NFL fans are already wondering how the first day of free agency is impacting Fantasy Football. I'm glad to offer some thoughts, one topic at a time:
1. Brandon Marshall visiting Seattle. This is potentially the biggest news of the day as it would mean a quality, sure-fire No. 1 receiver changing addresses. Marshall is a restricted free agent who can sign an offer sheet with the Seahawks but would cost the team its No. 6 overall pick if the Broncos don't match.
That said, the Broncos are probably begging the Seahawks to sign him to an offer sheet.
The prospect of Marshall in Seattle is good, not great. I don't think he'll be quite as effective as he was in Denver. Fine, he'd still have a pretty good schedule in the NFC West (including a game at Denver), but quarterback issues, offensive line issues and people taking coverage away from him would all hinder his output. I'd still consider him a No. 1 WR, but I wouldn't be over the moon about it.
Domino effect: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, all Broncos receivers and passers would struggle.
And now on to things that HAVE happened instead of speculation ...
2. Chester Taylor signs with the Bears. This is great for the Bears, bad for the Vikings and knife-in-the-eye brutal for Fantasy owners. By virtue of this signing, we've lost another potential 15-to-20-touch running back out of the player pool.
Matt Forte might not have been your favorite choice for a No. 2 Fantasy rusher this summer but at least he had upside to work a lot and accumulate a ton of yardage and maybe more than four touchdowns. That's out the window now -- the assumption is that Taylor will compete with Forte for the starting job but ultimately share the ball with him. Under that guise, it would be a shock to see either running back land more than 15 touches in a game but instead hover around 10 per game.
And then there's the Martz factor: Already potentially hurting Forte's value, the mere presence of pass-happy offensive coordinator Mike Martz scares me further. Martz was phenomenal with Marshall Faulk in St. Louis but couldn't muster the same kind of stats out of Kevin Jones in Detroit, then ran Frank Gore into mediocrity with the 49ers -- Gore had his worst year as a starter under Martz. Don't be shocked if there's a game or two this season where Forte and Taylor combine for 15 touches.
I'll watch the backs in training camp and the preseason, but the biggest truth of all is that they've very much alike. Good size, great hands, able to block, no breakaway speed. It's going to be a mess. Taylor's Fantasy stock improves -- he's a legit No. 3 Fantasy RB, but so is Forte.
Domino effect: Vikings need a backup rusher for Adrian Peterson; if they don't add one, Peterson could be a beast -- as in, bigger than normal.
3. Nate Burleson signs with Detroit. If you take the financial aspect out of the deal, I like it a lot. I've been a Burleson fan for a while but strictly as him being a contributor, not a leading receiver. He's getting paid pretty well, but that doesn't matter in Fantasy.
What does matter is his presence across from Calvin Johnson in a high-powered Lions offense. On paper I like it a lot -- but I can't consider Burleson as anything more than a low-end No. 3 Fantasy WR. Could he get 900 yards and seven touchdowns? Yeah, and that would be great. But I think 700 yards and four touchdowns is more realistic.
Domino effect: Matthew Stafford has a real shot at 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns. That would be great for him. Also, the Lions' run game could lose work with the passing game enhanced, but they're thin there anyway with Kevin Smith banged up.
4. More Bears: Julius Peppers signs. Again, I don't like the money involved, but I do think it's a good move for the Chicago defense. Their biggest problem last season was a consistent pass rush. They've got it now, and it should be ferocious because even if you double-team Peppers, you still have to deal with Alex Brown coming from the other side and Tommie Harris from up the middle. And Brian Urlacher blitzing. And so on. The Bears might be the best 4-3 scheme defense in the NFL in 2010. Peppers should also pressure opposing quarterbacks which typically results in interceptions. The biggest key to the Bears DST might be Devin Hester, who is believed to be returning kickoffs again. If that happens, and if he re-dedicates himself, then the unit could be Top 10 once again. That's where I have them ranked now.
Domino effect: Panthers DST is toast.
5. Jake Delhomme cut in Carolina. Matt Moore takes over, and he's OK as a No. 2 Fantasy QB but it's clear that the Panthers are heading in a youth movement direction. Not going to be pretty for them, and not going to be pretty for Steve Smith. He's a fine No. 2 WR but it's clear that this team will run the ball a ton in 2010. Good news for DeAngelo Williams (if he survives the offseason) and Jonathan Stewart (if he can stay healthy.
Domino effect: Jake Delhomme continues to be Fantasy repellent. Many are already pinning him to a backup role with the Saints.
For other Fantasy news from Friday, click here