Brian Hoyer has the starting spot nailed
down in San Francisco, but he doesn't move the fantasy needle.
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees never threw for 3,600
yards or more than 27 touchdowns in five years with the Chargers.
DeMarco Murray was an All-Pro in Dallas, a ghost in Philadelphia
and a stud in Tennessee. DeAngelo Williams had many solid seasons
in Carolina, but was a footnote in 2016 and Matt Forte was a fantasy
stud in Chicago and just an “average Joe” in New York.
What caused the huge variation in production?
Location, location, location. (OK, maybe Forte’s was due
to old age and overuse). Sometimes a change in location helps
a player and sometimes it hinders his progress.
In the case of Brees, he hooked up with head coach and offensive
guru Sean Payton and they simply clicked. His average 209.3 passing
ypg in San Diego jumped to 309.0 in New Orleans.
Murray ran from the I-formation and behind a great offensive line
in Dallas, but wasn’t a fit in Chip Kelly’s up tempo
offense in Philadelphia. He immediately returned to form in Tennessee
And Williams was brought to Pittsburgh to be an insurance policy
for the Steelers if/when Le’Veon Bell missed games and he
did his job … just not often enough for fantasy owners.
Let’s look at those skill position players who changed teams
between the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 to see how the move
should affect their fantasy totals.
Hoyer, Chicago to San Francisco – Hoyer has never started
more than 13 games in a season, nor averaged more than 240 passing
yards per game in any season. He has two things going for him
in 2017; the quarterback competition is weak and he is familiar
with head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The bad news is his starting
receiving corps is Pierre Garcon, Jeremy Kerley and Vance McDonald.
Effect of the change in location –
minimal. Hoyer is likely to average just under 20 FPts/G which
makes him a fantasy backup.
Glennon, Tampa Bay to Chicago – When he signed his
three-year $45 million deal in March, Glennon figured to be the
“future.” A month later the Bears traded up at the
draft to choose Mitchell Trubisky and now Glennon is the bridge
to the Bears’ future. Glennon will still likely be the starter
for most of the season, but that’s not what he signed on
for. With the loss of Alshon Jeffery, his wideouts aren’t
very good (Cameron Meredith, Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, and
Kendall Wright). And even when he had two stars, Vincent Jackson
and Mike Evans in Tampa, the best he could average was 236 passing
yards and 19.3 FPts/G (2014).
Effect of the change in location – A tough early schedule
will have him back to holding the clipboard before the season
ends. While in the starting lineup he won’t be fantasy-worthy
until at least Week 8 when Chicago travels to the Mercedes Benz
Superdome for a date with the Saints.
Murray, Oakland to Minnesota – Oops! When Murray signed
on the dotted line in March, he was to be the Vikings’ lead back.
In April the team “stole” Dalvin Cook in the second round of the
draft (No. 41). It was just a couple of days ago that Murray admitted,
what we all already knew … that Cook is ahead of him.
Effect of the change in location - Murray is likely to be the
short-yardage back and limited to handcuff status.
Gillislee, Buffalo to New England – From the known
(backup to LeSean McCoy) to the unknown (a RB in Bill Belichick’s
stable). I hate to even guess what Belichick is thinking, but
Gillislee figures to get a good portion of LeGarrette Blount’s
163 carries (who signed with Philadelphia). However, with James
White, Dion Lewis, and Rex Burkhead also an option for the “evil
genius coach” anything is possible.
Effect of the change in location – Gillislee will get more
work than he saw as a fill-in for McCoy, but the week-to-week
production will be “consistently inconsistent.” He
should set a personal mark for touchdowns, but if you draft him
buy stock in Bayer aspirin.
Woodhead, San Diego to Baltimore – Joe Flacco threw
672 passes last season (one behind league-leader Brees), but just
156 went to running backs. That percentage should jump with the
addition of Woodhead, who has the best hands of any back in the
league. In his last two full seasons with the Chargers, he caught
156-of-194 targets or 80 percent. Unfortunately, he’s not
going to see much work in the ground game with Terrance West and
Kenneth Dixon (four-game suspension) available to carry the ball.
