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Top Ten Fantasy Football Running Backs – 2013 Projections

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Top Ten Fantasy Football Running Backs – 2013 Projections

Here comes your first pick in the draft.  Who do you take?  I know that it’s early, but you know that no rooks will be picked in the first found of your fantasy draft.  The earliest Eddie Lacy would go is probably round four.  Maybe somebody will bite on Megatron in the first, or Drew Brees, but you know for certain that running backs will start to disappear quickly.  As I’m sure that you know, without at least one good running back, you’re toast.  So that being said, here are my evaluations on the top ten backs, none of which should be left on the board by round two if you play in a twelve-team league.

1.  Adrian Peterson (2,000 total yards, 15 TD’s) – After almost breaking Dickerson’s rushing record as well as posting a ridiculous six yards per carry, AP returns to the top of almost every fantasy draft board in 2013.  The fact that he accumulated almost 350 carries the season after a devastating ACL injury was amazing.  Something clicked in week seven of 2012 and Peterson went into absolute beast mode.  The game that he didn’t rush for over 100-yards during that span was unfortunately in week 16, when most fantasy leagues had their Championship Game.  But if he can carry that second-half success into 2013, Dickerson’s record will probably get shattered this year.  That being said, he did only score a combined 13 touchdowns last season, but considering that he didn’t score any TD’s during a five game stretch from weeks two to six means that there is definitely room for improvement.  From week seven on, he averaged a touchdown per game.  Now that the Vikings no longer have Percy Harvin, AP will have even more pressure on him to carry the offense in 2013.  But he has proved that even when you know that he’s getting the ball, you still can’t stop him.  If he can avoid another injury this season, expect a monster year, even if Minnesota’s offense struggles to score points.

2.  Arian Foster (1,700 total yards, 16 TD’s) – He’s the sure thing.  Foster had seven 100-yard rushing games in the regular season and four games with two touchdowns.  Houston will feed him the ball, so expect at least another 350 carries this season.  He has proved that he can produce when given those carries.  Not only can he slay it between the tackles, but he can take screens for solid yardage as well.  Foster seems to be a lock for 100-yards and a TD per week, and that’s all you can really ask from your #1 RB.  He’s had three consecutive seasons with at least 1,200 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.  Points of concern with Foster though: his average yards-per-carry has steadily declined over the past three seasons (4.9/4.4/4.1).  Also, the amount of targets he has received in the passing game has declined as well (84/71/58).  In 2011, Foster racked up 617 receiving yards in 13 games.  In 2012, that total dropped down to 217 yards in 16 games.  Fantasy owners would love to have that extra 400 receiving yards, no doubt, but they’ll take 350 rushing attempts for at least 1,400 yards again.  Will Foster ever repeat his absurd 2010 season when he posted 2,200+ all-purpose yards and scored 18 times?  Well if he ends up on your fantasy team, you better hope so.

3.  Marshawn Lynch (1,800 total yards, 14 TD’s) – Lynch added another solid fantasy season to his resume for the second straight year, compiling his best stats of his career in 2012.  Lynch has become a 100-yard machine and found the end zone 12 times last year, which could increase to around 15 this season with Seattle’s re-vamped offense.  Lynch ran for 100+ yards eight times from week seven on.  The Seahawks will put the ball in his hands at least twenty times a game, so expect a consistent supply of 100-yard outings.  Lynch now has four 1,000-yard seasons under his belt and has scored 25 touchdowns over the last two seasons.  Everything seems to be in place for Lynch to produce another outstanding fantasy year.

