Last week I unveiled my top FAs for the NFC. This week it’s the AFC. In an effort to get more of a response or viewership for the site, I’m going to try a new tactic. It’s called “Just type whatever comes to my mind on certain players, and type it unedited.” In other words, to give the reader a sense of what I’m actually thinking, I’ll give them a snippet of what goes through my mind when I write. Is everyone gonna like it? No, but it’s a free country and as long as I don’t slanderize or blasphemize anyone, it’s fine. OK, back to the AFC wrap up before I ramble off topic.
1.) Chris Johnson (RB) (UFA) – A very productive off-season for the Jets. This is the most meaningful signing from the franchise perspective. The Jets are a ground and pound offense, meaning Johnson will be lead back in a run-heavy offense. With limited competition, look for CJ to bounce back and give ya another 1050 rushing yard season and 8 scores. Yeah, I’m calling my shots here.
2.) Eric Decker (WR) (UFA) – The Jets WR1 merry-go-round continues, and this time the auditioned is Eric Decker, or Peyton Manning’s former WR3/safety receiver. How will Decker fare in New York? Let’s say 900 yards receiving and 6 TDs. Geno Smith is still way behind on the learning curve, and Michael Vick will likely start at one point this season and do a pretty good job until he gets injured again. Decker, though, is a solid low-end WR2/flex plays, and has more value in PPR leagues.
3.) Darren McFadden (RB) (UFA) – Even with the signing of MJD, Run DMC will be lead back. He’ll be productive when he’s healthy, but know when you draft him, he’s going to get injured, and then it will be MJD’s turn. Caution here, MJD is more agile than his predecessor, Michael Bush. In an effort to keep McFadden healthier, the Raiders may give DMC more plays off, limiting his upside somewhat. McFadden will be a solid, yet unspectacular back when healthy.
4.) Hakeem Nicks (WR) (UFA) – Nicks, not Hilton, will be the Colts’s second leading receiver behind Reggie Wayne. Hilton is more explosive than Nicks, but he’s far too inconsistent to be counted on week to week. Luck is a superior passer to Eli Manning, and in his third season, look for Nicks to be a solid WR2, and approach 950 yards receiving and 7 scores. Yeah, after 2 seasons of near fantasy irrelevancy, Nicks will return to relevancy in a big way this season. Big time sleeper and draft day steal. If Wayne misses time again, bump Nicks up a few notches on your receiver ranks.
5.) Julian Edelman (WR) (UFA) – For whatever reason, I never end up with Edelman on my teams and usually don’t regret it. Last year was the exception to the non-regret rule, as Edelman was very productive with Brady throwing to him. Granted, Amendola was slower coming back from injury and Gronkowski was a non-factor. Will Edelman see another 1,000 yard season this year? Likely not, but you’ll still get 700 yards and 6 scores unless one of Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, or Brandon LaFell (also signed as FA) asserts themselves over the steady-eddy Edelman. Once more, I’m going to avoid Edelman, though.
6.) D’Qwell Jackson (LB) (Cut) – Jackson looks like a misfit in Indianapolis on paper, but I like the move. He’ll play inside linebacker opposite Jerrell Freeman, and will still net you 125+ tackles. Also, calling my shot now, with the lack of sacks for the most part on the Colts, Jackson will be poised to approach the 4 sack plateau this season, and will continue to be very disruptive in the pass game. Invest early.
7.) TJ Ward (S) (UFA) – Was that the sound of a train? Nah, that was the sound of someone getting smacked down by Ward. Now in Denver, Ward drastically improves secondary that was extremely suspect (see: Super Bowl), and he should continue his hard hitting, pass-picking ways in Denver. Oh, and if you’re looking for a safety that can also greet RBs at the line, Ward is your man.
8.) Karlos Dansby (LB) (UFA) – Los is the new Jackson. It’s going to a tall order to fill D’Qwell’s shoes in Cleveland. However, coming off a monster year in Arizona in which he posted 19 passes defensed from the middle, don’t be surprised to see him have another very productive season, this time in Cleveland. A return to 15+ passes defense, 5 sacks, and 125+ tackles is totally at play here.
9.) Knowshon Moreno (RB) (UFA) – It’s hot to the grind, and this is crazy, but here’s my number, call me maybe…or just find me in SoBe. Knowshon goes from the Mile-High City to South Beach, and I’m not the biggest fan of the move. After 2011 and 2012 when Reggie Bush was their leading rusher and left for Detroit, the Phins’s run game was abysmal in 2013. Add in accuracy issues at QB with Tannehill, and Moreno better hope for a great offensive line to create gaping holes for him to run, otherwise it could be a long season for him. 800 yards rushing and 5 TDs seems right on.
