New Faces In New Places

New Faces in New Places


1. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears. Cutler had a dramatic off-season that landed him in Chicago with the run-first Bears. He won’t have a season like last year because the Bears don’t have a Brandon Marshall. However, they have two very good tight ends in Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark. They also have Matt Forte out of the backfield coming off a gigantic rookie season, as well as speedster Devin Hester. Cutler will no doubt have a chip on his shoulder this season because he has a lot to prove to skeptics. His skills still land him in the top 7 of NFL quarterbacks. The big question is who will catch all his passes this season. Cutler is very talented and will be taken in rounds two or three.
2. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs. Cassel is coming off a breakout season in New England. He finally got his first chance to start and he made the most of it. He moves to Kansas City with new head coach Todd Haley. Haley loved to throw the ball in Arizona and will no doubt want to do the same in Kansas City. His number one target this season will be Dwayne Bowe, who enjoyed a breakout 2008 as well. Cassel will put up numbers, but not as good as the number he put up with New England last season. Expect to see Cassel come off the draft board in the third or fourth round.
3. Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos. Orton was shipped to Denver as part of the Jay Cutler trade. He was basically a throw in, but in reality he is a very serviceable NFL quarterback. He was asked to manage the game in Chicago, and he will most likely be asked to do the same in Denver. But it’s hard to gauge how he will handle this season with a top 5 wide receiver in Brandon Marshall. With having Marshall along with Tony Scheffler and Eddie Royal, Orton should put up better fantasy numbers this season.
4. Byron Leftwich, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Leftwich spent last season as Pittsburgh’s backup, but when he got a chance to play he excelled. That is one of the reason’s Tampa Bay decided to sign the veteran. This will most likely be his last chance to be a starter in the NFL, so expect him to have a great pre-season and win the quarterback battle. The Buccaneers will probably want to have rookie Josh Freeman on the bench this season so he can learn the offense and study under Leftwich. He might be worth a late round gamble.
5. Sage Rosenfels, Minnesota Vikings. Rosenfels was traded from Houston to Minnesota this off-season. He will be in a training camp battle with Tavaris Jackson. Odds are he will start the season on the bench and be a viable option if Jackson starts out 2009 struggling like last season. If s win the quarterback battle he won’t be a productive fantasy option because he will be asked to hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson all season.
6. Jeff Garcia, Oakland Raiders. Garcia is a winner in the NFL and is going to Oakland to be a backup. However, if Russell should struggle out of the gate this season look for Garcia to get a chance to start. A fantasy free agent that needs to be monitored.
7. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills. Fitzpatrick is going to Buffalo to backup Trent Edwards, and is coming off a moderate season as Cincinnati’s quarterback. Pay attention to the Edwards and Owens relationship because if Edwards can’t get him the football everyone knows he will stir things up and want someone who can.
8. Chris Simms, Denver Broncos. Simms spent last season as the number three quarterback in Tennessee. He is still looking for a chance to start in the NFL. He will go into training camp in a position battle with Kyle Orton. Even though Orton is expected to get the job, Simms is someone to keep an eye on. He will be a free agent but keep an eye on how Orton plays the first few weeks of the season.

