When the NFL Free Agency period begins, most Fantasy Football players just look at the Free Agents and look at the impact they will have on the rankings for players in the coming season. What many will not look at is the "Hidden" winner coming out from the Free Agent signing. All of these players will benefit because of the other signings that have happened.
Darren McFadden , RB, OAK
Before he went down with injury in 2011, McFadden was a top 3 Running Back. His speed has always been impressive and he is a threat to take the ball the distance any time he gets his hands on it. Michael Bush was Darren's backup and spelled him often in games, many times near the goal line. Michael Bush signed with the Chicago Bears as a free agent and the Oakland Raiders did not pick up another running back to replace him. That should mean more carries for McFadden. If he can stay healthy (that has always been an issue), he could be in for a big year for an Oakland Raiders team that traditionally likes to run the football.
Ryan Mathews , RB, SD
While splitting time with Mike Tolbert in 2011, Ryan Mathews very quietly had a very good season with the San Diego Chargers. He had 1,091 yards rushing with 6 touchdowns while also catching 50 passes for another 455 yards. Tolbert is now gone as a member of the Carolina Panthers' crowded backfield, leaving Mathews the lions share of the running back duties in San Diego. Add to that the fact that the Raiders also signed one of the best blocking fullbacks in football in Le'Ron McClain and things look very good for Mathews. Like McFadden, Mathews has had issues with his health in the past. If he can stay healthy, I like Mathews to potentially be a top 5 running back in 2012.
Isaac Redman , RB, PIT
The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been known as a team who likes to run the ball and pound it down their opponent's throats. Rashard Mendenhall has done that the past 3 seasons for the Steelers and averaged over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in that timeframe. Mendenhall tore his ACL late in the season and his status for 2012 is not known. The Steelers have not picked up any running backs this year, so it looks like it might be Redman's job for the season. Redman has averaged 4.5 yards per carry backing up Mendenhall. If the Steelers do not address the running back position early in the draft, Redman could be a very nice sleeper pick in fantasy drafts next season.
Andre Caldwell , WR, DEN
The Denver Broncos are in "Go For Broke" mode after the signing of Peyton Manning. Not noticed in the aftermath of Manning's singing was the addition of Andre Caldwell to the Denver Broncos. Caldwell was very fast coming into the NFL from his NFL Combine time of 4.37 in the 40. He never really reached his potential in Cincinnati and left via free agency. Peyton Manning has always utilized all of his receiving corps during his career and many times has had one come out of nowhere to have a very nice season, like Austin Collie and Brandon Stokley. That could be the case this year with Caldwell. If he can show his speed that he had at the combine, he could be a real nice sleeper pick.
Stevan Ridley , RB, NE
Benjarvus Green-Ellis has been the lead back the past couple of seasons with the New England Patriots, but he was part of a 5-headed headache at the running back position. He is now a Cincinnati Bengal and that leaves the starting running back position to Stevan Ridley. As a rookie he averaged 5.1 yards per carry. The Patriots also will not have Kevin Faulk back as he is expected to retire. The 5-headed headache may now only have 3, and it also seems like Shane Vareen may be in the doghouse. Stevan Ridley looks prime to capitalize on the opportunity in front of him and be in line for a big season for a very good offense.
Adrian Arrington, WR, NO
There is no question that the New Orleans Saints are having a nightmare of an off-season with the "Bounty" problems around them. The Saints also lost Robert Meachem to the Chargers in free agency. We know Drew Brees and company will want to do their best to put the off-season problems behind them and do their talking by winning football games. Brees is excellent at using all of his receivers to help move the offense and Adrian Arrington could find himself in a very good position. Marques Colston will be double teamed often, as might Jimmy Graham. That could lead to Arrington finding many 1 on 1 situations and find himself sitting open often. Plus we knew that all the other wide receivers have had health issues in the past. Could be a very nice late round pick.
Danny Ware, RB, NYG
For years, the New York Giants have always been teased with the ability of Danny (DJ) Ware. He has shown great skills running and catching the ball. His biggest concern has been with concussions, he has had 4 in the past 3 years. The Giants must be happy with his progress because they let Brandon Jacobs leave vie free agency. New York has been very happy using two running backs in their offense the past several seasons and have been successful in doing so, just ask the Super Bowl Champions. Ahmad Bradshaw is entrenched as the starter, but he has also had many health issues in the past. There is no question the D.J. Ware is in for a major increase in usage this year, how much will his fantasy value rise??