2013 Quarterback Rankings Version 3.0
Updated Rankings with ADP
Welcome to version 3.0 of the quarterback rankings. There are some changes from our second edition, but nothing major. ADP has been added so can see where these guys are being taken. Handling this position intelligently in 2013 will go a long way towards a successful fantasy season.
I want our readers to be thinking about the QB position as strategically as they can in 2013. See the position as a whole and see it as it relates to the other positions. See the depth at QB and the single QB slot in your lineup. Then contrast that to the scarcity at RB and the two or even three RB slots in your lineup.
To a lot of people, drafting Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees just FEELS better that taking Trent Richardson or Matt Forte, but you usually hurt your team by doing it. We’ve been saying this for years now, and it has never been more true than in 2013.
Based on my experience in mock drafts so far, I am planning on waiting at least until round six to take my QB and potentially a lot longer than that. The most common scenario so far has had me taking Russell Wilson in the 8th round--after his ADP, but sometimes it’s Romo a round later. I usually end up with a deep team with plenty of high-end talent, while giving up very little if anything at the QB position.
This approach is especially beneficial in leagues where there is active trading. I cannot stress enough how easy it is going to be to trade for QBs. Jim Hackett and I covered this ad nauseum on the podcast last year. Still, it’s amazing how fantasy football psychology works, because even though we all remember how worthless QBs were last November near the trade deadline in fantasy leagues, people are still taking backups early and over-drafting the position.
Drafting a quarterback this year is about more than choosing a player to target. I will get deep into this in my QB Draft Plan. Remember, our rankings use a 12-team league with 20 roster spots and non-PPR scoring as a baseline.
I’ll be back with the updated RB rankings this weekend and I’ll release our first Player Universe on Monday with cheat sheets.
|1||Drew Brees||14||NO||7||1||Brees may be in decline, but he is a master of the offense he runs and he has good skill talent around him. He’s also got his HC Sean Payton back, which has to be a good thing. A repeat of last year's numbers or something very close to that is likely. Of course, I would not go anywhere near him at his current ADP.|
|2||Aaron Rodgers||11||GB||4||1||If we liked his pass protection better, he would be our clear number one. Even with mediocre protection, Rodgers is a HOF QB in his prime with established weaponry playing in an offense he has complete mastery of. He’s a QB1 all the way, but we wouldn’t even consider him until late in round three ... the same goes for any QB you care to mention.|
|3||Peyton Manning||25||DEN||9||1||He’s now locked-in both in terms of health and his new team’s offense. He’s got perhaps the best receiving group he’s ever had. With Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker all at his disposal, Manning has a little bit of everything. With that kind of talent, I’m not betting against him. He’s on par with the rest of the elite options. And if he slips a round or two in your draft, he is worth targeting.|
|4||Cam Newton||26||CAR||4||1||Newton is a QB that could be out ahead of the pack, but his team has failed to get him any significant help in terms of receivers. We like the Dom Hixon signing, but in a draft loaded with WR talent, they missed a serious opportunity to build depth at receiver behind 34-year old Steve Smith. Newton will still be elite for fantasy, but he’ll need to do a lot of it himself as he always has. I’d consider taking him in round four if I have two stud backs on my team, but he’s overpriced at his current ADP.|
|5||Matt Ryan||41||ATL||6||1||This is the QB to take if you are risk averse. Ryan is entering his prime and has a truly amazing assortment of weapons at his disposal and he now has a tailback that can actually help his passing stats. Steven Jackson was a big addition--replacing the stone-handed-turned-lead-footed Michael Turner. You’d need to use a 4th rounder on him based on ADP and I am very unlikely to do that.|
