Now that spring training has begun, baseball's "Hot Stove" shifts over to football, as fans settle in for an offseason full of moves, fueled by free agency. From a fantasy perspective, not many outstanding skill position players are on the market this year, and most of the focus will be on one running back.
It's widely expected that Randy Moss will return to New England, so the biggest offseason fantasy story line will surround Michael Turner, who is expected to leave San Diego and get out of the shadow of LaDainian Tomlinson. Turner, an unrestricted free agent, has been retained by many keeper and dynasty league owners in the hopes that he will flourish as a full-time starter, wherever he ends up. Some of those owners held on to Turner this past season in anticipation of his upcoming move. Much of his value, of course, will depend on where he lands. But there already has been talk from the Chicago area that the Bears might be ready to go after a prime running back after Cedric Benson's recent leg surgery.
A source told the Chicago Sun-Times that Benson's surgery "may cost him a step." Benson is already a notorious disappointment, and Chicago likely will have to draft or sign at least a competitor for playing time. Other teams that could use a running back include Detroit, Seattle and Houston. No matter where he lands, though, his past flashes of great promise in San Diego have made him a very attractive addition for any team. That might make him a very productive No. 2 fantasy running back and third-round draft choice in yearly leagues in 2008. If Turner ends up in a situation where he must battle for playing time, the chances are quite good he can gain the better share of carries over anyone he must compete with in training camp. Atlanta is another possible destination for Turner, where Warrick Dunn is in the twilight of his career, and Jerious Norwood can be explosive, but doesn't look like the type of guy who can play regularly. Turner can immediately move to the top of the depth chart with the Falcons, with Norwood as the change-of-pace back, and Dunn could be out of the picture completely.