This is the second in a series of posts ranking players' fantasy potential for the 2013 NFL season.
This post will focus on quarterbacks. You can take a look at the running back rankings here.
1. Aaron Rodgers, GB – Rodgers is the safest selection at the quarterback spot. He has thrown for at least 30 touchdowns in three of the last four seasons while never posting more than 11 interceptions. The Packers’ offensive line is still a concern as they allowed Rodgers to get sacked a league-high 51 times last season. But despite this, Rodgers was still able to put up some serious points, and there is no reason to expect anything less than another stellar season from the former MVP.
2. Drew Brees, NO – Brees is a stud. Consider this 1B to Rodgers’ 1A, as you can’t really go wrong with either. Brees has led the league in passing touchdowns four out of the last five years, and he has also compiled over 10,000 yards over the past two seasons. He continues to have a plethora of weapons around him along with a sturdy offensive line. Interceptions are the only drawback with Brees, as he’s had 55 of them over the past three seasons. Still, Brees is a threat to explode week-in and week-out, and he is well worth a high-round selection.
3. Peyton Manning, DEN – There was a lot of doubt surrounding Manning heading into last season. However after throwing for over 4,500 yards and 37 touchdowns, it is safe to say that doubt has been erased. Manning enters this season behind a slightly banged up offensive line, but still surrounded by weapons, including the recently-added super slot receiver Wes Welker. Similar numbers to last season can be expected, but at 37 with multiple neck surgeries under his belt, there is still some risk in this selection.
4. Tom Brady, NE – Brady may miss top target Wes Welker, but if anyone can overcome the loss, it’s Brady. Despite seemingly losing offense weapons every offseason, Brady and the Pats always find a way to get the job done and put up points. They will need that resiliency this season as they will likely start the year without their top two tight ends from last season. Still, Brady is likely a lock to throw for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns and remains a top-tier fantasy quarterback.
5. Matt Ryan, ATL – Cam Newton is a popular pick here, but Ryan may be more safe and consistent. Ryan has improved his numbers each of the past three seasons, and he has one of the best receiving duos in the league in Julio Jones and Roddy White. Ryan’s tight end target, Tony Gonzalez, returns as well. Ryan has plenty of targets, and will get more than enough pass attempts, he can be expected to surpass 4,000 yards and 30 touchdown tosses.
6. Cam Newton, CAR – Two words: running ability. Newton has 22 rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons; better than a lot of backs. Although he posts pedestrian passing numbers, the additional points he picks up with his feet make him a fantasy force. Newton can close in on 1,000 yards rushing and 4,000 yards passing this season with a combined touchdown total of over 30. Newton isn’t the most conventional fantasy quarterback, but he is a threat to put up major points every time he is on the field.
7. Tony Romo, DAL – You may not want him as your favorite team’s starting quarterback in a playoff game, but you can’t argue against his regular season production. He has put up 4,000 yards in three of the past four seasons, with an injury-riddled 2010 being the lone exception. With Dez Bryant positioned for a big year, and Jason Witten still in fold, Romo should flirt with 30 touchdowns and is a solid fantasy selection.
8. Matthew Stafford, DET – Stafford led the league in attempts each of the last two seasons, so you know you’re getting volume. Stafford has the league’s best receiver in Calvin Johnson serving as a top target, and as long as Johnson stays healthy, Stafford is a fantasy threat. His touchdown total dipped last season, but with a healthy cast he can be expected to bounce back. The attempts will be there, making Stafford a viable option for the value.
9. Colin Kaepernick, SF – 2013 represents Kaepernick’s first full season as a starter, and if he can continue to post the numbers that he did throughout the second half of last season he may develop into a top fantasy quarterback. He put up 15 total touchdowns last season, five of them with his feet, establishing himself as a duel threat. He also only threw three interceptions. No one knows exactly what to expect out of Kaep’ first full season, but the ceiling is extremely high.
10. Robert Griffin III, WAS – There may have not been a more talked about quarterback this offseason. Everyone wants to see how the young gunslinger will bounce back from his nasty knee injury that basically ended the Redskins season last year. All indications are that he will be good to go, but there is still some risk involved with this selection. As long as he is on the field however, Griffin is dynamic and always has the potential to put up points. He had seven rushing touchdowns last season, in addition to tossing 20. Look for him to repeat or eclipse those numbers this season.
11. Russell Wilson, SEA – What to expect from Wilson in his second season? He was remarkably consistent for a rookie last year, tossing 26 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. He still has to prove that he is worth starter status in fantasy leagues, and losing Percy Harvin certainly hurts, but Wilson’s ability to run makes him intriguing and his ceiling is high. He may well be worth a mid-round selection.
12. Eli Manning, NYG – Manning has a lot of weapons around him, at least. Nicks and Cruz are healthy, and Manning always seems to throw right around 30 touchdowns. Interceptions and low yardage totals are concerns, but you know what you get with Manning, He may no longer have starter status, but he is still solid.
