The 2017 RotoExperts Xclusive Edge In-Season Fantasy Baseball Package is here! Get your ticket to a Fantasy Baseball Championship trophy. This comprehensive package gives you everything you need to manage your team like an expert and gives you access to all of our Premium content throughout the 2017 Fantasy Baseball season. Enter promocode nydailynews at checkout for a special discount.
I get that it’s May, but Fantasy Football never ends. If you’re serious about winning, this is a 24-7, 365-day job. And for all that talk that it’s only May, NFL OTAs have already commenced.
The best place to start is to figure out which players have changed teams and what it means for their Fantasy value. Each week, I’ll provide insight on two players who’ve either signed or were traded elsewhere and one rookie that has value (technically rookies change teams). Without further ado, let’s get it started!
BRANDON MARSHALL TO THE GIANTS
Brandon Marshall has had a prolific career, eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards eight times and notching double-digit touchdowns in four different seasons. Last season was a huge disappointment, as Marshall finished as WR52 in PPR and WR49 in standard leagues. The blame can’t be place entirely on him, though, as the Jets’ quarterback play (and offense) was abysmal. He had some tough drops and could have been playing through injury, yet the consensus remains that he’s not finished yet.
Marshall has a great resume despite never playing with a great quarterback. Some might argue Eli Manning isn’t great but he’s still likely better than any QB Marshall has ever played with. Marshall joins a receiving corps led by Odell Beckham Jr., second-year slot receiver Sterling Shepard and rookie tight end Evan Engram. Marshall will immediately step in opposite OBJ, filling the shoes of Victor Cruz.
Cruz (who signed with the Bears on Thursday) finished with 39 receptions on 72 targets for 586 yards and just one touchdown for the Giants last year. It was obvious Cruz had lost a step as he tried to return from injury, making it easy to say Marshall instantly offers an upgrade to Manning. The Giants’ offense ranked eighth in the NFL in pass attempts last season with 620 while rushing just 398 times. They called pass plays 60.9 percent of the time, which ranked 11th most in the league.
A problem for the Giants has been their red zone offense and that may be one major reason why they signed Marshall and drafted Engram. The Giants scored a touchdown from within the red zone just 51.1 percent of the time, which ranked 22nd. Marshall may be an older receiver at 33 years old but he still possesses top-notch size. At 6’4″, 230 pounds, he’s easily the biggest wide receiver Manning has had since Plaxico Burress, and we’re aware of how that duo thrived together.
Marshall has done damage inside the 20s throughout his career. He’s scored 61 of his 82 career touchdowns in the red zone, with 33 of those coming inside the 10-yard line. Just two years ago with the Jets, Marshall hauled in 11 of 21 red zone targets, scoring nine touchdowns. Teams will have a tough enough time trying to double-team Beckham Jr., which will create a ton of mismatches and opportunities for Marshall.
I just mentioned mismatches within the red zone, but the Giants’ passing attack should have a ton of opportunities regardless of where they are on the field. On the outside alone, corners will have trouble trying to stop both Beckham Jr. and Marshall but the team will add Shepard and Engram going across the middle of the field with the threat of Shane Vereen catching balls out of the backfield.
Marshall is in a great situation here. He could struggle for consistency throughout the season because there are so many options for Manning to pass to, but the touchdown upside is immense. According to MFL Public League Drafts ADP, Marshall is being drafted as WR34 at pick 66.5 overall. That makes him a low-end WR3 taken in the middle of the sixth round. It’s early in draft season but he’s currently being drafted behind names such as Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, and Willie Snead, which is a mistake. Assuming health, Marshall should flirt with 1,000 receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns. I’ll take that as my WR3 any day, regardless of format.
PIERRE GARCON TO THE 49ERS
Let’s start with the great news regarding this signing and work our way down. Garcon is reunited with new head coach Kyle Shanahan, who will handle the play calling. Why is this great news? In the one fully healthy year (2013) Garcon spent in Shanahan’s offense when both were with the Redskins, he led the NFL in receptions (113) and targets (184). Garcon finished as WR11 in PPR that season while finishing as WR13 in standard.
