Sometimes in fantasy, it is not always about the new player joining a team. It is about how the new player fits in with the existing players and what nightmares it causes for opposing defenses. Many years ago, a rookie named Randy Moss joined the Minnesota Vikings. Moss was fantastic at helping draw defenses away for the other skill players by stretching the secondary, which caused more running lanes and quicker developing routes. Cris Carter, Jake Reed, Robert Smith, and a host of QBs were the beneficiaries of a young Randy Moss. There are several players that will have better seasons because of a team’s new found synergy aka the combined action or functioning caused by the influx of new talent due to free agency and trades. In this article, we will explore three players: Jay Cutler, Chris Wells, and Cam Newton that will all get to experience this synergy firsthand.
Jay Cutler’s offseason hasn’t been without hurdles. He broke up with his MTV Hills fiancée, and several members of the media along with many NFL players on twitter questioned Cutler’s toughness to get back into the NFC Championship game after suffering a knee injury. Heck, his inverted personality and diabetic condition don’t help his cause either. Then “Da Bears” traded away TE Greg Olsen who accounted for five of Cutler’s touchdowns; however, offensive coordinator Mike Martz did not use the TE effectively in his offense, just ask Vernon Davis.
Cutler did get some much needed help with the addition of a much larger receiver in Roy Williams (6’3” 215 lbs). The best thing about Williams is that he had his best statistical year under a Martz guided offense. Also unheralded, undrafted rookie Dane Sanzenbacher from Ohio State was signed to help shore up their receiving corps. Sanzenbacher has been lining up with the ones as camp opened. These signings will give the Bears the ability to run a more wide open offense that will suit Martz’s wide open offensive game plan and Cutler’s talents. Look for Jay Cutler to improve on his passing numbers because of these additions and his comfort level in the Martz system. Cutler could provide top 8 QB numbers with a top 16 QB cost.
Chris Wells has gone through some ups and downs this spring and summer as well. First, the Arizona Cardinals went out and drafted Ryan Williams in the second round in this year’s NFL Draft. Then his trusted college coach who believed in him, Jim Tressel, was fired from Ohio State. Dark days were upon “Beanie” until some magic happened in the past few days. The Cardinals traded a talented corner back in DRC and a 2nd round pick for Kevin Kolb. Now the jury is out with how effective Kolb will be in a starter’s role, but he does have a better command of the field than the combination of Derek Anderson, John Skelton, and Max Hall did last year. This bump up in QB play will help Larry Fitzgerald stay healthy (hopefully no more being laid out by badly thrown passes, thanks DA!) and increase Fitz’s effectiveness which will only help the running game.
The signing of Todd Heap, who is a good run blocker and receiver, will help take the focus off just Fitzgerald and create better running lanes. The final uptick was the Cardinals trading the fumbling machine known as Tim Hightower. While Stephens-Howling is a great returner and good scat back, he has not been used much in the backfield. It will be a two man show with Wells and rookie Ryan Williams. Wells could be a very effective #3 RB for your team until he gives way to Williams, which with the reduced practice time before the season, could last into late November. Don’t reach for Wells, but he could be a great value later on (ninth round or higher) in a fantasy draft.
Cam Newton, on the other hand, hasn’t had much time to prepare for the NFL with his Panther teammates. Most importantly for him,Newton has gotten some much needed help in the last few days. The re-signing of DeAngelo Williams may indeed hurt the fantasy chances of Jonathan Stewart, but it gives the defense another target to concentrate their sights. A good/great running game will lessen any pressure rookie Newton will have to prove his 1.1 NFL draft pick status. If the Carolina OC puts Williams, Stewart, and Newton on the field at the same time on the goal line, how will defenses be able to focus on any one of them? With Newton’s build at 6’6”, 250 lbs., he might be able to get 5-7 goal line TDs!
Also by adding TE threats in Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen,Newton will have effective short pass catchers that are dependable red zone threats. The biggest non-subtraction of this offseason is Steve Smith staying on the Panthers. Smith will help make WRs Brandon LaFell and David Gettis better by taking away coverage from them by stretching the field. All of these factors play to Newton’s strengths. Newton will be a fantastic #3 QB option and may end up being a great bye week QB play.
If you want to take advantage of the free agent moves and trades, look further than the new players on new teams. Make sure you take account of the surrounding players that will see added benefits by the infusion of new blood. Jay Cutler, Chris “Beanie” Wells, and Cam Newton will all see an uptick in their value at a low investment. Take a chance on one of them as I already have.