Monday, August 5, 2013

2013 Fantasy Football Preview: Quarterback

Believe it or not fall is right around the corner and with it, the beginning of football season! Fantasy football drafting is in full swing for 2013. A good friend of mine and are authoring a series of articles previewing the most interesting fantasy players for the 2013 season. 

Here is the counterpoint article on his blog.
(Be sure to check out the rest of his blog)

And here is my full 2013 QB preview:

2013 Fantasy Quarterback Preview

Tom Brady: 4000 yds passing; 30 passing TDs; 8 INTs

Prepare for more disappointment in New England.

Tom Brady is and has been one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL since the early 2000s. Bill Belichick and Brady have teamed up to create an offensive juggernaut that has put up points and stats at a ridiculous pace. Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and even Brandon Lloyd have been fantasy studs in the potent New England offense. However, after a New York Jets-esque offseason filled with drama and the signing of Tim Tebow (coincidence? I think not… ) the future of New England is filled with question marks.

Tom Brady’s #1 target, Wes Welker, has left the Patriots for Denver and Peyton Manning. Last year Welker accounted for 28% of Brady’s passing yards, and the year before that 30%. The Patriots have attempted to make up for the loss of Welker by signing Danny Amendola—a highly talented receiver with great hands and a high ratio of catches to targets. He has been described as “the poor man’s Welker” and he seems poised for a breakout year in New England; however, injuries have plagued him and he has yet to play a full season. If Amendola can stay healthy he has the ability to replace Welker, but with his injury history, that if is a big IF. The rest of the receiving corps after Amendola is underwhelming. Rookie Aaron Dobson has impressed in camp, but the rest have looked painfully inept.

The tight end situation is even more tenuous. With Aaron Hernandez cut and Rob Gronkowski likely out until Week 6 the Patriots have been running Jake Ballard and Tim Tebow out at tight end. Let that sink in. The duo of Hernandez and Gronkowski accounted for 26% of Brady’s passing yards last year. In 2011 it was a whopping 43%! If Gronkowski returns in Week 6 who knows what he will be able to do. Back injuries are difficult to predict, but Gronk is a beast when he plays and should help.

The loss, for good, of Hernandez and Welker, the absence of Gronkowski for who knows how long, and the high injury risk of Amendola and lack of alternative targets leaves Tom Brady’s fantasy value very clouded. I am going to have to predict that he will go UNDER that stat line. To be clear, I do not think Brady will be valueless in fantasy—a below average Brady is still going to be better than an Andy Dalton or Eli Manning—but do not expect the Tom Brady of 2011. I think that you can expect fantasy value more along the lines of 3700 yards, 27 TDs, and 8 INTs.

More after the jump

Colin Kaepernick: 3000 passing yards; 500 rushing yards; 25 Passing/rushing TDs; 7 INTs


He'll be Kaepernicking a lot less this year.
Colin Kaepernick took over the starting QB job in San Francisco last year following an injury to Alex Smith and never looked back. He was excellent in the playoffs leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl where they lost. This year both real life and fantasy expectations are high for the young Kaepernick. Many fantasy gurus have him ranked in the top 10 fantasy QBs for this season and comparisons are constantly being drawn between him and the other two successful mobile rookie QBs from last year: Russell Wilson and RGIII. However, I think that fantasy expectations for Kaepernick are higher than warranted. In 8 regular season starts last year Kaepernick threw for 1,725 yards, rushed for 304 yards and 13 passing/rushing TDs. That is only a half of a season at starter and puts him on pace for 3450 passing yards, 600 rushing yards and 26 TDs - roughly the stat line we placed for him this year. That would place him in the top ten QBs by points in 2012.

However, Michael Crabtree, Kaepernick’s #1 target is out for the year with an injury. Vernon Davis reappeared in the playoffs but he is far from the dependable fantasy tight end he used to be and Kaepernick and he have never shown a real rapport. San Francisco did sign Anquan Boldin, who I think will be an underrated addition for the 49ers and will help Kaepernick, but Boldin alone is not enough to help Kaepernick. The 49ers will still be a run first - pass later team as they pound opposing teams with Frank Gore while stifling them with their defense. As such I predict Kaepernick will be UNDER that stat line. Expect something more along the lines of 2800 passing yards, 400 rushing, and 18 TDs - not quite worth the top ten slot he has in fantasy QB rankings.

Joe Flacco: 3500 passing yards; 22 passing TDs; 10 INTs


That confetti might be money from his new contract.

