Dynasty Owner 2015 Off Season

About Dynasty Owner

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Dynasty Owner is all about Player Performance + Contract Value.  You need to understand that you can't just draft based on where you are slotted in the draft order, you have to have a plan.  You have to think like a real General Manager.  Where are you going to spend your salary cap?  For example, If you splurge on Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham, you're more than likely going to have to try and find elite production from a young QB on a rookie contract.  There's no fantasy experience that comes closer to the thrilling experience of running your own NFL Franchise.

The NFL:  The New Hot Stove League?

Follow any journalist or publisher who has been writing about the NFL for the last 20 years and each one of them have probably said some variation of "I've never seen anything like this offseason."  In a league traditionally devoid action before the draft, we've seen 10 major shake ups in reality and in Fantasy that will significantly impact planning for the 2015 season and your draft.  Without further ado, here are the top 10 most significant moves and how they might affect your draft strategy in Dynasty Owner.

10: Frank Gore to the Indianapolis Colts

The SF 49ers roster is turning over at breakneck speed, as Jim Harbaugh bolting has had a significant domino effect on the personnel makeup.  Frank Gore expressed extreme displeasure with the move so it was anticipated that the FA was going to be looking elsewhere.  And although he initially flirted with the Eagles (who hasn't?) he decided to head to Indy with Andrew Luck and a more stable situation instead.  Gore signed a 3 year / $12,000,000 contract with the Indianapolis Colts, and an annual average salary of $4,000,000.  That number doesn't dramatically change where he slots, as his discount from his previous $7MM / year salary should coincide with his dip in production in a more pass-first offense.  Gore is also 31 years-old, and although he's been very durable the last 4 seasons he's still a risk of breaking down with how many miles he's logged on his body.

It also spells the end for the disastrous Trend Richardson era in Indy, as they will try to void his contract due to his suspension at the end of last season.  Boom Heron will likely stick around as the back-up to Gore, and doesn't make for a bad handcuff but his upside will be very limited as long as Gore is healthy.  

This biggest winner in this signing from a fantasy perspective is undoubtably Carlos Hyde.  He will now be a feature back and RB1 candidate in a very run-friendly offense.  Hyde should be a lock for 250-300 carries and with an average yearly salary of under $1MM on his rookie deal (FA in 2018), he should be one of the top RB targets for fantasy owners on draft day.

Biggest Winners:  Carlos Hyde (SF RB), Frank Gore (IND RB)

Biggest Losers:  Trent Richardson (IND RB), Boom Heron (IND RB)

#9: Jake Locker Retires

One of the more shocking trends so far this off-season is the number of young and in their prime-years players are walking away from football altogether.  And while the biggest shock came in Patrick Willis announcement, the most significant from a Dynasty Owner perspective thus far is Jake Locker.  

While he struggled with injuries and consistency, and was most likely a bye-week answer for fantasy owners, his leaving opens up a very interesting scenario in Tennessee for the future signal caller.  The Titans still have high hopes for 2nd year QB Zach Mettenberger but more importantly hold the number 2 overall selection in the April draft, and now figure to look hard at either Winston or Marriota.  Dynasty Owners will want to watch this closely, as rookie QBs with promise are the most highly coveted prospects when starting a Dynasty Owner franchise for obvious reasons.   And with Locker off the roster, it probably accelerates the timeline for when any of the aforementioned QBs are handed the reigns out of training camp.

Biggest Winner:  Mettenberger (or Marriota/Winston)

Biggest Loser:  None

#8: Josh McCown to the Browns

What a disaster in Cleveland.  It was well known that the Browns weren't bringing Hoyer back and with Manziel still in rehab, they had to bring in someone.  But McCown, a 35 year old journeyman, can't be the only answer.  The Browns were rumored to be going after Sam Bradford as well, so it stands to reason they aren't done.  But the biggest signal this sends is that those owners who spent a reasonably high pick on Johnny Manziel last year in hopes that he would show the Johnny Football magic in the NFL should probably plan to move on...especially if the Browns also spend one (or both) of their day 1 Draft picks on a signal caller.

As for McCown, he assumes the same status he's had for the past few years, which is a bye-week fill in who's contract won't put you over the cap but certainly won't help you win any titles either.  But we have a hard time believing he'll be under center for all 16 games next year in Cleveland.  

We will list McCown as the biggest winner of the signing, simply because he's now the only QB on the roster who's main competition is still in rehab.  

