I will admit that I love the off-season in football. I love free agency, the draft, trades – all of it! I find it highly intriguing what teams are doing to attempt to improve themselves. It is even more fun to think of how all the moves affect fantasy season, even though it is months away. There are, of course, a large number of off-season decisions that will change fortunes for their respective NFL teams, as well as fortunes of fantasy football teams and their keepers. The following are five questions and or storylines that I will monitor this off-season, as these will have lasting effects on the 2015 fantasy season.
What is Peyton Manning going to do?
So what will Peyton do this off-season? Peyton is a proud man, and he did not end the season well and his playoff display was in line with the poor end of season play. If Peyton is coming back, he will most likely get the head coach that he wants in Kubiak. Manning’s decision however will have a landslide effect on the Broncos team. If he does choose to walk away then it changes the value of some of the current players on the team as it relates to fantasy football. Elway will not go into the season with Osweiler as his QB, and then you will see a trade for a QB, in my opinion. I would have to imagine that this is not the way that he would want to go out, and that he will be back for one more year.
Where will Josh Gordon play, and which version of Gordon will we see?
Would the better question be: Will Gordon be eligible to play next year, or will he get suspended again? I would guess that he will be playing next year, and that he will keep himself out of trouble this off-season. Hopefully, he knows that he is on his last chance, and that he can be a difference maker for an NFL team and fantasy owners. I don’t expect to see him back in Cleveland next year, as Cleveland will most likely rid themselves of the headache that has come with Gordon the last three years. Whoever ends up with him though has a chance to acquire a true game changer at the WR position. If he is healthy and motivated, which he will be if he is traded, he will escalate the value of his new QB immediately. If he ends up with an elite QB somehow, look out because he could me a monster in fantasy this year!
Where will Adrian Peterson play, and for fantasy relevance, does it matter?
The simple answers to these two questions are - who cares and NO! Assuming he is not preparing for the Olympics (LOL), Peterson will play this year, and he will instantly improve the offense of the team that he plays for, whether it be the Vikings or someone else. You cannot question Peterson’s ability on a football field – he has been amazing when he has played. He now has a year of rest and will most likely come back with a vengeance in 2015. He has shown the ability to put up great numbers on bad offenses, so wherever he ends up, the offense will get better. Peterson will be out to prove a point in 2015, and I would fully expect him to finish in the top five of running backs, regardless of where he plays.
What is Chip Kelly going to do to this roster in 2015?
This is one of the most intriguing questions for me this off-season. With more control this off-season than last year, Chip could really start to make some sweeping changes here. Rumors have been flying for a while now that Chip may move on from LeSean McCoy, as running backs no longer hold the same value that they once did. There is a question on if he will bring back Jeremy Maclin, who will draw a ton of interest on the free agent market. The biggest question though, will be at QB for the Eagles in 2015. Now that Mariota has declared for the draft, there is a rumor a day about Chip moving up in the draft to acquire him. Would someone like McCoy or Foles be a part of a deal for the chance to acquire him? If the Eagles acquire Mariota, and instantly put him in an offense that he is familiar with, he should hold value in fantasy circles in deeper leagues. After all, if Kelly could make Mark Sanchez fantasy relevant, you would have to think that he could do the same with Mariota!
Where will DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, DeMaryius Thomas and others end up?
This question might not be as intriguing as Chip Kelly and the Eagles but is definitely more fun. Free agency lets a fan base and fantasy owners dream up where they want the star players to be! A lot of years the big names do not change teams, but this year we might see a player or two change teams. I do not expect to see Dez Bryant or Demaryius Thomas change teams as both will most likely be signed as soon as their respective teams can get to them. Recent rumblings out of Dallas though sound as if Dallas would be all right with going a different direction at RB and letting Murray go. If Murray is not back in Dallas, I can see Buffalo and Oakland making a play at a RB with name power, which might allow Jerry Jones to make a run at Adrian Peterson. Jeremy Maclin and Randall Cobb would both be great fits for a Kansas City team that NEEDS a presence at WR should they hit the market. Mark Ingram and Justin Forsett both showed teams something this year, so they could both get a shot at starting at somewhere else as well. No matter what happens though, it should be fun to watch!
This column was written by Ryan Thyer. Follow him on Twitter: @BigNoahd05