For most of St. Louis, the start of June means Cardinals baseball, swimming, summer vacation, float trips and barbecue, but for all of the St. Louis fantasy football junkies out there, it also means the start of OTA’s, rookie training camps and the opening of mock draft rooms across the web. That’s right, it’s that time of year where every fantasy owner starts downloading every podcast they can find about how the rookies are adapting to life in the NFL, who’s been arrested during the off-season, how many games the arrest will cost them, who is holding out for bigger contracts, and of course…what team Tim Tebow is going to find his way to this year.
Going into 2013, it’s important to remember that this is the year of the running back. I’ve been involved in a couple (100+) mock drafts which, in most cases, confirm it is in face the year of the running back. It’s not that there is a shortage of the actual positional players, but rather you should be concerned with how quickly the known talent will evaporate in any draft. Nearly the entire first round will likely be, and should be, running backs popping off the board. Wide receiver, as a position in the NFL, is rich like Bill Gates in regards to talent so there isn’t really a need to worry about what to do with that position in the later rounds.
Obviously, there are some other super elite talents that people covet that some will draft higher than where my rankings put them, but hear this: RB’s are in high demand and while the supply of teams with a single guy capable of producing 200+ fantasy points is higher than last year, the news is out and people will suck them up early. If you want to take three top tier WR’s – go for it. If cheese courses through your veins and you need one Mr. Rodgers to lead you to fantasy victory – no one should fault you for that. But heed this warning; come rounds 3-4, you will be taking much larger gambles on players at the RB spot by going with the WR’s or QB’s up front, than you would grabbing at least one legit RB talent in a very early round.
I acknowledge the fact that I am a fantasy football-a-holic and I’m willing to admit that I have a problem. Where this benefits those around me, and the 3 people who may actually read this post, is they get the mediocre opinion of a professional amateur blogger, who all but certainly produces fantasy football advice that is worth less than the promise of even the shadiest of politicians. For that you are welcome. The following is a breakdown of my own top 100 players for fantasy football for the 2013 season – as of June 3rd, 2013. This is subject to change obviously as football players frequently seem to find themselves doused in legal hot sauce, injuries and personal problems. One huge disclaimer: of the past 7 years of playing fantasy football, I have had approximately 80-90 teams during that time table, yet have only 5 championships. None of which were for money, and all of which I have no physical proof of. Let’s get to it.
1.) Adrian Peterson RB1 MIN: Let’s be serious folks (insert serious face here), whether you call him by his full name, AP or All Day – it-does-not-matter. He is the clear cut, obvious, consensus, definitive, number one RB across the board. Anyone who has an argument otherwise is worse at fantasy football than I am, which is difficult to do. He fell 8 yards short of the Eric Dickerson mark last year, and he did that following coming back in record time from having his knee surgically reconstructed. AP is super-human; in fact he may not even be human. If the Vikings could collect other worth-while pieces of offense nature, it would be like they had 12 or 13 players on offense when AP was on the field. The football love for AP cannot be too high this season – real or fantasy. You should be making deals with whoever possible to get him on your team.
2.) Arian Foster RB2 HOU: Speaking as an owner of this fantasy giant in a 12 team, auction style, keeper league, I strongly recommend owning him if you have the means. 1,424 yards rushing yards, 15 rushing TD’s, and the added bonus of 217 receiving yards and 2 receiving TD’s are not statistical anomalies…he is a constant. Let the doubters poo-poo him all they want citing declining numbers, increasing age, injury risk and an up and coming division. They’ll be doing all that from your rear view as you’re driving away with your league trophy this year. Foster is worth just about any trade for the higher draft spot. Amen.
3.) Marshawn Lynch RB3 SEA: The results are in and it’s official: beast mode is for real – as is DWI enforcement. Lynch popped off 1,590 rushing yards and 12 TD’s last year. Factor in that this bulldozer is surrounded by receivers that have to be considered serious threats and a QB that can bolt when the time calls for it, and you’ve got easily a number 3 RB that everyone should strive to have. The fact is that outside of AP…the top 2-4 are all amazingly impressive and assigning a numerical value to them is done only to facilitate a list like this instead of actually ranking them. The only issue with Lynch is what happens with his off the field issues because he appears to have fixed his injury issues.
4.) Ray Rice RB4 BAL: Consistency in fantasy football is in high demand and Ray Rice is one of the leading manufacturers of that commodity. I truly enjoy hearing opponents complain about how he wasn’t worth the draft spot because of (insert line of trash here), because he is absolutely worth all of it. During the last 4 seasons, he’s played in every game, racked up 5,066 yards on the ground, 2,440 in the air, scored 39 touch downs, and it’s rumored that he’s up for the Nobel Peace Prize as well. He put up 1,143 yards and 9 TD’s last year, worth 207 fantasy points. You need him on your roster.
5.) Doug Martin RB5 TB: Ask any Oakland fan what it feels like watching your defense letting up 251 yards and 4 rushing touch downs in one game, from one guy, and they’ll say “see the muscle hamster.” If Ray Rice were cloned, Doug Martin and Alfred Morris would have been twins separated at birth. Martin put up 15.5 PPG last year, but remove the 51 point explosion against Oakland, and you’re down to only 13.1. His QB is not exactly elite like an RGIII, but has enough threats at the WR spots to give Martin lots of space to make defenses look inadequate. 1,454 yards with 11 TD’s means Martin has a high ceiling. Look for Martin as soon as your RB spot opens up in your draft and then enjoy the benefits of your outstanding choice.
6.) Alfred Morris RB6 WAS: What business does a 6th round draft pick have totally reshaping the running back by committee mindset of one of the most experienced coaches in the NFL? I’m not sure either but he did it by logging the 2nd most yards (1,613) and TD’s (13) last season side by side with Mr. America; RGIII. Morris slides to 6 over Charles and Spiller because I believe the Skins are going to be an offense with so many speedy threats, defenses are going to have to respect them and not load up one certain area. Morris also does not have a history of major knee surgery like Charles does. RGIII, Garcon and Morris are a genuine triple threat and because of that, Morris should be drafted high without any doubt.
7.) Jamaal Charles RB7 KC: Speed kills – defenses, and racks up monster yardage. Doubt Charles and he’ll make you pay. With 1,509 yards and 11 TD’s on the season, Charles showed everyone last season that even on a disorganized, struggling offense, he is such a huge threat because he can toast every defensive position. KC made big strides in the draft to bolster their roster at some much needed spots. They’re also returning Dwayne Bowe, bringing in a QB who is moderately relevant and add in that their O-line picked up one of the best prospects available in the draft and you’ve got a recipe for fantasy excellence.
8.) C.J. Spiller RB8 BUF: Combine the make-you-miss of Percy Harvin with a 4.27 40 yard dash and a bigger body, and you’ve built a C.J. Spiller. The knock on him is he’s likely to have goal line carries vultured by the 215lb. Fred Jackson, who’s built for smashing all things defensive. Spiller is as advertised though…fast, elusive and thrilling. Spiller is the home run, Jamal Charles, kind of threat and he definitely belongs at the top of anyone’s RB list after posting 1,244 yards and finding pay dirt 6 times. A rookie QB makes me question the legitimacy of their passing game so a running game lead by Spiller might be leaned on this year.
9.) Trent Richardson RB9 CLE: A perfect illustration of just how well Alabama grows them, Richardson put on a clinic in Cleveland last season. Without much of a QB, and virtually no impressive receiver on the roster (give Josh Gordon some credit), Richardson is very much so all they’ve got. The O-line in Brown Town is actually very good and Richardson is going to continue to reap those benefits. Given the amount of work he was asked to handle in 2012, injuries were nearly a certainty. This season will be a demonstration of how human Richardson is based on how fast and how well he heals. Not practicing already speaks to the negative side of the argument, but either way, Richardson should go top 10 in every draft after producing 950 yards and 11 TD’s on only 267 attempts with a loaded defensive front.
10.) Calvin Johnson Jr. WR1 DET: In a year where the RB should dominate nearly every single spot in the first round, we’re talking about Megatron; a 6’5″, 235lb. monster of a man…oh, and did I mention he has 4.32 speed and a 43” vertical leap? Yep, that means just like Superman, he can leap tall buildings in a single bound. This guy needs a theme song. Among the many things to consider besides his 1,964 yards he stole last year include him being the featured player on an offense that throws more than any other offense in the league. Did I mention 4.32 speed? He is the only receiver that could be worth taking in the first round in any league and it is not close.
