NFL Free Agency has taken a backseat to the WBC and March Madness. Obviously we all love these events, but transactions are still taking place that will affect next month’s entry draft and the upcoming 2017 NFL season. There will be a bit more moving and shifting as we get closer to the draft, but these are some of the under-the-radar moves that have happened in recent days.
The Bills 2016 WR corps wasn’t the cause of Rex Ryan’s firing, but it certainly didn’t help him or the team. In free agency so far Buffalo has watched Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin leave for the Rams and 49ers, respectively. Hoping for Tyrod Taylor to take a step forward in 2017, the Bills have turned to new ‘weapons’ for his arsenal. One of these weapons is former Raiders wideout, Andre Holmes. Holmes, a clear fourth option for Oakland in 2015 and 2016, now finds himself as a penciled in number two in Buffalo. For fantasy purposes, Holmes will be a sneaky pick as he may play half the season as a top option in a passing game without an oft-injured Sammy Watkins.
Draft Effect - The Bills currently hold the #10 pick in the draft. Although Andre Holmes is a nice option, he isn’t going to turn around Tyrod Taylor’s career. How about drafting Western Michigan’s Corey Davis? He has the size and skill set of a true, playmaking #1 and has been drawing comparisons to Terrell Owens.
New York Giants
The Giants didn’t make any moves that will send shockwaves through the fantasy community, but what they did do should make their fans breathe a sigh of relief. The Giants came to terms Friday with their best pass rusher, Jason Pierre-Paul, on a 4 year deal. You may remember JPP made headlines nearly two years ago when a July 4th fireworks mishap left not only his right hand mangled, but also his chance at a long term deal. Pierre-Paul’s play last season and this long term contract put to bed any issues tied to his hand. In other NYG news, multiple sources suggest the team is reportedly ready to sign Geno Smith to compete as Eli Manning’s backup.
Draft Effect - Eventually the Giants will need to replace Manning as a starter and they seem content to bring in a high upside guy rather than draft a player like Mitch Trubisky. Geno Smith’s signing opens the door for the Giants to be conventional and take one of the top Offensive Lineman in the draft at #23 or they can be aggressive and pair Alabama TE O.J. Howard with OBJ and Brandon Marshall for an elite passing attack.
Oakland lost some key contributors to free agency this offseason. Latavius Murray, Malcolm Smith, DJ Hayden, and others have signed elsewhere. The Raiders, however, have made some team friendly moves this week. They brought in Marshall Newhouse to protect Derek Carr, Cordarrelle Patterson as a special teams/gadget weapon, and Jared Cook as an improved option to the loss of TE Mychal Rivera. Some may question how Patterson is a solid signing, but it is often forgotten that he was a special talent in college at the University of Tennessee. The ceiling is definitely there for him if he can put it all together. Carr is easily the best QB that Patterson has played with since coming into the league.
Draft Effect – Last season the Raiders had one of the top offenses in the league before a season ending injury to Derek Carr. This offseason has only seen Oakland contribute more to the offense. Currently, the Raiders are involved in speculation about Adrian Peterson and retired running back Marshawn Lynch to replace Latavius Murray. If they don’t sign either back, the Raiders are just fine waiting in the draft to take a running back to compete with DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. Oakland needs to address defense in the draft - in a big way. As good as their offense was, the defense was exposed over and over. Unfortunately for Oakland there is no true MIKE LB that grades as 1st round talent, outside of Reuben Foster, in this draft class. Foster is projected to go at least 10 picks before Oakland is even on the clock. Therefore, Oakland needs to address the defensive line or secondary in the first round. If Michigan’s Taco Charlton slips past the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins in round 1, he won’t fall past Oakland. If Charlton is drafted, the Raiders would be wise to select Alabama DB Marlon Humphrey to shore up that back line in the secondary.