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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
WR Andre Johnson: I didn't join Colts for revenge against Texans
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7:27 pm ET) Perennial Pro Bowl wideout Andre Johnson insists that he did not sign as a free agent with the Colts with two matchups against his old Texans team in mind. He claims the move was because Indianapolis, led by quarterback Andrew Luck, gives him the best chance to win.

Johnson was surprisingly released by Houston, but revenge was not part of his game plan.

"(Leaving the Texans) hasn't even really set in," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I was just talking about that with someone (Thursday). Everybody thinks that I went to the Colts to try and get back at the Texans and stuff like that. That had nothing to do with it. I just went to the ... place where I felt was the best fit for me and where I can have a chance to win a championship.

"It wasn't about circling (game) dates or nothing against the Texans. I had 12 great years here. Been around some great people, built some great relationships, a lot of great friends. Houston's always going to be my home."

Johnson remained productive in 2014, but his yards-per-catch average declined to 11.0, its lowest since 2005.


Report: Jaguars restructure contract of Marcedes Lewis
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:24 pm ET) The Jaguars restructured the contract of tight end Marcedes Lewis, according to a report by Jacksonville.com.

Lewis did not receive an extension. This year will be the last year of his contract. The restructuring should reduce his cap number, which is currently $8.2 million. 


Jaguars sign Stefen Wisniewski
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:54 pm ET) The Jaguars announced the signing of free agent center Stefen Wisniewski on Saturday. 

Wisniewski reportedly signed a one-year contract for $2.5 million, per Jacksonville.com.

"We had the opportunity to spend time with Stefen earlier this month and remained in contact with him with the hopes of getting a deal done," GM David Caldwell said. "We are excited to get him on board before we officially start our offseason conditioning program next week. He gives us great position flexibility along our offensive line as he has started at both center and guard during his career. He has a familiarity with our offensive system and brings a lot of experience to our offensive line room."


49ers looking to extend Michael Wilhoite
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) After the unexpected retirements of two linebackers, the 49ers are looking to lock up Michael Wilhoite to a contract extension. 

Wilhoite is an exclusive rights free agent, but GM Trent Baalke told the media he hopes to negotiate a long-term deal. 

"We’re working on something with him as we speak … He’s kind of in a unique situation. He was kind of caught in a numbers deal," Baalke said, per SFGate.com.


DeMeco Ryans likes improved Eagles' defense
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans likes the changes that the team has made to its defense in the offseason.

"We got better on the outside, which we struggled at last year,” Ryans said, per ESPN. “We had a lot of struggles there on the outside at the corner position, so I feel we've upgraded there with (Byron) Maxwell , a guy that you've seen make a lot of plays for the Seahawks. A guy like Kiko (Alonso), who his rookie year was a really outstanding player, up for defensive rookie of the year, a playmaker all over the field, and another guy in (Walter) Thurmond , who is expected to definitely push guys to be the starting corner on the other side. So I feel like we upgraded at a lot of positions, and I feel like it's really going to improve our defense."


Kubiak: Time for Broncos' backup Brock Osweiler to step up
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler hasn't had much playing time, as Peyton Manning's backup, but coach Gary Kubiak wants to see progress from him.

"I think it's time for Brock to take a big step as a player," Kubiak said, per NFL.com. "A lot of times in this league, the young quarterbacks don't get the opportunity to be behind a player of Peyton's status and learn before they get the opportunity in this league ... I think Brock needs to take advantage of this. But he's going to be very competitive. I'm very impressed with his skills. I'm very impressed with how hard he works in the classroom. I know he's got all of the ability."


Kubiak: Broncos will run no-huddle with Peyton Manning
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Gary Kubiak said he plans to take advantage of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning when designing the Broncos' offense for next season. 

We'll definitely be running the hurry-up offense," Kubiak said per NFL.com. "Peyton's been the best at the business at it for many years, so that's a strength that we'll stay with."

That doesn't mean everything will be the same for Manning. Kubiak said he planned on having Manning under center more than in recent seasons. 


Steelers claim LS Brandon Hartson off waivers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) The Steelers announced on Friday that they claimed long snapper Brandon Hartson off of waivers. 

Hartson was waived by the Chiefs on Thursday. 


S Chris Banjo signs EFA tender with Packers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Packers safety Chris Banjo signed his exclusive-rights tender on Friday, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The tender is good for one year and is worth $585,000 for the 2015 season. 


Trent Baalke praises 49ers LB Aldon Smith's offseason work ethic
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has had plenty of off-field issues since entering the NFL.

After serving a nine-game suspension a year ago for violating the NFL's personal-conduct and substance-abuse policy, Smith returned and only tallied two sacks. 

The time off followed by sub-par performances has ignited Smith on the practice field thus far, according to general manager Trent Baalke. 

"He’s probably in as good a shape as he’s been in a long time," Baalke said, via the San Jose Mercury News. "He’s starting to develop into a leader out there, which is good to see and been a pleasure to watch."

Baalke knows that Smith has an uphill climb in repairing his image. But while Smith attempts to do so, Baalke wanted the San Francisco media to know that Smith is doing what he can to improve ont he playing field. 

“He’s got a great look in his eye,” Baalke said. “He’s doing well. I look forward to having you guys visit with him.”


 
 
 
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