Another day of the NFL offseason, another big name is on the move via trade.
This time it's Brandon Marshall, who will be dealt to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick, pending a physical. While he's long been one of the top wideouts in fantasy football, this move is going to put Marshall in a difficult position from a statistical standpoint. In fact, he's now going to be considered a potential bust candidate in 2015.
Marshall had already started to see his numbers decline last season, as he posted his worst reception (61) and yardage totals (721) since his rookie campaign. The veteran wideout is also smack dab in the middle of two trends that make him even less attractive as a fantasy option. First, he's never had a whole lot of success without Jay Cutler. In fact, his two seasons in Miami were the worst of his career from a fantasy perspective ... at least before he floundered last season.
Second, veteran receivers who have come to the Jets in recent seasons have been anything but consistent or productive. Do the names Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Eric Decker ring a bell? All three had been fantasy starters earlier in their careers, but a move to the Big Apple took a big bite out of their value. The latest example is Decker, who ranked among the 10-best fantasy wideouts in Denver before falling off the map in New York. If it wasn't for a 221-yard performance in a meaningless Week 17 loss to the Miami Dolphins, he would have failed to finish as a top-30 receiver.
Let's also not forget Percy Harvin, who did next to nothing for fantasy fans in his short time with the team.
Couple these two trends with the fact that Marshall will see a downgrade at quarterback from Cutler to Geno Smith, and it's evident that the one-time superstar shouldn't be trusted as more than a high-end No. 3 fantasy wideout in both standard and PPR formats. As for Smith and the Jets offense, having a player of Marshall's caliber is obviously a positive ... but this is one of those situations where fantasy and reality simply don't mirror each other. As a result, Smith will still be buried in my quarterback rankings.
In Chicago, Alshon Jeffery is now the unquestioned No. 1 wideout and is a lock to be one of the first 10 players drafted at his position. He's also entering a contract year, so the South Carolina product will have more opportunities and added motivation to be a stud in the stat sheets. Consider Jeffery a virtual lock as a second-round pick. Marshall's absence will create a chance for Marquess Wilson to emerge into a potential sleeper candidate, so keep his name in the back of your mind when it's time to draft. A big wideout at 6-foot-4, he's now on the late-round radar.
This move should also benefit Martellus Bennett, who is coming off a career season and should continue to see plenty of targets in the pass attack.
As for Cutler, well, fantasy fans should have just as many questions about him as the Bears do entering the new campaign. He lost head coach and offensive guru Marc Trestman earlier in the offseason, and now he's lost his partner in crime in Marshall. In an offense that figures to lean on Matt Forte and the run, I can't see Cutler re-emerging into a consistent fantasy quarterback in 2015 ... or maybe ever.