FA Expectancy: Jeremy Maclin

Updated: July 16th 2017

Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

The first big surprise, post draft, of the offseason was the Chiefs releasing veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. After having consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2014 and 2015 Maclin dropped of statistically last season because of injury. In 2016 Maclin had less than 45 catches and only 2 touchdowns. For these reasons and believing that he may have “lost a step” going into his age 29 season, the Chiefs decided to move on. The Ravens swooped in and picked up Maclin on a 2 year/ $11MM deal. This has had a positive influence on several players’ value (including Maclin’s) which makes a re-evaluation of the position on both teams necessary.

What does this do for Baltimore?

The two stats that kept getting thrown around regarding Baltimore this offseason was that they had the highest amount of pass attempts last season (672) and have one of the highest amount of vacated targets from last season with the departure of Steve Smith. Translation: any receiver that joined the Ravens would become highly sought after on volume alone. Now with Jeremy Maclin opposite to Mike Wallace Baltimore has a similar, albeit older, possession-to-speed wide receiver combo like in Tampa Bay, which I applauded in my last article. From that article, you should be able to take away that I don’t think that Wallace will see a significant drop in targets and fantasy value. Joe Flacco on the other hand needed a receiver more consistent than Wallace to be the team’s WR1 and it should increase the usability of Flacco in fantasy, especially in Superflex/2QB. Breshad Perriman is the player that most people have pointed to as the loser in this scenario but I think people’s expectations of what Perriman was going to be was too high to begin with. He could have bye week/flex appeal for a period this season but I don’t see him being more than a WR4/5 this season. I have never been high on Perriman and saw him and Phillip Dorsett of Indianapolis as similar one-skill players. The window to sell Perriman is closing with the signing of Jeremy Maclin.

Does this help Maclin’s value?

jeremy-maclin-baltimoreJeremy Maclin came into Kansas City as the savior that could remove the stink of not having a receiver catch a touchdown in 2014. Some were skeptical that he was a product of Chip Kelly’s offense and would not have the same stats with Andy Reid. He answered with 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns and saw a big spike in his value. This lead to a number of RSO owners signing him to a multi-year deal at auction last offseason. Stephen Wendell and I even complemented RSO frontman Matt Papson last season on his 4 year/$26MM contract for Maclin in the Writer’s League. Unfortunately for all Maclin owners last year they were left wanting with his underwhelming 2016 season. Depending on how deep one invested they may have been able to trade out or just release Maclin earlier this offseason. If you did hold him through the low point you might as well hold him now till we see how he fits with the Ravens and what his value will bounce back to. In auctions, I will be treating Maclin much like I did Ryan Matthews last year where he could be a buy for a contending team that has the extra cap space this year but doesn’t want to commit money to the future for a sexier receiver. He should max out at $14MM for 2017, $25MM/2 years for those that really love the landing spot.

A “Hill” to die on in KC

No player has been more talked about (positively or negatively) in the 2017 offseason than Tyreek Hill. The rookie became the must waiver add midway through last season and many people were projecting his role to only increase heading into this season. Now with Maclin out and no obvious top option on the roster Hill will be locked in as one of your auction’s longest lasting bids. If you think Hill will be THEE player to get on your team be prepared to be spending over $15MM/year. If you are not a big Hill fan he’s definitely a player you want to nominate and watch other owners spend their cap on.

**As a tip I find that the first players at each position nominated actually go for less than their expected value since everyone is mildly hesitant to spend right away. Try not to nominate Hill (or any player you want out as a decoy) in the first round of selections. Instead, wait for a second or third pass to make owners set the market. **

Of course, the other Chiefs receivers have seen a bump in their value and are all worth acquiring, for the right price. Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, and even Jehu Chesson have a chance to be the WR2 (or WR1) in this offense but the Chiefs are not a team that is known for producing multiple fantasy relevant receivers. The drafting of Patrick Mahomes likely signals the change at QB from Alex Smith in the next year or two which could increase the depth of passes and overall aggressiveness of the offense. Ultimately there may be value in any three of these receivers if they can become a flex contributor. However, I would rather wait till the preseason to see which player looks like they will be playing the most snaps and pay the premium. Wilson and Chesson are likely available in your auction and could be bought near the end for close to the minimum. Conley has been gaining interest from the dynasty community and will be the most expensive of the three to acquire. A late second should be the ceiling that you pay to acquire him before we know more in August.

Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Leave me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Changing of the Guard

Updated: December 4th 2016

Hopefully, everyone’s waistbands held up on Thanksgiving and you kept all your fingers and toes if you were brave enough to go out on Black Friday. The NFL has its own dark day where feelings are hurt and human dignity can sometimes be called into question. I am referring to the “Black Monday”, a day when coaches are released following the final week 17 games. For those of you who follow hockey hopefully any coaches who are released are left with a little more dignity than Coach Gerard Gallant of the Florida Panthers. Yikes.

