Now that the significant offseason moves are finished, and training camps are set to begin, fantasy owners can set their sights on preparing for their drafts this August. Barring any ridiculous headlines (looking at you, Aaron Hernandez) from now until September, owners have a pretty good idea of where rosters are standing. With that being said, there have been a handful of fantasy relevant signings and trades here in 2013. The following headlines will be the ones that I will be scrutinizing most throughout this 2013 fantasy season.
Doug Marrone joins Buffalo/Spiller
As a Buffalo Bills fan myself, I was pretty darn high on C.J. Spiller before the offseason. Then, new head coach Marrone stated that Spiller will nut be pulled from the game during short yardage situations, and I immediately wept with joy. Marrone’s philosophy has always been “if someone starts off and they’re running well, keep feeding them the ball.” Apparently, former head coach Chan Gailey didn’t get that memo last season, as he often under-utilized Spiller, who finished 2012 with 6.0 yards per carry. Despite how incredibly incredible Spiller was in 2012 (seventh ranked fantasy back), the Clemson product saw less than 10 carries an unexplainable six times. That won’t happen under Marrone, a guy who will implement a fast-paced offense that will look to score points in boatloads. Gee, who is the Bills most dynamic, explosive player that fits that mold? The answer to that riddle? C.J. Spiller. Keep in mind, Spiller rushed for 1,244 yards and six touchdowns, all while only carrying the ball 207 times. Marrone will undoubtedly feed his star back the rock at will. During his time at Syracuse, Marrone’s lead backs only carried the ball less than 230 times once. If Spiller can be the number seven fantasy back on just 207 carries, I can’t wait to see what he does when he pushes 250, at least.
Carson Palmer to resurrect Larry Fitzgerald’s fantasy value
Two. As in the number of passes from Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks that traveled 20 yards or more that were catchable. Hmm, no wonder Fitzgerald’s numbers were so … bleh. Still, the fact that he caught 71 balls for 798 yards and four touchdowns while catching passes from a trio of tremendous options at quarterback (sarcasm) is stick tap worthy. Watching Fitzgerald finish outside the top-30 among wide receivers was something of an alternate universe, but those days are long gone. Carson Palmer’s presence has fantasy owners excited about Fitzgerald again (myself included). Last season with a less than stellar receiving corp in Oakland, Palmer managed to toss for over 4,000 yards and 22 scores. Palmer is a guy who loves to throw the ball deep, and with new head coach Bruce Arians calling the shots, expect a ton of aerial playcalling, which obviously benefits Fitzgerald. He’s arguably the greatest receiver of our past decade, and he’s too good to not be a top-10 fantasy option. Expect him to revert back to previous numbers in 2013.
Chip Kelly joins high-octane Eagles offense
It’s no secret that the Eagles have some of the fastest, most athletic players in the league on their roster. Combine that with the presence of fast paced, run-oriented head coach Chip Kelly, and fantasy relevance follows. Coming off of a concussion, running back LeSean McCoy is the first guy that comes to mind. Despite Bryce Brown’s emergence last year, McCoy is the ideal back for Kelly’s offense. During his time at Oregon, Kelly heavily featured similar mold of running backs as McCoy, such as Kenjon Barner and LaMichael James. Since 2009, starting Oregon backs have never seen less than 230 carries. Kelly will get McCoy the ball off of screens, read options, pitches, anything to get his speedy back in space. Also, if Michael Vick wins the starting job out of camp, he may end up being one of the biggest draft day bargains this year. Kelly loves to let his quarterbacks run around, seeing as his last four Oregon signal callers posted carry totals of 106, 56, 93 and 121 the past four seasons. Vick’s athleticism obviously fits Kelly’s style of offense, but like always with Vick, he needs to stay healthy. With Kelly, McCoy and Vick leading headlines, the Eagles will be one of the more intriguing teams to watch this season.
Wes Welker joins the Broncos
After six years of catching passes from Tom Brady, Welker will now be catching passes from another future Hall of Fame quarterback. The Broncos went out and signed Welker during free agency, continuing to construct a dominating football club. Peyton Manning now has another weapon in his arsenal after already having Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Because of the safety and talent around him now, I have moved Manning to my number three quarterback for 2013. As for Welker, the supporting cast around him won’t make it easy for him to post his third straight 100-catch season, but I won’t say it’s impossible. Manning loves to continuously wear opposing defenses with short passes that frequently move the chains, an area where Welker excels. However, expect 80-85 catches because Thomas and Decker will certainly get their looks too, especially in the red zone.
Percy Harvin traded to Seattle Seahawks
One of the first offseason moves was Harvin being traded to Seattle. Fantasy owners love him for 2013, and I fully understand why. He gets an upgrade at quarterback in Russell Wilson and will be used in a majority of ways under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and his West Coast style of offense. Keep in mind, Harvin and Bevell are very comfortable with one another, seeing as Bevell was also his offensive coordinator in Minnesota. If healthy (and that’s the major question), Harvin will be a PPR monster for fantasy owners. Between catches and carries in the running game, Harvin may be the best bet among receivers to post at least 10 touches in every game. Expect a ton of looks for one of the game’s most deadly runners in the open field.
These are simply a few of the headlines that I find most appealing as fantasy owners approach the 2013 campaign. What say you?
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.