I know what you’re all thinking: the NFL regular season doesn’t start for another 150 days, so why is this clown talking about fantasy football already? The answer is because of the offseason. Every major sport has an offseason, and players move around every year.
While the actual football season might be over, fantasy football is still going on and it never stops. These are the biggest changes to think about going into next year’s draft.
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
One of the biggest trades of the offseason thus far has been the blockbuster Odell Beckham Jr. trade. The New York Giants traded him to Cleveland for safety Jabrill Peppers, a first-round pick and a third-round pick. Peppers is a talented up-and-coming safety, but the general consensus is that the Giants lost this trade.
On the New York side of the ball, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard get an immediate boost in target share. The Giants also brought in Golden Tate, but Tate plays primarily from the slot, so a majority of the downfield targets are up for grabs.
On the Cleveland side of the ball, I think it hurts the fantasy value of all members, with the exception of Baker Mayfield. Jarvis Landry will have a lot of pressure taken off him, but that’s never affected him in the past. He’s nearly always been the primary receiver, and he’s never had fewer than 80 receptions in a season.
Antonio Brown, Oakland Raiders
Brown’s wishes were fulfilled when the Steelers traded him to Oakland. The Steelers had few options, and they had to settle for a third-rounder and a fifth-rounder for their star receiver.
At the age of 30, AB led the league in touchdowns last season with 15. There’s no doubt that his value took a hit when he got traded. Oakland’s offense is much worse than Pittsburgh’s, and he’s entering a new offense with a new quarterback. That being said, he’s still one of the best receivers in the game.
A realistic stat line for him next season could be 95 receptions, 1150 yards and 8 touchdowns. If he’s available in the second round next draft, I would consider him, but I wouldn’t reach for him with my first-round pick.
Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets
Brown wasn’t the only one that got what he wanted this offseason. The Jets signed Le’Veon Bell to a 4-year deal worth $52.5 million.
He refused to play last season due to a contract dispute. I think Bell is going to get a reality check in New York. He’s had the privilege of running behind the Steelers’ offensive line for his entire career. Pittsburgh’s offensive line has been among the league’s best for half a decade.
Bell’s running style is very patient; he waits for the offensive line to make holes. That running style combined with the Jets offensive line is a disaster waiting to happen.
I’m not saying that Bell’s going to be bad, but I think he’s going to get a rude awakening. Similar to Brown, I would think about him in the second round and pass in the first.
Mark Ingram signed a 3-year deal with the Ravens worth $15 million. This was one of the best landing spots for the former Heisman winner. The Ravens made it clear last season that they want to run the ball. If Ingram gets the majority of the workload, he could be a 1,000-yard rusher again.
Jared Cook signed a 2-year contract with the Saints. The Saints are a much better team than the Raiders, but they also have a lot of mouths to feed. I expect fewer receptions for Cook next season, but he could score seven or more touchdowns for the first time in his career.
Jordan Howard was traded to the Eagles for a potential fifth-round pick. He might as well have been traded for a sleeve of saltine crackers. I’m really not thrilled with Howard’s fantasy potential next season. In the past few seasons, the Eagles have used a committee with as many as four different running backs at once. Howard’s inability to catch the football will hold him back in this offense.
Tevin Coleman signed in San Francisco for 2 years and $8.5 million. With Coleman, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida on the roster, the depth chart at the position is a little murky. I’m going to choose to follow the money and assume that McKinnon’s $30 million contract trumps the Coleman signing. Coleman’s role in San Francisco is only a little better than his typical role in Atlanta for the time being.