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2012 Draft Prep: Old faces in new places

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Go back to last year during a frenzied free agent period following the lockout and think about some of the biggest offseason transactions that impacted Fantasy owners. They weren't exactly exciting.

Sure, there were big names on the move in Donovan McNabb (Washington to Minnesota), Reggie Bush (New Orleans to Miami) and Chad Ochocinco (Cincinnati to New England), but not many of them were successful. We highlighted 22 players who switched teams last year, and only a handful turned into quality Fantasy options in Bush, Darren Sproles (San Diego to New Orleans) and Willis McGahee (Baltimore to Denver).

Tim Hightower (Arizona to Washington) was on his way toward a productive year before suffering a knee injury, and Greg Olsen (Chicago to Carolina) started strong before fading away. But there were also huge busts in McNabb, Ochocinco, Sidney Rice (Minnesota to Seattle), Braylon Edwards (Jets to San Francisco) and Zach Miller (Oakland to Seattle).

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We hope to have more boom than bust this year with the offseason moves, but Fantasy owners need to realize that players who chase dollars improve their bank account typically more than their Fantasy value. Go back two years ago when Anquan Boldin (Arizona to Baltimore), Brandon Marshall (Denver to Miami) and Chester Taylor (Minnesota to Chicago) were huge letdowns. It seems like for every success story (Michael Turner going from San Diego to Atlanta) there is a disappointment (Javon Walker going from Denver to Oakland).

With that in mind, here is a look at the 25 most impactful transactions for Fantasy owners this offseason. 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.

Quarterback

Peyton Manning, Broncos
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Top 5 quarterback
Fantasy value after the transaction: Top 10 quarterback
It was almost a given that Manning was going to be among the Top 3 quarterbacks drafted before a neck injury sidelined him for the entire 2011 season. He now leaves the Colts, where he practically ran the team and the offense, to give the Broncos their best quarterback since John Elway retired in 1999. Manning heads into training camp being drafted in Round 6 in the majority of Fantasy leagues, which is almost hard to believe. If he's healthy, and all offseason reports indicate that he's close to 100 percent, he should provide tremendous value since you can build a great Fantasy team and then add his production in Round 6. Manning had at least 4,000 yards passing in 11 of his last 12 years and at least 31 touchdowns in four of his last five seasons. He has outstanding receivers in Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Jacob Tamme, and we know Manning is driven to prove he can return at a high level. If you draft Manning just make sure you take a quality backup since one hit to his neck could end his career.

Matt Flynn, Seahawks
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 quarterback
The Seahawks are hoping Flynn does two things: 1) follows the path of Aaron Rodgers, who emerged from Brett Favre's shadow to become an elite passer and 2) plays 16 games at the level of his only two NFL starts. In 2010, Flynn started for the injured Rodgers against New England and had 25 Fantasy points, and last year against Detroit with Rodgers resting in the season finale, Flynn had a whopping 51 points. Now, it's unrealistic to expect Flynn to play at that level, especially losing the weapons he had with the Packers, and he still has to beat out Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job in what is a laughable quarterback battle. We like Flynn as a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback with upside. This move was positive for him because it gives him a starting job and a chance to post quality stats in a weak division. It will benefit him greatly if Rice is healthy coming off offseason shoulder surgery.

Tim Tebow, Jets
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Borderline starting option
Fantasy value after the transaction: Not worth drafting
We all know what Tebow did in 2011 with the Broncos with his amazing comeback efforts and the playoff victory against the Steelers, but he was also a solid Fantasy quarterback. He only started 11 games, but he managed six games with at least 18 Fantasy points. The Broncos replaced Tebow with Manning, and now Tebow will be the backup for the Jets behind Mark Sanchez. He goes from a potential bust candidate had he remained the starter in Denver to a sleeper with the Jets. He's not worth drafting in the majority of leagues, but Tebow could easily replace Sanchez as the starter if he struggles or the Jets get off to a sluggish start. Tebow also is expected to play in special packages, including short-yardage situations, which could lead to goal line work. In his first two years in the NFL, Tebow has started the season on the bench only to finish as the starter and someone Fantasy owners could rely on. Don't be surprised if that happens again this year.

David Garrard, Dolphins
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Borderline starting option
Fantasy value after the transaction: Not worth drafting
Garrard has always been a good but not great Fantasy quarterback. In 2010, his last year in the NFL, he had 250 Fantasy points with the Jaguars. That made him a Top 15 quarterback, and he would have been the No. 13 quarterback in 2011 with that production. Garrard missed last season with a back injury after he was released by the Jaguars prior to the season. He signed with the Dolphins this offseason and will compete with Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill for the starting job. The Dolphins don't have a ton of weapons, and Garrard has a lot to prove before Fantasy owners can count on him even if he's named the starter. We wouldn't draft Garrard in the majority of leagues, but he could be someone to add off the waiver wire if he starts out the season playing well. He could be a serviceable bye-week replacement.

