July 21, 2016 | Chet
(Editor’s Note: Below we have Stephen Logsdon’s entry that came in second for the first round of the writing contest)
You’ve been working at your job for the past five years.
You like the area you live in, you like the people you work with, and the company is viewed as one of the top organizations in the country. You like it there, you’re comfortable, but you’d like to get that promotion soon. You just don’t want to be stuck in the same job forever.
Another company approaches you in the spring with a potential opportunity. Not only are they going to offer you that promotion you’ve been seeking the last couple years but they’re going to double your salary! They want you to be the head of their division and improve their company to eventually be as great as your current one. Sounds like a heck of an opportunity but what’s the catch, right?
You’re going to a company that’s not as successful, the city is a bit colder than you’d like and none of your friends or family lives there. Your current company says they’ll bump your pay by only 10% but they can’t give you a promotion any time soon. It may be another three or four years before they can.
What do you do? Stay loyal to your current company or take the promotion you’re seeking with this new company?
It’s a tough choice for anyone and that to me is the fascination of free agency for us fans. It’s easy to criticize a player’s decisions when they leave our favorite team for the pay raise on what appears to be a lesser team. But in reality, we might make the same decision if it gives us a chance to improve our career and a better salary to provide for our families.
That being said, the players below did change organizations for a variety of reasons and this will impact our fantasy football lineups this coming season. In this article, I wanted to focus on a few moves in the NFC that may have the biggest impact at season’s end.
Now, none of the following signings are of the Kevin Durant variety, where one signing creates a 2016 real-life version of the Monstars here to establish intergalactic dominance. Nonetheless, the players below got paid a nice amount of coin to come in and give their teams a lot of production. Let’s see which gravy train we can ride to a championship.
- WR Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
Calvin Johnson is a once-in-a-lifetime type of player so replacing him is not a task for one man. However, the Lions signed Marvin Jones to a 5-year, $40 million deal to help pick up some of the 88 receptions, 1,214 yards and nine touchdown production, Johnson is leaving behind.
In Cincinnati, Jones showed back in 2013 he has ability to be a productive pass catcher as he caught a career-high 10 touchdowns. Then after losing his 2014 season to an ankle injury, Jones rebounded to have 65 catches for 816 yards in 13 games started in 2015.
In Detroit, Jones will be joining an offense that has thrown an average of 643.6 times in the last five seasons. His new QB, Matthew Stafford, had the most touchdown passes inside the 10-yard line in the league last season with 21 and Jones will likely be the top option for red zone targets due to his success in Cincinnati.
Golden Tate is the only other WR he’ll battle for targets but Johnson’s 149 targets are now available for the taking. While he won’t be Calvin Johnson, I see Jones being a high-upside WR3 for most of the season.
- TE Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints
Fleener has been playing football with Andrew Luck since he was 19-years-old. That will change next season, as now Fleener will be playing with another elite QB, Drew Brees, after signing a 5-year $36 million deal with the New Orleans Saints this offseason.
During his time in Indianapolis, Fleener’s production was often stifled a bit by the presence of fellow TE Dwayne Allen, which hindered his snap count and red zone opportunities. However, he did finish each of the last three seasons with at least 50 catches. Now, he will be replacing the departed Ben Watson – and his 74 receptions a season ago – as the top TE for the Saints.
Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham and Ben Watson all experienced career years while playing with Drew Brees. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Fleener, Cooks, and Snead are projected to be the top-3 “most heavily targeted” Saints pass catchers this season. The upside is there for Fleener to challenge Gronk at the top of the fantasy TE mountain this season.
- WR Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons
Another former Bengals WR hits the list as the Falcons signed Sanu to a 5-year, $32.5 million deal to be their #2 WR alongside superstar, Julio Jones. The question on if he’ll able to fill the role, is still up for debate.
When Marvin Jones missed 2014 with a foot injury – and even the three games A.J. Green missed – Sanu filled-in admirably. He recorded 56 catches for 790 yards and 5 TDs in the 13 games started that season. The bad news, he led the NFL in dropped passes with 14. But hey, if Sanu is dropping passes, you can always have him throw it, as he’s 5-for-5 for 177 yards and two touchdowns in his career.
All jokes aside, Sanu was brought in to fill the role Roddy White and Leonard Hankerson weren’t able to on a consistent basis last season. He’ll be given every opportunity to succeed based on the money they paid him so he’ll be worth a look in fantasy leagues as a WR4 or WR5 due to potential volume.
- TE Jared Cook, Green Bay Packers
For my wrestling fans out there, Jared Cook is the Dolph Ziggler of the NFL. He has the look, the talent and every year you fall into the belief that this will be the year he breaks out. But, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t ever seem to come together for him.
However, this offseason Jared Cook may have cashed-in his Money in the Bank briefcase by signing with the Green Bay Packers. Cook will now be catching passes from the best QB he’s ever played with, Aaron Rodgers, who has made other TEs – Jermichael Finley and Richard Rodgers – viable fantasy options in this potent offense.
The upside is there playing in this offense, however, he may be too far down the pecking order to be a top fantasy TE. Star WR Jordy Nelson is back from an ACL injury, and they still have Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis and fellow TE Richard Rodgers to throw to. Cook will probably end up being an inconsistent, tough-to-trust option, but he’s worth a flier late in drafts based on upside alone.