|6||Tom Brady||35||NE||10||1||Brady’s value is officially in flux. Losing Hernandez and Wes Welker, at minimum adds some uncertainty. The ability of Danny Amendola to stay healthy is now a key to the Patriots’ season as is the health of Rob Gronkowski. The reason we’re still sticking with Brady as a tier one option is ... Brady. Oh, and we really like some of the lesser known skill players in New England. It starts with Aaron Dobson and Julian Edelman, but it extends to Josh Boyce, Leon Washington and Shane Vereen, all of whom could player a bigger role in the passing game with Hernandez and Welker gone. This is going to be about how long the new-look offense takes to synthesize, and Tom Brady is second only to Peyton Manning in terms of being a player/coach. Brady will demand maximum effort and he’ll get it. Unless things look ugly in camp and preseason games, we see Brady being the central cog in the Patriots’ offense, as always. We do not see a big shift to the running game. I’m taking a bit off of Brady’s upside, but I still love his floor and see QB1 numbers. If perception continues to hurt his ADP, he could end up being a value and a guy to target. Stay tuned.|
|7||Colin Kaepernick||58||SF||9||1||Kaepernick will produce because he plays in a highly stable offense with a beastly line that is being tailored to his skills. You’ll get the foot-points and the ground game will set up plenty of play-action opportunities. Draft this guy with confidence. He’ll be just fine as your starter.|
|8||Russell Wilson||72||SEA||12||1||The Percy Harvin injury certainly takes some upside off of Wilson’s value and it may hurt his floor a bit too, but we are not moving him down much. Why? Just look at Wilson’s 2nd half of 2012. This offense goes through Wilson and the run game will continue to soften the defense for him. Way too much is made of “read-option.” Wilson’s value goes way beyond that. If you watch the tape, you’ll see that a lot of his foot-points come on boots and broken plays where Wilson just takes what’s there. He will post serious foot-points whether they run a lot of read-option or not.|
|9||Matthew Stafford||62||DET||9||1||Matt Stafford has thrown for ten thousand yards over the last two seasons. This guy can make any throw and sometimes that gets him into trouble because he’s likely to try just about any throw. That may be an issue of rightful contention if you are a Lions fan. However, it’s not a big problem if you own Stafford in fantasy. Stafford will have a healthier team around him in 2013 and that will help him. Then add in Reggie Bush who was signed this offseason from the Dolphins and you have an offense that can really take off. With Bush, the Lions finally have the offense they envisioned when they drafted Jahvid Best. Stafford had a lot go wrong last year and still finished as a QB1 in 12-team leagues. It’s hard to imagine him being any worse this year and he could easily be a lot better.|
|10||Robert Griffin||66||WAS||5||1||RGIII has the potential to be the best fantasy option out there and his health is now trending well. Still, will they allow him to run as much? Can he take you through 16 weeks and win you a title? That’s the risk. I don’t want to go 7-0. I want to win the league. If Griffin slips enough, I will be tempted to take him, but I’ll do so with the understanding that I now need to invest more at the position in case he goes down at the wrong time. I’ve moved Griffin into the top tier which is now ten deep. He needs to get into round seven before I’d consider him.|
|11||Tony Romo||74||DAL||11||2||Romo is another outstanding reason to wait on drafting your starter. He has tons of weapons and Dez Bryant has broken through to the elite status we predicted last year. Romo can be your guy. You can win big with him if you do your job in the earlier rounds and we’ll make sure you do.|
|12||Andrew Luck||51||IND||8||2||Luck’s ADP has moved up and it’s hard to recommend him at this point though he can absolutely start for you if slips a few rounds. No way am I taking him early in round five as his ADP suggests. He’s great, but the market likes him too much right now, probably because he hasn’t had any bad news like Kaepernick, RGIII and Wlson. It’s an over-correction. Let your competition take Luck early.|
|13||Eli Manning||94||NYG||9||2||I’m repeating myself, I know, but Eli Manning is absolutely QB1 caliber. That said, Roethlisberger might be better value a few rounds later if you are playing the value game. That said, Eli at 94 is a lot better than any QB in round one or two. He’ll be a good option this year.|