11.) LeSean McCoy RB10 PHI: Shady was apparently beaten badly in a sprint against his own QB Michael Vick this off-season. Embarrassing? Sure. Scary for teams in that division? Definitely. That means they have three guys on their roster at the “skill” positions that can toast nearly every D-back in the game. McCoy lacked real luster last season and hurt a lot of fantasy teams all year because of the early draft spot he held. Under Chip Kelly’s new rocket ship speed offense, look for McCoy to return to his days of glory (he’s only 24 years old by the way). Defenses be warned: the Eagles are very fast and McCoy had a chip installed on his shoulder after losing that race to Vick. He will have something to prove and owners should take advantage of that.
12.) Steven Jackson RB11 ATL: As those of us in STL bid SJ39 a farewell, the fantasy world says thank you for the move as the braided monster will, for the first time in his impressive (but unfortunate) career, not have to face 8 men in the box when he touches the ball. Jackson moves to a tremendously lesser division, specifically on the defensive side of the ball. He gained monstrous upgrades at the receiver positions, so the safeties won’t be able to cheat for fear of a Julio Jones shaped missile scorching the sidelines for 6 points while Roddy White simply couldn’t drop a pass if he tried – and don’t forget that possibly the greatest tight end in the history of the game is also on that offense. While Atlanta does not have an O-line that historically can part the defensive seas for their back, the good news is Jackson, at the horrible age of 30, still requires at least 2-3 defenders to bring him to the turf and looks impressive doing it. Admittedly, the Rams were a restraint for Jackson early in his career. For now though, forget what you’ve heard about him. Jackson is going to possibly have a career year with a team that’s poised to make another deep playoff run.
13.) Aaron Rodgers QB1 GB: What’s that you say about a down year? Let’s review: 4,295 yards in the air with 39 TD’s, and 259 on the ground with 2 TD’s with his “superstar” receivers sidelined with injuries for a healthy chunk of the season and no running game at all. Yep…that’s just horrible. Oh, and did we go over the fact that he tied for second overall in fantasy with 329 total points, and threw 5 more touchdowns than the guy he tied with that you may have heard of…Tom Brady. The top 10 spots this year should be owned by the running back position because of the shallow pool, but no one can be faulted for picking up arguably the best QB in the game, who is outlined by Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones. Factor in the tandem of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller reincarnated in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, and you’re speaking full, complete offensive sentences. Oh Rodgers, let me count the ways…
14.) Stevan Ridley RB12 NE: This 5’11″, 220lb. beast was given the green light to crush people last year 290 times. The term “bell cow” comes to mind when I think of Ridley. The arguments against him is what about LeGarrette Blount robbing Ridley’s TD’s or Vereen taking touches from him? The answer to that: 1.) See LeGarrette Blount’s 2012 season in Tampa Bay against Doug Martin. 2.) Vereen saw 62 attempts to Ridley’s 290 in 2012. And 3.) Even though Bill Belichick is a football enigma, one thing he is not is stupid. Blount feels more like a “just in-case” kind of pick up than anything because Vereen might night be able to replicate Ridley’s play at the goal line in the event of an injury. Every defense that finds them self opposite Tom Brady has to take that threat serious. Even with a weak pool of receivers in Amendola (at least for the first few games), Gronk (possibly), and Hernandez, who will be back in action from injuries too, Brady is one of those guys who can make things happen like none other. Having Brady means the box will rarely be loaded up leaving a lot of room for the young stud to power his way over 1,200 yards and 12 TD’s again. You want this guy.
15.) Maurice Jones-Drew RB13 JAC: I’m throwing out all the advice I’ve heard and going completely with my gut here. MJD falls into the same category as Rice, Morris and Martin, except he’s pissed he didn’t get the contract he wanted last year, then had his year cut short by injury, and now needs to perform to earn that payday. The foot, according to every source I can read, is healing nicely and the 210lb. wrecking ball should be back to his D-back pounding ways come September. If you’re worried about the addition of Justin Forsett, worry not my friends because MJD’s upside will shine through while he’s trying to earn that pay off, and MJD is an elite talent when he’s healthy – see 2009 – 2011. Additionally, first round stud OT Luke Joeckel has arrived to give MJD a bit more room to roll. Durability shoulnd’t be a concern either because since 2006, and before last season’s broken foot, he missed a combined 3 games over 6 years. The only concern for MJD now is the legal issues after punching a night club security guard out. You heard it here first – best value in the draft this year as low as he’s going.
16.) Brandon Marshall WR2 CHI: Numbers: 6’4″, 230lbs., 1,508 yards, 11 TD’s. I researched reasons to not draft Brandon Marshall and found that all the negative information I found was from immediately following his hip surgery in 2009, and none of it seems relevant to 2013. So, what I’m saying is that there aren’t any reasons not to draft Marshall other than you’re trying to purposely lose. He’s catching receiver seeking missiles launched by Jay Cutler and he’s doing it well. Entering his 7th year in the league, he’s missed 5 games throughout his entire career and has only had less than 1,000 yards his rookie year. Oh, did I mention he was only 4 points behind Megatron last season (210)? Like I said earlier, it’s not that he’s not first round talent, but rather that there are a lack of known stud running backs available where the receiver pool is deep like Socrates.
17.) A.J. Green WR3 CIN: The Bengals are desperately trying to get over that fence keeping them from the big show. A.J. Green is the jet engine propelling them over right now. 1,350 yards and 11 TD’s in 2012 illustrate just how real his talent is – he’s basically a young Brandon Marshall. If there is a knock on him, it’s the average QB throwing him the ball. Green is a big, physical receiver who will go anywhere to make that grab. He’s got 4.5 speed too and isn’t afraid to show it. Need more convincing? How about his 194 fantasy points from 2012? D R A F T H I M.
18.) Drew Brees QB2 NO: *cough*5,177 yards passing and 43 touchdowns*cough* Excuse me. It’s ironic to me that the number fantasy scoring player last year was complimented with one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Brees is a must add as one of the few elite quarterbacks playing today. He has spent 7 seasons now in New Orleans, and not one of the seasons has he thrown for under 4,300 yards, and only once has he missed a game. With Sean Payton back at the helm of that monster offense, the number one tight end in football is back in Jimmy Graham, the TD/yardage machine of Marques Colston and Lance Moore back again, and the triple threat of Sproles, Ingram and Thomas in the backfield again, Brees is primed to have yet another monster year.
19.) Frank Gore RB14 SF: Frank Gore is simply a beast. 5’9″, 217lbs. of burst, smash, and any other cool sounding adjective you can think of for this TD’s scoring machine. “He’s going to be injured.” “He’s got too much competition.” Keep them coming folks and I’ll continue to laugh at you about how awesome he is while you’re complaining about the guy you took a flier on because he was supposed to be amazing and be the “number one guy.” 1,214 yards 8 TD’s make Frankie a bad man. For a guy on the wrong end of the age spectrum, he seems to have polished his game, and it doesn’t hurt that he has 5 men in front of him who seem to specialize in demolishing defenses so he can get to space. He finished top ten last year with 190 fantasy points and there isn’t any reason to think that Marcus Lattimore is going to be stealing any time from him soon.
20.) Matt Forte RB15 CHI: Pop Quiz: what is 218lbs., 6’2″, has cheetah like speed and can snap you off at the ankles making you miss while you’re trying to tackle it? The answer is Matt Forte. With 1,094 yards and 5 TD’s rushing, and 340 yards and an additional TD receiving, Forte is a major problem for defenses around the league. So with such a seemingly strong man-crush happening, some will ask why is he so far down the list with such an amazing upside? Let me tell you that first of all, this is a list based on safe fantasy performance. To follow that up, Forte’s injury concerns have been elevated after last season to a pattern. Couple all of that to Michael Bush, and that should about answer why Forte fell so far down so far in the rankings. He’s definitely worth the roll of the dice with so few, quality RB’s this season, and if that gamble pays off, you will be happy with the product. My argument is simply there are more consistent guys above him.
21.) Dez Bryant WR4 DAL: The saga of Dez Bryant has allegedly been concluded. The second act of 2012′s NFL season was the Dez Bryant Show. In weeks 10-17, Bryant had only one game in the single digits for fantasy points, 3 games for over 100 yards receiving (one of them against NO where he went off for 224 yards), and scored 10 TD’s compared to only two before week 10. He’s listed at 6’2″, 220lbs., and he can torch D-backs with his 4.5 speed. Putting up 201 fantasy points last season, Bryant should not be on the board any later than where I have him listed. In fact, the only reason he’s sitting at 21 is the concern about his off the field issues and whether or not they are actually gone – and this is also the year of the RB. If those issues are gone, 2013 could see Bryant take the number one spot away from Megatron. I’m just sayin…
22.) Julio Jones WR5 ATL: Speed, speed and more speed. For my money, Jones and White are the most exciting WR duo in the NFL because of White’s glue hands and Jones’ blazing speed. The only pairing that even comes close is Thomas and Decker – and their a trio now. Jones only needed 79 receptions last season to pocket 10 TD’s via 1,198 yards, and he had to work very hard to be the best option for Matt Ryan to throw to competing with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Jones, who is only entering his 3rd season, will at some point, likely overtake White for the number one spot on that team – it’s only a matter of time. As it stands now, White is listed as their number one and last year he earned the most catches and yards, but it was Jones who ended up behind the defense the most which is where his edge comes from over White. Jones should be drafted in the top 10 receivers without question.
