The rankings below reflect standard scoring redraft leagues. They’ll be updated each month up until the season begins.
1. Aaron Rodgers — Green Bay Packers
2. Drew Brees — New Orleans Saints
3. Cam Newton — Carolina Panthers
4. Tom Brady — New England Patriots
5. Peyton Manning — Denver Broncos
Aaron Rodgers is an obvious top choice, finishing the last five fantasy seasons as a top-3 quarterback. Brees is getting his coach back, and should continue to produce high volume totals. Cam Newton’s got the tools to be the best fantasy quarterback, especially if he finishes like he did last year. He’s certainly the riskiest of the top-tier quarterbacks.
6. Matthew Stafford — Detroit Lions
7. Matt Ryan — Atlanta Falcons
8. Colin Kaepernick — San Francisco 49ers
9. Andrew Luck — Indianapolis Colts
10. Tony Romo — Dallas Cowboys
11. Russell Wilson — Seattle Seahawks
12. Robert Griffin III — Washington Redskins
In Tier 2, Matthew Stafford and Colin Kaepernick probably have the most upside. Stafford’s touchdown efficiency was awful in 2012, but the pass attempt volume is there to put up monster numbers. Kaepernick has a few more weapons on offense, and if he stays healthy, could easily be in top-tier discussion entering 2014.
13. Eli Manning — New York Giants
14. Michael Vick — Philadelphia Eagles
15. Ben Roethlisberger — Pittsburgh Steelers
16. Jay Cutler — Chicago Bears
17. Joe Flacco — Baltimore Ravens
Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco are some of the more boring potential QB1’s, but each have proven to be fantasy relevant for chunks of weeks during their careers. Todd Haley actually was turning Roethlisberger into a pretty good fantasy option before his injury last season. I like Vick as a high-upside number two, with obvious potential to be a top fantasy option. Cutler also has a lot of upside in Marc Trestman’s offense, and has a solid middle-of-the-field threat now in Martellus Bennett.
18. Philip Rivers — San Diego Chargers
19. Alex Smith — Kansas City Chiefs
20. Josh Freeman — Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Alex Smith is higher in my ranks than most because I think he’s a great fit for Andy Reid’s Chiefs. He won’t light up the stat sheet, but should be a pretty reliable play. Josh Freeman needs to step up his game this year, especially with Mike Glennon breathing down his neck. I still think he’ll be a viable bye week filler, but wouldn’t enjoy having him as my starter.
21. Andy Dalton — Cincinnati Bengals
22. Sam Bradford — St. Louis Rams
23. Matt Schaub — Houston Texans
24. Ryan Tannehill — Miami Dolphins
25. Carson Palmer — Arizona Cardinals
Similar to Freeman, Andy Dalton needs to take his game to the next level. It’ll be his third year under center for the Bengals, and with the newly drafted offensive talent, Dalton has opportunity to be a solid fantasy option. His arm strength is always a concern, especially when colder weather games hit. I’m not as high on Bradford and Tannehill as some, but think they both provide obvious upside. The Rams will probably take some time to be a cohesive offensive unit, and Tannehill could show some growing pains with newly acquired weapons, too. Carson Palmer is a sneaky late-round pick, as he’ll be paired up with the dynamic Larry Fitzgerald. If the Cardinals can get their offensive line going, Palmer could surprise us in 2013 under Bruce Arians.
26. Jake Locker — Tennessee Titans
27. Brandon Weeden — Cleveland Browns
28. Christian Ponder — Minnesota Vikings
29. E.J. Manuel / Kevin Kolb — Buffalo Bills
30. Geno Smith / Other Jets QB — New York Jets
I hope and pray none of these guys are on any of my teams in 2013. Of course the Jets and Bills quarterback situations will come down to pre-season play, but I still would avoid the job winners regardless. Weeden is a sneaky play, too, given the new scheme in Cleveland and the talent the Browns have on offense. Still, the position is deep enough where he can be a waiver wire pickup once the season starts.
