That’s right, fantasy football is back! Well, it’s been back since June, but now it’s back for real, and so are our fantasy predictions and prognostications doomed to be wrong. We’re kicking off our 2011 fantasy coverage with a look at free agency, and the players whose fantasy stock either rose or plummeted with their new place of employment.
1. Todd Heap signs with the Cardinals
Historically, the Cardinals have not gotten a ton of production from their tight ends, but Heap and newly-acquired quarterback Kevin Kolb are looking to change that. Yes, the Arizona native is starting to slow a bit with age (he’s 31 now) but he can still produce (almost 600 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games last season). The Cardinals are a pass-first team and Heap could become Kolb’s second option behind Larry Fitzgerald. Will he be your first choice at tight end? No, but he could be a great sleeper. The bigger question: Who will replace Heap in Baltimore? When Heap missed Week 13 with an injury last season, Ed Dickson got the start and fell flat on his face (on Monday Night Football, no less): one catch for seven yards. Dickson will now have a chance to show he is better than that, but I would shy away from having him on your fantasy roster.
2. Greg Olsen traded to the Panthers
The good news for Olsen: he’s finally free of Mike Martz and his anti-tight end offense (Martz prefers to use tight ends to block and protect the quarterback, so avoid Bears tight ends this year). Olsen’s new home is Carolina, where it’s likely that rookie Cam Newton will begin the season as the starting quarterback. Sure, Olsen is a big man who moves well for his size and gives Newton another option near the goal line, but the bad news is that Olsen has some company in Carolina, where Jeremy Shockey is also on board. How much will Shockey contribute? Well that’s the $1 million question. I still like Olsen over Shockey but I would hold off on acquiring him until we see just what Newton can do under center.
3. Zach Miller signs with the Seahawks
After four years, Miller has finally escaped the Bay Area for…Seattle? Really? Sure, Miller was a top-10 tight end last season (amazing considering the quarterback turnover in Oakland) but I don’t think he’ll be able to replicate that kind of production in the Emerald City. The reality is the Seahawks already have some very strong goal-line options in receiver Mike Williams and fellow tight end John Carlson. Miller’s productivity will ultimately come down to the play of new quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. If he doesn’t improve, Miller will be in tough to put up big fantasy numbers.
4. Kevin Boss signs with the Raiders
The Raiders needed to replace Zach Miller, and they did a pretty good job with Kevin Boss. The former Giant spent the last four seasons in New York and put up solid numbers: 119 receptions, 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns. The only problem with Boss is that he’s known more for his outstanding blocking abilities (good news for Darren McFadden) rather than his offensive zip. But that doesn’t mean you should write him off just yet. Boss will be a workhorse in Oakland’s offense this season (playing perhaps every offensive snap) simply because there isn’t a lot of experience behind him on the depth chart. Boss could turn out to be a very viable second tight end option.