The rankings below reflect standard scoring redraft leagues where the league consists of 10-14 teams. They’ll be updated each month up until the season begins. The reason for lower quarterback and tight end ranks, clearly, is because the list attempts to tackle the issue of value. Because the quarterback position is so deep, for instance, there’s less of a need to reach in order to get a specific quarterback. In addition, Robert Griffin III has be omitted from the list until more is known about his timetable for return.
1. Adrian Peterson, RB1
The top rusher from 2012 deserves to be the top pick in every fantasy draft, no matter the format. Even if (and when) the Vikings lose Percy Harvin, I expect Peterson to keep up his monstrous pace. While we shouldn’t expect another 2,000-yard season, we should certainly expect a top-5 running back yardage finish.
2. CJ Spiller, RB2
Spiller’s 6 yards per carry average catapulted him to the seventh best fantasy running back in 2012. Carrying the ball just 207 times, Spiller has plenty of opportunity for even better numbers under a new Bills’ regime, and a chance to become one of the best studs in fake football. There may be no other running back in the game with more upside.
3. Doug Martin, RB3
Though his numbers were skewed by a couple of incredible performances during Week 8 and Week 9, The Muscle Hamster is in fine opportunity to receive a high volume of carries in an up and coming Tampa Bay offense. Remember, Martin and the Bucs lost Pro Bowl guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks to season-ending injuries halfway through last season. With those big bodies back in the lineup, Martin should have plenty of holes to run through in 2013.
4. Jamaal Charles, RB4
Despite playing with one of the worst offenses in the NFL in 2012, Jamaal Charles proved, once again, that he’s a top talent at running back in the NFL. New head coach Andy Reid has made fantasy studs out of his pass-catching running backs in the past, and Jamaal Charles’ abilities should allow him to be a must play in both standard and PPR formats.
5. Marshawn Lynch, RB5
Lynch quietly had another great season in 2012 on one of the younger teams in the league. He, contrary to what we’d think, will only be 27 this year and will be set to see a high number of touches in the Seahawks’ offense. In 2012, Lynch ranked 4th in fantasy points per snap played at running back, and I’d expect that to be no different in 2013.
6. Calvin Johnson, WR1
Calvin Johnson’s near 2,000-yard receiving season was spectacular, but what’s more incredible is that he only scored five touchdowns all season long. Of the top-5 fantasy receivers, he was the only one without double-digit scores. The fact that there’s such room for improvement in Megatron’s statistical game should make any fantasy owner salivate.
7. Arian Foster, RB6
While ranking the second best fantasy running back in 2012 at the seven spot may seem low, Foster’s 460 touch season is a frightening thing to think about. Chad Parsons at ProFootballFocus.com broke down the historical significance of a 425-plus touch season, and for Foster owners, the 2013 campaign doesn’t look as promising as the 2012 one did. Foster should still hold plenty of value, but his upside isn’t as great as the other guys listed above.
8. Ray Rice, RB7
Chad Scott talked through why he didn’t like Rice in 2013, and I tend to agree. The Baltimore back still deserves a first round choice, but with the emergence of Bernard Pierce in the backfield and the playoff run the Ravens have endured, Rice’s numbers could dip slightly in 2013. Otherwise, he’d be a top-5 selection.
9. LeSean McCoy, RB8
The way Chip Kelly will transition his offense into the NFL is still a slight mystery, but LeSean McCoy will surely be a big part of it. The recent news that Bryce Brown will take some of the load off McCoy will cause Shady’s attractiveness in 2013 to take a bit of a hit, but we know what the University of Pittsburgh running back is capable of. And that makes him a worthwhile selection in the first round.
10. Trent Richardson, RB9
It was ugly, but Trent Richardson did what he had to in order to be a top-10 fantasy running back option during his rookie season. His 3.6 yards per carry average is a bit disheartening, but the Browns offense has to revolve around Richardson in order to have any sort of success.
11. Alfred Morris, RB10
Not many predicted such a great rookie performance by the Redskins running back, but Alfred Morris finished as one of the best in the fake sport last season. Even if RGIII isn’t healthy entering 2013, I’d feel comfortable having Alfie as my RB1 as long as I paired him with a proven RB2. Be sure to devalue him a bit in PPR leagues, as he caught just 11 passes during his rookie season.
12. AJ Green, WR2
The second wide receiver off the board should be AJ Green. While he slowed down towards the end of the season, he’s still one of the best red zone targets in the NFL and will always be a candidate to score double-digit touchdowns. If Andy Dalton progresses and works on his deep ball passing, AJ Green could compete with Calvin Johnson as the best fantasy receiver in 2013.
13. Rob Gronkowski, TE1
The reason I stayed away from Gronkowski in 2012 was because of his incredible reliance on touchdowns in 2011. After seeing him play with Brady in 2012, I think it’s safe to say that touchdowns are simply part of his game. While I’m not a huge advocate of drafting players who play tight end or quarterback early, Gronkowski is an exception. He, and potentially Jimmy Graham, are by far the best at their position. If your league has a tight end spot (no flex), Gronk should be an early to mid second round choice.
14. Stevan Ridley, RB11
Ridley had a nice season for New England after the departure of BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He finished fifth in fantasy points per snap, and that’s including the anomalous Andre Brown. There’s not a whole lot of competition in New England, but it’ll be important to keep tabs on Danny Woodhead’s contract situation and Shane Vereen’s potential 2013 usage.
