2013 Fantasy Football: Top Players Countdown #1-15

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2013 Top Player Countdown; #1-15

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

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

It is reasonable to shy away from players such as Ryan Mathews or Darren McFadden who have a tendency to get injured year after year. Those injury-prone players aside, you cannot let an injury from the previous season cause you to overlook a talented player. Injuries happen to everyone in the NFL, it’s just part of the game. A player that suffered through a season plagued by injuries may fly under the radar in the following season’s draft, providing value to your team.

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.

2 of 16

#15 QB Tom Brady - New England Patriots

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady may not have finished as the top scoring fantasy quarterback, but he was the most consistent. Brady threw a touchdown in every game and passed for three or more in nearly one-third of his games. Brady is as close as they come to a sure thing in fantasy football. Aside from his torn ACL in 2008, Brady has never missed a game since becoming the starter for the New England Patriots in 2001. Brady will be 36 next season but don't be a fool and doubt him for his age.

3 of 16

#14 QB Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees did not suffer a setback in 2012 the way that the New Orleans Saints franchise did. He still managed to accumulate the most fantasy points in the league by throwing for over 5,000 yards and 43 touchdowns. Brees has now finished in the top two in terms of overall fantasy points in the past two seasons. There is no indication that this trend will stop in 2013, as Brees and New Orleans will come back more motivated than ever next season.

4 of 16

#13 RB Jamaal Charles - Kansas City Chiefs

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Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Jamaal Charles bounced back very well from a lost season in 2011. He showed that he did not loose a step due to his severe knee injury, bursting for a handful of long touchdowns in 2012. If the Kansas City Chiefs play their cards right this off-season, they could potentially become next year's Indianapolis Colts, going from number one pick to the playoffs. That would mean that good things are to come for Charles in 2013.

5 of 16

#12 RB Eddie Lacy - Draftee

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Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Eddie Lacy put on a show in the National Championship game, using it as a platform to show off his tremendous skill set. Lacy declared for the draft and is currently projected as a second-round pick. His stock will rise as the draft approaches after he shows off his versatility at the combine and separates himself from the rest of the running backs in his draft class. Lacy is the total package and will provide great value to his fantasy owners next season. He is more than capable of producing numbers similar to 2012 rookies like Alfred Morris, Doug Martin and Trent Richardson. It is yet to be seen where Lacy will end up and where his fantasy draft stock will sit but don't miss out on the next big thing.

6 of 16

#11 QB Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers didn't miss a beat while all of the pieces fell around him in 2012. Despite his top two receivers missing the majority of the season and the Green Bay Packers running game stalling due to injuries, Rodgers produced the third most fantasy points. Rodgers continues to build his reputation as the best quarterback in the league and he should rack up even more fantasy points in 2013 with his assets back at full strength.

7 of 16

#10 RB Alfred Morris - Washington Redskins

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Alfred Morris went from unknown, undrafted fantasy player to a first round pick in 2013 drafts. Morris burst onto the scene with nearly 1,700 total yards and 13 touchdowns in his rookie season. He showed that he possesses an excellent combination of speed and power which will sustain him a long, successful NFL career. Hopefully his running-mate, Robert Griffin III will be healthy at the start of the 2013 season and help create the huge running lanes that Morris saw in 2012.

8 of 16

#9 RB LeSean McCoy - Philadelphia Eagles

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

LeSean McCoy was a casualty to the injury bug in 2012, causing him to miss four games and play hurt through several more. McCoy will be back on track in 2013, as shifty and quick as ever. The Philadelphia Eagles offense is likely to undergo many major changes this off-season which will likely further boost McCoy's value. Philadelphia has never been shy about spending money and they will do what is necessary to build a winner. McCoy will go well over 1,500 total yards in 2013.

9 of 16

#8 QB Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton was all over the place in 2012, suffering what some would call a sophomore slump. Newton's point output deviated significantly throughout his sophomore campaign but his ability to score through the air and on the draft made him the forth highest scoring fantasy quarterback. Newton suffered tremendously with his accuracy over the first half of the season, routinely missing open targets and frustrating his fantasy owners. Down the stretch, however, nobody was better than Newton who averages 26 fantasy points per game from Week 12 to Week 16. Once Newton figured out his problems, he was the best fantasy quarterback in the league; a title that he has a distinct chance of earning in 2013.

10 of 16

#7 RB Maurice Jones-Drew - Jacksonville Jaguars

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Maurice Jones-Drew managed to appear in only six games for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012 due to injury. Jones-Drew held out through training camp and the preseason which has shown to be a foreshadow to injury for many running backs over the years. He has been vocal about putting contract issues aside and recommitting himself in 2013. If Jones-Drew comes back stronger, better and more refreshed than ever, he could be one of the highest value picks on draft day next season.

11 of 16

#6 RB Marshawn Lynch - Seattle Seahawks

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Marshawn Lynch showed that 2011 was no fluke posting even better numbers this season. After a relatively slow start, Lynch came on strong to finish as the forth highest scoring running back in fantasy. He is arguably the strongest running back in the league and his style of running is a testament to that. It seems like Lynch has been in the league forever but he will only be 27 when the 2013 season opens up, meaning that he still has a handful of good years ahead of him. Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks should be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of his time with the club.

