2013 Fantasy Football Ranking Tiers
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- A word of warning: I’m higher on Chicago Bears skill position players than most living human beings. I think head coach Marc Trestman’s brand of West Coast Offense will make for an offense with much more opportunity — and fantasy appeal — this season. The Bears will sport a high-volume passing offense. Trestman’s success in the Canadian Football League and his sparkling track record with quarterbacks should get a lot of attention. That, dear reader, is why I have Jay Cutler in Tier 4.
- Probably my Tannehill ranking will require 24-hour police protection for my friends and loved ones. It’s higher than most you’ll see, but — as you may have guessed — there are reasons: The Dolphins scored an inordinate number of rushing touchdowns in 2012, a number that’s bound to regress in 2013. Tannehill’s receiving options have gone from the worst in the league to mediocre with the additions of Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller. Tannehill, an underrated athlete and converted wide receiver, averaged 31 yards rushing over his last six games.
- Matthew Stafford, like his teammate and favorite robotic target Calvin Johnson, is a regression special in 2013. Stafford tossed just 20 touchdowns on more than 700 pass attempts last season. Megatron was tackled inside the two-yard line a handful of times. Regression is their friend.
- Andrew Luck has quite a few red flags tacked on to his 2013 fantasy value, and while his fantasy ceiling is high, his floor is rather frightening.
- Matt Ryan, in case you missed it, is the only pass-happy, efficient quarterback with a reasonable average draft position in 2013.
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- The Trestman Effect strikes again. Matt Forte is a premiere pass-catching running back in an offense that uses a whole range of screen passes to substitute for the run, as Trestman did with the Oakland Raiders in 2002. I don’t care that he’ll lose goal line carries to Michael Bush. Forte will be plenty involved.
- We can only hope Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz wasn’t trolling fantasy owners when he said Reggie Bush could catch upwards of 80 passes this year. Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell caught a combined 86 passes last season.
- Shane Vereen‘s playing time is set to “spike” after Danny Woodhead departed the great northeast for San Diego, where he’ll be a thorn in the side of Ryan Mathews owners in 2013. Tom Brady called Vereen “so very special” after Vereen played more snaps than Stevan Ridley in the Patriots’ divisional round playoff victory last January. Ridley will retain quite a bit of fantasy relevance, but I think Vereen’s emergence — especially as a passing down threat — will remove some of Ridley’s shine.
- Darren Sproles missed three games in 2012 and still led all running backs with 75 receptions. He was targeted a whopping 93 times — 13 more than any other back. With Sean Payton back from exile, you’ll be drafting Sproles as a receiver that can be conveniently plugged into your fantasy lineup’s running back spot. Triple-digit catches certainly isn’t out of the question for Sproles.
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- If you’re thinking of Danny Amendola as a poor man’s Wes Welker, you’re doing it wrong. Amendola can do what Welker did for the Patriots, and more. Chemistry with Brady will be our known unknown with Amendola headed into 2013.
- Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is committed to moving Larry Fitzgerald across the formation this season, doing anything and everything to ensure defenses can’t predict how Fitzgerald will be used in what’s sure to be a pass-happy offense.
- Andy Reid‘s Philadelphia Eagles offenses have thrown for an average of 700 more yards than the Chiefs’ offenses over a seven-year span. Dwayne Bowe, now playing with the best quarterback who’s ever tossed a pigskin his way, will see a spike in opportunity. Bowe, I think, could be among the five best draft day values come August.
- There is no substitute for Julio Jones’ size-speed combination in real football. In fake football though, there are arbitrage opportunities.
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- Dennis Pitta, as I’ve ranted and raved this winter, stands out as the only every-week starting tight end outside the Big Five. I’m all for streaming tight ends in 2013 — playing match-ups, like we do with defenses — but you could snag a value with Pitta, whose opportunities are bound to surge after the departure of Anquan Boldin.
- The Cleveland Browns coaching staff seems to be on board with Jordan Cameron as the team’s pass-catching tight end, and with Rob Chudzinski and Norval Turner calling the offensive shots, Cameron could reap the benefits of a tight end-friendly scheme that has produced fantasy goodness again and again. “This is an offense that has featured tight ends and tight ends have always been a big part of it,” Chudzinski said in an interview with ESPN. “He has the skill set that fits.”
- Fred Davis is coming off a devastating Achilles injury. Numbers from his most recent 19 games deserve attention, however. Per John Paulsen, Davis has averaged 4.4 targets, 59 yards, and .16 touchdowns per game in that span. Prorated over 16 games, Davis would post 70 grabs for 944 yards and three touchdowns. That line would’ve made for top-7 tight end numbers in 2012. He deserves your consideration in a tight end pool brimming with useable options.
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