Fantasy Football Preview: Top 100 Projected Players for the 2013 Season

Adrian Peterson is the #1 player you want on your Fantasy Football team for the 2013 NFL season.For many football fans, autumn is a sort of duelist existence. Fantasy football has reached the mecca of sporting entertainment, and everyone from your grandmother’s friends at her retirement home, to your little sister’s girl-scout troop has a fantasy team. Fans of the NFL are torn between loyalty to their office pool, or rooting on their dearly beloved local professional franchise. As the fantasy baseball season begins, many, myself included, have begun to get the itch of long lost love. Loyalty, or disloyalty, to one’s players may affect the lives of team managers for years to come. Fantasy footballer’s lives have been virtually destroyed by the successes, or lack thereof, of one’s fantasy team.

As a dedicated fantasy footballer myself, I have been on both ends of the spectrum. Just last season, I participated in three leagues, and received very different results. In one league, the dynamic duo of Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson won me a league title, and bragging rights over a group of fantasy veterans. In another, the injury bug stuck leaving me with just three of my original ten starters. In the third, some poor decision making during the draft left me gasping for air, or just a win, after the first few weeks of the season. Success in fantasy football comes from preparation, and as the fantasy baseball season hits its stride, many are left out itching for their true love, and penultimate activity in the realm of fandom: fantasy football.

As the majority of the free agent powerhouses have found their new homes, now is the time for the first player ranking of the fantasy preseason. Disregarding rookies, the following list is based on offense types, injuries, depth on a given roster, and player ability, giving you the best pre-NFL draft list available to get you excited for next seasons’ fantasy football experience.

To sate the appetite of football hungry fans everywhere, here are the preliminary top 100 players to draft in your fantasy football league next fall.

 

Player ID  Team Explanation
Adrian Peterson RB MIN The man who missed the single season rushing record by a mere nine yards needs no explanation for his penultimate ranking.
Ray Rice RB BAL With the departure of Anquan Boldin and the emergence of Joe Flacco, Rice will shoulder as much of the workload in Baltimore as ever while defenses will have to take more into account than the former Rutgers standout.
Arian Foster RB HOU The Texan’s feature back is a virtual lock for 1,000 yards rushing and 10 TDs and will once again be the focal point of an otherwise underwhelming Texan’s offensive unit.
Marshawn Lynch RB SEA The Seahawks are Super Bowl contenders, but will not get close without Beast Mode who ranked 4th among RB’s in scoring a season ago.
Jamaal Charles RB KC Charles will benefit from running behind one of the best O-lines in football, and the addition of Alex Smith will change the defense’s focus that was previously centered on Charles.
Calvin Johnson WR DET Megatron is once again the top ranked WR in the NFL after breaking the single season yardage record a season ago. Lions QB Matthew Stafford and Johnson will team up again in 2013, re-creating one of the best passing tandems in the NFL.
Trent Richardson RB CLE The Browns rookie broke onto the scene with 950 yards rushing and 11 TDs a year ago, and should continue to progress into one of the best young talents at the running back position.
Doug Martin RB TB Martin lead all rookies a season ago in rushing yards a year ago with just under 1500, add the 12 TDs scored to that and you have the makings of a perennial fantasy stud. Martin was so successful a season ago, a sophomore slump may be in order for the rookie standout.
C.J. Spiller RB BUF When healthy, Spiller is one of the premier speed backs in all of football, and he won’t have to battle Fred Jackson for touches this season either which makes him a viable first round option at RB.
A.J. Green WR CIN With 1350 yards to go along with 11 TD grabs a year ago, Green is poised to take the title of best WR in the NFL, but not if Megatron has anything to say about it.
Alfred Morris RB WAS One half of the best rushing attack in the NFL a season ago, Morris will look to avoid a sophomore slump while picking up more of the weight of the offense in Washington, whose rookie QB is still a big question mark due to his ACL injury suffered in the first round of the playoffs last year.