15. Matt Forte, RB12
After not missing a single game through the first three years of his career, Forte has now missed four over his last two. He was quiet last year, and again, had plenty of touchdowns stolen from his goal line back. A new coaching staff could be exactly what the Bears’ runner needs, as head coach Marc Trestman has a passing mind. Forte certainly excels in the short passing game.
16. Chris Johnson, RB13
He’s still going to be a huge gamble in 2013, but at least you won’t have to use a first-round choice on the once 2,000-yard rusher. Johnson still put up 1,400 yards from scrimmage for the fifth straight season last year, and he’s proven to be one of the most durable backs in the league. Again, if he can get it together between the ears, he could easily be a top-10 fantasy back.
17. Darren McFadden, RB14
The words “no more zone blocking scheme” should make any DMC hopeful smile. After a miserable 2012 campaign, McFadden is reportedly going to be the focus in Greg Olson’s power-running offense. Could we see a 2010-like Darren McFadden in 2013? It may be worthwhile to take a leap at the end of the second round for the once fantasy stud.
18. Brandon Marshall, WR3
Marshall’s first year reunited with Jay Cutler went very well, as he hauled in 118 catches for over 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns. With Marc Trestman as the new head coach, the volume of passes in that offense could actually increase, making Marshall a great value in the second round of redraft leagues. In a PPR league, B-Marsh could potentially sneak into the end of the first.
19. Demaryius Thomas, WR4
His 138 targets ranked ninth among receivers, but his 201 standard fantasy points ranked fifth. Demaryius Thomas shined with Peyton Manning at quarterback in 2012, and with another year under his belt, he could break loose next season on a hungry Denver team. There’s little reason for him to escape the second round of your draft.
20. DeMarco Murray, RB15
You’d be taking a slight gamble with DeMarco Murray next season, but the Cowboys’ running back has shown that he’s capable of being a top fantasy back. When he was healthy in 2012, he recorded a top-20 fantasy points per game average. Durability is certainly a question mark for Murray, as is the Cowboys’ offensive line, but America’s team will be scoring a lot of points in 2013.
21. Julio Jones, WR5
There may be no other receiver in the game with Julio Jones’ skill set. And with Roddy White on the other side of the field, Jones can garner some fantastic match ups. Perfect, right? Well, unfortunately, this brings a lower volume of passes thrown Jones’ way. Julio has shown signs of inconsistency in fantasy because of this unpredictable volume, sharing looks from quarterback Matt Ryan with Roddy White (and Tony Gonzalez). Jones ranked 16th in receiver targets in 2012, and as long as Roddy is still there, this rank shouldn’t change much. We should, however, be mindful of the Tony Gonzalez retirement situation.
22. Dez Bryant, WR6
From Week 10 on, no receiver in fantasy football was better than Dez Bryant. After being such a fake football disappointment throughout his short career, Dez finally showed us why we all have overvalued him in year’s past. We’ve only seen Dez play at this consistently high level for half a season, causing him to fall on this list, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Bryant ends up ranked higher than any receiver in 2013.
23. Andre Johnson, WR7
He’s never been much of a touchdown scorer, but Andre Johnson sure gets a high number of yards each year. His four scores made up just over thirteen percent of his fantasy point total last season, which was the lowest touchdown reliance of all top-30 wide receivers. Considering that obvious room for improvement, the Texans’ stud should be a top wide receiver in 2013.
24. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB16
We tend to forget that Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing two seasons ago, finishing as a top-3 fantasy running back. His injury set him back in 2012, as he played only 6 games and rushed for just over 400 yards. He’s only going to be 28 years-old next season, and we have to remember that he was in a running back-by-committee system during the early stages of his career. I expect Jones-Drew to bounce back nicely.
25. Percy Harvin, WR8
Wherever Percy Harvin lands, he’s going to be fantasy relavent. He was a double-digit fantasy scorer in nearly every game he played last season, and is one of the few wide receivers you can count on from a consistency basis. Imagining Percy Harvin with a good quarterback should make any fantasy owner excited. He’s a player who can easily rise on this list over the upcoming months.
26. Jimmy Graham, TE2
As I mentioned before, I’m not a firm believer in drafting tight ends or quarterbacks early. But like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham is an exception to the rule. He had his share of injuries in 2012, but was still able to finish as the top fantasy tight end. I’d expect his average draft position to be in the second round in 2013, resulting in me not owning him in many leagues. I think, however, that given the rest of the competition at tight end, there’s more value at the top of the position than there’s ever been.
27. Vincent Jackson, WR9
It was as if Vincent Jackson had been playing with Josh Freeman for years. Clearly the number one guy in Tampa Bay, Jackson should continue to see a high volume of passes thrown his way next season. Mike Williams is a great number two wideout to stretch the field for Tampa Bay, alleviating some pressure off of Jackson. V-Jax finished fifth in receiving yards in 2012, and I’d feel confident thinking he can be a top-10 fantasy wideout in 2013.
