With the NFL offseason comes a renewal of promise and hope for teams, coaches, players and fans alike. But along with that promise comes instability as coaches get canned, coordinators change places and new players enter the fold.
The dynamics that once made a keeper so lucrative now may spell his doom.
Several key NFL players will face uncertainty this offseason due to outside factors such as coaching changes, the NFL draft and free agent acquisitions. Other keeper types will battle internal factors as they rehab from major injuries suffered in 2007, change teams or seek new contracts.
Whatever reason these players face uncertainty in 2008, fantasy owners in keeper leagues must remain vigilant and diligent in the offseason. That means watching for injury updates, checking coaching changes and analyzing a team’s draft picks and free agent acquisitions.
All of these factors and many more will affect the performance several keeper types in 2008. Below are a number of players to keep an eye on this offseason.
- Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins: Brown is recovering from ACL surgery and should be able to start running soon. He is ahead of schedule, but also now must deal with a coaching and regime change in Miami.
- Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers: Williams suffered what was called a career-threatening injury. The emergence of Earnest Graham will mean a lesser role for Williams when/if he returns.
- Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints: McAllister suffered his second ACL injury in three years. Now both knees have had reconstructive surgery, which is not a hopeful scenario.
- Javon Walker, WR, Broncos: Walker battled knee injuries again in 2007. Recent rumors suggest he wants to be traded and he may get his wish after Brandon Marshall’s breakout campaign.
- Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: Parker’s broken leg came late in the year which will complicate his return to the field. Early reports suggest he should be ready for training camp.
- Cedric Benson, RB, Bears: Benson was not winning over anyone in the Bears’ organization before he went down to injury. Now, he will have to fight to keep his job next year.
- Kevin Jones, RB, Lions: Jones just completed ACL surgery. That makes two major injuries in as many seasons. With Mike Martz out of the picture and the Lions in turmoil again, the writing is on the wall for KJ.
- Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys: Owens is getting close to the drop-off threshold for wide receivers. He likely has one more good-to-great season in him, but the end may be near for TO.
- Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts: Harrison spent much of 2007 on the bench with a mysterious knee injury. He likely will return in 2008, but his age suggests that his best days are behind him.
- Brett Favre, QB, Packers: Favre had such a resurgence in 2007. It makes one wonder if he is emotionally and physically capable of another run next year as he approaches 40-years-old.
- Torry Holt, WR, Rams: Holt has been as consistent as they come over the course of his career, but the age thing is working against him at this point. Luckily Holt did not have any setbacks with his knee in 2007.
- Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars: Taylor had a fantastic 2007 season and may have shed the “Fragile” label. But the wheels are due to fall off soon for one of the most under-rated and under-appreciated backs in the league.
- Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals: James improved with the Cardinals in his second year, but not by much. Arizona relies heavily on the passing game and James is no spring chicken at this point … and he may have no guarantee to return to the Cards in 2008.
- Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks: Alexander broke down this year and may see less of a role next year. Maurice Morris filled in nicely during Alexander’s absences this season, but the Seahawks may look for a young back to energize the running game.
- Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens: McGahee broke a few ribs at the end of the 2007 season, but he should recover from that well before training camp. His biggest concern is the coaching change in Baltimore, which actually should help McGahee and the Ravens.
- Travis Henry, RB, Broncos: Henry may be out in Denver, which really does not matter because anyone can run for the Broncos. But Selvin Young’s rookie campaign certainly earned him more PT next year which could make Henry expendable.
- Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals: 2007 was not exactly an endorsement for Johnson’s future in Cincinnati. Kenny Watson played well Johnson’s stead and could lead the Bengals to look elsewhere for help in 2008.
- Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots: He might not be on this list if the Patriots had let him run more, but now the rumors are swirling that Darren McFadden may be on Bill Belichick’s wish list.
- Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns: Lewis only signed a one-year deal with Cleveland so this could be his only season with the Browns. It is important to see where he ends up after a promising 2007.
- Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Tough to decide which category Bush fell under (it was either this or injuries), but the pressure certainly is on Bush to perform in 2008. Some of his lackluster performance can be blamed on coaching and the loss of McAllister in the lineup. But Reggie makes too much money to pass around the blame.
- Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals: Ocho Cinco joins this list dominated by runningbacks because of his likely contract demands and the rumors swirling that he may want out of Cincinnati this offseason.
For more keeper rankings, check out RotoWorld’s keeper rankings: