10 Fantasy Football Studs Who Will Explode In 2013

1 of 11

Fantasy Football Studs Who Will Explode In 2013

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Every season fantasy football has its overachieving studs — the people who already have high expectations, and then perform beyond them. These are the players who get you to and through the playoffs.

Some drafters spend a lot of their time hunting for the right late-round sleepers, but picking out the right stud is much more important. Getting a decent starter in the last few rounds is helpful, but it won’t set you all that far apart from the other teams in your league.

The early to mid-round picks who exceed expectations are the big difference makers. A few examples of last season’s players who fall into this class: Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas and Peyton Manning.

All of the aforementioned players had big upside, and an educated guess could have landed them on your team. Peterson and Manning were already extremely talented but being undervalued due to injury scares. Marshall and Thomas had much improved quarterback situations, and Martin was an unproven rookie but getting rave reviews out of camp.

It’s all about taking the right gamble. Not just taking risks and guesses, but calculated risks and educated guesses. There is no such thing as definitely in fantasy football, but there is more likely and less likely. Dumb luck is great when you can get it (Alfred Morris), but with a little thought and research you can land multiple difference makers. Here are 10 studs who will explode beyond expectations in 2013.

Aaron Charles is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on twitter @aaroncharleskc or add him to your network on Google

2 of 11

10. Matthew Stafford

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Andrew Webber-USA TODAY Sports

No other team is more pass-happy than the Detroit Lions who led the NFL in pass attempts in 2011 and 2012. In both seasons, Stafford had pretty similar statistics with the exception of one category — touchdowns. I have looked and can find no reasonable explanation for the drop from 41 passing TDs to 20.

One or both of those seasons were a fluke, but I think it’s safe to project his touchdowns somewhere in the middle. With Reggie Bush in town, Stafford has a much more capable receiving back, as well as the NFL’s best wide receiver in Calvin Johnson. 5,000 yards and 30 plus TDs will be a very real possibility. Projected around 65th-70th overall, Stafford will be a steal.

3 of 11

9. Larry Fitzgerald

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Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Last season the Arizona Cardinals were competing with the Kansas City Chiefs for the NFL’s most pathetic quarterback play — a competition they both lost. The Cardinals made an attempt to remedy this by trading for Carson Palmer. It was a pretty good remedy too when you consider last season’s week free-agent and draft options at quarterback.

Pay no attention to Fitz’s 2012 season as nobody could have put up good numbers with John Skelton or Ryan Lindley under center. Fitzgerald is one of the greatest receivers of all time and with competent quarterback play, I expect him to be back on top.

4 of 11

8. Dwayne Bowe

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Bowe, much like Fitzgerald, was in a situation where no wide receiver could succeed which led to his lackluster season in 2012. With the addition of Alex Smith, Bowe will see a huge improvement from the laughable quarterback play from last season.

Bowe is a notch ahead of Fitz on this list for a couple of reasons. First, Andy Reid loves to throw the ball and knows how to get it to his talent. Second, you can grab Bowe about two rounds later than Fitzgerald. Both are being undervalued, and should be huge in 2013.

5 of 11

7. DeMarco Murray

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Missing nine games in his first two seasons is a definite cause for concern, but I’m not ready to lump Murray in with Darren McFadden just yet. Projected as around the 20th running back, Murray has the potential to be one of the biggest values in the draft.

He is big, quick and a great pass-catching back. If he stays healthy he will be huge. After Murray, there is a major drop off at running back and he could be your last chance to swing for a stud at the position. He is the biggest risk on this list, but his enormous potential makes him worth the gamble.

6 of 11

6. Demaryius Thomas

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost impossible to get steady production out of a wide receiver, but Thomas was as dependable as they came last season. The breakout star had only two games with less than seven fantasy points in 2012, which was best among wide receivers.

With Eric Decker and Wes Welker on the field, it would be very dangerous to double team Thomas. Peyton Manning’s favorite target should get plenty of looks and scoring opportunities in the upcoming season.

7 of 11

5. Jimmy Graham

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re the highest scoring player at your position, and people consider it a down year, then you might be a fantasy stud. It’s no secret Graham is by far the best available tight end this season. If Rob Gronkowski can stay healthy, and that’s a big if, he will be the only tight end anywhere near his value.

Graham had surgery in the offseason to fix his nagging wrist injury that may have led to his problem with drops in 2012. With his health and Sean Payton’s return, Graham has the potential to create a big separation between himself and the others at his position.

8 of 11

4. Vincent Jackson

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson finished sixth among wide receivers in fantasy scoring last season, and for reasons unknown to me, he is projected around ninth at his position this year. Last season’s yards-per-catch leader has a reputation as a boom or bust receiver, but has been breaking that stigma under coach Greg Schiano.

