Quarterback appears to be the deepest position we’ve seen in years. That means the early QB rush that has overtaken fantasy drafts the last few seasons could be headed for a hiatus in 2013,
We see a shift back to the traditional RB-RB or RB-WR approach for the opening rounds.
Here’s our preseason look at the top-20 players in the 2013 fantasy draft class.
1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: The guy finished the 2012 campaign just nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’s all-time single season rushing record. How much is “All Day” going to regress? If the answer isn’t “a lot,” then he’s your top choice.
2. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans: Amassed 1,640-plus total yards in each of the last three seasons and since 2010 found the end zone via the ground more times (41) than any other ball-carrier. Safe, reliable, durable.
3. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Losing WR Percy Harvin hurts, but the continued development of QB Russell Wilson will keep opposing defenses from keying on Lynch, who ran for a career-high 1,590 yards in 2012.
4. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Peterson got all of the attention, but Charles came back from his own nasty injury to post a career-high 1,745 total yards. Remember what Andy Reid did with Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia? Charles is in line for the same type of production.
5. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ranked second among RBs in scrimmage yards last year (1,926), trailing only Peterson (2,314). We could easily move Martin above Charles.
6. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens: We are definitely concerned about “Super Bowl hangover.” Still, it’s tough to question 1,600-plus total yards in each of the past four seasons. No RB (and only nine WRs) has recorded more receptions (278) over the last four years.
7. Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins: Second to Peterson in rushing (1,613) as a rookie sixth-round selection out of Florida Atlantic. Morris doesn’t offer much in the passing game (11 receptions in 2012). There’s some risk, but Mike Shanahan found Terrell Davis in the sixth round as well.
8. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: Megatron posted 12 or more TD receptions in three of four seasons before finding the end zone just five times in 2012. The freak was busy busting Jerry Rice’s single-season record for receiving yards (1,924).
9. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Took a big step back during Philly’s dismal 4-12 campaign due in large part to a concussion that cost the four-year veteran four games. We really like “Shady’s” chances for a bounce-back year with new head coach Chip Kelly running the show.
10. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Showed flashes of brilliance while amassing 808 receiving yards and ten touchdowns during a seven-game stretch in 2012. With a career year behind him, Bryant is now ready to take the next step.
11. C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills: Averaged 6.0 yards per carry last season (207 carries for 1,244 yards) while hauling in 43 passes for 459 yards and two scores. There is the presence of veteran Fred Jackson, the switch to rookie QB E.J. Manuel and that the Bills are the Bills.
12. Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots: His 1,263 rushing yards last season ranked seventh and the 12 rushing TDs were tied for third. Coming off a career year.
13. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: Could move ahead of Bryant as it’s difficult to overlook Green’s 97 catch, 1,350 yard, 11 TD sophomore stat line.
14. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints: Aaron Rodgers will be the popular pick for the first signal-caller off the board, but we prefer the guy who plays in a dome and has ranked first in fantasy scoring at QB three of the last five years.
15. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Ranked either first or second in fantasy scoring at QB in each of the last five years. Adding rookie RBs Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin should help to keep opposing defenses more honest.
16. Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns: Will be ranked higher by other publications, but we’re concerned about the Cleveland offense and the fact that Richardson rushed for only 950 yards (3.6 YPC) in 2012. Lacks a supporting cast.
17. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Has to contend with Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and now Steven Jackson for receptions, which could cause us to slide Jones back a bit. Still, he ranked third in fantasy scoring at WR.
18. Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears: Has an offensive-minded head coach calling the plays, an upgraded line for his QB and some additional weapons to help limit the double coverage he frequently encountered last season. 2013 could be Marshall’s best season yet.
19. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: A beefed-up offensive line and the transition from Lovie Smith to Marc Trestman should provide a big boost to his fantasy totals.
20. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Should be rested and ready for action after appearing in just six games last season. Posted three straight seasons of 1,640-plus total yards from 2009-2011. MJD is running for a new contract and you could be getting a steal in the Jaguars’ top offensive weapon.
Joe Fortenbaugh, worked as an NFL Agent from 2003-2006 at JB Sports, Inc. Follow Joe on Twitter @joefortenbaugh, and check out his website at NationalFootballPost.com. You can reach him at [email protected].