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2014 Draft Prep: Old faces in new places

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Every year players change teams with the chance for a better opportunity or just trying to hold on after being cut. Some moves offer plenty of promise, others scream of desperation or just chasing money.

Last year, some of the players who changed addresses and improved their Fantasy stock were Alex Smith (San Francisco to Kansas City), Reggie Bush (Miami to Detroit) and Anquan Boldin (Baltimore to San Francisco). But many more struggled.

Think about how bad things were for players like Steven Jackson (St. Louis to Atlanta), Ahmad Bradshaw (New York Giants to Indianapolis), Shonn Greene (New York Jets to Tennessee), Danny Amendola (St. Louis to New England), Greg Jennings (Green Bay to Minnesota) and Mike Wallace (Pittsburgh to Miami). You can attribute some of the poor play to injury, but a lot of times a different zip code leads to less-than-stellar production.

We hope to have more good than bad this season with the guys on new teams -- some of the better options are Toby Gerhart (Minnesota to Jacksonville), Golden Tate (Seattle to Detroit) and Emmanuel Sanders (Pittsburgh to Denver) -- but it might not work out that way. Just keep in mind an old face in a new place might be bad news for your Fantasy team.

Editor's note: The Confidence Factor below is how we feel each player will succeed or struggle with their new team based on a 1-10 scale, with 10 meaning they will shine and one expecting a failure.

Quarterback

Josh McCown, Buccaneers

Former team: Bears
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: Injury replacement
Fantasy value now: No. 2 quarterback
Confidence Factor: 4
McCown looked great last year when he played for an injured Jay Cutler with four games of 20-plus Fantasy points in seven appearances. Leaving Marc Trestman's system will hurt, but he still has quality targets in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. McCown should be a potential bye-week replacement this season but isn't worth drafting in most leagues.

Michael Vick, Jets

Former team: Eagles
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: Starting-caliber quarterback when healthy
Fantasy value now: No. 2 quarterback if starting
Confidence Factor: 2
The only reason Vick gets a two is because he would need to beat out Geno Smith for the starting job. But even if that happens, Vick is just a backup Fantasy quarterback who could be a bye-week or injury replacement. He's not worth drafting in most leagues.

Matt Schaub, Raiders

Former team: Texans
Why he left: Traded
Fantasy value before move: Potential starter prior to 2013 debacle
Fantasy value now: No. 2 quarterback
Confidence Factor: 2
Prior to last season, Schaub was a marginal starting quarterback for Fantasy owners, but he fell apart in 2013, which included setting an NFL record with a pick-6 in four straight games. He could rebound in Oakland, but he's just bye-week or injury replacement at best. And if he struggles, the Raiders could replace him with rookie Derek Carr.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Texans

Former team: Titans
Why he left: Released
Fantasy value before move: Injury replacement
Fantasy value now: No. 2 quarterback
Confidence Factor: 1
The Texans are going into training camp with Fitzpatrick as the starter. Whether it remains that way in Week 1 will likely depend on rookie Tom Savage. Even if Fitzpatrick keeps the job he would only be worth using as a bye-week replacement in deeper leagues. Your Fantasy team is likely in trouble if he's on your roster in Week 1.

Running back

Toby Gerhart, Jaguars

Former team: Vikings
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: Injury replacement
Fantasy value now: Top 20 running back
Confidence Factor: 8
We'll find out if Gerhart can be the next Michael Turner as a backup with potential who finally gets the chance to start. He played in Adrian Peterson's shadow his entire career, but when Peterson has missed time we've seen Gerhart do well. He could be the best "old face in new place" for Fantasy owners this year as a workhorse for the Jaguars and is worth drafting no later than Round 4.

Ben Tate, Browns

Former team: Houston
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: Flex/spot starter as injury replacement
Fantasy value now: No. 2 running back/flex
Confidence Factor: 6
Tate has the chance to do well with the Browns, who will be run-heavy with Josh Gordon's eventual suspension. But Tate has to prove he can stay healthy and hold off Terrance West, who has plenty of promise as a rookie. I like Tate as a flex option, but I wouldn't draft him before Round 6. Since he'll likely be gone by then, I'll gamble on West in Round 8 instead.

