The Biggest Stories of the 2014 Offseason

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2013 was a fantastic year for me, not only in terms of fantasy football, but also the people that I’ve come across. I still can’t wrap my ahead around the fact that I’m an editor and writer for a fantasy sports website, and that people like you actually care to read what I have to say (hopefully). Along with the guys that I have the privilege of working with on a daily basis over at fakepigskin.com, I’ve met so many great guys on social media; guys that I can call my friends with nothing more than fantasy sports initially bringing us together. This past year has been truly special, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the upcoming year.

Alright enough of this mushy stuff, that’s not why you’re reading this right? Let’s look ahead to 2014. With free agency, the draft and potential trades coming up, there’s a lot to be looking forward to in this offseason. Here are the biggest stories that I’ll be following as we prepare for next year’s drafts.

Can Eric Decker Succeed without Peyton Manning?

Reports out of Denver say that the Broncos will not sign Decker, allowing him to be a free agent. John Elway wants to see what the market is for Decker before preparing an offer of his own, which makes sense. The Broncos have around $15 million in cap space, but they would like to use that space to fill other holes in their roster. The question that NFL execs are asking is if Decker an elite receiver on his own, or if he was just a beneficiary of the “Manning effect.” Decker has been the #9 WR in standard leagues two years in a row, yet he doesn’t get the amount of respect from fantasy owners that I think he should. No matter where he lands he’ll remain a monster in the red zone, and while he may not high quality targets thrown his way outside of Denver, the volume should theoretically make up for it. Will Decker be successful if he leaves Denver? I won’t debate that here, but when a top 10 WR is potentially changing area codes, it’s something worth paying attention to.

Eric Decker’s stats over the past 2 Years with Peyton Manning at the helm*


Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G
2012 25 DEN WR 87 16 15 85 1064 12.5 13 55 5.3 66.5
2013 26 DEN WR 87 16 16 87 1288 14.8 11 61 5.4 80.5

 

What’s Going to Happen to Ray Rice?

Rice was one of the most disappointing first round picks last year, and some are questioning whether or not the amount of touches he’s had over his 6 year career is catching up to him. To make matters worse, Rice was arrested in mid-February for assaulting his fiance in Atlantic City. Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome said that the video “doesn’t look good” but that he will “let the facts determine what the consequences will be.” What Rice did was a shameful and cowardly act; there’s absolutely no place for his actions. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of action will be taken against Rice from the commissioner’s office. The NFL already has an image problem, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the $44 million dollar a year man Roger Goodell hits Rice hard with fines and suspension. Whatever winds up happening, Rice is coming off the worst statistical season of his career, and this is not the start to the offseason that he nor the Ravens were hoping for.

What Happens to Chris Johnson?

Despite the fact that CJ2K has not lived up to his name in the past few years, he’s actually gone over 1,000 yards every single year that he’s been in the NFL. He’s never missed a game, despite having a minor procedure in January for his knee, so durability is not an issue either. The problem is his monster salary which he signed back in 2011 and chemistry. Since signing that contract, critics have said that Johnson plays soft, not hitting holes with conviction and only wanting to break a big run. He’s also criticized his teammates, specifically his offensive line. One of the biggest turnoffs in professional sports is when a player refuses to take responsibility and tries to point fingers at others. New head coach Ken Whisenhunt has already said that locker room chemistry is key, so Johnson is likely going to be looking for a new home for 2014. There haven’t been any rumors swirling around the soon-to-be 29 year old running back, but he can still be a fantasy contributor if he lands in the right place. The days of him playing like CJ2K however, are over.

Will Mojo be Freed from Jacksonville? 

Maurice Jones-Drew's prayers have finally been answered: he has an opportunity to leave Jacksonville  Photo credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Maurice Jones-Drew’s prayers have finally been answered: he has an opportunity to leave Jacksonville
Photo credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Another free agency question I know, but it’s a good one. While it’s not guarantee that MJD is going to leave Florida, many signs point to that happening. The Jaguars have already said that they will let him test free agency, and if you combine that with the fact that MJD is all about the money (can you blame him the way the Jaguars treated him?) and the fact that there are so many running backs entering the draft in 2014, I think the MJD has played in last game as a Jaguar in 2013. What happens when he has a legitimate offense around him where the defenses don’t focus solely on him? He put up top 20 numbers this year in standard leagues, though his numbers have usually been because of volume. He’s averaged 19 touches per game since he took over for Fred Taylor, and there is legitimate concern over how much longer he can be a workhorse running back. Still, I’m very excited over the fact that Mojo will finally be able to break free from the prison that is Jacksonville, and I can’t wait to see where he winds up.

Which Rookies will make the most Impact in 2014?

With the NFL Combine underway, the football universe is going to be all about rookies for the time being. We’ve got big time play makers coming out of college from Sammy Watkins, who has been compared to Julio Jones and AJ Green, to Johnny Football, who dares NFL teams to pass up on him. It won’t be until after the draft where I’ll start looking at who is going to best rookies for fantasy purposes in 2014, but after a year where we saw breakouts from guys like Zac Stacy, Eddie Lacy and Keenan Allen, a lot of fantasy owners will be looking for the “next big thing.” Time will tell if 2014 will be a repeat of that, or if chasing players from this rookie class will be fool’s gold.

*Stats via pro-football-reference.com

 

What are stories that you are most interested in seeing develop this offseason? Feel free to comment below or hit me up on the Twitter @k_wang32

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