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Offseason Extra: 32 Fantasy storylines

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The regular season is over, the postseason is coming and before long we'll have a new Super Bowl champion.

Soon thereafter, the NFL will kick into its "business season" and teams will make improvements for hopes of big wins and trophies starting next September.

Of course it's the goal of everyone who plays Fantasy to land big wins and trophies, too. The season might have just ended but it's still not too early to begin making some assessments on what's going to happen -- there's no real point in talking about what did happen since the Fantasy season is over.

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Let's borrow a term used by our pals on Wall Street and make some forward-looking statements on every NFL team as they stand right now. Things can change, so some of these statements might turn to dust, but it's all worth checking out as we begin our march toward our 2014 drafts.

Arizona: After tying for the same amount of Fantasy points in standard leagues, Andre Ellington, not Rashard Mendenhall, should be the back with more sizzle in Arizona (assuming Mendenhall is even re-signed).

Atlanta: Both in contract years, Julio Jones and Roddy White should shine, making Matt Ryan the very best buy-low quarterback on Draft Day 2014.

Baltimore: The offensive line is expected to be significantly re-tooled in hopes of rejuvenating a once-terrific run game. Ray Rice should still be given the chance to benefit from it.

Buffalo: The Bills should continue to be a run-heavy offense (they finished No. 2 in the league in rushing with 144.2 yards per game) with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson paving the way, but Robert Woods should have a chance to be a sneaky candidate for over 60 catches and 900 yards in his second season.

Carolina: Because the receiving corps isn't expected to be restocked this offseason there will be less excitement about Cam Newton in drafts next summer than there was in the past, making him a candidate to slide into good value.

Chicago: The Bears offense should take the next step in Marc Trestman's second season as head coach and play caller, thanks to all of their top offensive players locked up for 2014.

Cincinnati: Even though BenJarvus Green-Ellis will still be on the roster, look for Giovani Bernard to make a productive jump statistically in his second season (it already happened -- he had 13 more touches than Green-Ellis in the Bengals' last five).

Cleveland: There's nowhere for Josh Gordon to go but up, particularly since the Browns offense is headed for a major re-tooling. Any kind of quarterback upgrade is good for him and the rest of the offense. He's a Top-3 Fantasy receiver for sure entering 2014.

Dallas: With concerns that DeMarco Murray's carries were limited in fear of him breaking down, Dallas could make a splash at running back and jeopardize Murray's chances at another 270-touch season.

Denver: Two veterans -- Knowshon Moreno and Eric Decker -- aren't guaranteed to return to the Broncos because they're free agents. If they split, expect a downturn in their stats since they won't work with Peyton Manning (their replacements, however, should be great).

Detroit: The offense will change but there should be improvement not only in Matthew Stafford's receiving corps but also his own development, making him a potential draft steal.

Green Bay: Keep tabs on how the Packers move on at tight end since Jermichael Finley is a free agent coming off of spinal surgery. Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick or Jake Stoneburner could move into a starting role.

Houston: Arian Foster's 2014 will go one of two ways: Remarkably well after playing only eight games in 2013 or horribly wrong after dealing with multiple injuries. He'll be 28 years old when the season starts.

Indianapolis: The Colts have many offensive priorities this offseason, none bigger than improving the offensive line, which is vital in the success of the run game.

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Jacksonville: With the Jaguars offense in major flux and the franchise willing to let Maurice Jones-Drew shop himself this offseason, prepare for the veteran back to find a new team -- likely a contender -- to run for in his age-29 season.

Kansas City: If the Chiefs draw a big name receiver (or tight end) this offseason it could be the difference in making Alex Smith a legitimate Fantasy sleeper next summer.

Miami: Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas both struggled to get a grip on the rushing job last season, opening the door for the Dolphins to look at potential big-name free agent running backs -- and they've spent big on running backs before.

Minnesota: This one is easy: Expect Cordarrelle Patterson to take a major jump in production in his second season. Solidifying the quarterback spot in Minnesota will help a bunch.

New England: To help Tom Brady be a more effective quarterback the Patriots should launch Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins into a three-way battle for a starting role. The winner would have obvious Fantasy appeal.

New Orleans: Because of the opportunities both players should have next year, Pierre Thomas and Kenny Stills are candidates to be good mid- to late-round picks in Fantasy drafts.

N.Y. Giants: There might be a playbook change but not a roster purge here. Bank on the Giants rehashing their offense while spending resources toward protecting Eli Manning.

N.Y. Jets: The Jets might find another quarterback to compete with Geno Smith but they should also hit the market for a couple of receivers to help whoever starts for them. There could be a sleeper or two in there.

Oakland: The poor Raiders don't have a playmaker on offense and still have some offensive line issues. A guy to watch is rookie Latavius Murray; he missed his rookie season with an ankle injury but has good skills and should have an opportunity come training camp.

Philadelphia: You're going to hear a lot about Zach Ertz in the next six months. The second-year tight end could be a huge stat producer for the Eagles because of his versatility and speed compared to other Eagles tight ends (Celek is owed over $13.5 million over the next three years).

Pittsburgh: There are a lot of positives in Pittsburgh as they should have plenty of offensive continuity heading into 2014. Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown won't be bargains but Ben Roethlisberger should be.

San Diego: Even though Philip Rivers posted his third career 4,400-yard, 30-touchdown season he could use some help in the form of another receiving threat and perhaps more from Ladarius Green. Rivers could be as good if not better in '14.