23.) Demaryius Thomas WR6 DEN: Interested in a physical freak of a wide receiver? It shouldn’t require too much effort to sell anyone on DT – 6’3″, 230lbs. and 4.38 speed. He racked up 1,434 yards and caught 10 TD’s last year finishing at number 5 of all receivers in fantasy. There isn’t much that’s threatening him as the clear number one on the Broncos, and with Welker present now, Decker stands to see less action than Thomas. If anything, throws underneath to Welker or Decker are going to open up the outside for Thomas to grab the patented Manning long ball. Even if those throws don’t quite have the stank on them they used to, Thomas will likely produce monster numbers again.
24.) Vincent Jackson WR7 TB: How upset would you be if you were the GM of the Chargers in the wake of last season? Jackson spent 6 seasons in San Diego and after they wouldn’t give the 6’5″, 230lb. TD monster his money, the folks down there in Tampa asked “hey, you like warm places…you like playing in the NFL…well we happen to have $25 million in guaranteed money down here so why don’t you stay a while?” 1,384 yards and 8 TD’s later, Vincent Jackson finished 6th of all WR’s in fantasy and is laughing his way to the warm, beautiful beaches. You too can enjoy Jackson’s success if you draft him to your roster. You should be aware though…he only runs a 4.46 40 yard dash, so he’ll only burn most of the D-backs in the league, not all of them.
25.) Andre Johnson WR8 HOU: Andre Johnson is a fast, big, angry receiver who wants nothing more than to be thrown the ball so he can get through defenders like a wrecking ball. At 6’3″, 230lbs., and 4.41 speed, the veteran receiver punished D-backs last season for 1,598 yards, but courtesy of Arian Foster, he only nabbed 4 TD’s. It is likely though that his TD problem may have been solved via the draft this year with the acquisition of Clemson bred WR DeAndre Hopkins – who by the way has 10″ hands which is crazy. Andre and DeAndre may be able to balance out the passing game in Houston this season so Mr. Foster doesn’t have to put up inconceivable numbers – though he probably will anyway. Johnson is a staple in the fantasy community and if you like winning, you’ll enjoy having him on your roster.
26.) Roddy White: WR9 ATL: Tremendous hands, good speed, and great route running sum up Roddy White. He’s as steady a player as one will find playing wide receiver in the NFL. With the speedy threat of Jones opposite him, and Gonzalez always available underneath, White seems to have all the space in the world as he racked up 1,357 yards and caught 7 TD’s during the 2012 campaign. He hasn’t been held under 1,100 yards since 2009, and except his first two seasons, has not been under that mark at all. Steven Jackson presents a very real concern for defenses so this could really open up the passing game for White as their mid range guy. If safe if what you’re looking for, Roddy White is your guy.
27.) Peyton Manning QB3 DEN: The love for Peyton Manning can rarely go too far in terms of fantasy ownership. Manning has played 16 years in the NFL, has been held to under 4,000 yards (as a rookie), has never thrown less than 26 TD’s, chalked up a 105.8 passer rating last year with 4,659 yards and 37 TD’s, and by the way, he just inherited Wes Welker as his third receiver! PS: he had 4 neck surgeries before being awesome last year and silenced his critics, who were only able to muster up that he’d lost some of his rocket arm heat. I repeat – he’s 37 and had 4 neck surgeries!! Manning is throwing to the numbers 5, 8 and 12 receivers from 2012 this year. Every aspect of what Denver is bringing to the game this year is polished and then they went and added Monte Ball, who is slated to become a 3 down RB and replace the seasoned Willis McGahee. He wants another ring so if you have any sense about you; own this guy.
28.) Jimmy Graham TE1 NO: Why is the obvious number TE in the game in the third round? Easy – it’s because he’s a tight end – who has an injury prone track record. I think the question should be, why is anyone drafting a TE when there are better fantasy producers available? Fault me, but I’m simply against going TE this year before gathering 2 RB’s, or 1 RB and a top grade, sure fire WR, or 1 RB and one of the elite QB’s. Graham is a mountain of a man at 6’7″, 265 lbs., 4.5 speed, a 38.5″ vertical and 10 5/8″ hands!! A former basketball player, he’s got some of the greatest hands in football and at that height coupled with that vertical leap – “wow” is all that should be said. Injuries remain a question for him though – same as Gronk – which is a large part of why they are so low. Make no mistake about it…Jimmy Graham is the best fantasy option at TE and all but certainly scores more than any other TE.
29.) Percy Harvin WR10 SEA: Last season was admittedly my first ride on the P-Town train and right through week 9, I was loving life. Harvin is easily the most difficult open field tackle in the game today. He’s quick in all directions and still possesses the kind of straight line speed needed to make D-backs look stupid. His injury last year set several of my teams back big time, however we, as fantasy owners, should consider ourselves lucky that the talent at WR is so amazingly deep. Harvin upgraded big time at the QB position going to Seattle, and didn’t regress much at all at the RB position so look for him to put up big numbers. The only concern his health. He’s got a history of migraines, and now ankle issues. The migraines didn’t keep him from playing but the ankle did. I have to mention too that he’s moved into what is the SEC of the NFL with powerful, punishing defenses that love to hit. Durability and his, at times, poor attitude, are the only thing keeping Harvin from having an offensive explosion in 2013.
30.) Randall Cobb WR11 GB: Cobb, or Harvin light, was a refreshing, surprising, stud of a backup’s backup. There was simply nothing that he could not do in 2012 and he more than validated himself all year. Once he entered open space, he flashed the likeness of Percy Harvin with his elusiveness, and then could leave defenders standing still with his 4.4 speed. Cobb actually reminded me quite a bit of a sturdier, more athletic Danny Amendola with his skill set. Targeted 104 times, he was only able to put up 954 yards receiving, but he made up for it with the 8 TD’s he landed. With the exit of Greg Jennings, Cobb will be battling with James Jones for the second spot on the depth chart under Jordy Nelson, but it’s likely that he already has that spot given the amount of favor the coaches game him. Look for him to possible assume the role of Rodgers’ favorite receiver in 2013, but also watch the battle between him and Jones to heat up.
31.) Tom Brady WR4 NE: Okay, so before the angry Pats fans go off about how Tom Brady is Tom Brady – I’m well aware. As an owner of Brady in the bulk of my leagues, I’m thankful for all his hard work that’s helped this fantasy owner win the limited championships I have. Now for the reason he’s so low: 1.) The talent at WR in New England is the most shallow it’s been since Brady has been there. 2.) Gronk can’t seem to stay out of an operating room. 3.) Danny Amendola is Wes Welker light at his best and for a guy who earns his paycheck traveling through the danger zone (middle of the field), his health is a HUGE question. Brady is one of the few elite guys in the NFL and that is indisputable, which is the sole reason he is even as high as he is. He threw for 4,827 yards and 34 TD’s last year with a limited talent pool then too. The problem is, it’s even worse this year. Still, it’s Tom Brady so doubters be put on notice that there are limited reasons to think that he won’t do this again.
32.) Chris Johnson RB16 TEN: CJ2K, oh how we miss you and your golden grill terrorizing D-backs that can’t keep pace with your blistering speed. You earned your payday and yet fantasy owners still deem you a crap shoot. Johnson needs to shut his mouth and run the football. Don’t complain about how it’s someone else’s fault you’re not running the ball…show the doubters that you’re the real deal and break off those monster runs we’re used to seeing. He’s not that bruising back, he’s not a guy for inside the tackles, but let him outside and you’ll regret it. He finished up the year with 162 fantasy points but if it’s consistency you’re searching for, pass him up. He has never been under 1,000 yards rushing and last year he racked up 1,243 more with 6 TD’s, so overall, he’s not disappointing, it’s just a shame fantasy isn’t based on total points over all throughout the season. The horrible Shonn Greene has also found his way to the Titan’s roster so goal line carries will likely evaporate as well. Grab him if you have to, but try to aim higher.