Jackson managed career-highs in both receiving yards and receptions in 2012 and had only three drops. Schiano and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan have been taking full advantage of his versatility using him in slants and intermediate routes as well as the deep plays. Jackson is willing to do anything to help the Bucs move the ball forward, and this season he has real potential to outperform his career year in 2012.

9 of 11

3. Maurice Jones-Drew

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Some consider Jones-Drew a risk, but his possible reward makes him well worth the gamble. Drafters are mainly concerned with the possibility of an injury, but MJD says he feels no pain in his surgically-repaired foot. Don’t be fooled by last season — Jones-Drew is not an injury-prone running back.

Before 2012, he missed a total of three games in six seasons. When healthy, MJD is a stud plain and simple. From 2009-11, he averaged 1,795 total yards and 11 total touchdowns per season. The overreaction to his foot injury has him projected around 25th overall, and he is worth drafting well before that.

10 of 11

2. Andrew Luck

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Of all the first-year starting quarterbacks who broke out last season, Luck is by far my favorite. Unlike Colin Kaepernick, Russel Wilson and Robert Griffin III, Luck doesn’t need the running game to be a top fantasy quarterback. He uses it on occasion, but doesn’t need it.

As soon as one or two dual-threat QBs get injured, coaches around the league will likely take a more conservative approach. With that, a major part of the running quarterbacks’ fantasy production will be gone. The risk of the injury itself is also a good reason to target Luck over these guys. An injury risk for a running back or wide receiver is one thing, but a top quarterback is much harder to replace. You don't want to gamble with fantasy football's highest-scoring position.

In the offseason, the Indianapolis Colts added speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey along with a legitimate pass-catching running back in Ahmad Bradshaw. With a couple of new weapons, and a lot of the learning curve under his belt, I predict Luck will breakout significantly further in 2013.

11 of 11

1. Jamaal Charles

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John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Charles is typically selected between sixth and ninth overall and could very well be the highest scoring running back in fantasy football this season. Ability has never been a question with Charles who has a career average of 5.8 yards per carry. The only thing keeping him from elite fantasy level is scoring opportunities.

As I mentioned, Kansas City has addressed their major issues to improve the lowest scoring offense from last season with the signings of Smith and Reid. The Chiefs' offense looked great in their first preseason game, and Charles got eight touches out of the first-team’s 14 plays including a goal-line carry for a TD.

Reid is not afraid to give his best players the ball and I expect Charles to get double-digit touchdowns for the first time in his career.

Aaron Charles is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on twitter @aaroncharleskc or add him to your network on Google

1 of 11

Fantasy Football Studs Who Will Explode In 2013

rrr
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Every season fantasy football has its overachieving studs — the people who already have high expectations, and then perform beyond them. These are the players who get you to and through the playoffs.

Some drafters spend a lot of their time hunting for the right late-round sleepers, but picking out the right stud is much more important. Getting a decent starter in the last few rounds is helpful, but it won’t set you all that far apart from the other teams in your league.

The early to mid-round picks who exceed expectations are the big difference makers. A few examples of last season’s players who fall into this class: Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas and Peyton Manning.

All of the aforementioned players had big upside, and an educated guess could have landed them on your team. Peterson and Manning were already extremely talented but being undervalued due to injury scares. Marshall and Thomas had much improved quarterback situations, and Martin was an unproven rookie but getting rave reviews out of camp.

It’s all about taking the right gamble. Not just taking risks and guesses, but calculated risks and educated guesses. There is no such thing as definitely in fantasy football, but there is more likely and less likely. Dumb luck is great when you can get it (Alfred Morris), but with a little thought and research you can land multiple difference makers. Here are 10 studs who will explode beyond expectations in 2013.

Aaron Charles is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on twitter @aaroncharleskc or add him to your network on Google

2 of 11

10. Matthew Stafford

fff
Andrew Webber-USA TODAY Sports

No other team is more pass-happy than the Detroit Lions who led the NFL in pass attempts in 2011 and 2012. In both seasons, Stafford had pretty similar statistics with the exception of one category — touchdowns. I have looked and can find no reasonable explanation for the drop from 41 passing TDs to 20.

One or both of those seasons were a fluke, but I think it’s safe to project his touchdowns somewhere in the middle. With Reggie Bush in town, Stafford has a much more capable receiving back, as well as the NFL’s best wide receiver in Calvin Johnson. 5,000 yards and 30 plus TDs will be a very real possibility. Projected around 65th-70th overall, Stafford will be a steal.

3 of 11

9. Larry Fitzgerald

ff
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Last season the Arizona Cardinals were competing with the Kansas City Chiefs for the NFL’s most pathetic quarterback play — a competition they both lost. The Cardinals made an attempt to remedy this by trading for Carson Palmer. It was a pretty good remedy too when you consider last season’s week free-agent and draft options at quarterback.

Pay no attention to Fitz’s 2012 season as nobody could have put up good numbers with John Skelton or Ryan Lindley under center. Fitzgerald is one of the greatest receivers of all time and with competent quarterback play, I expect him to be back on top.