28. Ryan Mathews, RB17
Was there a more miserable fantasy performer in 2012 than Ryan Mathews? According to Rotoworld’s Pat Daugherty, probably not. Daugherty points out several discouraging statistics about Ryan Mathews’ 2012 campaign in his article “What Went Wrong: Ryan Mathews“, including the fact that Matthews had zero 100-yard rushing performances during the season. There’s reason for some optimism, however. Norv Turner is gone, and there’s not much competition at the position in San Diego. Mathews has shown to be fantasy worthy at points during his short career, making him a possible upside pick. But, of course, be prepared for disappointment, especially if San Diego brings in competition.
29. Drew Brees, QB1
The first quarterback off the board in 2013 should be Drew Brees. He throws the ball more than anyone not named Matthew Stafford, and he’s a lot better than Matthew Stafford. He’s consistently been a top quarterback since moving to New Orleans, and I’d expect him to finish as a top-5 one again in 2013. So why the low rank? Well, given the abundance of signal callers and my overall stance on quarterbacks, this is where I see Brees’ value. He’ll surely go in the first or second round in most drafts, but if he were to dip to the third, there could be honest value.
30. Victor Cruz, WR10
Cruz finished the 2012 season with just two 70-plus yard performances over his final nine games. If Eli Manning can bounce back, and if Hakeem Nicks can stay away from the hospital, Cruz should have no problem being a top fantasy option next season. One important thing to note with Cruz, however, is that his big play ability was lacking in 2012. He finished with 444 fewer receiving yards than he had in 2011, but had four more receptions and one more touchdown. Assuming Nicks is healthy, Cruz should increase his yards per reception average in 2013.
31. Frank Gore, RB18
Not many fantasy owners – including myself – gave Frank Gore a chance in 2012. But after another great season, Gore continues to be a worthwhile selection as he approaches the dreaded running back age of 30. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick can really open up the San Francisco offense, and soon to be second-year back LaMichael James can add a nice dimension to the 49ers backfield. Gore’s quantity may decrease in 2013, but he should still be a solid RB2.
32. Roddy White, WR11
Julio Jones’ emergence has pushed Roddy White down the fantasy rankings, but White’s reliability should make any fantasy owner smile. He had four or more receptions in all but two games in 2012, and he was still a top-10 receiver in terms of targets. He’s not a sexy selection anymore, but he certainly is a player who can give you the week-to-week consistency you need to win fantasy championships.
33. Randall Cobb, WR12
Fantasy footballers are hoping Randall Cobb can be the next superstar in this new, pass-heavy NFL. As Keith Black pointed out, Cobb could be a player who rises because of what he did for fantasy teams in 2012. A late round draft choice, Cobb finished as a top-20 receiver last season with the Packers, and had the highest fantasy point per snap rate in the league at receiver. Because of his lower expectations, owners may think a little higher of him than his numbers actually indicate. I do love Randall Cobb as a player, and think that he’s going to have a great 2013 season, but he shouldn’t be selected before the third round.
34. Wes Welker, WR13
Assuming he’s in New England, we shouldn’t feel wary about drafting Welker again in 2013. He got off to a slow start this past season, but was still able to finish as a WR1 in 12-team leagues. Aside from his Week 1 performance, Welker’s lowest single-game yardage total was 48 yards last year. Like Roddy White, he’s becoming less and less of an exciting pick, but he’s a player who silently helps bring home fantasy gold.
35. Michael Crabtree, WR14
Colin Kaepernick was able to do it; he’s made Michael Crabtree a top receiver in fantasy football. After a disappointing start to his NFL career with Alex Smith, Crabtree became one of the most reliable receivers down the stretch last season. If the 49ers magic can continue (which it should) into 2013, Crabtree could easily sneak into the top-10 at the receiver position.
36. Jordy Nelson, WR15
His breakout 2011 season was followed up by an injury-filled one in 2012, but with Greg Jennings more than likely leaving Green Bay, Nelson becomes Rodgers probable top target next season. If he stays healthy, there’s no reason for us to assume he can’t be a fantasy playmaker, especially considering his 216 fantasy points in 2011 were second only to Calvin Johnson.
37. Eric Decker, WR16
With Peyton Manning in Denver, Decker was able to haul in 85 catches for 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2012. The issue fantasy owners may have with him is overall predictability. While his 13 touchdowns were good for second in the NFL, we have to keep in mind that he scored eight of those in just four games. Touchdowns accounted for 44% of Decker’s fantasy total in 2012 – behind only James Jones – and if history is any indication, Decker won’t post 13 scores again in 2013. Demaryius Thomas is clearly the receiver to own in Denver.
38. Aaron Rodgers, QB2
As I wrote about at ProFootballFocus.com, Aaron Rodgers 2012 campaign was much more inconsistent than many realize. He was either a stud, finishing at the top of his position in a given week, or he wasn’t even usable, finishing outside of the top-12. Part of this is due to the rotating wide receiving group in Green Bay; Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson couldn’t stay on the field. But part of it is also because the rest of the position has caught up from a fantasy perspective, devaluing the top-notch passers. Rodgers will go in the first couple of rounds, but as usual, I’ll be waiting.
39. Pierre Garcon, WR17
It’s a shame the Redskins’ receiver got hurt early on in the season, because quite honestly, Pierre Garcon could’ve finished as a top-10 wideout. Given his 2012 stats, a healthy Garcon could have finished with over 80 catches, 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns. Robert Griffin III’s knee injury may cause Garcon to drop in drafts, but he could be a great value for fantasy teams next season.
