2013 Fantasy Football: Top Players Countdown #31-45
2013 Top Player Countdown; #31-45
The 2012 fantasy football season was a wild and unpredictable for owners as we saw a transition from the established veteran to promising youth. Looking back on our draft results from the summer, they epitomize the uncertainty that accompanies the beginning of every fantasy football season.
The consensus first round in 12-team fantasy drafts looked something like this: 1. Arian Foster, 2. Aaron Rodgers, 3. Ray Rice, 4. LeSean McCoy, 5. Tom Brady, 6. Calvin Johnson, 7. Drew Brees, 8. Chris Johnson, 9. Darren McFadden, 10. Matthew Stafford, 11. Cam Newton, 12. Matt Forte.
If we keep the positions consistent and fill them with the players who actually achieved at a first round level, it would have looked like this: 1. Adrian Peterson, 2. Drew Brees, 3. Arian Foster, 4. Doug Martin, 5. Tom Brady, 6. Calvin Johnson, 7. Aaron Rodgers, 8. Marshawn Lynch, 9. Alfred Morris, 10. Cam Newton, 11. Peyton Manning, 12. Ray Rice
Today’s advice involves the importance of first round picks. The 2012 consensus first round arguably involved eight “safe” picks based on established success. McFadden, Stafford, Newton and Forte would have been considered “risk” because of their inconsistency, injury history or lack of NFL experience. Out of those four players, three of them failed to live up to first round value.
With this in mind, we should already begin to speculate and question any expert rankings that we see leading up to our 2013 drafts. Over the next week I will name my top 75 players for the 2013 season.
These rankings will not be in terms of where they should supposedly be drafted but where they will finish. That’s why they may look a bit unconventional but past trends are the best way to predict the future.
#45 WR Wes Welker - New England Patriots (Free Agent)
Wes Welker continued his dominance in the slot for the New England Patriots fifth 100 reception, 1,000 yard season in the last six years. Welker's contract expires at the end of the season but he will likely be back in New England as the Patriots try to make the most of Tom Brady's remaining years. Expect another year of consistency from Welker in 2013.
#44 WR Victor Cruz - New York Giants
Victor Cruz didn't exactly suffer a slump after his breakout 2011 season but he did fail to bring the big play ability that he showed the previous season. Cruz averaged six fewer yards per catch this season, as defenses began to key on the quick slot receiver. He still managed to haul in 10 touchdowns and it is reasonable to expect even more out of him next season as the New York Giants offense promises to be better.
#43 WR Randall Cobb - Green Bay Packers
Randall Cobb was the 2012 version of Victor Cruz, asserting his dominance in the slot for the Green Bay Packers. With Greg Jennings possibly departing, Cobb's role in the offense will be even more crucial. Cobb had the highest catch rate of any starting receiver in the league and will be a hot commodity in fantasy leagues next season.
#42 WR Dwayne Bowe - Kansas City Chiefs (Free Agent)
Dwayne Bowe has already claimed that he wants out of Kansas City next season and there couldn't be better news for his fantasy value. Bowe has all of the assets needed to be an elite receiver in the NFL but his production has been stifled by poor quarterback play. Bowe has caught as many as 15 touchdowns in a season and is a prime candidate for double digit scores again if he lands in the right offense.
#41 WR Marques Colston - New Orleans Saints
Marques Colston still managed to continue his streak of 1,000 yard receiving seasons even in a down year for the New Orleans Saints. Colston has exceeded 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in six out of his seven years. He has set the bar high so far in his impressive career but always manages to meet expectations. 1,000 yards and 10+ touchdowns is more than reasonable to expect from Colston in 2013.
#40 WR Julio Jones - Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones was one of the few players that lived up to their preseason hype. Despite battling a few minor injuries along the way, Jones still managed to post almost 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. At the age of 24, Jones will continue to emerge as one of the game's top receivers in 2013. Jones is so dynamic and the Atlanta Falcons use him in so many various situations that he is a lock to rock up a ton of yards.
#39 RB Darren Sproles - New Orleans Saints
Darren Sproles continued to redefine the running back position even as injuries plagued him for much of the season. For the second consecutive season, Sproles totaled more receiving yards than rushing yards and scored eight touchdowns despite missing four games. When he returns to health in 2013, Sproles will regain his underrated fantasy value in perhaps the leagues most dynamic offense.
#38 QB Peyton Manning - Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning showed no rust after missing the entire 2011 season with a severe injury. Manning was considered a risk on draft day but went on to reward those that knew better. Manning may well be named the NFL MVP after posting his best numbers since 2004. He will maintain his fantasy value for at least one more season and should be considered a top quarterback on draft day.
#37 RB Frank Gore - San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore posted nearly identical numbers over the past two seasons while running behind the league's best offensive line. Gore will be 30-years-old when the 2013 season comes around which could mark the beginning of his decline. The San Francisco 49ers continue to bring in more options to compete for carries but Gore will be their lead back for at least another year or two.
#36 RB Chris Johnson - Tennessee Titans
Chris Johnson had a horrific start to the 2012 season but rebounded nicely to post another 1,000 yard season. While Johnson is a risk to be shut out of some games, he always has the potential to break a big run. He still managed to break several long runs while often getting stuffed behind the line. Despite his struggles, he manages to post numbers worth of a high-end number two fantasy running backs.
#35 RB Matt Forte - Chicago Bears
Matt Forte bounced back from his 2011 injury despite having his role diminished. Forte surrendered his goal-line carries to Michael Bush, the most notorious touchdown vulture. Forte is still very talented and could have some of his best years ahead of him. Forte would benefit from the Chicago Bears finding more consistency on offense.
#34 RB Daryl Richardson - St. Louis Rams
Daryl Richardson is a prime candidate to break out for the St. Louis Rams in 2013. Steven Jackson may not return to the Rams next season, opening the door for the speedy second-year running back to take over the lead role. Richardson is a game breaker at running back who could thrive behind an up-and-coming St. Louis offensive line. In a starting role, Richardson would run for over 1,000 yards and break off several long touchdowns.
#33 QB Russell Wilson - Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson didn't produce eye-popping fantasy numbers in his rookie season but after evaluating his season, there is a lot of promise for 2013. Wilson's second half numbers extended over the length of an entire season would have made him the top scoring fantasy quarterback. As an accurate thrower and a quick runner, Wilson has all of the tools to become one of the elite fantasy quarterbacks. The lack of flash associated with his game tends to make people overlook him but he will provide great value on draft day in 2013 as a quarterback with top-five potential.
#32 RB David Wilson - New York Giants
David Wilson sat on the bench for the majority of his rookie season before bursting onto the scene with several big plays. The New York Giants have hinted that Wilson may become their top running back in 2013 if he can improve his pass blocking. A huge boost to his carries will allow the talented back the opportunity to show off his big play ability. As a starter, Wilson would run for 1,000 yards and could push 1,200 with a handful of touchdowns despite surrendering goal-line carries to Andre Brown.
#31 WR Dez Bryant - Dallas Cowboys
Dez Bryant produced monster numbers down the stretch, rewarding owners that stayed patient with his ups and downs. Bryant ended the season as the third highest scoring fantasy receiver and 12 touchdowns. Bryant is one of the most talented players in the league so it is inexplicable that he disappears as often as he does. There are more consistent receivers than Bryant but few with as much ability. He is locked in as a top-10 fantasy receiver with potential to be even better.