|July 28, 2009 JunkyardJake.Com|
No. 1: Jay Cutler, QB
Frail-armed Kyle Orton wasn’t bad last year, but Cutler gives the Bears a legitimate passing offense to go along with their emerging running game. The players that stand to benefit most from the Cutler addition are probably Devin Hester and TE Greg Olsen.
Also keep an eye on Cutler’s former Vanderbilt teammate Earl Bennett, who could surface from obscurity to play an important possession receiver role.
No. 2: Derrick Ward, RB
Derrick Ward gives the Buccaneers a versatile RB option whose speed and receiving ability should complement the power running of Earnest Graham very effectively.
Graham will likely remain the first-choice at the goal line, but to the extent that Tampa throws to their running backs as often as they did last season, Ward is clearly the more dynamic receiver of the two.
No. 3: Kellen Winslow, TE
On talent alone, Winslow ranks among the top tight ends in the league. On the downside though, he joins a Buccaneers team with an unsettled QB situation, and a new coaching regime.
Nonetheless, he should emerge from the clutter to at least become the teams second most relevant receiver behind Antonio Bryant.
No. 4: Tony Gonzalez, TE
Now at 33 years of age, you have to imagine that Tony Gonzalez will be slowing down at some point, but it certainly didn’t happen last season. The 12-year veteran and 10-time Pro Bowler had a very productive season with 96 catches, 1,058 yards and 10 TDs, his highest TD total since 2003.
Matt Ryan is Dan Fouts compared to the QB mess that Gonzalez had to deal with in KC, and defenses should now have a tougher time accounting for Roddy White with Gonzalez on board.
No. 5: TJ Houshmandzadeh, WR
With all the misfortune that the Seahawks have had with their wide receivers the past few years, it’s not surprising that the team ended up paying a premium for TJ Houshmandzadeh, a receiver known for his ability to stay on the field for more than 4 games in a row.
The offense figures to be a little more conservative under Jim Mora, and that should suit a relatively slow and methodical possession receiver like Houshmandzadeh just fine.
No. 6: Terrell Owens, WR
The T.O. show opens shop in Buffalo this season, where the veteran receiver will surely add a much needed new dimension to the Bills offense. However, while Owens did manage over 1,000 yards and 10 TDs in 2008, note that he turns 36 this season, and there is no guarantee he will command the same attention in the Buffalo system.
A safe estimation calls for a drop-off this year to maybe 800 yards and seven TDs, with Lee Evans getting a boost by the presence of a genuinely capable receiver playing on the opposite side.
No. 7: Laveranues Coles, WR
The Bengals welcome Carson Palmer back from his abbreviated 2008 season with what should be an improved receiving corps. Assuming that Chad Ochocinco (53 catches in 2008) can return to catching at least as many passes as his ostentatious moniker, he joins forces with newly signed Laveranues Coles,Chris Henry, and second year Andre Caldwell to give Palmer more than enough potential weapons at his disposal.
What could make the addition of Coles especially intriguing is that, unlike his predecessor TJ Houshmandzadeh, Coles offers the ability to stretch the field.
No. 8: Kyle Orton, QB
Kyle Orton was a somewhat unlikely success story in 2008 with the Bears, but if nothing else has proven himself to be a smart and capable, albeit weak-armed signal caller. Of course, if he shows signs of faltering, he may need to fend off Chris Simms, so he should not be considered a sure thing.
However, under the assumption that he adapts quickly to Josh McDaniels' system, Orton should remain a serviceable low-end fantasy starter. Recall that that new coach McDaniels was the offensive coordinator for the 2007 Patriots when New England scored an NFL record 75 TDs.
No. 9: Matt Cassel, QB
It’s doubtful that Cassel will achieve anywhere near the same success as experienced with the Patriots last season, Dwayne Bowe is quite good, but he is no Randy Moss, and much of Cassel’s success last year was likely a function of New England’s offensive system.
Nonetheless, Cassel has an above-average arm, exhibits a good grasp of game management, and should represent some much-needed stability at the QB position for the Chiefs.
No. 10: Torry Holt, WR
The Jaguars have completely revamped their receiving group heading into 2009, and by default, 35 year old Torry Holt may be the highest potential prospect of the bunch. Not to say that Mike Walker, and rookies Jarett Dillard and Mike Thomas do not merit fantasy consideration, but none of these guys are elite prospects, and they combine for less than about 15% of the experience that Holt brings to the team this year.
No. 11: Fred Taylor, RB
While Fred Taylor should be wrapping up his illustrious career at 33 years of age, the Patriots would have none of that, signing him to a $5 million two-year deal to further complicate their already muddled RB rotation.