Regardless, there will be at least one head coach, if not multiple, that will not be with their current teams in 2016. Others might narrowly avoid the guillotine but will be on thin ice for next season. I have pulled together a list of four coaches that I think should be let go in the next month, two that could be let go and three others who could be surprise cuts either this year or next.

Guys Who Gotta Go

John Fox, Jeff Fisher, Chuck Pagano, Gus Bradley

John FoxJohn Fox – The writing has been on the wall for a couple of weeks now and it looks like both he and Jay Cutler have worn out their welcome in Chicago. Management seems content with letting them as well as Alshon Jeffrey and starting fresh with a new crew. A new coach should be welcomed but there is a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball before anything fantasy relevant returns to the windy city. It’s a real knock on Jordan Howard who looked like he could be a decent player if there was enough around him.

 

Jeff-FisherJeff Fisher – Why does this guy still have a job!? For those who have read my articles in the past know I don’t hold back on Fisher and his questionable coaching status. He was almost given an extension early in the season but that seems to have been pulled off the table with their recent slide. Unlike Howard’s outlook with a coaching change, there can only be good things that can happen to Todd Gurley’s value with Fisher removed. Ideally, GM Les Snead should look to bring in a coach who is defensive minded and focuses on controlling the clock and running the ball on offense.

**Editor’s note Fisher and Snead have been given contract extensions which can only suggest that the Rams are okay with presenting their fans a mediocre product. If you have Todd Gurley you should be selling him before the start of next season.**

 

Chuck PaganoChuck Pagano – Some thought that Chuck wasn’t going to make it through last season but he was given a second chance to work things out with GM Ryan Grigson. The team still has no offensive line to protect their hundred million dollar QB and their defense is suspect at best. Unless the Colts make a miraculous playoff run this season I don’t see how Pagano and potentially Grigson keep their jobs heading into 2017. Hopefully, the new regime comes in and invests more into protecting their QB before his career becomes a “ya but” legacy.

 

Gus Bradley – When people said they expected Allen Robinson to regress from 2015 I have a hard time believing that they meant this bad. He has been a ghost for most of this season and borders on droppable in a redraft. Blake Bortles himself has dropped from his top 5 fantasy season last year but maybe this is just numbers returning to the average. However, the reason Bradley should be gone by season’s end though is the defense and the failure to move forward. The team has been a sleeper to win the AFC South the last two years and Shahid Khan has spent a small country’s GDP on free agents in Bradley’s tenure to try taking advantage of a weak division. Another well below .500 season should be the final straw for Bradley.

Wouldn’t Be Surprised

Marvin Lewis, Mike McCarthy

Marvin LewisMarvin Lewis – It would be sad to see this be the season that Marvin Lewis is finally let go. His recent successes and the strong core of players he has built up over the last 5 years made the Bengals one of the most consistent teams in the AFC. However, without having a playoff win to his record, and given the big of a step back this season it may finally be the time to remove the second-longest tenured coach in the league. A change of coaches shouldn’t hurt the value of the Bengal’s players but there could be growing pains next year with a new style of offense to learn, something Dalton has had the benefit of avoiding thus far in his career.

Mike McCarthy – Similar to Lewis McCarthy has been one of the most successful coaches over his time in Green Bay, but not all jobs are judged evenly. Title Town expects Super Bowl contenders and the Packers are far from that this year. The return of Jordy Nelson proved that there still isn’t something right in the clubhouse and it may come down to a coaching change to try and liven up the team. With Aaron Rodgers in town, the team would still be considered “in the hunt” for 2017 but they have serious rebuilding work everywhere else if they want Rodgers to ever wear the belt again.

Surprising but Understandable

John Harbaugh, Sean Payton, Mike McCoy

John HarbaughJohn Harbaugh – Four years removed from a Super Bowl victory and the Ravens have fallen out of the elite class in the AFC. Last year was a huge disappointment and this year, while the record might not be that bad, it isn’t up to the standards of what they are expected to do year in and year out. The offensive coordinator was let go earlier this season and it hasn’t improved in recent weeks. He’s likely to keep his job with a chance still at the playoffs but maybe it is time to move on to the next phase. The Ravens could turn out to be in a year what the Bears are now, a team with minimal talent and a mediocre QB that is leeching all the cap space.

Sean PaytonSean Payton – What a ride it would be since 2005 with a top 10 offense year after year and a Super Bowl trophy to hold high. But the defense has been historically bad for years now and it likely isn’t going to be fixed before Drew Brees is gone in what everyone expects to be next season. Brees moving on would likely force the team to look to start fresh with their coaching staff too and would be a fitting end to the Payton-Brees Era in New Orleans.

Mike McCoyMike McCoy – The Chargers this season read like a heart monitor and for many of its fans they may have had to be hooked up to one. With so many puzzling losses early in this season, failing to capitalize on Phillip Rivers in his prime the last couple years and the looming move to Los Angeles next year the Chargers could be looking to make a splash move.

