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: Listen to the guys who win and win consistently in your leagues. They are usually the most knowledgeable GMs who know what they are doing.
There are a lot of names missing from my list that may appear on ESPN or Yahoo Sports. That is simply because I rank my players based on how I see their value & production using MY years of fantasy sports knowledge. The following rankings are 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. BUST! Maurice Jones Drew: Terrible QB, offense + injuries means he’s kicking off my list.
24. Eddie Lacy: Great opportunity if Coach McCarthy learns how to call running plays
23. Lamar Miller: Every other list has a checkmark for his upside; I have a question mark for his season.
22. Vick Ballard: Great value on a high power offense & Ahmad Bradshaw is injury prone
21. Benjarvus Green-Ellis: He’s still the starter…for now. (Get To Know: Giovani Bernard)
20. Montee Ball: Still a rookie but is in the best position possible to succeed
19. Matt Forte: New year, New coaching staff, Same old Matt Forte.
18. Darren Sproles: Forget rushing yards, theres more than enough receiving stats to justify drafting him.
17. Stevan Ridley: Who knows what Belichick will do in his backfield; He’s not worth the high price.
16. Alfred Morris: Same analysis as above. Coach Shanahan is historically inconsistent with rushers.
15. Reggie Bush: Love this guy’s talent in this new location. Major upside!
14. Frank Gore: In a backfield with Kaepernick & James, Gore’s production will suffer.
13. Steven Jackson: In a new, bigger city but he won’t set the world on fire as many expect.
12. Trent Richardson: Time to build upon the foundation he laid down last year in Cleveland.
11. Chris Johnson: Surprise comeback player of the year. Guaranteed fantasy relevance all year long!
10. Jamaal Charles: It’s easy to forget that Jamaal Charles has never scored more than 8 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns. He is so explosive that his big games seem SUPER BIG. When he fails to perform it is usually because he’s injured as he was in 2011. In 2013 he Charles ran for over 1500 yards and scored 5 rushing touchdowns. I can’t imagine that number going up under pass heavy Andy Reid. Expect more receiving TDs for Jamaal but his rushing yard total will drop to around 1200 so it all evens out. Still an elite-level running back when he is fully on.
9. David Wilson: The Giants have a healthy running back! That’s not something you could say over the past decade. The last consistent New York running back was Tiki Barber. That instantly makes me feel old since the first year I ever played fantasy football Tiki Barber was a Top 5 Running Back…yeah, that long ago. I expect David Wilson to be the breakout fantasy running back of the year and finish in the top 10. He can take the ball from end zone to end zone in the blink of an eye. If Andre Brown is the bruiser around the goal line, Wilson can remain healthy all season long. Wilson’s unique mix of speed and agility allows him to change a game the same way Darren Sproles, CJ Spiller or Jamaal Charles does. Eli Manning is becoming a salty veteran and he will look to utilize his weapons more and more. Wilson will be a nice change of pace when Coach Coughlin wants to speed up the game. Wilson had 5 total TDs in last year’s campaign. I expect a doubling of that in 2013. Get a great value by taking this Giants running back in your draft.
8. BOOM! Demarco Murray: “Stay healthy and you are a stud! Stay healthy and you are a stud!” is what Demarco Murray should tell to himself each night before he goes to bed. This guy is a super talented running back with the potential to be a top 5 guy. What stops him from achieving that goal is his frequency of getting injured. In two seasons he’s only played 23 games out of a possible 32. He also has only started 7 games total in his career. All of that being said, I believe strangely the lack of playing time has kept Murray fresh. Once you add in the consistent production of Tony Romo and the emergence of Dez Bryan as an elite receiver, Demarco Murray looks like the final piece to the puzzle. This could become the second coming of “the big three” but Demarco must remain healthy. In 2012 Murray averaged 4.9 yards each time he ran the ball. I am projecting Murray to play atleast 14 games this season which would mean he could become a 1300 rushing yard candidate. Finally Romo will have a running back that’s not named Felix Jones to dump the ball off to, so that will be nice. Double digit touchdowns and over 1500 combined total yards in 2013 will make him a steal.
