NFL fantasy football: Wes Welker’s future uncertain

Patriots have decision on Welker: It’s hard to imagine the New England Patriots offense without Wes Welker, but there’s a chance it could happen if the franchise decides it costs too much to keep the veteran receiver. The former Texas Tech standout is New England’s second-leading all-time receiver, having racked up 7,459 yards in six seasons. But it would also cost the Pats more than $11 million to hang the franchise tag on him for a second consecutive season — something that could be unpalatable in the wake of big contracts handed out to Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Not to mention that having a pair of dynamic, game-changing tight ends could make Welker’s departure a little easier. The receiver has had a recent disturbing trend of key drops in big games, but he still has plenty of fantasy value regardless of where he lands in 2013.

Jackson hasn’t made a decision: With the season over and free agency on the horizon, plenty of eyes in St. Louis are on running back Steven Jackson. The veteran running back has the option to void the final season of his contract and test the free agent markets, a decision that Jackson’s agent says has yet to be made. It’s a sentiment Jackson acknowledged last week in a conversation with fantasy editor Michael Fabiano. The former Oregon State star has been a very durable commodity, topping 1,000 yards in eight straight seasons and posting 300-plus carries three different times. His production has declined in recent season, in part because of a lackluster Rams offense, but as a physical, hard-running back who rarely misses games, he still has fantasy value — if he decides to continue playing.

Ponder won’t face competition: It was an up-and-down season for Minnesota Vikings QB Christian Ponder. After a solid start, Ponder was an interception machine in the middle part of the season, only to turn things around with a solid finish. As such, the Star-Tribune surmises that Minnesota won’t chase a QB to challenge Ponder for a spot at the top of the depth chart. However, the team will likely be on the hunt for a signal-caller to compete for the No. 2 job. More important for the Vikings will be to find another playmaker at the wide receiver spot. After Percy Harvin was lost to an ankle injury, it put undue pressure on Adrian Peterson to carry the bulk of the offense. AD’s incredible season certainly worked well enough to get Minnesota to the playoffs, but we all know that it’s unrealistic to expect that level of production every year.

— Marcas Grant
Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

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