Kasper Korner: Early, Early, 2013 Fantasy Football Preview
posted Mar 03 2013, 08:37PM
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posted in NFL, Analysis

          Time to replace the woes of 2012 with the wins of 2013 as it is never too early to start the fantasy football season.  This edition of the Kasper Korner is set to bring you the top ten fantasy players coming at you for next season, along with five deep sleeper picks that no one else will have and five guys that you must avoid like the plague.  Read ahead, find out, and enjoy!

The Top Ten

1.  Drew Brees - QB - New Orleans - Brees at #1?  A quarterback?  Yup.  The return of Sean Payton, the solidifying of a shaky defense, and I predict a Brees even better than the one we saw in 2011.  This throw heavy offense provides a lot of opportunity for Brees and with the return of Sean Payton do not be shocked to see another huge year from Breesway.  League leader in yards and touchdowns last year, despite the Saints turmoil, is encouraging for his 2013 outlook.

2.  Arian Foster - RB - Houston- Averaging 89 yards per game, and racking up 15 touchdowns, Foster scored two more times than the second highest RB in Alfred Morris.  His total of 1,424 yards in 2012 was solid but not off the charts, ranking 6th overall.  2013 should be huge for Foster as you should look for Houston to rely on him more now than ever before.  Discontent towards Schaub, along with a warming seat under Kubiak, will force the Texans offense to focus on what they do best and that is running the ball.

3.  Adrian Peterson - RB - Minnesota - The value of AP's 2012 performance should put him at #1, but with all eyes on him, a slow down seems to be inevitable.  Averaging 6.0 yards per carry, along with 2,097 yards total last year, AP simply has to be a top 5 pick in your fantasy draft.  So why is he not number 1?  Christian Ponder proved in his playoff performance, or lack thereof rather, that he is far from a franchise QB.  With defenses scheming to stop AP and AP alone I do not see a way possible for him to equal his 2012 totals.  This season will be good, huge for any fantasy owner, but do not expect AP to be close to any kind of records in 2013.

4.  Marshawn Lynch - RB - Seattle - "Stupid fast" just might be dumb enough to waltz into another great 2013 season.  The emergence of Russell Wilson will take some of the pressure off of Skittles, while look for Robert Turbin to emerge as a decent (not fantasy worth) back to also get some touches.  Last year, Lynch averaged 19 carries a game.  Another season of heavy lifting for this power back, but I am confident he knows no bounds.  With a very good offensive line and a hungry young team, look for Lynch to have not only a stable season but his best yet.

5.  Aaron Rodgers - QB - Green Bay - Another great fantasy player of 2012, Rodgers barely remains in the top 5 thanks to his 2nd highest TD total of 39 mixed with his mere 8 interceptions.  Rodgers was stricken with the injury bug in 2012, not himself, but rather his teammates, losing both Nelson and Jennings for stretches throughout the season.  With Nelson healthy and an emerging James Jones, look for Rodgers to significantly increase his yards per game from the 8th best 268 we saw in 2012.  Don't forget the return of Cedric Benson in 2013 as well, hoping to give Rodgers somewhat of a rushing attack that he has never really had in his career.

6.  Ray Rice - RB - Baltimore - Contrary to popular belief, this is not just Joe Flacco's team now.  Rice is a dual threat back both a hard runner between the tackles and elusive around the edge.  His pass catching ability makes defenses hold him accountable on both running and passing downs, adding to his possible fantasy touches.  The emergence of Flacco as a stable passer, along with Torrey Smith's rising stock, means all of the focus cannot be on Rice any longer; leaving him more space to work with in 2013.

7.  Maurice Jones Drew - RB - Jacksonville - Little bit of a surprise here at 7, MJD has been a fantasy force minus 2012.  Injuries and an elongated contract dispute took a toll on MJD similar to that of Chris Johnson.  Unlike CJ, MJD will be better fit to rebound based upon a track record of consistent success and a better offensive line.  I expect this back to have quite a rebound in 2013.  So much so, he will assuredly prove to be top ten worthy by season's end.

8.  Calvin Johnson Jr. - WR - Detroit - First and only wide receiver in the top ten, Megatron will only see production increase as the Detroit  offense continues to stabilize.  Detroit really took their lumps in 2012; but with an improved running game, Megatron will be able to get even more open than usual.  His physical prowess, speed, and precise route running makes Calvin Johnson the NFL's best wide out in fantasy football and the NFL; racking up 122 receptions, 1,964 yards, and over 120 yards per game.  These numbers speak for themselves.

9.  Trent Richardson - RB - Cleveland - Probably Cleveland's highest ranking fantasy player ever ranking here at 9, TRich is seriously the real deal.  Despite a rookie season of only 950 yards, Trent did rank fifth in touchdowns for all RBs with 11.  Touchdowns alone do not warrant this 9th overall ranking though.  A young and maturing offensive line, coupled with an aging AFC north opposition, and a healthy set of ribs, means TRich will have a lot of advantages going into 2013.  This looks to be a younger, bigger, version of Ray Rice, look out NFL.

