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2011 Draft Prep: Old faces, new places

Senior Fantasy Writer
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When you think back to the offseason moves prior to the 2010 season, there are a few players who stand out based on their poor performances. The biggest names seemed to struggle the most.

Probably the three most-publicized transactions were Anquan Boldin's trade to Baltimore, Brandon Marshall's trade to Miami and Donovan McNabb's trade to Washington. All three failed to perform in 2010 at the level they had with their previous team. Chester Taylor also was a huge letdown based on the big free agent deal he signed in Chicago.

But in looking past Boldin, Marshall, McNabb and Taylor, you'll find that Santonio Holmes and LaDainian Tomlinson were still standout Fantasy options for the Jets, Peyton Hillis was a star in Cleveland and we had quality performances from Ryan Torain in Washington and Mike Williams in Seattle.

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There's no rhyme or reason why a player who switches teams struggles or succeeds. Sometimes it's based on increased role or improved system. Other times you can tell when a player is just chasing money. For every success story like Michael Turner to Atlanta, there is a failure like Javon Walker to Oakland.

With that in mind, here is a look at the most impactful transactions for Fantasy owners during this frenzied free agent period. These moves consist of players who have changed teams with a look at their Fantasy value in their new home. Call it old faces in new places.

Editor's note: This story will likely be updated as offseason moves continue to happen, so check back frequently when a signicifant transaction occurs.

Quarterback

Kevin Kolb
Old team: Philadelphia
New team: Arizona
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 quarterback
Kolb goes from being Michael Vick's backup to the starter for the Cardinals, and he could easily end up as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback before the end of the season. He has one of the best receivers in the NFL with Larry Fitzgerald, and he plays in a weak division in the NFC West. But the reason we consider Kolb just a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback on Draft Day is he's unproven. He also has little help beyond Fitzgerald and tight end Todd Heap, and he could be a product of Andy Reid's system similar to McNabb and A.J. Feeley. Our advice is to draft Kolb as one of the top backup quarterbacks, and if he starts out the season playing well then you can trade him for something to improve your roster or start him yourself if your No. 1 quarterback struggles.

Donovan McNabb
Old team: Washington
New team: Minnesota
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 quarterback
McNabb's Fantasy value improves with the trade to Minnesota since he escapes the madness of the Redskins and gets a fresh start. We wish his receiving corps was better since he has just Percy Harvin as a go-to threat, but the running game with Adrian Peterson should help McNabb be successful. He's not going to return to his glory days as a starting Fantasy option like he was in Philadelphia, but he should be better than his one season in Washington. A good week to count on McNabb is Week 5 at home against Arizona. If you draft Tony Romo as your starter then look for McNabb as a backup since Romo is off in Week 5. He also could have success in Week 8 at Carolina, which would make him a suitable replacement for Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers or Josh Freeman, who all have a bye that week.

Matt Hasselbeck
Old team: Seattle
New team: Tennessee
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 quarterback
Hasselbeck was expected to remain a starter this season, but we thought he was staying with the Seahawks. He gets an improvement with the Titans since his receiving corps is better, assuming Kenny Britt doesn't get a lengthy suspension, and he benefits from moving to the AFC South, where there are some of the worst defenses in the NFL. Hasselbeck also has a better running game to help him out, but that means Chris Johnson can't have a long holdout. That said, Hasselbeck is only worth drafting with a late-round pick as a backup Fantasy quarterback. He could be useful in Week 7 against Houston when Michael Vick and Tom Brady are on a bye, so consider drafting Hasselbeck if you spend an early-round selection on Vick or Brady.

Running back

Reggie Bush
Old team: New Orleans
New team: Miami
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
The Saints had no need for Bush with Pierre Thomas coming back and the addition of Mark Ingram, and Fantasy owners were ready to give up on him all together. Now that he's in Miami, he can at least be expected to touch the ball around 10-15 times on offense. The Dolphins are going to rely on rookie Daniel Thomas to carry the load, but Bush can play on third downs and as a change-of-pace rusher. His Fantasy value is higher in leagues where receptions count, but he's still worth a late-round pick in standard leagues. Bush was never a great Fantasy option with the Saints, and he won't improve with the Dolphins. But he escaped a bad situation in New Orleans, and that can only help his outlook for 2011.

