Questions, so many questions
The NFL lockout's over, but its fantasy football impact will live on: Randy Moss& Andy Dalton deal
I don’t think I’m stepping out on a limb in saying that most football fans long ago grew weary of NFL lockout talk. Since the lockout's end is finally here though, it’s time to start thinking about fantasy football again.
The only problem is that there are many uncertain situations around the league due to pending free agents who may or may not return to their former teams (signings could start as early as Monday afternoon or Tuesday at the latest).
Here are eight of the most unsettled situations that need to be cleared up with lockout already almost nothing but a bad memory:
MIAMI RUNNING BACK
Both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams seemed to get old all at once last year, resulting in the Dolphins passing on the option to sign either of them before the league labor shutdown. Miami drafted Daniel Thomas in the second round to be the future at the position, but that future may be now if they choose to jettison both Brown and Williams.
It’s more likely they’ll bring back at least one, which means a dreaded time-sharing situation that will sap the fantasy value of all involved.
NEW YORK JETS WIDE RECEIVER
The Jets have to decide how much of last year’s receiving crew will return, with the status of Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Brad Smith all up in the air. It’s hard to imagine them allowing Holmes, who is still in his prime and has developed a knack for making big plays with Mark Sanchez, to leave.
If New York does allow Edwards to walk, expect the big-name loving Jets to go after one of the showier free agents available, such as Randy Moss or Chad Ochocinco.
It appears that the differences are irreconcilable between Carson Palmer and the Bengal brass. That’s a shame, because the talented young receiving corps that's been assembled in Cincinnati could benefit from a big-armed veteran. Instead, it’s likely that Carson’s brother Jordan will keep the seat warm until rookie Andy Dalton of TCU is ready to take over (which could be very early).
In any case, the Bengal passing game, which seemed to hold such promise for fantasy owners, will probably take its lumps this season instead.
INDIANAPOLIS RUNNING BACK
Joseph Addai is a restricted free agent, and the Colts love continuity. But he’s coming off an injury-plagued season and seems like nothing more than a complimentary part at this point in his career, albeit an effective one.
If Indy decides to cut him free, Donald Brown will get the first crack at being the lead back in a super-productive offense. That won’t mean much though unless Brown starts bringing some sort of consistency to his game.
Mike Shanahan has a knack for getting an offense to perform with average personnel, but even he’ll be tested by the suspects the Skins have behind center. While the Donovan McNabb era in Washington was short and painful, the candidates in his stead, Rex Grossman and John Beck, don’t exactly inspire much confidence.
While you probably wouldn’t consider either on draft day, this battle still matters in terms of how it affects legitimate fantasy receiving talent like Santana Moss and Chris Cooley.
GREEN BAY WIDE RECEIVER
It seems likely that the defending champs will allow James Jones to walk in free agency. With Donald Driver on the decline, that leaves an awful big chunk of receiving opportunities for whoever can claim them.
If tight end Jermichael Finley comes back healthy, he’ll grab his share of passes. That leaves the receiver spot to postseason hero Jordy Nelson and rookie Randall Cobb. You know Aaron Rodgers is going to throw for a bundle of yards and touchdowns, so pay attention to how this one plays out.
CAROLINA RUNNING BACK
You would think that a team as hapless as Carolina could never afford to let a talent like DeAngelo Williams go, but running back is one of the few positions of strength on the roster. When Williams went down with injury last year, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson proved more than capable of carrying the load.
Expect Williams to walk, which makes a Stewart a viable second running back on most fantasy rosters and makes a Goodson a nice sleeper.
The Seahawks won the division with Matt Hasselbeck last season, and even if it was the NFC West, the cagey veteran deserves some credit for it, even if his numbers were lousy. It’s hard to imagine that Seattle would live with Charlie Whitehurst as the main guy, but there are no indications that they want Hasselbeck back again.
If Whitehurst keeps the job, downgrade receiving hopefuls like Mike Williams, because Seattle will probably play it extremely conservative.