember, Hackett said he plans to give Spiller the ball "until he throws up," via The Buffalo News. A season with 2,000 all-purpose yards is not out of the question. Spiller finished with 1,703 yards from scrimmage on a mere 250 touches in 2012.

    For first-round pick EJ Manuel, the offensive attack will likely feature a variety of high-percentage, easy-read throws with a mix of deep balls off play action. Hackett won't over-complicate things for his young quarterback. 

    Fred Jackson may not be as elusive as he was two years ago, but the versatile runner will be used to keep Spiller fresh throughout the year. 

    With an influx of young receiving talent, there's a thought that Steve Johnson may not be as fantasy-viable in 2013. While it's true that Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Co. will take some targets away from him, Johnson working out of the slot frequently is a scary development for opposing cornerbacks. 

    The up-tempo system will increase the volume for all of Buffalo's offensive weapons.

Personnel Change in Green Bay

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    What Happened?

    Greg Jennings signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

     

    Who's Affected? 

    Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and James Jones.

    Greg Jennings averaged 4.42 receptions and 68 yards per game during his sparkling career with the Green Bay Packers. He also averaged a touchdown every eight catches. 

    Now that he's on the rival Minnesota Vikings, Aaron Rodgers will be forced to target Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley and James Jones more often. 

    During an injury-plagued 2012 for Jennings, one in which he played only eight games, Cobb was targeted 104 times, Jones 98 times, Finley 88 times and Nelson 73 times.

    Expect those target figures to increase across the board this season, especially for Cobb, whose 78.4 catch percentage was the second-highest in the league last year, per ProFootballFocus.com (subscription required).

    Targets are the root of wideout fantasy production. 

Scheme Change in Philadelphia

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    What Happened? 

    Chip Kelly was hired as the Eagles' head coach. He hired Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator.

     

    Who's Affected?

    Michael Vick, Nike Foles, LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek.

    Chip Kelly wants to go fast. Like super warp-speed fast. A cranked-up tempo that features read-option, misdirection and a quick passing game favors Mike Vick, but Kelly can tweak the system to accommodate the less agile Nick Foles if he's the more accurate and decisive quarterback in the preseason.

    The greatest beneficiaries of Kelly's arrival are running backs LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown. Both should get the ball often and should get it in space, as Kelly's offense is predicated on spreading the defense horizontally to create holes for skill-position players. 

    DeSean Jackson is the ideal yards-after-the-catch receiver to haul in passes in the new offense, and Brent Celek shouldn't see any drop-off in his production. 

    Don't sleep on Chris Polk, a 2012 undrafted free-agent runner who could make the final roster and contribute. 

Personnel Changes in Minnesota

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    What Happened?

    Greg Jennings signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Cordarrelle Patterson was drafted.

     

    Who's Affected?

    Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson.

    Quarterback Christian Ponder has had a pedestrian start to his NFL career. In 27 career games as a professional, he's completed less than 60 percent of his passes for an average of 177.5 yards per contest and has tossed 31 touchdowns to 25 interceptions. 

    In fairness to Ponder, he hasn't had the most dynamic receiving options at his disposal in his first two seasons. Outside of Percy Harvin, no wideouts on Minnesota's roster struck fear into opponents. 

    Now, everything's changed. 

    Established vertical threat Greg Jennings will split out wide, and yards-after-the-catch dynamo Cordarrelle Patterson was selected in the first round. 

    While those two won't be able to morph Ponder into an elite signal-caller, they'll make his life much easier. 

    Reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson will remain the offensive focal point—and rightfully so—but with more receiving talent, don't be surprised if the game's most prolific running back sees his workload scaled back in 2013. 

Scheme and Personnel Changes in Arizona

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    What Happened?

    Bruce Arians was hired as the Arizona Cardinals' head coach. Carson Palmer signed with Arizona, along with Rashard Mendenhall.

     

    Who's Affected?

    Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Roberts.

    After 18 wins in three years, the top of the Arizona Cardinals' organization had enough. Following Ken Whisenhunt's firing, Bruce Arians was hired to implement his vertical-passing offense, one that should accentuate the skills of free-agent acquisition Carson Palmer. 

    Although Andrew Luck was sacked 41 times in Arians' offense last season, he tossed 23 touchdowns and threw for 4,374 yards. 

    The Arians/Palmer dynamic should breathe life into Larry Fitzgerald's fantasy relevance. Michael Floyd, the big and talented second-year wideout who struggled to acclimate to the NFL with the ghastly group of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer under center in 2012, could be in for somewhat of a breakout year opposite Fitzgerald.

    Andre Roberts actually set career highs across the board last season. He could emerge as a go-to slot guy for Palmer in 2013. 

    Running back Rashard Mendenhall was added in free agency. If healthy, he has the talent to drastically improve the league's worst run offense from a year ago. He will be aided by new guard Jonathan Cooper, Arizona's first-round pick in this year's draft.

    If the offensive line holds, the Cardinals could surprise the masses and provide your fantasy team with an abundance of points almost every week. 

Personnel Changes in St. Louis

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    What Happened?

    Tavon Austin was drafted by the St. Louis Rams. Jake Long and Jared Cook were added in free agency.

     

    Who's Affected?

    Sam Bradford, Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis.

    No more excuses for you, Sam Bradford. You now can throw to speedster Chris Givens, who averaged 16.6 yards per catch as a rookie in 2012, the most dynamic YAC wideout from the 2013 draft class, Tavon Austin, and athletic specimen Jared Cook at tight end.