Darren Sproles
Old team: San Diego
New team: New Orleans
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
Sproles' value doesn't change too much since he will go from a receiver out of the backfield with the Chargers to replacing Bush as a receiver out of the backfield for the Saints. Sproles doesn't have much value in standard leagues, but he's worth drafting with a late-round pick in leagues where receptions count. He is third on the depth chart behind Ingram and Thomas and will have to share targets with Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore and Jimmy Graham. But Sproles has a proven track record with 104 receptions the past two seasons and at least 780 yards in each year.

Willis McGahee
Old team: Baltimore
New team: Denver
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 3 running back
McGahee has the chance to be a key reserve running back with the Broncos since Denver's new regime under coach John Fox is not sold on Knowshon Moreno as an every-down back. We still expect Moreno to start and get the majority of carries, but Fox showed at Carolina with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart that he likes two rushers to play in tandem. McGahee has at least five touchdowns in every season since 2004 and could also work at the goal line in Denver since he's a bigger back than Moreno. You can draft McGahee with a late-round pick, but don't be surprised if he ends up starting a game or two for you based on Moreno's injury history as well.

Tim Hightower
Old team: Arizona
New team: Washington
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
Hightower will likely remain in a similar role with the Redskins that he had with the Cardinals as a receiver out of the backfield. But he goes from one crowded situation to another. In Arizona, Hightower was expected to be third on the depth chart behind rookie Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells. In Washington, he will compete with rookie Roy Helu for the No. 2 job behind Ryan Torain. The difference with the Redskins is he will definitely play on passing downs, and the allure of coach Mike Shanahan and his history with running backs will be attractive to Fantasy owners. We recommend drafting Hightower with a late-round pick, especially in leagues where receptions count, but don't be overexcited that he's going to start and get the majority of touches.

Marion Barber
Old team: Dallas
New team: Chicago
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
Matt Forte will remain the starter and receive the majority of touches, and Barber is expected to compete with Chester Taylor for the backup spot with the Bears. Barber will likely have the chance to score some touchdowns and work on third downs, but barring an injury to Forte, you won't get much from Barber this season. Chicago needed a running back to help Forte since Taylor was a huge bust in 2010, so that's the role Barber will play. He's not worth drafting in the majority of leagues, but in deeper formats you can consider Barber as a handcuff option if you spend an early-round selection on Forte this year.

Ronnie Brown
Old team: Miami
New team: Philadelphia
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 3 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
Brown was going to change teams after the Dolphins made it clear he wasn't coming back to Miami. But we didn't expect him to land in Philadelphia with little chance to play. He will now be the backup running back to LeSean McCoy and probably have minimal touches each week. He is definitely worth drafting as a handcuff option for McCoy, but on his own he isn't going to help Fantasy owners much. Look for Brown to be drafted with a late-round pick, and the only way he will be Fantasy relevant this season is if McCoy gets injured and misses significant time.

Ricky Williams
Old team: Miami
New team: Baltimore
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
Williams joins the Ravens, where he will be the No. 2 running back behind Ray Rice. This is a good landing spot for Williams since Baltimore won't want to run Rice into the ground, and he can play behind a solid offensive line and a great blocking fullback in Vonta Leach. Rice will still get the majority of touches, but Williams is worth drafting with a late-round pick. And if you draft Rice in Round 1 then Williams projects as the handcuff option ahead of Jalen Parmele.

Wide receiver

Sidney Rice
Old team: Minnesota
New team: Seattle
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 2 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 3 receiver
Rice went for the cash grab here, and good for him in getting a five-year contract from the Seahawks for $44 million with $18.5 million guaranteed. But this move significantly hurts his Fantasy value since his quarterback will be Tarvaris Jackson, who also signed with Seattle from Minnesota. We don't see Rice getting back to the level that made him a standout Fantasy option in 2009 when he had 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns. He's still worth drafting as a No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver based on his potential in playing in the NFC West, but we wish Rice had a better quarterback situation than being reunited with Jackson.

