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Offseason Extra: All the right moves

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Free agency has gone through its annual binge and teams have begun making big moves. Keeping track of it all is vital for success in Fantasy Football. We're tracking the players who have changed teams and filling you in on what role they'll have in Fantasy, what the early projection is for them and where you might be able to find them on Draft Day.

Note: We do not consider franchise-tagged players as "on the move." Click on a player's name to get the latest info on the following franchised players: Drew Brees (Saints), Dwayne Bowe (Chiefs), Matt Forte (Bears), Ray Rice (Ravens), Wes Welker (Patriots).

Quarterbacks

Matt Flynn, QB, Seahawks
The move: Left the Packers as a free agent, signed by the Seahawks
The Seahawks will say that Flynn was inked to compete for the starting job with Tarvaris Jackson, but a $10 million guarantee suggests that he'll start so long as he doesn't get hurt or struggle mightily. Flynn made the most out of two career starts in 2010 and 2011, totaling nine touchdowns, 731 passing yards and two interceptions. But that wasn't enough to sell the Seahawks on him. Instead, they probably like his understanding of basic West Coast offense principles, his mobility and his good-but-not-great arm. Pairing Flynn with their underrated receiving corps and offensive line could equate to some quality wins for the Seahawks, who will still primarily be a running team with Marshawn Lynch in the backfield.
Early 2012 projection: 3,300 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, 17 interceptions (No. 2 Fantasy QB)
Draft value: Late-round pick. He'll get chosen if only to be a one-week backup and a potential lottery ticket in the event he plays beyond expectations, but hotter No. 2 choices including both rookie quarterbacks will be selected before him.

Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
The move: Released by the Colts, signed by the Broncos
Manning isn't all the way back from neck surgeries that cost him the entire 2011 season, but he's getting there and claims he'll make enough progress to be ready for the start of this season. We should all take a very cautious approach with him -- unless you're drafting real soon, there's no reason whatsoever to commit a Fantasy value to him. Though he's not quite as safe of an investment as he once was, he's still going to be a popular pick and potentially a steal on Draft Day. Here's an in-depth breakdown on Manning and his teammates.
Early 2012 projection: 4,400 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, 16 interceptions (Top 10 Fantasy QB)
Draft value: If he proves he's healthy and has meshed with his new team, he'll be a third- or fourth-round pick. If he doesn't prove he's healthy but is expected to be ready to play by Week 1, he'll be a sixth- or seventh-round pick.

Notable remaining free agents
Quarterbacks
Vince Young UFA
Running backs
Cedric Benson UFA
Justin Forsett UFA
Ryan Grant UFA
Wide receivers
Danny Amendola RFA/2nd
Jerricho Cotchery UFA
Jerome Simpson UFA
Mike Wallace RFA/1st
Tight ends
Jeremy Shockey UFA

Tim Tebow, QB, Jets
The move: Traded from the Broncos to the Jets
The Broncos had no use for Tebow after acquiring Peyton Manning, so they put him up for grabs and the Jets came down with him. It's expected that Tebow will primarily back up Jets starter Mark Sanchez but also work in a package, perhaps the Wildcat, to keep defenses off balance. With that being the case, odds are that Tebow won't play much unless Sanchez struggles or gets hurt. That would end any relevance for him in Fantasy.
Early projection: 365 passing yards, 120 rushing yards, six total touchdowns (No. 3 Fantasy QB)
Draft value: In standard formats, even deeper formats, Tebow won't be worth a pick. In leagues that start multiple quarterbacks, he's worth a late-round pick.