1. Adrian Peterson — Minnesota Vikings
It’s hard for me to put anyone on Peterson’s level. It shouldn’t surprise anyone, however, if Adrian Peterson doesn’t finish as the league’s best fantasy running back in 2013. It’s not an easy thing to do. He’s still the smartest, safest pick to make at number one.
2. Doug Martin — Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3. C.J. Spiller — Buffalo Bills
4. Jamaal Charles — Kansas City Chiefs
5. Marshawn Lynch — Seattle Seahawks
6. Trent Richardson — Cleveland Browns
7. Arian Foster — Houston Texans
8. LeSean McCoy — Philadelphia Eagles
9. Ray Rice — Baltimore Ravens
I really think drafting in the nine or ten spot this season is going to be more beneficial than two or three. Though I love Doug Martin and C.J. Spiller, a case could be made for any of the guys in Tier 2 to be the number two pick overall. Arian Foster has durability concerns, but is still a huge touchdown scorer. Marshawn Lynch is going to benefit from better offensive talent, and Jamaal Charles could easily end up being the top back in 2013. It’s a matter of preference.
10. Steven Jackson — Atlanta Falcons
11. Matt Forte — Chicago Bears
12. Alfred Morris — Washington Redskins
13. Maurice Jones-Drew — Jacksonville Jaguars
I’ve been pretty open about how I feel about Steven Jackson in Atlanta. In general, I love it. He should be able to finish as an RB1 in most league formats. Forte, even in non-PPR formats, should be regarded as a low-end RB1 to high-end RB2. Trestman is going to get him the ball. Alfred Morris scares me a bit because of his lack of experience, but he’s the clear guy in Washington. And, of course, don’t forget about Maurice Jones-Drew. It wasn’t long ago when he led the league in rushing yards and was one of the best fantasy assets. I’m looking forward to seeing him bounce back.
14. Chris Johnson — Tennessee Titans
15. Darren McFadden — Oakland Raiders
16. Darren Sproles — New Orleans Saints
17. Stevan Ridley — New England Patriots
This tier should scare anyone. Chris Johnson obviously has the talent to be a top running back, but he’s got to get it together between the ears. The Titans offensive line should be improved, but CJ?K is a risk. Darren McFadden won’t be running in a zone blocking scheme this year, making him a little more attractive in fantasy. He’s still a player you draft knowing you may only get ten or eleven games from him. Also, I love Sproles in all league formats, not just PPR. As I wrote here, he’s one of the most consistent fantasy backs in the NFL.
18. Reggie Bush — Detroit Lions
19. DeMarco Murray — Dallas Cowboys
20. Chris Ivory — New York Jets
21. Frank Gore — San Francisco 49ers
Chris Ivory falls into Tier 5 with some other questionable backs. I love Ivory’s upside, and we have to remember that Shonn Greene was a reasonably effective runner in fantasy last year. Sure, his numbers were skewed with a big performance, but he’s also a bad running back. Ivory has legitimate potential to crack the top 10 at the position. I’d move Reggie Bush up in these rankings if they were PPR, but for now, I like Bush at 18. He could get close to 70 to 80 receptions this year.
22. Montee Ball — Denver Broncos
23. Vick Ballard — Indianapolis Colts
24. Ryan Mathews — San Diego Chargers
Montee Ball has the most opportunity of any rookie back. Anyone running with Peyton Manning under center is going to effective, as we saw with Knowshon Moreno last season. You don’t have to be ultra-talented, you just need to be fed the rock. Vick Ballard is an interesting pick in 2013. He’s more of a plodder, but the lack of competition in the Colts backfield makes him attractive. Oh, and Ryan Mathews (I feel like I had to mention his name).