Running back

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BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Borderline No. 2 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 running back
The Bengals could have done better to find a replacement for Cedric BensonMichael Bush immediately comes to mind – but they settled for Green-Ellis, and this is a great opportunity for him. Bernard Scott is expected to get plenty of touches, but Green-Ellis will still be the main running back for the Bengals. He will work at the goal line, and he should post similar production to what Benson did, which was an average of 298 carries a year for the past three years for 1,143 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Green-Ellis also had 24 touchdowns over the past two years, but that was with the Patriots offense. If you settle for Green-Ellis in Round 5 or 6 in standard leagues then he will present good value as a low-end No. 2 Fantasy running back.

Peyton Hillis, Chiefs
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 2 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 3 running back
It's interesting how things change from year to year. Last season, Hillis was a bust because it was difficult for him to play like he did as a breakout in 2010. This season, Hillis is a sleeper as the No. 2 running back for the Chiefs. Jamaal Charles is coming back from a torn ACL, and he should be fine to start the year. But Hillis will still get plenty of touches, and he is excited to be reunited with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who he worked with in Cleveland in 2010. We could see Hillis working in all situations, especially at the goal line, and if Charles is limited or suffers a setback then Hillis will shine. He is a great running back to target as early as Round 7, and Hillis should present tremendous value on Draft Day.

Michael Bush, Bears
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 2 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 3 running back
We saw what Bush was capable of last year when Darren McFadden (foot) went down when he had 1,395 total yards and eight touchdowns. He was headed toward greatness heading into free agency, but he decided to again become a backup to a better running back in Matt Forte. Now, Bush could remain incredibly valuable if Forte has a lengthy holdout, but if Forte arrives in training camp and is 100 percent then his value will be limited. We could see Bush scoring his share of touchdowns with decent rushing yards, but he will only be worth a mid-round pick if Forte is ready for Week 1. Our wish was Bush going to a different team. Even staying with the Raiders could have worked out better than this scenario depending on what happens with Forte.

Mike Goodson, Raiders
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: Great handcuff, potential star
McFadden has never played more than 13 games in a season, including just seven last year with his foot problem. That makes his backup extremely valuable as Bush proved in 2011. Goodson is slated to be the No. 2 running back for the Raiders this year unless a free agent is added prior to training camp. If McFadden goes down then Goodson would share playing time with Taiwan Jones, but Goodson is the running back to target with a late-round pick. The Raiders also won't overwork McFadden, especially early in the year, so Goodson could have value as a flex option in deeper formats. If he stayed in Carolina then Goodson would have been lost on the depth chart, but this move allows him to be valuable to Fantasy owners depending on McFadden's health.

Mike Tolbert, Panthers
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 2 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 running back
Tolbert made an interesting career move this offseason when he left the Chargers for the Panthers. He is expected to play more as a fullback rather than a running back since the Panthers are loaded at tailback with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. That doesn't mean Tolbert won't touch the ball, but his ability to help Fantasy owners just got a lot worse. Tolbert, who had 303 carries for 1,325 yards and 19 touchdowns and 79 catches for 649 yards and two touchdowns the past two years, might just become a glorified goal-line back and occasional weapon. He went from a potential No. 2 Fantasy running back to a low-end reserve. Tolbert is still worth drafting with a late-round pick, but as long as Williams and Stewart are healthy, we aren't going to see Tolbert doing much compared to how he was used with the Chargers.

Brandon Jacobs, 49ers
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Borderline No. 2 running back
Fantasy value after the transaction: Not worth drafting in the majority of leagues
Jacobs was solid as the backup to Ahmad Bradshaw, and he could still be a quality Fantasy option as the backup to Frank Gore -- if he was the only backup. The 49ers have Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James to also share touches with Gore and Jacobs, and Jacobs could struggle to see the field for extended carries. He will work in short-yardage situations, and the 49ers could rely on him near the goal line. But with the potential of 100 carries or less, we'd be surprised if Jacobs came close to double digits in touchdowns, which he's only done once in his career. Don't be surprised if Jacobs isn't drafted in the majority of leagues, and he might only be added to most teams if Gore suffers an injury and Jacobs is named the starter.