10.) Ben Tate (RB) (UFA) – Damn, Cleveland cleaned up in free agency. Every other FA it seems is now a Brown. Josh Gordon faces a season-long suspension, Hoyer is returning from injury, and Manziel has been told to “act like a backup,” meaning the Browns’s offense will continue to be mostly discombobulated early in the season. The sleeper value here is interesting, as the Browns need a capable RB, and Tate could be just the back the Browns were looking for. He showed potential in Houston until going down himself last season, so the Browns may be careful with him at first. With that said, by season’s end Tate will have 750 yards rushing, 6 scores, and another 2 receiving scores. Yes, I’m willing to wager on that one too.
11.) Donald Brown (RB) (UFA) – Honestly this is an interesting situation. The Chargers have the inconsistent, and, up until last season, oft-injured Ryan Mathews. Then towards the end of last season Mathews tore it up like he did in college. Mathews is the starter, no doubt, but Brown will certainly see his touches even with rookie Marion Grice also in the picture. Grice is a bit underrated, but should factor mainly into special teams plays and spell Brown occasionally. Baseline for Brown this season is 500 yards rushing and around 25 receptions.
12.) Justin Tuck (DE) (UFA) – Tuck posted 11 sacks last season, but didn’t have 10 combined sacks the 2 previous seasons. Signed by the Raiders, Tuck will hopefully bolster a defense that is looking to get tougher, yet is still weak. Don’t expect a repeat 11 sack season, but 9.5-10 sacks should be in order to go with 57 tackles. If he falls far enough, I’ll sneak him onto my team.
13.) Michael Vick (QB) (UFA) – Rex Ryan should be happy, he gets another QB veteran playtoy. First it was Favre, now it’s Vick. Here’s the difference aside from injuries: Vick can actually still run and escape the pocket; Favre….well…ummm….we saw what happened and it wasn’t pretty, so let’s just leave it at that. Expect Vick to start more games than Geno Smith, and be twice as productive until he gets hurt. Vick SHOULD be the Jets’s starter this season, but Rex seems committed to Smith, so take a late flier on Vick. I’d take Vick before Smith.
14.) Donte Whitner (S) (UFA) – Remember, defensive players on weak offensive teams usually lead fantasy IDPs. Now out of Frisco, Whitner is a sleeper to return to 100 tackles. He gets roam like Dog (Browns mascot) in Cleveland, so sign me up for Whitner this season, as I like the potential for 100+ tackles and 15 passes defensed. A return to the borderline S1 tier is in order.
15.) Brent Grimes (CB) (UFA) – Grimes is oft targeted as a CB, meaning he gets more opportunities for picks and passes defensed. Now more than a full season removed from his knee injury, look for Grimes to continue to be a ballhawk in Miami and net 4-5 picks and 20 passes defensed. He’s a borderline CB1 this season.
16.) Maurice Jones-Drew (RB) (UFA) – Let’s get this straight: MJD is merely an insurance policy for McFadden. In other words, if you have McFadden, ya better also get MJD, as it’s only a matter of time before McFadden goes down again. Expect to see MJD mainly on 3rd down and in some short yardage to-go situations. He’ll be one of the better backups and net you 550 yards rushing and 5 TDs. There’s potential for the Raiders duo to be extremely fantasy-friendly this season, but would feel better with Carr than anyone else at QB for the Silver and Black.
Other names to keep tabs on and draft:
Steve Smith (WR) (Cut) (BAL) – The Smith of old is fading, but he still holds value in deeper PPR leagues, as Flacco needs a safety blanket after Rice disappeared last season (less than 2 yards after contact) and Torrey Smith was his only real weapon.
DeMarcus Ware (DE) (Cut) – Best days are behind him, and he’ll likely be more of real life value than fantasy value, but due to sack history, take a late flier here.
James Jones (WR) (UFA) – This is one of the more intriguing signings. Jones will battle Denarius Moore and Rod Streater on a pass-weak offense for passes, but he’s also the most likely to lead the Raiders in possessions. Raider Nation just prays that Derek Carr will be starter this season, as the Raiders would only be wise to let him get acclimated to NFL style defenses and the offense. Remember, Jones was Aaron Rodgers’s best target for a while the past few seasons in a crowded GB receivers core.
Wow, that’s not nearly as scatter-thought, disconnected as I thought it’d be. I guess I do have a functional mind when I write, or it’s just this one time it is calm. Either way, it’s coherent and logically flowing. If you would like more of my mind ramblings, please feel free to email me or hit me up on Twitter @MetalhammerBen, leave a comment here, or don’t do anything. Matters not to me. Until next week, enjoy the articles on here, and like us on Facebook, because I said so. Peace out. Cocktail time!