A flurry of players have switched teams this football offseason. More roster shuffles will occur with the upcoming NFL Draft, potential trades and training camp injuries. Still, there are already some moves that will impact fantasy football owners — even though they are months away from drafting.
Here are three moves that will have noteworthy upgrades on quarterbacks:
1. Philadelphia cuts DeSean Jackson, who signs with NFC East Division rival Washington. In his six NFL seasons, Jackson has totaled at least 900 yards five times and scored 35 touchdowns combined receiving and rushing. Adding D-Jax to an offense with WR2 Pierre Garcon and emerging tight end Jordan Reed significantly boosts the upside for quarterback Robert Griffin III. RG3 won’t be a top three QB but now has top five upside and will reward owners who are patient and grab RG3 after the elite QB tier of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are gone.
2. Golden Tate leaves Super Bowl champion Seahawks for supporting role in Detroit. The former Notre Dame star has shown steady progress since his rookie season in 2010 — increasing his reception totals each year, from 21 to 35 to 45 to 64. With WR1 Calvin Johnson attracting the attention of opposing defenses, Tate doesn’t need to do much to add value to quarterback Matthew Stafford. If Tate finishes with similar numbers to last season, he will dwarf the production of the Lions WR2 last year: Kris Durham (38 receptions, 490 yards, two TDs). With Johnson, Tate, Reggie Bush and Joquie Bell at his disposal, Stafford is set up for an excellent season. He could easily equal or top his best year of 2011 when he threw for more than 5,000 yards and had 41 TDs. Stafford will have good value for fantasy owners and should be drafted several rounds after the top three QBs are off the board.
3. Longtime Panther Steve Smith joins Ravens. Joe Flacco has a Super Bowl ring and an enormous contract. What he was missing last season — after Anquan Boldin left Baltimore for San Francisco — was a veteran WR2 to complement speedster Torrey Smith. Last year as the top wideout in Carolina, Steve Smith declined to 64/475/2 from a 79/1394/7 output just two years earlier. In 2014, defenses will need to keep an eye on Steve Smith, a stark difference to last season when the Ravens trotted out Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones along with Torrey Smith. With the Smiths and Dennis Pitta, fully recovered from an injury that cost him nearly all of the 2013 season, Flacco could surpass the 4,000-yard passing mark and 25 TD passes for the first time. Still, Flacco won’t be a starter in 10-team or even 12- team leagues. However, he will have better value than in years past as a spot starter and in 2-quarterback leagues.