The 2013 NFL season is about to begin in a couple weeks and that means fantasy football drafts are in full swing. I start my drafting this Saturday and figured what better way to sabotage all my picks than to post a blog about fantasy football. I did this same thing last year, and it was BY FAR the most popular blog post I've done. Thankfully, my friends STILL do not read my blog, so I do not have to worry about giving away my draft secrets!
Again, props to ESPN's Matthew Berry, as this post is basically a combination of his "Love/Hate" and "You Heard Me" columns. So, without further ado, my bold predictions for Fantasy Football 2013, team by team:
Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals made some major off season changes, including bringing in a QB who should finally be able to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald. With Fitzgerald, no one ever questioned his skills, just the skills of his QBs. Now with Carson Palmer at the helm, I think Fitz is ready to return to top tier status. Larry Fitzgerald will end the season as a top 3 fantasy WR.
Atlanta Falcons: Once again, the Falcons are loaded on offense with fantasy weapons. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez make up one of the most prolific passing attacks in the NFL. This year, however, they added Steven Jackson to take the offense to the next level. Everyone is on the "SJax" hype train....but me. Steven Jackson, most likely due to injuries, will finish outside the top 20 fantasy RBs.
Baltimore Ravens: After winning the Super Bowl last year, you would think the Ravens would be full of fantasy stars. However, only one member of the Ravens is regularly drafted in the first 5 rounds this year - Ray Rice. I made the prediction that Torrey Smith would be a top 20 fantasy WR last year, and I was wrong. So let's double down - Torrey Smith will finish as a top 15 fantasy WR in 2013.
Buffalo Bills: CJ Spiller is the big fantasy name on the Bills this year. In mostly a split role last season, Spiller broke out and is now being drafted as a consensus top 10 fantasy pick. I agree with the consensus and think he will finish as a top 6-8 fantasy RB. However, that isn't bold. Instead, I'll say that rookie QB EJ Manuel will win the starting job and finish as a top 20 fantasy QB; meaning he should be drafted in fantasy leagues and used as a backup/bye week replacement. Big potential.
Carolina Panthers: Not much to love about the Panthers in fantasy outside of Cam Newton, who remains a solid option at QB. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams have been teasing us with fantasy potential for years, but neither has proved to be a reliable fantasy starter. Therefore, I will say that rookie RB Kenjon Barner from Oregon will eventually take over as the starter and will be flex worthy the last 1/3rd of the season. Don't draft him, but keep an eye on his carries week to week.
Chicago Bears: With new head coach Marc Trestman at the helm, I think the Bears will focus a bit more on a balanced offensive attack; meaning that Matt Forte should get more work than he has in the past. As a result, I see Forte finishing as a top 7 fantasy RB. Right now, he is being drafted in the 11-15 range among RBs. Take him at the end of the 1st round.
Cincinnati Bengals: Love the potential of shifty speedster rookie Giovanni Bernard. Unfortunately, I fear the Bengals are going to stick with BenJarvus Green-Ellis as their starter for far too long, making Bernard only an RB4 type of back. That said, grab him earlier in drafts, as I can see a big second half leading to Bernard being a fantastic option for keeper leagues going into next year.
Cleveland Browns: I think the Browns could be a good source of fantasy points this year. I wouldn't go near QB Brandon Weeden in fantasy, but I do like WR Josh Gordon later in drafts (once his suspension ends) and I LOVE RB Trent Richardson in his 2nd full NFL season. Last year, he dealt with some early injuries, and again he has some of those concerns this season. However, that isn't going to stop me from saying that Richardson will finish as a top 3 fantasy RB.
Dallas Cowboys: Everyone LOVES Dez Bryant this year. In the 2nd half of last season, he was the top fantasy WR. It would seem that he has put any issues behind him and finally is ready to take his place at the top of the WR charts. I disagree. I think Bryant will go back to his injury-riddled, immature ways and finish outside the top 10 WRs. Doesn't seem bold? Right now, he's being drafted as the #2 WR in drafts!
Denver Broncos: Lots to like here as well. Manning and his WRs should all have big seasons. But it's the RBs that are questionable. Will Montee Ball take the bull by the horns and run away with the starting gig? I don't think so. There is enough uncertainty right now in the Broncos backfield for me to make this prediction: RB Knowshon Moreno, yes, him, will lead the Broncos RBs in fantasy points in 2013.
Detroit Lions: Man, that Titus Young prediction worked out well for me last year, huh? Instead of cutting my losses, I'm going to double down again. Only this time on WR Ryan Broyles. With Stafford throwing the ball 700+ times a season, someone other than Calvin Johnson has to catch passes. This year it'll be Broyles, to the tune of 80-1000-8 and a finish among the top 20 fantasy WRs.
Green Bay Packers: The Packers have a ton of weapons, I'm just not sure that equates to big fantasy seasons for any one player (other than QB Aaron Rodgers, of course). That said, I'll go out on a limb and say that rookie RB Jonathan Franklin, not Eddie Lacy, will lead the Packers in fantasy points from the RB position and will be a flex worthy player the 2nd half of the season.
Houston Texans: WR Andre Johnson had a nice bounce back season last year, and I do not think it was a fluke. I see the trend continuing, and AJ finishing as a top 5 fantasy WR. He is being drafted around 10th at the position. So jump him early and thank me later.