Biggest Winners:  Josh McCown (QB, CLE)

Biggest Losers:  Johnny Manziel (QB, CLE)

#7: Brandon Marshall to the NY Jets

It was clear Marshall's days were numbered in Chicago, and his $7.5MM / year salary got shipped to NYJ for a late draft pick so it was clearly a salary dump for Chicago.

Marshall goes to a much less desirable offensive system and will have to endure the maddening inconsistency of Geno Smith, but he was able to produce in similar turmoil while with the Dolphins so his drop-off should be minimal.  

The biggest benefactors should be Eric Decker, who should fare much better as a #2 WR in NY and Alshon Jeffry who is now a clear-cut #1 in Chicago.  Although to be fair Jeffry was already producing at an elite WR1 level last year with Marshall around.  Jay Cutler, if he remains the Bears QB, loses a nice weapon.  

Biggest Losers: Jay Cutler (QB, CHI), Brandon Marshall (WR, NYJ)

Biggest Winners:  Erik Decker (WR, NYJ), Geno Smith (QB, NYJ)

#6: Torrey Smith to the SF 49ers

Smith gets reunited with his former counter-part Anquan Boldin in SF.  Smith's prospects should be similar to those he had in Baltimore from a targets and opportunities standpoint, but he's coming at a much higher price tag than his previous sub-$1MM / year rookie deal.  His new contract will pay him upwards of $8MM per season so he will need to play at the level he played at to close the 2014 season to cost justify that contract for owners.  Consistency has always been Smith's number 1 issue, and he's frustrated many fantasy owners in his short career thus far.

The interesting dynamic here is what happens to both teams as a result of the trade.  Michael Crabtree is almost certainly gone now and Stevie Johnson will almost certainly remain in the same #3 WR capacity.  Crabtree's prospects will depend on where he goes but he's almost certainly going to be losing opportunity.

In Baltimore, with Smith gone and only Steve Smith as an established WR1/ WR2 option, right now it looks like 6'5 Marlon Brown will get an opportunity to become a big factor in an offense that needs a mismatch red zone target.  That said, we don't think Baltimore is done in FA or the Draft as far as the position goes.   Flacco is also going to have to find a deep threat to replace Smith, and that player doesn't currently exist on their roster.

Biggest Winners:  Marlon Brown (WR, BAL)

Biggest Losers:  Michael Crabtree (WR, SF), Joe Flacco (QB, BAL)

#5: Jeremy Maclin to the Chiefs

With the exception of Alex Smith, almost everyone loses here from a fantasy perspective.  Maclin goes to arguably the worst WR offensive system in the league, and does so at a whopping $11MM / year rate. And since there is barely enough offense to feed even 1 WR in this offense, Dwayne Bowe can finally be ignored in all leagues, which might not be a bad thing. He'll likely be cut by KC anyway, as they need to open up cap space for this Maclin deal.

On the flip side, this does open up significant opportunity for promising young eagles WRs Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff.  The question is which one will step into the coveted WR1 slot in this high-octane offense.  If nothing else, this trade should make both of those guys big time targets in your Dynasty drafts...both are paid about $1MM / year on the 2nd year of rookie deals.  There's a potential steal there.  

Biggest Winners:  Alex Smith (QB, KC), Jordan Matthews (WR, PHI), Josh Huff (WR, PHI)

Biggest Losers:  Jeremy Maclin (WR, KC)

#4: Julius Thomas to the Jacksonville Jaguars

Current owners of Julius Thomas worst fears were confirmed as he just signed a huge deal to play with Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars.  While it's a good signing for the Jags as a team and should improve them overall, from a fantasy perspective Thomas loses a lot of luster as both in his offensive downgrade and his huge swing in contract value.  Last year he made $500k and now he will cost owners $9MM per season. Obviously he deserves the payday and Dynasty Owner's knew the days of him playing for the league minimum were fleeting, but this is a tough outcome for those hoping he would re-up with Denver.

His prospects aren't all that bad as Bortles showed promise last year and Thomas will no doubt be featured in the offense, but we're expecting about a 40% drop-off in overall production on Julius Thomas' numbers this year.  He quite literally went from a top 5 passing offense to a bottom 2 offense in terms of passing yards ranking in 2014.

From the Broncos perspective, there likely won't be a clear cut replacement for Thomas' production as they have so many other weapons to spread the ball around to.  They did just sign Owen Daniels ($4MM / year) to replace Thomas at the position, but he's not expected to have nearly the impact or targets that Thomas saw.  He's a solid 8-12 range TE target in upcoming drafts, whereas Thomas was a clear top 3 target previously.

