You know, I always get asked how I am enjoying the offseason, and I'm all like ... "What offseason?"
And then they're all like, "Well, you don't have to get all angry." And then I'm all like, "I didn't get angry, I'm just saying there's no offseason, moves are happening every day and there's a constant change of fantasy value. I've been working!" And then they're all like, "You talk about football players for a fake game, I wouldn't call that working." And then I'm all like, "Oh are you insinuating I don't have a real job?" and then they're all like, "I'm not insinuating anything, I'm saying it. You don't have a real job." And then I'm all like, "Oh yeah??" and then they're like, "Yeah!" and then I get really close to their face like I'm gonna do something and then they do the same and that's about the point my wife pulls me away and says, "Stop fighting with the neighbor kids."
The point is, it's been a dizzying offseason and I need to move. Tons of fantasy values have been changed as the result of a crazy free-agency period and I've done many fine videos for your watching enjoyment about these very moves. But it occurred to us, here at ESPN Fantasy HQ, that there were many moves that I loved and many moves that I hated. So here ya go, 2015, the first "Love/Hate" of the year.
This is not about the best moves or players, but rather the moves that helped or hurt a player's fantasy value the most. Obviously, I have Drew Brees over Sam Bradford, but Brees losing Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills hurts his value (he's a "hate") and Bradford going to Philly (he's an "other receiving votes" in the love section) helps his value. Got it? No? Oh yeah? Well come here you ... what? Sorry honey. I'll stop fighting with the readers too.
Let's get to it.
Free-agency moves I love
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle: You gain one of the best tight ends in football, your value goes up. Says it right there in the rulebook and everything. Seattle has never had a guy like Jimmy Graham, someone who can move all over the field and is a matchup nightmare. It's a fair question to wonder if Wilson's rushing will continue, but even if it regresses some, remember that Wilson had the third-most fantasy points last season despite the fourth-lowest red zone completion percentage among qualified QBs. And guess who just moved to town? The guy with the most red zone touchdown catches the past three years. Getting Marshawn Lynch back was important as well. The thing about Wilson's rushing is that it often comes from broken-down plays. Well, get used to this stat because you're going to hear it all summer and I love it: Last year, Russell Wilson attempted a league-high 112 passes from outside the pocket ... now when those plays break down, he has a 6-foot-7 target who can box out and go up and get a jump ball, something he has never had before.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco: Now, they added Reggie Bush and lost Mike Iupati to Arizona, but no matter what, Hyde's value took a huge leap when Frank Gore left for Indy. Hyde, much more efficient inside an opponent's 10-yard line last year than Gore, will be a true bell cow running back in a league where there aren't a lot of them. Despite the limited scoring last year and splitting time with Hyde, Gore still managed a top-20 fantasy season as a running back. Even with the change in coaching staff, I expect the offensive philosophy to remain the same (The Niners ran the ball on 41 percent of their plays last season, which was ninth in the NFL). Hyde is now a solid No. 2 running back.
Branden Oliver, RB, San Diego: We'll see what the Chargers do in the draft and the rest of free agency but for now, it appears Oliver will be the running back you want in San Diego. I expect more of a committee approach. but we've seen Oliver get the workload of a stud and produce. Despite getting fewer than 200 total touches, Oliver was one of 13 players with 575 rushing yards and 270 receiving yards in 2014. With Ryan Mathews leaving town and no replacement brought in (so far), Oliver has the makings of a low-end No. 2 running back or legit flex play with some upside.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina: Proved he could get healthy and be an every-down back. With three double-digit games in his last five, J Stew was terrific down the stretch and now DeAngelo Williams is finally gone. Watch the Panthers take a running back high in the draft just to mess with fantasy owners, but for now, Stewart has the looks of a strong mid-tier RB2.
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: So ... the Saints got rid of Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills and Pierre Thomas. They added Max Unger (a top-five run-blocking center, per our friends at Pro Football Focus) and speedy C.J. Spiller. They also brought back Mark "It's about time he broke out" Ingram. As Brees gets older, this team is going to run a lot more, and they're going to do a lot of it with a guy who was a top-15 fantasy running back last year despite missing three games.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia: Jeremy Maclin has left town, no one has replaced him and now Mathews, who had six touchdowns in the final 10 games last year, becomes the No. 1 option on a high-scoring offense that was top five last year in pass attempts. Yes, they have Riley Cooper, the tight ends and they'll address the position in the draft, but Matthews is primed to build on an outstanding rookie year.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston: Thirty percent of the team's targets last year went to Indy along with Andre Johnson and while new teammate Cecil Shorts If He Can Stay Healthy (now his legal name) is a nice player (if he can stay healthy), I expect Hopkins to improve on last year's 126 targets (Johnson had 145) with, fine, I'll say it, slightly improved quarterback play. Hopkins is a legit WR2 with WR1 upside.
