You usually only hear about contracts in the NFL when a player is holding out for a better deal. But the quiet ones playing with the contract in-hand are the players we should really be giving our attention to in fantasy football. They are biting their cheek and putting in the work to get paid, which makes some of them good contract-year gems.
Last year, Chris Johnson held out so long he wound up being a huge bust, albeit after he got paid. Maurice Jones-Drew, while still under contract through 2013, is following that same dangerous path.
Heck, MJD signed a five-year, $30.95 million contract in 2009 and is owed $4.45 million this year and $4.95 next. He knows, at 27, this could be his last chance to really have bargaining power coming off a big year. Picking a player in a contract year is more about them having their best season before becoming rich.
Below we rank the top players who are due for contract renewal after the season. These are not rankings like you will see on your cheatsheets. Rather, this is more an evaluation of what their contract status can do for their fantasy production.
There are a slew of backup quarterbacks in contract years, but among the starters, there are two real good ones.
The life of a back is a short one, so pay very close attention to the ages of the backs below. The youngest are the ones to watch. There are plenty of backs we haven't yet seen the best of yet who could have that perfect career year right before earning a contract extension.
This is a position that seems to have loads of talent on the verge of big contracts. They have to be careful, though, because play-calling and a QB's preference for targets can change their fortunes in a hurry. The team's commitment to a contract-year wideout is something to watch, because if a team feels the player is on the way out, it can easily just not gameplan them in. There are some real big names here:
If you miss out on one of the few monsters at this position like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, the best strategy would be to wait a long time to pick your starter. The names below are a part of the reason for this. There is a lot of potential here and they certainly look capable of posting a career year, especially when you consider their ages and development paths:
It is hard to imagine a kicker being jacked up about his contract status, but in case you need a reason to select your kicker after the first few sure-things are off the board: