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FANTASY FOOTBALL: PINK ZONE COVERAGE

Sarah Bojarski Staff Writer February 16, 2012 9:10AM EDT
Now that football season is over, it’s time to start thinking ahead to next year. However, in order to think about whom you might want on your Fantasy team next season, you need to know where some of the top free agents might be headed. Next week, teams can start placing the franchise tag on players, and those that aren’t franchised are free to look for a new contract. While we don’t know what will happen, based on speculation, let’s look at some players who are NOT likely to receive the franchise tag. For some of them, it may end up being beneficial to try to stay where they are. For others, a change in scenery would be nice. Granted, it comes down to who offers the most money, but let’s put together some interesting potential scenarios.

Reggie Wayne's Fantasy future may not be in his own hands. Photo Credit: Icon SMI

Matt Flynn, QB

Otherwise known to-date as Aaron Rodgers backup, Flynn showed that he certainly is capable of being a starting quarterback in the NFL. In his only 2011start, he threw for 480 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. In his only 2010 start, he threw for 251 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. While two games is hardly a large sample size, the potential is clearly there. With many quarterback-needy teams, some places that might be a good fit for Flynn include Miami, Cleveland or Seattle. The key with Miami is they already have a top receiver who just needs a decent quarterback to help his value. Miami appears to be the best fit, with a running game developing, Brandon Marshall ready to catch and run, and with the emergence of tight end Anthony Fasano as a red zone threat as well. No one is saying Flynn is going to be a top quarterback in Fantasy right away; however, if he ends up starting somewhere and has receivers that can stretch the field he will likely end up as a backup Fantasy quarterback next year. At only 26, if he develops like it seems he could, a team might be looking at their starting quarterback for years to come.

Mike Tolbert, RB

Dubbed “the Bowling ball” by announcers during Chargers’ games, Tolbert was the goal line back. He didn’t show much when he wasn’t bruising through teams in the red zone, but he also lost a lot of work to Ryan Mathews. He had 10 touchdowns on the season (eight rushing, two receiving), but he only topped 100 total yards once, albeit in the lone game that he started when Mathews was injured. With 83 yards rushing and a touchdown plus 59 yards receiving, those are great stats from a starting running back. However, most teams are likely looking at Tolbert to continue in his goal-line role, not as a starting running back. He has shown that he has value in the passing game, averaging almost four receptions per game. An ideal landing spot for him would be somewhere that would allow him to continue filling that backup role, but would also let him take over if needed, similar to Marion Barber for the Bears this year. Teams that might be in need of such a player include Pittsburgh, Minnesota, or even division rival Kansas City. Pittsburgh may be without Rashard Mendenhall for the season, or certainly at least the beginning of it. They do have some talent, but they may be on the lookout for an experienced back. Tampa Bay has LeGarrette Blount; however, he’s struggled, so perhaps Tolbert is the answer for their running game. In Kansas City, Jamaal Charles will likely be back for the start of the season, but having someone like Tolbert to take some carries and protect their star just might be something the Chiefs are considering.

Vincent Jackson, WR

It’s no secret that V-Jax was looking for a solid contract at the end of the 2011 season. It hasn’t happened yet, and there are rumors that he will not get the franchise tag because he seeks a team that will pay him Larry Fitzgerald money. There’s no questioning Jackson’s talent – when he’s trying. Jackson ended the 2011 season with 60 receptions for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns. At 29, he certainly has potential to keep playing and to be a top receiver for a wide out-needy team. That team will have to deal with his attitude and potential off-field issues (two DUI’s in the past three years). However, teams that need a top receiver, such as St. Louis, San Francisco, Chicago and even Jacksonville might be willing to offer Jackson the money he wants in order to ensure their team a passing game. The potential Sam Bradford – Vincent Jackson combination could be just what the struggling Rams needed. If Jackson does end up going to a team with a decent quarterback, his Fantasy value will skyrocket. Some may be reluctant to take Jackson in drafts because of his inconsistency, but he may end up being a mid-round stud.