Running backs

Michael Bush, RB, Bears
The move: Left the Raiders as a free agent, signed by the Bears
When free agency began, we thought Bush had the potential to get signed by a team willing to let him start. After all, he displayed the ability to play well when given starting opportunities (740 rush yards, 308 receiving yards, five total touchdowns, no fumbles in nine 2011 starts). But Bush only got a few sniffs from teams with starting job openings and ended up taking a four-year deal with the Bears, who have one of the top running backs in the league in Matt Forte. So why would the Bears want Bush? Excellent depth for one thing, plus he's a quality running back the Bears could lean on in case Forte holds out, or gets hurt, or is moved to another team. While Forte's future in Chicago might be up in the air (he's lost his leverage for a rich long-term deal), Bush is locked into the Bears. That's great for his future and for the Bears, but Fantasy owners are left with two great running backs that will now eat at each other's stats.
Early 2012 projection: 750 rush yards, 300 receiving yards, six total touchdowns (low-end No. 3 Fantasy RB)
Draft value: Bush will be the first handcuff running back picked in drafts, probably in Round 8. He's an absolute must for those owners who take Forte, who is now more of a second-round pick in standard drafts and a late first-round pick in PPR leagues.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals
The move: Left the Patriots as a free agent, signed by the Bengals
Green-Ellis had his moments as the primary running back for the Patriots, but he was largely compartmentalized as an early downs and goal-line type of rusher. With the Bengals, 'The Law Firm' should be able to spread his wings and play more frequently -- although not as a full-time back -- as Cincy aims to use more than one guy over the course of the year (they could still add another back). But the days of him being totally limited seem behind us; in two years with the Patriots he had 27 games with fewer than 20 carries and 10 games with fewer than 10 carries. The Bengals will use their new running back frequently, especially at the goal line. Green-Ellis has scored 24 times over the last two years, even with the limited playing time in New England.
Early 2012 projection: 850 rush yards, 250 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns (middle- to low-end No. 2 Fantasy RB)
Draft value: You're either a believer in Green-Ellis or you're not, but with the number of running backs with reliable playing time and goal-line potential shrinking, he'll be a player someone will draft in every single league by Round 5.

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Peyton Hillis, RB, Chiefs
The move: Left the Browns as a free agent, signed by the Chiefs
We've seen two sides to Hillis over the last two seasons: The bruising down-hill runner with a ton of touchdowns (1,600 total yards, 13 total touchdowns) and the injury-prone slowpoke who scored occasionally (700 total yards, three touchdowns in 10 games). We'll probably see a third kind of Hillis in 2012: Change-of-pace contributor. Kansas City needed to solidify their ground game with a big, physical back to go along with Jamaal Charles, who is coming off a torn ACL, and Dexter McCluster, who hasn't produced much in two seasons. A reunion with Brian Daboll, the coach who helped him put up career-best numbers in 2010, will help Hillis, and it's conceivable that he'll end up with five-to-10 touches per game with goal-line duties.
Early 2012 projection: 700 rush yards, 350 receiving yards, seven touchdowns (No. 3 Fantasy RB)
Draft value: Hillis was a steal off waivers in 2010 and a mistake as an early-round pick in 2011. It's pretty clear this season that he'll be a good value starting in Round 7 as a No. 3 or reserve Fantasy rusher, and that's a safe time for him. If he strikes out with the Chiefs, it won't hurt owners much. If he strikes it big with the Chiefs he'll be a tremendous bargain.

Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers
The move: Left the Chargers as a free agent, signed by the Panthers
Arguably the most perplexing signing of the season, the Panthers picked up Tolbert for a relative bargain and added him to their already-strong stable of running backs. When the team announced the move, they referred to Tolbert as a fullback, suggesting that he'll play in that role instead of the running back role we're accustomed to seeing him as in San Diego. We don't buy that, though, and believe that Tolbert will have some carries and catches from week to week. But unless the Panthers move one of their other backs (Jonathan Stewart is in a contract year; DeAngelo Williams has a very high cap number), Tolbert's touches are expected to be way down from 2010 and 2011.
Early 2012 projection: 500 rush yards, 200 receiving yards, five touchdowns (reserve Fantasy RB)
Draft value: Probably worth nothing more than a late-round pick unless developments in Carolina change his potential for playing time.

Wide receivers

Notable free-agent movement
Quarterbacks
Jason Campbell CHI
Chad Henne JAC
Kyle Orton DAL
Wide receivers
Andre Caldwell DEN
Early Doucet SF
Mario Manningham SF
Josh Morgan WAS
Eddie Royal SD
Tight ends
Martellus Bennett NYG
Kevin Boss KC
John Carlson MIN
Joel Dreessen DEN

Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins
The move: Left the Colts as a free agent, signed by the Redskins
The Redskins are betting on Garcon taking the next step in his career and post his best reception, yardage numbers and touchdowns for the third season in a row (his stats have steadily increased annually). Not only should he fit in with what the Redskins do, but if you project him catching passes from Robert Griffin III, he could come down with lots of long receptions. The Redskins are loaded with receiving targets, but Garcon showing up as the new guy -- not to mention the highest-paid guy -- should translate into lots of playing time.
Early 2012 projection: 900 receiving yards, seven touchdowns (middle- to low-end No. 3 Fantasy WR)
Draft value: Garcon's safe with a selection in Round 8 or so. That's a pretty good price for him considering that he is more likely to blow away our projection than fall way short of it.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers
The move: Left the Chargers as a free agent, signed by the Buccaneers
Jackson goes from being the prime target of Philip Rivers to the prime target of Josh Freeman. He goes from sharing the field with Ryan Mathews, Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd to sharing with LeGarrette Blount, Kellen Winslow and Mike Williams. And he goes from facing the defenses in the AFC West to the defenses of the NFC South. It doesn't sound so great, does it? But Jackson's happy because he just got paid a ton of dough after fighting for years with the Chargers for a big pay day. Granted, Jackson's arrival is big for Freeman and the rest of the Bucs offense, but Jackson might not deliver the huge numbers you might think. Over his last three full seasons (we're throwing out 2010 because he held out and missed a ton of games) he averaged 1,123 yards and 8.3 touchdowns per. But he's also been inconsistent: Jackson hasn't posted back-to-back 100-yard games since December of 2009 and hasn't scored in back-to-back games since November of 2009. And while he finished with 1,106 yards and nine scores last season, he had eight or fewer Fantasy points (standard scoring) in 10 of 16 games. He's also been injured a bunch, though nothing too serious, but it has affected his play. He'll be the main man in Tampa's passing attack, but the production might not translate -- a problem common with receivers getting paid big while switching teams.
Early 2012 projection: 1,050 receiving yards, seven touchdowns (No. 2 Fantasy WR)
Draft value: Many people will eyeball drafting the 29-year-old with an early round pick but we wouldn't do it. Round 5 is the safer place for him.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots
The move: Left the Rams as a free agent, signed by the Patriots
Just as we expected, Lloyd followed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to New England so he could be used in his offense for what will be the third season in a row. Lloyd had 51 catches for 683 yards and five scores last year in 11 games in St. Louis when McDaniels was the Rams' offensive coordinator, and that came on the heels of a 77-catch, 1,448-yard, 11-touchdown season with McDaniels in Denver. In both of those places Lloyd was considered the No. 1 receiver, something that isn't expected to be the case in New England. Lloyd is now more like a piece of the puzzle instead of the main man in the passing game; sharing targets with Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and others might mean fewer stats. But it will also mean single coverage, and with the Patriots passing aplenty as it is, there's some potential for Lloyd to do much better than last year but fall short of his career totals in 2010.
Early 2012 projection: 825 receiving yards, seven touchdowns (No. 3 Fantasy WR)
Draft value: Probably one of the most perfect mid-round picks you can make in drafts: He's shown consistency working with McDaniels and he'll work with the best quarterback he's ever had in Tom Brady. The only downside is who he'll compete with for Brady's attention.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears
The move: Traded from the Dolphins to the Bears
It's been a while since the Bears had a 1,000-yard receiver much less a big-play receiver. Maybe part of that had to do with the Bears not having a strong-armed quarterback. Not only do they now have both, but they're a package deal that's worked wonders together in the past. Marshall reunites with Jay Cutler in Chi-town just a few years after both were traded from Denver. In their last two years together Cutler connected with Marshall 206 times for 2,590 yards (12.57 avg.) and 13 touchdowns. That beats the numbers Marshall had in two years in Miami with lesser-armed passers (167 catches for 2,228 yards and nine touchdowns). If that's not enough, Marshall has at least been consistent: He has at least 83 catches for at least 1,000 yards in each of his last four seasons with at least six scores in three of four seasons. Getting back together with Cutler should ignite Marshall and make him a stronger Fantasy option than he's been over the past couple of years.
Early 2012 projection: 1,200 receiving yards, nine touchdowns (No. 1 Fantasy WR)
Draft value: Definitely in the mix to be one of the first 10 receivers drafted, but probably closer to 10th than first. Round 4 is likely when Marshall will get picked.

