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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
Bears sign DE Austen Lane
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) The Bears have signed defensive end Austen Lane, Pro Football Talk reports.

Lane will fill the roster spot of defensive end Willie Young, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Lane was with the Bears during the preseason but didn't survive the final cuts. He's managed three sacks in 30 career games.


Cardinals' Thomas starts practice 'shaky,' finishes 'pretty strong'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians indicated that Week 17 starting quarterback Logan Thomas was "shaky" at the beginning of Wednesday's practice but finished "pretty strong" as he developed an understanding of where to throw his passes, ESPN.com reports.

"He's worked, fundamentally, extremely hard and gotten much better," Arians said. "But putting those fundamentals to use in the offense, that's two totally different things."

Thomas has just three days of practice before facing the 49ers in a game that has the possibility of landing his team with a first-round bye with a win and help from other results.

"It wasn't the greatest, but as it went on, it got better and better," Thomas added. "It just comes with reps and comes with time."

The Cardinals are a 6-point underdog in San Francisco Sunday.


Seahawks' Russell Okung, Max Unger practice Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung (lung) practiced in full Wednesday, while center Max Unger (ankle) was able to return to practice in a limited fashion.

Okung is on track to return in Week 17 after missing last week's game with a bruised lung. Unger hasn't played in any of the team's last five game due to a high ankle sprain. The Seahawks will earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win Sunday, and it's possible Unger suits up for the crucial game.

The Seahawks are a 12 1/2-point favorite at home against the Rams in Week 17.


Raiders QB Derek Carr practices Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was able to practice Wednesday despite dealing with an illness.

"I got here early to work out and see how I would feel during that and after that and I felt pretty good," Carr said at a press conference Wednesday. "So, felt good at practice today, obviously not 100 percent but it felt good to practice and be out here."

Carr has been able to start every game for the Raiders this season, completing 58.6 percent of his passes while racking up 3,112 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Raiders are a 14-point underdog in Denver in Week 17.


Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman practices in full Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman was able to practice in full Wednesday for the first time since suffering a left foot injury on Nov. 9, ESPN.com reports.

"We've had a chance to watch him all week, participate and he's obviously further ahead than he was this time a week ago," head coach John Fox said after Wednesday's practice. "And the fact we're on grass, not on Astroturf, lot of variables, but I like what I see."

Hillman has been able to practice in a limited fashion during the last two weeks but hasn't been active on gameday since the injury occured. The Broncos are a 14-point favorite at home against the Raiders in Week 17.


Falcons RB Steven Jackson (quad) expected to miss Week 17
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Falcons running back Steven Jackson (quad) is not expected to play in Sunday's Week 17 matchup with the Panthers, ESPN.com reports.

Jackson missed practice Wednesday and the team promoted running back Jerome Smith from the practice squad. Jacquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman are expected to share the workload in the critical regular-season finale if Jackson is indeed sidelined.

The Falcons are a 4-point favorite at home against the Panthers.


49ers RB Carlos Hyde still sidelined
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) 49ers rookie running back Carlos Hyde missed practice again Wednesday with an ankle injury. He sat out Week 16 and appears likely to miss Sunday's game against Arizona, too.

With Hyde out, veteran Frank Gore went off for 158 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries against San Diego. Gore should see another big workload against the Cardinals.


Michael Crabtree doesn't sound eager to return to 49ers
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Impending free-agent receiver Michael Crabtree was asked Wednesday if he wants to return to the 49ers next season. "It depends," Crabtree said, per the San Francisco Chronicle. "I don't even want to talk about it."

Crabtree is finishing up a disappointing season. He's played every game but has only 64 catches for 657 yards and four touchdowns, a far cry from the 85 grabs, 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns he put up in his last full season, 2012.


Ravens LT Eugene Monroe bothered by ankle injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Ravens starting left tackle Eugene Monroe, who hurt his ankle Week 16 against Houston, missed practice Wednesday, reports ESPN.com. His status is uncertain for the regular-season finale at Tennessee.

If Monroe can't play, undrafted rookie James Hurst likely would start, the website said.


Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (shoulder) unable to practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe, who sprained his shoulder in last week's loss at Pittsburgh, was unable to practice Wednesday, reports ESPN.com. Bowe leads Chiefs wideouts with 57 catches for 724 yards.

Kansas City hosts San Diego on Sunday as a 3-point favorite.


 
 
 
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