Chad Ochocinco
Old team: Cincinnati
New team: New England
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 3 receiver
Ochocinco gets his wish to play with Tom Brady and for Bill Belichick, and he could be the best receiver for the Patriots. I still have him ranked behind Wes Welker, but he could move past Deion Branch and start right away. Regardless, Ochocinco will be on the field quite a bit, and he is worth drafting with a mid-round pick in all leagues. Brady won't turn Ochocinco into Randy Moss circa 2007, but he should help Ochocinco improve from his dismal stats in 2010 when he had just 67 catches for 831 yards and four touchdowns. It's a much better scenario for Ochocinco to be catching passes from Brady than an inexperienced rookie like Andy Dalton.

Steve Breaston
Old team: Arizona
New team: Kansas City
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 receiver
The positives for Breaston moving to the Chiefs are he's reunited with Todd Haley, who was his offensive coordinator with the Cardinals, and he has a proven quarterback in Matt Cassel. The negatives are he goes from a guaranteed starting spot in Arizona to possibly being the No. 3 receiver depending on what the Chiefs want to do with rookie Jonathan Baldwin. We still expect Breaston to be heavily involved, but he might have been better off staying in Arizona for his Fantasy value. Still, he should only be drafted with a late-round pick as a No. 4 Fantasy receiver.

Roy Williams
Old team: Dallas
New team: Chicago
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Williams had minimal Fantasy value if he had stayed in Dallas since he was not going to start ahead of Miles Austin or Dez Bryant. With Chicago, Williams will be reunited with Mike Martz, and he gives Jay Cutler a big target along with Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester. The best production for Williams came in 2006-07 when he played for Martz in Detroit, and he had 146 catches for 2,148 yards and 12 touchdowns over those two seasons. He won't relive those days, but he is worth drafting with a late-round flier. And even though he's been terrible with the Cowboys the past two seasons he does have 12 touchdowns over that span.

Plaxico Burress
Old team: Giants
New team: Jets
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 receiver
We would have preferred if Burress went from his two-year stint in prison back to the Giants or to Pittsburgh, which was another rumored destination. The move to the Jets is OK, but he would have been better off in a more prominent passing attack. The benefit to joining the Jets are that he is almost guaranteed a starting spot opposite Santonio Holmes with Braylon Edwards gone, and Mark Sanchez continues to develop as a quarterback. Also, Edwards had 53 catches for 904 yards and seven touchdowns last year, and someone needs to replace that production. Don't overvalue Burress based on his name recognition, but he is worth drafting with a late-round pick.

Mike Sims-Walker
Old team: Jacksonville
New team: St. Louis
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Sims-Walker has shown flashes of greatness, especially in 2009 when he had 63 catches for 869 yards and seven touchdowns. But he hasn't proven to be a consistent Fantasy option, and that will continue with the Rams. He will compete for a starting spot, but the Rams already have plenty of marginal talent at receiver with Danny Amendola, Danario Alexander and Donnie Avery. St. Louis also could bring back Mark Clayton, who was a quality target for Sam Bradford before suffering a knee injury. Now, Sims-Walker could benefit playing in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' system, and he could improve with Bradford instead of David Garrard. If you draft Sims-Walker with a late-round pick then you're in good shape, but don't reach for him following this move.

Braylon Edwards Old team: New York Jets
New team: San Francisco
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 wide receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 3 wide receiver
Edwards found that the free agent market was not very kind, which is why he accepted such a low offer to play with the 49ers. But he immediately becomes the No. 1 receiver in San Francisco (No. 2 target behind tight end Vernon Davis), which hurts Michael Crabtree, and he should be able to post quality stats going from the AFC East to the NFC West in what is a more pass-friendly offense than he played in with the Jets. Edwards should have plenty of motivation to succeed, and he's worth drafting with a mid-round pick this year.

