Fantasy Football 2013: Quarterback Projections
There will be plenty of fantasy points produced by quarterbacks throughout the NFL this season. With so many solid options at this position, who do you target in this year’s draft? Do you wait and take the two best available options when the time comes, or do you go all in on Brees or Rodgers early? And how early?
The Wes Welker situation alone moves Peyton Manning up a round in most fantasy drafts, and at the same time, possibly knocks Tom Brady back a round. But both of these quarterbacks will most likely not be selected until at least the 3rd or 4th round in most fantasy drafts. The position is just simply too deep.
There are two types of successful fantasy quarterbacks these days. Guys like Brees, Brady, and Manning who will stay in the pocket and launch the ball all over the place. And then you have your mobile threats in Cam Newton, RGIII, Kaepernick, Wilson, and Luck. Now they may not throw for 300 yards on a consistent basis, but they should get you points for rushing the ball here and there, especially if they are running it into the end zone.
All of these projections are Pre-NFL Draft, so obviously the addition of a wide receiver like Cordarrelle Patterson or an offensive tackle like Luke Joeckel will end up likely helping out the production for some of these quarterbacks.
2013 Quarterback Projections
Drew Brees (Projected: 5,200 total yards/ 45 total TD’s) – Now reunited with his buddy Sean Payton again, Brees should repeat another fine season. It seems like Brees is a lock for 5,000 yards and 40 TD’s. He will be throwing to receivers that he knows well, and that chemistry will only help the fluidity of this high-powered passing attack. Darren Sproles always makes life easier for quarterbacks, and he should help Brees get back to that 5,000 yard mark.
Aaron Rodgers (Projected: 4,900 total yards/ 45 total TD’s) – Rodgers was really hit or miss last year. In one game last season he threw for 338 yards and 6 touchdowns. In another, he threw for 173 yards and no touchdowns. But at least he doesn’t throw interceptions. He hasn’t thrown more than one interception in a game in the last two seasons! He’s one of the games best and he should be a reliable source of fantasy points this season. Hopefully he’ll have more hits than misses this year.
Peyton Manning (Projected: 4,800 total yards/ 38 total TD’s) – Looks like the old man still has it. Peyton proved to the fantasy world that he was still an elite quarterback. With the addition of Welker, that should only improve his stock. Now that he has had a full season to work with the new staff, Manning will surely be gunning for 5,000 yards and 40 TD’s. If he can survive, he could finally reach that plateau this season.
Tom Brady (Projected: 4,700 total yards/ 38 total TD’s) – Danny Amendola replaces Wes Welker and will have his shot to put up valuable fantasy stats, but keep in mind that Welker is a better runner when the ball is in his hands. A lot of Welker’s yards came after the catch. But Brady has proved that no matter what his receiving staff looks like, he will post solid fantasy numbers. Having Gronkowski and Hernandez in the lineup at the same time will help Brady out tremendously. If healthy, those two tight ends should account for at least twenty of Brady’s touchdown passes. Where the remainder of the touchdowns will come from will remain to be seen, but somebody will prosper. Brady is still one of the best.
Matt Ryan (Projected: 4,900 total yards/ 36 total TD’s) – Ryan has consistently improved every season, and this year should be no different. With two of the best receivers in the game and his boy Gonzo coming back for one more season, Ryan is primed for another great run. Ryan slipped in many drafts last year, but he paid off big time in 2012. He won’t go under the radar as much as he did last year, but he will most likely be chosen after the guys listed above him. Ryan averaged almost 300 yards a game last season, and expect that trend to continue.
Cam Newton (Projected: 4,700 total yards/ 34 total TD’s) – People were expecting a lot more out of Cam last season, but statistically speaking, his QBR was about the same as the year before. Now from a fantasy standpoint, his touchdowns were way down from the 2011 total. But at the same time, his interceptions went down (though his fumbles went up), and he threw and ran for about the same amount as he did the year before. I expect Newton to improve on his previous stats and get into the end zone more often this season. Cam and the Panthers started playing better toward the end of the year, winning five of their last six, so if they can carry that success into 2013, Newton could end up having a great fantasy season.
Matt Stafford (Projected: 5,000 total yards/ 31 total TD’s) – Stafford, with the help of Megatron no doubt, is a 5,000 yard machine. Now talk about a drop in touchdowns. Stafford’s passing TD’s were cut in half from 2011 to 2012 (41 down to 20). Calvin Johnson’s touchdowns went from 16 to 5. That won’t happen again this year. The Madden curse had to pop it’s big head in there somewhere. As long as Matt has Calvin to throw to, he’ll be in the 5,000-yard range. That is if Stafford can stay on the field though. The addition of Reggie Bush will help out this offense tremendously, benefitting Matt Stafford the most.