40. Reggie Wayne, WR18
The veteran Colts’ wideout was dead to many entering 2012, but he proved us all wrong as he caught over 100 passes for 1,355 yards and five scores. I worry about the Colts passing attack in 2013 though, as offensive coordinator Bruce Arians left for the head coaching job in Arizona. New coordinator Pep Hamilton has already stressed the importance of a balanced offense, so we should expect Andrew Luck’s 627 pass attempts to decrease in 2013. A decrease in pass attempts means less opportunity for a guy like Reggie Wayne.
41. David Wilson, RB19
With the release of Ahmad Bradshaw, David Wilson is expected to be the guy in New York. But before we get overly excited, we must remember that there’s another back, Andre Brown, who has shown that he has the talent to carry the rock. I’ve already seen Wilson go in the late-second round of a few mock drafts, and that’s entirely too high for a player who has yet to carry the ball more than 15 times in an NFL game. He could end up being great, but you have to play the risk vs. reward game in fantasy football.
42. Steve Smith, WR19
The Carolina wideout has rejuvenated his career over the last two seasons with Cam Newton throwing him the ball. After two sub-1,000-yard seasons in 2009 and 2010, Smith has bounced back over the last two years with 2,568 receiving yards. He’s going to be 34 years-old next year, but he still doesn’t look like he’s lost a step. I love Smith next year as a value pick, as many fantasy owners will be falsely afraid of his aging body.
43. Marques Colston, WR20
In 2012, Marques Colston had just three 100-plus yard performances in the 16 games he played. With tight end Jimmy Graham hobbling, it would’ve been nice to see Colston step up and be a top fantasy option. Instead, quarterback Drew Brees continued to spread the ball around, causing Colston’s value to dip. He’ll be another solid option in 2013, but as always, Marques Colston will never be the consistent player we want him to be given the offense he’s in.
44. Steven Jackson, RB20
A physical beast, Steven Jackson wasn’t able to be the typical running back he’s been because of Jeff Fisher’s usage of back Daryl Richardson in the Rams’ offense. Like Gore, Jackson will be 30 next season, but I think he still has some gas left in the tank after his 257 attempt 2012 season. If he leaves the Rams, which may happen, I’d love to see him get one more opportunity at being a featured back. He needs a high volume of carries to be successful, and I’m not sure he’s going to get it in St. Louis.
45. Cam Newton, QB3
Though the schedule was easier, Newton scorched the fantasy stat sheet over the second half of 2012, setting himself up for a nice 2013 season. The Panthers need to address the talent around him, as Brandon Lafell didn’t serve as the best number two option in the offense. Cam’s rapport with Steve Smith and Greg Olsen looked better as the season progressed though, and Cam’s abilities create a potential top fantasy quarterback. He’s just not there yet.
46. Hakeem Nicks, WR21
Nicks has yet to play a full season in the NFL, and that’s frightening when you’d have to use a fourth or fifth round pick on him. When healthy, however, Nicks is one of the best receivers in fantasy. If you’re selecting Nicks in next year’s draft, it may be beneficial to pair him with an early round stud, and be sure to have a backup plan; an injury is inevitable.
47. Vick Ballard, RB21
As I mentioned before, new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton wants a more balanced offense in Indianpolis. No player may benefit from that more than Vick Ballard. He’s not the best running back in the world, but neither is BenJarvus Green-Ellis; a player who finished 19th at running back this past year. Considering that Vick Ballard scored just three times in 2012 and still finished as a top-30 running back, I like him as a reliable running back next season. Don’t think that you’re getting a stud out of Ballard, but think of his abilities in a young Colts offense similar to what we saw out of BenJarvus Green-Ellis this season, as long as he continues to be fed the ball.
48. Darren Sproles, RB22
Sproles only received 48 carries in 2012, which was 39 fewer than he had in 2011. That, in the end, was the difference in his value from 2011 to 2012. With Sean Payton back, I’d expect Sproles to be a little more involved in the offense. He’s still a great PPR back, and should be a solid low-end RB2 in standard leagues.
49. Dwayne Bowe, WR22
Wherever Bowe ends up, we know Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn won’t be throwing him the ball. If he stays in Kansas City, we’re all expecting a new quarterback to be there. And if he goes to a new situation, Bowe will certainly be the focus of an offense. He’s a player who often gets overlooked in fantasy drafts because of the situation he plays in, even though he scored 15 touchdowns just two seasons ago. He’s a talent, but evidently a head case as well, which is always a concern. Keep tabs on his situation, but he’s a good WR2 value.
50. Antonio Brown, WR23
I’ll be honest when I say that Antonio Brown is my favorite NFL player, but to be unbiased, Brown put together a strong end to his injury-ridden 2012 season. He was the 11th best fantasy wideout over the final four weeks of the season, posting touchdowns in each game. His knock is often that he doesn’t get into the end zone, but with Mike Wallace leaving Pittsburgh, Brown could be set for more red zone targets. We should be aware that he’s going to get more targeted coverage, but he’s become Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite receiver in the Steelers offense. I love Antonio Brown as a WR2 this season, especially in a PPR format.
51. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB23
As I mentioned before, The Law Firm is no special running back, but he was fantasy significant in 2012 because of his absurd 278 carries. Green-Ellis feasted on poor defenses last year, and was unable to do much against top ones. It’s what you’d expect from a running back who ranked 23rd among starting running backs in Pro Football Focus’ elusive running back ratings. The Bengals may go after another back this off-season, which would surely push Green-Ellis down on this list, but for now, let’s leave him as a low-end RB2.
52. Lamar Miller, RB24
He’s the opposite of a BenJarvus Green-Ellis, I suppose. Lamar Miller could be the top back in Miami next season with the departure of Reggie Bush, and although he had some struggles during his rookie season, his talent is attractive. The reason I have him ranked here is because of upside, as Miller’s 4.4 speed is something all fantasy owners love in players. Miller is a player whose rank will fluctuate a lot as the season approaches.
53. Larry Fitzgerald, WR24
He’s clearly one of the best in the business at his position, but the quarterback situation in Arizona should scare anyone. If and when they address it, Fitz will move on this list. New head coach Bruce Arians runs a pass-first offense, and as Denny Carter of The Fake Football wrote, this could bode well for Fitzgerald. I’m not going to trust him until I see more out of the quarterback position in Arizona, though.
54. Miles Austin, WR25
The Cowboys’ receiver may not be in Dallas next year, but assuming he is, I like him as a top-end WR3 in most league formats. He’s had injury issues over the last couple of seasons, and is slowly becoming less explosive. And with the emergence of Dez Bryant and the dependable play of Jason Witten, Miles Austin is no longer the must-have in fantasy that he used to be.
55. Jonathan Stewart, RB25
He’s been disappointing, but with the likely departure of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart could finally be the guy in Carolina. He had his opportunities in 2012 and didn’t perform at a high level, but his likely 6th round ADP could hold value considering his possible workload in 2013. If I’m going running back-heavy in drafts next season, I’m looking to snag Stewart for immense upside.
56. Greg Jennings, WR26
We’re not sure where he’ll be, but Jennings has shown that he’s one of the better receivers in the league. Once his situation is determined, I’ll have to revisit his ranking. For now, the uncertainty is leaving him as a WR2 or WR3. Considering a team will have to pay a decent price tag to acquire Jennings, I’d expect he sees the ball a lot in 2013.
57. Mikel Leshoure, RB26
The Lions are expected to bring in a quick, change of pace back to Detroit, which is bad news for a plodding Mikel Leshoure. In 2012, Leshoure started 14 games and didn’t rush for more than 100 yards in a single game. His three touchdown performance against Jacksonville helped skew his overall ranking and value, and of starting running backs in the NFL, only Arian Foster and Michael Turner depended on touchdowns more than Leshoure. I’m not a fan of his talent, and think that if the Lions sign another back, Leshoure could be in for some trouble.
58. Tom Brady, QB4
Tom Brady never threw more than 28 touchdowns without Wes Welker. With Welker, he’s never thrown less than 28 touchdowns. If the Patriots lose Welker – Tom Brady’s security blanket – we should be worried. That is, until they bring in a guy like Percy Harvin (wishful thinking from a fantasy perspective). Really, though, Brady’s 2012 campaign was a lot like Rodgers’: inconsistent. He finished as a top quarterback, sure, but what we really need is a top quarterback that doesn’t have a few weeks that skew the rest. Brady should still be a top quarterback off the board, but his receiving situation is very important to that value.
59. Matt Ryan, QB5
As I wrote in my book, 2012 was Matt Ryan’s boom or bust year. He certainly played well, throwing for 3 or more touchdowns in seven of his sixteen games. When you have Roddy White and Julio Jones, you should be expected to throw 30 touchdowns in a season. I think Ryan is one of the safest quarterback picks for next season.
60. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB27
Ryan’s teammate, Jacquizz Rodgers, should have more opportunity in the top-notch Falcons’ offense next year. The problem, however, is that Rodgers didn’t show the kind of running ability when given the opportunity in 2012. According to Rotoworld’s Nick Mensio, “Rodgers is best suited for a third-down and change-of-pace role. He’s a poor man’s Darren Sproles.” While he may not be all that worthwhile, the Falcons are still going to utilize him, making him fantasy worthy.
61. Mike Wallace, WR27
Mike Wallace didn’t look like Mike Wallace in 2012. It actually started at the tail-end of 2011, as Antonio Brown emerged as Roethlisberger’s top target. Since, Wallace has lacked his big play ability, and now, he’s no longer going to play in Pittsburgh. While he started to really show toughness through the middle of the field in the early stages of 2011, he completely lacked that same toughness in 2012. Key dropped passes were common for Wallace last season. He was, as many like to say, a one-trick pony. Perhaps a new situation will bring back the Mike Wallace that created great fantasy value.
62. Stevie Johnson, WR28
A snapshot of Stevie Johnson’s short career shows low-end WR2 consistency. He’s posted no less than 1,004 yards receiving since becoming a starter, and he’s never had more than 1,073 in a season. His 23 touchdowns over the last three seasons are above average, but Johnson’s becoming more known for his on-the-field antics rather than his actual playmaking and fantasy ability. If the new coaching staff starts to shift him around and force feed him the ball, Johnson’s numbers should rise. Otherwise, if there’s no indication of that happening, keep Johnson as a top WR3.
