FANTASY FOOTBALL ARTICLES

2014 Free Agents That Matter
David Dorey
Updated April 7, 2014
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Free Agency is the first way that teams attempt to rebuild and fill in holes. And 2014 has the NFL draft pushed back to mid-May so these players are all they have to acquire until then. The NFL draft is touted as very deep for wide receivers and yet there are at least a few wideouts that are available and could become a big factor for a new team.

These are only the fantasy-relevant free agents that will be looking for work. Many will end up re-signing with their previous team but every season witnesses at least a handful of players who really bloom in their new offense.

QUARTERBACK

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Rush 2013 Pass
Michael Vick 6-0 215 34 12 37-306-2 141-178-1215-5

Vick is the only free agent quarterback with a decent shot at landing on a team that will use him. With several more hot rookies about to show up in the NFL coupled with the tendency for teams to retain their quarterbacks means that free agency rarely means much for the position. It can happen but getting more rare every year. Vick could still end up resigning with the Eagles despite losing the starting job to Nick Foles last year. Vick is getting pretty old to be running around much though he did take that vacation in the middle of his career. Signed by the Jets to a one-year, $5 million contract that reunites him with his old coach Marty Morinwheg who is the OC for the Jets. He'll likely be considered the starter there this year while Geno Smith gets some much needed seasoning not being thrown into the fire.

RUNNING BACKS

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Rush 2013 Receive
Andre Brown 6-0 227 28 3 139-492-3 20-103-0

There is a decent chance that Brown re-signs with the Giants but he's been too injury-prone for another team to consider him starting material. David Wilson is going to be a question mark coming back from neck fusion surgery so the Giants will likely keep the familiar face of Brown around. But that won't mean he's in line for any more work or that he becomes suddenly reliable. Signed with the Texans to replace Ben Tate but only signed for one year and $645,000. Brown is oft-injured and not likely to be as good as Tate.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Rush 2013 Receive
Ben Tate 5-11 215 26 3 181-771-4 34-14--0

Tate is not expected to resign with the Texans and will have several potential suitors. He's only 26 and could offer a team a nice "full four year" solution. His highpoint was 2011 when he rushed for 942 yards and he's never turned in under 4.3 yards per carry in a season. Slight concern - he's never played all 16 games in a season and he has never ran more than 181 times in any year. Signed with the Cleveland Browns for two years. He will be the primary back and his fantasy stock rises sharply just from his increase in workload.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Rush 2013 Receive
Darren McFadden 6-1 218 27 6 114-379-5 17-108-0

McFadden is gone from Oakland barring no one at all wanting him and he returns "tail twixt his legs". He only had one season (2010) when he seemed to meet expectations and ran for 1157 yards while scoring 10 touchdowns. Otherwise he's just an injury waiting to happen. No matter what, he's likely to sign a one-year contract and even that will have plenty of incentives and maybe no guarantees. Re-signed with the Raiders - one year deal. This was a surprise and McFadden knows he has to have a great season or he'll be a washed up 28 year old in 2015. No reason to rejoice though since nothing is different.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Rush 2013 Receive
Darren Sproles 5-6 190 30 8 53-220-2 71-604-2

The Saints releasing Sproles was a minor surprise but the diminutive receiving back has passed 30 years of age and was less effective the last two seasons that also included injuries. His role as a rusher has always been minimal and while he was one of the most productive receiving backs, his touchdown totals fell last year and his average yards per carry and per catch are on the downswing. He'll join another committee elsewhere but won't hold the same appeal as he had playing with Drew Brees. Was not released into free agency but traded to the Philadelphia Eagles and will contribute to their backfield while playing #2 to LeSean McCoy. Biggest impact is likely to decrease the number of passes to McCoy.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Rush 2013 Receive
Donald Brown 5-10 207 27 5 102-537-6 27-214-2

At least Brown has a sense of timing. His first four seasons were forgettable for the Colts but he came on strongly at the end of last year and scored a total of eight touchdowns and over 750 total yards. He's expected to get some offer from the Colts but they won't pay him like a real starter since they have Trent RIchardson to pay. He's no difference maker but like an average back can turn in some decent numbers in a pass-heavy offense. Signed with the Chargers - This is not a bad signing but he becomes part of the committee in San Diego and loses some fantasy value he had late last year in Indy.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Rush 2013 Receive
Knowshon Moreno 5-11 200 27 5 241-1038-10 60-548-3