Andrew Luck (Projected: 4,800 total yards/ 32 total TD’s) – Luck proved to be worthy of his number one overall pick last season, and barring a sophomore slump, Luck should start putting up elite fantasy numbers. The Colts are committed to surrounding Luck with weapons, and that should pay off in more yards and touchdowns. For a rookie, he looked surprising comfortable and well prepared for the speed of the NFL. Expect him play with even more confidence this season, which should result in excellent fantasy stats. The addition of Heyward-Bey won’t hurt either.
Colin Kaepernick (Projected: 4,400 total yards/ 33 total TD’s) – Those would’ve been his numbers if you just doubled the eight regular season games he played in last season, plus a little something, something. And that’s what Kaepernick has, is that little something, something. What he flashed in the first round of the playoffs this year against the Packers was unbelievable. From a fantasy perspective, it doesn’t get much better than that. The 49ers are going to be ready to roll this season, but their success strictly hinges on how well Kaepernick plays. If he continues to shine, he will help both the Niners and your fantasy team win a title.
Tony Romo (Projected: 4,700 total yards/ 30 total TD’s) – Romo did have three 400+ yard games last season. In week sixteen against the Saints he had 416 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. But the next week, he choked. Again. 218 yards and three interceptions against the Skins to lose the NFC East. The Cowboys obviously believe that Romo still has some good years left, signing him to a contract that included 55 million dollars guaranteed. As long as Romo has Dez Bryant to throw the ball to, he should come close to 5,000 yards once again. If Romo can keep his interceptions under control, he should remain a solid fantasy option.
Robert Griffin III (Projected: 4,100 total yards/ 33 total TD’s) – RGIII has already started running again. Dr. Andrews said that his recovery has been ‘superhuman’. Expect RGIII to be ready to go by the season opener. The Redskins will definitely attempt to limit the amount of times RGIII runs with the ball, but don’t expect him to not run the ball. Griffin should be a lock for at least 500 rushing yards a season. Given his arm strength and accuracy, expect RGIII’s passing stats to progressively escalate. If RGIII can hover around 250 passing yards, adding another 50 on the ground, to go along with possibly three TD’s a game, he will continue to be a fantasy beast.
Russell Wilson (Projected: 4,000 total yards/ 33 total TD’s) – Wilson proved that he was capable of throwing a 300+ yard game in the playoffs. That’s the type of production fantasy owners are looking for next season. If you add another 60 yards on the ground, he’s right up there with the top fantasy producers. Percy Harvin gives Wilson another weapon, and a great player, to succeed with this season. Wilson will have those 250 yard, 2 TD games here and there, but expect the 300+ yards per game trend to continue. Seattle has a great team going into 2013.
Joe Flacco (Projected: 4,000 total yards/ 30 total TD’s) – Flacco really stepped it up in the playoffs, throwing for 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. Flacco had some great fantasy games in 2012 (382 yards & 3 TD’s in week three/341 yards & 4 TD’s in week nine), but he also had bad fantasy starts in nearly half of the games he played. Flacco should play with more confidence this season, showcasing that Super Bowl ring on his finger now, and I expect him to go for 4,000 yards and 30 TD’s this season. Sure he’ll have those poor games here and there, but I expect less of those in the future. It’s best to pair Flacco up with another decent fantasy option and focus on the matchups week to week. Flacco had his biggest games against the weakest teams on the schedule (excluding the Chiefs). There will be some good starts there. And there might be good starts all season long. Flacco did post a 117.2 QB rating in the playoffs, so he’s worth the risk to see if he can continue to do it next season.
Andy Dalton (Projected: 3,900 total yards/ 29 total TD’s) – Dalton progressed nicely in his sophomore campaign. Having A.J. Green to throw to definitely helped. Green will demand attention from defenses, ultimately opening up more options for Dalton to throw to. The more comfortable Dalton gets with this league, the more his stats should progress. Dalton has the potential to be a perennial 4,000-yard & 30 TD producer. This could be the season where it all begins.
Eli Manning (Projected: 4,000 total yards/ 28 total TD’s) – Which Eli is going to show up? The one that threw for 510 yards against Tampa Bay, or the one who was 10-24 for 124 yards, no TD’s, and one interception against Pittsburgh? You never know, but you can usually bank on him when he plays against sub-par defenses, so he’s a good QB to pair with another quarterback and play matchups. Drafting Manning along with Flacco or Dalton and playing the matchup game could turn out to be a winning strategy. Eli is always capable of having a big game and he did have five 3+TD performances in 2012. If you play your cards right with Eli, he could produce some pretty solid weeks for you during the season.