25. David Wilson — New York Giants
26. Le’Veon Bell — Pittsburgh Steelers
27. Lamar Miller — Miami Dolphins
Lots of upside in this tier, but also a lot of risk. I’m not completely convinced that David Wilson will be the lead back in New York, but time will tell. He looks to be more talented than teammate Andre Brown, but will surely lose some goalline touches. Le’Veon Bell, as of right now, will be the lead back for the Steelers. People are speculating, however, that Ahmad Bradshaw will be brought in for those duties. I’m not on the Bradshaw to Pittsburgh bandwagon. Like Wilson, I’m not entirely sure Lamar Miller will automatically be the lead dog in Miami. Rookie Mike Gillislee has impressed Dolphins coaches early on, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see more of a committee system in Miami in 2013.
28. Jonathan Stewart — Carolina Panthers
29. Andre Brown — New York Giants
30. Rashard Mendenhall — Arizona Cardinals
31. Mark Ingram — New Orleans Saints
32. BenJarvus Green-Ellis — Cincinnati Bengals
33. Shane Vereen — New England Patriots
Mark Ingram has shot up the draft boards as of late, but it’s not necessarily because Chris Ivory is out of town. The Saints actually started running the ball pretty efficiently over the second half of the season, making Ingram a candidate for breakout in 2013. BenJarvus Green-Ellis should see a decrease in carries for Cincinnati this season with Gio Bernard coming to town. And if DeAngelo Williams is indeed cut by the Panthers, I’ll probably be moving Jonathan Stewart up a few notches before the season starts.
34. Giovani Bernard — Cincinnati Bengals
35. Bernard Pierce — Baltimore Ravens
36. Ben Tate — Houston Texans
37. Mikel Leshoure — Detroit Lions
38. Eddie Lacy — Green Bay Packers
39. Jonathan Franklin — Green Bay Packers
Rookie Eddie Lacy’s toe injury is scary, especially when you consider Jonathan Franklin’s presence right behind him in the potential Green Bay depth chart. If this were PPR rankings, I’d give the edge to Franklin over Lacy. I also feel dirty putting two backups this high on a running back list, but that’s how today’s NFL works. Ben Tate and Bernard Pierce would be tough to trust on a weekly basis, but should provide solid bye week depth. Plus, they’re handcuffs to two stud backs.
40. Danny Woodhead — San Diego Chargers
41. Isaiah Pead — St. Louis Rams
42. Bryce Brown — Philadelphia Eagles
43. Fred Jackson — Buffalo Bills
44. Shonn Greene — Tennessee Titans
45. Zac Stacy — St. Louis Rams
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Zac Stacy ends up being the Rams lead back, and at the very least, he should see goal line carries. Pead is the most explosive of the bunch in St. Louis, but his size is a little concerning. Don’t sleep on Danny Woodhead in San Diego, either. After all, he’s just one year removed from being a low-end RB2 in some leagues.
46. Ryan Williams — Arizona Cardinals
47. Ahmad Bradshaw — Free Agent
48. Pierre Thomas — New Orleans Saints
49. Jacquizz Rodgers — Atlanta Falcons
50. Daryl Richardson — St. Louis Rams
51. LaMichael James — San Francisco 49ers
52. Mike Goodson — New York Jets
I’m a big Ahmad Bradshaw fan. I just wish his feet would work. If he signs with a team needing running back help, like the Steelers, I could see him being a nice low-end RB2 option. It’s amazing to see how far Jacquizz Rodgers has fallen after the Steven Jackson signing. He’ll be a third down back, which is fine for the 49th ranked running back. Pierre Thomas is a veteran to keep an eye out on. Some like him more than Mark Ingram, but even so, the Saints seem pretty set on getting running backs the ball in 2013.