7. Ray Rice: Last season Rice received a Super Bowl Ring. That’s great in reality. In 2011, Rice had over 1300 rushing yards, 12 TDs rushing, 700 yards receiving, and 3 TD receptions. That’s great in fantasy. Since this is a fantasy column, I could care less about Super Bowl wins. Bring on the gaudy fantasy stats for this guy. The drop-off last season can be blamed on the emergence of Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin as reliable targets for Joe Flacco. When you add in Dennis Pitta, ofcourse the 2012 season would see the need to focus less on Rice with so many other weapons around. It’s just now training camp season and Dennis Pitta is out for the year after injuring himself. Gone is Anquan Bodlin, to the Ravens 2012 Super Bowl opponent San Francisco. Ray Rice will be asked to do more this year to help Flacco live up to his new contract. I see a 10+ touchdown season and a safe draft pick if you are in the first round.
6. LeSean McCoy: Is there a more underrated elite running back coming into this season? Okay I understand some people may take umbrage with my use of the word elite, but McCoy is only two years removed from a 20 total touchdown season. In 2011 LeSean also ran for 1309 yards with 300 more in the passing game. Chip Kelly’s offense is a huge question mark as we do not know yet how it will translate to the NFL. One thing is for certain though, the speed in the backfield with McCoy and Michael Vick defenses will be on their heels. If the Philadelphia offense can run nearly as smooth as college kids ran it back in Oregon then LeSean McCoy will be a touchdown producer in more ways than one. Leading wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is out for the 2013 season so Michael Vick will need to dump the ball off to the running back more often. If Vick wants to keep his job he better utilize LeSean McCoy. I believe McCoy returns to form from 2011 when he was injury free. He’s rested and ready for an ELITE fantasy season in 2013. I can feel confident in saying he will get 1300 yards rushing, 700 yards receiving, and 12 touchdowns.
5. Arian Foster: This player is going top 2 in most drafts and I cannot argue against that. What I can say is that the limitations of Matt Schaub can only take this team so far. Arian’s body is eventually going to crumble under the stress of being relied upon so much over the past half-decade. The Houston Texans are a team that scores the ball fairly well through a variety of ways. Usually Foster is involved whether it’s with a screen pass or an off tackle running play. The devil’s advocate in me says that Arian Foster has fallen a bit since his 2200 total yard 2010 season with 18 touchdowns. The following two years weren’t a slouch but they weren’t the astronomical campaigns as 2010 was. Last season Foster had 1400 rushing yards and 15 TDs but his receiving stats were down to only 200 yards. That’s drastic when compared to the 2010 & 2011 seasons with over 600 receiving yards. Injuries also seem to hit the Texans backfield and after toting the load frequently over his 4 year career, maybe this is when Arian takes an extended amount of time off due to injury. I know Foster will still get drafted in top 2 or 3 players in most drafts but I think he’s better left to another GM. I respect the talent but I don’t think it adds up to a top 3 pick in ’13.
4. Marshawn Lynch: I really want to believe in the Seattle Seahawks. I truly do. There is just something about them that I can’t buy into. Maybe it’s the sloppy offensive play or it’s the fact that their defense dominates, so their offense just appears secondary. Despite whatever my perception is, Marshawn has scored double digit touchdowns in the past two seasons. In 2011 he played in 15 games and rushed for 1204 yards. Last season he played in every single game while racking up 1786 total yards. That may be the ceiling for Marshawn Lynch as he isn’t going to ever be confused for Darren Sproles in the passing game but that’s okay with me. 2013 will be year 2 in the Russell Wilson administration and we will see if Lynch can help this young quarterback grow. It reminds me a lot of LT and Philip Rivers during the days of San Diego Chargers AFC West dominance. Let’s see if Pete Carroll can coach these Seahawks back to the playoffs. No matter the outcome Marshawn Lynch’s rushing stats will be square in the middle. Unless he’s injured, I expect a full season played with 1500-1600 rushing yards and 12-15 touchdowns. He’s only 27 and if Russell Wilson is all he’s said to be, then this year may be arcade-like for Marshawn Lynch owners.
