Quarterback looks as deep as ever this season. Young quarterbacks Like Wilson, Luck, Griffin and Kaepernick emerged last year. Let’s take a look at how they fall in my preseason rankings.
1. Drew Brees – Drew Brees led the league with 43 touchdowns last season. I expect him to be near the top again this year. Brees did throw 19 interceptions. But when you are putting up huge passing and TD numbers that stat is less important. Graham and Colston will lead the way. Lance Moore stepped up last year and will be good again. Sproles had a tough year with injuries and should bounce back. I also expect Ben Watson to have a few moments to shine. Weeks 14, 15 and 16 are favorable for the Saints. Two games against Carolina and one in a dome against the Rams. The Rams are young and up and coming, but Brees in a dome is always a good shot to put up solid stats. Brees only has to face Tampa bay once. With Revis, Gholston and Mark Barron in his second year should be far better than the secondary they were a year ago.
2. Aaron Rodgers – Rodgers has a ton of young productive weapons. Greg Jennings and Donald driver are gone. But Randell Cobb emerged as a big asset last season. Jordy Nelson has proved when healthy, he can play at a high level. He is currently not healthy. James Jones was big in the red zone. Rookie Charles Johnson could be in the mix catching passes also. A newborn running game could help take pressure off Rodgers. Rookies Eddie Lacy and Jonathon Franklin will help running and catching passes out of the back field. Last season Rodgers led the league in sacks with 51. These two backs could help in that area by keeping defenses honest.
3. Peyton Manning – Peyton Manning the comeback player of the year in 2012 should be even better in 2013. A slower start ended with Peyton looking like his old self. A second season with Decker and Thomas will only help. Free agent addition Wes Welker gives him another go to receiver in the middle of the field. Much of the schedule looks good for Peyton. Manning looks like a great season is ahead of him. I don’t see much difference in the top three guys so far.
4. Matt Ryan – Ryan finally entered the next level of quarterbacks last season. He threw for 500+ more yards than last season and broke the 30 touchdown mark for the first time in his career. With Roddy White still a big time receiver, Julio Jones Entering the early prime of his career and Tony Gonzalez back for a final year. Ryan has plenty of targets. New edition Steven Jackson has always been a quality pass catching back. I’m thinking very similar numbers for Ryan this season.
5. Tom Brady – 2012 was another great year from Brady. Last season he threw 34 TD’s and only 8 interceptions. It’s a whole new look for Brady’s offense. Wes Welker will be catching passes from Manning, Gronk is starting the season rehabing from injury and Hernandez sits in prison. The Pats do have options for Brady and I’m not nearly as worried as most. Amendola was signed and he’s been great when healthy. He can line up inside and out. Edelman has chemistry with Brady and will play a role in the slot. Aaron Dobson is a very interesting rookie who will fill Brandon Lloyd’s shoes from Last season. I think Dobson can put up around 70 receptions 900 plus yards. Lloyd only had 4 touchdowns, I’m looking for Dobson to get 5-7. Josh Boyce is another rookie that could be a deep threat. I look for Brady’s TD’s to be around 31. Jake Ballard was a nice red zone target for Eli Manning in 2011. Young Mark Harrison and Zach Sudfeld are long shots, but could be factors during the season as well. Kenbrell Thompkins has been good early in camp.
6. Robert Griffin III – His long runs were epic. A playoff knee injury is a concern. Hopefully it makes him a smarter runner. I think he will still take off for the long gainers we saw last season. It sounds like he will be the starter come week one after looking good in the spring and early summer. The receiving core is a bit of a question mark. Pierre Garcon was good when healthy. He may have similar issues with his foot after not having offseason surgery. Leonard Hankerson could be the X Factor. He’s shown flashes of being a go to guy. Hankerson needs to turn the corner. Santana Moss continues to put up production. But at age 34, when does it end? Fred Davis is back which will help
7. Cam Newton – Year three started slow for Cam. He came on strong down the stretch. Newton still has Steve Smith as his go to guy. Greg Olsen had a nice year with 69 receptions. The Playoffs look good schedule-wise with New Orleans twice. the regular season is a tough road with a much improved Tampa Bay secondary twice, Seattle and San Francisco. Carolina isn’t a much improved offense. The defense is adding pieces to get better. Hopefully for Newton owners, he can be on the field a lot.
