In today's NFL, the passing game is king. Days of 300 carry Running Backs with 1,700 yards are gone and have been replaced by teams having multiple threats at the Wide Receiver position that can catch 75 passes and gain over 1,000 yards in a season. Not every team is stacked with no-brainer, big-time Wide Receivers like the Denver Broncos or the Green Bay Packers. For most teams, playmakers develop throughout the year and finding these hidden gems are key to fantasy success. It is easy to say that DeSean Jackson will find success in Washington or Golden Tate will be a solid player opposite Megatron, but finding the hidden players that will emerge to have big years lead to dreams of trophies for fantasy owners. For those who picked up players like Victor Cruz or Julian Edelman before they had monster seasons reaped the benefits on low cost, high reward players that helped most win a championship. Here are five players that have joined a new team, and with a fresh start could pay big dividends to fantasy owners.
1. James Jones (OAK)-Jones made a name for himself by making big plays for the Green Bay Packers, but always had a great receiver opposite of him to take some of the attention away (Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson). Now in Oakland, Jones is the go to guy and must step up his game. Coming into the 2014 Offseason, most had Eric Decker as the #1 Free-agent WR, but Jones's numbers were very similar. Playing in the loaded AFC West, Oakland will be playing most games coming from behind. With a more than capable QB in Matt Schaub, expect Jones to put up good numbers to make him a respectable WR2 that can be had in middle rounds after filling other needs.
2. Brandon LaFell (NE)- LaFell joins a New England team much in the mold of the Denver Broncos; an aging QB going all in before his time is done. LaFell will be able to add a dynamic downfield threat that New England hasn't had since Randy Moss was traded. With the loss of LeGarrette Blount in the running game and the inconsistency and unreliability of Stevan Ridley, the Patriots will once again rely on Brady's right arm. With Edelman and Gronk gaining most of the defensive attention, LaFell has the opportunity to make big plays while being covered by 2nd or 3rd CB's. LaFell would be an ideal WR3 with the potential to grow to a WR2 and can be had in the later rounds while filling out the roster.
3. Andrew Hawkins (CLE)- Hawkins is a dynamic slot receiver that can make plays once the ball is in his hands. Coming off an injury plagued 2013 campaign, Hawkins signed with the Browns with hopes of making plays in across from Josh Gordon. Similar to LaFell, Hawkins can count on the defense worrying about Gordon and TE Jordan Cameron and leaving him with one-on-one coverage. The draft will play a large part in Hawkins potential, with many believing the Browns will draft a QB and WR. Depending on how the draft shakes out, Hawkins would be a late round flier or free agent that could burst on the scenes in the right situation.
4. Kenny Britt (STL)- Britt's talent has never been questioned, but more off the field problems and injuries have been holding him back. Now back with the coach who drafted him, Jeff Fisher, look for Britt to have a breakout season. Talent wise, Britt is the Rams top receiver, but will have to work into a starting role and gain some trust from QB Sam Bradford. In order to compete in a tough NFC West, St. Louis knows it needs to be dangerous in the downfield passing game to go along with their crushing running game. Britt has the potential to be a good WR3/Flex player after a couple games into the season. Draft him late, stash him on the bench, and wait for him to go off.
5. Tiquan Underwood (CAR)- Carolina was non-existent in the early stages of free agency and paid for it. While using their cap space to retain their up and coming DE Greg Hardy, they had to cut long time WR Steve Smith. Losing Smith and LaFell means there are very few experienced pass catchers to work with Cam Newton. Underwood came on towards the end of the season in Tampa Bay, succeeding with a less accomplished QB in bad situation with a coaching staff on the way out. With plenty of opportunities coming his way as the WR1 or WR2 in Carolina, Underwood could easily develop into a solid WR3 for fantasy owners and can be had at the end of the draft just filling up roster spots.