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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
Sidney Rice opting to return to Seattle
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:05 am ET) The Seahawks re-signed free-agent wide receiver Sidney Rice to a one-year deal Wednesday, after being cut earlier in the offseason.

Financial terms of the deal are not yet known, though it will surely pay him less than the $8.5 million he was initially set to make before he was cut. Rice is recovering from a torn ACL in October, but has been cleared to return to football activities. 


Jaguars sign Mike Brown
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:03 am ET) The Jaguars signed exclusive rights free agent receiver Mike Brown Wednesday. The terms of the contract are not immediately available.

Brown finished third on the team in receiving yards a year ago, finishing with 32 receptions for 446 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 11 games. 


Jets backfield takes shape following Johnson signing
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) With the Jets signing Chris Johnson on Wednesday, the rest of their backfield should start to take shape, reports the New York Daily News.

The report says Johnson and Chris Ivory will work as a tandem, and Bilal Powell will be the No. 3 running back. Mike Goodson is expected to be released before the start of the season.


Chris Johnson excited for 'fresh start'
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) New Jets running back Chris Johnson's two-year deal is worth $8 million with another $1 million in incentives, reports Pro Football Talk. Johnson was scheduled to make $8 million for the Titans in 2014 alone before he was released.

Meanwhile, Johnson told the Tennessean that he's looking forward to this opportunity with the Jets.

"I have a fresh start. Now I am going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder," Johnson said. "I know a lot of people are doubting me. I want to prove everybody wrong who has doubts in me."


Bengals sign punter T.J. Conley
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) The Bengals signed free agent punter T.J. Conley on Wednesday. 

Conley punted in 16 games for the Jets in 2011. He averaged 42.7 yards on 92 punts, and his 38.8-yard net average was the highest in Jets history. He had 32 inside-20 kicks with just six touchbacks, and his plus-26 differential on inside-20s to touchbacks ranked tied for third in the NFL.

Conley did not play in the 2012 or 2013 regular seasons. He was with the Jets in the 2012 preseason and with Cleveland in the 2013 preseason.

Conley will challenge incumbent Kevin Huber for the starting job, but most likely he won't make the final roster.


Chris Johnson signs two-year deal with the Jets
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) The Jets have signed running back Chris Johnson to a two-year deal, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. 

Johnson told reporters on Tuesday he was taking free agency one day at a time and added that he had other visits planned, but the Jets must have made him an improved offer to lock up the one-time 2,000-yard running back. 

Johnson has totaled at least 1,400 yards in each of his last four seasons with the Titans since running for 2,006 yards in 2009. He also scored 10 touchdowns in 2013 (four receiving). 


Clay Matthews says it's thumbs up for training camp
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said he's diligently rehabbing his injured thumb, comparing it to a torn ACL rather than a typical bone break. As part of the injury he also had surgery on his forearm, which got damaged when he re-injured the thumb late last season. But he told USA Today that he'll be ready for the start of training camp, though he'll miss offseason workouts. 

Mike James resumes running and cutting
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) Buccaneers running back Mike James is working his way back into football shape after breaking his left ankle last season. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he's been running and cutting and is aiming to get back to full strength and speed. Asked if he would be ready for the team's April minicamp, James said he and the team are "taking everything day by day." 

Josh Freeman signs with Giants
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) The Giants have signed quarterback Josh Freeman, reports FOX Sports.

Freeman spent last season with the Buccaneers and Vikings. His only appearance for Minnesota was against the Giants, and he completed 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and an interception.

Freeman will try and make the final roster for the Giants as a backup to Eli Manning, who is coming off ankle surgery this offseason. The Giants also have Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib on the roster.


Rob Gronkowski will 'take his time' coming back
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will "take his time and then take more time" coming back from a torn ACL suffered last season, a source told Bleacher Report

Gronkowski's heart was questioned last year when he took his time coming back from forearm and back procedures. This year he might not care how long he takes as he wants to practice patience in his rehab. 

The knee injury happened in December of last year. Usually it takes nine months to come back from an ACL injury without incident. That would mean he'd be ready to hit the field by late August. 


 
 
 
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