8. Colin Kaepernick – Alex Smith went down and Kaepernick took the reigns and never looked back. Coming into year three he will be without top receiver Michael Crabtree who went down with an Achilles injury. As much as that hurts, I think he’ll still be okay. Anquan Boldin was signed and will be a decent option. Rookie Quinton Patton Could emerge as the home run threat. Vernon Davis will be moved around, Davis will play some receiver this year also. Kaepernick showed great ability to run. Fumbles were an issue, but he rushed for 5 TD’s.
9. Russell Wilson – Wilson came up big for fantasy owners last season. He was unusable at the beginning of the year. Then helped lead teams to championships. He comes into 2013 with confidence. Percy Harvin was traded for a first round pick. His hip injury could sour a promising season. Sidney Rice has been solid and Golden Tate has been better each year. Chris harper is a rookie receiver who will earn playing time. With Rice’s injury and Harvin’s future unclear, look for Harper to make a significant impact this season. With a quality running game in place, I love Wilson to have a very good 2nd year as a pro.
10. Andrew Luck – Luck lived up to the hype last season. Turning the Colts into a playoff team after a miserable 2011. He showed a big arm and the ability to run and score on the goal line. I believe his 18 interceptions will be a bit lower this year and the TD’s slightly higher. The offense will be more balanced than last season. Which can only help him in some of the coverages he will face. Wayne and Hilton will be his main targets. Darrius Heyward-Bey gets a second chance after not living up to his high draft pick in Oakland. Tight end Dwayne Allen blossomed into a solid choice for Luck last season. Fleener can hopefully be better and healthier this year.
11. Matt Stafford – Stafford plays in a dome with the best receiver in the game. Ryan Broyles should be a full go at the start of the season. Adding Reggie Bush gives them a back he can throw to also. Brandon Pettigrew is solid and Stafford should see an uptick in the TD category. Hopefully the O-line can be better. That’s the big gamble.
12. Tony Romo – Romo threw 28 TD’s last year and his overall fantasy points were better than you’d think. Dez Bryant is emerging into the superstar Dallas had hoped. It looks like another good season for Romo’s stats. Jason Witten is still a force with 110 receptions in 2012. Miles Austin is in a do or die situation. Which could lead to rookie Terrence Williams getting a lot of looks. Cole Beasley played well in the later part of the season. Interceptions were a problem at times. Not always his fault. Dallas’s O-line was terrible. The running game didn’t go anywhere and needs to step up. That will help Romo’s numbers also.
13. Andy Dalton – Dalton I entering year three which is usually a pivotal year for most players. A.J. Green also enters his third season as a pro and will be the go to guy again. There were a bunch of young guys who did their part to help the offense catching passes. Mohamed Sanu came on strong toward the end. Marvin jones and Andrew Hawkins had moments during the year also. Rookie Cobi Hamilton is a speedy over the middle threat who can make an impact this season. Tight end is a strength with Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert. Eifert Can line up in the slot and create mismatches. It’s a tough division. But Dalton has all the weapons he needs to succeed. Rookie runningback Giovanni Bernard will be targeted out of the backfield and add another wrinkle for defenses to worry about.
14. Eli Manning – Manning’s stats took a step back last year. Injuries to Hakeem Nicks hurt. With Nicks healthy, Cruz can go back to his natural position in the slot. Brandon Myers was a bright spot for Oakland last season. He will now catch pases from Eli. I’m looking for a bit of a better season this year. The division isn’t great against the pass overall.
15. Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben hasn’t assaulted anyone in a bathroom stall for a while, so that’s good. He lost Mike Wallace. Antonio Bryant, Emmanuel Sanders and Markus Wheaton should be able to cover the loss. Heath Miller ended the season with a serious knee injury. He may not be available for a while this season. Matt Spaeth will get the start if he’s out. The running game should be better than last season. 2012 first round pick David DeCastro is back from an ACL injury at guard. Things will be better for the Steelers offense in 2013.
16. Josh Freeman – Tampa drafted the Red headed stick figure Mike Glennon to push Freeman. If this is a bit of a reality check, 2013 could be a break out season for Freeman. The defense is better so they wont be on the field as much and his 17 interceptions could go down. He has good weapons in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Not to mention Doug Martin who can run and catch passes. Luke Stocker has his chance to be the starting tight end. Stocker hasn’t got many receptions in the previous two seasons. He’ll have to step up and be a bigger part of the Offense. The offensive line was hit by injury a season ago. So that unit will be stronger at the start of the year. Freeman could be a solid fantasy starter. 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions isn’t out of the question.
