Fantasy Impact: Off-season moves

The SFFS brings you their fantasy analysis of some of the biggest moves of the off-season.

 

Kirk Cousins, QB to the Minnesota Vikings:
After a successful (fantasy) run in Washington, Cousins will get to enjoy an instant upgrade in the talent around him after signing a 3-year deal with the Vikings. Averaging over 4,300 passing yards and 27 tds in his last three years with the Redskins, Kirk will now be throwing to the likes of Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph. With a strong offensive line and the best running game that Cousins has ever had, there should be plenty of open throwing lanes to rack up the stats. He should be a top-6 fantasy QB in 2018.

 
Case Keenum, QB to the Denver Broncos:
Forgoing an attempt to sign Cousins, the Broncos made their move early on at quarterback by signing Keenum to a two-year deal. Cashing in on a career-year with 3,547 passing yards and 22 touchdowns for the Vikings in 2017, the Broncos believe that Case still has more to offer. The Broncos will look to run a fast-paced, balanced attack after averaging over 67 plays a game last season and bring receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders back into the fold. The unfortunate news for Keenum is that he’ll be standing in the pocket behind a sub-par offensive line without the benefit of a standout tight-end and uncertainty at the running back spot. The Broncos are likely to select a QB early in this year’s draft, but Keenum is sure to be the starter throughout 2018. With two quality receivers but an otherwise iffy supporting cast, Case is unlikely to duplicate his success from 2017, placing him outside of the top-10 fantasy QBs.

Brandin Cooks, WR to the Los Angeles Rams:
Following his third straight-1,000 yard receiving season Cooks was promptly shipped from the Patriots to the Rams for a first-round draft pick. While initially it may seem like a boon for Cooks to join the high-powered Rams’ offense, the trade will more likely result in a slight drop-off in his 2018 fantasy value. Cooks will have to vie with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Todd Gurley for targets while stepping into the deep-threat role of the departed Sammy Watkins, who was targeted only 66 times in ’17. Furthermore, Cooks will be targeted by QB Jared Goff, who completed only 32 percent of his throws over 20 yards in 2017. 50 catches and around 700 yards will likely be the ceiling for Cooks this year, making him a highly touchdown-dependent fantasy option.

Sammy Watkins, WR to the Kansas City Chiefs
After posting 8 touchdowns on 39 receptions for the LA Rams in 2017, Watkins signed a three-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs worth up to $48 million. An ultra-efficient player who can go deep as well as over the middle, Watkins will be joining a crowded receiving corps that contains Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Having to split looks with those two Pro-Bowlers, Watkins will face an up-hill battle just to reach 80 targets on the year. Adding to the mix is the fact that the Chiefs want to be a run-heavy team with Kareem Hunt and will be thrusting a second-year QB in Pat Mahomes into the starter’s spot. This makes it unlikely that Watkins will be a top-20 WR this year. The one bright spot is Mahomes has an absolute cannon for an arm, so chances are good that Watkins will get behind opposing defenses and score some deep touchdowns in 2018, making him a true boom or bust option.

Michael Crabtree, WR to the Baltimore Ravens:
The Ravens finally nabbed a true #1 receiver when they signed Crabtree to a 3-year deal worth $21 million. Crabtree is a red-zone monster who had at least 8 touchdowns in all three of his years in Oakland and should be a top-20 wide receiver this year in PPR formats. Despite the fact that Flacco has never targeted a single receiver more than 140 times in a season, Crabtree appears likely to break the trend as he will be the go-to target among a group of wide receivers that included John Brown and Chris Moore. Expect 70+ receptions and 6-8 touchdowns in 2018.

Dion Lewis, RB to the Tennessee Titans:
When the Titans signed Lewis to a four-year deal, it likely crushed the hopes of Derrick Henry owners throughout the fantasy world. In Lewis, the Titans get a true three-down back who can also contribute in the return game. While Henry will be the goal-line back for Tennessee, Lewis will lock onto the third-down job. With both backs splitting touches the fantasy value for each will take a bit of a hit, though Lewis has proven he can put up plenty of fantasy points while sharing the load. Lewis will have much more value in PPR formats as he should exceed 40 receptions, but is unlikely to score many touchdowns, lowering his value in standard scoring leagues.

Jerick McKinnon, RB to the San Francisco 49ers:
Toiling in a time-share during his four years with the Minnesota Vikings, McKinnon steps into the spotlight as the lead back for Kyle Shannahan and the 49ers offense. A former collegiate option-quarterback, Jerick brings freakish athleticism and pass-receiving skills to the role in Shannahan’s offense that turned Devonta Freeman into a star. After having posted somewhat disappointing numbers with the Vikings, McKinnon has the clear opportunity to receive 20+ touches a game. In Jimmy Garoppolo’s five-2017 starts as the 49ers QB, he seldom targeted the running back, but with a weapon like McKinnon in the backfield, expect to see a lot more screens and check downs. McKinnon should be a top-12 RB in PPR formats and with the expected potency of the 49ers offense, he should warrant enough looks around the goal line to sneak into the top-15 in standard leagues as well.

Jimmy Graham, TE to the Green Bay Packers:
Long believed to be one of the top tight ends in the NFL, Graham leaves his underwhelming days in Seattle behind and will look to rejuvenate his career in Wisconsin. After signing a 3-year deal with the Packers for $30 million, the expectation is that Jimmy will finally provide a go-to option in the middle of the field for Aaron Rodgers. With the release of wideout Jordy Nelson freeing up plenty of targets, Graham could be the most productive Packers’ tight end since Jermichael Finley circa 2008. The big question with Graham is his ability to stay healthy, as he dealt with numerous ankle and knee injuries during his stint in Seattle. If he can stay healthy, expect 80+ targets in 2018, with a chance to score double-digit touchdowns. But at 31 years old, Graham is much more likely to miss some time throughout the year and post around 45-50 receptions, with 5-7 touchdowns.

 

 

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