Taylor is not especially effective at the goal line, and the Patriots will probably still use Kevin Faulk in third down situations, so he was probably signed as contingency plan for the enigmatic Laurence Maroney. As such, it seems that Taylor's value this year might be considered inversely proportional to Maroney’s motivation and effectiveness.
No. 12: Nate Washington, WR
While he is probably not suited for a No. 1 receiver role because of his smallish build, Washington is an interesting addition for the receiver-barren Titans, and arguably becomes the best deep threat they have had for a number of years.
Rookie Kenny Britt could very well factor into the receiver equation as early as this season, but he seems to be only a slightly faster version of Justin Gage. Washington will likely add a new speed dimension to the Titans passing game, and could very well exceed his average numbers as the No. 3 WR with the Steelers over the past few seasons.
No. 13: Joey Galloway, WR
Had 38-year-old Galloway signed with any other team besides the Patriots, he probably would not even be worth mentioning. However, even the geriatric Galloway might be able to carve out a niche role in the potent New England offense, especially since defenses are so typically distracted with Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
No. 14: Bryant Johnson, WR
Bryant Johnson has been pretty much been a perennial disappointment, but gets another shot in a situation that should represent an improvement over his brief San Francisco sojourn.
Providing that he holds onto the No. 2 job, the opportunity of playing opposite Calvin Johnson gives Detriot’s new $9 million free agent receiver at least a chance to challenge his modest career highs of 700 yards and four TDs.
No. 15: Brian Leonard, RB
Cedric Benson just seems like the leagues most tenuous RB starter this season. He looked pretty good in spurts last year, but ultimately ended with an uninspiring 3.5 yards per carry, and just two TDs in 12 weeks of action.
Brian Leonard is an interesting acquisition for the Bengals, because he is approximately as fast as Benson, is a much more adept receiver, and is likely a better goalline back.
No. 16: Correll Buckhalter, RB
You have to believe that first-round pick Knowshon Moreno will wind up being the most significant fantasy RB in Denver, but as of now, it’s anyone's guess how the possible rotation between Moreno, Peyton Hillis, Buckhalter, and fellow free agent signee LaMont Jordan will materialize.
Buckhalter has had his share of injury problems, but has always played well when called upon over his five-year tenure with the Eagles. He actually could end up sharing time with Moreno this year, so Buckhalter and his career 4.5 YPC should not be immediately dismissed.
No. 17: Bobby Engram, WR
There has never been anything exciting about Bobby Engram’s game, he’s small and not particularly fast, and he’s averaged only 2.5 TDs per season over his 14-year career. What Engram does do well is consistently catch 10 yard passes, so even at 36-years-old, he should manage to help a very shallow Kansas City receiver group playing from the slot this year.
No. 18: Sage Rosenfels, QB
If Brett Farve ends up jilting the Vikings and pursuing his long-overdue retirement once again, at least Minnesota will have another mercurial gunslinger in Sage Rosenfels to fall back on. Of course, Rosenfels does not have the arm strength or general talent of Farve, but he can fling the ball around, albeit sometimes recklessly and with unfortunate results.
Even so, despite his career 30 TD to 29 INT ratio, Rosenfels also has a 62 percent career completion percentage, and looks like a comparatively better option over Tarvaris Jackson.
No. 19: Ronald Curry, WR
The Rams would prefer that Keenan Burton seize the No. 2 receiver spot, but his progress was held back by persistent knee problems last year. So far in the preseason his luck hasn’t been much better, as Burton has been slowed by a minor hamstring problem.
Former Falcon Laurent Robinson could also become a factor, but he’s also had his share of injuries and inconsistency. The unreliability of these guys could create an opportunity for Ronald Curry, who has also been an adequate complementary receiver when healthy.
No. 20: Jeff Garcia, QB
The Raiders are desperately hoping that they signed Jeff Garcia to patrol the sidelines with his clipboard and cheer JaMarcus Russell on to at least six or seven wins this year.
However, in the event that Russell’s late season improvement in 2008 was just another mirage, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see Jeff Garcia start a few games for his 6th different team in the past seven years. Moreover, he would probably do a fairly adequate job of it, as suggested by his 93 QB rating over the past three seasons.
Other Significant Free Agent Signings:
No. 21: LaMont Jordan ,RB
No. 22: Byron Leftwich ,QB
No. 23: Laurent Robinson ,WR
No. 24: Dominic Rhodes ,RB
No. 25: Maurice Morris ,RB
No. 26: Alex Smith ,TE
No. 27: Jabar Gaffney ,WR
No. 28: L.J. Smith ,TE
No. 29: Shaun McDonald ,WR
No. 30: Robert Royal ,TE
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