Seattle: The Seahawks made a splash last year with the addition of Percy Harvin. Another receiver might be in the team's future considering Golden Tate's free-agent status come March.

San Francisco: Get familiar with the name Marcus Lattimore. Eyeballs will be on the 22-year-old this offseason as he puts the finishing touches on his rehab from major knee surgery -- and potentially in position to take a lot of work off Frank Gore's plate.

St. Louis: Two things need to happen here: Sam Bradford to get healthy and the Rams to finally solve their wide receiver dilemma. A guy with good hands who can run quality routes is very much needed.

Tampa Bay: Don't sleep on Doug Martin just because he had a disappointing 2013. Maybe the Bucs will look for another back to help him out but he's still the best -- and most versatile -- running back they still have.

Tennessee: Expect some major changes, particularly with Chris Johnson unlikely to be a part of the roster at his current salary. There is a shot he'll be very effective depending on where he suits up in '14.

Washington: Can't say Robert Griffin III will be a Draft Day bust yet. The Redskins' offensive scheme and offseason additions will be vital to figuring out his value for next season.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard .

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Player News
Gerald McCoy returns to practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:20 am ET) Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who missed Thursday's loss in Atlanta with a broken hand, returned to practice Monday, reports the Tampa Tribune. He's on track to play Sunday at Pittsburgh.

Steelers reunite with James Harrison
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:17 am ET) The Steelers made it official, signing linebacker James Harrison less than three weeks after he announced his retirement, reports the National Football Post. Harrison, 36, made five Pro Bowls with the Steelers, then played one season with the Bengals.

Big-play Antone Smith not worth much interest
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:09 am ET) Fantasy owners hounding the waiver wire ahead of Week 4 for running back help will likely let their mouse linger over Falcons running back Antone Smith, who has scored double-digit Fantasy points in two of the first three games. Unfortunately, Smith probably won't provide much help moving forward.

Smith is currently 32nd among running backs in standard Fantasy scoring, but that ranking belies the limited nature of his role in Atlanta's offense. Smith has broken off touchdowns of 38 and 54 yards this season, with those two plays accounting for 20 of his 22 total Fantasy points this season.  Smith clearly has big-play ability, but there just isn't much of a reason to add someone who has touched the ball nine times in three games.

Smith was fourth among Falcons' running backs in snap percentage in Thursday's blowout win over the Buccaneers, as he saw the field just eight times on offense. Though Smith is currently one of the most-viewed players in CBSSports.com leagues for Tuesday, there is little reason to consider adding him. 


Giants make roster moves
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:01 am ET) The Giants signed offensive lineman Eric Herman to their practice squad and waived offensive lineman Mark Asper. Herman had been waived Friday following his early reinstatement from a four-game suspension, reports the New York Daily News.

Odell Beckham won't practice this week
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:56 am ET) Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham won't practice this week as he continues to deal with a hamstring injury he first suffered in June, reports the New York Daily News.

Ike Taylor could return in 6-8 weeks
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:43 am ET) The Steelers haven't said how long starting cornerback Ike Taylor will be out due to his broken forearm, but the injury typically requires six to eight weeks to heal, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. The paper expects William Gay and Antwon Blake to fill in for Taylor.

Rex Ryan stands by Geno Smith
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:37 am ET) Jets coach Rex Ryan told reporters he doesn't believe quarterback Geno Smith has regressed, despite Smith throwing two bad interceptions Monday night. The first was returned 45 yards for a touchdown.

"Guys, this ain't the same quarterback as he was at the beginning of last year, I don't care what people say," Ryan said, per NFL.com. "Did he make a mistake? Absolutely. Their quarterback made a mistake but the difference was, they caught the [interception] and we didn't. ... I feel good about this football team and I feel good about Geno Smith."

Smith, who threw for 316 yards, missed several open receivers and guided his team to one touchdown in six red-zone trips.

"I've gotta make sure that when we get down in that red zone -- we were 1 for 6 today and that's completely awful," Smith said. "We don't ever expect to go 1 for 6 because we hold ourself to a high standard, and it starts with me."

Jaguars re-sign Sherrod Martin
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:24 am ET) The Jaguars re-signed safety Sherrod Martin after cutting him late last month.

Hammy limits Eric Decker to 12 snaps
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:21 am ET) Jets receiver Eric Decker felt his hamstring tighten up during Monday's loss to the Bears. That's why he played just 12 snaps, none in the second half.

"When it tightens up, you can get it warmed up, loosened up, but it was at the point where it wasn't loosening up," he told The Star-Ledger.

Decker said he decided to play because of how he felt in pregame warmups. "It was a soreness and everyone has soreness -- I've played through a lot of soreness in my career so far," he said. "I felt like I wanted to give it a chance; I didn't want to sit out. I didn't do anything stupid. I pulled myself at the right time."

Decker caught his only target for 19 yards. He'll be evaluated throughout the week as the Jets prepare to face the Lions on Sunday.


Ravens to use committee approach at tight end
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:10 am ET) With tight end Dennis Pitta out for the season following hip surgery, the Ravens will use a committee to replace him, reports ESPN.com. The website expects tight end Owen Daniels, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and receiver Marlon Brown to assume larger roles in Pitta's absence.

Daniels is in his ninth season with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, and "he's also gained the trust of Joe Flacco with his toughness over the middle," the report said. But Daniels doesn't gain much separation anymore and has missed 26 games over the past five seasons, the website added.


 
 
 
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