Aaron Rodgers QB GB Perhaps the greatest passer in the NFL today, Green Bay will soon make their franchise gun-slinger the highest paid QB in the NFL, and with the Packers’ surplus of offensive talent, Rodgers will once again be the highest scoring QB in fantasy football.
LeSean McCoy RB PHI After leading the league in rushing TD’s two seasons ago, McCoy’s season was halted by an injury in week 11 yet he still rushed for over 800 yards. Furthermore, McCoy has an apparent handcuff in his backup of Bryce Brown, who shined in his brief spell as the Eagles’ feature back. McCoy will return to greatness in 2013 if he remains healthy, but Brown will also see significant playing time.
Peyton Manning QB DEN The wily veteran will not go away and with the addition of Wes Welker to the already crowded WR corps in Denver, Manning will be in the running for MVP this season, as well as being one of the best value picks in your league’s fantasy draft.
Brandon Marshall WR CHI Jay Cutler‘s inability to spread the ball around an offense will once again make Marshall the most targeted receiver in the NFL in 2013.
Matt Forte RB CHI No one question’s Forte’s talent, yet his ability to stay on the field remains in question. Forte has missed at least one game every year of his NFL career, but is still top tier talent when he is on the field.
Drew Brees QB NO The only QB to surpass 5000 yards passing a season ago, Brees also threw for 43 TDs as the Saints floundered in the NFC South. A year later, Brees’ offense looks much the same as does the Saints’ group of ragged defenders who appear bent on keeping Drew Brees in passing situations.
Tom Brady QB NE Golden boy will be back at the helm of the Patriots’ offense in 2013, and there is no reason to believe Brady will be anything less than a top 5 option at QB next season.
Stevan Ridley RB NE Ridley excelled in his rookie campaign as the best Patriots running back since Corey Dillon suited up for New England. Ridley will be a force to be reckoned with in his second season.
Jimmy Graham TE NO With the injuries to both Patriots’ TE’s Graham remains the only sure bet at TE for the upcoming year. Playing in the pass-heavy Saints system, Graham should record double digit TD’s again in 2013.
Cam Newton QB CAR Superman hit his stride in the second half of last season, scoring at least 17 fantasy points in his last 6 games of the fantasy season. With another year of experience under his belt, Cam should be ready to make his mark among the ranks of the elite in 2013.
Dez Bryant WR DAL Like Cam, Bryant hit his stride in the second half of 2013 and never looked back. Bryant finished 3rd in receiving and added 12 TDs to his tally from a year ago.  With DeMarco Murray back and healthy this year, Bryant should fare well in the Cowboys’ offense again this season.
Larry Fitzgerald WR ARZ No one was happier when the Cardinals acquired Carson Palmer than Larry Fitzgerald. A top level talent, Fitzgerald has had NO ONE to throw him the ball since Kurt Warner retired. Palmer will get the ball to Fitzgerald, making Larry a top tier wide-out in the upcoming year.
Percy Harvin WR SEA An old face in a new place, Harvin takes his talents to the city beneath the needle, Seattle. Harvin is one of the most electric players in the NFL when healthy, and he will reunite with fellow ex-Viking Sidney Rice as one of the best WR tandems in football. His success depends on sophomore QB Russell Wilson, who showed enough poise a season ago while earning the Seahawks a wild card berth. If Harvin remains healthy, he will be a top five value at WR in 2013.
Frank Gore RB SF The ageless wonder will continue his success in the bay area in 2013, as a re-tooled 49ers unit looks to repeat as NFC champions
Julio Jones WR ATL One half of the best WR tandem in the NFL Jones, now a veteran, will cement his place among the elite WR talent in the NFL, but will suffer fantasy wise due to the talent on the Falcons offense.
Demaryius Thomas WR DEN A wide-out on a team with Peyton Manning is always worth a look, especially one who can stretch the field like Thomas. Paired alongside new acquisition Wes Welker, Thomas should find the end zone plenty of times in the Broncos’ offense.
Roddy White WR ATL The other half of Atlanta’s power duo at wide-out, White remains an upper echelon talent at the WR position, but could suffer production wise due to talent within the Falcons’ offensive arsenal.