Moreno is expected to sign elsewhere barring a late change of heart from the Broncos. Moreno wants to re-sign with the Broncos since every running back would love to be on an offense that has Peyton Manning terrifying the defense. But Montee Ball is most likely to step up into the #1 spot and Moreno's best season won't likely be repeated. He had five years in Denver but suffered injuries and performance problems until late in the 2012 season. Bottom line - Moreno wasn't good because of himself. He likely will end up in a committee somewhere else. Signed with the Dolphins and will compete to be the primary back in a system that is firmly in favor of sharing carries regardless of how effective a runner is. This is not a bad spot per se, but not a great one either.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Rush 2013 Receive
LeGarrette Blount 6-0 247 28 4 153-772-7 2-38-0

Blount may re-sign with the Patriots where he refreshed his career as the bruiser in the backfield. He has only 23 catches over the last four years and the market for "run-only" backs is never that hot. Like Moreno, he just took advantage of being in a pass-heavy offense with an elite quarterback to rack up nice yards and scores when called upon. His best value happens by staying put in New England. Signed with the Steelers where he will be #2 behind Le'Veon Bell. At this point, Blount will be relief and possibly some short yardage but his value takes a nose-dive with this change while Bell's remains pretty much intact.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Rush 2013 Receive
Maurice Jones-Drew 5-7 210 29 8 234-803-5 43-314-0

There is a small chance that MJD re-signs with the Jaguars but chances are best that he'll be elsewhere for his ninth NFL season. At 29 years of age and breaking down for the last two seasons, it will be a surprise if any team steps up to more than a one or two year contract and even that may be mostly incentives. His best fantasy hope lies in landing in a good offense that could afford him plenty of goal line touchdown attempts. MJD turned in 386 touches for 1980 total yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011. He's never been the same since that season. Signed with the Raiders for three-years with a contract worth $7.5 million which is unlikely to ever fully play out. MJD will share with Darren McFadden which should ruin the value of either which would be questionable anyway even by themselves.;

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Rush 2013 Receive
Rashad Jennings 6-1 231 29 5 163-733-6 36-292-0

Jennings is a priority for the Raiders to re-sign and should be the starter again next year. He's clearly outplayed Darren McFadden and still has a year or two left in the tank since his career started when he was 24 and he has never been used for more than 163 carries in any season. Signed by the Giants to a four-year deal with a base worth $10 million. Jennings should be a lock to be the primary carrier for the Giants this year and makes for a significant fantasy relevance.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Rush 2013 Receive
Rashard Mendenhall 5-10 225 27 6 217-687-8 18-134-0

He's strongly considering retirement. Mendenhall suffered toe and knee injuries again in his first year with the Cardinals and even he realizes his diminished skills are only getting worse. Announced his retirement.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Receive
Kenny Britt 6-3 223 26 5 11-96-0

Britt wore out his welcome in Tennessee and for some reason it required five seasons. Britt goes on his name alone and that is only from his 2010 season when he scored nine touchdowns. But he's never had more than 45 catches in any season and is likely to be very disappointed with a sure to be cold reception in free agency. Signed with the Rams where it would seem a great opportunity to become a #1 again lies. It was just for one-year and $1.4 million so not much of an investment was made. This is still the same Britt who has only one season of any merit and four years of bitterly disappointing results.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Receive
Eric Decker 6-3 218 27 4 87-1288-11

Decker is certain to hit the free market because he'll command plenty of attention after two straight seasons with over 1000 yards and 11+ touchdowns. This would seem to be a classic case of an average receiver playing with an elite quarterback and then cashing in on a level of performance unlikely to continue. The bottom line here is that Decker will be a hot property in free agency and yet is certain to take a big step down with any offense that takes him in. And in fantasy circles, he'll probably get too much love in drafts this summer. Signed by the New York Jets and is considered probably the highest profile wideout free agent. Now to see what the quarterback situation in New York turns out to be.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Receive
Julian Edelman 5-10 200 28 5 105-1056-6

Edelman will probably end up back with the Patriots unless they stick to a low offer which is always possible in New England. He spent his first four seasons in New England never catching more than 37 passes in any year and until 2012 he had only one career touchdown. His 2014 season was easily bigger than all four of his previous years. His only real fantasy value is staying with Tom Brady if at all possible. Re-signed with the New England Patriots and will continue to be the #1 receiver there.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Receive
James Jones 6-1 208 30 7 59-817-3

