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Fantasy Football: Jeremy Maclin Signs With Ravens, Eric Decker To The Titans

Chris Ventra June 16, 2017 7:21PM EDT
The 2017 NFL offseason gave us plenty to discuss. Major skill-position players changed scenery, many offensive playmakers were taken early in this year’s NFL Draft, and still some late offseason transactions are making news in Fantasy Football circles. Most recently, WRs Jeremy Maclin and Eric Decker were released from their now former teams. Both moves were a little surprising.

Maclin signed with the Ravens, which was not as surprising considering Steve Smith Sr. retired and Kamar Aiken signed with the Colts. Eric Decker recently signed with the Tennessee Titans after a week and a half of speculation of him going to other teams in need, like the Baltimore Ravens. Now the question is, how will these transactions affect the Fantasy landscape and the individual players themselves?

Let’s start with Jeremy Maclin since he was the latest to get signed to a team. Maclin’s Fantasy value has already taken a hit in recent years. The move from Philadelphia to Kansas City in 2015 was the first one. Although he reeled in two more receptions in his first season with the Chiefs than his peak year with the Eagles, he had 230 fewer yards and two less touchdowns. Granted, he did play one less game. Maclin missed some more time in 2016, but in just 12 games played, he still saw a decline in per game production.

Eric Decker finally signs, with the Titans -Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire

In his last year with the Eagles, Maclin received roughly 8.9 targets per game. In 2015 with the Chiefs, that fell to 8.3, and last season his targets declined significantly to just 6.3 per game. He also produced half the number of yards and receptions as he did the year prior. The Chiefs are known to be a dink-and-dunk offense during the Alex Smith era. In fact, just to illustrate how poor a passing attack they have with Alex Smith, Maclin’s first TD reception with the Chiefs in 2015 came during Week 3, which marked the first scoring reception by a wide receiver in Kansas City since 2013.

Keep in mind that Maclin is 29 years of age, a time when some receivers begin to see a decline in their skills. Maclin has already been on that downward slope, but that can at least partially be blamed on the Chiefs’ poor offense. One could also cite the groin injury that kept him out of four games last season. Either way, temper your expectations since he’s now on a team for whom he’s not the clear No. 1 receiver anymore. He’ll be more of a reliable possession receiver for short-to-mid yardage situations, but Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman are bigger play types. As such, he’ll have more value in PPR formats than in standard as a WR3 type. And, don’t forget about Decker. If the Ravens sign him, Maclin’s Fantasy relevance may be all but out the window.

Decker was released by Jets, a move which frees up more salary cap space and indicates a total rebuilding year for the Jets organization. How does this move effect Decker’s value? The Titans are a run-first team and Marcus Mariota is still growing as a quarterback, but their wide receivers are mostly inexperienced so Decker could play a big role. Rishard Mathews is the incumbent No. 1, he’s a solid possession receiver but without much upside, so Decker will most likely play opposite him as more of a 1B rather than a clear cut No. 2. History suggests that Decker is better as a No. 2 receiver, rather than being the primary target for an offense. Great signing for the Titans, still a viable veteran presence for any team. The gritty receiver will not only help the Titans in key situations through the air, but he’s a perfect tutor for the young receivers on the team, especially the highly touted rookie Corey Davis . Even at age 30, Decker is a valuable resource and still a relevant Fantasy player, even on the run-heavy Titans…  if he can stay healthy that is.

The Impacts of Other Relocated Players

Mike Gillislee (RB) NE: Increased value – Turning 27 in November, Gillislee is now the early-down workhorse for the Patriots, a role that can be fruitful on such a high scoring offense. He has very minor wear and tear in those legs after a few seasons behind LeSean McCoy in Buffalo. Finishing 2017 in the Top 5 for TDs wouldn’t be surprising.

Brandin Cooks (WR) NE: Increased value –  I believe a slight uptick in production and consistency could be in order. New Orleans had, and still has, a whole slew of options in the passing game with Willie Snead, Coby Fleener, the emergence of Michael Thomas and even the backfield weapons. New England has offensive talent as well, but Julian Edelman is now 31 years old, Martellus Bennett is gone, Rob Gronkowski is injury-prone and the other receivers leave much to be desired. Cooks won’t have a ton of receptions, but he’s the only true over-the-top playmaker on the team. With Brady at the helm, his yardage and touchdowns should increase from previous seasons, making him a fine standard league option.

Marshawn Lynch (RB) Oak: It’s difficult to decipher Lynch’s value after he played sporadically throughout the 2015 season and then retired. Oakland is a great fit for a running back of Lynch’s stature, and over a year of rest might be tremendous for his production. His value could change dramatically throughout preseason, monitor the situation closely.

Brandon Marshall (WR) NYG: Increased value – At age 33, it’s hard to project Marshall’s production will increase, but one thing’s for certain, his situation did. With tons of weapons on this 2017 Giants team, expect something directly in between his 2015 and 2016 numbers.

Alshon Jeffery (WR) Phi: Increased value – Injuries have tempered Jeffery’s production over the past couple of seasons, but he’s still in his prime years and a change of scenery might be exactly what he needs. If he can stay healthy, Jeffery will bounce back because the skills are still there. I’m not ready to write him off just yet in any format.

Terrelle Pryor (WR) Wsh: Major increase – The former quarterback had an incredible first season as a receiver with almost 80 receptions and over 1,000 yards on a very weak Browns team. Now he’s the No. 1 receiver in Washington with more room to work due to the talent surrounding him and a better QB throwing to him. At 6’6”, 240 lbs, Pryor is a hybrid WR/TE, a freak, coupled with a very good passing offense; this could be a monster year for him.

Adrian Peterson (RB) NO: Increased Value – It’s hard to trust someone who’s missed two of the last three seasons due to injuries. But, for the first time in his career he’ll be on a prolific offense, and the legend doesn’t die until he’s no longer around.

Latavius Murray (RB) Min: Decreased value – The drafting of Dalvin Cook really hurt Murray’s value coming into 2017. Otherwise, I’d like his chances to repeat or surpass his numbers from last season. Don’t be too down on him, though; he was a valuable RB2 last year and if he can outplay Cook for snaps, he may still be a valuable Fantasy asset, especially in standard leagues.

Pierre Garcon (WR) SF: Decreased value – Garcon has been a consistently productive possession receiver for many years with the Redskins, but the move to San Francisco could kill his stock. He’ll be 31 before the season starts, and he’s now the clear-cut No. 1 receiver. Defenses will look to lock him down knowing there isn’t any other threat in this passing offense. Brian Hoyer has shown glimpses of quality production, but no one knows for sure how all these players will gel together on a new team.

Eddie Lacy (RB) Sea: Increased value – Lacy has had weight issues, but the latest news suggests he’s shaved it down below his contract threshold. Pete Carroll said the Seahawks will run with a vengeance this season, and Lacy should be a big part of that and he has significant standard league appeal.

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