Wes Welker WR DEN Peyton Manning’s newest weapon in an already deadly arsenal, look for Welker to continue his streak of consecutive 100 catch seasons with Manning at the helm of Denver’s offense.
Tony Gonzalez TE ATL If Tony G can stay healthy, he will return to the ranks of the elite TE’s in 2013 as a member of one of the most explosive offensive units league wide. Gonzalez is extra valuable in PPR leagues as well.
Rob Gronkowski TE NE When healthy, Gronk is the best TE in the NFL. Questions surrounding the health of his left arm have continued farther into the offseason than the Patriots’ would have liked, and thus his stock has fallen somewhat. Keep in mind that Gronk could be the biggest late round value pick of the draft should his injury woes continue into training camp.
Chris Johnson RB TEN The Titans were very active within free agency, and finally have a capable offensive unit around CJ2K. Johnson’s blazing speed makes him a superb option in the passing game as well, and without the added hype and pressure this year, Johnson could return to the ranks of elite RB’s in the upcoming season.
Steven Jackson RB ATL What the Falcons missed most last year with the underwhelming Michael Turner was a viable ground game. Atlanta has filled that need with Jackson who, if healthy, will dominate behind the Falcons’ offensive line in 2013 despite his age.
Randall Cobb WR GB With blazing speed, great hands, and superior explosiveness, the Packers’ wide-out will find success once again with an expanded role in Aaron Rodger’s offense. Cobb’s speed separates himself from other Packers receivers of Jordy Nelson and James Jones in that Cobb has remained relatively injury free thought his young NFL career.
Andre Johnson WR HOU Andre Johnson has been the best receiver in the NFL over the past decade, and will return as the Texans’ primary receiving target in 2013. Johnson finished second behind Megatron a year ago in yardage totals, so if healthy, Andre could be a great value pick deep in next year’s fantasy drafts.
DeMarco Murray RB DAL When healthy, Murray is a rising talent at the running back position, but after missing parts of the last two seasons with semi-serious injuries drafting Murray is a risk many owners may not be willing to take, making him another possible late round bargain.
Reggie Wayne WR IND Until Andrew Luck decides which of his new-breed wide-outs he likes best, continue to expect the veteran Wayne to command the majority of targets in Indianapolis
Vincent Jackson WR TB Jackson had a fantastic season in his first year in Tampa look for he, and QB Josh Freeman, to expound on last season’s positive chemistry into their 2013 campaign.
Victor Cruz WR NYG Cruz Is one of the most explosive offensive weapons in all of football, and if Eli Manning can rediscover this championship-winning form from a few seasons ago, Cruz could find himself at the top of many stat categories after next season.
Maurice Jones-Drew RB JAX Prior to his injury riddled 2012 campaign, MJD was one of the only sure-bets in fantasy sports. So you can bet that if healthy, MJD returns in some way to his pro-bowl form of old.
Jason Witten TE DAL After finishing second in receptions in the NFL a season ago, the ageless wonder Witten will return to a Dallas offense that has only gotten healthier and more experienced since last year.
Michael Crabtree WR SF As one half of the bay area’s best WR tandem, Crabtree should see continued success as QB Colin Kaepernick‘s favorite target, and he’ll garner less attention from defenses with the addition of Anquan Boldin to the 49ers receiving corps.
Dwayne Bowe WR KC Bowe is one of the best talents in the NFL at the WR position, and with a QB not named Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn at the helm, Bowe could have a standout year in 2013.
Pierre Garcon WR WAS When healthy, Garcon is an explosive talent at the WR position, and depending on the health of RGIII, Garcon could have a very productive year if he can avoid the injuries that plagued him a season ago.
Danny Amendola WR NE Filling the shoes left vacant by Wes Welker’s departure, Amendola should be a shoe-in for 100 receptions in 2013, match that with the injuries to Patriots’ TE’s Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, Amendola could be the most productive wide-out for the Patriots in the upcoming year.
Reggie Bush RB DET The Lions rushing attack should be much improved with the addition of Bush who will be very active in the passing game as well. Bush appears to have finally learned his role in the NFL and could make Detroit’s offense a force to be reckoned with in 2013.