The Packers are comfortable enough with Jarrett Boykin to let Jones leave. Jones has been a more than serviceable #3 wideout who stepped up into several nice games when five the chance because of injuries to other players. But like Decker and Edelman, Jones certainly enjoyed the perks of playing with an elite quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. He spent seven seasons in Green Bay and never managed to gain more than the 817 yards last year. His 14 touchdowns on 2013 morphed into only three in 2013 mostly thanks to Rodgers' absence. He'll end up worthy of a #2 spot on many teams and is one of the most interesting free agents among wideouts. Signed with the Oakland Raiders and upgrades their passing game that still is in need of a quarterback. He should become the #1 wideout there but what does that really mean? Lately not much.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Receive
Hakeem Nicks 6-1 208 26 5 56-896-0

Nicks is expected to leave the Giants but he comes off two disappointing seasons where he only totaled three touchdowns and only averaged around 800 yards in both. Nicks is still plenty young and he did turn in back-to-back 1000 yard seasons while scoring a total of 18 times over the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Along with Jones he is one of the high profile free agent wideouts but he has never played in a full 16 game season so far. He is more likely to end up in a far lesser passing attack and that won't help his numbers. Signed with the Indianapolis Cots where he'll have a nice upgrade in quarterback with Andrew Luck. Nicks is still young and this could be the start of something good if he can remain healthy and meet his potential.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Receive
Emmanuel Sanders 5-11 180 27 4 67-740-6

Sanders is expected to leave the Steelers after four seasons that topped out with only 740 yards on 67 catches despite playing last year as the #2 wideout. After four years he's only totaled 11 touchdowns in his career and when given his best chance to shine in 2013, he only managed a 11.0 yard per catch average. Like Nicks, he's more likely to end up on a team that passes less effectively than the Steelers and that won't help his fantasy stock. Signed by the Denver Broncos. it made a star of Eric Decker, it certainly won't hurt Emmanuel Sanders.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Receive
Steve Smith 5-9 185 35 11 64-745-4

Smith comes off a down year and the worst of his career for seasons he remained healthy. He's clearly on the downside and at 35 already has gone further than most wideouts can expect. His yards per catch was only 11.6 last year and he's spent nearly his entire career as the only decent wide receiver on the team and with that the clear #1 receiver. Signed with the Baltimore Ravens and hopes that they can wring out one more year. He'll provide the "Anquan Boldin" to Torrey Smith's "Michael Crabtree".

 

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Receive
Golden Tate 5-10 202 26 4 64-898-5

Tate is very likely to remain a Seahawk since the team expressed a desire to keep him especially after releasing Sidney Rice. Tate even said he was willing to accept less money to remain in Seattle. The Seahawks would have a lot of holes to fill for receivers if Tate was to leave and he is coming off a career best season. Tate could draw minor interest but wants to remain. His fantasy stock is marginal in run-heavy Seattle and would probably increase on another team but it appears likely that won't happen. Signed by Detroit Lions - nice signing for him and should improve his stock in a pass-heavy offense where he is the #2 option.

TIGHT ENDS

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Receive
Brandon Myers 6-3 256 29 5 47-522-4

While Myers looked good in Oakland for one season that was only because the passing game was so bad that it relied on the tight end - any tight end - to be the #1 receiver. Like Zach Miller. Exactly like Zach Miller. Myers has probably seen his last season as a starting tight end after flopping in New York with Eli Manning as his quarterback. Signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - will work along with Timothy Wright but will likely be more the blocker to Wright's receiver.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Receive
Brandon Pettigrew 6-5 265 29 5 41-416-2

The Lions may bring Pettigrew back but they also intend on using Joseph Fauria more so Pettigrew's outlook isn't that great regardless. He's capped out at being a decent and yet never great tight end who has been declining the last couple of seasons anyway. 2013 was his worst year since being a rookie. He's not likely to get any better no matter where he ends up. Re-Signed with the Detroit Lions for four years but has already found his ceiling as a moderate fantasy tight end and likely to produce less in 2014 with Fauria expected to increase in usage.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Receive
Jermichael Finley 5-11 215 26 3 25-300-3

Despite missing much of 2013 with a neck injury, Finley is still being considered the premium free agent tight end this year. There is a chance he could re-sign with the Packers but he is drawing calls from numerous other teams as well. His spinal fusion will probably force most teams to try him for one-year just to make sure he is healthy but he'll be the receiving tight end where ever he ends up and easily the most interesting free agent in his position.

  Ht Wt Age Exp 2013 Receive
Scott Chandler 6-7 260 29 7 53-655-2

The Bills want to re-sign the towering Chandler and his best value would be staying put. His 2013 was a career best and may be his ceiling though he did catch six touchdowns in both of the previous two seasons as a red zone target. He won't be courted much outside of Buffalo anyway. Re-signed with the Buffalo Bills and will remain just below fantasy starter value.


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