Robert Griffin III
2013 Fantasy Football Rankings: QB’s
For those obsessive football fans, as they say “there’s no offseason.” mere week after the Superbowl, we move right into the Scouting Combine, free agency, the NFL Draft and before you know it, training camp is here to begin it all over again.
Fantasy football fans will spend a fair amount of their time participating in mock drafts, however ridiculously early they might take place. So with that in mind, we need to have some idea of how to rank next season’s crop of fantasy players.
Of course, we have to omit the incoming Fantasy Rookie Class and can’t make assumptions for free agency or trades yet. With that in mind, here’s a look at the “way too early, debut edition” of out 2013 fantasy football rankings for the quarterbacks.
Peyton Manning proved there’s still plenty left in the tank and joins last season’s Big Three to make this a grouping of four. There’s still something to be said about taking one of these elite fantasy signal-callers in the first or second round. While QB is extraordinarily deep this year, owner’s who nab one of these tippy-top guys generally have competitive fantasy squads.
Aaron Rodgers remains the top option and will likely stay there for several years to come. Drew Brees enjoyed a tremendous 2012 campaign and the return of Sean Peyton should ensure Brees and the Saints remain a potent offensive threat. The Patriots keep finding ways to tweak their passing-attack because of the consistent excellence of Tom Brady. Even with a slew of potential free agent changes to their receiving corps, Brady will remain an elite fantasy option.
Though a slight drop-off from the Fab Four, many fantasy owners will want to build position depth early and attempt to target their QB in rounds three through five. This second tier will still put up fantastic numbers at a discounted price.
What’s not to like about Matt Ryan? He’s only 27 and continues to get better each season. His fantasy production has risen for each of the past four seasons and surrounded by an elite group of receivers, there’s reason to think that trend could continue. Cam Newton struggled in 2012′s first half, but rekindled that rookie magic late to provide patient fantasy owners elite production in the playoff drive.
Matt Stafford continues to chuck the ball up at an alarming level, but a slew of injuries to Detroit’s receiving corps kept the touchdown numbers down. With a healthy group of Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles, Stafford’s TD tosses should rise. Russell Wilson was the least-heralded of the rookie signal-callers, but ended up being a star with a bright future and the kind of QB dynasty owners will covet.
Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, Colin Kaepernick will be a high-value target with his dual-threat skills. The only drawback might be the fear that opposing defensive coordinators will have an entire offseason to prepare for him. Andrew Luck showed a ton of poise and rare leadership as a rookie and looks primed to be a top-notch QB for the next decade.
You have to feel for Robert Griffin III. If not for that potentially-devastating knee injury late in the season, he’d be a Tier 1 passer. RG3 showed a rare blend of elite-level speed and amazing deep-ball accuracy as a rookie. If he looks healthy in August, he’ll shoot up five of six spots on this list. A warning though: Griffin will remain a big injury risk with the punishing hits he exposing himself to.
Eli Manning had a slightly disappointing fantasy campaign, but the Giants did suffer more than their share of injuries. Assuming a healthy Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz return to the Big Apple, Manning will remain a nice starting fantasy quarterback for owners who choose to wait until the middle rounds to nab their QB.
The Cowboys will stick with Tony Romo for at least one more year, so he’ll remain a highly-productive fantasy option that comes with a steeply-discounted price. Ben Roethlisberger was having a great season, enjoying a 17-4 TD-to-INT ratio before missing three starts. Big Ben is as tough as they come, but with that toughness comes frequent injuries.
With the preceding three groupings, there appears to be about 14 good options for reliable fantasy production in 2013. Starting in this fourth tier, there are major concerns or inconsistencies that make these passers a better option as back-ups.
After two down seasons, it certainly looks like there’s something wrong with Philip Rivers. Whether it’s above the shoulders, or injury related, Rivers has been off and combined with a declining supporting cast, looks to be on the down-side of fantasy production.