Matthew Stafford QB DET Stafford’s 2012 campaign can be summed up in one word- frustrating. Stafford threw for over 4900 yards, good enough for second in the NFL, but had a horrendous ratio of TD’s to INTs (20 to 17). If he can fix his turnover problem, Stafford could be a superb late round value pick.
Matt Ryan QB ATL Ryan owes his success at QB to his offensive weapon set as much as to his own ability, with the addition of Steven Jackson to the Falcon’s offensive arsenal; Ryan should face slightly easier defensive sets in 2013, making him a great value pick in later rounds. Don’t jump too early, as many will have Ryan slated far too high on their draft boards.
Colin Kaepernick QB SF Kaepernicus led the 49ers to a super bowl appearance ago, and is a dual threat both with his legs and his cannon for an arm. If Kaepernick continues his progression and growth as a pocket passer, Kaeprnicus could be an elite level talent come next offseason.
Jordy Nelson WR GB Aaron Rodger’s favorite target from a season ago, Nelson should repeat his on field success as a product of the pass heavy system ran by the Green Bay Packers.
Aaron Hernandez TE NE Hernandez caught the injury bug in 2012, when healthy, he is a dominant receiver, and a large target for perennial pro-bowler Tom Brady. If Hernandez can stay healthy, he will make up an integral part of the Patriots’ passing attack.
Darren McFadden RB OAK When healthy, McFadden is one of the best talents at the RB position league wide, yet his injury history makes him easily avoidable on draft day. If he slips into the later rounds, take the gamble that someday, McFadden could actually play a full slate of games at an NFL level.
Mike Wallace WR MIA Wallace’s explosive speed could be an asset to sophomore gun-slinger Ryan Tannehill. Complemented by Brian Hartline, Miami’s offense has a new look and it’s centered on the former Steeler.
Greg Jennings WR MIN If Percy Harvin‘s first half success from a year ago is anything to go by, Jennings will have a major impact on the Vikings’ offense this season. However, Jennings could be irrelevant due to the lack of talent at QB for Minnesota. Will either Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel be able to get the ball to Jennings enough for him to be fantasy relevant? This remains to be seen, so consider him a high end flex or low end WR2 in the upcoming year.
Marques Colston WR NO Drew Brees’ favorite receiver returns to the Saints in 2013, so expect business as usual from Mr. Colston.
Antonio Brown WR PIT Ben Roethlisberger is running out of weapons, so Brown’s role should be expanded in 2013. Brown was a major part of the Steeler’s offense a season ago, and with the departure of Mike Wallace, Brown could be more active than ever in the Steeler’s passing game.
Hakeem Nicks WR NYG No one questions his talent, just his ability to stay on the field. If Nicks can stay healthy for 2013, he is a viable option in the WR slot in your starting lineup. If not, reaching too high for Nicks could prove fatal to one’s playoff hopes in fantasy football.
Russell Wilson QB SEA The gunslinger in charge of Seattle’s success comes in the form of former rookie surprise Russell Wilson who finished last season with the eighth best quarterback rating in all of football. Wilson is a versatile QB who scored four touchdowns on the ground in addition to his 26 passing TD’s. Wilson has the potential to be a top level fantasy QB if he can limit his turnovers. Regardless, Wilson could be a late round steal for a starting quarterback slot on anyone’s fantasy team.
Danario Alexander WR RFA Alexander is a restricted free agent who has yet to sign his tender, but has yet to receive any offers either. The Chargers’ biggest surprise from a season ago came in the form of Alexander, who had just under 700 yards receiving to pair up with 7 receiving TD’s. If Alexander continues to find the end zone, he will be  a great option as a third WR or FLEX option.
David Wilson RB NYG Wilson has explosive speed, and if he can get out from under the shadow of Andre Brown, Wilson could expose himself as an excellent complement to Eli Manning in the Giant’s offense in 2013.
