Free agency is a highlight of the NFL calendar. For fantasy football owners, it officially kicks off evaluation time for the next season. The market opens at 4 p.m. ET today, but the action has already started.
We have questions just like anyone. So we decided to sit down with our friend Matt Williamson of ESPN’s Scouts Inc. Here’s what he had to say …
1. Can Alex Smith be the answer for the Chiefs — this year and/or long term?
No, he can’t be long term, and I think it would be a mistake for Kansas City to assume Smith is the answer and bypass the position in this or, more likely, next year’s draft. But, he is an improvement, and I think the Chiefs’ record last season would have been far better with a game manager that didn’t turn the ball over at such a ridiculous rate — and that is Smith. So, they did improve at the most important position on the field, but I am not a Smith fan here.
2. How will the Rams’ running game look without Steven Jackson? Do you believe in Daryl Richardson and/or Isaiah Pead, or do they need to add another significant option?
Adding a running back with size to that equation seems like a must to me. Richardson flashed for sure and certainly has big-play potential, but this backfield would lack a big power runner.
That is a tough one, especially with Heath Miller now recovering from his knee injury. You have to think that Pittsburgh uses a pick in 1 of the top 3 rounds to add a WR with size, which is what Todd Haley preferred in his previous stops. Or maybe a free agent like Brandon Gibson or Domenik Hixon would be a quality option. But, to answer the question, I would say Brown’s and Sanders’ stocks rise, but Roethlisberger’s falls.
4. What should we expect from Rashard Mendenhall going forward?
There is a lot of ability there and if he lands in the right spot, he could be quite productive. But he is also an extremely hard guy to trust. Just a few weeks ago, I traded for him on the cheap, though, in my dynasty league. He seems like a perfect Buy Low option right now … well, he was before free agency at least!
5. Can Jacquizz Rodgers be a feature back?
No. He can be a productive back and a valuable piece of Atlanta’s offense, but not a sustainer that is equipped to handle a large workload over a long stretch of games. Also, though he’s dynamic, I don’t view Rodgers being as dynamic or as difficult to play against as a guy like Darren Sproles.
I love both player’s abilities, but I have my doubts. Being “The Man” at RB isn’t as easy as it looks. Can they stay healthy? Do they have the mindset to be a dominant ball carrier game after game? We shall see, but I tend to think their fantasy stocks are a bit inflated.
7. What would the Green Bay WR hierarchy look like without Greg Jennings? Which remaining guy has the highest ceiling?
Randall Cobb for sure. He is ready to become a full-fledged stud. I could see Jordy Nelson’s production rising, while I have some doubts as to how sustainable James Jones will be as a fantasy producer. I also would expect them to add at least one body at this position as well.
8. Do you have any favorites in a TE class that could include Martellus Bennett, Jared Cook, Fred Davis, Dustin Keller and Brandon Myers? Any sleepers (such as Delanie Walker, James Casey or Gary Barnidge)?
I am very excited about Walker and Casey and think they could be true steals on the free-agent market. Both are just so versatile and were stuck in poor situations. But of the guys you list at the start, Myers is the one that I am least likely to own.
9. Who are some skill-position guys who could wind up being free-agent bargains? Who do you think will be overvalued?
I mentioned Walker, Casey, Hixon and Gibson, and I do like all of those to be productive without breaking the bank. Chris Ivory also comes to mind if he can get out of New Orleans. And another sleeper from the Saints to keep an eye on is Chase Daniel.
10. Is there 1 skill player off everyone’s free-agency radar who you think could be poised to break out?
Again, I would go with Casey or Walker. These 2 have loads of ability and could possibly be Pro Bowl caliber performers at tight end if everything breaks right.