4.  Jamaal Charles (1,900 total yards, 10 TD’s) – Charles is about as hit-or-miss as it gets in fantasy football, but when he hits, he hits big.  Charles had two 200-yard games last season and is always a threat to break one for 80-yards at the drop of a hat.  Expect Charles to be even more involved in the offense with Andy Reid taking over the Chiefs this season.  Reid has produced monster fantasy seasons from his running backs over the years, and Charles will fill that Brian Westbrook/LeSean McCoy-type role like a glove.  Charles will definitely have more targets in the passing game this season, which should result in about 2,000 all-purpose yards when all said and done.  Now he has never been a touchdown machine, but he should be able to find the end zone more this season under Reid.  Charles career rushing average is sitting at just below six yards-per-carry, so expect him to do more damage with more carries and receptions this year.  If Jamaal can get at least 300 rushing attempts and another 75 targets in the passing game, he could produce another monster season.

5.  C.J. Spiller (1,900 total yards, 10 TD’s) – Buffalo finally decided to feed Spiller the ball more last year and he doubled up his stats from the season before.  This Clemson stud kills with speed and proved that with his 6.0 yards-per-carry average.  Spiller is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield and can really help you out in PPR leagues.  The Bills offense isn’t exactly stellar, so that will obviously affect the amount of touchdowns he scores, but he should be able to get into the end zone a couple more times with the extra touches this year.  And the Bills will definitely give him that opportunity in 2013.  If he can hold up for 250-300 rushing attempts to go along with another 75 targets in the passing game, expect solid stats from Spiller.  He is without a doubt one of the most talented running backs in the league and if he can prove to be durable enough, Spiller should be a go for a 2,000+ all-purpose yard season.

6.  Doug Martin (1,900 total yards, 10 TD’s) – Doug Martin’s stats were a little padded after that 250-yard, 4 touchdown game against Oakland last year, but even excluding that performance he was still able to produce some solid fantasy games.  Martin also proved to be a tremendous PPR selection, posting nearly 50 receptions and 500 receiving yards last year (which should increase this season).  Tampa Bay is all in on Martin and they have no problem feeding him the rock (319 rushing attempts last season).  If that trend continues, which it should, expect another solid season out of Martin this year.

7.  Alfred Morris (1,500 total yards, 12 TD’s) – Morris saved many fantasy squads last season and was an absolute touchdown machine down the stretch.  It looks like Shanahan has found his guy and that’s always good news for fantasy owners.  Morris will not get you receptions out of the backfield, but he will definitely grind out 100-yard performances on the ground.  He’s not a flashy back, honestly he’s about as boring as it gets.  He won’t break loose for 80-yard touchdown scampers, but he will pound out five yards per carry.  And we all know that Shanahan loves to run the ball, so expect Morris to get well over 300 carries again this season, which should result in another great fantasy output.  The better this Redskins offense gets, the better his stats will be.  There’s no reason Morris can’t score around 15 TD’s this season, but expect at least twelve.

8.  Trent Richardson (1,500 total yards, 12 TD’s) – Richardson only posted three 100-yard games last season, but expect that to possibly double this year.  The Browns offense is steadily improving and Trent’s stats should benefit because of that.  His yards-per-carry average of 3.6 was far from amazing, but he was a consistent scoring threat all season long.  Richardson also showed his ability to score more points in PPR leagues while racking up 51 receptions during his rookie campaign.  Trent is out to prove Jim Brown wrong and could help your fantasy squad out tremendously if he ends up doing just that.  It was a modest rookie season for Richardson, but there’s no reason not to believe that he can build onto that success.  The Browns will feed him the ball, so expect more carries this season, ultimately resulting in better numbers.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see Richardson produce around 1,800 total yards and 15 TD’s in 2013.  If he doesn’t do it this year, eventually he will.

9.  Ray Rice (1,700 total yards, 10 TD’s) – Rice has been one of the most consistent fantasy running backs for the past four seasons.  His rushing attempts have been declining, but he always receives about 80-100 targets in the passing game per season, making him an excellent PPR producer.  Rice has proven to be extremely durable and consistent throughout his career.  He will consistently get you around fifty receiving yards and Ray is always a threat to go over 100 on the ground.  The Ravens know that a majority of their offensive success is in the hands of Rice, so expect another solid fantasy season out of Rutgers all-time leading rusher.

