Pee wee football players take note: The big money this NFL offseason went to the defensive players. You build an offense for show, but defense is for the dough, particularly when it came to free agency this spring.
Call it the copycat effect from the Seattle Seahawks' defensive-led Super Bowl victory over the high-powered Denver Broncos, if you will, but teams apparently bought into the notion defense wins championships.
Darrelle Revis, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, Vontae Davis and Jairus Byrd got the biggest money deals on the open market. The only offensive skill position players to come close, Eric Decker and DeSean Jackson, had to sign for less than expected. Heck, D-Jack is coming off a career year at age 27 and had to take a pay cut. Prime-aged Knowshon Moreno, 26, was disrespected off a career year, too.
Offensive fantasy football players felt this harsh winter more than most.
The Carolina Panthers are one significant example of putting their money in the defensive basket, re-signing defensive end Greg Hardy to a $13.116 million franchise-tag tender and watching four wide receivers go—Steve Smith, Ted Ginn, Brandon LaFell and Domenik Hixon.
DeAngelo Williams, a past-his prime, 31-year-old running back—a dinosaur by fantasy football standards—said his fantasy value is through the roof on the NFL Network's NFL AM show last week, as The Charlotte Observer's Joseph Person writes:
I joked with people that my fantasy value went up after we got rid of our four receivers, but it's the truth. I went from probably being drafted in the fifth and sixth round to being in the first round—me and Jonathan (Stewart) alike because we have no receivers.
That is pure hyperbole. No one would draft a 31-year-old back in Round 1 next August. But we did find some fantasy options who should get a realistic fantasy—not a contradiction of terms in our game—bump.
This slideshow presents the top 10 biggest fantasy winners of 2014 free agency. And, no, the Panthers' Williams didn't make the cut, but two defensive units did.