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Fantasy Football: 2013 Year in Review

I always love this time of year because the NFL playoffs are always so full of storylines and captivating and at the same time I am typically watching with the glow of a fantasy champion. I’m most of you reading this and have frequented our site share a similar glow at this time of year. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Just tell your league mates when they start to get sick of said glow, “Haters gotta hate!”

The sucky part about this time of year is that it’s over!! We spend all summer, offseason, preseason, etc prepping for the draft. We spend all season glued to our computer screens and televisions hanging on every carry, pass, or reception. Then nothing. Each carry, pass, and reception has lost its luster. An 8 yard reception by Andre Johnson in the 4th quarter could be the difference between taking the lead or losing the league, and now it probably just moves the Texans from the 31 to the 39 yard line. It also means it’s time to look back. It’s time to get nostalgic. High school graduation, a wedding day, and so forth when good times are culminated it is only human nature to look back at the great moments and the not so great moments. Our time is now…..

I hope you’ve….. had…… the time of your life……

Until next year that is!

Quarterback Position

– I for one was a huge advocate of taking big time QBs this year because they were automatic and could single handedly win you games. While there wasn’t the huge separation that there was last year, the big time QBs still led many teams the playoffs and championships. Brees continued his dominance, as did Brady and Rodgers as a familiar 3 finished at the top once again. It’s pretty automatic with these guys year in and year out.

– Projections for rookie QBs rose a little bit this year thanks to the emergence of Cam Newton the year before, but once again they exceeded even the most bullish optimists. Both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III finished in the top 9 in standard scoring ahead of the likes of Mathew Stafford and Eli Manning. Griffin even led the league for a majority of the season until a knee injury and concussion slowed him down late in the year. Griffin looks like he may be the new Michael Vick going forward from the perspective of questioning his ability to play 16 games. Extremely dangerous and talented but takes too many hits. Also, don’t sleep on Russell Wilson going into next year. Quietly, he finished 11th and only 4 points behind Matt Stafford. As the Seahawks have become more comfortable giving him a full load, he has been a fantasy stud both running, passing, and not making mistakes.

– Busts were all over the quarterback top 10 predictions as the likes of Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Big Ben all finished 15th or lower. As did Matt Schaub and popular sleeper candidate Jay Cutler.

– Looking ahead: Next year the QB position will be deeper than ever, especially if RG3 is ready by opening day. I will never be opposed to taking one of those sure fire top studs, but there is a lot of depth behind them these days with Luck, Griffin, and Wilson all jumping to fantasy starter capabilities. Then guys like Freeman and Andy Dalton who showed some good things and could be ready for big break outs with another offseason of work.

Best Picks: (The Big 3), Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III, Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck

Worst Picks: Eli Manning, Mathew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger

Running Back Position

– I think it’s pretty obvious where we should be starting. Adrian Peterson is back and better than ever. 1st pick next year, I said it, I won’t change it, mark it down! Arian Foster had another great season leading the league in touchdowns but Foster showed chinks in his armor this year and had a huge workload to get it. The workload worries me a bit going forward next year and only furthers Peterson’s distance between 1st and 2ndpick.

– Rookie Studs prove many wrong. While I am not one of them, there are many people who believed rookie running backs just can’t be successful in fantasy. Well RB number 3, 5, and 11 were all rookies this year. All 3 guys should be top 10 running backs next season. Doug Martin had the game of the year week 9 against Oakland, Trent Richardson finished 11th overall despite battling broken ribs for much of the year (seriously, try and eat breakfast with broken ribs, much less play running back well), and Alfred Morris finished the season stronger than any back not named AP (what rookie wall). I will be high on all 3 guys going into next season.

cj-spillertall- The birth of a new stud has finally happened in CJ Spiller. I have a full blown fantasy man crush on the man and I don’t care what happens with Fred Jackson or who their new coordinator is. Spiller was so good with his 6 yards per carry and 1800 total yards in the mess that was Buffalo this year, whoever comes in next year will be no fool.