You can debate all you want about Joe Flacco being elite or not, but it’s clear he is not one of the QB’s a fantasy owner wants to rely on each week. He holds some value, but is better utilized in a committee or as a reserve. Michael Vick‘s skills have eroded to the point where he is now only a secondary option. The assumption at the point is that he will be released by the Eagles and will be able to acquire a starting gig for one of the QB-hungry NFL squads.
Josh Freeman had a rocky 2012 season, but still ended it with usable fantasy statistics. Supposedly Freeman may have to compete for his job this year, but assuming he wins out, he still has value as a bye-week fill-in. Perhaps the most surprising member of the 30+ TD club was Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton. While the stats looked good, Dalton’s production waned down the stretch and the Bengals will look to re-establish a more run-oriented attack, potentially limiting those touchdown numbers.
QB-guru Mark Trestman is the new head coach in Chicago, so maybe he can help resurrect the career of Jay Cutler. Cutler’s numbers have stagnated, but there’s still the potential there that he could become a serviceable fantasy signal-caller. Houston will continue to employ a run-first, conservative attack, and until the Texans acquire better secondary receiving options opposite of Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub will remain a fringe fantasy back-up.
Attesting to the QB depth we’ll see in 2013, there is still some decent talent this far down in the rankings. Though all of this grouping should be selected as depth, you can still see potential through out.
Sam Bradford might never live up to his rookie-season billing, but he showed that he can have the occasional big game and the Rams are in a nice position to rebuild around him. New Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly is supposedly high on Nick Foles. If Foles proves to be a good fit for whatever offense Kelly devises, he could be an intriguing young sleeper candidate.
You can’t expect Carson Palmer to remain the leading “garbage time” producer again. Oakland looks like they may be rebuilding yet again, so there’s the possibility that his days as the starting quarterback could be numbered. Ryan Tannehill exceeded rookie expectations, but still put up lackluster numbers. Perhaps an offseason that sees the Dolphins invest in an improved supporting cast will help Tannehill improve his stats.
Only deeper fantasy leagues will be looking this deep into the rankings. Most likely these QB’s will be on the waiver wire and will only be utilized as bye-week or injury replacements.
Jake Locker battled inconsistent play and injuries to have a mediocre season. There’s still some hope that he can develop and the Titans have a decent amount of talent at the skill positions. Veteran Alex Smith will be a popular target for the QB-needy NFL teams out there. Put in the right position as a game-manager type, Smith can be a solid producer.
The new coaching-staff in Buffalo won’t have any ties to Ryan Fitzpatrick, so he’s likely to be released or perhaps kept in a leadership role to groom the Bills’ next QB of the future. Brandon Weeden also exceeded expectations as a rookie, but the Browns continue to be linked to several potentially-available veteran options, so Weeden’s grasp of the starting gig looks precipitous at best.
There’s little to like about Mark Sanchez, but his contract likely assures that he’ll be back in New York for at least one more year. Despite teams playing all-out to stop Adrian Peterson, Christian Ponder still struggled to get the ball downfield and showed a lack of development. He’ll be the starter heading into 2013, but it wouldn’t be a surprise for the Vikings to entertain other options.
Kevin Kolb is the current starter by default for Bruce Arians, so there’s some appeal there. However, Kolb doesn’t appear to be a great fit for what Arians generally likes to do, so unless it’s knows that Kolb will head into Week 1 as the starter, he’s best left undrafted.
Best of the Rest
Dynasty owners might want to spend a late-round flyer on Terrelle Pryor, who could potentially be Oakland’s starter. Don’t discount Colt McCoy‘s athleticism making him a decent reclamation project. Â The Eagles have already signed Dennis Dixon, who played at Oregon and has the skill-set many expect Chip Kelly to covet. There are a lot of trade rumors involving New England’s Ryan Mallett, so remember his name late it he’s moved.
Jody Smith was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Analyst for 2012 at FantasyPros.com. Jody is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and is entering his 23rd season covering fantasy football and is the Senior Writer/Fantasy Editor at GridironExperts.com.