1) Drew Brees (NO) – number one on my ‘Top-100 Big Board’ from last season, Brees ended the fantasy season as the top performer with 345 points in standard scoring leagues. With no major changes coming to the Saints offence that I am aware of, I see no reason to think that Brees won’t approach his 4th career and 3rd consecutive 5000-yard season.
2) Tom Brady (NE) – Brady just signed a new 3-year deal with the Patriots and is as motivated as ever to win another title. With
Welker Amendola, Gronk, Hernandez and a collection of other talented receivers available to Brady, he should be able to have another 4500+ yard season, and if Gronk plays all sixteen games he may crack 40 touchdowns (he has never gone over 40 other than his 50 TD season).
3) Peyton Manning (DEN) – After watching what Manning did last season I would feel extremely safe draft Manning as my starting quarterback. Quarterbacks can really pour on the points and Manning is almost a lock for 250-300 yards and 2-3 touchdowns on any given week. Peyton already had an extremely talented duo of receivers in Thomas and Decker and now has former Patriot Wes Welker to mix into the offence; must be nice. The addition of Welker should be a boost for Peyton but will likely hurt his own value as well as the value of Decker and Thomas as the trio share targets. The Broncos due have a solid running game however and Manning likely wont be throwing as often as Brady, hence he remains the number three QB.
4) Aaron Rodgers (GB) – Rodgers is as talented a quarterback is there is in the league right now, but in terms of fantasy value he can’t quite match Drew Brees. Over the past two seasons Brees has thrown for 1500+ more yards and five more touchdowns than Rodgers. Losing Greg Jenning doesn’t help but seeing as to how he missed most of last season it is not something new to Rodgers and the Packers. Cobb should continue to grow as a multi talented option for Rodgers while Nelson looks to have a bounce back year. However, his offensive line and the loss of Greg Jennings for good drop Rodgers below Brady and Manning.
5) Matt Stafford (DET) – Stafford has led the league in pass attempts over the past two seasons, but with only one true target to trust in Calvin Johnson, Stafford is often left throwing incompletions and interceptions. He will likely throw for another 4000 or more yards easily again this season, but is going to need help if he is going to throw for 41 touchdowns like he did in 2011. The addition of Reggie Bush to the Lion’s backfield is a great move for Stafford and makes me much more comfortable in trusting him to be a top-5 quarterback in 2013.
6) Cam Newton (CAR) – Finished the season with the 4th highest point total in the league last season, aided by another eight rushing touchdowns to his career total. I see no reason to think that Cam will take any significant step back, and might take a step forward if he can connect on a few more touchdowns to Smith and LaFell.
7) Matt Ryan (ATL) – Ryan had his best year yet, leading the Falcons to a 13-3 record and finally a playoff win over the Seahawks. With Roddy and Julio on the wings and Tony Gonzalez returning for another season, Ryan should be able to tear up opposing defenses again in 2013. It would be nice to see Ryan get close to a 40-touchdown total now that he has cracked 30.
8) Russell Wilson (SEA) – The signing of Percy Harvin is great news for Russell Wilson as he will not have one of the best and most dynamic slot receivers in the game at his disposal. Last season he had 26 touchdowns on over 3100 yards to go along with almost 500 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and will now be able to build upon that with an even better offence this year. The Seahawks have a talented young quarterback with a great new receiver, a bruising running back and a scary defense; Superbowl 2013 appearance?
9) Colin Kaepernick (SF) – With a chance to play a full 16-game schedule ahead of him and an exciting playoff run behind him, Kaepernick has the potential be an elite fantasy quarterback using his mix of a powerful arm and quick legs. The ’49ers also added Anquan Boldin, an experienced, underrated receiver with great hands and good on third downs. Boldin should be another solid option for his young QB, playing behind Crabtree and Manningham.
10) Andrew Luck (IND) – 4374 yards and 23 touchdowns in his rookie season; the sky is the limit for Andrew Luck. At this rate it is only a matter of time before he is approaching 5000 yards in a season and 40+ touchdown totals. While that is not going to be this year, I can very easily see Luck repeat at a 4000-yard passer while getting near 30 touchdowns. Luck also rushed for five touchdowns as a rookie; he just needs to cut down on the interceptions.