33.) Reggie Bush RB17 DET: Known more recently for having dated the smoking hotness that is Kim Kardashian, Bush also plays football and is rather good at it when he’s healthy. He’s a solid number 2RB but is likely better suited at the flex position because his history is not one of overwhelming success. He’s cracked 1,000 yards one season with Miami, and has put 6 TD’s in the books just 3 of his 7 years. As a receiving back, he’s and extremely elusive talent that defenses must consider because of his wiggle and speed (4.33 seconds). He’s not a bruising back and the fear of owning him during his stay in D-town will be that Mikel Leshoure will snatch up his goal line carries – very likely. Given the drought of known RB’s this year, Bush might end up being a head turner.
34.) Cam Newton QB5 CAR: He started 2012 as though it was going to be a rough one, but 3,869 yards and 19 TD’s later, the 6’5″, 245lb. QB found his game. The thought process is anyone who is scoring 300+ fantasy points belongs in the upper echelon of players drafted because they score a ton of points. Newton was the 4th best fantasy QB last year in standard leagues – yes even above the legendary Peyton Manning listed several spots higher. The thing with drafting a QB like Newton, RGIII, Kaepernick, Wilson etc etc…you’re filling your basket with rushing and passing eggs equally. I still believe that Newton is the safest read option guy because he’s a quarterback trapped in a tight end’s body…with receiver speed. Newton is such a great option at QB that he speaks for himself and there shouldn’t be any question of why you should want him on your team.
35.) Larry Fitzgerald WR12 ARI: Once at the top of the list of fantasy owners across the league, Fitz fell flat last year as a result of the biggest QB disaster the league had to offer. It’s sad really. Carson Palmer has stepped in now and given Fitz’s God given talent, there is no way that you simply can’t take him. He was held to 798 yards and 4 TD’s in 2012, but he only got the ball 71 times so I’m not convinced that he’s the reason for the drop off. Bruce Arians has already told us that the O-line is not the issue – he also said he had some ocean front property there in Arizona so buyers beware. However, if Palmer is the answer, Fitz will become the guy we all loved to own (2011 CBS 12 team league champion – thanks Fitz!!), and you should definitely draft him if you are a believer in Palmer.
36.) Aaron Hernandez TE2 NE: What’s better than a tight end who is fast, can catch, can block and run over people? Two of those tight ends. See Aaron Hernandez. He’s Robin if Gronk is Batman. He’s 6’3″, 245lbs., runs a 4.65 40 yard dash, and is a surprisingly good blocker. He’s going to be heavily favored this year since the Gronk’s arm health was in question and now his back has flared up. I believe that given the lack of WR depth/talent in New England, Hernandez could be a man on fire – particularly when Danny Amendola goes down with an injury. Go easy on the excitement though, he’s an injury risk himself. Draft at your own risk.
37.) Victor Cruz WR13 NYG: Cruz has shown that he’s very, very legit. He’s fast, he’s mildly undersized but he’s got the kind of vertical leap that most receivers dream of at 41.5″. Cruz has also been the favored target for Eli the past two seasons, so that must be considered. Hakeem Nicks may never return to 100% for a full season again and I believe we’ve seen the changing of the guard in the depth chart. Cruz will be the NYG receiver you want for your roster. Eli is a great QB, but he’s not elite so Cruz will have to be the one making the receiving game in New York awesome. With the addition of Brandon Myers at TE, the Giants could surprise this year, but the running game is the biggest question mark. Cruz is a good fit for WR1.
38.) Marques Colston WR14 NO: The cell phone never stopped ringing for Colston in New Orleans (see Joe Horn’s cell phone hidden in the pad of the uprights video). For me, he’s a more effective, taller Dwayne Bowe with an elite quarterback throwing darts at him. He’s never going to be that yardage guy, but he showed last year that he’s legit in the end zone by pulling down 10 TD’s. He’s been held uner 1,000 yards only 1 of his 7 seasons in the NFL and with Brees driving that bus, Colston will continue to see huge amounts of targets (132 during 2012). Colston is a great option for WR2 or your flex spot. You should be trying hard to go after one of the elites for the WR1 spot though.
39.) DeMarco Murray RB18 DAL: What’s the saying; running backs who have glass bodies shouldn’t throw rocks or something like that. If Murray can find some glue to bind himself together for good, he’ll be worth his weight in fantasy points. He’s very fast, he’s big, and he’s elusive – essentially similar to a Willis McGahee in size and nearly speed. 6’00″, 215lbs. with a 4.41 40 time are outstanding stats to boast, but being brittle… maybe not so much if you’re going to be a large, bruising style back. I’m not convinced he’s the savior in Big D, but my wife seems to prove me wrong on various other topics on a regular basis so we’ll see. Year three could prove to be a breakout year for the horse of a back and that is something that they have consistently been missing to have the complete game. All the Cowboys players stand to gain big time if Murray can get it together.
40.) Reggie Wayne WR15 IND: What’s not to love about a seasoned veteran helping a young, awesome QB come into his own in the NFL when it involves that WR producing huge numbers? When the receiver is Reggie Wayne and the QB is Andrew Luck, there is nothing not to love because Luck is a seriously talented QB and Wayne finished 15th in fantasy points last year. I know because I had him on my team. He’s Luck’s clear cut favorite option, but Indy added the 6’3″ rocket Darrius Heyward-Bey to the combo of Hilton and Fleener so it’s possible that Wayne’s stock drops – not by much though. Easily a top pick for a WR2 spot.
41.) Jordy Nelson WR16 GB: Nelson falls into the “can he stay healthy” category as well. If he’s healthy, he’s the clear cut number one guy on the roster. He’s the biggest, he’s got good, but not great speed, and he’s proven. Both the Pack and fantasy owners need Nelson to return to his TD monster days of 2011, and if he does, he’ll be the best buy-low guy of the year. He ended up only playing 12 games last year during which he picked up 745 yards and 7 TD’s, which was the only reason he had any fantasy relevance last year. It also doesn’t negatively impact him that he’s catching balls thrown by Aaron Rodgers, and the fact that the Packers now have (in theory) a very real running game only benefits Nelson’s potential. He’s ranked correctly given the variables, but his upside is sky high.
42.) Dwayne Bowe WR17 KC: The only thing I heard during the days leading up to the 2012 fantasy draft is how awesome Dwayne Bowe was. Now here is it, May of 2013 and the “huge” year Bowe was going to have, finished with 801 yard, 3 TD’s and 91 fantasy points. WOW! I’ve never been so happy that I didn’t draft someone. I felt that way about Bowe before his year sucked anyway. I know he went off in 2010 with 15 TD’s, but he maxed himself out that year and only had 1,162 yards. His speed is fast at4.51, but he can’t burn you, and he’s got good hands, but overall he has just been simply average receiver. He had one phenomenal year and it was because of the TD’s. Bowe’s upside is his 2010 season and KC is looking to Alex Smith to be the guy to get him precise end zone throws so I don’t like his chances to have another year like that. I just don’t think that Bowe is anything higher than a WR2 on any fantasy team.
43.) Wes Welker WR18 DEN: I don’t know why, but I always hear the Mortal Combat theme song when I think of Wes Welker playing football. The guy is fearless and gets blown up. He’s a shrimp swimming with sharks that want to smash him with all their might- though league rules strictly prohibit that type of behavior. Going from Brady to Manning is hardly a step down at the QB, but given the competition in Denver, he’s likely going to see less looks. He is, however, going to be busy complimenting Thomas, Decker, Tamme and Dreessen, so Manning will be in QB heaven. The only issue here is that there is one football, and now 3 uber-talented receivers, paired with two solid pass catching tight ends, paired with a group of talented receiving backs. I see Thomas staying steady, Decker’s production staying steady to dropping a bit and then Welker will absorb the stuff the TE’s would normally get. Whatever – he’s Wes freakin’ Welker – draft him…just not early.
44.) Montee Ball RB19 DEN: The 5’11″, 215lb. mack truck of a running back touched the ball over 1,000 times during his time as a Badger. He’s got tremendous speed for his size at 4.46 second in the 40 yard dash, and it’s widely believed that he’s going to be the guy for Denver, given McGahee is well over the 30 year old barrier and having more leg issues. Knowshon Moreno wasn’t much of a factor last year but it is possible that Ronnie Hillman takes some carries away from Ball. Ball was sought after by several people given his fantastic production in college. Look for him to be the main guy in Denver this year. He has the potential to become both a 3 down back as well as a fantasy superstar.
45.) Hakeem Nicks WR19 NYG: He’s 6’1″, 215lbs., runs a 4.5 40, and he’s got outfielder’s mits for hands. The Giants have a sweet pair of young receivers, and the only reason that Nicks goes so much lower is the injury risk. He’s got great upside but he’s yet to play more than 15 games in one season with only 4 years in the NFL. It’s difficult to lean on a receiver when they aren’t there for you with regularity. If the gamble pays off, you’ll reap excellent rewards. WR2 and make sure you have backups.