Wide receiver

Brandon Marshall, Bears
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Borderline No. 1 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: Borderline No. 1 receiver
Marshall was traded to the Bears, and he is reunited with quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive assistant Jeremy Bates, both former Broncos. The last time Marshall played with Cutler was 2008 in Denver, and Marshall had 206 catches for 2,590 yards and 13 touchdowns during the two years Cutler was his starter. Clearly this is an upgrade for Marshall at quarterback over the likes of Chad Henne and Matt Moore, who were throwing him passes in Miami. Now, even though former Bears receiver Muhsin Muhammed once said “Chicago is where receivers go to die,” we still expect Marshall to post quality stats. He is worth drafting in Round 4 in standard leagues and Round 3 in PPR formats.

Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 1 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 receiver
Here's what worries me about Jackson: he got paid. I tend to stay away from players like Jackson who beg for a new contract and leave a team for big money elsewhere. Does he deserve to get paid? Absolutely. Does that mean he will succeed in his new home? Probably not. To give you an idea of some receivers who have left a good situation and not panned out look at Rice in Seattle, Santonio Holmes with the Jets and Boldin in Baltimore. All were better with their previous team, and the same could happen with Jackson. He gets a downgrade in quarterback from Philip Rivers to Josh Freeman, and Jackson's production should decline. I don't consider him a guaranteed starter in the majority of leagues, and the earliest Jackson should be drafted is Round 5 in standard formats.

Brandon Lloyd, Patriots
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 2 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 2 receiver
Lloyd toiled in mediocrity for the first seven years of his career before becoming the No. 1 Fantasy receiver in 2010. What changed? He found Josh McDaniels, and Lloyd has stayed with McDaniels ever since. He followed McDaniels from Denver to St. Louis, and now the two are reunited with the Patriots. In 27 games with McDaniels calling plays, Lloyd has 128 catches for 2,131 yards and 16 touchdowns. That speaks volumes, but Lloyd never played with this many talented receivers. Tom Brady will spread the ball around to Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker and whoever else is open. Lloyd will be good but not great, but he will have some spectacular weeks. He is worth drafting in Round 4 or 5 in the majority of leagues.

Randy Moss, 49ers
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 3 receiver
Moss flamed out of the NFL in 2010 after going from the Patriots to the Vikings to the Titans, and he looked like he was ready for retirement. But a year off has apparently rejuvenated him, and he heads into training camp as the No. 1 receiver for the 49ers ahead of Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham. We'd be more excited about Moss if he wasn't catching passes from Alex Smith, but Moss has now gone from a late-round flier to a mid-round selection based on offseason reports. Don't reach for him on Draft Day, but he could be worth the gamble that at 35 he still has something to prove.

Robert Meachem, Chargers
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: Borderline No. 2 receiver
Meachem is not going to directly replace Jackson. He might not even be the best receiver for the Chargers with Malcom Floyd having a solid rapport with Rivers, and Antonio Gates (foot) is expected to be 100 percent. But the chance for Meachem to see an increase in targets (he never had more than 66 with the Saints) and catch passes from Rivers makes him a breakout candidate. You can draft Meachem as a No. 3 receiver in the majority of leagues, and he could end up as a Top 15 receiver in most formats. He has to stay healthy, as injuries have been a problem for Meachem, but this should be the best season of his career.

Pierre Garcon, Redskins
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 3 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 3 receiver
The Colts passing game was a mess in 2011 with Manning out, but Garcon still managed to set career highs in catches (70) and yards (947) and match his career best in touchdowns (five). But I'm not expecting him to improve going to Washington and playing with a rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III. And Garcon's production last year was fluky. He had three games with double digits in touchdowns, which were the only games he scored. In his other 13 games he topped five Fantasy points just twice. Garcon should be considered a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best. If you draft him as a starter you will likely be disappointed.

Chad Ochocinco, Dolphins
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: Potential waiver wire add
Ochocinco became a punch line last year with the Patriots. He gets the chance to play with Brady and has the worst season of his career. He apparently struggled to learn the playbook, and the Patriots couldn't wait to get rid of him. He ended up with the Dolphins where he will likely be the No. 1 receiver, which says more about the state of Miami's offense than Ochocinco's skills. He could end up having a rebound season – there's really nowhere to go but up after 15 catches, 276 yards and one touchdown – but he has a lot to prove. He should not be drafted in the majority of leagues, and he should only be added off the waiver wire if he starts out the season playing at a high level.

Laurent Robinson, Jaguars
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 2 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Robinson capitalized on his career year in 2011 with a big payday this offseason in Jacksonville. He had career highs in receptions (54), receiving yards (858) and touchdowns (11) in 2011, but that was playing with Tony Romo and the Cowboys. In Jacksonville, Robinson will have to get cooking with a young quarterback in Blaine Gabbert. As such, his stats should suffer. Prior to his one-year stint in Dallas, Robinson combined for 89 catches for 1,000 yards and four touchdowns in four injury-plagued years with Atlanta and St. Louis. Don't be the one to reach for Robinson as a starting option, and I would pass on him altogether. He is definitely going to be a letdown after what he accomplished last year.

