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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 bring back Kaelin Burnett
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:21 pm ET) The Raiders have inked exclusive-rights free agent Kaelin Burnett to a one-year deal. He's expected to compete for a roster spot in training camp. 

Dekoda Watson moving to strong-side LB
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:20 pm ET) In the wake of the release of veteran linebacker Russell Allen, the Jaguars are expected to make Dekoda Watson their new starting strong-side linebacker, ESPN reports. He'll also play as a pass rusher and potentially line up as a defensive end on third downs. 

Watson had 42 total tackles, two sacks, an interception, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a blocked punt with the Bucs last year. 


Brandon Gibson begins light jobbing
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:14 pm ET) Brandon Gibson has begun light jogging as he works his way back from a torn patellar tendon, the Miami Herald reports. The Dolphins are expected to keep him on the roster, if only because of the cap hit he'll cost, per the report. He said recently he expects to be ready for Week 1. 

'Humbled' Richardson explains 2013, promises a better 2014
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:21 pm ET) Colts running back Trent Richardson spoke openly about his disappointing 2013 season, saying that it took him too long to learn a new playbook and get over leaving Cleveland after Week 2. Richardson also told the official team website that he's planning to do everything within his power to be as prepared as possible for 2014. 

"Y'all will see a big significant difference in the way I play, the speed. I won't have to think about a lot of stuff," Richardson said earlier this offseason. "It's going to be big -- timing with the offensive line, timing with Andrew (Luck), just knowing a lot more with the program, the whole system.

"They haven't seen everything they're going to get out of me yet. A lot of it is going to come next year. A lot of it is going to come in the offseason. I'm going to put in a lot of work, as I've been doing this whole season. This season humbled me. ... This season was a lesson to me."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano has had Richardson's back, says the running back, and the coach stressed back in March that his running back's involvement in the offseason program will be key. 

"It's going to be very, very important for (Richardson) to be here for the offseason program and to dive into this thing full steam ahead, which he will," Pagano said. "He wants to be great. He's got all the talent. He's got all the ability. We would have never done what we did if we didn't believe that deep down in our core. So we look for him to have a great offseason and to have a great 2014 campaign."


Saints bring back Robert Meachem
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:06 pm ET) The Saints announced Friday that the club has re-signed veteran free agent wide receiver Robert Meachem to a one-year contract.

Meachem is a seven-year NFL veteran who was originally the club's first round draft pick (27th overall) in 2007. He re-signed with the Saints prior to the start of the 2013 regular season and appeared in 15 games with five starts. He finished with 16 receptions for 324 yards with two touchdowns.

Meachem said signing with the Saints now should help with his preparations as he will be able to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, OTAs and mini-camp. Plus, "this is home," he said.


Can Chris Johnson turn into Tomlinson?
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:12 am ET) The Jets are hoping running back Chris Johnson can do for them what LaDainian Tomlinson did in 2010, reports ESPN.

That season, Tomlinson came from San Diego to New York after he was released. He responded with a team-high 914 yards with six touchdowns on 219 carries and caught 52 passes. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Maybe Johnson, who was let go by the Titans, can do the same thing.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday.

Johnson had a disappointing year in 2013 when he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but he played 13 games on a torn meniscus and was running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season. The situation in New York should be improved, and hopefully being teamed with Chris Ivory will allow him to play like Tomlinson did in 2010.


Aikman worried about Tony Romo
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:01 am ET) Former Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is worried about current Dallas quarterback Tony Romo coming off back surgery, reports the team's official website.

Romo, 34, is coming off back surgery in December, which was the second procedure on his back in a year.

"I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he's at least afforded more time to get ready," Aikman said. "But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned.

"I'm hopeful that he's able to come back -- everybody is. This team won't be the same if he's not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, 'Hey, he's ahead of schedule and everything's going fine,' I'm not sure how you can really measure that here in April."


Bengals, A.J. Green not talking extension - yet
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:54 am ET) The Bengals are expected to exercise the fifth-year option on receiver A.J. Green's contract by May 3, reports Pro Football Talk. But the sides have yet to discuss a long-term contract extension, according to the report.

The Bengals hold the rights to Green through the 2015 season. And in 2016, if a long-term deal hasn't been signed yet, the Bengals can use the franchise tag on Green for that season.

The report says Green can force the issue by trying to boycott offseason workouts or hold out from training camp. But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is confident Green will be there.


Chris Snee will give it a shot this spring
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:52 am ET) Giants guard Chris Snee will attempt to go through the Giants offseason program once he's healthy, the New York Daily News reports. Snee had hip surgery last season and an elbow surgery earlier this year. There is no timeline for him to be at 100 percent but he is expected to be on the field for the "bulk" of offseason activities. 

Report: Niners won't release Aldon Smith
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:50 am ET) The 49ers might expect a suspension for pass rushing linebacker Aldon Smith, but they are not planning to release him, NFL Network reported on Friday.

Smith was arrested recently for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport, the latest of a string of troubles for the highly talented linebacker. He was also arrested for suspicion of DUI in January, 2012 and again September, 2013. He also had marijuana on him during that September arrest. In October, 2013 he was charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon. 


 
 
 
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