46.) Eric Decker WR20 DEN: Putting Decker so low in the rankings actually hurts given how many points he scored for me last year, but what am I to do…rank him over Wes Welker or the 5th best receiver in fantasy last year?! Nope. I also want to preface this ranking by saying that Bowe is only over Decker because he is the very clear number one there and in the event Alex Smith goes off, I want to be able to say to some degree that I called that. It would be hard to rank all three Denver guys over the clear number one in another city with a moderately good QB. Decker is a 6’3″, 218lb. versatile receiver who is coming off of a stellar fantasy season (1,064 yard, 13 TD’s, and 176 fantasy points). I just have a hard time ranking him over Welker because of the stud that Welker is and because of Peyton’s love for throwing to the slot areas. Peyton’s arm is definitely weaker since the surgeries, so this might benefit Decker, Welker and the TE’s on the team, and end up hurting Thomas. I still see Decker and Thomas fighting for the TD receptions though because of their size, but Decker struggles because of the physical freak that Thomas is.
47.) David Wilson RB20 NYG: Ahmad Bradshaw was sent packing; enter David Wilson – also Brown and Scott. Wilson, so long as he’s able to not fumble, should be Coughlin’s number one back. He’s a Doug Martin style runner with a crazy burst of speed mixed in with ridiculous athleticism which he had on display by doing back flips in the end zone after scores last year. He’s not had a full season of work and this will be his chance, but the Giants are excited about his production which means, all of fantasy football land should be as well. He’s an unknown, much like Ball from Denver, which is why they fall so far down the list, but if his flashes of greatness are any kind of demonstration of what we’re in store for, Wilson will be a deal that everyone will wish they’d have taken.
48.) Tony Gonzalez TE3 ATL: The only thing I can picture when I hear his name is him crying following the loss to the 49er’s last year saying he was definitely retiring and he’d played his last football game. *cough*liar/publicity stunt*cough* No matter if he’s got one or ten more years in him, the fact is that he’s very, very good at what he does. He’s essentially made the position into what it is and still remains an elite TE in this league filled with talented TE’s. You want Gonzalez, but if you’re drafting in a leauge with people who know what they’re doing – he’ll likely be there later than this. Just so you know, he’s 6’5″, 247lbs., and put up 930 yards with 8 TD’s. S T U D
49.) Steve Smith WR21 CAR: I feel like I’m disrespecting Smith somehow for the amazing durable athlete that he is and having played so long in the NFL at his size. This guy is undoubtedly the template for what Jeff Fisher and the Rams hope Tavon Austin will be molded into. He’s very small, he’s crazy fast, and he’s possibly the most pissed off receiver in the league playing with an elite talent at the QB position. 1,174 yards and 4 TD’s, while not freakish production, we must remember that Smith is 34 years old and has a lot of miles on those tires. He’s spent all 11 years in Carolina, but has not had an explosive year like he did in 2005 where he caught 12 TD’s. He’s still the most dangerous receiver in Carolina and there isn’t a close second. He belongs on your rosters at the WR2 spot for sure.
50.) Matt Ryan QB6 ATL: Let’s recap: Two of the leagues best WR’s and an elite TE framing a guy who can hit a bread basket at 60 yards, who’s protected by a RB that’s the size of a house and in better shape at 30 then the bulk of the other RB’s in the league. What’s that spell?! Victory! Matt Ryan threw for 4,719 yards and 32 TD’s last season and came oh so close to driving that team to a Superbowl. He’s not happy about that and now he’s got a guaranteed 1,000+ yard back, who by the way can block, catch and crush, in his back pocket waiting to be released. Matt Ryan will have another great fantasy year and he’s as close to elite, without being elite, as it gets.
51.) Russell Wilson QB7 SEA: Wilson was given a gift of a new offensive weapon in Percy Harvin, which is the type of weapon most teams still don’t have. A sincerely dangerous slot receiver, who doesn’t have to be in the slot to be dangerous either, compliments the giant-ness of Sydney Rice and the strong number two receiver play in Golden Tate. Wilson has Lynch to hand the ball to – who is a younger, stronger, faster Steven Jackson – and he himself can also blast off himself when the opportunity presents itself. Wilson only threw for 3,118 yards and 26 TD’s, but he also ran for 489 yards and 4 TD’s. Much like the Cam Newton owners, you’re counting on those tasty rushing yards and TD’s when you purchase the Russell Wilson. Whatever the case, he’s a fantastic fantasy option.
52.) Robert Griffin III QB8 WAS: The insanely talented, rocket armed, crazy fast phenomenon that is RGIII cannot be hyped enough. My own personal love for the QB is over the top. The dangers that the read-option QB’s expose themselves to are obvious and RGIII’s injury last year highlights that. One of the many, many beauties of being a RGIII is his undeniable power and accuracy of his arm. The man can fire a pig skin as strong as nearly any QB in the league – and it’s accurate. The number 6 fantasy QB amassed 304 fantasy points by throwing for 3200 yards and 20 TD’s, but more impressively rushing for 826 yards and 7 TD’s. In my mind, I have RGIII in the same pool of physical freaks as Adrian Peterson so I’m anticipating that knee not only healing in record time, but him being better this year. Be warned: if you seek out RGIII, you MUST draft a solid backup QB. In fact, this goes for any of the read option guys.
53.) Colin Kaepernick QB9 SF: Looking beyond my own dislike for the man, I have to admit that he’s crazy fast, has a very strong arm, he’s accurate and did I mention that he’s fast? I’m yet to see a full season from him so I didn’t go as high as others did on him, but I believe there is very real talent there. Of the read-option teams, San Fran’s O-line is probably the strongest to support that offense based on their production in run blocking and Frank Gore’s monster numbers. As much as I’d love to be able to say that he’s horrible and he’s over rated, sadly, I believe he’s probably underrated and only has room to grow. Like any of the other read-option teams, have a back up ready to go.
54.) Darren McFadden RB21 OAK: Run DMC is in his contract year and he knows he’s got to make a bit of impact; specifically the issue of staying on the field. A former 4th overall pick by Oakland, McFadden has underperformed his entire career, having only one season (2010) where he cracked the 1,000 yard marker (1,157) and over 4 tD’s (7). Huge size (6’2″, 215lbs.), and CJ2K like speed (4.33 40 yard dash) made McFadden the most highly sought after talent of the 2008 draft, but he’s yet to really wow. The potential is there but he’s consistently not healthy. In fact he’s played 13 games in 2 seasons, 12 games in 2 other seasons, and one season where he only hit the field in 7 games. If McFadden ever really goes off like CJ2K did, with his skills his, upside would threaten Eric Dickerson’s record and surely put the owner of him in the fantasy playoffs. You have been warned.
55.) Chris Ivory RB22 NYJ: Going from the offensive monster with the Saints to the offensive disaster with the Jets is a gutsy move, but it is one that will put Ivory at the top of the totem pole as their clear number one. A hoss of a RB, Ivory has 4.4 speed and solid acceleration to the hole which means that linebackers will be greeted by 225lbs. of solid mass moving at a high rate of speed. The great news is…it couldn’t have gotten worse than Shonn Green in New York. The bad news is, Ivory is playing for the Jets. In such a weak division, with a good left tackle and one of the best centers in the game, Ivory could shine through and become a nice back to have in your RB2 spot. Roll the dice if you need that second back.
56.) Danny Amendola WR22 NE: Wes Welker fell victim to the Patriots way of business which is thanks for making our organization great, and even though you’re worth the money you’re asking for, we’re going to cut you loose. Fortunately, Wes Welker’s mini-me was available for the taking and the Pats picked him up. The upside to him over Welker is as an NFL receiver is that he’s a bit bigger than Welker and just a hair faster. Now back to reality – Wes Welker took bone crushing hits play after play, every single week and continued to get back up. Amendola fell odd on his arm and it nearly killed him. Amendola will likely never be Wes Welker, and his fantasy upside remains dependent upon him maintaining health and staying on the field. If he can stay healthy, he’s a nice player to have at the flex spot given his return game, and now his numbers have been exponentially increased because of who’s throwing him the ball. Amendola upgraded big time in his QB, but he’s got to stay healthy to be that viable fantasy option.
