Cian Fahey

Same Face, New Place - Brandon Marshall

Author: Cian Fahey

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Basically ever since moving from Denver to Chicago, Jay Cutler has played behind a terrible offensive line without a reliable receiving corp. It's a wonder how he has been anyway effective with Matt Forte as his best receiving option. Next year should be significantly different however as the Bears worked in the off-season to reunite Cutler with his former favorite target: Brandon Marshall.

Marshall was a leading receiver last year in terms of fantasy as he finished in the top 10 in receiving. That was in spite of playing for the Miami Dolphins who lacked an elite talent at quarterback. Jay Cutler is certainly an elite talent who should allow Marshall to flourish even further and return him to one of the most productive receivers in the league like he was in Denver.

With Michael Bush and Forte (probably) in the backfield, the Bears should be running a very balanced offense next season. That shouldn't hurt Marshall's production however because Cutler is the type of quarterback who looks to his most talented receiver opposed to picking the easiest grape from the vine. When they last played together, Marshall had 307 receptions in three seasons averaging 6.97 receptions per start.

In PPR leagues, Marshall should be considered an elite talent even on the levels of Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Wes Welker. With Devin Hester and Earl Bennett playing alongside him, and the two running backs, Marshall has enough talent around him to prevent defenses from zoning in on him completely while still remaining the most important piece of the offense.

In non-PPR leagues, Marshall's stock has definitely risen to be considered a top five receiver. His greatest worry entering this year is if he can keep his nose clean off the field...at least Sam Hurd isn't there anymore to lead him wrong...

Follow Cian Fahey on Twitter @cianaf

 

Same Face, New Place - Brandon Lloyd

Author: Cian Fahey

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Brandon Lloyd likely won't lead the league in receiving as he did the last time he played under Josh McDaniels, but his fantasy stock should be as high as it has ever been throughout his career after signing with the New England Patriots.

Lloyd plays a vital role in the Patriots offense. He is the burner on the outside which the team has lacked since Randy Moss played with any real motivation. After playing in tough situations in both Denver and St. Louis last year, Lloyd could easily eclipse 1,000 yards playing in what is likely to be the best passing attack in the league next year. For that reason, his impact on the Patriots offense as a whole will be even greater.

The stock of each of Tom Brady, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker should rise even if it can't go much further up the scale. The Patriots offense is based on matchups. Last year, when Rob Gronkowski was double covered, Brady looked to Welker or Hernandez. If two of the three were doubled, Brady either checked down to his backs/audibled to a running play or found the third player.

With Brandon Lloyd's speed, defenses will no longer be able to double cover anyone.

Lloyd may not be an elite receiver, but he is too good, and too quick, to be left alone on the outside in single coverage. He will force defenses to play a lot more zone which should allow Wes Welker to prosper. If teams do only commit one player to Lloyd, he should put up good numbers. If they try to double team him, at least two of the other three receivers will be in single coverage and very few players can consistently cover any of those three.

The biggest fantasy winner in this situation is Tom Brady. Brady is currently my third ranked quarterback entering the season and a sure first round pick. Gronkowski is already my top rated tight end, while Aaron Hernandez could potentially suffer from losing some receptions to Lloyd, but I still think he will have a big year as the Patriots pass more.

With a new lease of life underneath, Wes Welker should be at the bottom of the elite class of receivers. I wouldn't take him ahead of Calvin Johnson, Andre, Larry Fitzgerald or Brandon Marshall, but in a PPR league he could be the best option available. Over 120 receptions is not an unrealistic expectation.

As for Lloyd himself, he won't be in the elite class of receivers, but he should be a reliable first choice starter to lead your fantasy team's receiving corp.

 

Fantasy Football - Best Free Agents '12

Author: Cian Fahey

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Franchise tags have been handed out and now teams are frantically focused on trying to re-sign their remaining star players ahead of the beginning of free agency on March 13th. The 13th of March is not only important for owners of NFL franchises, but also very important for owners of fantasy NFL franchises.

Whether your fantasy season is a full-time commitment to one team or multiple single season ventures, fantasy football requires constant attention if you are to ultimately be crowned a winner come January.

While unearthing studs in latter rounds is always a help, the best fantasy teams always make sure to hit on their big name additions who are expected to carry their teams. There are a few of those names potentially moving during this free agency period.

As such, here are the best spots for some of the biggest fantasy impact performers for next season.

Vincent Jackson:
Since Carl Nicks isn't an option in fantasy football, Jackson is the best free agent on the market. Jackson had a good, but not great, season last year despite being hindered by an underperforming offense in San Diego.

Depending on what the Chargers do with their offensive line issues, Jackson may be better suited to finding a fit elsewhere in the NFL. There is no doubt that Philip Rivers loves to throw his way and has proven in the past that the two can flourish together, but without the offense functioning as a whole, Jackson's struggles could worsen. A diminishing Antonio Gates also hurts him by allowing defenses to double team him with greater ease.

Fantasy Football - How Does Peyton Manning Effect You?

Author: Cian Fahey

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Peyton Manning is a free agent and the suitors are already fighting for his signature (https://twitter.com/#!/AdamSchefter/status/177734123757113344). Where Manning signs will have a major impact on next year's NFL season. Much more importantly, where Manning signs will have a major impact on next year's fantasy football season.

Manning was a bust for everyone last year whether you picked him up in the first or fifth round. He did not play a game and has only recently resumed throwing the football.

The eight time all-pro selection, four time league MVP and former holder of the single season touchdown record will have a new home by this time next week in anticipation of the beginning of free agency. Prior to those additions, it is worth noting the value of some of Manning's potential new teammates.

Miami Dolphins:
Brandon Marshall,
As the team's leading receiver Marshall is going to get his numbers whether Matt Moore or Peyton Manning are playing in Miami next year. Marshall would obviously benefit from having Manning on the roster but either way he remains a top receiving option, but not an elite option.

Davone Bess,
Much like Austin Collie previously, Peyton Manning would love to work with Bess. Bess has some similarities to former Dolphin Wes Welker and could have a similar breakout season with a better passer who doesn't discriminate with his passes.

Anthony Fasano,
This is where Manning's effect really impacts the Dolphins' offense. Fasano is one of the most underrated tight ends in the NFL. As a pass catcher, he is targeted too few times in Miami. Manning would change that instantly and Fasano is good enough to thrive on more opportunities.

Reggie Bush,
For most running backs, the arrival of an elite quarterback would take away from his value. Bush may lose carries, but his receptions and yardage total should rocket. Manning has no issues with checking the football down, checking it down to Bush can often be the best option on offense.

Washington Redskins:

 

Fantasy Football Sleepers: Wide Receivers

Author: Cian Fahey

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Fantasy Football Sleeper Wide Receiver Spotlight:

Vincent Brown

Whether Vincent Jackson returns to San Diego or not, the Chargers should still have a productive receiving corp for Philip Rivers to put up big numbers.

Second-year-receiver Vincent Brown should have a lot to do with that as he is the perfect fit in the Chargers' offense. If Brown was with another offense, I wouldn't be as high on him. Despite being listed at 5'11 and 184 lbs, Brown's physicality and speed makes him a viable deep threat.

He adjusts well to the football in the air and aggressively attempts to reel it in at it's highest point. Brown had only 19 receptions for 329 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games of limited action last year. He did however average 17.3 yards per reception and should see his role grow in San Diego next season.

 

Clyde Gates