12 of 16

#5 RB Trent Richardson - Cleveland Browns

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Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Trent Richardson found the end zone 11 times in his rookie season but managed just 3.6 yards per carry. The Cleveland Browns failed to support the power running style that Richardson offers, ranking at the bottom of several run-blocking categories. As many rookies do, Richardson wore down toward the end of the season. With his first full season behind him and plenty of time to get acclimated with his offensive line, Richardson will be on the verge of great things in 2013. As a second year back, expect his rare speed and power to make him one of the top fantasy running backs in the league.

13 of 16

#4 WR Calvin Johnson - Detroit Lions

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Calvin Johnson cemented his place as the best receiver in the NFL as he followed up his 16 touchdown campaign by breaking the single-season record for receiving yards. Despite constant double-teams, Johnson managed to catch 122 passes for 1,964 yards. While his touchdown total faded due to overwhelming attention in the red-zone, he still managed to finish as the top fantasy receiver. His touchdown numbers should climb in 2013 to somewhere between the last two seasons.

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#3 RB C.J. Spiller - Buffalo Bills

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

C.J. Spiller was arguably the second most productive fantasy running back of the 2012 season behind just Adrian Peterson. Forced to split carries for the majority of the season, Spiller had the 29th most carries in the league but finished with the ninth most rushing yards. He averaged an impressive 6.5 yards per carry with seven carries for 30+ yards. Spiller still managed to total eight touchdowns despite his limited opportunities. As the unopposed lead runner in Buffalo next season, Spiller should see his touches increase and his fantasy value skyrocket into the top five.

15 of 16

#2 RB Arian Foster - Houston Texans

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Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Arian Foster did not disappoint as the consensus number-one pick in 2012 fantasy drafts. While his yards per carry saw a slight dip, Foster's volume of work allowed him to total over 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. The hope is that the Foster won't wear down after leading the league in carries. As long as he is healthy, Foster is a threat to lead the league in touchdowns and challenge for rushing titles.

16 of 16

#1 RB Adrian Peterson - Minnesota Vikings

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Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Peterson miraculously returned from a serious injury to deliver one of the great fantasy seasons ever. Peterson's health concerns drove away many fantasy owners on draft day but the star went on to fall just short of breaking the single-season rushing record. With over 2,300 total yards and 13 touchdowns, Peterson set himself up as the consensus number one pick heading into the 2013 fantasy season.

1 of 16

2013 Top Player Countdown; #1-15

alt
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

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

It is reasonable to shy away from players such as Ryan Mathews or Darren McFadden who have a tendency to get injured year after year. Those injury-prone players aside, you cannot let an injury from the previous season cause you to overlook a talented player. Injuries happen to everyone in the NFL, it’s just part of the game. A player that suffered through a season plagued by injuries may fly under the radar in the following season’s draft, providing value to your team.

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.

2 of 16

#15 QB Tom Brady - New England Patriots

alt
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady may not have finished as the top scoring fantasy quarterback, but he was the most consistent. Brady threw a touchdown in every game and passed for three or more in nearly one-third of his games. Brady is as close as they come to a sure thing in fantasy football. Aside from his torn ACL in 2008, Brady has never missed a game since becoming the starter for the New England Patriots in 2001. Brady will be 36 next season but don't be a fool and doubt him for his age.

3 of 16

#14 QB Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints

alt
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees did not suffer a setback in 2012 the way that the New Orleans Saints franchise did. He still managed to accumulate the most fantasy points in the league by throwing for over 5,000 yards and 43 touchdowns. Brees has now finished in the top two in terms of overall fantasy points in the past two seasons. There is no indication that this trend will stop in 2013, as Brees and New Orleans will come back more motivated than ever next season.

4 of 16

#13 RB Jamaal Charles - Kansas City Chiefs

alt
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Jamaal Charles bounced back very well from a lost season in 2011. He showed that he did not loose a step due to his severe knee injury, bursting for a handful of long touchdowns in 2012. If the Kansas City Chiefs play their cards right this off-season, they could potentially become next year's Indianapolis Colts, going from number one pick to the playoffs. That would mean that good things are to come for Charles in 2013.

5 of 16

#12 RB Eddie Lacy - Draftee

alt
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Eddie Lacy put on a show in the National Championship game, using it as a platform to show off his tremendous skill set. Lacy declared for the draft and is currently projected as a second-round pick. His stock will rise as the draft approaches after he shows off his versatility at the combine and separates himself from the rest of the running backs in his draft class. Lacy is the total package and will provide great value to his fantasy owners next season. He is more than capable of producing numbers similar to 2012 rookies like Alfred Morris, Doug Martin and Trent Richardson. It is yet to be seen where Lacy will end up and where his fantasy draft stock will sit but don't miss out on the next big thing.

6 of 16

#11 QB Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers

alt
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers didn't miss a beat while all of the pieces fell around him in 2012. Despite his top two receivers missing the majority of the season and the Green Bay Packers running game stalling due to injuries, Rodgers produced the third most fantasy points. Rodgers continues to build his reputation as the best quarterback in the league and he should rack up even more fantasy points in 2013 with his assets back at full strength.