Brandon Lloyd, WR

It has not been a secret that Lloyd and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are a team. McDaniels got Lloyd to come to St. Louis from Denver and ran plays to make Lloyd look good. In turn, Lloyd’s play skyrocketed and now he’s looking for a contract. While he has come out and said that he would be willing to stay with the Rams, he also has said that he’s “tied” to McDaniels. Now that McDaniels is with the New England Patriots, the question for Lloyd is whether he stays in St. Louis or he continues to follow his coach, this time to New England? He certainly can thrive in the Patriots’ offense. While Wes Welker will likely receive the franchise tag, having four excellent receiving options is exactly how the Patriots want to play. Tom Brady would be in quarterback heaven with all of those guys to throw to. However, in terms of Fantasy value, if Lloyd ends up in New England he’s merely a WR2. There are just too many options, and while he will have a few great games, they are going to be too hard to predict. If he stays in St. Louis, however, he’ll have near-WR1 value. With a healthy Sam Bradford throwing to him and hopefully some improvements to the offensive line, Lloyd has potential to be successful as a Ram.

Reggie Wayne, WR

Most reports say that Wayne will not be back in Indianapolis in 2012. After a very disappointing 2012, many Fantasy owners are ready to cut him entirely, as well. With Wayne more so than any of the other receivers, it depends on where he ends up. Wayne could find success in the right system. However, where that system may be is the issue. If he plays for another backup or even a rookie quarterback, expect the same type of season as 2011 (75 receptions for 950 yards, four touchdowns). He is getting older and doesn’t have the same ability to make plays that the younger wideouts do. Without a quarterback that he can work with and isn’t still learning plays, Wayne isn’t anything more than a WR3, if that. However, if he ends up somewhere like San Diego or Philadelphia, his value could increase. Wayne didn’t seem to have any attitude problems (like V-Jax or DeSean Jackson), so if he was implanted in one of those offenses (assuming V-Jax doesn’t return to San Diego), he might be able to regain high WR2/low WR1 value. For Wayne, it is truly a wait-and-see approach in terms of his value for Fantasy purposes.

Mario Manningham, WR

While the Giants were able to win the Super Bowl with three wide receivers, it doesn’t appear that they have the budget or the desire to keep all three. That leaves Manningham as the odd man out, with Victor Cruz stepping up and Hakeem Nicks securing his role as the No. 1 receiver in New York. Manningham hasn’t showed that he has the ability to be the No. 1 receiver for any team, but he certainly can play an excellent supporting role. In a situation where he would be the top gun, Fantasy owners should be worried (think Tampa Bay or Seattle). However, if he could land somewhere and provide a role similar to what Julio Jones does for Roddy White, it would be ideal. Perhaps New Orleans, if they let go of Robert Meachem and keep Marques Colston. Another interesting landing spot would be Arizona, alongside Larry Fitzgerald. Manningham shines when a stud takes away the top option and he can get open. This past season was his worst, statistically, although he did miss time due to injury. He finished with only 523 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season. His post-season was better, and Fantasy owners should hope that’s a sign of his future production.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know at sbojo32@rotoexperts.comor follow me on Twitter @RotoExpertSarah

Listen to Roto Radio at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rotoradio

“The Fantasies” on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio honors the top performers in Fantasy Sports!Thursday, February 23rd from 8-11pm ET on Sirius 210, XM 87Vote now at www.SiriusXM.com/fantasysportsradio

2 Comments »

  1. UCFBfan
    UCFBfan February 19, 2012 at 6:36 pm -

    I think Flynn has the potential to be great in Miami. The new head coach is from Green Bay and will run the style of offense he thrived in. If he lands in Miami do you draft him as a possible QB1 if desperate?

  2. Sarah Bojarski, Staff Writer
    Sarah Bojarski, Staff Writer February 20, 2012 at 11:46 am -

    I’m not sure I’d consider him a QB1, but I do think Miami will be a great fit. Thanks for bringing up those additional points!

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