63. Aaron Hernandez, TE3
Hernandez is in a tier of his own at tight end, as he’s not quite at the same level as Gronk and Graham, but the rest of the field is definitely not as valuable. His ankle limited his play in 2012, and now his durability is a concern. He’s yet to complete an entire season, causing a lack of trust among fantasy owners. This ranking has nothing to do with his talent, as I think he’s one of the best in the league at what he does, but given the inherent demand of the tight end position and Hernandez’s health, I’m more than likely not going to own him next season unless he falls to round six or seven.
64. James Jones, WR28
No receiver scored more times than Jones did in 2012, as the Packers receiver hit the end zone 14 times. The 14 scores accounted for over 53% of his fantasy total last season, which was the highest reliance on touchdowns in the NFL at receiver. Historically, players who score double-digit touchdowns fail at doing it again the next season. Even with a bigger defined role in the Packers offense, I like other receivers more than Jones in 2013.
65. Torrey Smith, WR29
Smith’s big play ability makes him attractive in the fantasy space, but it’s time that we all see the truth: Torrey Smith isn’t a startable fantasy receiver yet. His up-and-down week-to-week play makes fantasy owners’ heads spin, and his 99 receptions over his first two seasons in the league – as a starter – are nothing to get excited about either. Over the last two seasons combined, Smith has just 1,696 yards receiving. And in 2012, ten of his sixteen games resulted in single-digit fantasy performances. Until we see more, we have to value Smith where he belongs.
66. Reggie Bush, RB28
The once second overall pick has been a moderate fantasy play throughout his career. Depending on the situation he’s placed in to, Bush will probably hold the same flex value that he has in previous seasons. He was fine this year, posting six touchdowns and almost 1,000 yards on the ground, but that’s still not good enough to be a weekly starter. I’d love to see him go to Detroit and take on that Jahvid Best role, but until we know where Bush will be, we can’t be too high on him.
67. Peyton Manning, QB6
Surprisingly, given my stance on quarterbacks, I was higher than most regarding Peyton Manning entering 2012. He surpassed even my expectations, and I’ve learned that we should just never doubt football greatness. However, he’s clearly lost some arm strength, and the competitive quarterback class has made him, to me, a middle-of-the-road starter in a 12-team league. I like Peyton as the sixth best quarterback option in 2013.
68. Colin Kaepernick, QB7
We all saw what Colin Kaepernick is capable of this season, and the fact that he’s started only a handful of games is unbelievable. After taking Alex Smith’s job, Kaepernick didn’t have a single game under 14 standard fantasy points. There’s no quarterback in 2013 with more upside, but clearly, upside is always associated with risk.
69. Matthew Stafford, QB8
When you throw the ball 727 times, you’re going to be a fantasy starter. The crazy part about Stafford’s 2012 season isn’t that he threw more than anyone in the league, but rather it’s the fact that he threw just 20 touchdowns. For some perspective, Russell Wilson threw the ball 393 times in 2012 for 26 touchdowns. Matthew Stafford is a great value in 2013, as he could slip in some leagues to a late-round quarterback selection. I’d highly doubt he throws just 20 touchdowns next year.
70. Lance Moore, WR30
The Saints wideout had more opportunity in 2012, but like all receivers there, he fell victim to Drew Brees’ offensive spread. It seems as though Moore is a bit underrated, as he’s often been a double-digit round selection in fantasy drafts. But he quietly posted over 1,000 yards and six scores in 15 games this past season, scoring double-digit fantasy points in seven of those games. He’s a great guy to have on your bench for a bye week fill, but upside-wise, we kind of know what to expect from the Saints’ receiver.
71. Fred Jackson, RB29
Jackson will stil be part of the Bills’ offense in 2013, but his durability and age has to be a concern. CJ Spiller showed us all what he can do as a featured back, and while Spiller’s body may not be able to endure 300-plus carries, we should expect more than the 207 he got last year. Jackson, in turn, should see less action. I think there’s still value here as a potential handcuff or bench player.
72. Andre Brown, RB30
Before Andre Brown went down with a season-ending injury in 2012, he had put together five straight games with a touchdown. He relied on touchdowns for his fantasy value more than any other back in the NFL, and it looks as though this could continue into 2013. I think Brown has talent, but not necessarily at the same level as David Wilson. And, of course, the Giants used a first round choice on Wilson, showing that they have faith in his ability. Brown could be a very interesting flex play this season, though, as he continues to get the Giants’ goal line work.
73. Danny Amendola, WR31
One of the best memories of the 2012 season was Danny Amendola’s gutsy 11 catch, 102-yard performance against San Francisco in Week 10. And, of course, we can’t forget his Week 2 explosion of 15 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown.The Rams may not be able to bring him back in 2013, which makes him an interesting pick if he goes to the right place. Is New England calling?
74. Cecil Shorts, WR32
If we stretched Shorts’ numbers with Gabbert and Henne over an entire season, the result is fairly similar. He’d score more touchdowns with Henne, but let’s not exaggerate the impact the quarterback situation in Jacksonville has on Shorts’ value. His big play skills make him a fantasy asset, as his yards per pass route ranked 10th in the NFL among receivers. Shorts is falling to the seventh and eighth round in current mock drafts, which to me, is a potential steal.
75. Josh Gordon, WR33
New Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski loves big plays on offense. Is there a better fit for Josh Gordon? The rookie receiver was arguably the riskiest play at receiver throughout 2012, catching just a pass or two each game. But in plenty of those games, Gordon would catch a 50-yard bomb for a touchdown. He had just five games with four or more receptions last year, which will surely turn off many fantasy owners. However, each of those games came after the Browns’ Week 10 bye, showing that Gordon slowly evolved within the offense and became more comfortable. I think he has great potential to be a WR2 by the end of the season, especially if the Browns can figure out their quarterback situation.
76. T.Y. Hilton, WR34
As Keith Black wrote, “In the last seven games of the year, Hilton hit the 100-yard mark three times, and scored six total touchdowns in four different weeks.” Pretty incredible for a rookie receiver catching passes from a rookie quarterback. Hilton’s 17.2 yards per reception was fifth among starting receivers in 2012, and he ended up ranking as the best fantasy rookie receiver in the league. Without offensive coordinator Bruce Arians though, I’m a bit skeptical if the big plays can continue for Hilton.
77. Jason Witten, TE4
Tony Romo’s security blanket ranks as my fourth best tight end. Witten is someone you can always trust, missing zero games over the last six seasons. He had 110 receptions for over 1,000 yards last season, and yet, scored just three times. Witten is a player that, as I ponder this list over the upcoming months, could easily jump due to dependability and talent.
78. Justin Blackmon, WR35
I’m not thrilled to have two Jaguar receivers in the top-100, but Blackmon slowly heated up towards the end of 2012. In his final four games, the rookie receiver averaged over 6 catches per game, scored twice, and never had less than 57 yards receiving. If Blackmon and Shorts were receivers on a team with a better quarterback option, I’d probably like Blackmon more. But when you have unreliable passers, you have to bank on the big play. That’s where Cecil Shorts comes in handy.
79. Brandon Lloyd, WR36
He clearly didn’t put up Randy Moss-like numbers in his first season in New England, and it disappointed plenty of fake footballers. The insane part is that Brandon Lloyd finished 14th in the NFL in targets, but 32nd in fantasy points. There’s no reason to spend a middle-round pick on Lloyd next season, but because he plays with Tom Brady, I’m not against using a double-digit round pick on the athletic receiver.
80. Willis McGahee, RB31
Knowshon Moreno played pretty well when Willis McGahee got hurt in 2012, and it’s now made the Broncos’ running back situation incredibly difficult to predict. I have McGahee as my top back in the offense, but that could easily change once we learn more. For now, the 31 year-old runner is in the top-100.
81. DeAngelo Williams, RB32
It’ll be interesting to see where DeAngelo Williams ends up next year, as he’s just turning 30 in April and still may have some ability left in his legs. Williams has been a solid running back in the past. And, even this season, he ranked sixth in the NFL in yards after contact per attempt. If he gets a starting gig somewhere, I’d expect his ADP to rise greatly as we approach August.
82. Danario Alexander, WR36
One of the more questioned players in fantasy next season will be Danario Alexander. After failing to produce – partially due to injury – in St. Louis over the first two seasons of his career, DX came out of nowhere halfway through 2012 in becoming one of the better fantasy wideout options down the stretch. He posted a goose egg in Week 15, ruining the dreams of many fantasy owners, but aside from that game, Alexander was an incredibly solid option. The reason he dropped low on this list is, again, because of his past. He has the knees of a 56 year-old man, which is not something I want in a wide receiver. He clearly has a lot of upside though.
83. Jeremy Maclin, WR37
Should we be that excited about Jeremy Maclin’s potential in 2013 because Michael Vick is back? After all, you could make the argument that he did better with Nick Foles under center. In 2012, Maclin posted five double-digit fantasy performances, but also scored three or fewer points in six games. The Eagles offense has so many question marks right now with Chip Kelly being there, so for now, Maclin sits as a bench guy.
84. Kendall Wright, WR38
During his rookie season, Kendall Wright posted just 626 yards and 4 touchdowns. A positive, however, is that he caught 64 passes on 95 targets. We should never expect a lot from rookie receivers, and while many believe third-year receivers are the ones who break out, second-year guys are actually the ones who do. I don’t think Wright is going to go for 1,000 yards and 10 scores, but a 900-yard, 6 touchdown season shouldn’t be out of the question.
85. Mike Williams, WR39
As I wrote last month, Mike Williams was one of the most underrated fantasy options in the sport last season. He scored nine times, and was just four yards away from a 1,000-yard season. He’s been good thus far over his career, and the main differentiation with him from season-to-season has been touchdown receptions. Actually, over his first three years, Williams has posted reception totals of 65, 65 and 63. I think we should expect 64 next season.
86. Daryl Richardson, RB33
Richardson ruined Steven Jackson’s fantasy value in 2012, and if Jackson leaves, he should be the number one guy in St. Louis. Clearly, if the veteran back does walk, Richardson will move up on this list. For now, I can’t make a strong enough argument for a guy with a small sample who plays on a middling offense.
87. Ryan Williams, RB34
You’d think that the Cardinals will do something with their running back options before the 2013 season starts, because Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams just haven’t proven their worth. Williams now, over his first two years, has played a total of five games and has a 2.8 yards per carry average. If another running back enters Arizona, Ryan Williams will be off this list.