Robert Meachem, WR, Chargers
The move: Left the Saints as a free agent, signed by the Chargers
The Chargers replaced a big-play, deep-threat receiver in Vincent Jackson with Meachem, who is a deep-threat receiver but not a consistent big-play guy like Jackson can be. Meachem has averaged 660 yards over his last three years in the league and nearly 25 percent of his catches have gone for at least 20 yards, so while he hasn't been amazing yet, the potential is there. What's more, he doesn't have quite as many teammates to battle with for targets, and he'll still catch those targets from a great passer in Philip Rivers. With playing time and targets on the rise, Meachem has a lot of potential.
Early 2012 projection: 1,000 receiving yards, four touchdowns (sleeper Fantasy WR)
Draft value: No one should draft Meachem to start, save for owners in deep leagues. Instead, consider him a solid breakout candidate worth the gamble starting in Round 9.

Randy Moss, WR, 49ers
The move: Unretired after sitting out in 2010, signed by the 49ers
Moss' gaudy career totals aren't lost on anyone, but neither is how he left the league in 2010. A stinker of a season that saw him play on three teams over the span of 16 games, Moss claimed he had personal issues that held him back. Moss had two workouts this spring: One with the Saints and one with the 49ers, and the 49ers didn't let him leave after their time with him. Sources say that Moss looks good and can be a contributor for the 49ers. We've seen him play before with lesser quarterbacks and still put up some nice stats, but can Fantasy owners trust a 38-year-old with baggage, namely one who will share the field with several other notable receivers?
Early 2012 projection: 750 receiving yards, five touchdowns (reserve Fantasy WR)
Draft value: There might be an owner in every league who reaches for Moss expecting him to come up with a monster season. Don't be that guy. Be the guy willing to take a gamble on Moss as early as Round 9 but probably a round later. He's just not worth the risk to be taken any earlier. If we see a new Moss in training camp and the preseason, we'll adjust accordingly.

Laurent Robinson, WR, Jaguars
The move: Left the Cowboys as a free agent, signed by the Jaguars
Jacksonville was desperate for receiving help after their leading wideout last year tallied 415 yards and one touchdown. They still might be desperate after signing Robinson. We love that he broke out last season with 11 touchdowns on 54 catches, but that came in Dallas with a pass-happy offense loaded with receivers. Jacksonville's cupboard is bare when it comes to the pass attack, and they'll be run focused so long as Maurice Jones-Drew is in town. It's nice that he's being given this opportunity after earning it last year, but it's another case of a receiver getting big bucks from another team, which means he's a candidate to disappoint.
Early 2012 projection: 900 receiving yards, five touchdowns (low-end No. 3 Fantasy WR)
Draft value: Mid-round pick, and one that others in your league might reach for at that. He might be better suited for PPR leagues.

Jacob Tamme, TE, Broncos
The move: Left the Colts as a free agent, signed by the Broncos
Figure that Peyton Manning played a teeny-tiny role in this deal. Tamme is obviously familiar with Manning as the two have been teammates since Tamme entered the league. But the two only played together regularly in 2010, when Dallas Clark missed 10 games and Tamme came up with 67 catches for 631 yards and four touchdowns. That's very Dallas Clark-like. Even with Joel Dreessen coming along in Denver, Tamme has already meshed with Manning, making him a good target in the early going this season.
Early 2012 projection: 850 receiving yards, six touchdowns (No. 1 Fantasy TE)
Draft value: Middle- to late-round gamble, well worth gunning for if you can't stomach taking a tight end between Rounds 2 and 5. He could deliver big.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Report: Vikings' Adrian Peterson won't attend OTAs on Tuesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is reportedly set to skip organized team activities on Tuesday, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Peterson is frustrated with management in Minnesota for not showing him support through his legal case for child abuse. Peterson has not participated in any offseason activities so far, but skipping Tuesday's workout will cost him $250,000 in bonuses if he does not attend 90 percent of OTAs and minicamps.

Peterson has three years, $44.25 million left on his contract with Minnesota.


Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu finally cast-free
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(5/24/2015) After a couple of injury-plagued seasons, Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu enters training camp almost completely healthy, without a brace on his knee or cast on his thumb, per NFL.com. 

The Cardinals will need a healthy Mathieu to offseason the loss of former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and cornerback Antonio Cromartie. In two seasons, Mathieu has 100 tackles and three interceptions but has been hampered by nagging injuries. 

"It just feels good to be free," he said. 


Giants' Bennett Jackson making transition to safety
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Giants second-year cornerback Bennett Jackson is spending the offseason transitioning to safety. 

"At the end of the day, I’m a DB,’" Jackson said, per the New York Post. "I think my strengths are cover skills, I got good speed and I got good ball skills. The thing it’s gonna take for me to get out there and make an impact is, I just got to learn the defense and really just communicate the calls fluently."

