I don’t believe there are such things as “Fantasy experts”. We all play fantasy sports year in and year out experiencing the highs and lows. Yet some talking heads on ESPN or Fox Sports will lead you to believe they have a special PhD in fantasy sports team management. Do what feels right and you can never go wrong!
WAGM Tip: And listen to the guys who win and win consistently. They are usually the most knowledgeable GMs in your league.
One last thing… this is MY OPINION and analysis. That is why I post my predictions. So at year’s end I can either be given credit or held accountable for my mistakes. I will gladly accept any boos & hisses thrown my way if I’m wrong, but you will soon learn how much I love being applauded when I am right!
For each analysis, I will spotlight the following:
- BUST: A player that will tragically underperform their draft status
- BOOM: A player that will amazingly outperform their draft status
- KEEPER: If you are beginning a keeper league this year, target this player
Okay, time to show my rankings for the 2013 season:
25. Alex Smith (KC): Pass happy offense will lead to many INTs.
24. Jake Locker (TEN): Reminds me of a young Michael Vick; running threat adds extra dimension.
23. Sam Bradford (STL): St. Louis is ‘all in’ this year; Bradford does better in real life than in fantasy.
22. Andy Dalton (CIN): Is this guy going to let AJ Green go to waste?
21. Philip Rivers (SD): Its 2013 not 2007; there is nothing more to be said about this guy.
20. Matt Schaub (HOU): Running game hurts his fantasy stats but will still get 25 TDs.
19. BUST! Russell Wilson (SEA): Looked inconsistent and sloppy last year; a lot of TDs were short range and came courtesy of the run game/defense.
18. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT): Injured a lot but great at avoiding INTs.
17. Jay Cutler (CHI): Second year with Brandon Marshall in Chicago, boom or bust? Explosive personalities always seem to work so well in the NFL. #Sarcasm
16. Kirk Cousins (WSH): Read below…
15. Robert Griffin III (WSH): This Shanahan offense will roll with either RG3 or Cousins. Griffin has the talent to be a Top 10 QB but his run frequency makes me believe he won’t play more than 10 games this year.
14. Eli Manning (NYG): Same old Eli…what you see is what you get.
13. Joe Flacco (BAL): Confidence is a hell of a ‘drug’; expect Flacco to be closer to 30 TDs than 20 this season.
12. BOOM! Josh Freeman (TB): The wild card in the bunch; fully expect him to have a career season with the weapons he has. He MUST cut down on INTs to justify my ranking
11. Michael Vick (PHI): Oregon and Philly’s uniforms are similar in color…let’s hope the offensive success is the same. I believe it will be and Vick will be a great value in fantasy this season.
10. Andrew Luck (IND): Last year he passed for over 4,300 yards while throwing 23 touchdowns. That’s the good. The bad is that he also threw a whopping 18 interceptions; 255 yards rushing with 5 touchdowns makes up for the INTs to a certain extent. He should be more mature in year 2 and his supporting cast will be much better in 2013.
9. Cam Newton (CAR): This player could easily be number 1 overall when it’s said & done but is his focus there? Is he thinking about moving to Hollywood after a 5 year NFL career or is he dedicated to being a 17 year grizzled veteran battling for years to come with Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson? Time will tell but one thing we can’t deny is his talent. Passed for 20 TDs and rushed for 741 yards with 8 TDS in 2012. 2013 should only increase his passing stats while his rushing stats will suffer due to a more disciplined approach to the pocket. This is the scariest QB to pick because Newton is the definition of risk vs. reward. In 2013 he will be a reward for those who take a risk but expect a couple 3 INT and 2 fumble games along the way.
8. Tony Romo (DAL): Okay before you laugh at this selection hear me out. Let’s talk stats. Tony Romo in 2012 threw for 4900 yards, 28 TDs and 19 INTs. A do or die year in Dallas will put the pressure squarely on Jason Garrett as Romo has already signed his extension. So that added relief will allow Romo to sling the ball all over Jerry Jones’ pride and joy Cowboy Stadium. Dez Bryant will have a huge year by proxy but if Witten stays healthy Romo will have a career year and save “America’s Team”.