Josh Freeman (Projected: 4,000 total yards/ 28 total TD’s) – The addition of Vincent Jackson last year to Freeman’s arsenal really helped out Josh’s fantasy value. Freeman went over 4,000 passing yards and almost notched 30 TD’s. Freeman needs to limit the amount of turnovers he produces (52 over the last two seasons). If some of those turnovers could turn into touchdowns, Freeman could end up with some really solid fantasy stats. This is now an offense that can score some points, and Freeman will be the main beneficiary from that. Doug Martin will keep defenses at bay, allowing Freeman a little more room to comfortably throw the ball. Freeman ended last season on a sour note, with back-to-back games with four interceptions in each. But he also flashed signs of beastness, and this could be the season where he puts it all together. We will see.
Philip Rivers (Projected: 3,900 total yards/ 27 total TD’s) – Rivers had 13 fumbles last season. He was able to drop his interceptions down from 20 to 15, but if you tack on those 13 fumbles, he actually caused more turnovers than the season before. That’s scary. Back-to-back turnover plagued seasons makes you forget about those 4,000 yard, 30 touchdown seasons a couple years ago. His QB rating was the lowest of his career, by far. But I guess it can only get better from here, right? If, and it’s a big if, Rivers can keep the amount of turnovers to a minimum as he did in 2009, he is capable of producing solid fantasy stats. But keep in mind that he only had two 300-yard games last season. Hopefully that will change without Norv running the show.
Matt Schuab (Projected: 4,000 total yards/ 25 total TD’s) – Schuab now has three 4,000-yard seasons under his belt and is looking to add one more in 2013. He’s yet to break 30 TD’s in a season, and that most likely will not happen this year as long as Foster is there to run it in. Andre Johnson is a scary weapon, and as long as he can stay on the field, Schaub will always have fantasy success at his fingertips. Schaub is another great quarterback to sub in for good matchups. Against Jacksonville last season, he threw for 527 yards and 5 TD’s. I don’t like relying on Schaub week in and week out, but I’m happy to see him during my starting QB’s bye week.
Sam Bradford (Projected: 3,900 total yards/ 24 total TD’s) – Statistically Bradford had his best season last year. His QB and passer rating were the highest they’ve ever been. If those stats continue to improve, Bradford is all of a sudden a viable fantasy option. He had three 300-yard games last season, but expect that to possibly double. Bradford is still out to prove why he was the number one pick in the 2010 draft. The Rams are still convinced that they have a piece of gold, so it’s up to Bradford to show St. Louis and your fantasy squad that they were right.
Ben Roethlisberger (Projected: 3,800 total yards/ 25 total TD’s) – There seems to always be a Pittsburgh fan in your fantasy league that will always draft and start Big Ben. Statistically, he can pump out some nice games. But I’m curious to see how much the loss of Mike Wallace will affect him. That’s a big subtraction from their passing game, ultimately leaving a ton of pressure on Antonio Brown to carry the load. Roethlisberger is a great football player, and when he’s healthy and ready to go, he can always beat you. Big Ben’s stats are very predictable. His QB and passer rating has remained identical for years. With Roethlisberger, you know what you are getting. The question is, do you want it?
Carson Palmer (Projected: 3,900 total yards/ 24 total TD’s) – Palmer has never had a wide receiver like Larry Fitzgerald before. Chad Johnson is about the closest he’s had. Palmer will rely on Fitz to carry the load this season, and Larry has to be happy with the change of scenery behind center. Despite Carson being a turnover machine, he does rack up 300-yard games quite often. Fitz will only help him do that more. The Cardinals offense is nothing scary, and they do play in the NFC West against some of the best defenses in the game, but Palmer will have his days. His completion percentage is always over 60% and he has no problem throwing the ball 500+ times a season. Unless the Cards turn things around this season, Palmer should be forced to throw more, possibly resulting in more 300-yard games.
Michael Vick (Projected: 3,900 total yards/ 23 total TD’s) – Vick will be sitting on somebody’s roster with their fingers crossed that Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme works in the favor of this southpaw quarterback from Virginia. Vick still has wheels and he will run the ball. But Kelly is hoping that Vick will be able to air it out this season, which offers the potential for Vick to produce the best passing numbers he’s ever had. That is, if Vick can stay on the field. Michael hasn’t exactly been the most reliable quarterback, and dreams of him rushing for 1,000 yards again are long gone. But he could dash for close to 600 again and throw for another 3,300 or so. And that’s giving him his standard 2-3 game injury break. Vick has always had the potential to post outstanding fantasy numbers, and every now and again he will, but unfortunately his best fantasy numbers probably would’ve come during the years he was out of the game. He’s worth a spot on your bench if you already have a solid quarterback. Cross your fingers and see what happens.