57.) Mike Wallace WR23 MIA: Wallace’s big draw has always been his flat out speed, but he’s not just a Randy Moss because he can make cuts. He’s the number one guy in Miami, complemented by a Brian Hartline and Davon Bess, who are more possession guys instead of speed freaks. He only earned 836 yards last year but found pay dirt 8 times. Wallace has the ability to make defenders miss, but like I said earlier, his speed is what changes the game. Where his fantasy relevance comes into question is Ryan Tannehill’s ability to settle down and be a better leader. Tannehill has the arm that will provide the deep ball to Wallace, but he’s got to get a hold on his nerves in order to help and not hurt him. I believe Wallace will have value, but until their offense is rolled out and we see how it looks, Wallace has to belong under the sure things. Either way, he’s still Mike Wallace and big pay outs are his specialty.
58.) Jason Witten TE5 DAL: This guy is indestructible and a yardage grabbing freak. He’s light in the TD department, but what he doesn’t earn in the end zone, he more than makes up for with lots and lots of yardage. It doesn’t hurt him that Tony Romo is dishing him the rock and Romo loves himself some Witten. Despite having a lacerated spleen to start the 2012 season, he racked up 1,039 yards and 3 TD’s, which was his second highest career yardage total. Witten is a durable fantasy constant that should be welcomed on any roster.
59.) Darren Sproles RB23 NO: He’s still the mighty mite that you love if you have him, and hate if you don’t. I think Sproles has a faster acceleration than most exotic sports cars. He’s so fast to the hole it truly is crazy. His receiving game is far and away the most advanced in the NFL and he has been utilized that way his entire career. Sproles’ value is in the TD’s that he loves to score – and he’s good at it (9 times in 2011 and 8 times in 2012). With Thomas and Ingram sucking up so much of the work load in New Orleans, Sproles can’t be used as your RB 1 and likely 2. He’s a great flex play week in and out and if Thomas or Ingram go down, Sproles value climbs very, very high.
60.) Le’Veon Bell RB24 PIT: 6’2”, 245lbs., 4.6 second 40 yard dash – these stats sound so familiar. Where have I heard them before? Oh that’s right – Steven Jackson has those same numbers. I’m not saying that Bell will become Steven Jackson or that he’s even got the potential to do it, but they do share those stats. Bell comes into the Steelers organization that has a history of “bus” style runners if you know what I mean. Pittsburgh loves them some power backs and that’s what Bell is. I’ve watched a bit of his college film and I’m excited about what’s to come out of him this year. They couldn’t get the running game going last year and now they have a house of a running back who’s got something to prove.
61.) Lamarr Miller RB25 MIA: Reggie Bush has left the building leaving the bigger, though nearly equally fast back, to take the reigns as the number one. Daniel Thomas is also there still and could provide competition if he can get healthy. Miami seems to be a crap shoot across the board given most the feature players have not played together yet. Whether they can mold into a serious offensive threat remains to be seen. If Miller can put together a solid year, he’ll make a great RB2 or flex guy.
62.) Eddie Lacy RB26 GB: Picture this; Aaron Rodgers behind his talented O-line, with 3 very legitimate receivers, and a pair of RB’s that mirror what Buffalo had one year ago at the start of the season. Essentially, that’s what we’re talking about in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. I’m partial to Lacy only because he played at the 33rd NFL team last year (Alabama), so he’s got some experience. The offense in Green Bay just became one of the more dangerous in the NFL. If Lacy and Franklin are as advertised the Pack will be nothing short of dominant this year. Lacy is one of the better rookie gambles to examine because his upside will include a lot of TD’s.
63.) Matthew Stafford QB10 DET: Reasons Stafford goes over Luck are: 1.) He’s throwing to Megatron. 2.) He’s now established a track record of being the team that throws the most in the NFL. 3.) He has the potential to be a 300+ plus guy (see 2011). 4.) He now has the shifty, pass catching, rocket ship in Reggie Bush (they have Mikel Leshoure also for an alleged complete running game). 5.) Stafford has two well versed pass catchers at the TE spots. 6.) Stafford, like luck, can giddy-up on his own when he’s got the room. Okay, enough of that. He’s not missed a game in 2 years, he threw over 700 times last year and completed just under 60% of that for 4,967 yards and 20 TD’s. He also rushed for 4 more TD’s. He’s very, very legit and proven. For Luck’s argument, see the 59th spot. One more thing…Megatron is flippin’ worth the price of admission and his QB, even on a bad year, will still be a value.
64.) Andrew Luck QB11 IND: Luck, to say the least, wowed everyone with a freshman performance that was awesome. He finished 9th among fantasy QB’s with 264 points (just ahead of one Matthew Stafford), and would have been much higher in the standings if not for 9 fumbles and 18 INT’s. He’s throwing to Mr. Reliable (Reggie Wayne), the flash (T.Y. Hilton), and those stinkin’ Colts went out and got themselves something potentially very special in Darrius Heyward-Bey; a 6’2″, 210lb., receiver who can straight up toast anyone who has anything slower than blinding speed. I’m about the safe draft spots at QB because they produce such incredible numbers, but the upside to Luck is similar, I believe, to what Stafford’s 2011 was like. Their running game is only going to be a moment for their offensive coordinator to attack the secondary with two crazy fast receivers and good old Mr. Reliable. If you’re feeling froggy, leap and see what kind of “Luck” you get – see what I did there?
65.) Pierre Garcon WR24 WAS: Garcon was so frustrating last year as he rode my bench because of injury. He’s potentially something very talented in combination with Alfred Morris and RGIII, but that injury in a receiver makes me nervous because of the stress from stopping, starting, turning, twisting, cutting etc…you get the point. Garcon has 4.4 speed and great hands so he’s a concern for CB’s and safeties alike. If he stays healthy, he makes RGIII and Morris’ stock that much higher. Basically, aside from injury threats, and the fact that he’s never been over 947 yards or 6 TD’s in his career, what’s not to like?! Analysis: Upside is huge, but so his the risk drafting him earlier.
66.) BenJarvis Green-Ellis RB27 CIN: The king of not fumbling is no longer the sole threat on the Bengals’ roster. With the pick up of Giovani Bernard in the draft, the Law Firm is likely to continue to grab goal line carries, while Bernard could end up seeing more time between the 20’s. He racked up 1,094 yards and 6 TD’s as “the man” in Cincy last year and cracked his record streak of not fumbling the ball by fumbling 3 times. He’s a large back that doesn’t have breakaway speed in space, but rather will bowl you over by putting his pads to you, or make you miss with some deceptively strong jukes. He’s a great late round pick up and although I have ranked so low, I’m not convinced that Bernard is an improvement over the Law Firm. Green-Ellis is only .05 seconds slower than Bernard, and he’s a larger back with the same skill set. Maybe long term there could be a changing of the guard, but as it stands now, I think the Law Firm is the one you want form Cincy.
67.) Torrey Smith Wr25 BAL: Smith was just fun to watch last year. He was the guy you wanted to root for every week. The guy lost his brother to a motorcycle crash and then inside that same day, went out and smoked the Pats secondary with 127 yards and 2 TD’s. Smith played with fire and conviction in honor of his fallen brother. He’s the number one guy in Baltimore this year with Bolden switching coasts to the left side (49er’s). He’s fast…that’s simple to see. He’s got excellent hands to boot. I’m ready to see what he does as a clear number one. He’s a WR1 potentially, but it’s likely he might be steady at the WR2 spot more so. Only a season will tell.
68.) Antonio Brown WR26 PIT: With Mike Wallace laying on the beach in Miami, Brown has the very real chance to become the definitive number one in Pittsburgh. He’s got the speed, but his size is lacking and he had chances last year to impress but failed to do so while fighting injuries. Roethlisberger’s not a prolific long ball guy and Brown stands to benefit from short – medium range passes as he’ll be able to showcase his route running and elusiveness. Brown is the number one guy at this time for the Steelers, and with Ben being given more control over the offense concerning his check downs and audibles, he could really become something special. Just make sure you draft other prospects too if you’re going to take a chance on him.
69.) James Jones WR27 GB: Aaron Rodgers is so good…he’s like, so good that the people who are around him are also good by association. Take for example the knock last season on Jones’ hands being poor; he caught 65% of his passes (64/98) which earned him 784 yards, and 14 TD’s! Like I said, Aaron Rodgers makes those around him better. PS: Cobb caught 77% of his passes and Nelson 67% of his. There’s not Detroit amounts of passing going on in GB, and with Lacy’s and Franklin’s arrival in the backfield, it’s probably not going to help them, but all I’m saying, is that Jones should be owned simply because Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the league and will make him a fantasy relevant receiver. WR2/flex is where he belongs, but if Nelson can’t keep it healthy, he could see WR1 time for sure. Ugh – Rodgers.