Garcon steps in as the unquestioned WR1 in this offense and from a personnel standpoint, it’s a good fit. Marquise Goodwin and Jeremy Kerley aren’t DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder, whom Garcon played with last year, but they will have similar roles. Goodwin is a speedster who can stretch the field and attract safety help while Kerley will do his thing over the middle as the slot receiver. Garcon will remain a possession receiver who will earn a ton of targets between the 20s, which will equate to receptions.
In case you missed it, Brian Hoyer is likely the starting quarterback for the 49ers. While most will scoff at Hoyer as nothing more than a journeyman, he’s had moments as a serviceable QB. As a member of the Bears last season, Hoyer had a four-game stretch in which he threw for 1,318 yards and six touchdowns. He produced a 100-yard wide receiver in three of four games and has been known throughout his career to zone in on one target. Based on this receiving corps, Hoyer may have little choice but to make Garcon that guy.
How does Shanahan’s play calling affect Garcon? Last year with the Falcons, Shanahan’s offense ranked 26th in the NFL in pass attempts with 537 while they ranked 12th in rush attempts with 421. In 2014, the Falcons ranked eighth in pass attempts but 16th in rush attempts. When Garcon had his career year in 2013, Washington’s offense ranked ninth in pass attempts but 13th in rush attempts. Overall, Shanahan doesn’t seem skewed in either direction and appears to be a more balanced play-caller. Obviously, game flow determines a lot and, if last season is any indication, the 49ers will be trailing often. That only helps Garcon with the team playing from behind.
The knock on Garcon has always been his low touchdown totals. His career high for single-season touchdowns is just six, something he’s accomplished three different times. If Garcon stays healthy for the entire season, 135 targets seems like a floor for him. Let’s say he catches 60 percent of those targets because he has good hands. That puts Garcon at 81 receptions, which should be enough for him to eclipse 900 receiving yards. Throw in 4-6 touchdowns and you have yourself a solid WR3. DeAndre Hopkins finished as WR36 last season with a 78-954-4 line. Again, this is the floor if healthy. The 49ers offense could be better, which would allow Garcon to flirt with low-end WR2 numbers.
ZAY JONES DRAFTED BY THE BILLS
The Bills selected Jones with the fifth pick of the second round in this year’s draft. This was a move the team desperately needed to make considering Sammy Watkins needs help and Robert Woods took his talents to the Rams. Like Garcon, let’s start with the good.
Jones is a reception monster, evidenced by multiple records he set in college. His 399 career receptions at East Carolina are an all-time FBS record. The 158 receptions he recorded last year is also a single-season FBS record. He’s known for being a tough player with great hands who did not drop the ball much during his senior season.
At 6’2″, 210 pounds, Jones is big enough to play at the NFL level and his combine results also support that claim. He ran a 4.45 40-yard dash while recording the third-highest broad jump among wide receivers. Some question the talent he played against at East Carolina but he put that to rest with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl against top-level corners.
Jones did a lot of his damage in college with screens and as a slot receiver, evidenced by his low 10.7 yards per catch throughout his career. This works well for him (and Tyrod Taylor) considering Watkins likes to do his damage a bit further down the field. What doesn’t work well for Jones is the fact that the Bills haven’t passed the ball much in recent years, as the Bills called a pass play just 51.4 percent of the time last season, second lowest in the league.
Regardless, Jones is the WR2 in this offense until Watkins gets hurt, which could happen at any point he’s on the field. It’s also worth noting that Jones suffered a knee sprain of his own, although it’s not thought to be serious. According to MFL Public League Drafts ADP, Jones is being drafted as WR63 at pick 155. He’s a depth piece for now in deeper leagues as a WR5 or WR6, with the preferred format as PPR because of his background. If/when Watkins goes down, he has WR3 upside in both formats.