With the 2014-2015 NFL season coming to a close, fantasy football owners are already looking forward to next season. Although Super Bowl XLIX has yet to be played, there have already been multiple developments in the NFL that will certainly shake-up the world of fantasy football in the 2015-2016 NFL season.
Everything from Deflate-Gate to salary cap issues will prove to have some effect on next year’s fantasy football cheatsheets. With that in-mind, here's a list of recent Top 10 Developments that will impact the world of fantasy football during the upcoming season.
10. The Return of Victor Cruz
With Odell Beckham Jr. having a monstrous rookie season and stepping-up in the absence of the injured Victor Cruz, there is no doubt he will be a high-value player in 2015. With the highest average fantasy points per game in 2014 (17 PPG) it should be a shoe-in that he's the top wide receiver selected in 2015 fantasy drafts, right?
Before you make a rash judgement, remember that ODB didn’t onto the field at the same time as Cruz this past season. Having both players on the field at the same time, although good for the New York Giants, could lead in unpredictable results for fantasy owners in 2015.
We have to think the Beckham will become the #1 target for the Giants next season, but his fantasy points per game may slip a bit when Cruz returns full-time.
9. Le’Veon Bell’s Possible Suspension
After being charged with possession of marijuana and driving under the influence, Le'Veon Bell could face up to a four-game suspension under the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement. Following his stellar 2014 campaign, an early-season suspension would be a drag for both Bell and his dynasty fantasy football owners.
However, in re-draft leagues, a short-term suspension will likely result in a a drop from a top 5 RB ranking to a late first or early second round pick. If Bell had served a 4-game suspension in 2014, considering his fantasy point per game output, he would have finished as the #8 RB behind Eddie Lacy.
Bell is was one of the best points-per-game fantasy backs in the NFL this season (only slightly behind Demarco Murray). He will have no problem finding a home in the world of fantasy football.
8. DeMarco Murray’s Exit From Dallas via Free Agency
After leading the NFL in rushing yards this past season in 2014 with 1,845, Murray will become a free agent this off-season. For owners considering Murray in 2015, there are two big questions:
- Does Murray stay with the Dallas Cowboys?
- Will he able to stay completely healthy in 2015?
Entering the 2014 season, Murray had a reputation in fantasy circles for being injury-prone. But following a fantastic season in which he had at least 19 carries in every game, you have to think he may have shed that moniker. It'll be interesting to see if the health issues that have plagued Murray in the past affect his value on the open market.
7. The return of Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman
C.J. Anderson did fantastic this season despite starting the season as the 3rd string running. He played so well in fact that that he might have earned the starting RB gig in Denver Broncos' for 2015. But what about the two running backs that were ahead of Anderson on the depth chart?
Montee Ball started the season as the #1 back for the Broncos in 2014, and flew off most fantasy draft boards as an early second round draft pick. However, Ball failed miserably to live up to the expectations. Through five games Ball had compiled only 172 rushing yards (averaging 3.1 YPC) with one touchdown and one lost fumble. That's not exactly what fantasy owners were hoping for when they spent 1st or 2nd round picks on Bell this season.
Ronnie Hillman is a great runner who had a great stretch of games between week five and eight of the 2014 NFL regular season. However, much like Ball he was lost to an injury in November due to a foot sprain.
With all three Denver running backs expected to return fully-healed in 2015, it will be interesting to see where they go in fantasy drafts. Of course, the prospect of a RBBC will always be present which should make you think twice about drafting any of these RBs higher than the 3rd round.
6. Is Marshawn Lynch Finally Finished in Seattle?
Every year the Seattle Seahawks say that they’re done with Lynch and that he will not be with the team the following season. But every year, Lynch comes storming back. Lynch is arguably one of the best running backs in the NFL, finishing his 2014 fantasy campaign as the #3RB overall using fantasy points per game and standard scoring.
Is this the year they finally replace him with a younger, cheaper back?
Lynch is currently 28 years old (he'll be 29 at the start of the 2015 season) so he has at least a year or two of healthy production left in him. A Beast motivated by revenge could be a dangerous weapon for a team willing to take a chance on should he exit Seattle this off-season.
5. Carlos Hyde to Fill Frank Gore's Shoes
With a new coaching staff coming in and his 32nd birthday coming up in May, Gore has probably played his last game with the San Francisco 49ers. As a result, his backup Carlos Hyde will likely become the new workhorse in the Niners' offense.
The 49ers have been a top-five rushing offense each of the last three seasons, so targeting Carlos Hyde with a 3rd or 4th round pick in your 2015 fantasy football draft could prove to be extremely beneficial. I just can't imagine a scenario where Gore remains in San Francisco next season.
4. Mark Ingram Wants to Stay in New Orleans
The former Heisman Trophy winner recently announced that he would like to stay with the New Orleans Saints. However, with salary cap issues looming in New Orleans, keeping Ingram might be easier said than done.
Ingram had a fantastic season in 2014 and has improved his play with each game in a Saints uniform. But if the Saints can't afford him (or decide that they are no longer a part of their plans moving forward) it may make sense for Ingram to sign with a team that focuses more heavily on the run game.
3. Record-Breaking Pay Days for Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck
Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck are set for huge pay days as they're each due to sign new post-rookie contracts. Luck is expected to be sign a contract close to $140 million dollars. If you thought that was a lot of money, the Seahawks are rumored to make Wilson highest paid quarterback in the NFL.
How will this affect fantasy? If these teams pay their quarterbacks these ridiculous figures, you can expect that the rest of the team will suffer. Contracts like these could easily ruin both franchises. Just look at the Saints and their plummet since signing an aging Drew Brees to a $100 million dollar contract extension.
2. Josh Gordon’s Year-Long Suspension
Although it should surprise no one, we learned this weeek that Josh Gordon will miss the entire 2015 NFL season for failing yet another NFL-mandated drug test.
Browns WR Josh Gordon flunked another drug test and now will be subject to a one-year banishment, per league sources. More on ESPN @ 6 pm.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 25, 2015
This time around, Gordon tested positive for alcohol. He was ordered to refrain from alcohol as part of his punishment for a 2014 DUI. Gordon didn't have much of an impact in 2014 after returning from his 10-game suspension. He looked confused and disinterested at times, and his QB play didn't help.
Had he avoided yet another suspension, it was possible that Gordon could have got a fresh start in Kansas City, St. Louis, or even Oakland. As it turns out, his NFL career could very easily be over.
1. Peyton Manning Likely to Return in 2015
We all know what the best quarterback in NFL history is able to do when he is healthy. If Manning returns to the Denver Broncos then the 2015 season will certainly be his last. If this comes to fruition, we all know that Manning will be laying everything on the line. If his numbers are 1,000 yards less than 2013, he’d still be the top fantasy quarterback in the NFL.
It is rumored that Manning intends to play his for an 18th NFL season, but will only make his final decision following a physical. Let's hope Manning does return in 2015, I can't imagine a fantasy football season without him.
What do you think of these top ten fantasy football stories. Did I miss anything? If so tell me about it in the comments below.