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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
Texans' O'Brien: WR DeAndre Hopkins can 'be one of the best'
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is very encouraged by the performance of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last season, per ESPN. O'Brien went as far as to say that Hopkins can be one of the best.

"He had a really productive year," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "The thing that we really like about Hop and that we want him to continue to do is his work ethic. He’s a hungry player. He works every single day. He came into the spring a year ago and he was learning the offense and thinking out there, then all of a sudden you could see all the work he put in and learning, he just took off."

Due to the departure of wide receiver Andre Johnson, the progression of Hopkins will be under the microscope as he is now the focal point of the passing offense.

"We just want to see him continue and progress," O'Brien said. "We think he can be one of the best, we think he is one of the best. We have a lot of confidence in him and we’re looking forward to seeing him progress when the offseason program starts."

In two years with the Texans, Hopkins has reeled in 128 receptions for 2012 yards and eight touchdowns.


Giants won't rush WR Victor Cruz back to the field
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:12 am ET) Although Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is hopeful that wide receiver Victor Cruz will be ready by training camp, the team will not rush him back, reports ESPN.

"I shouldn't say this, because medically I really don't have a definite answer, but by training camp hopefully, even if it's just to bring him," Coughlin said. "We're not going to just throw him to the wind. He'll work his way through. But I hope that would be the target."

Cruz tore his patellar tendon in week six of the 2014 season, causing him to miss the rest of the year. Coughlin is hopeful that he'll return to be the player that he was before the injury.

"I think he'll be the player that he was, and hopefully better," Coughlin said of Cruz. "But as far as when, I would be careful of what I would say there. Hopefully it's the first game. But if it isn't, you know we've done that one before. We just went through it. But I'm hoping it would be."

The former undrafted free agent has tallied 264 receptions for 3,963 yards and 24 touchdowns.


Lions QB Matthew Stafford to take more chances through the air
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's system for the first time last season. The team plans on taking more chances down the field in Stafford's second season in the new offense, Lombardi said, according to the team's official website.

“In his second year (in the offense) he’s going to be that much more comfortable,” Lombardi said.

“We’ll be able to tailor the offense a little bit more to what he likes and what he’s good at. I thought he played smart football and sometimes to a fault. We’ll look for him to maybe take a few more chances this year with the football.”

Although Stafford didn't take many shots down the field, he did throw a career-low 12 interceptions in 2014. 

The former first overall draft pick has thrown for 21,714 yards with 131 touchdowns and 85 interceptions during his six-year career.


Colts OLB Robert Mathis plans to be ready for training camp
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is not ready to run yet, he told Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL. Mathis added that he plans to be ready for the start of training camp.

“It’s not going as fast as I would like to, but we are getting well and we should be clicking in camp,” Mathis told Sirius.

Mathis was suspended for the first four games of last season due to violating the league's substance abuse policy. He then suffered a torn achilles, forcing him to miss all 16 games of the 2014 season.

During his 11-year career with the Colts, Mathis has collected 487 total tackles, 111.0 sacks, 15 passes defensed and 48 forced fumbles.


Lions TE Eric Ebron has been working out with Matthew Stafford
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said that tight end Eric Ebron has been working out with quarterback Matthew Stafford in Atlanta this offseason, reports the Detroit News. Lombardi also said that the plan is to have Ebron be the No. 3 weapon in the passing game this year.

Ebron, 21, finished his rookie season with 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown. 


Cowboys' Tony Romo: DeMarco Murray asked me to take a pay cut
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Eagles running back DeMarco Murray was really hoping to remain with the Cowboys this offseason. So much so, he asked quarterback Tony Romo to take a pay cut to remain with the team, Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, per the Dallas Morning News.

"DeMarco ended up asking me, 'Why don't you take a pay cut?' I said, 'I will. I would take a pay cut to go do this,'" Romo said. "I was like, 'They're going to restructure me.' That's the same thing in some ways, just for the salary cap purposes. He was like, 'OK, now we're back to being friends again.' I would take $5 million less if meant getting him back.