Chris Johnson, Jets

Former team: Titans
Why he left: Released
Fantasy value before move: Must-start running back
Fantasy value now: No. 2 running back/flex
Confidence Factor: 5
I'm skeptical Johnson will be the same running back we've seen with the Titans. It helps the Jets are a run-first team, but Johnson struggled as a rusher in 2013 and will have to contend with Chris Ivory. He's not someone I plan to draft this season based on his expected Average Draft Position (Round 5), and I consider him a prime bust candidate.

Rashad Jennings, Giants

Former team: Raiders
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: Backup/injury replacement
Fantasy value now: No. 2 running back/flex
Confidence Factor: 5
Jennings has the chance to be good, but I'm leery of him getting a starting job at 29 and never staying healthy prior to last season. The Giants will also give touches to rookie Andre Williams and David Wilson, if healthy. Like Tate, I won't draft Jennings based on his expected ADP (Round 5), but I would take him around Round 7.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Raiders

Former team: Jaguars
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: Top 20 running back
Fantasy value now: Flex
Confidence Factor: 4
Jones-Drew will have his moments with the Raiders, but he was trending in the wrong direction last season and will likely only get worse. He'll split touches with Darren McFadden as long as he's healthy, but Jones-Drew should not be considered a must-start Fantasy option heading into the season. He's only worth drafting in Round 7 or later.

Knowshon Moreno, Dolphins

Former team: Broncos
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: Must-start running back
Fantasy value now: Flex/reserve
Confidence Factor: 4
Moreno had knee surgery in June, so his status for training camp remains in doubt. He'll have to prove he's healthy and better than Lamar Miller to help Fantasy owners, and we have minimal expectations this season. Leaving the Broncos and Peyton Manning will hurt his outlook anyway, and we're starting to think he's more of a late-round flier than a mid-round selection, depending on his knee.

LeGarrette Blount, Steelers

Former team: Patriots
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: Spot starter
Fantasy value now: Reserve
Confidence Factor: 3
Blount was awesome to close the season last year when he took over for the struggling Stevan Ridley. He had 80 carries for 570 yards and nine touchdowns in his final seven games, including the playoffs, but now he's in a reserve role behind Le'Veon Bell. We hope he stays there based on Bell's upside, but Blount is a definite handcuff option with a late-round pick in case Bell gets hurt.

Darren Sproles, Eagles

Former team: Saints
Why he left: Released
Fantasy value before move: Starter/flex in PPR leagues
Fantasy value now: Flex/reserve in PPR leagues
Confidence Factor: 3
Sproles has been a good option in standard formats, but he's been better for Fantasy owners in PPR leagues based on his reception total (at least 70 catches in each of the past three seasons). That could continue, but his value takes a hit since he's not the same player outdoors. LeSean McCoy has also proven to be a capable receiver, so Sproles is just worth a late-round flier in standard leagues and a mid-round pick in PPR formats.

Donald Brown, Chargers

Former team: Colts
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: Spot starter/reserve
Fantasy value now: Reserve/handcuff
Confidence Factor: 2
Brown is coming off a solid season with the Colts, where he took over for the ineffective Trent Richardson and was solid for Fantasy owners for a good portion of the season. Instead of parlaying that into a starting job or even staying in Indianapolis to challenge Richardson, Brown chose to become third string for the Chargers behind Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead. He's not worth drafting unless as a handcuff for Mathews.

Wide receiver

Golden Tate, Lions

Former team: Seahawks
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: No. 3 receiver/reserve
Fantasy value now: No. 2 receiver/flex
Confidence Factor: 8
Tate has been good during his tenure with the Seahawks. He has the chance to be great with the Lions. He's now part of a lethal passing attack with Matthew Stafford, and he should have plenty of chances to shine in single coverage opposite Calvin Johnson. I have no problem with Tate as my No. 2 receiver, and you can draft him in Round 6 or later.

Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos

Former team: Steelers
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: No. 3 receiver/reserve
Fantasy value now: No. 2 receiver/flex
Confidence Factor: 8
Like Tate, Sanders gets an upgrade in quarterback and system going from Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers to Manning and the Broncos. He will replace the departed Eric Decker, but Sanders doesn't have that same upside. Still, in this offense as a starter alongside Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas, we can see Sanders having a big year. He's a great option in Round 6 in all leagues.

DeSean Jackson, Redskins

Former team: Eagles
Why he left: Released
Fantasy value before move: Top 15 receiver
Fantasy value now: No. 2 receiver/flex
Confidence Factor: 6
Jackson was awesome last year in Chip Kelly's offense, and he should still have his moments with the Redskins this season. But I'm expecting him to regress this year, and I don't want him as a starter on my roster. If I can get him as a No. 3 receiver in Round 7 then I'll take it, but he'll be gone by then, which is OK for me.

Eric Decker, Jets

Former team: Broncos
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: Top 10 receiver
Fantasy value now: No. 3 receiver
Confidence Factor: 5
You don't go from Manning to Geno Smith/Vick and get better. Even Jerry Rice would struggle in that scenario. Decker has been a Top 10 Fantasy receiver each of the past two seasons, but it's doubtful he's a Top 20 receiver this year. Even Top 30 could be pushing it. I'd only draft Decker with a mid- to late-round pick now that he's with the Jets.

Hakeem Nicks, Colts

Former team: Giants
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: No. 3 receiver
Fantasy value now: Reserve
Confidence Factor: 4
The last time Nicks was a quality Fantasy receiver was 2011, which might be the last time he was close to 100 percent. Injuries have derailed his career, and we hope playing with Andrew Luck and the Colts can turn things around. You don't have to invest a lot to draft Nicks, but he also has a lot to prove before you can start him. He also has plenty of challengers for targets with T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne, so consider him a No. 4 receiver on Draft Day at best.

Steve Smith, Ravens

Former team: Panthers
Why he left: Released
Fantasy value before move: No. 3 receiver
Fantasy value now: Reserve
Confidence Factor: 3
Smith's decline was rapid last year as he went from consecutive seasons with 70-plus catches and 1,100-plus yards with 11 combined touchdowns to 64 catches, 745 yards and four touchdowns. The difference was he was still the No. 1 receiver in Carolina, and he's at best No. 3 in Baltimore behind Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta. We have minimal expectations for Smith, and he might not get drafted in the majority of leagues.

James Jones, Raiders

Former team: Packers
Why he left: Free agent
Fantasy value before move: No. 3 receiver
Fantasy value now: Reserve
Confidence Factor: 3
We'll find out if Jones is a product of a great offense and great quarterback or if he's a standout on his own. He leaves Aaron Rodgers and the explosive Packers system for Schaub and the Raiders. He once scored 14 touchdowns in 2012, but he's never had more than 65 catches or 820 yards in a year. I'm expecting him to struggle and don't plan on drafting him in any leagues.

Other moves of note ...

Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys to Browns: Desperate Gordon replacement.
Jason Avant, WR, Eagles to Panthers: Carolina needs receiver help.
Kenny Britt, WR, Titans to Rams: Hoping for a career revival.
Andre Brown, RB, Giants to Texans: Will back up Arian Foster.
Bryce Brown, RB, Eagles to Bills: Could make an impact in 2015.
Nate Burleson, WR, Lions to Browns: See Miles Austin.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Steelers to Panthers: See Jason Avant.
Owen Daniels, TE, Texans to Ravens: Sticking with Gary Kubiak.
Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Steelers to Cardinals: Sleeper if beats out Stepfan Taylor.
Andrew Hawkins, WR, Bengals to Browns: Sneaky PPR sleeper.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers to Patriots: Still a shaky Fantasy option.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots to 49ers: See Kenny Britt.
Dexter McCluster, RB, Chiefs to Titans: Could be this year's Danny Woodhead.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints to Steelers: Loses value leaving Drew Brees.
Andre Roberts, WR, Cardinals to Redskins: A role player for Redskins.
Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers to Bills: Should start opposite Sammy Watkins.