Derrick Mason Old team: Baltimore
New team: New York Jets
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 3 wide receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 wide receiver
Mason was the best receiver for the Ravens last year when he outplayed Anquan Boldin, but he's near the end of his career at 37. He goes from a starter in Baltimore to the No. 3 option in New York behind Holmes and Burress. Mason still retains value in leagues where receptions count as a low-end reserve, but he might not get drafted in standard formats with this move to the Jets. We would have rather had him stay in Baltimore for his Fantasy value.

Tight end

Greg Olsen
Old team: Chicago
New team: Carolina
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 tight end
The Panthers are stockpiling former University of Miami tight ends by adding Olsen and Jeremy Shockey this offseason. Olsen should start ahead of Shockey, but both will be on the field together quite a bit. Olsen escapes the Martz offense, which has been bad for tight ends, and he goes to the Panthers with offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who should rely on Olsen as the No. 2 target in the passing game behind Steve Smith. Olsen will struggle while rookie quarterback Cam Newton learns the offense, but he should be considered a sleeper in deep leagues. And he becomes a great bye-week replacement since the move to Carolina has definitely helped his Fantasy value.

Todd Heap
Old team: Baltimore
New team: Arizona
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 tight end
Heap doesn't get a significant bump going from the Ravens to the Cardinals, but he should become the No. 2 option in the passing game behind Fitzgerald. Heap will have to develop a rapport with Kolb, and he is now worth drafting with a late-round pick. But we'll still have the same issues with Heap that we had before -- he's injury prone and doesn't score enough (seven touchdowns in 2005 is his career high). What Heap does is he gives Fantasy owners another option at tight end with his move to Arizona, which opens the door for Ed Dickson to be considered a sleeper in deeper leagues for the Ravens.

Zach Miller
Old team: Oakland
New team: Seattle
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 1 tight end
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 tight end
Miller was a No. 1 Fantasy tight end with the Raiders, and he could still play at that level in 2011 with the Seahawks. But I want to see it happen first, especially with Tarvaris Jackson now as his quarterback. He does benefit from playing in the NFC West, but he has averaged just four touchdowns a year in his career. The safe option is to consider Miller a No. 2 Fantasy tight end and draft him with a late-round pick. Let him prove that this move to Seattle will help his Fantasy outlook and not hinder it because coming into the season I'm a little skeptical.

Kevin Boss
Old team: New York Giants
New team: Oakland
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 tight end
Boss will replace Miller as the starter for the Raiders, and while he might not play at Miller's level, someone has to help the receiving corps in Oakland. Jason Campbell also has a solid history with tight ends going back to his time with Chris Cooley in Washington and Miller last year, and Boss could improve slightly with the change from the NFC East to the AFC West. He isn't worth drafting in the majority of leagues, but Boss could be a late-round flier in deep formats if you want a potential No. 2 tight end with upside.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
49ers shopping LaMichael James
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:06 pm ET) The 49ers are looking to trade running back LaMichael James in advance of next month's NFL Draft, reports the Sacramento Bee.

Meanwhile, James is aware of the trade rumors, apparently for a while now, since he tweeted Wednesday "when old news becomes new news" following the report.

James, a second-round pick in 2012, finds himself behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on the depth chart at running back this season. James served as the team's primary returner last year, but he wants a bigger role since he carried the ball just 12 times in 2013.


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Report: Jets have concerns over Chris Johnson's knees
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(10:33 am ET) Less than 24 hours after signing Chris Johnson to a two-year deal that might be worth as much as $9 million, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Jets have some concerns over the condition of his knee. Johnson apparently has some arthritis in it stemming from his torn meniscus in 2013 (which he played through). 

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No one on the Broncos has come out and suggested Manning will throw less. He still passed 583 times in 2012, seventh-most that year. Expect Manning to still throw plenty in 2014.


 
 
 
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