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Evaluating the Fantasy Impact of Running Backs and Wide Receivers on New Teams in 2016

Matt Forte

Matt Forte

We already looked at the potential fantasy impact for quarterbacks and tight ends that have changed teams during free agency. Now it's time to look at the running backs and wide receivers. While the NFL Draft is still almost a month away, it's never too early to start thinking about fantasy football drafts. Here is how the fantasy values are affected for running backs and wide receivers on new teams as of the end of March.

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Related: Evaluating the Fantasy Impact of Quarterbacks and Tight Ends on New Teams in 2016

Running Backs

Lamar Miller, Houston Texans

Even though he scored the same number of rushing touchdowns in 2015 as he did in ‘14 (eight), it was a rough year for Miller and his fantasy owners. With 872 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns, he was under-utilized in Miami. Houston does rely on the running game and the Texans appear to be a good fit for Miller, so this is definitely an upgrade. He's a RB1 this year and may drop slightly in drafts because of his performance last year.

DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans

Everyone expected a down year following his crazy 1,845-yard 2014 season in Dallas. However, few predicted he would only have 702 rushing yards in 2015 — without the season ending because of injury. He went from 12 games with 100 or more rushing yards… to one. It was a rough year for him, and it was primarily because of the way the Eagles used him. Yes, there were other backs in the mix, but Murray wasn't used as effectively as he could have been. With Tennessee, the offensive line isn't as good as Dallas', but he still should be used as the primary back. He's a RB2 with potential to be great — or a bust.

Chris Ivory, Jacksonville Jaguars

Ivory, in Jacksonville, joins T.J. Yeldon, Denard Robinson and Jonas Gray to form a running back mess. While Ivory and Yeldon will likely be the ones to carry the load, it has the makings of a timeshare situation. Yeldon had an injury-plagued rookie year, but he did show flashes of talent. He wasn't used at the goal line, so look for Ivory to fill in there. It's unclear who will get the early down work, but this is a situation to watch through the preseason. Ivory is likely a RB2 because of the potential for touchdowns.

Matt Forte, New York Jets

Forte will step in as the No. 1 running back for the Jets, but he will likely share the work more than he did in Chicago. Bilal Powell is still with the Jets, and he had 47 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns last year. He's more of a factor in the passing game than the running game, and that should stay the same this year. Forte is a solid back who had 44 receptions for 389 yards and three receiving touchdowns of his own last season.  If Powell wasn't there, Forte would be a RB1. Because the pair will split touches, Forte is a high-end RB2 this year.

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Alfred Morris, Dallas Cowboys

With only Darren McFadden ahead of him on the depth chart, Morris is in line to at least share carries with the injury-prone McFadden. However, that is assuming that the Cowboys don't acquire another back in the draft. After his worst season since bursting on the scene as a sixth-round draft pick in 2012, Morris’ fantasy value is at an all-time low. With just 751 yards rushing and one touchdown last season, he certainly wasn't thriving in Washington. The Cowboys’ offensive line is better than Washington's, but Morris still is barely on the RB2 radar.

Wide Receivers

Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions

With Calvin Johnson deciding to retire, the Lions are scrambling for someone that can be their No. 1 wide receiver. Golden Tate is there, but he plays more of a complementary No. 2 role. The Lions are going to use Jones as their top wideout, but it's not clear if Jones is cut out for that kind of role. In Cincinnati, he always was second to A.J. Green. He was a WR3/4, not topping 1,000 yards in his career. He did have 10 touchdowns in 2014, but only four in ‘15. It's a gamble, but he could have WR2 value.

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Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons

While it's not a question that the Falcons need a complement to Julio Jones, the question is if Sanu is truly the answer. He managed 394 receiving yards in 2015 and failed to find the end zone. He struggled with drops and while there were other mouths to feed in the Bengals’ passing game, Sanu certainly didn't make himself known. His best season was 2014, where he had 790 yards and five touchdowns. While it is possible he sees those numbers again, he's a WR3 at best.

Travis Benjamin, San Diego Chargers

Benjamin surprisingly put up almost 1,000 yards receiving in 2015, scoring five touchdowns in the process. He was very boom-or-bust, and while that might be a result of the quarterback situation in Cleveland, it also may be something that fantasy owners have to deal with in 2016 as well. Sure, San Diego he has a better quarterback, and Benjamin is now in a pass-first offense. However, he's still more of a deep threat receiver, so he's going to be hard to trust each week. He'll play the No. 2 role behind Keenan Allen, but for fantasy, he's a WR3.

Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans

With a career-high 662 yards in 2015, Matthews has left Miami for the Titans. He'll be playing behind Kendall Wright and Dorial Green-Beckham. The coaches have said that he will be the "Z" receiver on a team that still has Marcus Mariota throwing the ball. Mariota did show flashes of success in 2015, but it remains to be seen how the receivers will fare this coming season. Matthews does appear to have talent, but there may not be enough opportunity to showcase it. He's a WR4.

Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens

After having a career-worst season, Wallace reportedly wanted to play for a team with a stronger-armed quarterback. Going from Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota to Joe Flacco in Baltimore seems like it will benefit Wallace more, however, he is going to be 30 years old at the start of the season. About 65 receptions and 800 yards is the likely result of his 2016 season. He'll be average, and fine as a WR3 with some upside.

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.