With NFL rosters now down to 53, hundreds of players are now looking for work. While for some the dream of playing professional football is over, many will find new homes. Here, I take a look at some of these players, and ask whether they could help your fantasy teams when (if?) they land elsewhere.
Justin Forsett, RB
In 2014, Forsett finally got the chance to be THE guy in an NFL backfield, and responded with a career high 1266 rushing yards, with eight touchdowns. These numbers, combined with 44 receptions, saw him finish as RB8 in Fantasy Football (NFL.com standard scoring). Last year, he had 641 rushing yards through ten games before he was lost for the season. He was past on the depth chart in Baltimore by Terrance West, and would likely have lost pass catching work to Buck Allen. 31 in October, he only has 733 career rushing attempts, and could well return to the Ravens once his salary is no longer guaranteed. But I’d expect a team in need of a veteran running back like Washington to be interested.
Ronnie Hillman, RB
Hillman actually led the Broncos in rushing last season, finishing with 863 yards (seven scores) to C.J. Anderson’s 720 (5). But he averaged less than four yards per carry in 11 of 16 games last season, and in the playoffs he posted 54 yards on 32 carries, including five for ZERO in the Super Bowl. With Anderson receiving a sizeable contract from the Broncos this offseason, Hillman was battling with rookie Devontae Booker for the backup job…and lost. A terrible pass protector, Hillman could spend an awful lot of time staring at his phone waiting for it ring this autumn.
Jace Amaro, TE
A second round pick back in 2014, Amaro had a mixed rookie season before missing the whole of 2015 with a shoulder injury. Not making the Jets roster at tight end is a bit like being rejected by a lady of the night, as they are not blessed with talent at that position, nor is it a position that offensive coordinator Chan Gailey historically uses…as this guy told you. Tight end is not the barren fantasy graveyard that it has been in the past, with many strong candidates available in the very late rounds of 12 team leagues, and there would seem to be little appeal for teams to a drop prone player coming off serious injury who can’t block.
(Update – Amaro has been claimed by the Titans. That should see him buried behind Delanie Walker)
Bishop Sankey, RB
The first running back taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, Sankey had “fallen into the perfect spot” when taken by the Titans. They had just parted ways with Chris Johnson, and the former Washington Husky was seen as an ideal man for the job as starting running back. Two seasons, 199 carries at a 3.8 yards per carry average and three touchdowns later, he’s on the street. The Titans tried to replace him last season with David Cobb (who has also been released), and this year they traded for DeMarco Murray and drafted Derrick Henry. These were warning signs that, given his lack of production, he would have been wise to heed. With running back a notoriously frail position, it would not be a shock to see Sankey latch on with another team (especially after seasonal salaries cease to be fully guaranteed after Week 1), but don’t expect miracles.
Justin Hunter, WR
Another draft miss for the Titans, Hunter was taken in the second round back in 2013. His first two seasons in the league saw him average more than 18 and a half yards per catch on 46 career grabs (seven touchdowns), but he reeled in a pitiful 42% of his targets. In an attempt to motivate him (or insult the crap out of him), the team made him wear a jersey labelled JAG (Just Another Guy) in 2014. Safe to say, it didn’t turn the light bulb on. 6’4 wide receivers will always tempt some clubs, if only for the prospect of using them in the red zone. But three touchdowns on 35 red zone targets is not exactly the stuff of dreams. It’s possible that he could be made relevant now he is away from the tender loving idiocy of Mike Mularkey, but this is not likely to be a Cris Carter situation.
(Update – Hunter has signed for the Dolphins. As Ryan Tannehill tends to overly focus on Jarvis Landry, Hunter will find himself behind Landry, DeVante Parker and probably Arian Foster in terms of reads…if he ever sees the field.)