53. Mike Gillislee — Miami Dolphins
54. Stepfan Taylor — Arizona Cardinals
55. DeAngelo Williams — Carolina Panthers
56. Andre Ellington — Arizona Cardinals
57. Latavius Murray — Oakland Raiders
58. Mike Tolbert — Carolina Panthers
59. Jonathan Dwyer — Pittsburgh Steelers
60. Knowshon Moreno — Denver Broncos
This tier is full of players who may not even play for their current teams in 2013. DeAngelo Williams is the biggest name that may get cut, and some believe the Broncos will opt to keep Willis McGahee over Knowshon Moreno (I don’t). Jonathan Dwyer, too, may not be a Steeler next year. Other than that, this section is full of rookie backs without immediate opportunity.
1. Calvin Johnson — Detroit Lions
Like Adrian Peterson, I see Calvin Johnson in an easy tier of his own. Probably easier than Peterson, too. We have to essentially treat Calvin like a running back.
2. A.J. Green — Cincinnati Bengals
3. Dez Bryant — Dallas Cowboys
4. Brandon Marshall — Chicago Bears
5. Julio Jones — Atlanta Falcons
You can go wrong with any of these guys in the second round of your fantasy draft. A.J. Green is limited by Andy Dalton’s arm strength, but is still a crazy red zone threat. Dez Bryant was unstoppable over the second half of last season, and I think it’ll continue into 2013. Brandon Marshall should actually be more efficient in 2013 under Trestman (sensing a Bears theme with these rankings?), and could lead the NFL in receptions.
6. Demaryius Thomas — Denver Broncos
7. Percy Harvin — Seattle Seahawks
I don’t think Demaryius Thomas’ stock took too big of a hit when the Broncos signed Wes Welker. There are more mouths to feed, but Thomas is a freak athlete who can get down the field and make plays.
8. Roddy White — Atlanta Falcons
9. Vincent Jackson — Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10. Victor Cruz — New York Giants
11. Andre Johnson — Houston Texans
12. Randall Cobb — Green Bay Packers
13. Michael Crabtree — San Francisco 49ers
Roddy White has gotten little love since Julio Jones came into the picture in Atlanta. White is a model for consistency, and is one of the more valuable picks in 2013 fantasy drafts. I’m also pretty high on Vincent Jackson. I think his rapport can continue this season with Josh Freeman, and given their solid run game, Jackson could see some nice single coverage matchups.
14. Jordy Nelson — Green Bay Packers
15. Larry Fitzgerald — Arizona Cardinals
16. Hakeem Nicks — New York Giants
17. Reggie Wayne — Indianapolis Colts
18. Marques Colston — New Orleans Saints
19. Dwayne Bowe — Kansas City Chiefs
Another guy being overlooked is Dwayne Bowe. He’s only a few seasons removed from a 15-touchdown year, and gets Alex Smith this year running a favorable West Coast offense. Marques Colston has been unbelievably consistent from a year-to-year standpoint since entering the league, and I expect him to finish as a top-20 wideout. Larry Fitzgerald can easily finish as a top option at wideout with Carson Palmer under center. The Cardinals just have to get their offensive line in order.
20. Wes Welker — Denver Broncos
21. Pierre Garcon — Washington Redskins
22. Steve Smith — Carolina Panthers
23. Antonio Brown — Pittsburgh Steelers
24. Torrey Smith — Baltimore Ravens
I’m in love with Steve Smith’s value this season. Over the last two seasons, Smith has compiled the 12th most fantasy points at wide receiver. I was higher on Pierre Garcon earlier this off-season, but his foot looks like it’s still giving him issues. Welker would be higher on this list if it were PPR, and I think he’s got a significant edge over Broncos’ wideout Eric Decker.
25. Danny Amendola — New England Patriots
26. James Jones — Green Bay Packers
27. T.Y. Hilton — Indianapolis Colts
28. Cecil Shorts — Jacksonville Jaguars
29. Josh Gordon — Cleveland Browns
Tier 7 should be called the “upside” tier. Though James Jones saw a ridiculous touchdown rate in 2012, his role should remain similar entering 2013 with Greg Jennings out of the picture. I really am looking forward to Josh Gordon under Chudzinski, and Cecil Shorts saw a nice bump in rankings with the recent suspension of Justin Blackmon. And if Reggie Wayne shows any sign of old age, T.Y. Hilton could really have a big year.
