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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
Golden Tate's value tied to Calvin Johnson
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:19 pm ET) As Chris Towers so deftly noted Sunday, Golden Tate's breakthrough performance in which he caught eight passes for 116 yards Week 4 at the Jets may have had something to do with Calvin Johnson playing only 57 percent of the Lions' snaps because of a sprained ankle. So presumably, Tate owners would like to know how Johnson is doing now.

Well, he missed practice Wednesday but recently told The Detroit News his ankle is "definitely better" than it was last week. He missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday leading up to that game.

I'm thinking the Lions would rather give Johnson a chance to get healthy than run him out there as a decoy every week, so if he's active again Week 5 against Buffalo, I wouldn't be particularly optimistic about Tate's chances.

Then again, the floor is pretty low for Tate. In four games, he has yet to go for less than 51 yards. Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard rank him in the 20-30 range at wide receiver, which would make him an advisable starter in 12-team leagues. That sounds about right.


Matt Schaub rejoins Raiders Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:06 pm ET) Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub has rejoined the club Wednesday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Schaub was away for a couple days while dealing with a non-injury situation. He rejoined the club Wednesday, and could play Week 6 if Derek Carr is unable to go. 


Rivera: So far, so good for Panthers RB Chris Ogbonnaya
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:00 pm ET) Panthers just-signed running back Chris Ogbonnaya impressed Ron Rivera on Wednesday. The team hopes the former Cleveland back can bolster what has been an injury-plagued backfield.

"Chris had a good day," Rivera told the team website. "He's a smart young man. He's been in a very similar system. There is a lot of overlap with the terminology. He seemed to assimilate very nicely to it."

Ogbonnaya has racked up 660 rushing yards and 714 receiving yards in 46 games in the NFL, mostly with the Browns.


Joique Bell not a great start either way
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:53 pm ET) Though Joique Bell missed practice Wednesday after leaving early in Week 4 with a concussion, the Lions aren't ruling him out for Week 5 against Buffalo. But even if he plays, you probably wouldn't want to start him in Fantasy.

The Bills rank third against the run, allowing 71.5 yards per game and just 2.9 per carry. They limited the Texans' Arian Foster to 6 yards on eight carries in Week 4 and have allowed the sixth-fewest Fantasy points to running backs this season.

Those yards per carry may have been skewed by the Chargers' Donald Brown's 62 yards on 31 carries in Week 3. It's pretty clear by now he's just a bad running back. But it's not like Bell has been a world-beater himself. Splitting carries with Reggie Bush, he has only once run for even 40 yards in a game this season and is averaging 3.2 yards per carry.

Especially coming back from a concussion, he's just a desperation play this week.


Cowboys WR Dez Bryant finally practices in full Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:49 pm ET) Cowboys stud wide receiver Dez Bryant practiced in full Wednesday for the first time since injuring his right shoulder on Sept. 14 against Tennessee.

Bryant has participated in every game, but has been limited in each of the last six practices. His status, however, has not affected his performance in games. Bryant has caught nine passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns since sustaining the injury.


FFT Blog: Looking at the most-dropped list
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(5:47 pm ET) At the Fantasy Football Today blog, we took a look at the most-dropped players in CBSSports.com leagues.

The five most-dropped players are Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins and tight end Niles Paul, Chargers running back Donald Brown, Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams and Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey

You probably won't regret dropping Williams or Paul given their injuries, and Cousins' next few matchups will probably bring out more bad habits. However, if Brown is available in your league (as he is in 19 percent of leagues), you might want to snatch him. He has a tough matchup in Week 5, but we think he can run all over the Raiders in Week 6. 


Derek Carr believes he'll play against Chargers
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:42 pm ET) Raiders quarterback Derek Carr believes he can play against the Chargers Week 6, according to the Bay Area News Group.

Carr injured his ankle against the Dolphins Week 4. The Raiders are on a bye Week 5, so Carr will have an extra week to get healthy. 


Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson not on Wednesday IR
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) A wrist ailment that has been plaguing Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson apparently did not prevent him from practicing Wednesday. He was not listed on the team's injury report.

Jackson has yet to break loose in any game this season. He is averaging just three catches for 33 yards in four games, though he has scored two touchdowns.


Reggie Bush either a good or bad start
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:39 pm ET) Believe it or not, the Bills have been stellar against the run this season, allowing just 71.5 yards per game, third-fewest in the league, and 2.9 yards per carry. And because they have yet to allow a touchdown on the ground, they've given up the sixth-fewest Fantasy points per game to running backs this season.

Which makes Week 5 an especially tricky one for Reggie Bush owners. The Lions are hosting the Bills, and Bush, with his shared role with Joique Bell, has certainly failed to deliver with more favorable matchups this year. But Bell is recovering from a concussion and may not play at all Sunday. Considering Bush got the lion's share of the workload after Bell went down in Week 4, he may be looking at a feature role.

Would the matchup negate the increased workload? In Bush's case, I'd say know. He's still one of the best at catching the ball out of the backfield, which should make up for any struggles he'd have running the ball.

Of course, this is all hypothetical. If Bell is able to play, the two will likely split carries as usual, and with this matchup, that's not an appealing prospect. Keep an eye on the situation.


Vernon Davis unable to go Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:28 pm ET) San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis was unable to practice Wednesday.

Davis is dealing with a back injury, but downplayed the severity of the issue. Davis declared himself "day-to-day" early Wednesday. He caught just two passes for 8 yards before leaving the game last week. 


 
 
 
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