Everyone's favorite sport is here. I've been playing in fantasy football leagues since I was 13-years old. Do I think I am any better than anyone else? Well, yes, I do. So feel free to use this as a little cheat sheet to dominate the 2013 fantasy football season (With season predictions at the bottom).
NOTE: Based off of standard 12-team PPR leagues.
My Top 5
-Michael Vick: Vick is probably the biggest "what if" in fantasy football. What if he stays healthy? What if he recaptures his form from a few years ago? What if everything clicks in Chip Kelly's new offense? Quarterback is such a deep position this year, but after the top five, you have to look for home runs. Vick is that home run. Even if he doesn't play a full season, if you spot start him, he's going to produce some stud weeks.
When to draft: 9th Round or later.
-E.J. Manuel: RG3 and Andrew Luck showed that rookie QBs can make an impact. While Manuel isn't at their level, he still holds a lot of value. The key is in his legs. In college, he rushed for over 300 yards and four TDs in his final season at Florida St. His offense is going to be sneaky good too. The Bills drafted Robert Woods who is an immediate upgrade over (fill in the blank) Bills No.2 WR. They also have a speed guy in Marquise Goodwin who is going to catch a few deep balls. Oh yeah, and don't forget about C.J. Spiller. I think if Manuel is a full-time starter (at some point this year, Manuel is going to start), he's worth the chance. And his latest injury might scare a few more owners off.
When to draft: Final few rounds or pickup as a free agent.
-Carson Palmer: Doesn't it seem like each season, Palmer is rostered by about half your league's teams? I don't think people realize that Palmer has been pretty solid as a fantasy QB in the last three years (Real life? Not so much). Palmer threw for over 3900 yards in two of the last three years, and in 2011, if he played 16 games (he only played 10), he would've been right around that mark. When the conditions are right -- think at home, versus a subpar defense -- Palmer is a perfect fill in.
When to draft: 11th Round or later.
-Russell Wilson: I'm not buying the Wilson hype just yet. Yes, he's gaining a year of experience, but the hype is just wayyyyy too much on him. Forgetting the fact that I think a regression is in order, he's also still without a true No. 1 WR (assuming Percy Harvin doesn't play this year) and still competes in the same division as the 49ers. I don't like paying for guys in a career year, and I think Wilson absolutely overachieved in 2012
When to draft: I wouldn't touch him until the 10th round or until you are in backup fantasy QB rounds.
-Ben Roethlisberger: You probably won't find Big Ben on any of my fantasy teams. Everything has been trending towards the downside. He's had four seasons in a row where his yards-per-attempt have dropped. He's missed multiple games in two of the last three years. Roethlisberger also lost his best WR in Mike Wallace and might lose his tight end to a few games in Heath Miller. And he's not so young anymore (31). If I'm drafting a fringe starter/backup QB, I want upside. Roethlisberger just does not provide that.
When to draft: At best, the last three rounds.
My Top 5
-Daryl Richardson: I'll throw some numbers at you on Richardson. He didn't even amass 100 carries last year yet had 475 yards rushing. He quietly caught 24 balls as a full-time backup. Everything is just screaming undervalued. And it's stunning to be that he's being drafted as a 7th-to-9th rounder, behind guys like Rashard Mendenhall, Andre Brown, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. I'll take the guaranteed starter over the question marks.
When to draft: 6th round
-Bilal Powell: Listen, Powell is never going to be a top-five back. I don't think the talent is there. But Powell will make for a nice bye-week stop gap or a fringe starter for a few weeks. Powell will start some games this year (Chris Ivory has played in 12 total games in two seasons). He's also looked a bit quicker this preseason. You could do a lot worse towards the end of your draft.
When to draft: 13th round
-Ryan Mathews: Mathews has burned pretty much everyone in the past. But this is the first year you can count me on board. I think you have to sometimes go against the trend, and this is the perfect case. Two years ago, he rushed for close to 1100 yards and also caught 50 balls. Is it that crazy to think he can do that again? The hate on Mathews has gone waaaay to far. I wouldn't reach for him, but if he's sitting there at the right spot, he could provide some value.
When to draft: 5th-6th round
Names to Stash
Lance Dunbar, Knile Davis, Daniel Thomas
-Frank Gore: I thought Gore would be a complete bust last year, and I am doubling down. Gore's wound up having quite the career, but father time has to catch up to him at some point. There's very little upside to Gore. Plus, the Niners have a boatload of solid RBs. I just don't want to be on the boat when it starts to sink.
When to draft: At best, 5th round
-Rashard Mendenhall: This is another guy who will not be on any of my teams this season. I don't know why you'd even consider making him your RB2. The Cardinals are going to be throwing A LOT this year (why else would you get Carson Palmer) so there will be quite a few games where Mendenhall puts up low single-digits. I have absolutely no faith.
