Offseason? What offseason?
The NFL season isn't over after the Super Bowl. Nothing is over! With the NFL Scouting Combine complete and free agency on the horizon, fantasy owners need to keep tabs on all of the important news, notes and player moves that happen over the next several weeks and months. That's where I come in ... with the 20 biggest stories you'll be watching this offseason.
1. Le'Veon Bell's injured right knee: Bell, who is coming off MCL and PCL injuries, has been cleared to run, which is a good sign. However, no one seems to know if he will be available for training camp or even the start of the 2016 season. Whether or not he's the top overall pick (or even in the top five) depends 100 percent on Bell's health and a setback-free rehabilitation.
2. Jamaal Charles' comeback from his ACL tear: Charles, who will be 30 at the end of the 2016 season, is coming off his second ACL reconstruction in the last five years. All reports on his rehabilitation have been positive, but his health status this summer will be huge in projecting his true fantasy draft stock. At this point, he's looking like a second- or third-round choice.
3. Will Doug Martin remain a Buccaneer?: Martin is considered one of the best free-agent running backs in the league, and it looks like he'll be testing the market rather than sticking in Tampa Bay. If he does in fact leave town, the move could alter Martin's draft stock from its current status as a surefire No. 1 fantasy runner and turn Charles Sims into a sleeper among running backs.
4. Which NFL team will land Matt Forte?: Forte, a fantasy star for much of his pro career, is looking to join a contender for his final few NFL seasons. If he ends up with the Patriots, for example, Forte would see an increase in value (while the stock of Dion Lewis would decline). Regardless, a new destination could have major implications at what is a thin position.
5. Calvin Johnson: active or retired?: All of the reports coming out of the Motor City seem to point to Megatron calling it a career before entering what would be his age-31 season. His decision will no doubt have an effect on the value of the wide receiver position, not to mention the stock of Lions offensive players like Matthew Stafford, Ameer Abdullah and Golden Tate.
6. Will David Johnson's hype train roll?: Johnson had a great finish to this rookie season, and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has said that D.J. "has a chance to be one of the all-time best" running backs. If the team doesn't add another runner to the mix (Chris Johnson is a free agent, Andre Ellington isn't durable) this offseason, Johnson's draft stock will continue to climb.
7. Thomas Rawls' injured left ankle: Rawls looks like a breakout candidate for next season, as the departure of Marshawn Lynch clears the path to his claiming the top spot on the depth chart in Seattle. Coach Pete Carroll seems optimistic about Rawls' status for the start of training camp, but his return from a broken ankle will no doubt still be important for all fantasy fans.
8. Will Lamar Miller remain a Dolphin?: Miller, who is entering his age-25 season, was under-utilized during his time in Miami and could be on the move. If he lands with a new team that makes him a true featured runner, Miller could retain (or improve on) his stock as a top-15 back. In that case, Jay Ajayi would become a sleeper as the likely starter in the South Beach backfield.
9. Who will replace Arian Foster?: Coming off an Achilles procedure and entering his age-30 campaign, it's not a shock that Houston released Foster this week. Does that open the door for the team to take Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft? And ... is there a team out there brave enough to take a chance on Foster, a former fantasy star?
10. Will Eddie Lacy get back into shape?: Doughnuts, cheeseburgers ... name your favorite junk food and there was a joke about Lacy's weight attached to it last season. However, reports indicate that the Alabama product has started a program with P90X founder Tony Horton. If Lacy can get back to form, he's a good bet to bounce back and see his draft stock rise this summer.
11 Jordy Nelson's return from a torn ACL: Nelson, who ranked in the top 10 among fantasy wideouts before last preseason's ACL tear, could turn into quite a bargain in 2016. Packers GM Ted Thompson said that Nelson "looks great," so it appears he'll be back in time for training camp. Barring any setbacks, Nelson could re-emerge as a No. 1 wideout at a less expensive draft cost.
12. Will DeMarco Murray remain an Eagle?: Murray was a bust in his first season in Philadelphia, both on the field and in fantasy football. Rumors have swirled about a possible return to Dallas, and our Ian Rapoport reports the Eagles will listen to trade offers. Such a move could help the fantasy values of Murray and Ryan Mathews, not to mention the running back position in general.
13. Who will be the No. 1 back in Dallas?:Darren McFadden still has a year left on his contract, but the Cowboys are very likely to add a new starter this offseason. Could it be a trade for Murray, or will the team sign Martin or Forte? Another option is taking a back in the NFL draft, maybe Alabama's Derrick Henry in Round 2. The eventual starter could be a fantasy star (no pun intended).
14. The status of Tony Romo's shoulder: The Cowboys also need to add a backup quarterback, whether through free agency or the draft. Regardless, the status of Romo and his troublesome collarbone needs to be watched. If he's under center, Romo is a potential top-10 fantasy quarterback and Dez Bryant is an elite wideout. Without him, Dallas' whole offense takes a massive hit.
15. Will the NFL reinstate Josh Gordon?: It might seem like forever ago, but Gordon was the No. 1 wide receiver in fantasy football in 2013 ... an accomplishment he achieved in just 14 games. He also did it without a stable quarterback under center. Regardless, the possible return of Gordon from suspension would add to an already deep pool of talented wide receivers.
16. Will Chris Ivory remain in New York?: Ivory is coming off his best season in the stat sheets, finishing eighth in fantasy points at running back. A move away from the Big Apple could have a ripple effect of sorts and produce a potential sleeper in Gang Green's 2016 backfield. If the Patriots don't go after Forte, Ivory could be an alternative option to play with Lewis.
17. Will Peyton Manning decide to retire?: Manning might be the greatest fantasy quarterback of all time, but he looked like a shell of his former statistical self in 2015. His league status (and his status in Denver) will affect the value of Brock Osweiler, Demaryius Thomas and others. There have been rumors that Manning could leave for the Los Angeles Rams.
18. Which running back will Denver retain?Ronnie Hillman is an unrestricted free agent, while C.J. Anderson is a restricted free agent. The smart fantasy dollars are on the Broncos keeping Anderson, who started to show flashes of his 2014 breakout at the end of last season. If Anderson enters camp as the team's top runner, he could end up being quite a draft bargain.
19. Will Alfred Morris remain a Redskin?: A lot of the stories fantasy fans should watch surround running backs, even one who looked to be on the decline like Morris. He should still have some gas in the tank entering his age-28 campaign, and his expected departure from Washington would create a chance for Matt Jones to enter the fantasy sleeper conversation next season.
20. Will the 49ers trade Colin Kaepernick?: Kaepernick is barely on the fantasy radar after last season, but the addition of new coach Chip Kelly will make him worth a late-round flier in most drafts. Of course, that all depends on the Niners not dealing Kaepernick during the offseason. He could also be released by the team before April 1, when his salary becomes guaranteed.