88. Bryce Brown, RB35
Brown’s explosiveness came through when he subbed in for LeSean McCoy, scoring 53 standard fantasy points in his first two games as a starter. His talents fell back to Earth soon after, but fans were able to see how talented he is. Because of his good showing, we’re told that the Eagles will try more of a committee system next year, eating into LeSean McCoys workload. Brown, even though a number two back on his own team, has value next year.
89. Anquan Boldin, WR40
Anquan Boldin’s real fantasy value will surely be overshadowed by his Super Bowl run success. But in 2012, Boldin was nothing more than a bench play in most leagues. He scored just four times all season, and had just one 100-plus yard game. Fantasy players tend to overvalue Super Bowl winners, and I think the same will happen for Boldin in 2013, as long as he’s still in Baltimore.
90. Denarius Moore, WR41
There was a point in 2012 where everyone wanted a piece of Denarius Moore. From Weeks 2 to 10, Moore posted 6 or more fantasy points each week, including four instances of double-digit performances. His fall off over the second half of the season could be a warning sign of what’s to come in 2013, but it could also be an opportunity for fantasy owners to obtain a worthwhile receiver late in their drafts.
91. Golden Tate, WR42
James Goldstein wrote a piece at rotoviz.com discussing Golden Tate’s underrated 2012 campaign. In it, he suggests that Tate could swing some championships in 2013. I tend to agree, as Tate’s progression over his first three seasons have been positive. When you factor in the play of Russell Wilson, you may get a steal late in your draft with Tate.
92. Mark Ingram, RB36
Through his first two seasons in New Orleans, Mark Ingram has rushed 278 times for 1,076 yards and ten touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Saints just don’t use him the way fantasy owners want him to be used. While Chris Ivory should be gone, Pierre Thomas is still there, and Darren Sproles lines up in the backfield plenty as well. The platoon devalues Ingram from a fantasy standpoint, but his potential still makes him draftable in most league formats.
93. Russell Wilson, QB9
From Week 8 on, only Cam Newton and Drew Brees were better fantasy options than Russell Wilson. The Seahawks let Wilson loose after seeing he caught on with the offense, and he instantly became effective in fantasy. The main reason I don’t have him ranked higher is because I’m unsure he can keep up his passing touchdown pace, and some of his totals were shifted by his 39-point performance against Buffalo. He should continue to be successful, but the team won’t always need his arm to win.
94. Bilal Powell, RB37
Shonn Greene is done in New York, but I’m not sure Bilal Powell is the new answer. In fact, we should assume the Jets will try to do something at running back over the off-season. For now, the plodder sneaks into the top-100 given his current situation for the Jets.
95. Michael Turner, RB38
Speaking of plodders, Michael Turner finished as a low-end RB2 in 2012, rushing for 800 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s clearly past his prime, and the Falcons are more than likely going to rid of him as a cap casualty for 2013. Realistically, there may not be much of a market for the powerful back.
96. Andrew Luck, QB10
Luck threw the ball more than all but four quarterbacks in 2012, but with the change in offensive coordinators, we could see that number fall in 2013. His completion percentage is a little worrisome, but that should only get better with time. Considering the youth of the Colts offense, Luck should be a starting quarterback in fantasy for many years to come.
97. Eli Manning, QB11
After throwing for nearly 5,000 yards in 2011, Manning followed it up with less than 4,000 in 2012. There was a period – Weeks 8 through 10 – where Manning scored a combined 10 fantasy points. But with a (hopefully) healthy Hakeem Nicks, a year under wideout Rueben Randle’s belt and solid talent at running back, Eli should have no problem returning to his low-end QB1 rank.
98. Tony Romo, QB12
It’s hard to imagine that the Dallas offensive line could get much worse, right? In 2012, Romo set personal highs in attempts (628), completions (425) and passing yards (4,903). With the potential departure of Miles Austin, Romo’s fantasy value takes a slight hit. But from a volume perspective, there’s no reason for us to think Romo can’t compete for a top-10 quarterback spot.
99. Santonio Holmes, WR43
Holmes missed 12 games in 2012 due to injury, but before going down, he was averaging five receptions per game. Given the lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball in New York, the Super Bowl winning receiver could see a high number of targets, making him fantasy relevant. He’s capable of scoring, too, as he’s posted at least five touchdowns each full season since his rookie year.
100. Brian Hartline, WR44
Hartline may not be a Dolphin next season, and rumors are swirling that he could make his way to Detroit. No matter what happens, Hartline’s 2013 fantasy value is intriguing. This past season, Hartline caught 74 passes for 1,083 yards. Clearly his 253-yard performance against Arizona in Week 4 helped his yardage total, but Hartline has gone unnoticed to many because he scored just once all season long. If he’s placed with a veteran, gun-slinging quarterback, Hartline could be a late-round sleeper in August drafts.
Notables off the list: Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, Philip Rivers, Josh Freeman, Joe Flacco, Ben Tate, Bernard Pierce, Knowshon Moreno, Cedric Benson, Rashard Mendenhall, Daniel Thomas, Danny Woodhead, Sidney Rice, Kenny Britt, Mohamed Sanu, Emmanuel Sanders, Chris Givens, Vincent Brown, Alshon Jeffrey, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, Owen Daniels, Greg Olsen, Kyle Rudolph, Jermaine Gresham, Dennis Pitta, Vernon Davis, Martellus Bennett, Antonio Gates