17. Sam Bradford – We’re still waiting for Bradford to breakout. The Offensive line has been bad and injuries to him and players around him haven’t helped. Chris Givens comes back in year two after showing nice chemistry with Bradford last year. Rookies Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey should provide a lot of high flying offense for the Rams offense. Brian Quick will get his chance to make gains in his second season. I’m not sure if that will ever happen. Jared Cook was signed from Tennessee and get many targets from Bradford at tight end. He’s great between the 20’s but has never been a red zone threat. The running game is an open book at this point. But Richardson and Stacy are capable pass catchers out of the backfield.
18. Philip Rivers – The line is a mess, the lack of running game hurts. Gates has lost a step. Keenan Allen could prove to be a nice addition as a rookie. Danario Alexander came out week 9 and really helped the Chargers offense. Rivers should throw around 25 touchdowns this year. To me, Rivers is now a quality backup for your fantasy team.
19. Carson Palmer – Palmer’s numbers should be better this year. Throwing to Larry Fitzgerald can only help. Michael Floyd ended the season with 8 catches for 166 yards and 1 TD against the 49ers. Andre Roberts is very underrated. Arizona added offensive line help in the draft and right tackle Bobby Massie made strides toward the end of the year. Palmer should be owned and could be a steal for you this season in Bruce Arians downfield passing attack.
20. Alex Smith – Smith has never thrown 20 touchdowns in a season. i think this is the year. He’s in a good situation. Jamaal Charles is a great runner and pass catcher out of the backfield. Dwayne Bowe is a very good go to guy. Donnie Avery stepped up at times in Indy last year and comes in as a free agent with speed. Travis Kelce is a rookie tight end who may be a very bright surprise and a good asset for Smith. I’m thinking 23 Td’s is the bench mark. The offensive line is decent with Albert in a contract year on the left side. Rookie and first overall pick Eric Fisher as the other bookend. Smith could be a solid back up and quality spot start.
21. Matt Schaub – Andre Johnson is still very good but is getting older and injuries have been an issue. He’s still Schaub’s main target as he should be. Houston drafted DeAndre Hopkins out of Clemson to be the complement to Johnson. He runs routes very well and should open up things for Schaub and Johnson. Owen Daniels is a quality tight end and Schaub’s numbers should improve from 2012.
22. Jay Cutler – Cutler and Brandon Marshall played well in their reunion last season. Alshon Jeffery looks like he could develop into a good number two. He missed a big chunk of his rookie year with injury. Matt Forte is always big for the Bears. Especially in the passing attack. Chicago added Martellus Bennett who can be a very big target in the red zone. Cutler could see his TD numbers in the mid 20’s. I don’t see him having any kind of big year. At this point, he is what he is.
23. Joe Flacco – Flacco has a super bowl ring and a new contract. He’s still not a superior fantasy QB. Ray Rice will be catching passes as usual. Torrey Smith is a great deep threat. Dennis Pitta emerged as a quality piece at tight end. But he’s now out for the season with a n injury. Ed Dickson made a smaller impact in 2012 also. Dickson will have to step up. Losing Boldin may be tough unless a guy like Aaron Mellette can fill the role of tough go up and get it possession receiver. That may be a long shot. Flacco threw 22 touchdowns last season. He may not reach 20 this year. He may lose some TD’s to the running game with Bernard Pierce looking good coming into camp. The offense could be more run heavy with him and Rice.
24. Mike Vick – My big bust pick of last year. The only intrigue i have with him this season is Chip Kelly’s offense. Can it be dynamic enough to make Vick a star again? I’m not sold yet. The preseason will tell us. Turnovers were a disaster for him a year ago. Losing Maclin to a season ending injury will make this an even tougher year. The running game may be better than the passing game in Philly.
Next man in on his list is Ponder. He had a very up and down year. At times he was out rushed by Peterson. I fully expect them to run. But if Ponder gets off to a good start he could have a good year with a revamped passing attack. Tannehill has weapons in place for him to succeed. Mike Wallace is a legit deep threat, Hartline showed he can be a factor and newly acquired Dustin Keller gets a second chance in Miami. Tannehill and Matt Flynn are interesting sleepers. Weeden should get a look with this group. Gordon has big ability and there’s a ground game in place. Jordon Cameron at tight end and Devon Bess in the slot could be solid contributors to this offense. 18 Td’s and 14 ints could be a nice turn around year for him.
I’m not sold on Locker. He has some serious issues with accuracy. This is a big year for him with his receivers. The line is better and it’s time to show he was worth a first round pick.
I’m staying away from anyone in Buffalo at the QB position. Same as the Jets, and Jags.