10.  Chris Johnson (1,600 total yards, 7 TD’s) – CJ2K was not happy with the Titans acquisition of Shone Greene in the offseason, and that signing will ultimately limit the amount of attention Johnson will receive around the goal line.  But Johnson has never had less than 1,400 total yards and was able to score 16 times in 2009.  Now I doubt that he will come even remotely close to that total this year, but ten touchdowns from Johnson wouldn’t shock me.  His carries have dropped to below 300 attempts per season, but he remains a consistent threat in PPR leagues.  His receiving targets were down last season (79 in 2011 to 49 in 2012), but his rushing attempts went slightly up.  If the Titans can put the ball in his hands around 325 times this year, Johnson can definitely do some damage.  He’s always a threat to break loose for long touchdown score, and when he does, expect a solid fantasy day.  Johnson started out the season extremely slow in 2012, but once he gears it up, he’s quite the threat.  Don’t doubt for one second that Chris Johnson doesn’t have any gas left in the tank.  With his sub-par 2012 season, he might even slide into the second rounds of some drafts, in which I believe he would be an absolute steal.  If you can utilize Johnson as your #2 RB behind one of the guys listed above, that would be the best-case scenario.

There are a couple backs that could be interchanged with that number ten spot that Chris Johnson is sitting in.  LeSean McCoy, Stevan Ridley, Frank Gore, Matt Forte, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Steven Jackson, Darren McFadden, DeMarco Murray, David Wilson, Maurice Jones-Drew, or even Eddie Lacy could churn out solid fantasy seasons in 2013, but I view all of those guys as slight risks.

McCoy could do really well in Chip Kelly’s new offensive scheme, but he has to stay on the field to do so.  If he does, McCoy is always a threat to go for 2,000+ all-purpose yards and is an absolute monster in PPR leagues.  McCoy has the best chance out of the guys listed below to be a top-five back this season.

Ridley will again be the main back in New England, but he only had six games with 20 or more rushing attempts and is virtually a non-factor in the passing game (only six receptions last year).  But chances are that he will score on a regular basis in that high-powered New England offense.

Gore had an almost identical season to his 2011 campaign, but I foresee his rushing attempts consistently declining with his age.  He was once a tremendous receiving threat out of the backfield, but now he’ll be lucky to see 35 targets a season.

Forte still managed to break 1,000 yards in 2012, but he once again struggled to find the end zone.  And Michael Bush definitely didn’t help Forte out in that category.  Forte is still a top PPR running back, but the amount of carries he receives in this Bear’s offense is all over the place.  Until that changes, expect the same results, about 1,300 total yards and 6 TD’s.

Green-Ellis was the workhorse for that Bengals rushing attack last year.  He ended the season on a tear and he should get between 250-300 carries in 2013.  I don’t expect much more than 1,200 yards and 8 TD’s though.  It also wouldn’t surprise me if the Bengals went a different direction at running back as well in 2013.

Steven Jackson couldn’t have landed in a better scenario than Atlanta this year, and he should go for his ninth consecutive 1,000-yard season.  And just by being a Falcon, that should dramatically increase his touchdown total.  Jackson hasn’t scored more than 10 TD’s since 2006, but this could be the season that he does.

McFadden has yet to play a full season without getting injured.  If he could stay healthy, obviously he has the potential to be a stud, but until he proves that he can stay on the field, he will always be a risky fantasy pick.

Murray will have the reigns as the main back in Dallas, but he also needs to prove that he can stay on the field.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see Murray post good numbers this year, but it also wouldn’t surprise me to see another RB in Dallas with more carries than DeMarco in 2013.

Wilson will have his shot to be the Giants solution to fill the Ahmad Bradshaw role this season, but as long as Andre Brown is hanging around, it will keep Wilson’s stats at bay.  Wilson has the potential to be an excellent PPR back and NY will give him every chance to prove his worth this season.