|14||Ben Roethlisberger||126||PIT||5||2||He could be great. That being said, he’s lost Mike Wallace and Heath Miller and is coming off of a major injury. Big Ben himself may finally be showing his age a bit, or, more likely, the mileage and totality of big hits. The shoulder injury he suffered in 2012 was significant and we want to see him throwing pain free in preseason action. If that happens, we like him as an upside pick, but you need a plan B to go with him if he’s your starter. A good plan B.|
|15||Andy Dalton||117||CIN||12||2||We like him better for fantasy than for reality. That said, Dalton has skill talent around him that other QBs dream about. The additions of tailback Giovani Bernard and TE Tyler Eifert strengthen an already strong core of skill talent led by A.J. Green. Dalton is an excellent QB2 with serious upside if he can raise his game just a bit. He was a fringe QB1 in 2012 depending on your league’s scoring system, so it’s not like he needs to improve much to justify this ranking. He’s a solid pick at his ADP.|
|16||Sam Bradford||160||STL||11||3||We only “like” Bradford as a QB, but with all the quality talent they’ve brought into St. Louis, it’s hard not to predict a career year for Bradford both this year and perhaps next as all the young talent begins to bloom. Both TE Jared Cook and WR Tavon Austin will create extremely difficult matchups for opposing defenses and they have the surrounding talent to really make that work. One thing that we really like about the skill players in St. Louis is the depth of the competition at every position save for quarterback. It makes for some tough prognostication when you break down the RB and WR position groups, but it all benefits the QB as the players who end up playing big snaps will have earned it. Bradford has legit QB1 upside and a fairly good chance to make that upside a reality. He’s excellent value at his current ADP.|
|17||Jay Cutler||135||CHI||8||3||On a normal year, I’d be saying that Cutler is a nice late starting option. In this class, he’s more of a QB2 with upside. He should be far better under new HC Marc Trestman and with very significant upgrades at TE and along the OL. The Bears have the closest thing to a complete offense that we have seen in some time. Cutler should be startable most weeks and he has the potential to break out. He’s nice value at his current ADP.|
|18||Joe Flacco||133||BAL||8||3||Flacco is a wildcard. They may opt to open things up in Baltimore with both Boldin and Pitta gone. That could hurt Flacco or help him depending on how his protection holds up and how well the kids and Ed Dickson play.|
|19||Carson Palmer||151||ARI||9||3||I love Palmer as a QB2 that you can play as a starter when needed. He’s a solid way to backup RGIII with a later pick if you are looking for a “bridge” player to a younger QB like E.J. Manuel. The issue I see is durability. Palmer took a pounding last year, especially over the second half of the year. The new OL in Arizona needs to hold up, because Bruce Arians’ offense needs some time for the receivers to get down the field. If they protect Palmer, a lot of good fantasy things can happen. Larry Fitzgerald can return to prominence and Michael Floyd can bust out. It’s ALL ABOUT protection.|
|20||Michael Vick||131||PHI||12||4||Right now, we are unwilling to count out Matt Barkley or Nick Foles. This is a training camp battle to watch. The Eagles’ look like they will be run-heavy with Chip Kelly as the HC, so we don’t project any QB but Vick to be fantasy viable. Kelly could throw more and they do have quality personnel, so you never know, but the depth at QB makes gambling on a QB bad business. If Vick wins this job cleanly, I will bump him up a bit, but he is injury-prone at this stage of his career, so you need a plan B if you roll with him as your QB1.|
|21||Matt Schaub||147||HOU||8||3||We love his offense and his targets, but Schaub needs to do it all with his arm to be a top fantasy QB, and they love to run in Houston. He’s a quality QB2 who will have some big games, but a QB1 season is a long shot because of how deep the position is.|
|22||Josh Freeman||150||TB||5||3||We like him more than rookie Mike Glennon, but Freeman needs to step up. He’s got a nice offense to run, but he needs to clean up the mistakes. He has the talent. He’s a QB2 that has some upside and can post QB1 numbers when things are going well. He may also have an improved defense that will get him the ball back more consistently than they did last season. That could help a bit.|