11) Robert Griffin III (WAS) – The big concern about RGIII going into the 2013 season is the knee injury he suffered at the end of last season that resulted in offseason surgery. The injury may mean that Griffin won’t be quite as effective as a rusher, but the kid still has an amazing arm and head on his shoulders and will still be much more mobile than most NFL quarterbacks. Griffin might not repeat at the 5th ranked fantasy player at the end of the season, but he should still be very effective.
12) Eli Manning (NYG) – It was a pretty disappointing year for those (I was one) who drafted Eli expecting similar stats to his 2011 campaign; Eli threw for 100 less yards and three less touchdowns. Nicks missed a few games and Cruz took an obvious step back statistically, so perhaps I should have seen the drop off coming. However, with a WR combo as potent as Nicks and Cruz, I feel as though Eli should be able to be a 4000-yard, 30-touchdown quarterback.
13) Tony Romo (DAL) – Although it looked rather ugly at times, Tony Romo ended up haing the season that Eli had the year before with 4900 yards and close to 30 touchdowns. The explosion of Dez Bryant as one of the most talented wide receivers in the league certainly helped Romo pick up his play in the second half of the season (15 TDs over last 6 weeks).
14) Andy Dalton (CIN) – Dalton was a wonderful backup quarterback for me last year, replacing Eli Manning for a string of weekends and coming through with multiple three-touchdown performances. AJ Green is an undeniable star while Sanu, Hawkins and Gresham all found ways to have an impact last season. The Bengals have an improving offence that is capable of throwing 30 touchdowns.
15) Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – Russell Wilson’s passing stats alone match Big Ben’s point total from last year. Ben went down in pass yards, up in touchdowns but for the second year in a row didn’t rush for a single touchdown. The Steelers offence just doesn’t move the ball well enough at the moment for me to trust Big Ben as anything more than a mid-range QB2.
16) Michael Vick (PHI) – If the Eagles are going to pay Michael Vick anywhere even near $10 million bucks this season then I am going to assume for the time being that he is going to be the week one starter over Nick Foles. Even if Vic does start, it is impossible to say when/if he gets hurt, or when/if Foles will replace him. Still, drafting him is very tempting as he has been a beast in the past and has talented wide receivers to work with.
17) Philip Rivers (SD) – Rivers and the Chargers struggled heavily last year at moving the ball in the air and on the ground. Rivers failed to throw for more than 4000 yards for the first time since 2007 and only surpassed 300 yards in a game twice all season. The loss of Vincent Jackson is the obvious excuse, while Antonio Gates was a shadow of his former self last year. The emergence of Danario Alexander could help Rivers return to form a bit this coming season, but I still think he and the Chargers are going to struggle similar to last year.
18) Joe Flacco (BAL) – The $120 million dollar man Joe Flacco had career highs in passing yards (3817) and rushing touchdowns (3) while throwing for a career second best 22 touchdowns. All of this and he still ended up outside of the top-12 quarterbacks last season; money well spent Baltimore. They also have much less money available to work with to sign the working parts around Flacco; we have already seen the effect of this with Boldin being traded to the ’49ers for almost nothing.
19) Josh Freeman (TB) – Freeman went for a career high 4065 yards and 27 touchdowns with Vincent Jackson in town, an addition that also helped the production of WR Mike Williams.
20) Matt Schaub (HOU) – Schaub was able to throw for 4000 yards again in a full 16-game season, but with only 22 passing touchdowns was nothing more than a low end QB2 most of the time. If Schaub is going to take a step forward and become a potential QB1 he is going to need some help, Andre Johnson is not what he used to be and doesn’t have enough talent around him to stop the constant double-teams.
21) Jay Cutler (CHI) – I think of Cutler much like I think of Schaub, they both have an uber-talented wide receiver to connect with, but not enough supporting units to put up big numbers consistently. Cutler also has to deal with a constantly struggling offensive line. I don’t see Cutler hitting the 30-touchdown mark (career high of 27) unless the Bears make some drastic moves to help him.
22) Jake Locker (TEN) –
23) Sam Bradford (STL) –
24) Carson Palmer (OAK) –