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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
Are we really doubting Russell Wilson still?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(3:52 pm ET) Coming off the best game of his life (at least from a statistical standpoint), Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is started in only 67 percent of CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues. Is that a problem to anyone else?

In case you haven't noticed, the Seahawks haven't been as dominant defensively this year, which has made Wilson's performance more critical to their success. The result is better numbers for the third-year passer. He's contributed at least two touchdowns in every game but one, and that one was sandwiched between two three-touchdown games, including Week 7.

In those three-touchdown games, Wilson also rushed for more than 100 yards, leading to some monster production that has made him the fifth-best quarterback in standard CBSSports.com leagues to date.

So he's consistent and has a high ceiling from week to week. So ... what's the deal, then? Certainly it's not the matchup steering you away from him in Week 8. The hosting Panthers have allowed the sixth-most Fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season and rank 22nd against the pass, giving up 250.7 yards per game.


Jaguars coach: Robinson featured in Week 8 over Gerhart
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:42 pm ET) Gus Bradley has announced that Week 7 breakout back Denard Robinson will receive the bulk of the carries for the Jaguars in Week 8 against Miami, per the Florida Times-Union. Toby Gerhart, who returns from injury with a 2.6 YPC average, will serve as his backup.

The former Michigan quarterback exploded for 127 yards on 22 carries and added three receptions Sunday against Cleveland. It marked his first double-figure attempt day in the NFL.

Gerhart appears set to play after missing two games with a foot sprain.


Panthers expecting Byron Bell to play Week 8
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:35 pm ET) Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Thursday he anticipates offensive lineman Byron Bell playing Week 8 against the Seahawks. Bell was limited in practice Thursday for a second straight day due to an elbow injury.

Panthers' Rivera hopeful DeAngelo Williams will be back Week 9
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:31 pm ET) Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams did not practice Thursday due to a lingering ankle injury and it appears likely he will miss a fourth straight game Week 8 vs. Seattle. However, coach Ron Rivera said he is hopeful Williams will make his return to the lineup next Thursday (Week 9) against the Saints.

Ahmad Bradshaw more attractive than usual?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(3:29 pm ET) Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both really like Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw for Week 8 at Pittsburgh, ranking him among their top 12 at the position. And based strictly on performance, you can understand why. Bradshaw had his second two-touchdown game Week 7 against Cincinnati and has at least one touchdown in five of seven games this season.

But because he's the slightly lesser half (in terms of playing time) of a backfield platoon with Trent Richardson, I always worry about his lack of touches. He's been the sixth-best running back in standard CBSSports.com leagues to date, so maybe those worries are unfounded. But what can I say? I'm a worrier.

I'm fully on board with him this week, though. It's not so much about the matchup, though the Steelers rank only 17th against the run, allowing 114.1 yards per game. It's more about Richardson's health. On his way to a season-best 118 yards from scrimmage, Richardson also hurt his hamstring in Week 7. And though he was expected back at practice Thursday, it's not so unreasonable to think he'll be the lesser half of the platoon even if he's cleared to play in Week 8.

And more touches can only be a good thing for Bradshaw, right?


Panthers OL Nate Chandler (thigh) should be able to play Week 8
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:26 pm ET) Panthers offensive tackle Nate Chandler did not practice Thursday due to a thigh injury. However, coach Ron Rivera is confident Chandler will be able to play Week 8 against the Seahawks.

Redskins QB situation unchanged, Colt McCoy still Week 8 starter
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:18 pm ET) Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Thursday nothing has changed with the status of the quarterback situation. He said Robert Griffin III (ankle) is progressing and was limited in practice again Thursday, but Colt McCoy remains as of now the starter for Week 8 against the Cowboys.

"Robert hasn't changed. Not a whole lot to say. Not going to announce if he's active or not until Monday night," Gruden said, per The Washington Post.

Gruden reiterated Griffin will slide back into the starter's role once he is healthy. Griffin has missed the last five games.

"When Robert's healthy, he'll be the starter. We just don't know when that will be," Gruden said.


Whisenhunt claims Titans QB Locker handling demotion well
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:11 pm ET) Ken Whisenhunt has admitted that deposed Titans starting quarterback Jake Locker is unhappy about losing his job to rookie Zach Mettenberger.

Whisenhunt, however, told The Tennesseean that Locker is handling the news well. "I love Jake Locker," Whisenhunt added.

Locker has missed three games this season due to injury and has been unimpressive when on the field. He has completed just 58 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and four interceptions.


Tre Mason still an iffy start
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(3:01 pm ET) Even if you don't buy coach Jeff Fisher's assessment that the Rams' running back situation is a "week-to-week thing" and that ousted running back Zac Stacy "could get 25 carries this week," it doesn't change the fact that he said it, and he's the only who really knows anything. 

That concerns me as someone who put in a big bid for Tre Mason in Fantasy this week. When Mason ran for 85 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries against Seattle in Week 7, it wasn't just a breakthrough performance for him. It was also the best individual rushing performance the Rams have had all season. And Stacy is largely to blame for that. His longest run in five games this season was a 16-yarder Week 3 against Dallas. Mason in two games already has two runs longer than that.

The matchup Week 8 at Kansas City isn't a slam dunk. The Chiefs rank in the middle of the pack against the run, but because they have yet to allow a touchdown on the ground, they've allowed the sixth-fewest Fantasy points per game to running backs. It wouldn't be enough to scare me away from Mason if I could trust he has a feature role, but with Fisher getting cute about it, I can't.

Since Mason appears to be the Rams' best rusher, I think he will eventually, but Mason seems like a better stash than start except in an emergency right now.


Titans coach proclaims QB Mettenberger his Sunday starter
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:52 pm ET) What was suspected is now official: Zach Mettenberger is set to start at quarterback for the Titans against Houston on Sunday. Jake Locker will serve as his backup.

That news was announced Thursday by Ken Whisenhunt. Locker had been dealing with a thumb injury and Whisenhunt had previously claimed he would regain the starting position when healthy. But his apparent availability to play against the Texans could mean that Mettenberger has overtaken him.

Also in the mix had been veteran Charlie Whitehurst, who started in Locker's absence and completed 60.2 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and two interceptions.

Mettenberger played briefly in Week 4 at Indianapolis and connected on two of five attempts for 17 yards while throwing an interception.


 
 
 
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