Now that much of free agency has slowed down from the period's frenetic first few days, the fantasy world is waiting breathlessly for one more name to land. What will happen when this football titan finds a new home? Which dominoes will fall in his wake? Which brave new fantasy worlds will open up once he has found a place to call home?
That name, of course, is ... Colin Kaepernick. OK, so maybe the previous paragraph was a bit overdramatic. You'll have to forgive me. I just finished watching the most recent season of "House of Cards."
But with the 49ers looking to move their erstwhile starting quarterback, there are likely to be some fantasy ripples felt throughout the NFL once the athletic signal-caller figures out where he'll be collecting his mail this season. So I decided to take a look at the top contenders for Kaepernick's services to outline what his presence there could mean for fantasy managers.
Just because the Broncos landed Mark Sanchez in a trade doesn't mean they're out of the Kaepernick sweepstakes. John Elway's club is still actively working with the 49ers to hammer out a deal. If Gary Kubiak and his staff can smooth out the mechanical issues that plagued Kap for the past couple of seasons, it could be a surprisingly good fit.
Kubiak's Pistol offense, which so troubled Peyton Manning, resembles the scheme Kaepernick excelled in during his college career at Nevada. It also comes ready made with a pair of playmaking pass-catchers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, certainly a better duo than the Anquan Boldin-Michael Crabtree combination that nearly helped Kap and the Niners win a Super Bowl. While the running back isn't necessarily crucial to the quarterback's success, a healthy C.J. Anderson would be a better option in the backfield than Ronnie Hillman. Regardless, this team isn't likely to be the offensive juggernaut we've come to know in past seasons.
Uh ... give us a minute.
Admittedly, there isn't a lot of fantasy production to be found in the Factory of Sadness. The loss of Travis Benjamin to the Chargers takes away the team's bona fide deep threat. While hope springs eternal that Josh Gordon will be reinstated and allowed to return to the field, there are no guarantees on that front. Nor is there any indication of what Gordon will immediately be able to offer after having played just five games in the past two seasons because of suspensions. If Cleveland were to land Kaepernick, it could increase their chances of targeting a playmaking receiver in the early rounds of the draft.
Kaepernick won't necessarily find help in the backfield, either. Duke Johnson looks to be a promising prospect, but it seems as though the Browns have continually tried to shoehorn Isaiah Crowell into the mix. The best hope is that new head coach Hue Jackson would be able to put together a plan to make the most of the pieces that are currently in place to start building a winner. But any dividends might still be a couple of seasons away.
New York Jets
New York has a pair of quality, veteran receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker and just added one of the premier running backs in the league in Matt Forte. After seeing what offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was able to do with Ryan Fitzpatrick last season, there would be plenty of reason to be optimistic for Kaepernick to experience a nice statisical resurrection in 2016 if he ended up touching down in the Big Apple.
San Francisco 49ers
Of course there's always the chance that this whole thing implodes and Kaepernick ends up right back where he started. Plenty of people have wondered about the prospect of Kap and his myriad athletic abilities working within Chip Kelly's offense. Which would be even more exciting if the Niners actually had any real depth at the skill positions.
Carlos Hyde offers reasons for optimism after injuries cut his 2015 season short, but San Francisco has no other running back depth behind him. The situation is even bleaker at wide receiver. Anquan Boldin is a free agent entering his age-36 season and doesn't seem likely to return. That leaves the Niners with a receiving corps of Torrey Smith, Jerome Simpson, Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington and ... OK, it's just too sad to think about. It doesn't seem like Kaepernick is particularly eager to return to the 49ers and for our fantasy well-being, we'd prefer to see him move on.
In reality, this all feels like the grandest of plans. Let's not forget that last season, Kaepernick was benched for Blaine Gabbert. Read that last sentence again. This is all a fantasy fever dream that will only lead to the cold, damp disappointment of reality if Kaepernick can't solve the accuracy and touch problems that put him on the pine in 2015. While this goose chase says a lot about the state of NFL quarterbacking, fortunately any fantasy managers pursuing Kaepernick will hopefully have the luxury of not having to start him every week.
In the meantime, pardon me while I start huffing into a paper bag.