Indianapolis Colts: Wow, what a season for Andrew Luck and the Colts last year. Luck pretty much brought the team and Reggie Wayne back to relevance. I think he does it again, as I would take Luck among the top 10 fantasy QBs and Wayne in the top 15 for fantasy WRs. However, it's Ahmad Bradshaw who I think is being overlooked in drafts. The Colts didn't sign him to sit him on the bench. I see him being an underrated top 20-25 fantasy RB this season.
Jacksonville Jaguars: I would have loved to predict that Justin Blackmon breaks out and finishes as a top 10 WR. However, the knucklehead went and got himself suspended for the first 4 games (I still like him later in drafts, after you have 4 or so WRs on your roster). The Jaguar who is being overlooked this year is Maurice Jones-Drew. Remember him? The guy who lead the NFL in rushing just 2 years ago? I'd happily draft him in the mid-2nd round, as I believe he finishes as a top 10 fantasy RB.
Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid is the new man in charge in KC this year, and so it stands to reason that the offense will drastically improve. Many are excited about RB Jamaal Charles. After all, with Andy Reid as the HC, Lesean McCoy had many great seasons for the Eagles. I do like Charles, and would happily draft him in the 2nd half of the 1st round. However, the guy I'm most excited about is WR Dwayne Bowe. With new QB Alex Smith in town, I think Bowe is finally ready to shine. Put him down for 1200 yards and 10 TDs, good for top 10 WR status.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have some promising weapons. QB Ryan Tannenhill should improve in his 2nd year as starter and the Dolphins brought in WR Mike Wallace to help him out. While I'm not a big fan of either of them, I do love 2nd year RB Lamar Miller. The Dolphins keep saying that Miller and RB Daniel Thomas will split carries, but I think that is BS. Look for Miller to grab the starting gig and never look back. Lamar Miller finishes 2013 as a top 15 RB.
Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson will be drafted 1st in every draft I participate in! Just kidding. I mean, he will, but that's not a bold prediction. Other than AP, there is not much to love about the Vikings offense, in real life or fantasy. So let's stick with AP - he will not only finish as the top fantasy RB, but he will break the NFL record for rushing yards in a season, as he almost did last year. Draft him first and do not think twice about it.
New England Patriots: No Wes Welker, no Aaron Hernandez, a banged up Rob Gronkowski and no Danny Woodhead. Man, the Patriots are going to suck this year! Only kidding. If anyone is still doubting Tom Brady at this point, they are nuts. But apparently people are doubting him, because I have seen Brady fall as far as the 5th or 6th round in fantasy drafts, being drafted behind young guys like RGIII, Kaepernick and others. That is a mistake. Tom Terrific will finish as a top 3 fantasy QB in 2013. Even without the old weapons.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints are getting kinda boring, no? I mean Drew Brees is awesome. Marques Colston is a solid WR2. Darren Sproles is great in PPR leagues and pretty solid in regular leagues. Etc., etc., etc. I purposely left out Jimmy Graham, because that dude is anything but boring. He is basically a fantasy #1 WR from the TE position. And that is pretty amazing. I would happily draft Jimmy Graham in round 2 of a 10 team league, as my first WR. He is that good. And he will absolutely finish as the #1 fantasy TE in 2013.
New York Giants: Victor Cruz is awesome. Hakeem Nicks is great. But it's Rueben Randle that I want to discuss, because I think he will finish as a top 30 WR even though he's 3rd on his own team. Let's face it, Cruz and Nicks cannot stay healthy. And when they go down, it'll be Randle who steps up. I can see 1000 yards and 6-8 TDs.
New York Jets: No offense to my friends who like the Jets, but my bold prediction is that not a single New York Jets player finishes as a fantasy starter at any position. No top 10 QB, no top 25 RB and no top 30 WR. I doubt you'll find a Jets player on any of my 6 fantasy teams this year.
Oakland Raiders: I pushed all my chips into the middle of the table on Darren McFadden last year and now I feel silly. The guy is so talented but just cannot stay healthy. So I'm avoiding him this year - maybe RB3 but nothing more. Instead, I will go really bold and say that QB Terrelle Pryor will win the starting job by week 6 and will put up Cam Newton-like points. Pryor will be a regular bye-week fill-in QB the 2nd half of the season, and someone drafted among the top 15 QBs next year.
I'm getting long winded, so let's go rapid fire for these last few teams:
Philadelphia Eagles: Lesean McCoy will thrive in Chip Kelly's offense and finish as a top 3 fantasy RB.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Emmanuel Sanders, not Antonio Brown, will be the Steelers top WR and finish among the top 20 overall.
San Diego Chargers: Ryan Mathews will make me look stupid for dropping him in a keeper league, will finally stay healthy and finish as a top 15 RB.
San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kaepernick will be drafted as a top 8 QB but finish outside the top 15. Stay away.
Seattle Seahawks: Golden Tate will step up with Percy Harvin sidelined and put up WR2 numbers the first half of the season.
St. Louis Rams: Daryl Richardson will hang onto the starting RB gig and post top 20 RB numbers all year.
Tampa Bay Bucs: Vincent Jackson will continue to fly under the radar as a top 5 fantasy WR.
Tennessee Titans: Chris Johnson is now finally underrated after a couple disappointing seasons - he will finish among the top 10 fantasy RBs in 2013.
Washington Redskins: RGIII will have an Adrian Peterson-like bounce back from ACL surgery (thanks, HydroWorx!) and finish as a top 5 fantasy QB.