3. CJ Spiller:
I’m not even going to mention the first couple years of CJ Spiller’s career. Many people assumed he was going to be a bust and end up out of the NFL like Julius Jones. Well Spiller had a resurrection in 2013 when he ran for 1244 yards, 6 rushing TDs, and almost 500 yards receiving. Those stats also came with splitting time half of the season with Fred Jackson. “FJax” is still there but he’s the definite backup. This is CJ’s show to run. The new Doug Marrone coaching staff will rely heavily on their weapons and they will want to make new quarterback feel comfortable. Whomever the quarterback ends up being (EJ Manuel or Kevin Kolb) Spiller will get a chance to catch screens and take them 50, 60, 70 yards every couple of games. Fred Jackson may be the goal line back at some points this season but who’s to say he remains healthy. Not to mention last year when given the chance to actually run inside the 20-yard line, Spiller converted. I believe in 2013 CJ Spiller improves his 1244 rushing yards to around 1500 and he will add another 700 receiving yards. If he does that, he will have no problem adding onto his career high of 8 total touchdowns from 2012. If any player can single handedly take over the league when given an opportunity, it is CJ Spiller. Defensive players can’t tackle him and he’s going to be the central focus of a bad team. He’s Maurice Jones Drew from 2008 & 2009. And in case you didn’t know, MJD had 30 total touchdowns and over 3000 total yards in those two years. Draft CJ Spiller and look like a genius at the end of the season!
2. KEEPER! Doug Martin: In his first year in the league he ran for over 1400 yards and 11 touchdowns. What does he have planned for an encore? This is year two of the Greg Schiano plan. Weapons like Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, and Josh Freeman will have all enter their second year with having Doug Martin as a compliment. He carried the ball 319 times in 2012 and that was his first season. That amount of touches is fine for being young in his career and he is built to handle it. This is what I remember Michael Turner looking like when he was called “The Burner”. Martin has already eclipsed 250 yards with 4 touchdowns in a game so he has proven he can go off at any moment. It was his rookie year so that explains him faltering down the stretch but he has had a complete off season to rest up to punish defenders this year. I believe in Josh Freeman heavily this season. If Freeman can provide consistent quarterback play, it will cause the defense to focus less on Doug Martin. Any sort of leeway will help the “muscle hamster” get over the 1700 yard mark and push into the 15 touchdown range. The average fan wouldn’t think of Doug as a pass catching running back but Martin had 470 yards receiving in 2012. A reliable Josh Freeman will help push that total to 600 yards with a couple TDs. With those numbers Doug Martin is one of the safest STUDS and he has just as much upside as Spiller, Demarco Murray or David Wilson. The only difference is he is carrying a much bigger frame than those other runners. Doug Martin will run over defenders on his way to an MVP-caliber season in 2013. Don’t be surprised if he’s the #1 running back when all is said and done.
1. Adrian Peterson:
Okay seriously? You expect some sort of explanation here. His name and past production speaks for itself. His 2013 season alone justifies going first overall but what the hell, I’ll write a quick blurb crowning AP as the best fantasy player of our generation! This guy comes back from a severe knee injury and runs for 2097 yards and carries a mediocre team to the playoffs. Who am I to question the second coming of Priest Holmes! Adrian Peterson is “The One” until someone beheads him “Highlander” style or atleast until Christian Ponder completes some passes and AP is used less. Ah, who am I kidding, that’ll never happen! Draft Adrian Peterson number one overall and sleep peacefully at night knowing that there is no other way it could play out.