Hey football fans! The NFL offseason can be hard to keep up with. Players changing teams, signing new contracts and in some cases getting replaced by younger or better players. No worries, Dad Kingdom is here to get you up to speed! We’re going to keep the analysis pretty brief. This is meant for folks who have checked out from football for the past 4 months and need a comprehensive look at the fantasy-relevant facts heading into the preseason. Enjoy Part 1 covering all the AFC teams and check back soon for the second half.
Not much to report in Baltimore (bad news for loyal fans). Kyle Juszczyk (one of the better full backs in the league) left Baltimore for San Francisco. Tough-as-nails veteran Steve Smith retired, leaving a dearth of talent for Joe Flacco to work with. Terrance West seems to be the starting RB and WR Mike Wallace will be looking to build off a 1,000-yard 2016 season.
As far as the 2017 draft goes, the Ravens went ALL defense. Not a single offensive skill player. So, not much fantasy impact there – except that their D/ST might get a slight bump.
The Bills started the offseason by letting RB Mike Gillislee walk, leaving Jonathan Williams as the primary backup. LeSean McCoy should be a top 10 RB again next season. If they need more depth, a lot of quality running backs – including TD-darling LaGarrette Blount, DeAngelo Williams and the great Jamaal Charles – remain unsigned. Eventually those dominoes will start falling into place.
If the Bills want to air it out, Tyrod Taylor won’t have much choice but to zero-in on Sammy Watkins. There’s a chance that 2nd round pick Zay Jones could earn some targets. But, he’s unlikely to pull double teams off of Watkins.
The Bengals have had a puzzling NFL offseason. They let a few lineman walk in free agency and didn’t make any notable signings. Then, instead of addressing glaring offensive line needs in the draft, they opted to focus on skill positions. Hopefully the line can give Dalton enough time to find A.J. Green.
WR John Ross (1st round) is a talented but oft-injured player. If he plays well, he could put a dagger in the fantasy value of fellow Cincy WRs LaFell and Boyd. AJ Green has nothing to worry about. In the 2nd round, RB Joe Mixon was a curious draft pick. He’s a huge character risk and the Bengals are already loaded at the position. It adds a dusting of uncertainty to the fantasy value of RBs Hill and Bernard.
Everyone loves to talk about the Browns! When NFL offseason began, they left many people scratching their heads; They picked up Brock Osweiler‘s terrible-no-good-very-bad contract from the Texans. But, it might pay off in the long run. (How many times have we said that about the Browns…) 2nd round pick DeShone Kizer will eventually have the opportunity to earn the starting quarterback gig. In the meantime, Cody Kessler might get a few starts.
With the mess at QB, it’s hard to feel great about any of their receivers, whether it’s veteran Kenny Britt, youngster Corey Coleman or new TE David Njoku. Other than that, Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson return as the lead backs. Crowell will get fed next season.
Not much has changed for the Broncos this offseason and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Paxton Lynch continues to develop behind QB Trevor Siemian, C.J. Anderson is the lead back and Thomas/Sanders form one of the better WR tandems in the league. 3rd round pick WR Carlos Henderson is worth keeping an eye on, but he won’t be stealing targets any time soon.
As it has been recently, the Denver defense should be a force to be reckoned with again next season.
Now things are getting interesting. One of the highlights of the NFL offseason was when the Texans dumped Brock Osweiler. For a month or so, the Texans were left with only Tom Savage at quarterback. Now the pieces seem to be falling into place after they traded up to draft Deshaun Watson (boy, did it cost them). Watson is an instant upgrade for DeAndre Hopkins and Lamar Miller and the Texans’ other weapons. Although, Miller better watch out for 3rd round pick RB D’Onta Foreman, he’s a beast.
I was shocked when the Colts didn’t jump on the chance to replace aging RB Frank Gore with stud Dalvin Cook in the 1st round of the draft. Oh well, focusing on defense is probably a wise move considering how bad they’ve been on that side of the ball. Maybe their defense won’t be such a doormat and maybe they’ll pick up one of the quality RBs still unemployed.
Status quo on offense for the Colts. As long as Andrew Luck is on top of his game, Hilton and Moncrief should terrorize opposing secondaries next season.
I really thought the Jags would take a step forward on defense last season (wrong). It didn’t help that Bortles and the offense as a whole was terrible. They traded away Julius Thomas for a song, putting more pressure on the two Allens to produce.