10.  Doug Martin - RB - Tampa Bay - One of the NFL's best runners in 2012, Martin racked up 1,454 yards and 11 TDs putting him 5th overall in both categories.  2013 looks to be promising for this back from Boise as Tampa Bay's emerging offense continues to define itself.  Martin's ability to catch along with run makes him very appealing as with many of these other top tier backs.  The difference between Martin and others centers on three points; durability, pure speed, and size.  Martin had a very healthy rookie campaign, displayed his break-away speed on several occasions, and is the perfect compact size the NFL now sees appealing in their backs.  As the Buccaneers grow, so should Martin.  Look out for a great season from him.


Top Five Deep Sleepers

1.  Vick Ballard - RB - Indianapolis - Kick things off with a surprise here with Ballard.  This Indy back established himself as the number one back in town after Donald Brown's departure.  Ballard has big play ability, solid speed, and fits a role similar to the backs Luck worked with at Stanford.  I predict these two grow together in 2013.

2.  Vincent Brown - WR - San Diego - Brown showed a lot of promise in the 2012 preseason, before suffering a broken ankle that would end his year.  Brown, opposite of the more established Alexander in San Diego, should get a lot of favorable matchups; and barring an injury setback, looks to be a viable deep threat in the San Diego offense.

3.  T.Y. Hilton - WR - Indianapolis - This wide receiver really came on strong for the rookie Luck in 2012.  Expect more out of Hilton as he settles into a slot role for the young and talented Indy offense.  Don't discount T.Y.'s special teams ability as well.  For those in IDP leagues, Hilton could come up huge with some crucial bonus points.

4.  Josh Gordon - WR - Cleveland - The most dynamic vertical threat the Browns have seen since Paul Warfield, Gordon proved to be able to make the big play time and time again in 2012.  A solid offseason and improved route running should lead to Gordon being able to do more than just stretch the field vertically.

5.  Mikel Leshoure - RB - Detroit - Plagued by injuries the past two years, Leshoure finished very strong in 2012, and we should look for much of that in 2013.  Little risky here due to the injury issues, but Leshoure showed a lot of ability for Detroit in spurts during 2012.  A commitment to the running game from the Detroit offense should lead to more touches for Leshoure and an expanded role.


Top Five Players to Avoid

1.  Michael Turner - RB - Atlanta - Often considered a mid round, possibly early round selection in deep leagues.  Turner often mentioned as a steal here in the dirty south, he is not one you want in 2013.  The numbers have gone down for Turner from 2011 to 2012, once a 1,000 yard rusher to a mere 800 yards in 2012.  Set to hit the free agent market, a released Turner will not garner the kind of respect he once would have.  Look for him to go from every down, to complimentary, no matter where this Falcon lands.


2.  Ben Roethlisberger - QB - Pittsburgh - Durability has always been an issue for this QB and I think his number is finally up.  With fading talent around him, an offensive line that was highly questionable last year, and a mounting number of injuries Big Ben will be more like Little Ben in 2013.  At 3,265 yards, Ben finished 21st overall in 2012 one spot behind the very mediocre Ryan Tannehill.  This very average total will fade further in 2013 making him a fantasy backup and no longer a starter.


3.  LeSean McCoy - RB - Philadelphia - Catch, run, power, speed, Shady McCoy has proven that he can do it all.  This back from Philly has had a lot of NFL success, despite the trials and tribulations that chronicle the Eagles organization.  With Kelly at the helm though, one might expect a pickup in McCoy's production with his style of play.  This will not be the case.  With a very poor offensive line and a completely different offensive style, coupled with the return of the ever shaky Michael Vick, McCoy, like the Eagles, will remain in the shade in 2013.


4.  Stevan Ridley - RB - New England - It is very tough to make a hard commitment on Ridley for 2013.  Every year, it seems as though the Patriots are breathing life into a new back and I don't know if there won't be a new guy stepping up in 2013 (i.e. Shane Vereen).  Why avoid Ridley here?  High risk, minimal reward.  Although Ridley showed flashes of brilliance in New England, odds are those will be few and far between in 2013.  Don't forget, this is still Brady's team, he is still very elite and Vereen can catch better than Ridley.  The commitment to the run game may fade away again in 2013, killing Ridley's stock.


5.  Ryan Matthews - RB - San Diego - The favorite pick of many in 2012, Matthews stayed true to himself last season and did absolutely nothing.  New coach, same Phil Rivers, and two healing collarbones, Matthews will again do nothing in 2013.  A disappointment from day one, Matthews has shown amazing talent in spurts, all of which seem to be gone too soon.  Which Matthews will be there in 2013?  Not the one you want.   


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