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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
Eagles CB Byron Maxwell guarantees trip to Super Bowl 50
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:40 pm ET) Eagles cornerback Byron Maxwell knows what it takes to make a Super Bowl run, he's appeared in two straight as a key member of the vaunted Seahawks defense.

Now, Maxwell is confident the Eagles will make a run to the big game and he will make his third consecutive appearance, per NFL.com.

"Because I've been there before," Maxwell said. "Knowing what it's like if we go that far. Because we're gonna go that far this year, meaning the playoffs and the Super Bowl. We're gonna go that far. Hopefully that experience I already had, I can help them."

The Eagles haven't made a Super Bowl since their 24-21 loss to the Patriots in 2004, but Maxwell didn't backtrack with his comments.

"You can take that as a guarantee," he said. "That's just me believing in my team and the product we're going to put out there on the field. I really do believe that. I have no choice but to think that way."

Maxwell, who signed a six-year, $60 million deal with the Eagles this offseason, recorded 39 tackles and two interceptions in 13 games last season.


Report: QB Matt Simms asked for release from Jets
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:35 pm ET) Third-year quarterback Matt Simms asked for his release from the Jets on Thursday, a source close to the situation told The Record.

Simms, who had no comment when reached, apparently saw little future with that team when it selected Bryce Petty in the draft. He wanted to test the free agent market before mandatory minicamps began in June. If he clears waivers, he can sign with any team.

The 26-year-old Simms has played in just four career games with a poor 48.7 completion rate.


Eagles' Sanchez on QB competition: 'Everybody wants to be the starter'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:24 pm ET) The Eagles have a quarterback competition on their hands, and Mark Sanchez is making it clear he wants to be the starter, per NFL.com.

"Everybody wants to be the starter and I'm no different," Sanchez said.

Coach Chip Kelly has said that Sanchez and Sam Bradford will compete for the starting spot and that the best player will be behind center for the start of the season.

“Everybody’s in competition,” Kelly said, per ESPN.com, “and the best players play.”

Sanchez played in nine games for the Eagles last season, passing for 2,418 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Bradford missed all of last season due to an ACL tear.


Former Jet Garrard: Geno Smith too 'worried about outside noise'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:14 pm ET) Jets quarterback Geno Smith has had a tumultous start to his career, to say the least. In his first two years in the league, Smith has underperformed while consistently turning the ball over.

Former Jets quarterback and backup to Smith, David Garrard says he knows why Smith has struggled to live up to the hype he had coming out of West Virginia, per ESPN.com.

"I definitely think Geno has the ability to be a pretty good quarterback. I just think sometimes he’s worried about the outside noise," Garrard said. "He’s worried about what his teammates think, what his coaches think, what the media thinks, what the fans think and he’s not just concentrating on his game and just making the plays that he should be making. You can see a lot of times in practice and in the meeting room, he’s spot on; he knows exactly what to do. But he has moments where he’s not doing that."

Smith threw for 2,525 yards with 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 14 games last season.


Titans DT DaQuan Jones 'happy' to be named starter
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(11:51 am ET) Titans defensive tackle DaQuan Jones just got a promotion, and like anyone would be, he's happy about it, The Tennessean reports.

Jones is eager to showcase why he deserves his starting role, but he's also very aware that the season is a long ways ahead and anything can happen between now and then.

"I'm happy to go into the (OTAs) as a starter, but I know that nothing is set in stone and I know there's plenty of competition for that job," said Jones. "So now I'm just trying to make the most of my opportunity."

Jones, a fourth-round pick last season, played sparingly in the beginning of his rookie year -- appearing in just four of the team's first 13 games. He improved toward the end of the season and got his first start during the last game of the year against the Colts. Jones said he wants to continue to improve and show he can be a force on the defensive line.

"Right now I'm trying to work a lot on my base technique, trying to shed blocks faster and make plays," Jones said. "I'm trying to go into the season and be a playmaker."


Ravens rookie Za'Darius Smith impressive thus far in OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(11:37 am ET) Ravens rookie linebacker Za'Darius Smith is wasting no time making a splash and impressing his coaches at organized team activities, per The Baltimore Sun.

Smith picked off a Matt Schaub pass and took it back for a touchdown, showcasing his instincts and play-making ability.

"He's a good fit for our defense, so I'm excited about seeing how he does," Coach John Harbaugh said. "This is like all those guys. Once we get the pads on, we'll know a lot more. But so far so good."

Smith recorded 61 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks as a senior at Kentucky.


Eagles coach Chip Kelly: 'Everybody's in competition' for QB spot
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(11:10 am ET) Eagles coach Chip Kelly said Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez will actively compete for the top quarterback spot this season, per ESPN.com.

“Everybody’s in competition,” Kelly said, “and the best players play.”

Sanchez played in nine games for the Eagles last season, passing for 2,418 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Bradford missed all of last season due to an ACL tear.


Ravens DE Timmy Jernigan on replacing Ngata: 'Big shoes to fill'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(10:50 am ET) When the Ravens traded away Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata it shocked a lot of people, including defensive end Timmy Jernigan, according to NFL.com.

Jernigan will play a huge role as Ngata's replacement this upcoming season. 

"It's definitely something I've been waiting for for a long time," Jernigan said. "I've known I'm more than capable of doing the job. Now it's just a point of proving it. Last year, I showed flashes. You've got to be able to do it consistently day in and day out. It's huge shoes to fill."

Jernigan recorded 23 tackles and four sacks last season in 12 games as a rookie.


Ravens WR Steve Smith: 'I will not be playing until I'm 40'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(10:32 am ET) Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith has other things to do outside of the gridiron, and the 36-year-old has no plans on still being in pads when he's 40, per NFL.com.

Smith was asked this week if he had any desire to play into his 40s like the great Jerry Rice.

"Jerry Rice is obviously the greatest wide receiver to ever play, and I really don't have the family structure to chase 40, to be honest," Smith said. "I have got a lot of things on my to-do list that don't have anything to do with football. I'm going to take it day-by-day, but I will not be playing until I'm 40."

Smith, who's heading into his 15th NFL season, caught 79 passes for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns last season.


Bengals' Jeremy Hill expects balance attack with Giovani Bernard
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(10:20 am ET) The Bengals have weapons at the running back position. With Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, the team has a pair of more than capable rushers at its disposal.

It seems as if the Bengals are going to use both of them as much as possible, per ESPN.com.

"Obviously there's going to be a balanced attack," Hill said. "I don't think he's got to wear either one of us out, so that way we can make it through all 16 games for a playoff push."

Hill rushed for 1,124 yards and nine touchdowns last season as a rookie, while injuries limited Bernard to 680 yards and five touchdowns. The duo plans on coming back even stronger next season.

"We want to lift ourselves to the next level and earn the respect of this league," Hill said. "We have the guys in the [running back] room to do that."


 
 
 
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