2010 NFL Free Agency Risers and Fallers: Fantasy Impact

Kevin Roberts@BreakingKevinSenior Writer IMarch 12, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens throws the ball against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Lucas Oli Stadium on January 16, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With the 2010 NFL Free Agency period less than a week old, we're already starting to see a major impact by the moves some teams are making.

Some teams will get better with some key additions, while others are simply overpaying or picking up guys that will end up being busts. In the fantasy realm, however, each addition and subtraction has it's own quiet (and sometimes very loud) impact.

Read on for the five risers and five fallers after less than a week of free agency action:


1. Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens

It's debatable across the board what will happen to the value of Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, Mark Clayton, and Dante' Stallworth. With only so many balls to go around in an offense that relies heavily on the ground game, it's impossible to predict who the winner is at receiver in Baltimore (although we're going with Boldin).

However, the guy that undoubtedly comes out as a strong winner here is the guy that gets to throw to one of the more talented and balanced receiving corps' in the league.

With just 52 more pass attempts than in his rookie season last year, Flacco jumped from 2,971 yards and 14 touchdowns to 3,511 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Add Boldin and Stallworth and an offseason to build chemistry and get completely healthy, and Flacco could see even more progress.

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2. Steve Breaston, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Breaston and all of his supporters finally got their wish when the Cardinals traded starter Anquan Boldin to the Baltimore Ravens. We had already seen Breaston display spurts of stardom ability, but with Boldin out of the picture, he'll be thrust into a full-time starting role.

Breaston saw a drop in his stats last year due to the Cardinals being more conservative and balanced in 2009, but with Boldin gone, he should see his numbers rise again, especially with back-to-back seasons of averaging over 13 yards per carry.

The switch from Kurt Warner to Matt Leinart makes him a slight risk, but with Larry Fitzgerald getting double-teamed all day, he's sure to benefit.

3. Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders

McFadden isn't nearly as a close to a "sure thing" in fantasy like Breaston and Flacco are for 2010, but with the release of Justin Fargas, the platform for him to succeed could definitely be there. And considering his selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, it's about time.

McFadden has battled injuries and inconsistency behind a weak offensive line in his first two seasons, but it also never helped that he shared the ball with both Fargas and Michael Bush.

The Raiders will undoubtedly add another back, but it looks like they're finally going to run and stick with McFadden as the starter, or at least give him every chance to prove he's worthy of that kind of a vote of confidence.

After a very disappointing 2009 and a mediocre rookie season, all we have to go on is McFadden's youth (he's 22), his great speed and athleticism, and his supposedly now solid role.

4. Clinton Portis, RB, Washington Redskins

The Redskins are rumored to be thinking about getting Portis a running partner in Larry Johnson, but considering they unloaded everyone else at the running back spot (and we do mean everyone ), it looks like Mike Shanahan and Co. are still confident that Portis has something left to give.

He was nicked up in 2009 and ultimately knocked out (pun intended) by a head injury, but he played tough and was one of the few bright spots in a paltry offense early in the season.

Portis will team up with Shanahan again in a zone-blocking scheme that once made him a back-to-back 1,500-yard rusher. We're not saying he's a top-10 back again, but he should be the bonafide starter, and as long as he can stay healthy, he should be a productive fantasy back again.

5. Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

People have been quiet about how far Palmer has fallen down the "elite quarterback tree", but as mediocre as he's been the past couple of years, a lot of his poor play can be attributed to very few weapons outside of Chad Ochocinco.

The Bengals passed on Terrell Owens and brought in Antonio Bryant, giving Palmer two very solid deep-threats, which should immediately impact the Bengal's dormant vertical passing attack.

Andre Caldwell and Matt Jones (if he sticks) round out a suddenly very solid receiving corps, and with a proven rushing attack at his side, Palmer could slowly get back to elite status.

Honorable Mention: Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets


1. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears

True, the addition of Chester Taylor could benefit Matt Forte, but considering he's already heading into 2010 with a new offensive coordinator and is in an offense that doesn't normally feature the running back, all the wrong news is piling up against Forte.

Blame the offensive line all you want, but Forte's 2009 performance was a huge disappointment. He didn't get much help from the other Chicago running backs, but he failed to crack 900 yards rushing and scored four total touchdowns on the season.

He was still a solid factor in the passing game, but with Taylor coming into town, how much will that change? It's also worth noting that Martz has been quoted in saying he has a backfield with "two starters." Until we know exactly what that and the addition of Taylor means, Forte can't be looked at as an elite fantasy back.

2. The Baltimore Ravens' Receiving Corps

Derrick Mason is back, no one knows what to say or think about Mark Clayton, and Baltimore has added Dante' Stallworth and Anquan Boldin.

That's great news for Joe Flacco and the rest of the offense, but for each of these guys individually—not so much.

3. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

I've already analyzed the move of Kansas City bringing in Thomas Jones, and while I originally felt it wouldn't have a major impact on Charles, the unknown has caused me to think it over again.

The Chiefs are paying Jones $2.5 million a year, so there's a good bet that he wasn't brought in to just sit around. He may just be their short yardage and goal-line back, but even if that's the case, there's going to be a limit on Charles' yardage and touchdowns.

I still don't view Charles seeing a huge hit in his fantasy potential, but this will still definitely have a negative overall affect on his fantasy value.

4. Greg Olsen, TE, Chicago Bears

We already knew that Olsen was going to take a hit in value when Mike Martz came on board as offensive coordinator for Chicago. We were sure of it when Martz publicly made comments about Olsen and how big of an issue his lack of blocking ability will impact his playing time.

Add in the signing of ex-Rams tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, and Olsen's future with the team is seriously in doubt. Even more damaging, ESPN 's Adam Schefter has recently reported that Olsen is very likely on the trading block.

While Olsen's fantasy standing could and should change for the better if he's dealt, it is for now a quickly sinking ship.

5. Jacoby Jones, WR, Houston Texans

Jacoby Jones is a fast, explosive receiver that was being viewed as the next big thing (not named Andre Johnson) in the Texans' receiving corps, but with the five-year re-signing of Kevin Walter, that has almost been guaranteed to not be the case.

Walter is 28 and could eventually take a role in the slot, but for now, Jones sees his fantasy football value diminish greatly.

Honorable Mention: Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers

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