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Topic: Wes Welker: Testing Free Agency in 2013?
 Russ Bliss_108
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Post Date: 03/07/13 14:15
Wes Welker is reportedly close to signing a new deal with the New England Patriots before the start of free agency March 12.

Wes Welker reportedly has no intention of signing a new deal with the New England Patriots until he at least tests the free agent market.

Both of these statements have been circulated in the media within the past week. One of them is true. The other is false. But which is which?

This is just all part of the fun that is the lead up to the beginning of the NFL's free agent period each season. This type of conflicting information is rampant as teams and agents play out clever game of cat and mouse against each other in a media that is desperate for any type of NFL news to report. And we really can't blame the media as they are just catering to us fans who everyday crave any new information we can get about the sport we love and are so passionate about. The sport that gives us our little hobby of NFL fantasy football.

So, with a keen eye on the implications of what is best for the fantasy football value of Wes Welker, we should all be hoping that statement #1 is correct. In fantasy football, Welker has been a ppr league machine since being acquired by the Patriots via trade with division rival Miami in 2007. In the last 6 seasons, Welker has amassed 672 receptions (most in Patriots franchise history) for 7,459 yards, and 37 TD's.

Darn good numbers for a guy who is undersized at 5'9", 185 lbs, and not blazing fast.

Now, to be fair, this is likely to be Welker's last opportunity to cash in with a big contract. He seriously outplayed the original 5 years, $18.1 million contract he signed with the Patriots in 2007 that took him until the end of the 2011 season. He easily was a bargain playing under the 1 year, $9.5 million franchise tag contract in 2012. A guy who has put up the type of production Welker has, and never asked to renegotiate his original 5 year deal, should have made more in today's NFL than $27.6 million over the last 6 seasons. So if Welker really wants to see what he can cash in on this free agency period, I can hardly blame him on a personal level. He deserves as much as he can get.

But the fantasy football owner in me recognizes that for me, it is clearly in my best interest for him to remain in New England. Few quarterback/wide receiver combinations have had the uncanny chemistry that Tom Brady has enjoyed with Wes Welker. And it has translated into many fantasy points scored.

1,639.9 fantasy points in a standard decimal point, ppr scoring format over the last 6 years. That's an average of 273.3 per year, and factored into the 93 games he's at least been active for in that span, 17.63 per game.

Fantasy football owners know what that type of production on a regular basis means to their success.

Now I fully expect that both the Patriots and Welker himself know that he is much more likely to maintain a high level of productivity if he remains in New England. Welker could go the Packers and play with Aaron Rodgers. Or Denver and play with Peyton Manning. Or New Orleans and play with Drew Brees. But the simple fact is that while he'd still likely be productive, he probably wouldn't be as productive as he would be if he stayed with the Patriots and kept his chemistry going with Tom Brady. And it's much more likely that those teams wouldn't be the ones offering the most money for Welker on the free agent market.

Rather, you'd likely see teams like Cleveland or St. Louis putting up the $$$. And in either of those two spots, Welker's fantasy value drops from being a solid #1 WR, to maybe a borderline WR2/3. And we don't want to see that. We like knowing that Welker is one of those guys that can be safely started every week in our lineups.

But what will happen? Only time will tell. And there's still plenty of time before we stop hearing conflicting reports about free agent players and what they are planning on.
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On any given Sunday any fantasy team can beat another, only to still lose Monday night.
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