Andre Johnson, WR, Indianapolis: Speaking of Johnson ... .Andrew Luck is the best quarterback Andre Johnson has ever played with, and it's not close. All due respect to the ghost of Matt Schaub, but the past three years, Texans quarterbacks had a Total QBR of 49 (on a scale of 100), which is 21st in the NFL. Luck has a Total QBR of 64 in his career, which is ninth best since 2012. Those are just some numbers that tell you what you instinctively know -- Luck is a lot better than every stiff the Texans have thrown out there. It's also an offense that will score a lot more (20 more touchdown passes for the Colts than the Texans last year) and even though Andre won't see 145 targets again, it's worth noting Reggie Wayne limped his way to 116 targets last year. It's an offense that throws, throws, throws. With T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, the tight ends and the fact that Luck likes to dump off to his running backs, plus Johnson's age, there is a ceiling here, but after a down year in Houston, Johnson's fantasy value takes a nice spike up. Fear the Beard? Andre loves the beard, baby. And soon, so will his owners.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England: I know, I know. It's weird. Gronk is a free agency love despite the fact his team didn't really do anything. But after free agency settled, whose value went up the most? You can make a case for Gronk. Julius Thomas is now in Jacksonville and Jimmy Graham in Seattle (you'll never guess who is coming up in "hate"), factor in my lack of faith in the repeatability of Antonio Gates, and Gronk is not only No. 1 at tight end, it's hard to see No. 2 from where he's standing. He's so far ahead of everyone else at his position that he's a tier to himself. No other player in the NFL gives you a weekly advantage at a position the way he does. Every other position has at least a few elite guys, but not tight end. It's Gronk's world. We just live in it.
Owen Daniels, TE, Denver: You want fantasy value as a tight end? Go to an offense that has Peyton Manning as its quarterback and Gary Kubiak coaching it. We saw what Manning did with Julius Thomas and Dallas Clark (and even Jacob Tamme for a bit!) before and Kubiak is well-known for his use of tight ends. Daniels has had a lot of success with Kubiak in both Houston and even last year in Baltimore, where he was top eight in the NFL in tight end targets after Week 9. He's older and not a great player, but once you get past the elite tight ends and you're sifting through also-rans, rolling the dice with Kubiak's tight end won't be the worst move you make next year.
Others receiving votes: You go from Jeff Fisher's house of mediocrity to Chip Kelly's fantasy funhouse and life is good for any quarterback. Bradford needs to stay healthy (He's married to Cecil Shorts and took his last name in the union), but if he can stay upright, he'll be directing an offense that ran the most offensive snaps in football last year, was top five in pass attempts and saw Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez combine to average over 15 fantasy points a game. ... The best fantasy season of Ryan Fitzpatrick's career was 2011, when, under Chan Gailey, he was the 12th-highest-scoring fantasy quarterback in the league. Now reunited with Chan, he gets Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall to throw to. You could do worse in two-QB leagues. ... Eli Manning is not just getting a full year of Odell Beckham Jr.'s services, he's also getting Victor Cruz back and also gets a very nice pass-catching running back in Shane Vereen. Did you know Eli finished the year as a top-10 QB? ... Luck was already my No. 2-ranked QB before getting Johnson and Gore, but both players are upgrades to an already good offense. I have Aaron Rodgers ahead of Luck, but if you went Luck first, I'd get it.
I am no fan of Darren McFadden, as you can imagine, and I expect Dallas to add a running back in the draft, plus Joseph Randle is still there. All that said, McFadden was left for dead in fantasy and now will get to run behind one of the best offensive lines in football. How much work (and how healthy he stays) remains to be seen but no doubt, his value is pointing up. ... Bush leaving Detroit means Joique Bell's thumper/main-down-back role is secured and Theo Riddick, who shined when he got a chance, is now on deeper league radars and will have some 12-team PPR value. ... He'll still split touches, but just going to a better offense will help Gore, who scored just five times last year but still had over 1,200 total yards. Add two or three scores to that and Gore is a solid middle-of-the-pack No. 2. ... Jarvis Landry loses Mike Wallace but gets Kenny Stills. I like Stills, but Landry is whom I will have the highest among Dolphins wideouts, catching passes from an underrated Ryan Tannehill. ... With Graham and Stills leaving, Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston both see nice upticks in value. I expect the Saints to run more, but they're still going to throw a decent amount. ... Alshon Jeffery was already a stud, but now with Marshall in New York, he becomes further solidified as a No. 1 fantasy wideout.
Someone is going to get the targets Graham left behind in New Orleans, and young Josh Hill is the current clubhouse leader to reap the reward. ... Marc Trestman likes to use everyone in his offense, so even with Kubiak leaving Baltimore, the tight end should still be involved, so keep the name Crockett Gillmore in the back of your mind as you also track the health of Dennis Pitta.