Lamar Miller RB MIA Miami has turned the page after losing Reggie Bush to the Lions through free agency, and will move on with Lamar Miller to lead their rushing attack. Expect Daniel Thomas to play a part in this unit as well, but Miller appears to be the early favorite.
 Cecil Shorts  WR  JAX  Shorts will catch balls no matter who is throwing them, and appears to have out shined the Jaguars’ top selection from a year ago, Justin Blackmon. Whether its Chad Henne or Blaine Gabbert behind the reins of the Jaguars’ offense, Shorts will find a way to succeed.
Darren Sproles RB NO Sproles will benefit from a pass happy offensive unit and one of the best Quarterbacks in football as he suits up in New Orleans for another year. Sproles has never been a great pure rusher, but his pass catching skills out of the backfield mark him as a must have in all PPR leagues.
Ryan Mathews RB SD The Chargers’ workhorse had a season marred by injury and will look to rebound in 2013. I’m not big on Mathews, and wouldn’t be surprised should the Chargers select a running back in this year’s draft.
Steve Smith WR CAR Smith struggled last year but still managed to lead the Panthers in receiving. Expect the veteran to have another solid season with the athletic Cam Newton at the helm of Carolina’s passing attack.
Vick Ballard RB IND Ballard is expected to carry the bulk of the rushing load in Indianapolis this season. As a rookie Ballard showed poise and excellent toughness on the Colts’ playoff run from a season ago.
Eric Decker WR DEN Decker is the third option in Denver’s passing game, and though he is exceptionally talented, do not reach for him in a draft.  Peyton Manning has a plethora of weapons at his disposal, so don’t be surprised if Decker fails to match his offensive production from a last year.
James Jones WR GB James Jones is to Green Bay as Eric Decker is to Denver.
Torrey Smith WR BAL Smith will lead the Ravens’ receiving corps this year, so expect him to shoulder the majority of Joe Flacco‘s ‘elite’ burden.
Steve Johnson WR BUF Until the Bills find another wide-out to compliment Johnson, his status will forever lie in the realm of WR3-FLEX range, though Kevin Kolb may help his value slightly.
Robert Griffin III QB WAS Expect RGIII‘s stock to rise as his recovery progresses. No one will know if or when the Redskins’ sophomore will return to his full potential, or falter in his recovery.
Andrew Luck QB IND Luck threw too many interceptions in 2012, if he can learn from his mistakes; the former #1 overall selection will progress in his development both for the Colts and in the fantasy spectrum.
Tony Romo QB DAL Romo is a far more developed passer within the realm of fantasy football than outside it, so look for Romo to be a bye week fill in or grab him late for maximum value as a starter.
Miles Austin WR DAL As a third option in a less than elite system, expect Austin to get decidedly less than a lion’s share of the grabs in Dallas this season, but he remains a solid vertical threat regardless.
Willis McGahee RB DEN McGahee is officially old in terms of running back standards, and his history of knee injuries puts his reliability further in question. Denver will take a hard look at the RB position in the draft, as well as observing Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno in camp. Wait for this situation to develop further before taking a gamble on McGahee.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis RB CIN The law firm may find himself as part of a running back stable by the start of training camp as Cincinnati is rumored to be taking a hard look at running backs via the draft. Tread carefully here as BJGE may lose his starting slot early in 2013.
Bilal Powell RB NYJ The Jets will have to do something on offense this year right? As of now, Powell is a young explosive back who should get plenty of touches behind the incompetent Mark Sanchez or aging David Garrard. Did somebody say Tim Tebow?
Owen Daniels TE HOU Daniels will be the second option in the passing game for the run-heavy Texans. Expect him to find the end zone early and often in 2013.
Josh Gordon WR CLE If Brandon Weeden can’t find a rhythm with the speedy wide-out, Gordon will struggle. However, if Weeden shows significant development in his second year, he will most certainly develop a rhythm with Gordon who showed flashes of brilliance in his first season with Cleveland a year ago.
Jeremy Maclin WR PHI When healthy, Maclin can play at a high level, and compete against most cornerbacks at the professional level. Staying healthy has been his issue, as he missed time last season for multiple injuries, and couldn’t find a place within the struggling Eagles’ offense when he was on the field.