In the NFL today everyone wants an elite QB; the term is so overused that it really has no meaning anymore. If you can play better than Tony Romo and win big games, you can probably find someone on ESPN to call you an elite QB. Well that is exactly what Joe Flacco did last year - he played very well and won the Super Bowl so suddenly he is now better than Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady - I mean, they didn’t win the Super Bowl last year right?

Joe Flacco is a solid real life QB who rarely puts up big fantasy points. His overall stats last year were very good: 3,817 yards and 22 TDs. However the Ravens offseason has not been kind to Flacco’s offense. Anquan Boldin - his #1 target and most reliable receiver was not resigned by Baltimore, Dennis Pitta, the starting TE is out for the year with an injury and Baltimore’s defense is not as good as it used to be. Third year receiver Torrey Smith is set as the clear #1 receiver, and his skills and speed point to him  having a break-out year. Ed Dickson has proved himself serviceable in the past at tight end and Ray Rice is still a beast especially when Flacco gets him the ball in the flat. (Like this:

Sans his rookie season, Flacco has consistently thrown for at least 3600 passing yards per season. I see no reason that will stop even with the loss of Boldin and Pitta. I am predicting that Flacco will go OVER that stat line to the tune of 3700 passing yards, 24 TDs and 10 INTs. Flacco is a top option for a QB2 in two quarterback leagues and certainly a low cost serviceable starting QB in 12 team leagues or larger.  

Carson Palmer: 4,000 yds, 25 TDs; 15 INTs

He's just happy to have a QB in Arizona again.

Carson Palmer’s first full season in Oakland was a real life nightmare as the Raiders stumbled to a 4-12 record. However, Palmers stats were surprisingly glitzy as he threw for 4,000 yards and 22 TDs with a less than stellar receiving corps. Sure, most of those stats were garbage time stats as the Palmer threw all over prevent defenses in blowout losses but there is hope for 2013. Palmer was traded to the Arizona Cardinals where he will take over a team that has fielded a comedy of errors at QB ever since Kurt Warner retired. No one is happier about the addition than Larry Fitzgerald, who might be the best WR in the NFL if he ever had someone who could throw to him. Well this year, he does, and Carson Palmer stands to benefit greatly from having Fitzgerald as his #1 target. Behind Fitzgerald is a quietly solid receiving corps headed by 2nd year man Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts and possibly even speed demon Patrick Peterson. This excellent set of receivers should provide plenty of targets for Palmer to rack up the yards and TDs. Furthermore, Bruce Arians showed last year in Indianapolis that he likes high flying offenses and is not afraid to let his QB air out the ball - one can expect much of the same in Arizona with Palmer, Fitzy, and Company.

I am buying into the Palmer hype all the way. I predict Palmer goes OVER that stat line passing for 4100 yards,  27 TDs, and 15 INTs (of which at least 1500/12 are to Fitzy). Palmer is poised for a great year - and if you are the high risk high reward type of drafter, I recommend Palmer as a low cost option with big returns for 2013. Draft late and enjoy the rewards.  

Matt Ryan: 4700 passing yards; 35 TDs; 13 INTs

He'll be doing plenty of gun-slinging in Hot-lanta this year.

Matt Ryan just signed a five year extension worth 103.75 million dollars - roughly $20 million a year or $103 million per playoff win. Thats right, Matt Ryan for all his gaudy stats has only won one playoff game in his whole career. Thankfully, in fantasy, we don’t have to worry about the real life playoffs - just the regular season. Last year Matt Ryan threw for 4719 yards and 32 touchdowns - and with two of the best wide receivers in the game in Roddy White and Julio Jones, the return of Tony Gonzalez for one more year and the signing of Stephen Jackson there is nothing but bright skies ahead for Atlanta and Matt Ryan. The White/Jones tandem did not disappoint in 2012 as they combined for 2549 yards and 17 TDs. They should continue their excellent play in 2013. Tony Gonzalez has agreed to return to the Falcons for one more year at TE and the biggest beneficiary will be Matt Ryan. Gonzalez is a sure handed excellent target at TE especially in the red zone. Furthermore, the addition of Stephen Jackson gives Ryan a mobile target out of the backfield with great hands unlike Michael Turner whose mobility and speed was comparable to a large boulder. Expect the addition of Jackson to help Ryan both in yards and TDs.

Atlanta was one game away from the Superbowl last year and they have only gotten better over the offseason. I am predicting Matt Ryan will go OVER that stat line to the tune of 4900 yards, 38 TDs and 15 INTs. Hot-lanta’s offense will be just that - and Matt Ryan’s fantasy owners will be loving the explosive high scoring output in 2013. 

 Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below. Want to hear more about a particular player? Suggest him below and he may be featured in an upcoming column.

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