Free-agency moves I hate
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans: Coming off a down year (for him) where he finished as the sixth-best fantasy quarterback, there's no scenario in which losing Graham, Stills and Thomas is good for a quarterback's fantasy value, especially when (so far) they've been replaced by only Spiller. As I noted in the Ingram bit above, I feel all signs point to them going more run-heavy this year, which further saps Brees' value He's still a great QB and he's still going to throw, but he's no longer in the Aaron Rodgers/Andrew Luck tier.
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia: First they re-signed Sanchez. Then they shipped Foles to St. Louis. Say this for Chip Kelly; when he doesn't like you, he lets you know it. No gray area with him. With less talent in St. Louis than he had in Philly and a much less fantasy-friendly offense (plus the flaws in his game that were exposed last year), Foles goes from being a low-end QB1/high-end QB2 to being basically undraftable in ESPN standard leagues.
Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland: Look, it's not me who hates Latavius. It's Oakland. When the Raiders signed former running back Trent Richardson, I tweeted, "Who does Oakland hate more? Latavius Murray or their fans?" Well. Say this for Oakland fans. They are a passionate bunch who let me know their feelings, often with correctly spelled words. I don't get it. I feel BAD for Oakland fans. But they defended this move. Liked it, even. "It's just RB depth!" they typed. "It's competition for Murray!" they pecked away. "He used to be good!" they lied.
First, the Raiders have running back depth. They signed Roy Helu (a move I like). They have Marcel Reece (a very underrated and versatile player). They can sign some other guys. Many Oakland fans said there's no way the Raiders will play T-Rich instead of Murray, and that I was crazy. I may very well be nuts, said the guy who has been in therapy for a decade, but what on Earth makes you think the Raiders know what they're doing? We all saw what Murray could do in the preseason last year, and yet they kept sending McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew out there. Richardson has never been good. He was a valuable fantasy asset his rookie year because of the touchdowns and the pass catching, but seriously guys, he's not good. Murray could be something special. I have no confidence in Oakland figuring that out and if you think they do, you haven't been paying attention to that franchise the past decade.
Rashad Jennings, RB, New York Giants: Is he healthy? How much work will Andre Williams take? Does the emergence of Beckham make this a more pass-centric offense? So many questions and yet, the one thing you could hang your hat on was he is a good pass protector and a good pass-catcher. He's still both of those things, but so is Vereen, who joins the G-men to make this roster even more confusing. I still have Jennings as my highest-ranked Giants RB, but he's lower overall than he was and this definitely eats into his PPR value.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City: He left a team that was top five in pass attempts for a team that literally had zero touchdown passes to its wide receivers last year. Zero. I'm pretty sure I must have made that up, but turns out I didn't. Maclin is reunited with Andy Reid and he's an upgrade over what Alex Smith had last year, but dude. This is still a team where the QB won't throw deep and the offense runs through Jamaal Charles. And I also expect Travis Kelce to take a big step forward this year. Big downgrade. Big. Maclin goes from a high-end WR2 to a mid-to-low-end WR 3. Crushing move for his fantasy value.
Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets: Not technically a free agent move, but whatever. It's an offseason move. Even crummy Jay Cutler is better than Ryan Fitzpatrick or Geno Smith. At least as far as Marshall's fantasy value is concerned, as Marshall's best seasons have all come with Cutler as his QB. Still like his talent a lot and I'm more bullish on the Jets offense being passable (ha! See what I did there? Oh whatever, it's the offseason), but this is still a downgrade.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle: Going from one of the most pass-happy teams in the NFL to the team that attempted the fewest passes in the NFL last year isn't good, any way you slice it. Will they use and incorporate Graham? Of course. He's still an elite talent. But Pete Carroll came within 1 yard of winning back-to-back Super Bowls, so I'm pretty sure he's not changing his offensive philosophy anytime soon. This is still a team that will run the ball a lot and play good defense. He's still my No. 2 tight end, but it's a significant drop in the overall ranks.
Julius Thomas, TE, Jacksonville: I actually think the Jags offense won't be terrible next year, but Peyton Manning to Blake Bortles, you know? That's a big downgrade in any category you want to choose. Hell, I'd even rather buy a pizza from Peyton than Blake, you know? Last year, Thomas scored 12 touchdowns. As a TEAM, the Jaguars had 15 passing touchdowns. Even if he stays healthy for an entire season for the first time in his career, his end zone production is going to take a hit, and that's what he hung his fantasy hat on. A hat which is now torn and is two ugly colors. Good move for the Jags and their fans, bad move for the dynasty owners of Thomas.
Many more moves to come and of course, all these values can potentially change with more signings and what teams do on draft day, so as always, tune in. If, of course, you can figure out a way to tune in to an online article. Ugh. Terrible. Whatever. It's the offseason. I'm working out the kinks.
Matthew Berry -- the Talented Mr. Roto -- hasn't seen his value change yet, but hears ESPN has their eyes on a young fantasy analyst in the draft. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. You also may have heard: He has written a book.