13. Andrew Luck, IND – Luck played impressively well for a rookie last season, and she still has room to grow. Luck threw 18 interceptions; he needs to cut back in that category. He has a new offensive coordinator with the Colts, Pep Hamilton,t he same one he happened to have in college, so expectations are elevated. Don’t be surprised to see him approach 5,000 yards and 30 total touchdowns.
14. Mike Vick, PHI - Some may say this is too high, but there is upside with Vick. The offense is in his hands, but does he has enough threats? He said he plans to run, which is intriguing, but also opens him up to injury. He is likely to miss at least a game, and can’t be counted on as a starter. But, he has a lot of bright side as a backup.
15. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT - Big Ben gets banged up, as he hasn’t played a full season since 2008. At 31, Roethlisberger isn’t as reliable as he was in his younger years, but he is still going to toss 20-some touchdowns and over 3,000 yards. He may be best served as a spot-starter, filling up for a full-time guy.
16. Joe Flacco, BAL - Flacco got the money, but he’s never been a top-tier fantasy quarterback. Torrey Smith is a stud, so if Flacco can get him the ball consistently he will put up some points. Ray Rice serves as a nice safety valve as well, and he will more than likely turn a couple touchdowns this season. Until he proves otherwise however, Flacco remains a backup fantasy option.
17. Carson Palmer, ARI – Maybe slightly optimistic for Palmer, but a fresh start and Larry Fitzgerald may serve him well. He won’t be the player he was during his heyday in Cincinnati, but at the very least there is potential for him in Arizona, and he serves as an intriguing backup option.
18. Matt Schaub, HOU- Schaub has often been overlooked, but his days of being a solid starting option may be over. The Texans are a ground-based team which hurts his value, as does the aging of Andre Johnson. Still, he can be expected to toss over 20 touchdowns, and he serves as a solid backup option.
19. Sam Bradford, STL - The Rams are bad and it hurts Bradford, but he still gets opportunities Bradford has some skill, but his ceiling is only so high in that offense. Look for 25 touchdowns and at least a handful of interceptions as well.
20. Andy Dalton, CLE - Dalton has his moments, but he makes some mistakes as well. AJ Green is a nice option to have, and Green should benefit from his presence, but he is still not a starter. At this point in his career, he is a backup option at best.
21. Philip Rivers, SD – Rivers is a maddening fantasy player. One week he may put up serious points, only to follow it up with a poor performance. While he gets ample opportunities, he has never been able to take the leap to the upper-echelon of quarterbacks. He makes an above-average backup, but is too inconsistent to be a starter.
22. Jay Cutler, CHI – 2012 was a disappointment for Cutler, 2013 may project to be a bit better. Still, Cutler is also too inconsistent to be a starter, despite having Brandon Marshall as his top target. He hasn’t topped 20 touchdowns either of the past two seasons, so you shouldn’t expect much more this season.
23. Josh Freeman, TB – Freeman had a rough end to 2012, and confidence in him is not at an all time high. Still, he managed to toss 27 touchdowns and throw for over 4,000 yards. Similar opportunities will be there this season, and the continued development of weapon Doug Martin should help Freeman’s cause.
24. Alex Smith, KC – Smith’s numbers are never eye-popping, but he is consistent. He will get plenty of attempts under pass-happy Andy Reid, and Jamaal Charles serves as a serious threat in the receiving game. Still, you can’t expect more than 20 touchdowns tosses from Smith, who remains a backup at best.
25. Jake Locker, TEN - Locker should have the opportunity to develop into a legitimate fantasy backup this season. If he can stay healthy, he has a nice corps of receivers with which to throw to, and Chris Johnson provides a nice option in the ground game. There are still some question marks about Locker’s NFL ability, so pick with caution.
26. Ryan Tannehill, MIA – Tannehill tossed more interceptions than touchdowns last season, and doesn’t exactly have fantasy owners drooling. Mike Wallace will provide a solid deep threat, but otherwise Tannehill’s options remain limited. He is a lower-level backup.
27. Brandon Weeden, CLE - Weeden will be the starter for the Browns heading into the season, following an up-and-down 2012. He threw 14 touchdowns but also had 17 interceptions, and is best suited buried on the bench as a backup.
28. Matt Flynn, OAK – Flynn still only has two NFL starts under his belt, so no one knows quite what to expect. He showed a lot of potential with the Packers, but Oakland doesn’t have that talented of an offense. There is some upside here, but how much is uncertain.
29. Christian Ponder, MIN – Ponder may need to step up this season if he hopes to remain the Vikings go-to-guy at the QB spot. He was extremely inconsistent last season, despite improving his overall numbers. He will have opportunities, but the Redzone is Adrian Peterson’s territory, so Ponder’s points will likely be limited.
30. EJ Manuel, BUF – Manuel should get a chance to show what he can do this season, but the learning curve may be difficult. Manuel is likely to struggle, but still the upside, and the presence of C.J. Spiller as a safety valve, make him an intriguing backup option.