    Don't forget, Jake Long is now protecting your blindside.

    Bradford is as fantasy-relevant as he's ever been, and Austin is a fine mid-round pick in any PPR league. Cook hasn't transformed his raw talent into production yet, but he'll have his best opportunity this season, especially with defenses forced to account for Austin and Givens down the field. 

    Austin's West Virginia teammate Stedman Bailey could emerge as a decent flex option. 

    Will Austin Pettis and Brian Quick be hurt or helped by the pass-catching additions?

Scheme Change in Cleveland

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    What Happened?

    Rob Chudzinski was hired as Cleveland Browns' head coach. Norv Turner was hired as offensive coordinator.

     

    Who's Affected?

    Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson, Josh Gordon, Greg Little and Jordan Cameron. 

    Rob Chudzinski, the mastermind behind Cam Newton's epic rookie season in 2011, has taken over the Cleveland Browns. He'll install an offense similar to the one Bruce Arians is installing in Arizona, one predicated on downfield passing. 

    Quarterback Brandon Weeden underwhelmed as a rookie, but like Carson Palmer, he possesses a strong arm that, on paper, is suited for Chudzinski's attack. 

    Though he's suspended for the first two games of the season, physical specimen Josh Gordon could experience a breakout year in the new offense. If healthy, Trent Richardson should account for a relatively high percentage of the team's yardage output. 

    Offensive coordinator Norv Turner worked wonders with Antonio Gates in San Diego, and Chud' prominently featured tight ends Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey in Carolina, so Jordan Cameron represents fantastic fantasy value despite having only 26 career receptions. 

Personnel Change in Miami

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    What Happened?

    The Miami Dolphins signed Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller in free agency. 

     

    Who's Affected?

    Ryan Tannehill.  

    Ryan Tannehill didn't shine like fellow rookies Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson did in 2012, but he often showed flashes of his potential. 

    Unfortunately for him, the Miami Dolphins were devoid of legitimate pass-catching targets. GM Jeff Ireland changed that this offseason by adding Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller. 

    Tannehill is poised in the pocket, has a strong, accurate arm and boasts deceptive athleticism. 

    While Wallace may not be a traditional No. 1 wideout, he knows how to put points on the board. During his stay in Pittsburgh with the Steelers, an astounding 13.6 percent of his receptions were touchdowns. 

    Gibson should carve out a situational role after receiving a plus-6.6 grade from ProFootballFocus in 2012 (subscription required).

    Dustin Keller was a dependable and occasionally seam-stretching tight end when healthy with the New York Jets. He should become one of Tannehill's favorite targets. 

    While Wallace is the most fantasy-relevant wideout on Miami's roster—albeit a boom-or-bust option—Tannehill's the player who'll be the best value pick on the team.

Scheme and Personnel Change in Kansas City

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    What Happened?

    Andy Reid was hired as the Kansas City Chiefs' head coach. The Chiefs traded for Alex Smith.

     

    Who's Affected?

    Alex Smith. Jamaal Charles. Dwayne Bowe. Dexter McCluster. Tony Moeaki.

    Andy Reid, a coach who's never had problems tapping into the full potential of his quarterbacks, takes over an Alex Smith-led Kansas City Chiefs team in 2013. 

    The former San Francisco 49ers starter has never carried much worth in fantasy, but if you want efficiency and are willing to buy into Reid's quarterback-whispering talent, the former No. 1 overall pick could be selected at a great value in the later rounds of your draft. 

    It's difficult to predict how Reid will utilize super-charged running back Jamaal Charles. In Philadelphia, Reid was criticized for being too enamored with the passing game and neglecting LeSean McCoy. However, McCoy never averaged fewer than 19 touches per game, a reasonable number for the type of back he is. 

    Dexter McCluster has quick-twitch athleticism and elite agility, but it's hard to project his role in Reid's offense. Just remember, Reid got the most out of Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick over the last decade. 

Personnel Changes in Tennessee

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    What Happened?

    The Tennessee Titans signed Andy Levitre in free agency and drafted Chance Warmack. 

     

    Who's Affected?

    Chris Johnson and Jake Locker.

    After an inauspicious start to the 2012 season, a handful of long runs helped Chris Johnson eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau for the fifth time in his NFL career. 

    His 4.5 yards-per-carry average was respectable, too. 

    Now, with Andy Levitre and first-round pick Chance Warmack manning the guard spots, the home run-hitting running back should find bigger holes to run through this season. 

    While the best blocking on the planet won't turn Jake Locker into Peyton Manning, if he has more time to deliver the football in 2013, the former first-round pick may be more precise with his ball placement. 

Scheme Change in Chicago

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    What Happened?

    Marc Trestman was hired as the Chicago Bears' head coach. 

     

    Who's Affected?

    Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett.

    Marc Trestman is a renowned quarterback guru, and his task is to tap into the full potential of Jay Cutler. The polarizing signal-caller has dealt with injuries over the past two seasons, but he mustered only 202.2 yards per game with 19 total touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2012. 

    Wideout Brandon Marshall had a career-best season despite Cutler's inconsistency, and the physically imposing Alshon Jeffery should benefit from Trestman's offense. 

    The same goes for newly acquired tight end Martellus Bennett. He'll be targeted often by Cutler. 

    We aren't exactly sure how Trestman plans to use Matt Forte, but he remains one of the more underrated versatile runners in the game.