"It is all in front of him," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We think he can cover. He has done a good job of getting us lined up and then we will see how he plays."


O'Brien impressed with Jadeveon Clowney's work ethic
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Texans coach Bill O'Brien has been impressed with the work defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has put in to recover from microfracture surgery in his knee. 

"I've been impressed with the way JD's been working," O'Brien said, per HoustonTexans.com. "He's been out there. He's in early. He's rehabbing. But he's also being able to take part in some of the things that we do in the weight room. He's not able to do all of the things that we do on the field just yet, because of his rehab. But he's on the right track."


AJ McCarron throwing deep for Bengals
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron has recovered from the shoulder soreness that bothered him for most of his rookie year. 

McCarron is now throwing deep again. "I feel great," McCarron said, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Body feels great and I feel like I'm slinging it better than I ever have, really."


Brooks Reed injured, may miss time at Falcons' OTAs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Falcons linebacker Brooks Reed suffered a groin injury during the recently-completed voluntary minicamp, per ESPN.

The injury was termed "minor", but it still might keep Reed from full participation in the Falcons' upcoming OTAs, which start Tuesday. 


GM: EJ Manuel on 'equal footing' with Bills' other QBs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bills general manager Doug Whaley denied reports that the team is moving on from quarterback EJ Manuel

The team acquired Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor in the offseason.

In an interview with Jim Rome, Whaley said, "I look at it this way, in this business controversy sells,. The more controversy that you can drum up then the more intereste people are going to be."

"For us we’re excited about the future of all three of those guys," Whaley said. "It’s going to be a great competition. And we can keep three quarterbacks. So I dismiss that as just someone trying to get something stirred during this down time and lack of media stories for the NFL." 

Whaley said all three quarterbacks have an equal shot of winning the starting job. 

"I look for him to come in and compete and try to take the job," he said. "Everybody has got an equal footing. It’s a clean slate for all four of our quarterbacks. We’re not tied to anybody. We just want the best man to start."


Bengals' Vontaze Burfict may start year on PUP
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict's rehab may not be progressing as quickly as the team had hoped.

Burfict had microfracture knee surgery and initial post-surgery reports said that he could be recovered by the start of training camp. 

This week, the team's website said that Burfict's status was "up in the air" and that a return by the start of the season would be a "tight call".

If Burfict isn't ready by the opener, the Bengals may choose to put him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. 


So far, so good for Texans rookie CB Kevin Johnson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) First impressions aren't necessarily important for first-round picks in the NFL. They are far more critical to lower selections and undrafted free agents who desperately need to raise a few eyebrows immediately lest they be back out looking for work.

But whether necessary or not, Texans first-rounder Kevin Johnson is making one heck of a first impression on Bill O'Brien. The clornerback opened some eyes at minicamp.

"This is a guy that's a very quick guy," O'Brien said. "He's a tall guy. He's a guy that has really good transition ability. He's got what I call really good recover transition. If he's getting beat, he can stick his foot in the ground and really make up a lot of ground.

"He's a very bright player. If you ask him questions in the morning meeting, he really has obviously studied the night before. He's working out on his own and doing things to help stay up on material that's being installed."

Johnson believes he needs to do the little things right to make a big impact in his rookie year.

"From the training room to the classroom to the film study, everything is just more detailed," he told the team website. "I'm just trying to take it all in and use everything around here and just get better."


Bears CB Tim Jennings could transition into slot role
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bears cornerback Tim Jennings is "still trying to figure out" where he will fit into the secondary this season, the Chicago Tribune is reporting.

The nine-year veteran, who is entering his sixth season in the Windy City, has 95 career starts and led the league in interceptions in 2012. He is even a two-time Pro Bowler. But he spent significant time as the slot corner in minicamp. That's an unsatisfying role for him that he just might be forced to embrace.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio prefers his outside corners tall and physical. Jennings is 5-8, 185 pounds. He might still earn an outside role opposite Kyle Fuller, but do achieve that goal he must at the very least outperform free agent pickup Alan Ball, who better fits the ideal description.

If the words of new coach John Fox are any indication, that's unlikely to happen.

"Dimension-wise, he's built like a nickel corner," Fox said. "He's played it before."

Jennings has started all but three games over the last seven years.


 
 
 
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