Fantasy Football 2013: Predicting The Top 15 Picks
Now that the 2012 Fantasy Football season is at the halfway point, my mind begins to wonder.
Yes, I too, cannot believe how fast this season is flying by.
While I am most certainly focused on obtaining fantasy gold this season, that doesn’t mean owners cannot prepare for next year (especially those whose seasons are already lost). Trust me when I say that this season will be over before you know it, and it will almost be time to assemble your new squad.
However, do not worry. You are not alone in your efforts for fantasy dominance.
I am here to provide you, the fantasy addicts, with the fifteen best fantasy players going into the 2013 campaign. And that is exactly what you all are; addicts.
It is understandable, however, as fantasy football somewhat controls the lives of those who participate. Countless hours are spent glued to the computer screen, researching player and team news, attempting to become the ultimate fantasy guru.
The first round of the draft is obviously the most important, as it sets the foundation for your team. Will you be a running back heavy owner, or will you go for the elite signal caller? That all entirely depends on who is on the board.
So, without further ado, join me as I look into my crystal football, predicting which elite players will be snatched within the first fifteen picks. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your time to get the edge on your opponents, I suggest you take advantage of it.
15) Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants
The story of Victor Cruz is an absolutely incredible one.
After starting out as an unknown backup receiver, Cruz emerged into a legitimate fantasy superstar last year.
Now, 9 weeks into the season, Cruz is proving he is no fluke.
Cruz has been arguably the best receiver in football thus far, racking up 650 yards and 7 touchdowns. He will continue to be extremely valuable in fantasy land going into next season. First off, Eli Manning is throwing him the football. Not a bad quarterback if you ask me. Not to mention, fellow wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, though very talented, is almost always injured. Cruz is the most consistent and reliable guy in that offense.
Defenses will have a difficult time matching up against him, because Cruz can line up on the outside or in the slot. He is one of the best pure route runners in football, and can beat you in so many ways. Cruz will be drafted in the top twenties, at least next season. The salsa will stay hot for quite some time.
14) Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings
The purest and most versatile athlete in the National Football League is Percy Harvin.
It is not even a question.
Now that the migraines seem to be fading, Harvin can finally showcase the explosiveness and raw skill he has had for years. His fantasy value is incredibly high.
The Minnesota Vikings appear to be a team on the rise and are finding ways to get their playmaker the ball early and often. He is clearly their best receiver, but that’s not all he does. The Vikings use him on bubble screens a lot as well as give him a few carries per game. Not to mention, he is one of the most dangerous return men in all of football. There is just so much he can do with the football in his hands.
Right now, Harvin currently leads the entire league in receptions and is fifth in yardage. If you think the offense will change, you are dead wrong. This season, as well as next, Harvin will be a very solid wide receiver number one.
13) Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
Press the panic button, Gronkowski isn’t putting up identical numbers as last season.
Really? Get real.
Gronk has single-handedly changed the landscape of the tight end position in fantasy football. He is currently on pace to catch 86 passes for 1,160 yards and 14 touchdowns. Not as good as his historical 2011 campaign, but not bad.
In case you weren’t aware, yes, that was sarcasm.
The fact that he is still putting up monster numbers on an offense as deep and spread around as the Patriots proves that you can certainly trust him for your fantasy team. It also benefits him that fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez is injury prone.
Also, Gronkowski and company play in the AFC East, a division entirely dominated by the Patriots. There are a couple bad defenses in that division, so Gronk will always have a great chance to put up big time numbers.
Grab him in the first round and watch him “Gronk Smash” your opponents next year.
12) Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
If you don’t think Peyton Manning is still an elite quarterback, there may be something wrong with you. A lot of fantasy owners were worried about drafting Manning this year because of the neck injury. Well, Manning looks as good as ever.
The future hall of famer has now thrown for at least 300 yards and 3 touchdowns in the past four games. Talk about consistent. He has the weapons around him and will only get better (if that’s even possible). The odds of him getting injured again are very slim (knock on wood), because of his elite play recognizing skills and high football I.Q.
Manning’s fantasy value is very high, not only due to his elite skill, but also because of the division he plays in. The AFC West is another group of week defenses, so Manning will always have at least 6 solid matchups.
Oh, and if you need any other reason to draft him, it’s Peyton Manning! He is well worthy of a first round draft pick.
11) Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
Remember what quarterback Cam Newton did in his rookie year a season ago?
There’s a new sheriff in town and his name as Robert Griffin. The third.
RG3 has done some incredible things so far this season, leading all fantasy scorers in points this season. Many people knew Griffin would take the NFL by storm, but nobody imagined production like this. He is incredibly versatile, being a tremendous pocket passer as well as the ability to take off with his feet. As a rookie, Griffin shows absolutely no fear out on the field.
Some fantasy owners may be concerned that Griffin will come down with a severe case of sophomore slump next year. However, I don’t think that’s the case. Griffin has a completely different mind-set than Newton. Owners also worry about a possibly injury due to him Griffin often running into the defense. He is an incredibly tough guy, who already fought through a concussion.
Barring a serious injury, the sensational rookie out of Baylor is well deserving of your first round draft pick come next season.
10) Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions
Those of you who own Calvin Johnson are probably cringing while reading this.
Megatron has been decommissioned thus far, alarming fantasy owners worldwide. However, I still am not worried. Johnson is probably the best receiver in all of football, and he can only be quiet for so long. Despite only finding the end zone once, Johnson still ranks seventh in receiving yards (638).
Also, quarterback Matthew Stafford started the year as one of the biggest fantasy disappointments in football, which clearly effects CJ’s value. However, Stafford has been coming along lately, which could spark the fire for Megatron. Not to mention the Detroit Lions have absolutely zero rushing attack, making them a one dimensional offense. To sum it up, I don’t believe that Johnson’s quiet year is all on him.
Look, there is only one receiver that I would draft over Johnson next season. Using process of elimination, you probably already know who it is. Megatron has the size, strength, speed and straight up athleticism to dominate opposing defenses.
9) Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
It’s about that time for Marshawn Lynch to be regarded as a top fantasy running back.
Lynch has been nothing but spectacular ever since joining the Seahawks. Especially the past two seasons.
Now, this year Lynch already has 757 yards rushing, which ranks second in football. He is also averaging 94.6 rushing yards per game, which also ranks second. Lynch holds tremendous fantasy value.
The Seahawks are a run heavy team, so Lynch is guaranteed a huge workload every single Sunday. He has 159 rushing attempts so far this year, which yet again ranks second. Talk about consistency.
Also, Lynch is the only back getting work in that offense. There is no backfield by committee situation that can halt Lynch’s production. He will also be one of the safest bets to score touchdowns, as he is one of the hardest runners in football.
8) Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
What ACL injury?
In fact, it is one of the best seasons by a running back after suffering an ACL injury ever.
As of right now, AP leads the entire league in rushing yards with 775 as well as rushing yards per game (96.9). The Vikings know what they have in Peterson, and will run the ball often, no matter what season it is.
Literally the only reason Peterson wasn’t drafted top 5 this year was his injury. Well, that clearly is not a factor right now. As long as he stays healthy for the rest of the season, AP should be a top ten draft pick in fantasy leagues. He is a former consensus number one pick, so you know what you’re getting from him.
7) A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Remember that guy I had ahead of Calvin Johnson?
Here he is.
A.J. Green has been scary good this year. So far, Green has hauled in 44 balls for 636 yards and a league leading 7 touchdowns. Green’s partner in crime Andy Dalton has played very well this season, and the two have become one of the deadliest tandems in all of football.
So, why is a second year wideout from Georgia going to be the first wide receiver drafted in fantasy leagues next year? Well, besides the fact that he is a freak of an athlete, the division is no longer a fantasy wasteland.
The AFC North was once ruled by the dominate and prestigious defenses of the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. However, both teams are aging on the defensive side of the ball, as well as hurting.
Green had a monster rookie campaign, and so far, is not experiencing a setback by any means. So what could make anyone think he will next year? He is the top dog of the Cincinnati receiving core, and should be the top dog on your fantasy roster as well.
6) Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Newsflash: Tom Brady is very good.
I mean, there’s not much I can say to convince you to draft this guy. He is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time! From a fantasy perspective, Brady hasn’t always been the best, but he’s been as close as you can possibly be. Although the Patriots have been looking to run the ball a bit more, you know Bill Belichick and company want to sling the ball around.
