By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Fantasy football is over. Or is it? Because I see it as the beginning. The beginning of the start of your season. Now is where you get the edge on your league mates. If you know all the ins and outs of who goes where – from players to coordinators and position coaches – you’re priming yourself for a trip to your fantasy playoffs in the upcoming season.
First comes free agency, then comes the draft. Sounds like the start of a fantasy addict’s nursery rhyme, but I digress. There will be plenty of content coming your way from Club Fantasy on this year’s draft class, but first, we start with NFL free agency.
This series will cover offensive players, as they have the most impact in fantasy circles and we at Club Fantasy don’t play individual defensive players, or IDPs as the kids call it these days.
Next up on the free agent preview list: Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett.
When the Patriots acquired Bennett from the Chicago Bears, analysts everywhere fully expected the Patriots to destroy defenses with two tight ends, much like they did with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez some years ago. But like Hernandez’ chances of beating a murder conviction, those dreams faded as Gronkowski was in and out of the lineup all season until landing on injured reserve.
Thankfully for the Patriots, Bennett was around to rescue them, hauling in 55 catches for 701 yards and 7 touchdowns, good for seventh among fantasy tight ends with 155.8 points.
Gronkowski is expected back healthy next year, while Bennett is a free agent – and a Super Bowl champion. As Bennett stated after the Patriots win, “You know they overpay Super Bowl champions.” He’s not wrong. Bennett is likely to command upwards of $8 million a year on the free agent market as a result.
Will the Patriots want to pay two tight ends more than $8 million a year? They have the cap space to do it, with almost $61 million available to them, according to overthecap.com. With not a lot of chatter from both sides, many, myself included, believe that Bennett will hit the open market. Who will fork over a big pay day the Super Bowl champion tight end?
Let the guessing games begin.
This might come as a surprise to some, but here me out. Did you know that the Titans led the NFL with 409 offensive plays that featured two tight end looks? Yes, they ran a run heavy offense and having an extra big bodied blocker only helps pave the way for the likes of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, but can you imagine if both of those tight ends on the field were skilled blockers and elite pass catchers? What is a defense to do?
The Titans are flush with cap space – $62 million to be exact – and Delanie Walker is 33. Bennett isn’t much younger at 30, but both are elite at the position. Without a true number one wide receiver, the Titans could look to bring in Bennett, offer a large guarantee over the first two seasons of the deal, draft a wide receiver to groom as a future number one, and focus on bullying defenses with Murray, Bennett and Walker for now.
What fantasy owner wouldn’t want a piece of that delicious offense?
San Francisco 49ers
They have cap space and need to fill in their skill positions with talented playmakers. Bennett already has a Super Bowl ring, so he may be more focused on getting paid than winning another ring. Add to that he’ll have the opportunity to play against his brother Michael – a defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks – twice a year and this could be a match worth looking into.
The 49ers are likely to bring in a young quarterback, whether it’s to start right away or groom for the future, and we all know a young quarterback’s best friend is a tight end. How does this not make sense?
They just traded high priced free agent bust Julius Thomas to the Dolphins and now find themselves without a viable tight end. Bennett once played under Tom Coughlin, who is now the head decision maker in Jacksonville. If head coach Doug Marrone is interested in featuring the tight end in his offense more than his predecessor, Gus Bradley, there could be a match here. But do the Jaguars want to try and fix the position in free agency or via the draft?
Remember, Bennett is looking to get paid and the Jags have almost $72 million to play with.
The Titans seem like a perfect fit on paper. With two first round picks in the upcoming draft, they could look to grab one of the top tight ends – O.J. Howard or David Njoku – but with so many holes on defense, they could sway their draft that way. But the Jaguars linger as someone who could offer up a ton of money.
I’m going with the Titans. Regardless, I see Bennett playing next season in the AFC South.