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Top 15 Players Changing Places

Posted: Thursday August 12, 2004 6:42PM; Updated: Thursday August 12, 2004 7:33PM
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By James Quintong, SI.com

Clinton Portis
Clinton Portis moves from a successful Broncos offense to Joe Gibbs' run-friendly system in Washington.
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It was a wild offseason, with a couple of fantasy studs changing uniforms under some rather bizarre circumstances. For some players, a change of scenery won't affect their fantasy values, but for a handful of others, a new home appears to be the answer they're looking for to improve their stats.

Here is a ranking of the top 15 players who switched teams during the offseason, based primarily on their potential fantasy value this season.

1. Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins (Broncos): A contract squabble led to one of the biggest player-for-player trades in a long time with Champ Bailey going to Denver. Portis missed the last two games last season with a knee injury, but otherwise he was one of the top fantasy backs and should continue to do the same with Joe Gibbs' run-oriented offense in Washington.

2. Terrell Owens, WR, Eagles (49ers): After a trade to the Ravens was nullified, T.O. found his way to Philadelphia where he hopes to be Donovan McNabb's primary target. However, Eagles receivers haven't put up big numbers in Andy Reid's system, so you've got to wonder if Owens comes anywhere to his previous stats.

3. Corey Dillon, RB, Patriots (Bengals): It was a matter of time before Cincinnati moved the eternally unhappy back. Dillon should be the every-down back he has been in the past, although third-down back Kevin Faulk is still around to steal a few yards, especially as a receiver. Dillon is still in the second tier of fantasy backs.

4. Keyshawn Johnson, WR, Cowboys (Buccaneers): Reunited with Bill Parcells, Johnson should get the ball a lot from old favorite Vinny Testaverde. He provides the Cowboys with a dependable underneath threat, which should mean lots of catches, decent yardage and a fair number of touchdowns if the rest of the offense can find its way.

5. Jeff Garcia, QB, Browns (49ers): After an injury-plagued 2003 season, Garcia has found new life in Cleveland as its starting quarterback. Unlike his last days in San Francisco, where he worked with the talented but enigmatic Owens, he's got young, hungry receivers such as Dennis Northcutt, Quincy Morgan and Andre' Davis, not to mention first-round pick tight end Kellen Winslow. Garcia's already stepping up as a leader, which is a good sign.

6. Mark Brunell, QB, Redskins (Jaguars): Jacksonville's original quarterback surprisingly landed in Washington, likely supplanting Patrick Ramsey. Brunell was displaced by Byron Leftwich last year, and the southpaw's numbers have been on the decline. Gibbs' offense may not give him the chance to put up big numbers, but he does have two capable wideouts in Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner.

7. Eddie George, RB, Cowboys (Titans): One of the NFL's all-time ironmen at running back passed on a reduced contract from Tennessee to join Parcells in Dallas. He goes to an offense that suits his power-running game, but he's been averaging 3.3 yards per carry in recent years, which means that rookie Julius Jones should still get some decent action.

8. Kurt Warner, QB, Giants (Rams): The former two-time MVP finally got his wish and left St. Louis for the Meadowlands, where it seems he will be keeping the quarterback position warm for Eli Manning. He hasn't been anywhere close to MVP form in a few years, and there are doubts whether he can find that mojo with Big Blue.

9. Justin McCareins, WR, Jets (Titans): He had a breakout season with Tennessee last season, just in time to traded and earn a nice contract from the Jets. McCareins can stretch the field and provides a solid complement to rising star Santana Moss. As the bona fide No. 2 in New York, McCareins should improve his numbers once again.

10. Marcus Robinson, WR, Vikings (Ravens): After a couple of down seasons, Robinson had a resurgence in Baltimore last season, and signed a nice deal with Minnesota this offseason. Robinson should take over the role as Randy Moss' No. 2, which has been a tough spot to fill since Cris Carter retired. Look for 800 yards and about five or six TDs, with an occasional huge game if he takes advantage of defenses doubling on Moss.

11. Duce Staley, RB, Steelers (Eagles): He appears to be filling the role Amos Zereoue was supposed to have last year -- the primary running back who can catch lots of passes out of the backfield. He'll pick up lots of yards, but Jerome Bettis is still around for the short-yardage and goal-line work, so he could lose out in the TD department.

12. Charlie Garner, RB, Buccaneers (Raiders): Garner is another great dual-threat back, and he could flourish as he's reunited with Jon Gruden. Michael Pittman's suspension opens up some big opportunities, but like his days in Oakland, he'll be fighting for short-yardage TDs with a burly back -- in this case, the returning Mike Alstott.

13. Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers (Cowboys): He can still be a deep threat for Tampa Bay, but it appears his best days are behind him. However, with a lot of uncertainty among the Bucs receivers, Galloway should fit in and get his share of catches.

14. A.J. Feeley, QB, Dolphins (Eagles): He's in a tight race with Jay Fiedler for the starting job in Miami after serving as Donovan McNabb's backup. He's had his moments, but he's never had the spotlight for an extended period of time, but neither did Jake Delhomme, and he did just fine for Carolina. One plus for Feeley is having a handful of decent targets in Chris Chambers and tight end Randy McMichael.

15. Vinny Testaverde, QB, Cowboys (Jets): He was thought to just be a backup, but the sudden release of Quincy Carter moves the veteran signal caller back into a starting role. He's nowhere close to the quarterback he was years ago, but he's serviceable, especially reunited with Keyshawn.

Other names on the move:

QB: Kerry Collins, Raiders (Giants); Tim Couch, Packers (Browns); Brian Griese, Buccaneers (Dolphins)

RB: Antowain Smith, Titans (Patriots); Garrison Hearst, RB, Broncos (49ers); Troy Hambrick, Raiders (Cowboys); Amos Zereoue, Raiders (Steelers); Jamel White, Buccaneers (Browns); Brandon Bennett, Buccaneers (Bengals)

WR: Tim Brown, Buccaneers (Raiders); Tai Streets, Lions (49ers); James Thrash, Redskins (Eagles); David Boston, Dolphins (Chargers) -- out for the season

TE: Stephen Alexander, TE, Lions (Chargers); Mikhael Ricks, TE, Jets (Lions); Jed Weaver, TE, Broncos (Dolphins).

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