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NFL fantasy football: 2013 contract-year players

The movie "Jerry Maguire," which follows the trials and tribulations of life as a sports agent, will forever be remembered for the memorable quote, "Show me the money!" That line also has quite a bit of relevance in the world of fantasy football. While a Super Bowl championship is the ultimate motivation for most players, professional sports is now a business that's based on contracts loaded with dead presidents. So when a player is in a contract year, he has extra incentive to succeed on the gridiron. As a result, that player could also have added draft value in the world of fantasy football.

Here's a look at the most notable players who are slated to become free agents in 2014.

Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Freeman is entering a very important season, as he needs to prove that he can win games on a consistent basis ahead of free agency. If not, the Buccaneers could decide to go in a different direction. While he showed flashes of statistical brilliance in 2012, he was anything but consistent. Over his final six starts, Freeman failed to score even 13 fantasy points on four different occassions. Clearly the potential to become a more reliable fantasy option is present, but fantasy owners can't consider Freeman more than a No. 2 quarterback and matchup-based starter in 2013 drafts.

Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: Vick, the top fantasy quarterback in 2010, has seen his production and value both slide over the last two seasons. And while he's no longer an elite option from a fantasy perspective, Vick has seen a slight increase in appeal as the projected No. 1 quarterback in the offense of new coach Chip Kelly. Now playing on a one-year deal for all intents and purposes, Vick will have a lot of incentive to put up solid totals. His proneness to injuries is a cause for concern and keep him from being a fantasy starter, but Vick is intruiging nonetheless.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Indianapolis Colts: Bradshaw signed with the Colts in June and is the favorite to start for new coach Chuck Pagano - at least in fantasy football circles. A versatile running back who has finished no worse than 25th in fantasy points at his position since 2009, Bradshaw should be considered a viable No. 2 fantasy back in most leagues. Of course, his foot issues and proneness to injuries make him a bit of a risk-reward selection. As a result, Vick Ballard will still have value in drafts - he's just not going to be as valuable with Bradshaw now in the backfield.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jones-Drew is coming off an injury-plagued season that saw him hold out of training camp before missing 10 games with an injured foot. Barring any setbacks in his return, "Pocket Hercules" will return to work and be singing for his supper out there on the gridiron. At the age of 27 and coming off a season that saw him record minimal carries, he should be fresh and in line to rebound in the stat sheets. He'll also be motivated to have a successful year with the hope that he'll land one more big contract before his career winds down.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: It's tough to promote McFadden, as he's become a virtual lock to miss at least a few games every year due to injuries. In fact, he's never played in even 14 games in a single season during his pro career and has missed a combined 13 contest since 2011. So despite being motivated in a contract year and coordinator Greg Olsen's assertion that he will be highlighted in the offense, it's tough to trust McFadden as more than a No. 2 fantasy running back in 2013. He'll be a risk-reward selection at some point in the fourth or fifth round in most drafts.

Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans: Sure, Britt has gained more media attention for his off-the-field problems than anything he's even done between the white lines at the NFL level. But the fact remains that the Rutgers product is young, talented and will no doubt be motivated to put up big numbers in what is a contract year. There is definitely some risk involved here - Britt hasn't been a model citizen and he's had his share of durability issues - but he's still well worth grabbing at some point in the middle to late rounds as a No. 4 fantasy wideout with upside in the stat sheets.

Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos: Decker posted a career year in 2012 with Peyton Manning running the offense in Denver. After putting up just 50 catches in his first two seasons at the NFL level, the Minnesota product recorded 85 catches, 1,064 yards, scored 13 touchdowns and finished seventh in fantasy points among wide receivers. As long as Manning is calling the shots, Decker is going to be a legitimate starting option in fantasy land. So while it will be tough to duplicate the same number of end-zone visits again, he will be tough to pass on in the fourth round as a No. 2 wideout.

James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers: Jones might have had his best statistical season one year too early, as he's now heading into a contract year. Regardless, the fact that he scored 14 touchdowns and finished among the top 20 players at his position in 2012 does have his value on the rise. Jones is also expected to be in a position to see even more opportunities moving forward, as the Packers are not expected to retain the services of veteran Greg Jennings. I'm not sure that makes Jones more than a No. 3 or 4 fantasy wideout, but there is a lot to like about Jones and his chances to find continued success.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants: Nicks has the talent to be a No. 1 fantasy wideout, but his proneness to injuries has put a dent in his value. After all, he missed several games in 2012 and finished out of the top 50 wideouts based on fantasy points. Nicks should be motivated this season, though, as he is entering a contract year and will need to prove that he can be leaned on as Eli Manning's top option in the Giants' pass attack. When you also consider that the Giants extended teammate Victor Cruz this summer, and Nicks is going to want to stay on the field and prominent in the stat sheets.

Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints: Graham led all tight ends in fantasy points last season with 152.20 and is set to be a prominent selection once again in 2013 drafts. Of course, that assumes he has no setbacks in his return from an offseason wrist operation. Once he's back at 100 percent, Graham will be motivated to continue his success in the stat sheets as he'll become a free agent in 2014. It's hard to envision a scenario where the Saints would let such a talented member of their offense hit free agency, so keep tabs on his contract situation throughout the summer.

Other notables

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to _**@MichaelFabiano**_ or send a question via **Facebook**!

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