"He knew that. It was just funny how he was literally worried about that part of it for a week. I'm like, 'That's not the reason.' I'm like, 'Obviously I'll restructure. I would even take a pay cut.' He was like, 'OK, we can be friends again.' It's amazing what you think about in those moments."


Giants QB Eli Manning wants to take offense 'to another level'
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Giants quarterback Eli Manning is entering the second year in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system. Manning is ready to take the next step now that he is familiar with the system, reports the NY Daily News.

““This year will be a much easier transition, knowing that we have been through so much of it already,” said Manning, who recently had been working out at Ole Miss with some of their receivers and alumni. “It’s definitely a different starting point. I feel good about it. I feel that I have a good understanding of it.

“But there is still room to grow and that is why I try to keep it as fresh in my mind as possible. Looking at old game-plan sheets and calling plays in my head – throwing routes with receivers trying to call out plays to myself, so you don’t let it slip away. It was new last year and it wasn’t something I have been doing for 10 years, so you want to keep it fresh and go through your reminders and all your checks. So when we come back I haven’t taken a step backwards and have to re-learn things. It is still all there. There will be new stuff and we will be taking it to another level.”

Manning has started all 16 games in each season since 2005, throwing for 39,755 yards with 259 touchdowns and 185 interceptions.


Saints TE Josh Hill wants to grow into new role
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) After trading trading Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks, tight end Josh Hill is ready to step into his new role with the Saints, according to the team's offical website.

“I think it might open a few opportunities for me as I continue to grow in my role and just do everything they ask me to do,” Hill said when asked about the trade of Graham to the Seahawks.

Hill recognized that Graham helped him transition from college to the professional level.

“It’s a big difference, especially coming from a smaller school and a smaller city," Hill said. "He was always there for me. We became pretty good friends over the past few years so it will definitely be different without him.”

Head coach Sean Payton believes that Hill is ready to step up.

“Josh Hill is a player that we value a lot," Payton said last week at the NFL annual meeting. "He’s not on anyone’s fantasy first three rounds, I promise you, but he’s a real good tight end. He’s versatile in the running game, in the pass receiving game, a special teams player.”

Hill, heading into his third year in the NFL, has recorded 20 receptions for 220 yards and six touchdowns. 


Cowboys QB Tony Romo excited about this offseason
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is excited about what the offseason holds for him, according to ESPN.

“This is the first offseason where I’ve been able to kind of get after it this early and be able to kind of improve in a lot of different areas that I think you aren’t able to until you get healthy enough to attack it,” Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday. “I’m just excited about that, really.”

Romo, 34, is encouraged by the fact that he is able to do a lot of different things during the offseason process while working out.

“Now I’m able to do that while actually doing functional strength training through different versions of squats,” Romo said. “I’m not putting anything on my back and doing stuff like that but you are doing a lot of single-leg stuff and different things that I started getting into during the season that helped a lot. Now it’s nice to be able to do that in the offseason.”

Romo has thrown for 33,270 yards with 242 touchdowns and 110 interceptions in his 12-year career. 


WR Dwayne Bowe looks to revitalize himself with Browns
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is looking to revitalize his career now that he has joined the Browns, reports ESPN. Bowe was cut by the Chiefs in the middle of March.

"I have a chance to revitalize myself," Bowe, 30, told ESPN.com via telephone Tuesday. "Just sit back and watch."

Browns general manager Ray Farmer has familiarity with Bowe from their time with the Chiefs. The two sat down and watched tape from the 2010 season when he racked up 15 touchdown receptions.

"Him knowing what I can do, seeing me in practice, making crazy plays, splitting the safeties, he knows I still can do that," Bowe said. "I couldn't showcase that last year. He was pulling up old plays, saying, 'We are going to use you just like that.' Moving around, going on motion, trying to hit the deep ball, trying to break plays."

The 30-year-old wideout appreciated his time with the Chiefs and he has no regrets.

"It's been up and down, but it's been fun," Bowe said. "I don't regret nothing. People can talk about the NFL and playing wide receiver -- I feel I still have a good four more years in me."

Over his eight-year career, he has totaled 532 receptions for 7,155 yards and 44 touchdowns.


 
 
 
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