When to draft: 10th round or later as a backup
My Top 5
-T.Y. Hilton: Love Hilton this year. In his final eight games, he had 26 catches for 506 yards and five TDs. He also had eight catches in the Colts' lone playoff game. I just feel like he's going to step that next step forward and be a 1,000-yard WR, especially considering I expect Reggie Wayne to take a small-step backwards.
When to draft: 6th round seems like a solid spot, although you may be able to sneak him into the 7th.
-DeSean Jackson: Injuries are obviously the biggest concern for Jackson, who seems to miss at least one game every year. With Jeremy Maclin out for the year, someone is going to have to catch passes for the Eagles. I think Jackson takes the step up. And let's hypothetically say he played 16 games last year and performed at the pace he was playing at. His stats would've been 70 catches for 1017 yards and 3 or 4 TDs. Not too shabby of a season. Feel like he's similar to Hilton in how he's being drafted
When to draft: 6th round.
-Brian Hartline: He's a boring name who had one amazing game last year. But I think Hartline is going to be a perfect FLEX/bench player for your team. Hartline took the leap last year with 74 catches and 1083 yards with an astounding 131 targets. People think that Hartline is going to underproduce with the addition of Mike Wallace, but remember, Reggie Bush and Davone Bess are out of the picture and Dustin Keller is hurt. Hartline's going to be a poor man's Wes Welker.
When to draft: 11 round or when you are up to your backup WRs.
Names to Stash
Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Givens, Jeremy Kerley
-Mike Wallace: Everything here screams bust. Even when Wallace is at his absolute best, he'll have one great game followed by one clunker. Looking at his situation, he moves from Ben Roethlisberger to Ryan Tannehill. That has to already downgrade him by at least 100 to 150 yards. But looking closer at the stats, Wallace's total receiving yards have dropped each of the last three seasons despite an increase in targets. Wallace will have a few big games, but I'd be stunned if he was anywhere near a Top 20 WR.
When to draft: 8th or 9th round (Torrey Smith area).
-Stevie Johnson: Johnson has been a solid, consistent WR since he became a starter in 2010. He's never really made any kind of leap, but you know exactly what you are going to get. I think he's hit his peak though. But I think a lot of that success was due to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Listen, Fitzpatrick was not the greatest QB, but he moved the ball down the field. The Bills offense is drastically changing though. Enter E.J. Manuel, a running QB with not a great arm. Enter an offense focused on getting the ball to C.J. Spiller. I'm going to go out on a big limb and say Johnson becomes unstartable by midseason.
When to draft: Completely avoid at all costs.
-Eric Decker: I'm scratching my head over why Decker is drafted as a 4th-5th rounder. It's no knock on Decker's talent, but West Welker was signed to take on most of the targets that went Decker's way. They also added Monte Ball, which should continue to make the running game an underrated focal point (Denver runs the ball a lot more than people think). I think we average Decker's 2011 and 2012 stats and you end up with his 2013 stats.
When to draft: Avoid
My Top 5
-Delanie Walker: I'm really picking a flier here in Walker. I've always been a fan of him. Feel like his talents were never used properly in San Francisco. Solely as a backup the last three years, he combined for six total TDs. He also had his highest yardage total in 2012 at 344. Moving to Tennessee, he is now THE tight end. That offense isn't exactly packed with stars, so I expect Walker to have a sneaky solid year. He's a perfect matchups guy as well as a bye week fill in at the cost of a late pick.
When to draft: Last round
-Brandon Pettigrew: After improving in year's two and three, Pettigrew took a big step back in his fourth season. He had some nagging injuries that cost in two games and the Lions offense seemed like a complete mess at times. I think Pettigrew is primed for a bounce-back season. Detroit is going to throw the ball and with Calvin Johnson continuing to draw attention on the outside, Pettigrew should continue to get opportunities in the middle of the field. The only drawback with him is touchdowns, as his highest season total is five. But if he can approach the 83 catches he had in 2011, you have yourself a nice starting tight end.
When to draft: 12th round
Names to Stash
Julius Thomas, Tyler Eifert, Fred Davis
-Greg Olsen: It's not that I don't think Olsen is talented, but explain to be the difference between Olsen (drafted in the 7th round) and Pettigrew (drafted five rounds later)? Olsen also had eight games with single-digit fantasy points and just four games where he scored a touchdown. There's just no difference between Olsen and the rest of the field.
When to draft: 10th round
AFC East: Patriots
AFC North: Ravens
AFC South: Texans
AFC West: Broncos
Wild Cards: Colts and Bengals
NFC East: Redskins
NFC North: Packers
NFC South: Saints
NFC West: 49ers
Wild Cards: Seahawks and Falcons
MVP: Peyton Manning
Offensive ROY: Cordarrelle Patterson
Defensive ROY: Jarvis Jones
Surprise Team: Cardinals
Bust Team: Steelers
AFC Divisional: Broncos over Texans
NFC Divisional: 49ers over Packers
Super Bowl: Broncos over 49ers