The lure of a new contract or a team looking to cut salary cap dollars creates new opportunities. These players sometimes are high priced commodities and others are just roster depth acquisitions on new teams. Time on the field is worth the attention of fantasy football participants. Here are some athletes to keep an eye on for your fantasy football drafts. Their new situations should bode well in transitioning fantasy football points for you.

Quarterbacks: Mike Vick and Josh McCown
Free agent quarterbacks have not made much noise for the fantasy football world in quite some time. McCown comes to the Buccaneers after surprise production filling in for Jay Cutler in Chicago. No one truly knows what the Jets plans are for Vick or how much Vick has left in the tank. It is arguable though that both could surprise on the fantasy radar. Vick has had a history of strong results and McCown did so just last year. The talent is around both to have watchful eyes in 2014.

Running Backs: Toby Gerhart (Jacksonville), Ben Tate (Cleveland), Knowshown Moreno (Miami), Rashad Jennings (New York Giants), Chris Johnson (NY Jets), Darren Sproles (Philadelphia Eagles), Maurice Jones-Drew(Oakland Raiders), LeGarrette Blount (Pittsburgh)
Rookie contracts tend to take running backs into their third or fourth seasons. For those that are top dollar players, they almost certainly get resigned on their original drafted team. Most end up hitting the true free agent market after their second deals are expired. By then their value is on the decline. Teams look for a veteran fill in back such as Chris Johnson, Knowshown Moreno, MJD, Sproles, and Blount. All of these guys have backup role type of fantasy football value. Their value will be spiked based on the touchdowns they can get and not yardage.

Then you have the unheralded rookie contract backs that outperformed. Toby Gerhart did so in spot starts for Adrian Peterson. One has to wonder if Gerhart will end up being the next Peyton Hillis. Rashad Jennings had short stints in both Jacksonville and Oakland, but is still a fresh young back for the Giants. Ben Tate was arguably the top free agent signee and the Browns assured themselves of a solid back for the next couple of seasons.

You won’t find any top fifteen fantasy running backs in this group. Instead lower tier second running backs and regular fantasy backups. From the tandem back veteran group I would give Maurice Jones-Drew the highest upside. One the Raiders are likely tiring of Darren McFadden. Secondly, the Raiders have produced solid second tier strength backs over the years (Jennings/Bush). From the young crop of backs Jennings offers high intrigue. The Giants backfield is up for grabs. Coughlin being the old coach he is, could roll with a prominent back for a decent amount of carries. If Jennings ends up being the feature back, he could spark a move into a fantasy starting backfield.

Wide Receivers: Desean Jackson, Eric Decker, Hakeem Nicks, Emmanuel Sanders, Golden Tate, Mike Williams, and Steve Smith
Out of all the main free agent position signees, wide receiver, has the biggest gap of high chance of return on investment. Drafting any of the aforementioned receivers is going to be a big risk. Even DeSean Jackson should pose as a red flag. He is in a pass friendly offense. But the same could be said all his years in Philadelphia. At times he would disappear even in the high passing offense with McNabb, Vick, Kolb, and Foles.

Golden Tate, Mike Williams, and Steve Smith are bottom tier bench fillers. A possible fifth or sixth spot on your team, with no patience if they don’t produce. All the years for Steve Smith as a number one receiver seem to have taken a big toll on him. I’d be surprised if he came close to 750 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Williams seems to be in trouble to make the Bills roster, and has had questionable character issues off the field. Sanders needs to show timely chemistry in the Broncos offense in a crowded position.

That leaves Eric Decker and Hakeem Nicks. Nicks could show a flash or too like he did as a Giant. But his injury history seems to have relegated him to a second or third option on an offense. Decker is the intriguing prospect. Can the Jets get their moneys worth? Signs are pointing that Decker likely was a system receiver in Denver, and that the Jets quarterback issues will weigh him down considerably.


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