MJD still plays for Jacksonville, which will most likely keep him out of the end zone this season.  He’s coming off a major injury and he’s still playing in a horrible offense, but he’s still a great football player.  Last year was his worst fantasy year by far, but he’s still capable of putting up solid numbers if he can remain healthy.

Lacy’s fantasy value really depends on what team he ends up with this season.  There will be plenty of quality running backs taken between rounds 2-5 in the NFL Draft, but Lacy seems to be the only one teams are considering with their first round pick.  Lacy is a talented running back and should be able to carry quite a load in his rookie season.  If he can get around 250 touches this year, he could post good numbers for your fantasy team.  Don’t invest too high of a draft pick for him, but he could be a steal as your third RB option.

If you do play in a PPR league, guys like Darren Sproles, Ryan Mathews, or Reggie Bush will have value.  All three of these backs have a chance to produce solid fantasy stats in that format.  Move them up accordingly on your board if you do play PPR.

Now there are several other backs that I did not list above that will have an opportunity to produce solid fantasy stats, but I’ll leave that for my Sleeper Picks article coming soon (most likely post NFL-Draft).  There will most likely be another Alfred Morris this season, and hopefully I can help you find him.

Fantasy Football 2013 Quarterback Projections

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Fantasy Football 2013: Quarterback Projections

There will be plenty of fantasy points produced by quarterbacks throughout the NFL this season.  With so many solid options at this position, who do you target in this year’s draft?  Do you wait and take the two best available options when the time comes, or do you go all in on Brees or Rodgers early?  And how early?

The Wes Welker situation alone moves Peyton Manning up a round in most fantasy drafts, and at the same time, possibly knocks Tom Brady back a round.  But both of these quarterbacks will most likely not be selected until at least the 3rd or 4th round in most fantasy drafts.  The position is just simply too deep.

There are two types of successful fantasy quarterbacks these days.  Guys like Brees, Brady, and Manning who will stay in the pocket and launch the ball all over the place.  And then you have your mobile threats in Cam Newton, RGIII, Kaepernick, Wilson, and Luck.  Now they may not throw for 300 yards on a consistent basis, but they should get you points for rushing the ball here and there, especially if they are running it into the end zone.

All of these projections are Pre-NFL Draft, so obviously the addition of a wide receiver like Cordarrelle Patterson or an offensive tackle like Luke Joeckel will end up likely helping out the production for some of these quarterbacks.

2013 Quarterback Projections

Drew Brees (Projected: 5,200 total yards/ 45 total TD’s) – Now reunited with his buddy Sean Payton again, Brees should repeat another fine season.  It seems like Brees is a lock for 5,000 yards and 40 TD’s.  He will be throwing to receivers that he knows well, and that chemistry will only help the fluidity of this high-powered passing attack.  Darren Sproles always makes life easier for quarterbacks, and he should help Brees get back to that 5,000 yard mark.

Aaron Rodgers (Projected: 4,900 total yards/ 45 total TD’s) – Rodgers was really hit or miss last year.  In one game last season he threw for 338 yards and 6 touchdowns.  In another, he threw for 173 yards and no touchdowns.  But at least he doesn’t throw interceptions.  He hasn’t thrown more than one interception in a game in the last two seasons!  He’s one of the games best and he should be a reliable source of fantasy points this season.  Hopefully he’ll have more hits than misses this year.

Peyton Manning (Projected: 4,800 total yards/ 38 total TD’s) – Looks like the old man still has it.  Peyton proved to the fantasy world that he was still an elite quarterback.  With the addition of Welker, that should only improve his stock.  Now that he has had a full season to work with the new staff, Manning will surely be gunning for 5,000 yards and 40 TD’s.  If he can survive, he could finally reach that plateau this season.

Tom Brady (Projected: 4,700 total yards/ 38 total TD’s) – Danny Amendola replaces Wes Welker and will have his shot to put up valuable fantasy stats, but keep in mind that Welker is a better runner when the ball is in his hands.  A lot of Welker’s yards came after the catch.  But Brady has proved that no matter what his receiving staff looks like, he will post solid fantasy numbers.  Having Gronkowski and Hernandez in the lineup at the same time will help Brady out tremendously.  If healthy, those two tight ends should account for at least twenty of Brady’s touchdown passes.  Where the remainder of the touchdowns will come from will remain to be seen, but somebody will prosper.  Brady is still one of the best.

