|ESPN.com: 2011||[Print without images]|
• Plaxico Burress to the New York Jets. Nobody really knows how much the 34-year-old Burress has left in the tank, but there's no reason to suspect he's completely cooked. For that reason, I think there's a decent chance Plax becomes the outside receiver who starts opposite Santonio Holmes, while Jerricho Cotchery stays in a No. 3 WR role. Of course, the Jets have one of the most run-oriented offenses in the league, and Mark Sanchez still has accuracy problems that tend to cap the value of his wideouts. Holmes will be fed first in this passing game; the best Burress will be is second. But he's always been a good red zone threat and there should be enough week-to-week targets available for Plax to make him draftable in some leagues. In last year's final 12 regular-season games (after Holmes had returned from his suspension), Braylon Edwards averaged just fewer than seven targets per game. That's not a scintillating number, but it's not horrible.
• Greg Olsen to the Carolina Panthers. Free at last! Mike Martz simply was never going to use the tight end as a receiver much in Chicago, so Olsen's talents were going to waste. I think you can easily make the case that in terms of ability, Olsen is one of the 10 best receiving tight ends in the business, so his ascension to a system that seems ready to value his skills is good news. Of course, it's also been a long time since the Panthers have featured an elite fantasy tight end (the name Wesley Walls comes to mind), and the Week 1 starting QB may very well be rookie Cam Newton, so it's tough to say Olsen immediately becomes a fantasy starter in shallow leagues. But he's much more draftable than he was as a Bear. In other news, this transaction tells us all we need to know about how much Jeremy Shockey has left in the tank as a receiver. He's going to be a glorified offensive lineman in his first season in Carolina.
• Marion Barber to the Chicago Bears. Barber may be only 28, but his whirling-dervish running style has more than caught up with him. He faded badly in his final couple of seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, and last year averaged 3.3 yards per carry as not one of his 113 totes went for more than 25 yards. He's good in pass protection and has always been a bull near the goal line, so Chicago does have a role for him. But it would be foolish, I think, to say that Matt Forte's fantasy owners should be concerned. Forte will continue to be The Man, while Barber will pitch in and could help a short-yardage rushing game that's struggled for years. Yes, it's possible Barber snatches away a few bunny TDs. But that doesn't make him a handcuff to Forte and it doesn't make him draftable; it makes him a nuisance. The guy who really needs to worry here is Chester Taylor. He's probably on the Bears' roster bubble now.
• Roy Williams to the Chicago Bears. The last good season Williams had was '06, and Martz was his offensive coordinator. Perhaps that provides a flicker of hope that Williams might deliver on what once looked like an All-Pro type of career. But he'd have to change his stripes dramatically for that to happen. His two-plus years in Dallas were marked by inattention to detail, mental errors, a loss of deep speed and QB chemistry concerns. The guy still turns only 30 in December, and it's not like he's coming to a team with an established excellent receiving corps. In theory, Williams could wind up Chicago's No. 1 wideout. Certainly his presence means Devin Hester basically goes back to being a return man, while Earl Bennett may wind up operating more out of the slot. Williams is a big guy who in theory can be a good end zone target. But Johnny Knox is the dynamic player here, the guy who'll break big gains and rack up higher-value targets. If Williams beats out Bennett and lines up as the flanker, he's fairly ownable as a speculative pick. But I'm not expecting a ton.
• Michael Jenkins to the Minnesota Vikings. Really? This is how the Vikings will try to replace Sidney Rice? Yuck. Jenkins is a terrific downfield blocker, but he averaged just 2.2 yards after the catch last season, ranking 97th among NFL receivers. He just doesn't make plays. Heck, there's absolutely no guarantee that Jenkins will beat out Bernard Berrian for the spot opposite Percy Harvin, and the recently signed Devin Aromashodu also has an outside shot of getting in the mix. I have to believe there's still a chance the Vikes will sign a bigger-name free-agent WR (as of this writing, Malcom Floyd, James Jones and Braylon Edwards were all still available), in which case Jenkins' fantasy value will be absolutely nil. Yes, if Minnesota's roster stays as currently constituted, it's possible Jenkins catches a few touchdowns from Donovan McNabb. But I wouldn't dream of owning him in a 10-team league.
• Mike Sims-Walker to the St. Louis Rams. Oh, goodie, another wide receiver in St. Louis. Josh McDaniels is obviously collecting them. Let's run through the group: Danny Amendola, Danario Alexander, Donnie Avery, Brandon Gibson, Mardy Gilyard, Austin Pettis, Greg Salas, maybe Mark Clayton and now MSW. Amendola, Alexander, Pettis and Salas aren't going anywhere, though Pettis and Salas are rookies, so they don't need to contribute right away to justify their roster spots. That means Avery, Gibson, Gilyard and Sims-Walker (Clayton's surgically repaired knee apparently isn't ready for prime time yet) are competing for what? Two roster spots? The third-receiver gig? I mention all this by way of saying: Don't be fooled into thinking MSW has been brought to St. Louis as a presumptive starter. He got a one-year, short-money contract after a disastrous '10 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Could he make the team and wind up Sam Bradford's top target? Sure. But could he get hurt yet again? Could he find himself buried on the depth chart? Could he get flat-out cut? Yup.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner. You can ask him questions at www.facebook.com/writerboy.