Mario Manningham, 49ers
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 3 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: No. 4 receiver
Manningham was a Super Bowl hero for the Giants last year, but he couldn't land a starting job this offseason. He will be the No. 3 receiver for the 49ers behind Moss and Crabtree, which is a downgrade in value. He also goes from Eli Manning to Smith, and that will hurt his production even more. There will be a time where Manningham could be added off the waiver wire, especially if Moss struggles, but he's just a No. 4 Fantasy option at best. Manningham would have been much better staying with the Giants, especially with Hakeem Nicks (foot) getting hurt this offseason.

Jerome Simpson, Vikings
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: No. 3 receiver
Fantasy value after the transaction: Potential waiver wire add
Simpson had a career year with the Bengals last year with 50 catches for 725 yards and four touchdowns. He had one of the best highlights of 2011 when he flipped into the end zone against the Cardinals in Week 16. But during the offseason, Simpson was convicted for drug charges and was sentenced to 15 days in jail, which resulted in a three-game suspension. He has some sleeper appeal because once he returns in Week 4 he is expected to start opposite Percy Harvin, We wouldn't draft Simpson in the majority of leagues, but he could be added off the waiver wire during the season if he starts out playing well.

Eddie Royal, Chargers
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: Not worth drafting
Royal has the chance to be the No. 3 receiver for the Chargers behind Meachem and Floyd, and he could be valuable to Rivers in the slot. Royal has completely disappeared since his rookie season when he had 91 catches for 980 yards and five touchdowns, but he could be useful in PPR leagues if the Chargers use him as a weapon underneath. He is worth drafting in leagues that reward points for special teams, but Royal will likely go undrafted in most formats. But if Rivers appears to rely on Royal then add him because he has 50-catch potential in this offense if he does end up as the No. 3 receiver.

Tight end

Jacob Tamme, Broncos
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: Borderline No. 1 tight end
If you decide to pass on spending a big pick for an elite tight end, you might want to consider Tamme later on. In fact, you might not regret making such a move. Tamme follows Manning to Denver, and the two should rekindle their rapport right away. Tamme had just 177 yards on 19 catches in 2011 with one score, but he worked behind starter Dallas Clark in a Manning-less offense. In 10 games without Clark and with Manning in 2010, Tamme caught 67 passes for 631 yards and four touchdowns. That's the kind of totals he can exceed in Denver. Expect him to have some Clark-like potential and thus get swiped with a middle- to late-round pick in drafts this summer as a borderline starter.

Kellen Winslow, Seahawks
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Borderline No. 1 tight end
Fantasy value after the transaction: Not worth drafting
Winslow posted respectable stats last year with 75 catches for 763 yards, but he scored just two touchdowns and wore out his welcome in Tampa Bay. The new coaching staff wanted him gone, and he was traded to the Seahawks. He now has to share playing time with Miller, and Winslow is near the end of his career, playing on bad knees. There are so many better Fantasy tight ends out there than Winslow that he's not worth drafting in most formats. If he does get off to a good start then add him off the waiver wire, but Winslow's best days are clearly behind him.

Dallas Clark, Buccaneers
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Borderline No. 1 tight end
Fantasy value after the transaction: Not worth drafting
Once upon a time Clark was in the discussion with Gates as the best Fantasy tight end. He had 100 catches for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2009. But since then he was limited to 71 catches for 699 yards and five touchdowns over two injury-plagued seasons. He now leaves Manning and the Colts to play with Freeman as Winslow's replacement. He will still be heavily involved in the offense, but he's not trustworthy as a starting option in most leagues. The Bucs also plan to be run-based, and Clark is not among the elite Fantasy tight ends any more. He might have a good week or two, but he should only be used as an injury- or bye-week replacement.

Martellus Bennett, Giants
Fantasy value prior to the transaction: Not worth drafting
Fantasy value after the transaction: Borderline No. 2 tight end
Bennett goes from being Jason Witten's backup to the starter for the Giants. This is a great move for him since Eli Manning has a fondness for tight ends. He got decent production from Jake Ballard last year (38 catches for 604 yards and four touchdowns), and Kevin Boss averaged 37 catches, 494 yards and five touchdowns from 2008-10. Those are the expectations for Bennett this season, but he is more athletic than Ballard and Boss. He should be considered a sleeper in deeper leagues, and he is someone to monitor early in the year. He won't get drafted in most formats, but Bennett could be a hot commodity off the waiver wire this season.

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