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Graham, Moreno lead 2014 fantasy free agent class


The National Football League has yet to crown its Super Bowl XLVIII champion, and countless fans are still participating in the NFL Playoff Challenge for a chance to win a trip to next year's Super Bowl in Arizona. Still, it's not too soon to take a look ahead to what the free-agent market will bring (starting March 11) as it pertains to fantasy football.

1. Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints: I might have a better shot at a date with Kate Upton than Graham has of not wearing a Saints uniform next season. Whether he lands a groundbreaking new contract or is labeled with the franchise tag, he isn't going anywhere in 2014. Based on his 2013 totals, Graham would have finished as the sixth-best fantasy running back, and top-ranked wideout or defensive unit.

2. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos: Moreno is coming off the best fantasy season of his career, posting close to 1,600 scrimmage yards, 13 total touchdowns and the fifth-most fantasy points at the running back position. If he should leave Denver during the offseason, though, Moreno's value would be in danger of a real decline in 2014. In that scenario, Montee Ball would become a massive fantasy football sleeper candidate.

3. Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans: Fantasy owners looking for a potential breakout running back next season need to keep tabs on where Tate lands. Still a young runner at 25, he's a good bet to end up in a featured role with a new team this offseason. I suspect that team will be the Cleveland Browns, as general manager Michael Lombardi loved Tate coming out of Auburn. In fact, he told me he thought Tate would be Rookie of the Year in 2011.

4. Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos: Decker has emerged into one of the top-scoring wide receivers in fantasy football over the last two seasons, which is no surprise since Peyton Manning has been throwing him the football during that time. But here's the question: Would you trust Decker on your fantasy squad if he didn't have an elite quarterback like Manning under center? To me, he would be a bust candidate if he left Denver.

5. Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: McFadden has all the talent in the world, but his proneness to injury makes him impossible to trust in fantasy football circles. I wouldn't be surprised to see him land in Cincinnati this offseason, as McFadden had some of his best statistical seasons under new Bengals OC Hue Jackson. Regardless, he's likely not going to be much more than a committee back wherever he ends up in 2014.

6. Rashad Jennings, RB, Oakland Raiders: Jennings is coming off the best season of his career, posting 36 catches, better than 1,000 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns despite starting just eight games. If the Raiders let McFadden leave and re-sign Jennings, the Liberty product would retain No. 2 fantasy back appeal next season. Should Oakland let McFadden and Jennings depart, Latavius Murray will become an instant sleeper.

7. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jones-Drew, who will be 29 when the 2014 campaign kicks off, has shown signs of breaking down over the last two years. He missed most of 2012 with an injured foot, and didn't look like the same runner this past season with a career-low 3.4 yards-per-carry average. Even in a best-case scenario, it's tough to see Jones-Drew as more than a low-end No. 2 back in most upcoming drafts.

8. Andre Brown, RB, New York Giants: The Giants have no idea when or if David Wilson (neck) will be available to return next season, so re-signing Brown could be a priority. Of course, there's also a chance the team let's him go and focuses on adding to the running back position via free agency or in the NFL draft. Brown, who has been prone to injuries, could wind up in a committee situation next season -- in New York or elsewhere.

9. Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots: Edelman picked a great time to post his best statistical season, as he recorded career-bests almost across the board in the absence of Wes Welker. His best chance to retain his newfound fantasy appeal is to remain in New England, where he's gained a tremendous rapport with quarterback Tom Brady. As it stands, Edelman is now in the conversation as a viable No. 2 or 3 fantasy wideout.

10. Riley Cooper, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Cooper gained a solid rapport with Nick Foles last season, as he recorded 37 catches, 729 yards and seven touchdowns in the 10 games Foles started. The Eagles are likely to re-sign either Cooper or Jeremy Maclin, who is coming off an ACL procedure, but the former has to be considered the favorite at this point. Cooper would retain No. 3 or 4 fantasy value if he stays in Philadelphia.

11. LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots: Blount, 27, re-emerged into a legitimate fantasy option this past season. He finished second on the Patriots in carries behind Stevan Ridley, and averaged a solid 5.0 yards per carry. Whether Blount stays or goes will help determine the value of this sometimes confusing backfield.

12. Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants: Outside of DeSean Jackson, it's hard to remember a player having a worse contract season than Nicks. His value is now sinking like the Titanic and he could wind up on a new team in 2014. In that scenario, Rueben Randle would become an instant fantasy sleeper as the new No. 2 wideout for the G-Men.

13. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Arizona Cardinals: Mendenhall scored an impressive eight touchdowns last season, but he also averaged a meager 3.2 yards-per-carry in his 15 games. From a fantasy point of view, the best move would be for the Cardinals to allow Mendenhall to leave and push lead-back duties onto sleeper Andre Ellington.

14. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: Vick's time as the top quarterback in Philadelphia is over with the emergence of Foles, so he'll need to leave as a free agent to land another starting job around the league. Don't be surprised to see a ton of speculation about Vick leaving the Eagles for a No. 1 role with the Raiders.

15. Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers: Boldin had quite a solid 2013 season, posting his best reception and yardage totals since his final campaign in Arizona. He's a nice fit for the Niners and could stick, but the return of Michael Crabtree means a decline in statistical success is likely if he remains with San Francisco.

16. James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers: Jones finished the 2013 season with a career-high 817 yards, but he saw a massive decline in touchdowns (3) compared to his more impressive 2012 total (14). He wants to re-sign with the Packers, but he could have more value with another team that offers him a more prominent offensive role.

17. Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens: Pitta missed most of last season due to a surgical procedure on his hip, but I'd be shocked if he weren't wearing a Ravens uniform again. He has a tremendous rapport with quarterback Joe Flacco, and his pass-catching skills make Pitta a potential bargain in 2014 fantasy football drafts.

18. Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts: Brown had a career 2013 campaign, rushing for 537 yards (5.3 YPC) with a combined eight total touchdowns. Still, the Colts almost have to commit to Trent Richardson after giving up a first-rounder to acquire him from Cleveland. Brown is likely to be a committee runner somewhere in 2014.

19. Golden Tate, WR, Seattle Seahawks: Tate posted career-bests in receptions (64) and yards (898) last season, but he still ranked just 28th in fantasy points among wide receivers. While there is still some potential with Tate, who will be 25 in August, he's not going to be more than a No. 3 fantasy wideout regardless of the team.

20. Toby Gerhart, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Will Gerhart be allowed a chance at a starting role? That's the big question when it comes to his fantasy value for 2014. If he remains in Minnesota, he'll remain a handcuff to Adrian Peterson. Gerhart would need to leave the Twin Cities to experience a potential increase in fantasy appeal.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!


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