30. Greg Jennings — Minnesota Vikings
31. Mike Williams — Tampa Bay Buccaneers
32. Stevie Johnson — Buffalo Bills
33. Mike Wallace — Miami Dolphins
Mike Williams is very touchdown dependent, but you can almost guarantee 60-plus receptions and over 900 yards from him. Jennings is attractive because of volume, as there’s little competition in Minnesota. Having him as a WR3 would be nice in 12-team standard leagues.
34. Lance Moore — New Orleans Saints
35. Eric Decker — Denver Broncos
36. DeSean Jackson — Philadelphia Eagles
37. Tavon Austin — St. Louis Rams
38. Kendall Wright — Tennessee Titans
39. Danario Alexander — San Diego Chargers
40. Jeremy Maclin — Philadelphia Eagles
In 2012, Lance Moore had seven top-24 finishes. That tied him for 13th in the NFL at the wide receiver position. He’s unpredictable, but he’s still a fantasy asset as long as Drew Brees is throwing him the rock. I have Tavon Austin at 36, and he’d be higher in PPR formats. I think he’s the only rookie wide receiver that will impact that fantasy landscape from Day 1.
41. Miles Austin — Dallas Cowboys
42. Mohamed Sanu — Cincinnati Bengals
43. Alshon Jeffery — Chicago Bears
44. Brian Quick — St. Louis Rams
45. Kenny Britt — Tennessee Titans
46. Chris Givens — St. Louis Rams
One of my favorite wide receiver sleepers this season is Mohamed Sanu. The Bengals receiver caught four touchdowns in three games prior to a season-ending injury, and should see soft coverage with A.J. Green lined up opposite of him. I’m a fan of second-year receivers, and this group has Sanu, Jeffery and Quick. Each of them have a chance to break out this season.
47. Vincent Brown — San Diego Chargers
48. Sidney Rice — Seattle Seahawks
49. Michael Floyd — Arizona Cardinals
50. Emmanuel Sanders — Pittsburgh Steelers
51. Brian Hartline — Miami Dolphins
52. Justin Blackmon — Jacksonville Jaguars
53. Ryan Broyles — Detroit Lions
54. Rueben Randle — New York Giants
Emmanuel Sanders has had opportunities to be the guy in Pittsburgh, but hasn’t really lived up to expectations. With rookie Markus Wheaton behind him, Sanders will need a solid start to the season in order to remain fantasy relevant. Also, don’t overlook Brian Hartline. He should see favorable looks with Mike Wallace stretching the field this season.
55. Stephen Hill — New York Jets
56. Denarius Moore — Oakland Raiders
57. DeAndre Hopkins — Houston Texans
58. Anquan Boldin — San Francisco 49ers
59. Greg Little — Cleveland Browns
60. Markus Wheaton — Pittsburgh Steelers
If Denarius Moore had a better quarterback situation, I’d be higher on him. Don’t forget: Denarius Moore was a must-start for a good portion of the 2012 season. Markus Wheaton has a great opportunity to become the number two option in Pittsburgh this season, and will certainly be the deep threat to replace Mike Wallace. I’m not one to draft rookie wideouts, but Wheaton is attractive at the end of drafts.
1. Jimmy Graham — New Orleans Saints
2. Rob Gronkowski — New England Patriots
The obvious top tier, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski will, and should, be second round targets in August. I’m not as concerned about Gronkowski’s injuries as others, and think his touchdown efficiency is enough upside to draft him in the late-second round.
