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Trends for Fantasy Football Keeper QBs

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Atlanta, GA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) runs the ball in the fourth quarter of the NFC divisional playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 30-28. Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Peyton Manning‘s stock is rising. The off-season acquisition of free agent Wes Welker was arguably the biggest splash of the year. This singular move was seen by many as causing a major power shift in the AFC.

Over the past six NFL seasons, Welker has led the NFL with 672 catches—a full 80 more than any other player. Add to that the 94-catch Demaryius Thomas and the 85-reception Eric Decker, and you’re staring in the eyes of what’s probably the most frightening offensive machine for 2013.

Manning should be a goal for any owner.

Probably no quarterback’s value has taken a bigger hit since the Spring than Tom Brady. It’s possible that none of the Patriots’ five leading receivers of 2012 will be available for week one, if at all in 2013.

Welker’s a Bronco, Aaron Hernandez was released (and may never see a football field again), Brandon Lloyd is a free agent, Danny Woodhead is a Charger, and then there’s Rob Gronkowski. The Gonk—as Mayor Menino affectionately calls him—just had his fifth surgery in six months, and sixth overall. This also marked the second back operation of his short playing career.

Stephania Bell of ESPN warns of Gronkowski’s most recent surgery, and the lengthy recovery timetable associated with it. Brady will be leaning heavily on Danny Amendola and whoever else the Pats can scour from free agency. Keep a close eye on Brady’s value, because the opportunity may present itself for a bargain deal. The question is, will he still be able to deliver in 2013?

Russell Wilson is trending upward. Last year’s three top receivers for the ‘Hawks are returning—Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, and Zach Miller.

Wilson is entering his second NFL season after a rookie campaign of 26 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. Maybe you’ve heard,  Seattle also made a valuable addition by trading to acquire physical phenom, Percy Harvin. If Harvin and Marshawn Lynch can stay healthy, and Wilson can continue improving his game, it’s hard to envision the quarterback finding a sophomore slump. If you don’t get him for cheap now, you may not afford it later.

At this point last year, Eli Manning was enjoying a wealth of riches at the wide receiver position. Fast forward to the present, and the Giants’ offensive starting roster may look a lot different. Restricted free agent Victor Cruz (team-leading 86 catches in 2012) is holding out for a new contract, with no recent movement to report. Hakeem Nicks, who missed three games last season due to injury, skipped the team’s voluntary off-season workouts, frustrating coach Tom Coughlin in the process.

Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (244 touches last year) was cut and later signed by the Indianapolis Colts. Whether Cruz suits up or not will be a huge factor in Eli’s effectiveness. One shining ray of hope remains for Eli’s sustained fantasy value. The Giants had a 31-ranked defense in 2012 and 27th in 2011. They’ve also faced significant losses to the defense, including lineman Osi Umenyiora and Chris Canty, linebackers Michael Boley and Chase Blackburn, and safety Kenny Phillips. Counting on Eli this year may be more of a vote of no confidence in the New York Football Defense.

Stats and player data courtesy of pro-football-reference.com

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