Fantasy Football: 8 Free Agents Worth a Look

Chuck StanecContributor IIIJune 17, 2011

Fantasy Football: 8 Free Agents Worth a Look

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 08:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts warms up against the New York Jets during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Imag
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Peyton Manning and Michael Vick are free agents.

    They are not on this list.

    Both players were franchise-tagged prior to the NFL lockout and it's more than likely they return to their 2010 organizations.

    Last season, I drafted Arian Foster—undrafted free agent from the University of Tennessee—in the 13th round and he worked out pretty well for me. Brandon Lloyd was a free agent pick up after Week 3 and he had difficulty finding a landing spot in his career, but flourished last season in Denver.

    Which players who are on the potential free agent list should you be scouting right now? How will players afforded a change of scenery perform in 2011, ultimately having the possibility of catapulting you into your fantasy championship or earning you the first pick in the 2012 draft?

    Those are just a couple of the questions I'm going to answer for you as well as give you some ideas as to whom the sleepers will be when football resumes and you and your friends sit down for your draft extravaganza.

Ronnie Brown

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 02:  Ronnie Brown #23 of the Miami Dolphins carries the ball in the first half against the New England Patriots on January 2, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Brown had a less-than-stellar year by notching five scores and 734 yards (3.7 yards per carry). What's worse is that in the multiple running back system, he only touched the ball an average of 12.5 times a game. That's just not enough.

    If Brown does not return to Miami, and most suggest he will not, the team that picks him up and commits to him as their feature back will benefit greatly. In years where Brown has averaged more than 17 carries a game (2006, 2007), he averaged nearly 4.5 yards per carry and 10 total scores in 20 games.

    Ronnie Brown is the type of back who, the more touches he gets the more effective he becomes. Do not look his way early on—there will be too many consistently better players available—but as a third or fourth running back on your squad, Brown could surprise and fill in splendidly when your main guys hit the bye weeks.

Cedric Benson

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    CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 26: Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball during the NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals 34-20.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Imag
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Originally an afterthought after being drafted by the Bears in 2005, we've all seen a different player since signed by Cincinnati in 2008.

    In his three years in Cincy, Benson has averaged just over 1,036 yards and five scores a year. Offensive woes slowed his production last season as the Bengals Circus, headlined by Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, failed to develop any continuity whatsoever.

    If he does return to Southern Ohio, he will likely be missing the aforementioned wide receivers and quarterback Carson Palmer. That means Benson will be counted on to carry the offensive load early and often as the team tries to break in rookie Andy Dalton.

    As a fantasy owner, you have to be happy with his touches. If the passing game can keep eight guys out of the box, the 28-year-old should find running lanes and green pastures down field.

Terrell Owens

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    CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 05: Terrell Owens #81 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball during the NFL game against the New Orleans Saints at Paul Brown Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Saints won 34-30.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Get
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images


    Where to begin? Where to end?

    Owens will be 38 years old to start the final quarter of the upcoming season and has honestly shown no signs of slowing down. He is not the downfield threat he may have once been, but he is still extremely effective, especially in the red zone.

    One has to think that since Owens signed a one-year deal in Buffalo back in 2009—on the heels of a disastrous conclusion in Dallas—there will be several suitors vying for his services in 2011.

    Drafting Owens completely depends on the situation he lands in once a contract is inked. If he goes to a team with stability at the quarterback position and head coaching position, I feel he will command more value in your fantasy draft. If the opposite is true, he has the intangibles to blow up that franchise's season.

    One thing is for sure—Owens will be productive and will score touchdowns for your fantasy team, but this pick is all about value.

Braylon Edwards

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  Braylon Edwards #17 of the New York Jets runs for yards after the catch against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers won 24
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    With so many contracts up in New York, Edwards will probably find himself as the odd man out as a free agent with the Jets this offseason.

    Edwards has a ton of talent. Unfortunately, he has never put it all together on the field sans the 2007 season. That year, he caught 80 balls for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns and more than a quarter of his receptions went for greater than 20 yards. Otherwise, Edwards has only one season of even over 900 yards (2010).

