Previous LeSean McCoy traded to the Bills and Brandon Marshall traded to the Jets breakdowns.
What a weekend in terms of NFL free agency news. Seriously, why is there a legal tampering window if the majority of major moves are “done” over the three-day stretch? Why not just start free agency on Friday? Because of tampering issues? Really? So because we have a legal tampering period, we don’t have to worry about teams tampering now… c’mon. Just set a date and time for free agency and police it well. Enough of this negotiating window nonsense.
In any case, we saw four significant skill position players make moves over the weekend. Jeremy Maclin signed with the Chiefs. The Jaguars signed Julius Thomas. Torrey Smith is headed to the 49ers. And, Frank Gore signing with the Eagles. Like I said, big weekend. You want to know the Fantasy impact of these big moves, and that’s exactly what I’m here to provide.
Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs – It appears as if the Chiefs will finally have a wide receiver touchdown in 2015. However, if you expect similar numbers to Maclin’s 2014 season just because he’s the No. 1 option in Kansas City, you’re mistaken. Maclin checked in as the ninth-best Fantasy receiver last year with 86 catches, 1,329 yards and 10 touchdowns. For comparison, the Chiefs’ Top 4 receivers had a 104/1,342/0 line. Basically, Maclin did himself what it took four Chiefs receivers to do.
It’s not solely the receivers’ faults in Kansas City, though. In Alex Smith’s two years under Andy Reid, he’s averaging just 6.8 YPA and last year’s aDOT (Average Depth Of Target per Mike Clay of ProFootballFocus.com) was the worst in the NFL at 6.0. As a comparison, Mark Sanchez and Nick Foles had aDOTs of 8.8 and 10.3, respectively, with a team quarterback YPA of 8.0 in Kelly’s two coaching years, and that’s with Mark Barkley’s 6.0 YPA dragging it down. The Eagles also had 20 more passing plays of 20-plus yards in 2014. Smith is a game manager and a champion of the check-down game. As I tweeted when this happened, here is the perfect snapshot of what this means for Maclin’s value.
Now, Maclin is far from Dwayne Bowe Fantasy purgatory. However, Maclin is now a WR2 at best, and is looking at a likely 80/900-1,000/5-6 line versus his near-elite 2014 campaign. For reference, Roddy White put up 80/921/7 and Eric Decker 74/962/5 last year, and they finished 26th and 28th. Sad trombone.
Torrey Smith, 49ers – The news doesn’t get much better for Smith, and that’s before the Colin Kaepernick trade rumors cropped up. However, if Kaepernick is back in 2015, it’s not as bad as the change for Maclin. Kaepernick is actually a solid downfield thrower. While the 49ers and Kaepernick didn’t attempt as many deep throws as the Ravens and Joe Flacco did over the past three years (237 to 341), Kaep’s per attempt marks are better. Kaepernick has a better completion percentage (38.8/34.3), YPA (11.2/10.3) and QB Rating (84.1/78.2).
The loss in volume with hurt Smith, but his value drop won’t be as dramatic. Smith is still has big-play potential and is a boom/bust option every week. Smith has never finished lower than WR23, and the 49ers did just have Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis combine for 20 touchdowns two years ago. Michael Crabtree won’t return, and there is talk that Davis could be done too. Either way, a similar line to last year with a few less touchdowns, and maybe even more yards, isn’t out of the question for Smith. If you put down a line of 50/800-900/5-6 for Smith, we’re talking a 5-10 spot drop in ranking. Again, lost value sure, but it’s not a 15-25 spot plummet as with Maclin.
Frank Gore, Eagles – Easily the most surprising move was Gore signing with the Eagles.
Update: Gore is apparently hesitating on the deal with the Eagles. Rumors are that the Colts are now interested. The situation and value would be rather similar (outside of the shotgun formation numbers) so stay tuned as this develops.
Remember that Cliffhanger pic for Maclin? I had originally used that for the Thomas to the Jaguars news, but it’s honestly worse.
This is easily the biggest change for anyone here. Orange Julius no more. Teal Julius just doesn’t have the same ring, and boy, he certainly won’t have the same production. Thomas was already overvalued Fantasy-wise based on his touchdown production. Thomas was only 15th in yards per game for tight ends and 16th in receptions per game. You can see how much touchdowns boosted his value. Now, Thomas goes from Peyton Manning to Blake Bortles. I don’t care how much of a Bortles supporter you are, no amount of second year improvement is going to equal what Manning did for Thomas. You also don’t have equitable weapons around Thomas to take away the defensive attention.
There is no question that Thomas loses a ton of value in the touchdown department. A fair projection would half of those 12 touchdowns from last year, and when you look at Thomas’ per game averages with Manning for receptions and yards, hoping for better could be a mistake. A line of 50-60 catches, 600-700 yards and 5-6 TDs would be a great success in Jacksonville, but that only puts Thomas in the Larry Donnell-Heath Miller range, or low-end TE1 territory.
Main image Photo Credit: Keith Allison