As far as the running game is concerned, 4th overall pick Leonard Fournette is obviously an incredible force on the field, but he won’t solve the Jaguars’ problems and he won’t be the most valuable fantasy rookie. Fellow backs Yeldon and Ivory were almost undraftable before the 2017 Draft, and now that “almost” is gone.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
One of the bigger stories in the 2017 NFL offseasn is that the Chiefs have let Jamaal Charles walk. Too many injuries… 3rd round pick RB Kareem Hunt might have a chance to take command of the backfield, but for now Spencer Ware is the main man. I like him in fantasy drafts this summer.
The Chiefs also drafted QB Patrick Mahomes, but he’s very unlikely to see playing time in 2017. Travis Kelce remains the “receiver” with the most fantasy value and their defense should be one of the first few defenses chosen in most drafts.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
All these teams moving to Los Angeles was not handled well, and neither were their graphic designs. But, politics and business aside, the Chargers have fairly fertile soil for fantasy football as long as Philip Rivers is at the helm. Keenan Allen has abundant potential, but if he can’t stay healthy, 1st round rookie WR Mike Williams will be there to take advantage. RB Melvin Gordon came into his own last year and a couple new offensive lineman should help maintain that trend. Also, TE Hunter Henry is certainly a player on the rise. (Antonio Gates, who?)
TE Julius Thomas is the most prominent free agent for the Dolphins on offense. He joins a stable of talented young receivers. With all those weapons and the emergence of RB Jay Ajayi, QB Ryan Tannehill has no excuses. In the draft, Miami focused mainly on defense which could make their DST more fantasy-relevant in 2017.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Usually the NFL offseason features the Patriots stockpiling draft picks. Not this year! The Pats gave up a haul of draft picks to acquire WR Brandin Cooks. From a talent perspective (not accounting for offense familiarity) Cooks should be the Patriots’ #1 WR next season! Obviously, Edelman will still be a factor.
The Pats also made some big moves at running back. Despite his terrific production, LeGarrette Blount is gone. They added former-Bengal Rex Burkhead, then they signed former-Bill Mike Gillislee. Combined with playoff standout James White and is-he-100% Dion Lewis, and you’ve got a stacked backfield. But, that’s a bad thing for fantasy football projections.
Even after all that action, they might not be done. Will they trade Jimmy Garoppolo? It wouldn’t surprise at all. In other fantasy news, TE Martellus Bennett left New England to join the Packers.
NEW YORK JETS
The Jets’ offense is in piss-poor shape. Josh McCown appears to be the starting QB, Brandon Marshall left to play for the “other” New York team and their offensive draft picks don’t jump off the page either. RB Matt Forte and WR Eric Decker will have a few big games, but consistency will be hard to find.
This NFL offseason brought quite the shakeup in Oakland! RB Latavius Murray has big shoes to fill in Minnesota. In his place, the Raiders seem to have coaxed Marshawn Lynch out of retirement! I’m shocked to say the least. (DeAndre Washington will still be the backup RB.)
Cooper and Crabtree are still the main receivers, but former-Packer TE Jared Cook has arrived to catch passes from Derek Carr too. But, I don’t see much fantasy value for Cook.
All that said, their offense was not a problem in 2016; One of the best, actually. Their defense was the Achilles’ heel. So, it’s fitting that they spent all their early draft picks on defense.
The Steelers didn’t do much in free agency (as far as fantasy football players are concerned), but they had a busy draft weekend. Rookie WR JuJu Smith-Schuster will compete with newly-reinstated Martavis Bryant for targets opposite All-World WR Antonio Brown. I’m also interested to see if TE Jesse James can build on his 2016 success.
Le’Veon Bell is still the main dude at RB. But, the backup spot will be a battle between veteran Knile Davis and rookie James Conner. My money is on Conner.
Finally, the last AFC team in our NFL offseason recap is Tennessee. Some good action here. First, the Titans finally realized that WR Kendall Wright wasn’t working out. He gone. Taking his locker is stud rookie and 1st round pick Corey Davis. Look for Davis to make an impact immediately. The other WRs – Sharpe and Matthews – are good but not great. Davis, plus continuity at the other offensive positions should help QB Marcus Mariota flourish in 2017.
Well, that does it for the first half of Dad Kingdom’s NFL offseason recap. I hope it was informative and time-saving. Only a few months left until football returns. Hang in there!