    Plagued by drops during his career, with the proper time and coaching that is a correctable issue. Depending on his new home, he could become a very hot fantasy commodity, but he has got to do better than 55 yards a game average receiving. Personally, he is a second receiver/flex option for your team at best.

    Seeing as how the league has become very pass-happy, Edwards' stock will probably rise around fantasy draft time, especially if he shows a strong preseason with his new team. Ideally, he is a mid- to third-round pick to late fifth-round pick. If you've already garnered the likes of an Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, Edwards could be a potentially good pick for your team.

Cadillac Williams

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    NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 27:  Cadillac Williams #24 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs past Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on December 27, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Who would have thought that the two amazing running backs coming out of Auburn in 2005 would both have suffered through the careers they've had to get to this point? Not I.

    Nor did I think a guy like LaGarrett Blount would be the reason he's headed out of town. Nonetheless, those are the facts and Williams is packing his bags for a team willing to take a chance on the 29-year-old with bad knees.

    Regardless of where he ends up, Williams intrigues me. He's got the ability to be a starter and sure, his durability is in question. Maybe he's the type of guy—much like Cedric Benson—who needs a change of scenery and surprises everyone with his play.

    Williams is probably not the guy you grab late in your fantasy draft; I'd pass on him every round. He's probably a better prospect to watch and keep tabs on as the season progresses. He could turn out to be a good free agent pickup if the injury bug strikes your team.

Phil Dawson

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    CLEVELAND - NOVEMBER 28:  Punter Reggie Hodges #2 holds as kicker Phil Dawson #4 of the Cleveland Browns kicks a fourth quarter field goal against the Carolina Panthers at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 28, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt S
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Franchised by the Browns prior to the lockout tells you how valuable a guy Phil Dawson is—even to a team trying to find itself.

    Dawson is one of the top 10 kickers of all time in terms of accuracy. It's safe to say the Browns have not lost games because of him.

    Many considered that Dawson, 35, might look to move on to another team this offseason in an effort to play for a winner. However, Cleveland management understands how difficult it is to kick—or find a kicker who can kick—in the winds that blow off of Lake Erie and tagged Dawson just before the lockout.

    If Phil Dawson lands on a team that has a propensity to score points and move the football, there is no reason for him to not be the first kicker taken off the board in your fantasy draft. If he does stay in Cleveland—and he realistically will—he's still not a bad option if the big point kickers are off the board.

DeAngelo Williams

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 24:  DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Carolina Panthers runs with the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 24, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty I
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Underutilized since being drafted by the Panthers in 2006, Williams did manage to put up huge numbers in 2008 and 2009.

    The first-round selection of Jonathan Stewart was a bit of a head scratcher in 2008, but has given Carolina an out as far as whether or not to keep Williams around. So now, where does that leave DeAngelo?

    Williams can be a feature back in the NFL. Runners do not accidentally run for 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns. Williams needs a team to fully commit to him, because he is a valuable asset and will run hard and be very productive.

    If he finds a situation where he can start and the team he signs with gives him the ball in the 25-carry range, expect a 1,300 yard back with 10-plus scores.

Malcom Floyd

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    DENVER, CO - JANUARY 2:  Wide receiver Malcom Floyd #80 of the San Diego Chargers makes a one-handed 41-yard reception for a first down against cornerback Perrish Cox #32 of the Denver Broncos during the second quarter at INVESCO Field at Mile High on Jan
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Depending on what happens with Vincent Jackson in San Diego, Malcom Floyd could be forced to find another organization to play for in 2011.

    Floyd was on the way to his best season as a pro until injuries cut short his playing time. In 11 contests, Floyd grabbed six touchdowns and totaled 717 yards. He has big play ability and could really flourish outside of southern California.

    Put in the right system, he should be very effective; however, I think he needs a complimentary part on the other side of the field so opposing defenses cannot shift to his side of the field because we know so little about his ability against double teams and extra defenders.

    If Floyd can stay healthy and in San Diego, he could have incredible numbers making him a real option in Rounds 2-3. If he leaves, be mindful of the quarterback and tenure of the head coach and offensive system before making your selection.