|23||Ryan Tannehill||167||MIA||6||3||Tannehill has the potential to move up a notch or two, but he’ll be a QB2 with some upside whether he moves up or not. The addition of Mike Wallace is huge for Tannehill who has the arm to make any throw. We also think the ground game will be just fine in Lamar Miller’s hands. The Dolphins may have paid too many premiums in the draft and free agency, but, for now, the talent has improved significantly and that helps Tannehill. He has QB1 upside if it all comes together. I’d be very content to draft Tannehill as a value QB2 late in drafts.|
|24||Jake Locker||216||TEN||8||4||He does have upside. We love QBs who can get foot-points every week and Locker most certainly can. Now, he just needs to fix the sight on that cannon of an arm he’s got. If that happens even a little, he has the potential to be a solid fantasy option with all the talent around him. For now, he’s a volatile option with a lot of upside. Do not take him as your top QB.|
|25||E.J. Manuel||260||BUF||12||5||E.J. Manuel is the long term QB, but who knows what QB will be in there for Week 1. It’s starting to look like Manual could be the man, but we’ll have to wait and see. Right now, this is a situation to avoid, but there is some upside to Manuel, especially over the long haul. I love all the skill talent that Buffalo added this offseason, but it will take some time to make it all work. This group could have a very bright future if they can upgrade the OL next year. Drafting Manuel with a late pick has plenty of merit, even if Kolb gets the Week 1 start.|
|26||Brandon Weeden||267||CLE||10||3||Weeden is a guy we’ve always liked. Why folks don’t cut rookie QBs more slack is beyond me, but they don’t these days. Rookies are now given long terms grades while they are cutting their teeth. Weeden could be a guy who makes a lot of folks look stupid. We feel that he is solid fit for what HC Rob Chudzinski wants to do and OC Norv Turner is a huge asset for the young signal caller. Weeden’s offseason could not have gone much better, until the recent issues with Josh Gordon. Gordon has been suspended for weeks 1 & 2. That hurts, but the reality is that you were most likely targeting Weeden as a QB2 to use on a bye week. He’ll have Gordon back by then. We’ve bumped him down two spots, but we still like him.|
|27||Alex Smith||175||KC||10||4||I just don’t see him having enough upside to be worth much in most 12-team leagues. He’s a bye week replacement. If things really click, then he could have some value. Not a bad move for K.C., but he’s not likely to help your fantasy team much in 2013. There are just too many better options ahead of him.|
|28||Christian Ponder||249||MIN||5||4||Ponder’s day may be coming. I like the fit with him and Cordarrelle Patterson, but it will take some time. Greg Jennings was also a nice addition and we project TE Kyle Rudolph to have his best season to date. Ponder should take a step forward this season, but he’s still just a bye week option in deeper leagues. Like with Smith, he’s serviceable, but probably not even a QB2.|
|29||Philip Rivers||140||SD||8||4||While I see some upside, and while I like the new coaching staff, Rivers plays behind a line that could be even worse than they were in 2012. He’ll have some good games, but he’ll be too inconsistent to be a weekly starter in 12-team leagues. He’s a matchup play.|
|30||Geno Smith||280||NYJ||10||6||Hey, you never know, but banking on Geno Smith, or, gulp, Mark Sanchez is just not a sensical move in anything outside a 2QB format. Even then, I’d aim higher. Marty Morhinweg may be able to fix this offense, but it will most likely take some time--time you don’t have as a fantasy GM. In long term formats, Smith is worth a mid-round selection.|
|31||Blaine Gabbert||304||JAC||9||5||Another new system for this poor kid. No way will you get much out of whomever is playing QB for Jacksonville this year from a fantasy standpoint. With Justin Blackmon’s suspension, they are thin as can be. They have some talent, but it’s a mess right now. Avoid in redraft formats. That being said, we like Gabbert a lot more than the pack seems to. It would not surprise us at all if the former first rounder settles in and becomes a decent NFL starter at some point. But again, for now there’s just too much depth to rely on the Jags’ QB in fantasy.|
|32||Matt Flynn||290||OAK||7||6||He may not be able to hold off rookie Tyler Wilson, whom we like long term. Flynn is a quality backup, but a lightweight as a starter and he plays for a rebuilding offense. No way should you even be considering taking Mr. Flynn.|
ADP data from FantasyPros.
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