By Bill Pivetz @BPiv_Sports on March 19, 2014
The early 2014 fantasy football rankings have changed greatly over the last week. The free agency period is a time of great change in reality and fantasy. With most of these signings and cuts, there were plenty of players whose fantasy value increased heading into the 2014 season. Two backup rushers now have starting jobs and another doesn't have a vulture. Here are the top five players who saw the greatest increased in fantasy value.
Darren McFadden is staying with the Oakland Raiders for one more year. It may be his best season, not because he's in Oakland, but because of who's not with him. Rashad Jennings went to the New York Giants, leaving McFadden with a full grasp on the starting running back job. Now, if only McFadden can stay healthy for a full season, he has the opportunity to be a top-25 rusher in 2014.
Just like McFadden and Jennings, Ben Tate was stealing some carries from the oft-injured starting running back, Arian Foster. After signing a two-year deal with the Cleveland Browns, Tate will finally be a starting running back in the NFL. He will be a good complement to Josh Gordon and the passing game. Now, if they can just find a quarterback, then the Browns would be a challenger in the AFC North. Tate should be drafted as a top-20 back.
The Denver Broncos defense finished 13th in fantasy among defenses. They were completely torched by the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. As a result, the Broncos went out and signed the top free agents at each key defensive position. The additions of DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward along with current players Danny Trevathan and Von Miller make the Broncos defense a top-five option this season.
On the Seattle Seahawks, was there a clear No. 1 wide receiver? Golden Tate finished as the leading receiver, but Doug Baldwin wasn't too far behind. Percy Harvin might have overtaken him if he was healthy all year. Tate will be able to separate from the pack with the Detroit Lions. Calvin Johnson needed someone to play opposite of him. Matthew Stafford played better than Russell Wilson in 2013, which will greatly help Tate's value.
Toby Gerhart has known as the backup to superstar Adrian Peterson. Now that he's with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he will finally get a chance to be a starting running back. This also hints at the thought that Maurice Jones-Drew will not be returning to Jacksonville. In four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Gerhart rushed 1,305 times and scored five touchdowns. He has also caught 600 passes. Gerhart could be a nice RB4 sleeper in 2014.
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