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Giants Cut Ties With Burress

By: — April 4, 2009 @ 9:52 pm
Filed under: Free Agents

The Giants finally decided to move on without Plaxico Burress. With the troubled wide receiver’s legal issues not going to be sufficiently resolved prior to the draft, the team decided they could no longer wait to decide his fate.

Burress has been a major piece of the Giants offense since signing with the team as a free agent prior to the 2005 season after five years with the Steelers. His monster season in 2007 helped propel the team to a Super Bowl championship.

The obvious assumption from this move is that the Giants will make a run at one of Braylon Edwards, Anquan Boldin or Chad Johnson. However, such a move would not be consistent with the overall philosophy of general manager Jerry Reese, who has used free agency to bring in marginally priced veterans to plug holes. A more likely option would be the team bringing back Amani Toomer or signing former Ram Torry Holt and also addressing the position in the draft.

Look for the Giants to take a receiver in the 1st or 2nd round of this year’s draft. They currently have one pick in the 1st round in addition to two picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. If a receiver starts falling, they have the ammunition to move up to get them.

Fantasy Football Impact

Quarterback Eli Manning obviously suffers with the loss of his number one receiver but the numbers suggest Burress’ absence could be overstated. The assumption that Manning’s production suffered with Burress out of the line-up was more fantasy myth than fact. He averaged roughly 14 points per game with Burress in the line-up or on the sideline. However, Manning did benefit from having four games against the NFC West in 2008 when he averaged over 20 points per game against teams from that division. Perhaps that is indicative of his ranking as a fantasy quarterback. With or without Burress, Manning is a solid backup on your fantasy roster.

Wide receivers Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon, Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss figure to benefit from Burress’ departure as well as tight end Kevin Boss. Boss figures to benefit the most as he now becomes the team’s top receiving target in the red zone. Smith seems best suited as a number two or three receiver while Manningham is likely the only receiver currently on the roster with the potential to develop into a top wideout. Hixon has flashed some big play ability but does not seem capable of filling in as a number one receiver.

Barring a trade for Edwards, Boldin or Johnson, look for the team to rely on its running game more in 2009. However, the team struggled to score with Burress out of the lineup so the touchdown count for Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware might suffer with this move. Jacobs remains a solid number two fantasy option but a breakout season now seems less likely.

Cutler’s Fantasy Value Plunges

By: — April 3, 2009 @ 7:57 am
Filed under: Forecast

The NFL saw its first blockbuster trade in years yesterday when the Broncos dealt quarterback Jay Cutler and a 2009 5th round pick to the Bears for Kyle Orton, 1st round picks in 2009 and 2010 and a 3rd round pick in 2009. The Bears were forced to deal significant assets in order to acquire Cutler due to the demand for his services from teams such as the Jets, Bucs and possibly the Redskins.

Chicago obtains a player who becomes their best quarterback since Erik Kramer in the mid-1990’s and most recognized name at the position since Jim McMahon nearly 25 years ago. His presence immediately ignites a Bears offense that struggled at times in 2008 but still managed to average over 23 points per game. Cutler is a talented quarterback already ranking amongst the league’s best players at the position. However the Bears clearly overpaid to acquire his services. It says here that Bears general manager Jerry Angelo paid the price of a Hall of Famer but only got a potential Hall of Famer in return.

It’s worth noting that the Broncos actually scored fewer points than the Bears in 2008.

The Broncos offense clearly suffers in the short term as a result of this trade but the team likely wins in the long term provided they can turn their draft pick bounty into solid players on the defensive side and perhaps a new franchise quarterback. Embattled rookie head coach Jay McDaniels escapes the wrath of the Broncos faithful only because Angelo’s previous ineptness at acquiring a solid quarterback in many ways forced his hand.

Not to be lost in the days news was the Bears acquisition of former Rams Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace. Only a week ago the Bears were in a mess at the tackle position but Pace’s signing and that of Kevin Shaffer solidifies the team’s depth at the position. Pace will remain on the left side while Shaffer will battle with 2008 1st round pick Chris Williams to start at right tackle.

Fantasy Football Impact

Chicago Bears

The biggest winners in this trade from a fantasy perspective are Bears wide receiver Devin Hester and tight end Greg Olsen. Hester is clearly the team’s most talented receiver and is capable of making the big plays that Cutler’s strong throwing arm provides. Olsen also vaults up the rankings at tight end with an outside chance of landing in the top five. Olsen averaged 10 yards per reception last year while Broncos tight end Tony Scheffler averaged over 16 yards per reception.

Whoever ends up winning the battle to start opposite Hester also comes out on top in this deal. The list of candidates includes Earl Bennett and Rashied Davis. Keep in mind that Bennett played with Cutler at Vanderbilt so he may have a head start on winning this battle due to his familiarity with Cutler.

With the team now lacking draft picks, any other wide receiver acquisitions will come through free agency. Bears coach Lovie Smith has a history with former Rams wideout Torry Holt and he would clearly provide a major upgrade at the position.

Cutler’s the big loser in this deal and falls out of the top five in the quarterback rankings, perhaps all the way down to the 10th spot. His weapons are greatly diminished and he moves to an offense that relies far more on the run and short passing game than Denver likely will under McDaniels.

Running back Matt Forte likely benefits due to increased touchdown opportunities and his rushing yardage outlook isn’t affected due to the counterbalancing effects of Cutler and Pace. Overall, his ranking remains in the top 10 but he moves closer to the top five.

Denver Broncos

If Cutler’s the big loser then it stands to reason that Kyle Orton is the big fantasy winner albeit with a rather large caveat. Orton picks up outstanding weapons in wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal as well as tight end Tony Scheffler, provided he isn’t traded as has been rumored. Orton ranked as a decent fantasy backup in 2008 but moves into low end starter territory with his move to Denver. Here’s the caveat – how long is he the starter? If the team takes a quarterback in the 1st round, Orton might find himself on the bench midway through 2009.

Marshall is the Broncos biggest fantasy loser with this trade given that a large portion of his production came from Cutler’s long passes and risky throws to him in traffic. Simply put, Orton will make far fewer of those throws than Cutler would have. Royal and Scheffler don’t likely see much of a drop in value given that Orton will frequently check down and both players figure to be featured in the short passing game.

The team’s running backs likely suffer but realistically none of them were going to be relied on from a fantasy perspective, at least until one of them emerged during the season, if that even occurs at all.

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