2014 NFL Free Agency: Early Fantasy Football Implications

By Jim Heath
DeMarcus Ware
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

One day after the official start of the 2014 NFL season in the form of free agency, the most explosive offensive weapons and fantasy football-relevant names available have yet to find a team.

Wait, what?

I have to believe this isn’t accidental or coincidence. If you have been a fan of the NFL for any period of time, you know that the proverbial paradigm of strategy shifts with regularity based on what worked best the season before. The NFL is an institution where trends and fads impact the decision-making process of many teams. If you doubt me – I give you the “wildcat” and the “run-and-shoot offense.”

Think about that. Last year, the league’s most prolific offense was rendered futile by arguably the NFL’s best defense. As a result, the first day of free agency was all about defense. The top three available free agent safeties were gone quickly. Which reminds me, if you are thinking fantasy sleeper defenses, I have two — the Cleveland Browns and the Denver Broncos, who were given a front-row viewing of the impact of a dominating defense.

There were a handful of running backs who found new homes the first day. Speaking of pirating game plans that work – the Tennessee Titans paid Dexter McCluster a healthy chunk of money for his services in 2014. I say that in jest, but McCluster could be a dark horse sleeper pick in next year’s fantasy drafts. Think Danny Woodhead, only faster.

Donald Brown proved to be the best running back in the Indianapolis Colts’ stable last season finally living up to his first-round billing. On day one, he signed with … the San Diego Chargers? I agree that Mike McCoy believes in an old school run-first offensive style, but the backfield is rather crowded. Minus any changes in the number of backs in the Chargers’ roster in 2014, Brown’s impact will be minimal as a fantasy running back.

I have to admit; the signing of Toby Gerhart by the Jacksonville Jaguars is intriguing. Mainstay Maurice Jones-Drew is also a free agent who will sign with another team during the free agency period, giving way to the former Minnesota bruiser. Jacksonville also signed former Broncos guard Zane Beadles an instant upgrade to the offensive line. Monitor this situation between now and your fantasy drafts – Gerhart could be a mid-round pick with major upside.

Free agency may not be the main course of the regular season, but it’s certainly a nice hors d’oeuvre to get us by. Stay in the know, and may your team (real or fantasy) benefit greatly.

Jim Heath is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jim_heath, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google


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