Effect of the change in location – Woodhead had a special
relationship with Philip Rivers and it will take time to develop
that with Flacco, so expect his numbers to sink a bit.
Pryor, Cleveland to Washington – Pryor was 12th in
targets last season (141), but had less competition for his quarterback’s
attention than he will have in Washington. Gary Barnidge (81),
running back Duke Johnson (74) and rookie wideout Corey Coleman
(73) were next on the list. In Washington, four players had at
least 89 targets last season. While two of them, Pierre Garcon
and DeSean Jackson, are gone, Jamison Crowder should see more
work and 2016 No. 1 selection Josh Doctson is ready to be a bigger
part of the offense. New OC Matt Cavanaugh hasn’t held that position
since 2004, but he has been the Redskins QB coach the past two
seasons, therefore we should expect more of the same balance.
Effect of the change in location – Although his targets
may dip a little, the improved quarterback play should more than
make up for the reduction with a higher catch percentage than
last season’s 55 percent. He should also easily surpass
last season’s touchdown total (4). Pryor ranked 22nd last
season but should crack the top-20 in 2017. Ted
Ginn Jr., Carolina to New Orleans – Ginn Jr.’s role
in Carolina was consistent the past two years with about 95 targets
per season for 700-plus yards. Now catching balls from Brees,
his catch percentage should increase, but he’ll still be the third
option behind Michael Thomas and Willie Snead. Even so, Brees
has spread it around fairly evenly with three receivers seeing
at least 100 targets the past two seasons.
Effect of the change in location – Ginn’s production
should stay consistent and another 700-yard, seven touchdown season
is probably a reasonable expectation.
Woods, Buffalo to LA Rams – Woods is likely the most
talented receiver the Rams have, but know that the other options
are Tavon Austin, rookie Cooper Kupp and Pharoh Cooper. Woods
should lead the team in targets and yards, but whether that even
makes him a WR2 is certainly debatable.
Effect of the change in location – After sitting behind
Sammy Watkins in Buffalo, Woods gets his chance this season, albeit
with Jared Goff as his starting quarterback. Consider him your
No. 3 receiver with upside if Goff turns out to be the “real
Cook, Green Bay to Oakland – I expected more from Clive
Walford last season (33-359-3) and obviously so did the Raiders
or they wouldn’t have signed Cook. Cook underperformed in Green
Bay last season putting up similar numbers (30-377-1) in 10 games
(five starts), though he was much improved in the playoffs (18-229-2
in three games).
Effect of the change in location – If he can’t catch
enough balls from Aaron Rodgers to make himself fantasy-worthy
(the Packers have thrown 12.7 % of their passes to tight end over
the past three seasons), what would make us think there will be
a drastic increase with Derek Carr? (Raiders averaged 13.9 % of
passes to tight ends)
Bennett, New England to Green Bay – Bennett is going
to be one spoiled tight end, catching passes from two Hall of
Fame quarterbacks in 2016 and 2017. Be forewarned, however, that
the Patriots use of the tight end greatly surpasses other teams.
The Pats have averaged 24.9% of their passes to tight ends the
past three seasons (whether Rob Gronkowski is healthy or not)
and Green Bay is half that.
Effect of the change in location – Given the usage rates,
fantasy owners should not expect Bennett to exceed last season’s
totals when he finished seventh at his position (113.1 FPts) and
13th with 7.1 FPts/G (of tight ends who played at least eight
Thomas, Jacksonville to Miami – His double-digit scoring
seasons in Denver are a distant memory. After earning the big
paycheck following the 2014 season, he’s done nothing for
fantasy owners. Obviously a product of playing with Peyton Manning,
Thomas showed little in Jacksonville with just four double-digit
games in two seasons (21 games), but will be reunited with his
OC, Adam Gase, from his days with the Broncos.
Effect of the change in location – Thomas has a great chance
to improve his production in Miami where he should see the majority
of snaps if he can stay healthy. Gase has always used his tight
ends well and Thomas should see an increase in production, though
no one should expect him to be the guy he was in Denver. He ranked
21st last season in FPts/G (5.8), but should be a viable low-end
starter this season.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.