2013 Fantasy Football Outlook: The Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers is a top rated Fantasy Football Quarterback again this season.The field general, the admiral, the most important position on the field, the quarterback is the heart and soul of each team. But from  a fantasy perspective, your quarterback may not be the most important pick on draft day.  For the 2013 season, the quarterback position has so many quality players, it may be wise to wait before selection your gunslinger. Sure, selecting Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Drew Brees is a considerable advantage, but selecting them too early could mean destruction for your fantasy football team. Below are a list of quarterbacks that will help your fantasy team in 2013, if taken in the correct rounds. Tier’s A, B, and C are full of players who could take you to the promised land. Below that, sleepers and busts galore.

Tier A

Tier A players at the quarterback position include the obvious: Brady, Brees, Manning, and Rodgers, but I’ll add another name to this list, Cam Newton. Newton finished a couple hundred yards shy of 4,000, and added 741 rushing yards and 8 rushing touchdowns. If he can ease up on his TD to INT ratio (19-12) Newton will take his game to the next level and become a dominant passer in this league. It is the era of the rushing quarterback, and Newton has the ability to single-handedly  win a fantasy match-up on any given week.

Tier B

Most amazing about this group is the fact that Matt Ryan is still in it. Matty Ice and the dirty birds pose one of the most threatening offenses in the game today, but somehow Ryan can’t seem to take his game to the next level. Ryan did have a very impressive 2012, throwing for over 4,000 yards with 32 TD’s and only 14 interceptions, but shouldn’t we expect more from a gunslinger with Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez to throw to?  Also in tier B are the trio of mobile quarterbacks taking over the league: Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, and Robert Griffin III if the  latter is healthy by the start of the season. All three of these men have tremendous boom or bust potential because of their ability to make plays with their legs. In most fantasy formats, rushing yards count more than passing, so these versatile players get an added boost in value because of that ability. Also in tier B will be the Lions quarterback, Matthew Stafford. Stafford and Drew Brees were the only two players to throw for over 5,000 passing yards a season ago, but Stafford is down  a group from Brees because unlike his counterpart in New Orleans, Stafford had quite the pedestrian TD/INT ratio (20-17). If Stafford can cut down on the turnovers, and perhaps find the end zone a bit more, he will cement himself as one of the fantasy elite.

Tier C

Should you decide to wait on a quarterback and solidify your positional needs first, an excellent strategy, Tier C is a group of players who will be available in later rounds, but could prove just as serviceable as members of Tier B.  We’ll begin with Andrew Luck, who has tremendous potential, and  a re-tooled offense heading into 2013. If Luck can limit turnovers, he will be a tremendous value pick late in this year’s fantasy draft. Forgive me Eagles fans, but Eli Manning will be in this group as well, especially considering the talent around him. Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Brandon Myers will flourish in the Giants system, and David Wilson is an excellent option to catch passes out of the backfield as well. I’ll put Carson Palmer here as well, because any capable quarterback throwing to Larry Fitzgerald is not a bad option. Furthermore, Arizona has a capable young receiving corps as well, which is made much better by the pass catching ability of TE Rob Housler, who could be in store for a breakout year. Reluctantly, I’ll place Tony Romo  here as well, because how bad Tony is in crunch time, he is that good in garbage time, and can rack up easy points like no one in the game today.  Rounding out this group will be big Ben Roethlisberger, who somehow remains fantasy relevant after the departure of his top receiver, Mike Wallace.

Sleepers

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton could be in for a career year in 2013, and could be a great buy-late option, but don’t reach for the third year man, as he has as much bust potential as his boom. Rams gunslinger Sam Bradford will have his best receiving corps of his playing career to date, as Chris Givens and Tayvon Austin both have tremendous quickness and breakaway speed. The issues here remain however, lack of running game, and sub par protection could spell the end of Bradford’s career in St. Louis. Josh Freeman is a capable fantasy quarterback, and an excellent backup, but only time will tell if he has the ability to take his game to the next level. If he can’t do so in 2013, Tampa Bay may go in another direction. Jay Cutler will have a very capable receiving corps in Chicago this year, as second year wide out Alhston Jeffery seems to be poised for a breakout year across from one of the game’s elite, Brandon Marshall. Rounding out this group are Ryan Tannehill, who could make the jump into fantasy relevance due to the weapons at his disposal, and Alex Smith, who found a new home in a pass-happy offense in Kansas City. We all know Andy Reid likes to throw the ball, so Smith will benefit from Reid’s pass happy system. Finally, and most surprising of this group, Jake Locker of the Titans has big potential here. Locker has great arm strength, fantastic weapons around him, and good speed as well. Locker could pay dividends for owners who wait until very late in the draft to grab him, and has the potential to be one of the biggest surprises of 2013.

Busts

Don’t reach for anyone here,

Joe Flacco won a Superbowl, then promptly lost his best weapon to the 49ers in Anquan Boldin. Flacco threw for almost 4,000 yards a year ago, but found the end-zone only 22 times, but did limit himself to just 10 interceptions. Baltimore is a run heavy offense without a ton of depth at wide receiver, so Flacco looks to be a guy who will be drafted far too high in 2013.

Philip Rivers had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2012, and Antonio Gates isn’t getting any younger. Furthermore, Rivers is a turnover machine stuck in a stagnant offense. Buyers beware.

The Texans fate lies with Matt Schaub in 2013, but don’t let the fate of your fantasy team rest here. Schaub will never be an elite passer, and should be nothing more than a backup on your roster, should he make one at all.

Just Don’t Do It

Christian Ponder, Brandon Weeden, Matt Flynn, and quarterbacks from Oakland, the New York Jets, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and Buffalo fall in this category. Trust me, just don’t do it.

One of the most interesting quarterback situations for this season will be the one in Buffalo. The Bills reached high into the first round and selected Florida State’s QB EJ Manuel. Manuel will compete with free agent signee Kevin Kolb, and if the former wins, he could bring added value due to his rushing ability. The same could be said for Geno Smith in New York should he best Mark Sanchez, though the weapons surrounding him are much less significant than those in Buffalo.

Finally, we head to Philadelphia, where no starter will be named until training camp. Chip Kelly could go one of three ways here, and I’m not sure any would be fantasy relevant. Sure, taking the risk on a mobile quarterback in Michael Vick in a late round could prove profitable, but the Eagles will run the ball a lot more this year, and there is no guarantee Vick will play anywhere close to 16 games should he win the starting job. This is a situation I would watch before jumping into, so for now, stick to drafting wide receivers and running backs from Philly, while the quarterbacks fight it out.

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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.