7. Matthew Stafford (DET): Throwing 20 TDs and 17 INTs does not bode well for Matthew Stafford but luckily that was his 2012 stat line. It’s a new day in the Motor City and Stafford hopes to keep his Detroit Lions team from going broke. Last season Matthew led the league in passing attempts so unless his arm falls off we expect more of the same. The running back corps from last year didn’t strike fear in many defenses and the Lions relied heavily upon Stafford to Johnson. I suspect the Lions will resume their pass happy ways with a rebuilt roster of receivers. Total upside with this pick; daydreams of multiple 40 point weeks make me smile.
6. Aaron Rodgers (GB): Am I crazy for having the former MVP and Super Bowl champ ranked so low? Maybe so but I’m crazy like a fox. The point of publishing fantasy football rankings is to help the reader make an informed decision on draft day. That being said, I believe Aaron Rodgers will be better than 26 other quarterbacks, just not the guys I have ranked 1-5. Yes I know he threw 39 touchdowns in 2012. Yes I realize he only turned the ball over 8 times by interception. Hell, he even ran for over 250 yards. So why do I believe he’s only the 6th best QB? Well last year Aaron Rodgers led the NFL in sacks and his offense line hasn’t gotten any better. His receiving squad is a revolving door of talent and they can compete with any team around. After losing Greg Jennings, if an injury occurs this year there won’t be a lot of wide receiver depth to compensate. Speaking of injuries, Aaron has been very healthy….a little too healthy if you know what I mean. Rodgers has been the top fantasy QB for a while now. He’s following in the footsteps of Kurt Warner, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, whom have all had their reign as top QB. I just believe after 3-4 years on top, he finds himself outside the top 5.
5. Tom Brady (NE):
The golden boy is back for the 2013 season and he has had his fair share of controversy in this offseason. Everything from the Aaron Hernandez murder trial to the departure of his favorite target to the rival Denver Broncos has been weighing on Mr. Brady since the final snap of the 2013 AFC Conference Championship Game. On the outside Tom looks cool and collected but on the inside you know he is burning with fire. He is Luke Skywalker after all and Belichick’s Darth Vader won’t allow his pupil to forgive & forget. In 2013 I expect Tom Brady to go on a tear like no one has ever seen.
Let’s revisit 2012, which is considered a so-so year for the Patriot’s QB. Last year Brady threw for 34 TDs (only 5 less than Aaron Rodgers), 8 interceptions (same as Rodgers), 4827 yards (600 more than Rodgers) and he also ran for 4 TDs! So when comparing him to everyone’s consensus #1 overall QB, it seems like a no brainer to believe in Brady. When it comes to pocket quarterbacks, age seems to matter less and less. Expect a top 5 fantasy QB performance in the 2013 Patriot’s backfield.
“Father Time” is catching up to ‘the sheriff’ but I am going to enjoy watching this perennial All-Pro toss the ball to young receivers. Peyton came to the Denver Broncos for one thing and one thing only, a championship ring. In 2013 he will have had a full season post-neck surgery under his belt. Not to mention his experience working with his receiving corps made up of youngsters Thomas and Decker. If not for a miraculous performance by the Baltimore Ravens during the 2nd half of their playoff game, we may be referring to Manning as a 2-time Super Bowl Champ. That’s old news though so I will focus on 2013.
37 TDs compared to 11 interceptions is a great stat line for a 27 year old but for a 37 year old it is a miracle. The neck surgeries don’t bother me as much because modern medicine has made it possible for athletes to return stronger than before. The youth that surrounds Peyton makes the Broncos a spectacle to watch and own a piece of during fantasy season. If the TE position improves over last year, then I see Manning adding an extra 4-5 TDs. What does worry me is the fact that Coach John Fox has never been known as a consistent winner. When you combine those apprehensions with the fact that Peyton Manning seems to fold under the biggest pressure, this season could be a lost one for the future Hall of Famer if the stress of chasing a title weighs down on him. If I were betting on the Broncos real life fate I’d stay away from that action, but since we are dealing with fantasy football it will be safe to push all your chips in on Peyton Manning. Expect over 35 TDs and around 10 INTs, a typical Peyton regular season.