Despite the attempts to run more, Brady currently ranks first in passing yard (2,408) and fifth in touchdowns (16). Obviously Brady has the weapons around him, in one of the most explosive offenses in football. Yes, wide receiver Wes Welker may become a free agent next year, but do you honestly think that will automatically diminish Brady’s fantasy value?
Not a chance.
I hope I don’t have to elaborate on why Brady should be a top fifteen fantasy pick. He is the commander of one of the highest scoring offenses in football. And it doesn’t hurt to play the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets twice a year either.
5) Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
At the end of this season, I have Drew Brees as the leading scorer in all of fantasy football. If this holds true, Brees will be a top five draft pick in 2013 fantasy drafts.
What isn’t there to like about Brees?
He has proven himself as one of the elite fantasy quarterbacks year after year. You know what Brees can do for your fantasy team, and certain situations make his value as high as any quarterback out there.
First, when you throw the ball 40 or more times a game, good things will happen. In fact, Brees has thrown the ball a whopping 315 times this season, second behind only Tom Brady. Also, the Saints have arguably the worst defense in football, always giving up points. This forces Brees to have to throw all of these times.
Right now, Brees is second in the league in yards and first in touchdowns. Brees has the best chance out of any quarterback in fantasy football to explode for an unreal performance. He still has a plethora of weapons around him, so don’t worry about that.
4) Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
The best quarterback in football, Aaron Rodgers is the safest bet at the position in fantasy land.
He is as consistent as it gets, and is producing even without his number one target Greg Jennings. Again, the Packers were a team that looked to run the football more this year after acquiring Cedric Benson. But after he went down with an injury, the Packers returned to what they do best; passing the football.
Rodgers currently leads the league in touchdown passes with 21 (large in part to that monster 6 touchdown performance). With a completion percentage of 69.0, Rodgers is one of the most consistent throwers in the game, making turnovers a rarity.
A-Rod needs to be the first quarterback taken in all fantasy drafts. No ifs, ands or buts. He is as trustworthy as it gets. You can discount double check that off your list.
3) Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
We have reached the top three in our countdown, and I’m pretty certain you know which players are incoming.
The final three are all running backs, and all are extremely versatile.
Coming in at number 3 is Ray Rice.
Rice has been incredibly consistent since entering the league. He can run between the tackles, has the speed to bounce it outside and of course we all know how dangerous he is when catching the ball out of the backfield. He is an absolute PPR monster, having caught 29 balls so far this year.
While there have been some concerns about the play calling from offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the Ravens fully understand that their best chance to win goes through Rice. They should eventually drop the hurry up offense, and instead, put the ball back where it belongs; in Rice’s arms.
The former Rutgers Scarlet Knight needs to be drafted in the top three in next year’s draft due to his versatile ability on the field.
2) LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
McCoy owners should be very frustrated with the production from there number one overall draft pick this year.
“Shady” is a top three running back in football right now. He is easily the best cutting runner, is quick, catches balls out of the backfield and runs hard. So, why the lack of production this year?
Why don’t you ask Andy Reid?
The Eagles are a mess right now. They do not understand that they cannot limit McCoy’s touches. If he doesn’t get the ball, they won’t win.
I still think McCoy will bounce back this year and finish a top five fantasy back. There have been rumblings out of Philadelphia that the team may be considering benching Michael Vick and starting rookie quarterback Nick Foles. Either way, unless the Eagles make an impressive Super Bowl run this season, there is a very good chance that both Vick and Reid are gone next year.
This will benefit McCoy immensely. Assuming this does happen, he will yet again be a top fantasy running back next season a part of a new look offense.
I think Shady will be the second player and running back taken in next year’s draft. I wonder who number one is?
1) Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
Over the years, fantasy football has seen consensus number one draft picks such as LaDanian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk.
While he may not be anywhere near the superstardom as the two yet, Arian Foster may be the new hands down number one pick.
Foster has another incredible story. The once undrafted rookie from Tennessee is now highly regarded as the best running back in all of football. He already has 10 scores this year , 9 of which on the ground. His value is higher than ever right now, as the Texans have shifted to a run first team. No one in football runs as much as them, and when you have a guy like Foster in your backfield, why would you?
He is another incredibly versatile back, who can get you yardage, not just touchdowns. Not to mention he is one of the best catchers out of the backfield. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that Foster should be the universal number one overall pick in all fantasy leagues from here on out. The Texans truly struck gold with Arian Foster and you can too.