70.) Stevie Johnson WR28 BUF: If Johnson would focus his attention on scoring instead of tweeting out his opinions on things, everyone might benefit. He’s a 6’2″, 210lb., number one receiver with a rookie QB, so it’s questionable what you’re going to get from him. Johnson is not a blazing fast guy, but he can separate from nearly anyone to get space to catch a a ball. He’s easily a WR2, but if E.J. Manuel turns out to be NFL ready, Johnson could explode into something special – especially with the make-them-miss threat of C.J. Spiller coming out of the backfield.
71.) Vick Ballard BR28 IND: Ballard beat out Donald Brown for the spot but failed to wow anyone with 814 yards rushing and only 2 TD’s on 211 attempts, he’s not exactly Adrian Peterson. As a primary back on a good offensive team, he’ll see his reps without question, but no one should be looking at him as anything other than a flex – even that is a stretch.
72.) Danario Alexander WR29 SD: So, I know I said this draft was all about safe choices, but what is not to love about a 6’5″, 220lbs. receiver who runs a 4.4 second 40, has a 41.5″ vertical leap and his hands are 10″ from thumb to pinky?! I’m still a little bummed that he’s not in a Rams Jersey anymore, but at least I can snag him for my fantasy team if I want. Injuries kept him off the Ram’s roster, but he’s very, very talented. If he can hold it together in San Diego, he’ll be considered the number one over Malcom Floyd (because Floyd was HORRIBLE last year). Keenan Allen is also joining the bolts this season so things look bleak for Floyd. On one hand history has a tendency to repeat itself, but on the other hand, Alexander is definitely worth taking a chance on because of his upside (he only played 10 games last year and caught 7 TDs). He’s a monster end zone target and he’s freakishly fast to boot so he can burn up the sidelines over tiny CB’s. Injuries should be the only concern.
73.) Ryan Matthews RB29 SD: One of the worst stats I’ve heard in recent years is having more collar bone injuries than touchdowns for a running back. I’ll admit it, I played the Ryan Matthew’s lottery ticket, and got burned bad. I couldn’t trade him for a 3rd string WR. In between breaking his own bones last year, Matthews managed to turn out 707 yards and a single TD. It’s not all his fault (most of it is) as Phillip Rivers struggled to put one foot in front of the other last year and the San Diego O-line stunk it up big time, but still, you need some running game and the Chargers had none. I’ll never understand the Matthews apologists who continue to have his back to this day. Matthews belongs lower I think because of the injuries and various other issues with the team as a whole, but the problem is that he is talented and potentially could do some fantasy good if the moons of Saturn align with the polar caps of…okay, I’m done. He’s a last ditch effort.
74.) Greg Jennings WR30 MIN: Jennings was one of the elite guys who jumped ship after 2012. He did the dirty deed though and went to what anyone from Green Bay would consider to be the dark side. I guess it could be worse – he could be calling Soldier Field home. Jennings isn’t the biggest, he’s not the fastest, he’s not the most difficult to tackle in open field – but he’s awesome at everything I just listed. He’s a very real WR threat that every team playing against him must game plan for. His problem – staying healthy. I read recently someone’s column that said health should be a skill listed among the others such as speed, vertical, etc. If Jennings can stay right physically, he’s nothing short of dangerous. The Vikings lost Harvin, but jumped right back into the same, familiar territory with Jennings. They are different talents, but equal threat levels. If Jennings can get back to his 2008 – 2010 form, you’ll see monster numbers, but with Christian Ponder chucking the rock, don’t count on it. AP is the offense in Minnesota.
75.) Tavon Austin WR31 STL: Yeah baby!! Here is it, smack in the middle of a title wave of baseball Cardinals offense where my birds simply cannot stop scoring and yet my focus is on Ram’s OTAs news every chance that I get because of this little speedster. What’s not to love?! He’s a younger Steve Smith with Percy Harvin moves, complimented by the threat of a 6’5″ 250lb. TE ( Jared Cook) who’s faster than several top tier receivers, who’s complimented by a big outside guy in Brian Quick and/or, Austin’s WV teammate Stedman Bailey, who is complimented by the speed of Chris Givens. This team is going to fly and Austin is going to be lining up everywhere they can legally put him. Austin has the ability to burn you with speed or shake you out of your shoes so he’ll be commanding the attention of whoever is fastest on the defense leaving defensive holes for Givens to burn someone, Cook to smash through little D-backs, or Quick/Stedman to go up top and snag a ball. Did I mention they fixed the problematic O-Line? Bradford has zero excuses if he can’t be productive this year – I’m thinking he will be though (says the homer in me).
76.) Lance Moore WR32 NO: He can run routes well and catch the ball well. That’s really all you need to know about a guy who’s part of the offensive tidal wave style offense lead by Drew Brees. Moore had 1,041 yards receiving and 6 TD’s last year. I’d rank him higher, but there are just so many talented receivers this year. Brees has to be a factor if you’re considering drafting him higher. He’s going to see a ton of targets and he’ll likely catch the bulk of them.
77.) Rashard Mendenhall RB30 ARI: 2010 Mendenhall did not make another appearance following the surgically reconstructed knee in 2012. He battled with two similar backs for time in the Steeler’s backfield and now is the banger in the Cardinal’s backfield who took a healthy amount of money to move to the other side of the nation. I’m not so confident that the Cardinals healed themselves completely from where they were last year, so getting to the red zone, which is where Mendenhall makes himself a fantasy commodity, is not something that appears likely to happen a lot. Of course, these rankings are in May, and they are a prediction of how well a professional athlete, who I do not know, is going to perform in a fantasy capacity equivalent to dungeons and dragons for retired jocks.
78.) Mike Williams WR33 TB: Vincent Jackson’s little brother also plays for the Bucs and his name just happens to be Mike Williams. He’s 6’2”, 215lbs., but plays just like Vincent Jackson in that he loves to catch the football in the end zone. He actually had 9 TD’s to Jackson’s 8, but the difference was the yardage where Williams and that likely stems from the 30 more targets that Jackson had over Williams. It’s hard to get really, really excited about anyone catching from Josh Freeman, but the numbers don’t lie. Williams is a fantasy value on an underrated offense.
79.) Cecil Shorts WR34 JAC: Cecil Shorts and the legal system are the only beneficiaries to Justin Blackmon’s terrible decision making. Shorts is not only the number one, he’s the only one. Without Blackmon, Shorts will be catching all the balls from their platoon of terrible QB’s. Jacksonville made strides this off-season on both sides of the ball, but Luke Joeckel is the real deal on the O-line. MJD is in a contract year and hungry for those duckets and in order for him to get paid, the Jags will need someone to be the threat at WR so he can clear some of those guys out of the box and break loose. Shorts had a solid year last year (given his QB) finishing as the 22nd overall receiver with 132 points. He also had Blackmon stealing a bit of that which is not the case this year. Look for in increase in his 2012 yards (979) and TD’s (7). Good WR2, great flex.
80.) Dennis Pita TE5 BAL: Pitta was part of a fun ride last year and earned himself a Superbowl win. He also produced some nice fantasy numbers last season in the process scoring 7 times and racking up 669 yards – a career high which translated into 103 fantasy points. Big Joe Flacco has a great friendship with him on the field and finds him with regularity. Look for Pita to return to fantasy relevance this season, especially with the fall of Gronk.
81.) Vernan Davis TE6 SF: Davis has just been given a violent shove into a role as one of their major receivers with Michael Crabtree out for the season. He’s now their fastest receiver, and then number one tight end. Davis needs to take advantage of what is sure to be a target rich season for him, and suck up all the yards and TD’s he can possibly find. Don’t be shocked if Davis goes off for close to, or over record setting numbers. This 49er’s offense is going to be fast and very hard hitting. The slowest position on the field for them is at WR, which means that if they are going to run the read option style again, they need Davis to produce. Buy him low and hope for huge numbers.
82.) Isaiah Pead RB31 STL: It sucks as a Rams fan to have to put our own RB’s so low in this list, but the fact is that until this season gets underway, Pead, Richardson and Stacy will be battling for the starting spots on the roster. Pead was a certified college talent at the University of Cincinnati in 2011 and after being drafted by the Rams, had issues getting to the rookie functions for the team because college classes were still in session. Late round drafted Daryl Richardson turned out to be a man possessed in 2012 and emerged as the surprising number 2 back behind SJ39. News came out this off season that Pead was depressed last year because he wasn’t getting the playing time he wanted. He’s now said he’s got a chip on his shoulder and wants that starting spot bad. Pead is 5’11”, 205lbs., and he’s very fast. He’s similar in build to C.J. Spiller, but doesn’t have the elusiveness. Look for Pead to battle rookie Zac Stacy for the starting spot this year.