3. Matt Ryan (ATL):
Fresh off of signing a new contract, the youngest face in the Top 5 is ready to prove he’s worth every penny. The Atlanta Falcons are stacked with talent. Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas make up one of the deepest set of receivers in the NFL today. Steven Jackson comes over from St. Louis to take the pressure off of Ryan. Anything is an improvement over Michael “The Golf Cart” Turner. Jackson will cause the defenses to respect Atlanta’s running game and give Ryan the time needed to thread the needle to Julio or heave a Hail Mary to Roddy.
Targets and talent make Matt Ryan a no brainer in my mind for a top 3 slot. He’s younger than Brady and Manning. He’s more consistent than Cam or Stafford. He consistently wins unlike Romo or Vick. So what could possibly hold Matt Ryan back from becoming an MVP candidate? Two words, Mike Smith. The Atlanta Falcons coach has shown a pattern of not putting his team’s foot on the opponent’s throat. Just when it looks like Matt Ryan is going to have a huge game by putting up 200 yards and 2 TDs in the first half, come second half Coach Smith will begin to force feed running plays that even Hank Stram would be too embarrassed to call. Matt Ryan has a world of talent and the sky is the limit for the 2013 Falcon’s season. Let’s hope Mike Smith doesn’t cage this dirty bird.
2. Keeper! Colin Kaepernick (SF):
The star of the 2013 season was Colin Kaepernick (yes Joe Flacco I realize you won a championship but your own mother probably has to Google your name! You just don’t have the “it” factor Kaepernick has).
I call Kaepernick a star and I can hear the gasps and groans from stuffy fantasy football snobs. “He’s only done it part of one season”, “Defense will figure him out in 2013”, “His tattoos gained too much weight in the offseason and he won’t be accurate this year”…I have heard it all. One thing I haven’t heard is much applause for his 10 TD and 3 INT 2012 season. He also rushed for 5 TDs and 415 yards. Just imagine he had played a full season.
The naysayers will call the ‘read option’ offense a gimmick and they are sure to mention Michael Crabtree’s injury and Frank Gore’s possible decline. Don’t listen to them, I beg of you. Colin started only 7 games last season, so just imagine what a full 16 game schedule will do for his fantasy stats. I am making Kaepernick a high priority this year I suggest you do the same. Do you remember the guy who took a chance on Andrew Luck in 2012? Well that will probably be the same GM this year selecting Kaepernick. It’s going to take someone with guts but come January 2014, the risk will pay off.
1. Drew Brees (NO):
I define a sports dynasty based on consistent domination over a period of time. Drew Brees has led the NFL in passing TDs 4 times in 5 years. With over 5000 passing yards in the past two seasons and 43 TDs in 2013, Brees shows no signs of slowing down. People can point to the 19 INTs as a negative but I’d gladly trade those interceptions for close to 50 TDs. Andrew Luck threw 18 interceptions and GMs are salivating over the prospect of drafting him, with 20 less TDs than Brees. I’d rather take Brees early and get guaranteed monster stats than wait around on an “upside” guy.
Drew Brees has hands down the best fantasy quarterback stats of the past 5 years. He took New Orleans from annual 8-8 team record to an annual championship contender. Sean Payton returns from his year-long suspension. Payton has always been a coach to let Drew Brees let loose with his arm cannon and I believe this year will be the same. Payton & Brees both have something to prove after “Bounty Gate” and it begins with the first game of the season against the Atlanta Falcons.
Drew is a threat to pass for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns every week. Let’s just say he does that once a month, that equals 1600 yards and 16 touchdowns in 4 games. If he can give you that, the rest of the season will be a piece of cake. Draft Drew Brees as your top fantasy quarterback in 2013 and you won’t be disappointed!