7 of 16

#10 RB Alfred Morris - Washington Redskins

alt
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Alfred Morris went from unknown, undrafted fantasy player to a first round pick in 2013 drafts. Morris burst onto the scene with nearly 1,700 total yards and 13 touchdowns in his rookie season. He showed that he possesses an excellent combination of speed and power which will sustain him a long, successful NFL career. Hopefully his running-mate, Robert Griffin III will be healthy at the start of the 2013 season and help create the huge running lanes that Morris saw in 2012.

8 of 16

#9 RB LeSean McCoy - Philadelphia Eagles

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

LeSean McCoy was a casualty to the injury bug in 2012, causing him to miss four games and play hurt through several more. McCoy will be back on track in 2013, as shifty and quick as ever. The Philadelphia Eagles offense is likely to undergo many major changes this off-season which will likely further boost McCoy's value. Philadelphia has never been shy about spending money and they will do what is necessary to build a winner. McCoy will go well over 1,500 total yards in 2013.

9 of 16

#8 QB Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers

ALT
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton was all over the place in 2012, suffering what some would call a sophomore slump. Newton's point output deviated significantly throughout his sophomore campaign but his ability to score through the air and on the draft made him the forth highest scoring fantasy quarterback. Newton suffered tremendously with his accuracy over the first half of the season, routinely missing open targets and frustrating his fantasy owners. Down the stretch, however, nobody was better than Newton who averages 26 fantasy points per game from Week 12 to Week 16. Once Newton figured out his problems, he was the best fantasy quarterback in the league; a title that he has a distinct chance of earning in 2013.

10 of 16

#7 RB Maurice Jones-Drew - Jacksonville Jaguars

alt
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Maurice Jones-Drew managed to appear in only six games for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012 due to injury. Jones-Drew held out through training camp and the preseason which has shown to be a foreshadow to injury for many running backs over the years. He has been vocal about putting contract issues aside and recommitting himself in 2013. If Jones-Drew comes back stronger, better and more refreshed than ever, he could be one of the highest value picks on draft day next season.

11 of 16

#6 RB Marshawn Lynch - Seattle Seahawks

alt
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Marshawn Lynch showed that 2011 was no fluke posting even better numbers this season. After a relatively slow start, Lynch came on strong to finish as the forth highest scoring running back in fantasy. He is arguably the strongest running back in the league and his style of running is a testament to that. It seems like Lynch has been in the league forever but he will only be 27 when the 2013 season opens up, meaning that he still has a handful of good years ahead of him. Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks should be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of his time with the club.

12 of 16

#5 RB Trent Richardson - Cleveland Browns

alt
Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Trent Richardson found the end zone 11 times in his rookie season but managed just 3.6 yards per carry. The Cleveland Browns failed to support the power running style that Richardson offers, ranking at the bottom of several run-blocking categories. As many rookies do, Richardson wore down toward the end of the season. With his first full season behind him and plenty of time to get acclimated with his offensive line, Richardson will be on the verge of great things in 2013. As a second year back, expect his rare speed and power to make him one of the top fantasy running backs in the league.

13 of 16

#4 WR Calvin Johnson - Detroit Lions

alt
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Calvin Johnson cemented his place as the best receiver in the NFL as he followed up his 16 touchdown campaign by breaking the single-season record for receiving yards. Despite constant double-teams, Johnson managed to catch 122 passes for 1,964 yards. While his touchdown total faded due to overwhelming attention in the red-zone, he still managed to finish as the top fantasy receiver. His touchdown numbers should climb in 2013 to somewhere between the last two seasons.

14 of 16

#3 RB C.J. Spiller - Buffalo Bills

alt
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

C.J. Spiller was arguably the second most productive fantasy running back of the 2012 season behind just Adrian Peterson. Forced to split carries for the majority of the season, Spiller had the 29th most carries in the league but finished with the ninth most rushing yards. He averaged an impressive 6.5 yards per carry with seven carries for 30+ yards. Spiller still managed to total eight touchdowns despite his limited opportunities. As the unopposed lead runner in Buffalo next season, Spiller should see his touches increase and his fantasy value skyrocket into the top five.

15 of 16

#2 RB Arian Foster - Houston Texans

alt
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Arian Foster did not disappoint as the consensus number-one pick in 2012 fantasy drafts. While his yards per carry saw a slight dip, Foster's volume of work allowed him to total over 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. The hope is that the Foster won't wear down after leading the league in carries. As long as he is healthy, Foster is a threat to lead the league in touchdowns and challenge for rushing titles.

16 of 16

#1 RB Adrian Peterson - Minnesota Vikings

alt
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Peterson miraculously returned from a serious injury to deliver one of the great fantasy seasons ever. Peterson's health concerns drove away many fantasy owners on draft day but the star went on to fall just short of breaking the single-season rushing record. With over 2,300 total yards and 13 touchdowns, Peterson set himself up as the consensus number one pick heading into the 2013 fantasy season.


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