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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
Raiders' Sparano: Latavius Murray can handle being a No. 1 guy
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:21 am ET) During an interview with Sirius XM radio, Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano indicated that Latavius Murray could be the running back of the future, per Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. 

"Early in the season, it took us a while to figure that part of it out," Sparano said. "He's a guy that was hurt all year last year. Latavius has really come into his own, and I think he can handle the workload of being a No. 1 guy."

Murray has appeared in 14 games this season, rushing for 387 yards and two touchdowns on 72 attempts. He has rushed for 333 yards over the past four weeks and will look to end the season on a high note Sunday against Denver.

Oakland is 14-point underdog at Denver.


Report: Cardinals QB Drew Stanton may be done for season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:10 am ET) Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton may be out for the season following arthroscopic surgery to fight an infection, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Stanton was still recovering from an MCL sprain when the infection was discovered Wednesday and is believed to be from an outside medical treatment, according to Rapoport.

Stanton threw for 1,711 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions this year and was hoping to make a return for the playoffs.


Trial date scheduled for Cardinals RB Jonathan Dwyer
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:57 am ET) Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer's trial is scheduled for March 4, the Associated Press reports. Dwyer has pleaded not guilty to felony aggravated assault and eight misdemeanors during a July 21 incident.

Investigators believe Dwyer broke his wife's nose, punched her the following day and threw a shoe at his 1-year-old son. He was arrested in September and placed on the reserve/non-football illness list.

Barring a suspension from commissioner Roger Goodell, the Dwyer is eligible to play as early as the 2015 season.


Louis Murphy signs three-year extension to stay in Tampa Bay
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:48 am ET) Buccaneers wide receiver Louis Murphy has agreed to a three-year contract extension to stay in Tampa Bay, according to the team's website.

Murphy has 31 catches for 380 yards in his first year in Tampa Bay with two touchdowns. 

For his career, Murphy has 152 catches for 2,124 yards and 10 touchdowns, mostly as a member of the Oakland Raiders.


Ravens' Torrey Smith: 'I might not be here next year'
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:34 am ET) Ravens wideout Torrey Smith told reporters he could be playing his final game in a Baltimore uniform on Sunday against the Browns, per ESPN. Smith will be an unrestricted free agent in March if the Ravens don't use the franchise tag on him, which would cost approximately $12 million.

"As bad as it is not going to the playoffs, that's a horrible feeling to knowing that it's a possibility that I might not be here next year," Smith said. "But I'm not really worried about that. I’m trying to win this game and see what happens."

Smith, who cracked the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career in 2013, took a bit of a step back this season. Through 15 games, he has 45 of 86 targets for a career-low 684 yards and a career-best 10 touchdowns.

The Ravens need a win over the Browns and a San Diego loss to Kansas City in order to advance to the postseason. Baltimore opened as a 7-point favorite over Cleveland. The line has now moved to 10 points.


Report: Falcons RB Steven Jackson likely out Week 17 with quad injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:20 am ET) Falcons running back Steven Jackson is expected to miss Week 17's game against the Panthers with a quad injury, according to ESPN. 

Jackson missed two straight practices while recovering from the injury.

coach Mike Smith said he hopes Jackson will get a chance to "move around a little bit'' during Friday's practice. 

If Jackson is unable to go, running backs Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Devonta Freeman would assume his duties in the run game.

The Falcons are currently 3 1/2-point favorites over the Panthers for Sunday's matchup.


Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders limited by hip injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/25/2014) Broncos wideout Emmanuel Sanders was limited in practice for the second straight day Thursday due to a hip injury, reports the Denver Post. He's fully expected to start Sunday's game against the Raiders.

Denver, which will clinch a first-round bye with a victory, is a two-touchdown favorite.

Playing with Peyton Manning, Sanders has set career highs with 95 catches for 1,331 yards and nine touchdowns. He caught five balls for 67 yards and two scores in the Week 10 win at Oakland.


Jets add RB Chris Ivory (hamstring) to injury report
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/25/2014) The Jets added running back Chris Ivory to the injury report Thursday, saying he was limited by a hamstring injury, reports ESPN.com. Ivory, who's battled hamstring problems in the past, leads New York with 792 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

The Jets are 6-point underdogs in Sunday's season finale at Miami. Ivory was held to 62 rushing yards on 16 carries in the Week 13 home loss to the Dolphins.


Lions WR Calvin Johnson returns to practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/25/2014) Lions wideout Calvin Johnson, held out Wednesday due to an ankle injury, returned to a limited practice Thursday ahead of Sunday's NFC North showdown at Green Bay. Johnson caught six passes for 82 yards in the first meeting with the Packers.

Update: Lions RB Joique Bell 'should be fine' for Sunday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/25/2014) Lions running back Joique Bell (Achilles) practiced fully Thursday after being limited Wednesday and "should be fine" for Sunday's game at Green Bay, reports the team's website. Earlier reports indicated Bell's status was in doubt, especially after coach Jim Caldwell replied, "We'll see," when asked if Bell would be able to play.

Bell leads Detroit with 800 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns, including five in the past four games. The Lions are 7.5-point underdogs in the game for the NFC North crown.


 
 
 
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