Fantasy Impact: NFL Free Agency- AFC edition

This is one of the biggest times of year for the NFL. The impact free agency has on your favorite team has huge implications for Fantasy Football as well. My team, the beloved Chicago Bears have added a few players (mostly ones I have never heard of before) so I thought it would be nice to take a look around the league and see what, if any impact these moves might have for Fantasy Football. Let’s take a peek, shall we?

Some teams add players that impact how things will go in the coming season and some teams will lose players that have an equal or worse impact. Let’s go team by team and see what’s up:

AFC:

Baltimore Ravens: Adding Steve Smith might give the Ravens a little boost in the passing game. The key for Baltimore on offense though is Ray Rice and them being able to block in both the run and passing games. Losing Michael Oher doesn’t help that a whole lot.

Buffalo Bills: Haven’t done much in Free Agency. Losing Jarius Byrd will not help their D/ST. They need to draft at least 1 WR to give E J Manuel a more reliable target and free up Stevie Johnson from double teams. Manuel needs to take a step forward and try to stay on the field for a whole season.

Cleveland Browns: Oh Cleveland. My sports heart goes out to ye. Seemed like you guys were headed in the right direction with Chudzinski and try hard QB. Brian Hoyer. Unfortunately it seems like your owner is muddling up the mix. Not sure how much RB Ben Tate can add, given the situation at QB. Losing TJ Ward at Safety will be a big blow to a decent secondary. Sorry Browns fans, nothing but tears so far. On the positive side, you have picks #4 and #26 in the draft. If you get a solid QB, they will have Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron as nice weapons.

Cincinnati Bengals: Losing Michael Johnson, injuries and age are serious factors on D/ST. Will be interesting to see what impact the loss of Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden will have on the offense and QB Andy Dalton. On the plus side, the Bengals seem to be able to draft and develop decent talent.

Denver Broncos: Lost WR Eric Decker but replaced him with the speedier and niftier Emmanuel Sanders. In case you haven’t been following Sanders, he is a tough receiver who can make plays after the catch. The Denver offense might even be more potent in the passing game, which is hard to imagine. Losing RB Knowshon Moreno could be a huge opportunity for Montee Ball or Ronnie Hillman. On the defensive side, adding DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Talib could mean fewer points for Bronco opponents which is great for their Fantasy D/ST.

Houston Texans: Houston–we have a bit of a problem. Mostly on the offensive side of the ball. Only major loss is backup RB Ben Tate, who was a good insurance plan for oft injured RB Arian Foster. Foster has been toughing out injuries to his legs and back for the last few years. Will he come back to full strength? Matt Schaub’s departure at QB brings more questions than answers. A new coaching staff also brings up many question to a team that needs help on both sides of the ball.

Indianapolis Colts: Signed former Giants WR Hakeem Nicks to give Andrew Luck a large target to throw the ball. Nicks was injured and so inconsistent last season, he was little help to Eli and a struggling Giants team. His inability to stay on the field forced him to leave and only sign a 1 year deal. If he can get healthy, he will be a huge addition to Indy’s own inconsistent passing attack. Losing Antoine Bethea will be a hit to their aging D/ST.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars have definitely taken a step back on both sides of the ball. Haven’t had any major signings or losses. Even if RB Maurice Jones Drew comes back, he is not the same player he was before he became the primary ball carrier. Owner Shad Khan has stated they will draft at least 1 and perhaps 2 QBs in the draft. Then they re-signed backup Chad Henne. It appears they will try to reload in the draft and have the #3 overall pick to do so.

Kansas City Chiefs: Their biggest moves have been the losses of OT Brandon Albert and RB/WR Dexter McCluster. Those are also their two biggest needs on offense. Jamaal Charles had more yards, receptions and TDs than any of their WRs. That’s a problem in the NFL. It’s great for Charles and Fantasy Football owners, not so much for the Chiefs. They need more production out of their WR and QB. I think a speedy WR should help open things up. I expect that receiver to come via the draft though. Stay tuned!

Miami Dolphins: They lost 2 of their starting 5 Offensive lineman before Free Agency even started. They replaced one in Tackle Branden Albert. Guards are usually a little easier to replace. They added instigator, CB Courtland Finnegan to a Defense that  seemed to play tough-nosed at times. Seems like they need another playmaker, maybe in the run game. Blocking needs to improve as well, Ryan Tannehill was sacked 58 times last season. That said, TE Charles Clay and WRs Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace had decent seasons.

New England Patriots: Re-signing WR Julian Edleman was a good move, especially as he proved to be Brady’s most reliable target. It’s amazing how they lost CB Aquib Talib and replaced him with Darrelle Revis. Coach and GM-Bill Belichick will reload in the draft like always. They have a couple decent young WRs if they can take another step this off-season.

New York Jets: Jets are nothing if not entertaining. They managed to lure the prize of Free Agency in WR Eric Decker. Ditched QB Mark Sanchez and added veteran QB Michael Vick. Vick is intriguing as he could provide leadership and experience for 2nd year QB Geno Smith. Vick and Decker could be a very nice Fantasy Football connection. The Jets still need another WR and help in the run game.

Oakland Raiders: Lost RB Rashaad Jennings and DE Lamarr Houston but picked up QB Matt Schaub and solid WR James Jones. Re-signed RB Darren McFadden for 1 yr. They have 2 nice WRs in Denarius Moore and Rod Streeter. Could be in position to take the top WR in this year’s draft or take one of the top QBs. One thing is for sure, the Raiders are nothing if not unpredictable on draft day.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers rarely over-pay for Free Agents and usually do a good job at retaining their own. However, they did let speedy WR Emmanuel Sanders go to the Denver Broncos. They still have Antonio Brown and picked up veteran WR Lance Moore from the Saints. RB Le’Veon Bell had a nice rookie season. They should be able to add a nice WR in a deep NFL Draft.

San Diego Chargers: Didn’t really have a major loss or signing in Free Agency. Will look to build on last seasons progress offensively. Perhaps add another WR via the Draft.

Tennessee Titans: I’ll be honest, I have no clue what the Titans plan is in Free Agency. They reportedly are unhappy with QB Jake Locker, and cut their best player in RB Chris Johnson, and let go backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick–who at times, seemed to be doing a good job. They also let CB Alterraun Verner go. Additions include career backup Charlie Whitehurst and hybrid WR/RB Dexter McCluster.

I probably should have broken this down by division! Next up: NFC edition.

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