Alex Smith (Projected: 3,700 total yards/ 22 TD’s) – Does this have sleeper written all over it? Will Andy Reid allow Smith to actually throw the ball finally? This guy completed 70% of his passes last season, so why wouldn’t you let him throw the ball? He got drafted high for a reason; because he can throw the ball. Smith is only 28 years old, so he should be primed to produce the best numbers of his career. I gave him very moderate projections, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him sitting closer to 4,000 yards and 25 TD’s. Bowe is still a machine, and Alex will finally have an opportunity to really pass the ball. That is if the Chiefs don’t draft and bench him for Geno Smith. I really don’t think Alex Smith can go through that again.
Ryan Tannehill (Projected: 3,700 total yards/ 20 total TD’s) – Miami might have landed a pretty solid quarterback… finally. Tannehill would’ve most likely have been the first quarterback drafted in this year’s NFL draft. Philbin really likes this kid and the Dolphins are building an interesting offense around this young buck. And he has Mike Wallace to throw to now. That addition at wide receiver is what the Dolphins were missing last season. Bess and Hartline will no longer have to carry the load. With Wallace now leading the way, it’s a solid crew of receivers for Tanne to toss to. Tannehill is very athletic and proved that he could do some damage running the ball as well. It will most likely be an up and down season for Tannehill, but expect some progression and a big game here and there.
Matt Flynn (Projected: 3,500 total yards/ 2o total TD’s) – So now will we finally get to see what Matt Flynn has to offer the fantasy world. Now it won’t be the easiest transition. Heyward-Bey went to Indy and the tight-end Myers bailed to New York. If Flynn is unable to produce, we might end up seeing Terrelle Pryor in action. But don’t forget that this is the same guy that threw for 480-yards and 6 touchdowns in his last actual start. Flynn also helped LSU win a National Championship. Flynn will have to really play well to get this Oakland offense rolling, but a healthy RunDMc will make this transition much easier. Flynn is a sleeper, because nobody truly knows his complete potential. All we know about him is that he’s that guy that was sitting behind Rodgers. Now he’s the guy sitting in the driver’s seat of Oakland’s success.
Jay Cutler (Projected: 3,500 total yards/ 20 total TD’s) – Cutler loves to throw interceptions. And he very rarely throws for over 300 yards these days in Chicago. But he does have Brandon Marshall once again, and that puts him on the fantasy radar. But… he just turns over the ball way too much to warrant any consistent fantasy value. If he gets hot, he could pop out a couple good games, but you can bank on him popping out a couple of interceptions as well.
Brandon Weeden (Projected: 3,400 total yards/ 18 total TD’s) – Weeden is headed into the season as the starting QB, so we’ll see how he runs with it this year. Josh Gordon is a solid weapon that Weeden will rely on heavily to put up good numbers. Weeden struggled reading NFL defenses during his rookie year, ending up with more interceptions than touchdowns. But with a year under his belt, that should improve this season. Weeden will most likely throw his fair share of INT’s, but hopefully a rise in touchdown passes will even it out. Don’t invest too much into Weeden, but he should definitely benefit from Cleveland becoming a better team this year.
Jake Locker (Projected: 3,100 total yards/ 19 TD’s) – The Titans are convinced that Jake Locker is the answer, but that didn’t stop them from bringing in Ryan Fitzpatrick as the backup. If Locker does not live up to expectations, don’t think the Titans will flinch for one second to throw Fitzpatrick on the field. Locker will have every opportunity to prove his worth to the Titans and fantasy owners this season, but if he doesn’t succeed or gets injured again, expect Fitzgerald to take the reigns. That being said, Locker does have a ton of potential. He’s a very good athlete and he has some excellent weapons around him. With the addition of Shone Greene, the Titans rushing attack should be hard to stop. Chris Johnson can turn any Locker screen pass into an 80-yard touchdown. Locker could easily surpass the stats I have listed above, but he could also fall flat on his face again this season. It’s time for Locker to step it up or hangout with Mark Sanchez on the fantasy football waiver wire.
And whatever you do, don’t get stuck with Mark Sanchez on your fantasy team. I don’t care if you forgot to draft a backup and he’s one of the only guys left. Draft a rookie! Hell, even draft the winner of the Chad Henne vs. Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder vs. Matt Hasselbeck, or even the Kevin Kolb vs. Tavaris Jackson QB battles before Sanchez. Sanchez was strictly the product of an excellent college program and he was also the reason the Jets lost back-to-back AFC Championship games. That was their Super Bowl teams. Sanchez was the weakest link, just as he will be on your fantasy team. Sanchez fails on the reg, and the fact that Rex Ryan has a tattoo of his wife wearing a Sanchez jersey makes me believe that there’s just too much weird stuff going down on that Jets team. Maybe it will be Tebow time after all?
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Written by Josh Souder