Wide Receivers

1. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seattle Seahawks. Houshmanzadeh saw a production decrease last year after a breakout 2007 season. However, to his defense he played the season without Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer. His ex- teammate Chad Ochocinco didn’t help Houshmandzadeh’s cause by having a horrible 2008 season. Defenses stopped double teaming Ochocinco and turned defensive strategies to stopping Houshmandzadeh. With that said, he was still able to catch 92 passes for 904 yards and only 4 touchdowns. By signing with the Seahawks, he moves into the number one wide receiver role and will be the top target for another Pro Bowl quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks will be under new leadership with Jim Mora Jr. taking over as head coach. Expect him to continue the pass happy offensive strategy because they didn’t make any upgrades this off-season at the running back position. Houshmandzadeh will have a big season and should be taken in the early rounds of fantasy drafts. He will definitely put up numbers that would rank his production in the top ten of the NFL’s wide receivers.
2. Terrell Owens, Buffalo Bills. Owens moves from the media hyped traveling circus in Dallas to the quiet northeast. The move to Buffalo may be a good thing for the aging wide receiver by taking him out of the spotlight and getting back to what he does best, and that is catching touchdowns. Owens has caught passes for at least 1,000 yards in eight of his last nine seasons. His 2008 numbers dipped to 69 catches for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns. He dropped a ton of passes last season and caught only a little better than 50% of passes thrown to him. If Bills quarterback Trent Edwards can continue to improve and stay on the brink of stardom, then Owens will have another statistically productive season. Edwards will have to do a good job of getting the ball to Owens early in the game. The Bills have a pretty good receiving squad, not to mention Marshawn Lynch at running back to keep opposing defenses focuses on other parts of the offense. Take Terrell Owens in the first few rounds, he will most likely go between rounds 3-6. Keep in mind no matter who is throwing him the passes, Owens always finds a way to put up numbers.
3. Torry Holt, Jacksonville Jaguars. Holt has the chance to be a decent fantasy wide receiver again by getting out of that ugly situation in St. Louis. His new quarterback, David Garrard, is a very serviceable starter and leader in the NFL. He saw his production fall last season but he didn’t have much to throw the ball to. Now he gets a former elite wide receiver and that means Torry Holt will have a productive season. Head coach Jack Del Rio loves to run the ball, but lost Fred Taylor to free agency. By switching teams and going into a new offensive system, Holt is a solid number two or three option in fantasy leagues.
4. Laveranues Coles, Cincinnati Bengals. The Jets were tired of Coles’ complaining and as a result he found a new home in Cincinnati. Carson Palmer couldn’t be happier because now he has a reliable speed option at wide receiver. If Palmer can remain healthy this season and get back to his old self, then Coles will no doubt have a good season as the team’s number two wide receiver. His numbers will improve this season from last year’s. he will make a decent option for fantasy owners and will be picked in the middle rounds.
5. Joey Galloway, New England Patriots. Galloway is a lot like Coles in the sense that he still has tremendous speed, but is getting up there in age. He’s going to be Tom Brady’s third option, and that usually will translate to a good season. Galloway should be taken in the middle rounds and will supply a few big number games this season when defenses are worrying about Moss and Welker.
6. Bobby Engram, Kansas City Chiefs. Engram has been a possession wide receiver his entire career. He isn’t flashy but catches passes especially on third down. He was hurt last season, and the Chiefs are hoping he can get back to his 2007 form. He will have Matt Cassel throwing him the football and new head coach Todd Haley calling the plays. Haley loves throwing the ball and he has the quarterback to do it. Engram should have a bounce back year even at the age of 36.
7. Brandon Jones, San Francisco 49ers
8. Bryant Johnson, Detroit Lions
9. Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans

Running Backs

1. Fred Taylor, New England Patriots. Taylor is going to New England to back up starter Laurence Maroney. He was hurt a few games last season and he didn’t break 1,000 yards last season like he did the previous two. Taylor should a good amount of carries and will be a good later round insurance policy for anyone’s fantasy team. Maroney had an injury plagued season last year so look for Taylor to see a good amount of action this season.
2. Derrick Ward, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ward joins a crowded backfield in Tampa Bay. Cadillac Williams and Earnest Graham are both looking to bounce back from injuries that ended their 2008 season. Ward is used to crowded backfields when he was with the New York Giants the last few seasons. Ward rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, but that was mainly because he was asked to carry the ball more with Brandon Jacobs being banged up most of last season. Don’t expect Ward to get many touchdowns but look for him to rush for decent yards. A for sure middle to late round pick, but if Williams or Graham suffer an injury early Ward may get another 1,000 yard rushing season.

Tight Ends

1. Kellen Winslow, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Browns were tired of Winslow’s outspoken ways and shipped him to Tampa Bay this off-season. Winslow is still a top three tight end in the fantasy world. It won’t matter if Leftwich or Freeman is at quarterback because Winslow will put up good numbers this season. Look for Winslow in the third or fourth round.
2. L.J. Smith, Baltimore Ravens. The Eagles placed the franchise tag on him last year and he was a disappointment. Look for him to be a decent pass catching tight end in Baltimore this season because they run a lot of two tight end formations. He is worth a look as your backup tight end and a late round selection.
3. Robert Royal, Cleveland Browns. Royal comes to the Browns from Buffalo and isn’t much of an option at tight end, but somebody has to catch balls for Cleveland at that position. Royal most likely won’t be drafted but is someone to look at if your starter gets hurt this season.