Now that the smoke has cleared from the most-watched Super Bowl in history, it's time to start planning for next season. Over the next two weeks, I'm going to take a look into the future for the 32 NFL teams and tell you what to expect from a fantasy perspective next season.
Don't expect me to tell you that LaDainian Tomlinson is going to be one of the best running backs in the league next season or that Tom Brady will be a good pick at quarterback. Those players are obvious fantasy contributors for next season and beyond.
My goal with these posts is to project the guys who could be headed for breakout seasons in 2008. A lot can happen between now and the start of next season, so you'll need to monitor the situation prior to drafting any of the players that are mentioned.
Today, we'll start in the NFC West. I'll give you a player on each team to remember as you prepare for the long offseason.
Jerheme Urban, Arizona Cardinals, WR – Fellow wide receiver and Baltimore native Bryant Johnson is an unrestricted free agent. Urban had 22 catches for 329 yards and two touchdowns in 2007, including six catches for 123 yards and a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14. He could provide your team with some depth if he becomes the Cardinals' third receiver in 2008.
Shaun Hill, San Francisco 49ers, QB – Who wasn't cheering for the former Terp when he threw three touchdowns in Week 16 against Tampa Bay? Well, it looks like he may get a shot at becoming the 49ers starting quarterback next season. The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., reports that Hill and the 49ers agreed to a three-year deal on Monday. It's worth watching Hill to see if he is able to replace Alex Smith as the starter.
Nate Burleson, Seattle Seahawks, WR – Burleson led the Seahawks in touchdown catches in 2007 with nine. He caught 50 passes for 694 yards. He's on my list of breakout candidates because his numbers will probably improve next season. D.J. Hackett is an unrestricted free agent and Deion Branch could miss at least the beginning of next season after suffering a torn ACL in the playoff game against the Green Bay Packers. Therefore, Burleson could step into a starting role next season.
Drew Bennett, St. Louis Rams, WR – It remains to be seen whether or not wide receiver Isaac Bruce has played his last game in the NFL. This situation will need to be monitored because Bennett is the best replacement for the 14-year veteran if he decides to call it quits. Last season, Bennett had 33 catches for 375 yards and three touchdowns. If Bruce doesn't come back and Bennett becomes the No. 2 receiver in St. Louis, then those numbers will likely improve substantially.