So, while you’re prepping your fantasy football draft board (Aaron Rodgers is #1, right?), don’t forget about the REAL NFL storylines that will be popping up as training camp starts.
Here are the big four:
· Who is Tom Brady going to throw the ball too?
A year ago, the Patriots had an embarrassment of pass-catchers; alongside beastly tight end Rob Gronkowski, there was the incredibly versatile Aaron Hernandez, the quicksilver wideout Brandon Lloyd and the always-reliable Wes Welker. Now, Gronkowski is coming off an injury, Hernandez is in jail, Lloyd was released and Welker is in Denver. Expect the Patriots to pound the ball with impressive running back Stevan Ridley (running behind a great offensive line) and work the up-and-coming RB Shane Vereen into the passing offense.
· Whose coaching seat is hottest?
You could fry an egg under Jason Garrett in Dallas – a slow start and he’s cooked – and another subpar year will probably doom Jim Schwartz in Detroit. Rex Ryan will yell and scream as the ship goes down in New York; look for his entertaining tenure to end this year. If the Falcons take a step back, Mike Smith could be out in Atlanta, too.
· What returns will have the biggest impact?
Robert Griffin III looks healthy enough to start in Washington, even though he won’t play any preseason games; the dynamic second-year quarterback is looking to try to get the Skins back to the playoffs. The Texans’ excellent linebacker Brian Cushing and the Redskins’ dominating lineman Brian Orakpo both return to give a defensive boost to those playoff teams, and – of course – Sean Payton returns from suspension to take back the head coaching gig in New Orleans.
· What rookies will have an impact?
This sure wasn’t last year’s draft. There were no RGIII’s or Andrew Lucks to be found here. The Jets will probably give Mark Sanchez a little bit more rope at QB, and it will be another season before E.J. Manuel takes over for Kevin Kolb in Buffalo. Rookie WR Tavon Austin figures to be a big part of the Rams’ attack, and RB Eddie Lacy should be the featured back in Green Bay’s offense before too long.