Rashard Mendenhall RB ARZ Mendenhall will have one last shop to resurrect his career in Arizona. On the bright side, Arizona’s offense should be less one dimensional this season with the addition of Carson Palmer, though their offensive line leaves much to be desired.
Justin Blackmon WR JAX The Jaguars’ first round selection from a year ago showed flashes of brilliance down the stretch last year, but a complex QB situation and the fact that Blackmon will be playing second fiddle to last year’s breakout sleeper Cecil Shorts lessens his value significantly.
DeSean Jackson WR PHI DeSean Jackson had an average season in 2012. Jackson will try and right the ship in a new offensive system, but Jackson’s time in the spotlight will be gone after this year if he cannot find success on the field.
Vernon Davis TE SF Davis was a case of Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde last season, as in he appeared to hide for the majority of the 49ers games. Expect an expanded role in Colin Kaepernick’s new offense this season.
Dennis Pitta TE BAL Pitta exploded onto the scene as one of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets last season, and with the departure of Anquan Boldin, expect Pitta to have a lion’s share of targets in 2013.
Sidney Rice WR SEA Rice will only go as far as second year QB Russell Wilson takes him, but reuniting with ex-teammate Percy Harvin can’t hurt his value.
Kenny Britt WR TEN When healthy, and well behaved, Britt is one of the best talent’s at WR in the league, unfortunately, Britt has battled health issues as well as behavioral problems his entire career. We shall see how his chemistry with QB Jake Locker has developed after a year together.
Mike Williams WR TB Williams will play second fiddle to V-Jax, but should see his fair share of targets from the Buc’s QB, Josh Freeman.
T.Y. Hilton WR IND Hilton will try and improve on his excellent rookie campaign and continue his development alongside Andrew Luck. If Luck takes the next step in his development in 2013, Hilton’s stock will rise as well.
Kendall Wright WR TEN Wright had an excellent rookie campaign, and without Nate Washington impeding his targets, Wright could be in a for a banner year in Tennessee.
Brian Hartline WR MIA Hartline received a major pay raise this offseason, and with the addition of Mike Wallace to the Dolphins’ receiving corps Hartline will go where sophomore QB Ryan Tannehill takes him.
Emmanuel Sanders WR PIT The Steelers will have to throw to someone other than Heath Miller and Antonio Brown right?
Lance Moore WR NO Moore is the third option of a pass heavy attack, and should find a fair share of receptions this year. Furthermore, Moore a significant threat in the end zone as well.
Denarius Moore WR OAK Don’t draft any Raiders not named Darren McFadden, but if you must, Denarius Moore should be the primary target for whoever takes the helm of the Raiders’ passing game.
Brandon LaFell WR CAR LaFell will once again line up across from the ageless wonder Steve Smith, and thus will garner much less defensive attention than his counterpart.
Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT Big Ben could be a big steal in the late rounds of your fantasy draft. When healthy, Roethlisberger is still a viable option as a fantasy starter.
Michael Vick QB PHI When healthy, and with a functional offensive line, Vick has enough explosiveness to be  fantasy relevant yet again. Vick is a rushing threat as well as passing, and thus finds his way into the back end of the top 100 players for next season.
Greg Olsen TE CAR Olsen was a major red zone target for Cam Newton last season, and should continue to play the role of safety net for Superman.
Kyle Rudolph TE MIN Rudolph has a tremendous skill set and is a viable red zone option. If the Vikings’ TE had a viable QB throwing to him, Rudolph’s ceiling would be much higher in 2013.
Josh Freeman QB TB Freeman is a deep sleeper at the QB position, and has a plethora of weapons surrounding him, making him a viable option for bye week fill-ins and even as a starter in deeper leagues.
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Benjamin Haley

Ben Haley is the Sports Director for 91.3 FM WVUD. Ben also serves as a sports broadcaster for the University of Delaware. . He is the main Philadelphia Eagles contributor for HighPhive.com! You can follow him on Twitter @BenHaley11.