– On the flip side of studly, some former studs are really on the outs. I am typically not a fan of older backs to begin with, but Michael Turner and Steven Jackson have officially entered the will never again be on one of my teams territory. While still NFL valuable in certain roles, their fantasy value is less exciting than Tim Duncan’s dunk contest audition tape.

– Bust of the year: Darren McFadden. Wow. I was all in on this guy and he shamefully let me down. All the talent in the world and the Oakland Raiders switched to a system not tailored to his strengths. Not only did he not stay healthy, again, but he couldn’t even get going when he was. The Raiders just define a new status of incompetent.

– Looking Ahead: I think there will be far more attractive running backs next year than this year. The RB position had become increasingly thinner and seemed even more so after looking back to what happened with this year. Next year with AP, Foster, Rice, Lynch, Martin, Richardson, Spiller, Morris, Charles, and more there is a lot more explosiveness and potential than we had this season.

Best Picks: Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, CJ Spiller, Stevan Ridley

Worst Picks: Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ryan Mathews (oh completely done with this guy), DeMarco Murray


Wide Receiver Position

– The big boys rules this year. It’s a strategy I typically advocate in this day and age and what helped me nail so many breakouts at the wide receiver position this year. The big, athletic guys are ruling the outside. Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant, Vincent Jackson, Andre Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, and Erik Decker (not in that order) finished as your top 9 receivers. Who is the small guy in that??? 6’ 3” 215?? These monsters are taking over.

– Ok, show of hands, who thought Randall Cobb and James Jones would BOTH outscore BOTH Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings? Side note, I LOVE Cobb. He finished 17 overall this year and didn’t even have 1000 yards with Aaron Rodgers. His role will only continue to grow, Percy Harvin style, in Green Bay and I am going to be high on him next year.

– Notice how the bust receivers like Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Hakeem Nicks, Malcolm Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, etc all coincide with terrible QB play. Look at Fitz, no matter how good you are at receiver you better have a QB capable of getting you the rock. Where is Sean Connery when you need him?

– Special shout out to Calvin Johnson for breaking the Madden Curse! In yo face John Madden!!!!

– Looking ahead: Big boys and good QBs. Simple right? WR is usually a position that has a lot of fluctuation because there is so much throwing going on, guys come out of nowhere all the time. It seems like guys with some freak talent are starting to separate themselves though. Either crazy size/speed combos or just lighting speed types (Cobb, Harvin, Hilton, etc) If you can snag yourself one of the big boys as a reliable anchor, there will be plenty of depth again to field a solid core.

Best Picks: Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Vincent Jackson, Eric Decker, Michael Crabtree, Randall Cobb

Worst Picks: Hakeem Nicks, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Larry Fitzgerald


Tight End Position

– My feelings on the quarterback position this year will be exactly how I recommend next year. I am doing everything I can next year to take Gronk or Graham. Gronk missed 5 games this year and he still finished second. Graham battled injuries all year long and still finished first. These two are so far ahead of everyone in my opinion; the advantage it gives you over the rest of your league is stupid.

– A couple other guys had solid years such as Gonzo and Jason Witten who set a TE receptions record but their reliability doesn’t hold a candle to the other two.

– Everyone else almost was a complete crapshoot. Vernon Davis was terrible most of the season, as was Antonio Gates. Brandon Meyers finished above them both and Scott Chandler nearly did too.

– Looking Ahead: Gronk and Graham, Gronk and Graham. You will not regret it. After that, just wait, for a long time before taking a tight end.

Best Picks: Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez, Heath Miller

Worst Picks: Vernon Davis, Jermichael Finley, Brandon Pettigrew

Well guys, I guess that about wraps it up. Kickers and defenses are even more crapshoot than tight ends. There are not many trends that last from year to year as kickers always fluctuate (see David Akers) and defenses will look much different save a few stalwarts (watch out for the Hawks). It has been an honor sharing the season with you my friends. I truly hope you were able to take some positive from our time together and hopefully it led many of you to great fantasy season. Please be ready as the fantasy season never sleeps. We have a lot of coaching movement already to track (Andy Reid in KC implications hello) and player movement will begin soon. Before you know it, it will be draft kit time and studying will be back in full force.

Man, I love fantasy football.