Who do you think will be let go this season? Let me know @naandrews19.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Cap Analysis: Ravens

Updated: February 22nd 2016

Baltimore Ravens

Trending: Slightly Up ↑

2015 marked the Ravens first losing season with John Harbaugh, who became head coach in 2008. The team was 25th in passing, 26th in rushing, and 30th in turnover ratio. That was partially fueled by a lack of offensive identity, and four different starting quarterbacks. The defense is filled with talent, and had a really strong season when you consider just how poorly the offense performed. If the Ravens offense gets healthy, they should be able bounce back quickly.

Projected 2016 Team Salary$147.9M (not including escalators and NLTBE* incentives) *Not Likely To Be Earned

Projected 2016 Cap Room: ~$7.7M (~$154M Estimate; ~$1.6M Rollover)

Situation: Weak 

The Ravens find themselves with very little cap room, but also few priority free agents. The team needs Breshad Perriman to be the playmaker they believed they were investing in with the 26th overall pick, because they don’t have the space to add a big name in free agency. Joe Flacco has the third highest cap hit of any player in the NFL at $28.55M, trailing only Drew Brees ($30M; likely to be renegotiated) and Ndamukong Suh ($28.6M). An extension or a restructure with Flacco would give the team the spending flexibility needed to invest in the offense, but Flacco has significant leverage.

Notable Free Agents:

Ravens FAs

The Ravens have only a few notable free agents, but three of them are key players. Justin Tucker is coming off his worst season as a professional, but is still the second most accurate active kicker in the NFL. Courtney Upshaw has started 51 games in his first four seasons and is an important part of a strong front seven. Keleche Osmele has started every game that he’s been healthy since his rookie season. The Ravens would need to create cap room via extensions/restructures of veteran releases to resign all three players.

Top Projected Cap Hits:

Ravens Proj Cap Hits

Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, and Dennis Pitta each have cap charges that the team will probably try to reduce, but the players have the leverage in all three cases because of the cap repercussions that would be associated with their release.

Cap Casualty Watch List:

Ravens Cap Cas

Jeremy Zuttah is returning from injured reserve, and could be replaced by math whiz John Urschel if the team wants to free up space to resign Keleche Osmele. Will Hill has started 22 games at safety over the last two seasons, but could become expendable as 2013 first round pick Matt Elam returns from injury. Daryl Smith and Steve Smith have been excellent for the Ravens and showed very few signs of aging, but with the team strapped for cap, a release is not out of the realm of possibilities. Justin Forsett wasn’t able to stay healthy, and wasn’t quite as impressive in his encore presentation with the Ravens.

Extension Watch List: 

Ravens Ext Watch List

Before any of the other guys on this list receive serious consideration for an extension (and I imagine Brandon Williams is atop that list), the Ravens will have to address Joe Flacco’s contract situation. Flacco still has three years remaining on the then-record-setting 6-year contract he signed in 2013, fresh off of a Super Bowl victory. Numbers certainly don’t tell the whole story with Flacco – the guy’s got a cannon and a terrific career record despite not always having many weapons – but it’s worth noting that he ranks eighteenth in career passer rating among active players.

His $28.55M cap charge ranks third in the league, though his average salary is now eighth among quarterbacks. He’s still got $25.85M in signing and option bonus proration remaining on his contract, and his cap number rises to $31.15M next year. He turned 31 years old in January, and will be 33 in the final year of his contract. The team is scheduled to pay him an $18M base salary this year. They could create $11.33M in space by converting $17M of his 2016 base salary to signing bonus, but it would inflate his 2017 cap charge to more than $36M. Plus, what would Flacco gain other than being a “team player”? The team can’t release him this year, because he would still count for more than $25M against the cap if he weren’t on the roster. Next year would be a different story, and there would surely be some teams a veteran quarterback away from contending that would be interested in his services.

The Ravens aren’t likely to want to increase their investment in Flacco by extending his contract with new money, but they might not have a choice. I could see an “extension” adding one additional year to the contract, with a $19M signing bonus, a 2016 $1M base salary, ~$20M salaries in ’17 & ’18, and a $25M salary in 2019. Such a move would reduce Flacco’s cap number to $16.3M, creating $12.25M in space, while also giving Flacco an additional $2M in the current year. However, it would also compound the issue for the future, raising Flacco’s 2017 figure to $35.9M, and forcing the team to make similar deals until Flacco’s retirement or release (a la Cowboys & Tony Romo).

Position Needs: 

Wide Receiver and Running Back.

Sleeper Watch: 

I’m still on the Lorenzo Taliaferro bandwagon, though Buck Allen could end up being the guy.


Matt Papson (@RealitySportsMP) formerly worked in football administration for the Philadelphia Eagles. He is the President, co-founder and creator of Reality Sports Online, a fantasy front office platform that enables fantasy owners to build and manage their fantasy team like a professional sports general manager. The Reality Sports Online platform has been featured in Fortune, on Bloomberg TV, and was the 2012 Fantasy Sports Trade Association Rookie of the Year.

Sources: Spotrac, Pro-Football Reference, and Rotoworld

More Analysis by Matt Papson