Biggest Winners:  Blake Bortles (QB, Jax)

Biggest Losers:  Julius Thomas (TE, Jax)

#3:  Sam Bradford Traded to the Eagles for Nick Foles

Trading players for players in the NFL is (or at least used to be) extremely rare, however swapping projected starting QBs never happens.  Until Chip Kelly gets involved.  First, Kelly re-signed Sanchez to a 2-year $9MM contract signaling he would take the reigns as the starter heading into the offseason.  But this move certainly trumps that, as Bradford is paid like a top 10 starter at $13MM per year, and you don't bring that kind of money in to be a back-up.  But if that's not enough, reports out of Philly state that Kelly is STILL desperate to trade up to get his former college QB Marcus Mariotta.  Madness.

As for Foles, he leaves a better more fantasy friendly offense but gains a lot more stability.  Remember, he still has one more year left on a very friendly rookie deal which pays him less than $2MM per so he has a chance to be a great bargain QB on draft day, at least for this year.  

As for Bradford, he's a complete unknown.  Coming off his 2nd ACL tear in as many years, it's shocking that anyone would take the risk to see how he's recovered.  Yes, he goes to a very desirable offensive scheme but it's unclear if he'll be able to grab the starting job.  And Chip Kelly has shown that if nothing else, he is as unpredictable as it gets in terms of personell moves.  The Eagles have also lost last year's number 1 WR Jeremy Maclin, although they stocked up on promising young talent in last years draft so that doesn't figure to effect whoever wins the starting job out of camp.

Biggest Winners:  Nick Foles (QB, STL)

Biggest Losers:  Mark Sanchez (QB, PHI), Sam Bradford (QB, PHI)

#2:  LeSean McCoy traded to the Buffalo Bills

In any other offseason this would have been the runaway for most surprising move before the draft.  McCoy was dealt to Buffalo for LB Kiko Alonso and Chip Kelly continues to baffle pundits around the league.

With this trade, McCoy actually signed a new contract as part of the deal, which isn't always the case with trades, though he'll still cost about the same $8MM per season so his outlook doesn't change much there.  He will now play on a 5-year $40MM contract, and he was on a 3-year $25MM contract with the Eagles.  

It's also tough to slot how his on-field outlook changes.  On one hand, he was the best RB in football in Chip Kelly's offense 2 years ago and completely flopped in the same scheme last year.  Buffalo's offense has always produced quality RB production, albeit split between C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.   So we don't anticipate too drastic a change in McCoy's outlook.

The aforementioned Spiller is already out and is now one of the most sought after free agent RBs on the market next to DeMarco Murray.  Initial word out of Buffalo is that Fred Jackson will remain, and will keep his status as a must have handcuff for anyone who drafts or owns Shady McCoy.  His stock does slip a little as McCoy has historically been a better and more durable back than Spiller.   It will be interesting to see what the eagles do to replace McCoy but for now Darren Sporoles and Chris Polk (if he re-signs) appear to be in line for a big boost in carries.

Biggest Winners:  Darren Sporoles (RB, PHI), Chris Polk (RB, PHI)

Biggest Losers:  Fred Jackson (RB, BUF)

#1:  Jimmy Graham traded to the Seattle Seahawks

Easily the most unexpected move of the offseason.  Not just because trades are so rare but superstar difference makers in their prime never get dealt by teams who still have goals to contend like the Saints do.  However, this trade is actually akin to what Dynasty Owners need to plan for, as this was strictly a financial move on the part of the Saints, who were in salary cap trouble heading into the offseason.  And they did get a pro-bowl lineman and late 1st round pick out of the deal, but their fans are no doubt in shock after loosing Graham.  

The trade also has major fantasy implications.  Graham's contract doesn't change or get restructured as part of the deal, but he actually loses a little luster because there is no offense better suited for fantasy friendly WR/TE production than New Orleans.  He'll still thrive in Seattle, but they are content to win games with running and defense on any given week so Graham won't have the benefit of double digit targets every game like he had with Brees in NO.  Drew Brees also takes a hit, although he had some monster games while Graham was shelved too so chances are he's always going to be elite and forced to pass it a ton as long as Sean Payton is at the helm in New Orleans.

The biggest benefactor might be Russell Wilson, and the rich get richer.  Still playing out one more year on his putrid rookie deal, Wilson was already a top 10 Fantasy Option at QB and just got the most explosive TE in the game to add to his arsenal.  

Biggest Winners:  Russell Wilson (Sea QB)

Biggest Losers:  Jimmy Graham (Sea TE), Drew Brees (NO QB), Luke Wilson (Sea TE)