I am starting my "Fantasy Outlook" series in a natural place: quarterbacks. The purpose is to highlight situations that casual fantasy footballers may not be aware of or need a refresher on.
An overview of the position shows several players of elite status, including Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan. Close second-tier guys can be found in Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, among others. It is ill-advised to draft a quarterback in the first two rounds, and the only way I would in the third is if someone like Brees or Rodgers was available. There is too much quality depth this year to go all in on the position.
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Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: Bruce Arians is out, and Pep Hamilton is in at offensive coordinator. Look for less downfield passing and more precision-based short tosses. Luck will have a Hall of Fame career, as far as I am concerned, but I fully expect a mild regression in 2013.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots: There has to come a time when too many personnel changes negatively impacts even arguably the best quarterback to ever pick up a pigskin. That time has come. Brady will struggle to top 4,000 yards and 30 TDs this year, and the Pats will rely heavily on a stout ground game.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: I am amazed with how few owners are willing to take a chance on Stafford. He regressed mightily in 2012 but now has a stronger -- and healthier -- team around him. Count on 4,600-plus yards and 30 total touchdowns to make him a strong QB1.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: The loss of Percy Harvin (hip) for most of the season will hurt Wilson, especially if the oft-injured Sidney Rice cannot remain on the field. I see this offense continuing to rely on the
Amazing risk-reward ratio
running game, which only hurts Wilson's fantasy value.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins: The explosive dual-threat quarterback will be much more one-dimensional in 2013. Griffin's knee was reconstructed after injuries that would make Adrian Peterson pause. I have a hard time buying into RG3, at least early in the year, as a No. 1 passer, considering the limited talent he has at wide receiver. He will not run nearly as much as last year, robbing him of precious fantasy worth.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers: Speaking of a feeble receiving corps, Kaepernick is going to be in for a rough season in the year ahead. He lost his No. 1 target in Michael Crabtree (Achilles') for the vast majority (if not all) of the season, and now has to make do with a suspect corps of targets. That screams bust to me.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: New head coach Mike McCoy will keep Rivers upright at all costs this year, emphasizing more short passes than what Norv Turner's system called. Rivers has suffered through two down years and has fallen off the map of QB1 status in fantasy leagues. He will take advantage of the improved personnel around him and make fantasy owners wish they had taken notice earlier.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals: There is little doubt in my mind that Palmer will be a top-12 fantasy quarterback in 2013. He has all of the tools to make it happen, and his long game ideally fits what Bruce Arians will call in the passing attack. Improved talent around him, particularly along the O-line and at receiver, will go a long way for his cause.
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sources out of Tampa say Freeman will be the Bucs' starting quarterback in 2013, barring a catastrophic meltdown. His offensive line will return to health and provide better protection. I like Freeman to bounce back to fringe QB1 territory.