3. Aaron Hernandez — New England Patriots
4. Jason Witten — Dallas Cowboys
If you look at his numbers, Aaron Hernandez is actually a little overrated. And if you look at the numbers, Jason Witten is underrated. Hernandez has had trouble staying on the field, but with the question marks surrounding Gronkowski, he’s got a shot to really be the tight end this season. His targets are usually there, he just hasn’t consistently been productive. Witten, on the other hand, hasn’t missed a game since 2007. You can automatically mark him for about 950 yards and a few scores. If he gets a few more touchdowns than he did last season, Witten could sore into top-tight end territory.
5. Tony Gonzalez — Atlanta Falcons
6. Dennis Pitta — Baltimore Ravens
With no retirement, Tony Gonzalez should continue to provide top fantasy numbers for fake football teams. He’s been a top-3 fantasy option ten different times throughout his career, and since his rookie season, has been a top-10 each year but one. Dennis Pitta is looking to take on the role of the departed Anquan Boldin, and he performed very well with Jim Caldwell calling plays. I see Pitta as a strong TE1 option.
7. Kyle Rudolph — Minnesota Vikings
8. Greg Olsen — Carolina Panthers
Somebody’s got to catch passes in both Minnesota and Carolina, right? Kyle Rudolph and Greg Olsen will provide the Vikings and Panthers with middle-of-the-field options, as there’s no true number two wideouts in either of those systems. I like Rudolph slightly more because of his red zone presence.
9. Jared Cook — St. Louis Rams
10. Owen Daniels — Houston Texans
11. Brandon Pettigrew — Detroit Lions
12. Martellus Bennett — Chicago Bears
13. Dwayne Allen — Indianapolis Colts
14. Vernon Davis — San Francisco 49ers
Jared Cook may finally get the opportunity we’ve been waiting for in 2013. I was big on Lance Kendricks in St. Louis last season because of Brian Schottenheimer’s tight end use, and hopefully Cook can be that nice option this season. Martellus Bennett will fit nicely in Chicago, and the last time Cutler had a moderately talented tight end (Greg Olsen), he put up fairly good numbers. Dwayne Allen will be an interesting play out of Indianpolis under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. I expect the Colts to utilize both tight ends this season, especially in the red zone.
15. Jermichael Finley — Green Bay Packers
16. Antonio Gates — San Diego Chargers
17. Brandon Myers — New York Giants
18. Jordan Cameron — Cleveland Browns
19. Rob Housler — Arizona Cardinals
20. Dustin Keller — Miami Dolphins
The big sleepers of 2013 will be Jordan Cameron and Rob Housler. Cameron is getting Kyle Rudolph-type hype this off-season, and for good reason. He’ll be in Chudzinski’s system, which has produced nice statistics from guys like Greg Olsen and Antonio Gates. Housler is a quick tight end, running a 4.46 40-yard dash at his combine, and could be the security blanket Carson Palmer needs while he’s under pressure.
21. Tyler Eifert — Cincinnati Bengals
22. Heath Miller — Pittsburgh Steelers
23. Coby Fleener — Indianapolis Colts
24. Zach Miller — Seattle Seahawks
I’m expecting Tyler Eifert to play a decent role in Cincinnati this year, especially considering the way Jermaine Gresham played against Houston in the first round of the playoffs a season ago. Heath Miller will more than likely not start the season due to a torn ACL, but if he were, he’d be a top-12 tight end option. Also, don’t sleep on Zach Miller. He finished the season strong, including a 142-yard performance against the Falcons in the playoffs.
25. James Casey — Philadelphia Eagles
26. Jermaine Gresham — Cincinnati Bengals
27. Jacob Tamme — Denver Broncos
28. Marcedes Lewis — Jacksonville Jaguars
29. Ed Dickson — Baltimore Ravens
30. Brent Celek — Philadelphia Eagles
I was ready to dub James Casey the biggest tight end sleeper this season, but given the crowded tight end situation in Philly, I don’t see Casey as anything more than a bye week filler. Ed Dickson may see more looks with so few receiving options in Baltimore, but Dennis Pitta is still the guy to own there.