4 of 11

8. Dwayne Bowe

qq
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Bowe, much like Fitzgerald, was in a situation where no wide receiver could succeed which led to his lackluster season in 2012. With the addition of Alex Smith, Bowe will see a huge improvement from the laughable quarterback play from last season.

Bowe is a notch ahead of Fitz on this list for a couple of reasons. First, Andy Reid loves to throw the ball and knows how to get it to his talent. Second, you can grab Bowe about two rounds later than Fitzgerald. Both are being undervalued, and should be huge in 2013.

5 of 11

7. DeMarco Murray

aa
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Missing nine games in his first two seasons is a definite cause for concern, but I’m not ready to lump Murray in with Darren McFadden just yet. Projected as around the 20th running back, Murray has the potential to be one of the biggest values in the draft.

He is big, quick and a great pass-catching back. If he stays healthy he will be huge. After Murray, there is a major drop off at running back and he could be your last chance to swing for a stud at the position. He is the biggest risk on this list, but his enormous potential makes him worth the gamble.

6 of 11

6. Demaryius Thomas

aa
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost impossible to get steady production out of a wide receiver, but Thomas was as dependable as they came last season. The breakout star had only two games with less than seven fantasy points in 2012, which was best among wide receivers.

With Eric Decker and Wes Welker on the field, it would be very dangerous to double team Thomas. Peyton Manning’s favorite target should get plenty of looks and scoring opportunities in the upcoming season.

7 of 11

5. Jimmy Graham

aa
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re the highest scoring player at your position, and people consider it a down year, then you might be a fantasy stud. It’s no secret Graham is by far the best available tight end this season. If Rob Gronkowski can stay healthy, and that’s a big if, he will be the only tight end anywhere near his value.

Graham had surgery in the offseason to fix his nagging wrist injury that may have led to his problem with drops in 2012. With his health and Sean Payton’s return, Graham has the potential to create a big separation between himself and the others at his position.

8 of 11

4. Vincent Jackson

aa
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson finished sixth among wide receivers in fantasy scoring last season, and for reasons unknown to me, he is projected around ninth at his position this year. Last season’s yards-per-catch leader has a reputation as a boom or bust receiver, but has been breaking that stigma under coach Greg Schiano.

Jackson managed career-highs in both receiving yards and receptions in 2012 and had only three drops. Schiano and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan have been taking full advantage of his versatility using him in slants and intermediate routes as well as the deep plays. Jackson is willing to do anything to help the Bucs move the ball forward, and this season he has real potential to outperform his career year in 2012.

9 of 11

3. Maurice Jones-Drew

aa
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Some consider Jones-Drew a risk, but his possible reward makes him well worth the gamble. Drafters are mainly concerned with the possibility of an injury, but MJD says he feels no pain in his surgically-repaired foot. Don’t be fooled by last season — Jones-Drew is not an injury-prone running back.

Before 2012, he missed a total of three games in six seasons. When healthy, MJD is a stud plain and simple. From 2009-11, he averaged 1,795 total yards and 11 total touchdowns per season. The overreaction to his foot injury has him projected around 25th overall, and he is worth drafting well before that.

10 of 11

2. Andrew Luck

aa
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Of all the first-year starting quarterbacks who broke out last season, Luck is by far my favorite. Unlike Colin Kaepernick, Russel Wilson and Robert Griffin III, Luck doesn’t need the running game to be a top fantasy quarterback. He uses it on occasion, but doesn’t need it.

As soon as one or two dual-threat QBs get injured, coaches around the league will likely take a more conservative approach. With that, a major part of the running quarterbacks’ fantasy production will be gone. The risk of the injury itself is also a good reason to target Luck over these guys. An injury risk for a running back or wide receiver is one thing, but a top quarterback is much harder to replace. You don't want to gamble with fantasy football's highest-scoring position.

In the offseason, the Indianapolis Colts added speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey along with a legitimate pass-catching running back in Ahmad Bradshaw. With a couple of new weapons, and a lot of the learning curve under his belt, I predict Luck will breakout significantly further in 2013.

11 of 11

1. Jamaal Charles

aa
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Charles is typically selected between sixth and ninth overall and could very well be the highest scoring running back in fantasy football this season. Ability has never been a question with Charles who has a career average of 5.8 yards per carry. The only thing keeping him from elite fantasy level is scoring opportunities.

As I mentioned, Kansas City has addressed their major issues to improve the lowest scoring offense from last season with the signings of Smith and Reid. The Chiefs' offense looked great in their first preseason game, and Charles got eight touches out of the first-team’s 14 plays including a goal-line carry for a TD.

Reid is not afraid to give his best players the ball and I expect Charles to get double-digit touchdowns for the first time in his career.

Aaron Charles is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on twitter @aaroncharleskc or add him to your network on Google


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