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Player News
Chargers OLB Melvin Ingram sheds 20 pounds
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:50 am ET) Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram is sporting a different body these days.

During the offseason, Ingram changed his eating habits and dropped 20 pounds — going from 266 to 246. Ingram stopped eating beef and pork, electing to consume chicken, fish, vegetables, fruit and rice. He's no longer eating breads, pastas or potatoes either. 

"Being at 260 or 265, 266, wasn't working, really," Ingram told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I felt quick but I kept getting injured. You've got to nitpick at your own body, your own self, your own game. ... I felt like playing lighter would be a better thing for me. The lighter you are, the less stress it is on your body, the less stress it is on your knees, your hips, your joints or your ankles, your toes — everything."

Ingram now only has a body fat of eight percent and underwent a new training program while away in Miami. Now, Ingram said he feels ready to show what he can do on the football field this season. 

"I feel it's going to be a whole different explosion, a whole different Melvin," Ingram said. "I feel like that 260-Melvin is gone."


Report: Tom Brady appeal won't be heard by Wednesday
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/25/2015) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's appeal won't be heard by Wednesday, the Associated Press reported, citing sources. 

Brady is appealing his four-game suspension as a result of the investigation into deflated footballs prior to the AFC Championship Game. 

The NFL collective bargaining agreement requires appeals to be heard within 10 days, a window that expires on Wednesday. As of Monday, no hearing had been scheduled. 

Appeals can be heard after the 10-day window, if the league and players union agree to extend the deadline, which is likely to occur in the Brady case. 


Falcons could be without Beasley, Reed when OTAs start
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/25/2015) The Falcons could be without two key components of their defense when OTAs start this week.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter, first-round pick Vic Beasley and free-agent signee Brooks Reed may not be present when voluntary practices kick off.

Beasley has yet to sign his rookie contract, which could keep him away from the team's facility. Reed is dealing with a groin injury that could keep off of the practice field.

Reed's absence is understandable due to to it being an injury. Beasley, however, is a different issue since there is little to negotiate due to the rookie wage scale. 

The remaining draft picks the Falcons selected have signed. 


Bears release troubled DT Ray McDonald after second arrest
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/25/2015) The Bears have announced that they have released troubled defensive tackle Ray McDonald, the Chicago Tribune has reported.

McDonald was arrested in California for domestic violence and child endangerment. It marked his second arrest in six months. He received the same fate in December for sexual assault and domestic violence before signing with the Bears in the offseason.

The 30-year-old McDonald has been a full-time starter in the NFL since 2008. He was an All-Pro in 2011.


Chargers S Eric Weddle not expected to attend OTAs
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(5/25/2015) Chargers safety Eric Weddle is not expected to attend Tuesday's start of offseason training activities as he and the team remain far apart on talks for a contract extension, per NFL.com. 

Weddle is in the final season of his deal, but has been extremely vocal about his desire to have a new contract in place before taking part in team activities. Weddle contributed to 114 tackles last season and has averaged 103 over his last seven years.

While attendance is voluntary, Weddle's absence could mark the start of a long stalemate between the parties. 


Broncos' Tevrin Brandon hit by car, suffers minor injuries
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/25/2015) Broncos cornerback Tevrin Brandon was hospitalized on Sunday after getting hit by the car while crossing the street, the team confirmed to the Denver Post.

Police believe that Brandon was struck by a Ford F-150 pickup in Belmar, New Jersey. The driver then fled the scene. 

Brandon suffered minor injuries and was relesaed from the hospital after a brief stay. He's expected to participate in Broncos' OTAs, which start on Wednesday. 


Report: Bears DT Ray McDonald arrested for domestic violence
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(5/25/2015) According to NBC Bay Area reporter Damian Trujillo, Bears defensive tackle Ray McDonald has been arrested for domestic violence and possible child endangerment in California. No other information has been made available.

McDonald, who was released by the 49ers last December after being arrested in the second of separate sexual assualt and domestic violence cases, signed with the Bears in the offseason and said he was planning to sue the accuser in one of his sexual assault charges. 


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."


 
 
 
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