83.) Miles Austin WR35 DAL: Not being the biggest Dallas fan in the world, I am a huge admirer of their receiver and quarterback talent. When Austin is healthy, he’s a stud and when he’s injured, he’s super frustrating. With 943 receiving yards last season, and 6 TD’s, he is still relevant but he’s definitely on a different level than Dez Bryant. Tony Romo is one of the more accurate QB’s in the league and Austin, if he can stay healthy, will benefit from Romo getting that monster contract.
84.) T.Y. Hilton WR36 IND: Conventional wisdom will tell us that Hilton is in the right uniform at the right time. Reggie Wayne is still the man, but he’s old and can’t do it forever. Hilton is very, very fast and built like Steve Smith – long term look for him in the slot. His top end is limited because of Wayne, new addition speed freak Darrius Heyward-Beyand their very tall, very fast TE, Coby Fleener. With Luck throwing darts, Hilton will make a solid WR2. Very, very good value for where he’ll go in the draft.
85.) Giovani Bernard RB32 CIN: It’s hard to get excited about a back who was brought in to be an improvement over the Law Firm when it doesn’t appear that he’ll be an improvement at all. Bernard is barely faster, he’s smaller, and he’ll likely fumble more than the Law Firm who has only fumbled 4 times in his entire NFL career. Why is ranked higher than backs that have similar or better upside then? It all goes back to this being the year of the running back. Grab them early and often if you want to compete.
86.) Jeremy Maclin WR37 PHI: The term “tease,” pretty well sums up Maclin’s career so far. He’s in a contract year and needs to make a strong showing to get what is traditionally known as a player’s biggest contract payday. Maclin finds himself under the control of a new coach, who happens to run the fastest form of NFL offense available. His QB can outrun Maclin, their tailback, and likely most everyone else on the team, so I feel like their ready. The problem is he’s had 4 years to wow people and he’s yet to do that. Last year he scored 119 fantasy points and was very clearly Philly’s top receiver because the speed freak ,DeSean Jackson, battled injury. Maclin is likely the better value of the two because he’s not afraid to go over the middle, but it’s hard to count on either one for fantasy points with any kind of regularity.
87.) Chris Givens WR38 STL: Bradford has a solid line in front of him, including one of the best left tackles in the game, he has the same offensive system and he’s got talented depth at WR, RB and TE – all for the first time in his career. Chris Givens is considered the fastest, veteran outside receiver on the team and is hungry to be fed. Everyone doubts the Rams because of the last few years but they are forgetting that Jeff Fisher is steering that ship and he knows how to win. Also, no one paid attention to the fact that they only lost one divisional game last year. Givens has the speed to make a lot of people look stupid and can make cuts too. He’s considered a deep sleeper, but then again, so is Bradford. I believe Bradford is going to have his break out year and Givens, Austin and Cook will be the biggest benefactors.
88.) Anquan Bolden WR39 SF: Michael Crabtree’s achilles exploded in the off-season leaving Bolden and Mario Manningham to be the guys to carry the 49er’s WR load this season. Bolden is built like a slender full back and rarely drops passes. He’s a great talent, on a high power offense who is as dependable as the sun. Bolden could be a deep sleeper if he takes off like he did in the playoffs, but don’t look for it to last all season.
89.) DeSean Jackson WR40 PHI: Debate over who is faster, Jackson or CJ2K, has been going on since they both were in the league. Debate over who is the better fantasy value has never been an issue because Jackson hasn’t been relevant in that area in a couple years now. Last season, he was injured so he really suffered. Still, having played 11 games, you would think that he would go bigger than 700 yards and 2 scores. Jackson needs to stay healthy this year and is already struggling with injuries in OTA’s in May. If you draft him, hope for the upside, but plan for reality.
90.) Greg Olsen TE7 CAR: It’s important to at least have the TE spot filled out on your roster and Olsen will not only fill it out, he’ll score you some serious point. He had a 22 point game last season against a solid Denver defense. He scored 5 TD’s last year while going for 843 yards. He’s part of an offense that can score quickly, but the key is that the offense is light in the receiver department outside of Steve Smith. If the QB for Carolina was a pocket passer, Olsen would likely be a much more sought after commodity. As it stands, he’s a value going so low, but you might be able to snag him at an even lower spot.
91.) Josh Gordon WR41 CLE: The Browns have a bulldozing offensive line, an impressive running game, and then Josh Morgan as their receiving game. Gordon, a 6’3” 225lb. receiver from Baylor, held his own with a less than excellent quarterback in Brandon Wheeden. He caught 5 TD’s and finished with 805 yards. If the guy could get a worthwhile QB, he would be a much better fantasy value, but as it stands right now, the only guy you want on your roster from the Browns is Richardson. Watch for Gordon to become something special.
92.) Tony Romo QB12 DAL: Romo is loved by Jerry Jones and there are million$ of reasons why. Just because Romo can’t seem to burst that playoff bubble does not mean that he is not one of the best QB’s in the league. Romo is not the fantasy monster that the elites are, but he’s not a bum either. As the 8th best fantasy QB last year, he put up 4,903 yards and 28 TD’s for 271 total fantasy points. As Dez Bryant can tell you, he’s still got skills. If the cards fall right for you, and your roster is already filled with capable RB’s, Romo would be a great, late pick up.
93.) Mikel Leshoure RB33 DET: Reggie Bush is now a part of the dominant passing attack in Detroit which means that Leshoure’s touches go way down. The good news is – Reggie Bush doesn’t run near the goal line because he’s a more fragile kind of back. Leshoure’s 9 TD’s and 798 rushing yards last year were solid but aren’t likely to be a repeat performance. With Bush there the goal line scores will probably stay around that mark but the yardage goes down.
94.) Owen Daniels TE8 HOU: He’s an older, slower Aaron Hernandez. At 6’3”, 250lbs., he is not the standard issue monster TE you’ll find with most teams today, but make no mistake about it, he can still score and go for some nice yardage. 716 yards and 6 TD’s on the 2012 season put him closer to the top of the valued TE’s than the bottom, but he’s not likely to really “go off” like people want with the arrival of DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins looks like another Andre Johnson and will certainly snag some of the catches that Daniels would have had. Either way, everyone needs a TE on their roster.
95.) Kyle Rudolph TE9 MIN: Christian Ponder lost his ace in the hole in Percy Harvin this off season but gained a true outside receiver. What didn’t change was the 6’7”, 260lb. TD machine at their TE position. He’s not a yardage monster, but he is so flippin’ tall that there isn’t anyone that can cover him without a running start. When AP isn’t making people look stupid, and Jennings isn’t healthy and catching tons of balls, Rudolph will be bringing down TD’s like it’s his job – except it is.
96.) Rob Gronkowski TE10 NE: At 6’6″, 265 lbs, with a 33 1/4″ vertical, a 4.68 second 40 time and 10 ever play the game of football. And even though he’s got back issues now, and he’s likely not going to be there for the start of the season, if he is able to play during the back half of your season, stashing him on your bench might be something that would be beneficial. Immaturity is the big concern with Gronk because it seems that he’s not taking his job of being a dominating force serious and there is nothing more frustrating about fantasy football ownership than “professional” athletes who lack the professionalism that the rest of the world is require to have for their own careers. If he’s healthy, Gronk will be the only one giving Graham any bit of competition and you’ll want him on your team. Do you think he’ll be able to?
97.) Brandon Myers TE11 NYG: With hardly unified offense in Oakland last season, Myers gained 804 yards and 4 TD’s. The move to New York is massive for his value and for those that elect to have him on their rosters. Myers won’t be a Graham or a healthy Gronk, but he’ll earn you solid fantasy points with Eli hitting him.
98.) Martellus Bennett TE12 CHI: He’s on the team that is going to equal opportunities he had last year. He’s 6’6” 265lbs., and can catch and run with the best of them. Chicago missed a talent like this last year Bennett will likely become a healthy, regular part of their offense. If you’re looking to take a gamble, one that might pay off nicely, Bennett could be that guy for you.
99.) Brian Hartline WR42 MIA: Hartline’s fantasy value stems from one game, where he took the initiative to put up 253 yards and a single TD. He’s got Tannehill throwing him the rock, and he’s competing with Mike Wallace for catches. Life in MIA does not look promising for the mediocre Hartline, but then again, neither does his fantasy outlook compared to most the other receivers. Draft higher if possible.
100.) Sidney Rice WR43 SEA: Rice is very tall at 6’4”, but slender at 205lbs. so he doesn’t have the knock down power of say an Andre Johnson. He does know how to catch the ball in the end zone though and he did that 7 times last year. Seattle isn’t a big passing team to begin with, but then they go out and pick up a Percy Harvin which seriously detracts from Rice’s value. He’s still their number one outside receiver and has the potential for some big games so maybe…just maybe you may want to gamble on this guy.