Matt Ryan (Projected: 4,900 total yards/ 36 total TD’s) – Ryan has consistently improved every season, and this year should be no different.  With two of the best receivers in the game and his boy Gonzo coming back for one more season, Ryan is primed for another great run.  Ryan slipped in many drafts last year, but he paid off big time in 2012.  He won’t go under the radar as much as he did last year, but he will most likely be chosen after the guys listed above him.  Ryan averaged almost 300 yards a game last season, and expect that trend to continue.

Cam Newton (Projected: 4,700 total yards/ 34 total TD’s) – People were expecting a lot more out of Cam last season, but statistically speaking, his QBR was about the same as the year before.  Now from a fantasy standpoint, his touchdowns were way down from the 2011 total.  But at the same time, his interceptions went down (though his fumbles went up), and he threw and ran for about the same amount as he did the year before.  I expect Newton to improve on his previous stats and get into the end zone more often this season.  Cam and the Panthers started playing better toward the end of the year, winning five of their last six, so if they can carry that success into 2013, Newton could end up having a great fantasy season.

Matt Stafford (Projected: 5,000 total yards/ 31 total TD’s) – Stafford, with the help of Megatron no doubt, is a 5,000 yard machine.  Now talk about a drop in touchdowns.  Stafford’s passing TD’s were cut in half from 2011 to 2012 (41 down to 20).  Calvin Johnson’s touchdowns went from 16 to 5.  That won’t happen again this year.  The Madden curse had to pop it’s big head in there somewhere.  As long as Matt has Calvin to throw to, he’ll be in the 5,000-yard range.  That is if Stafford can stay on the field though.  The addition of Reggie Bush will help out this offense tremendously, benefitting Matt Stafford the most.

Andrew Luck (Projected: 4,800 total yards/ 32 total TD’s) – Luck proved to be worthy of his number one overall pick last season, and barring a sophomore slump, Luck should start putting up elite fantasy numbers.  The Colts are committed to surrounding Luck with weapons, and that should pay off in more yards and touchdowns.  For a rookie, he looked surprising comfortable and well prepared for the speed of the NFL.  Expect him play with even more confidence this season, which should result in excellent fantasy stats.  The addition of Heyward-Bey won’t hurt either.

Colin Kaepernick (Projected: 4,400 total yards/ 33 total TD’s) – Those would’ve been his numbers if you just doubled the eight regular season games he played in last season, plus a little something, something.  And that’s what Kaepernick has, is that little something, something.  What he flashed in the first round of the playoffs this year against the Packers was unbelievable.  From a fantasy perspective, it doesn’t get much better than that.  The 49ers are going to be ready to roll this season, but their success strictly hinges on how well Kaepernick plays.  If he continues to shine, he will help both the Niners and your fantasy team win a title.

Tony Romo (Projected: 4,700 total yards/ 30 total TD’s) – Romo did have three 400+ yard games last season.  In week sixteen against the Saints he had 416 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions.  But the next week, he choked.  Again.  218 yards and three interceptions against the Skins to lose the NFC East. The Cowboys obviously believe that Romo still has some good years left, signing him to a contract that included 55 million dollars guaranteed.  As long as Romo has Dez Bryant to throw the ball to, he should come close to 5,000 yards once again.  If Romo can keep his interceptions under control, he should remain a solid fantasy option.

Robert Griffin III (Projected: 4,100 total yards/ 33 total TD’s) – RGIII has already started running again.  Dr. Andrews said that his recovery has been ‘superhuman’.  Expect RGIII to be ready to go by the season opener.  The Redskins will definitely attempt to limit the amount of times RGIII runs with the ball, but don’t expect him to not run the ball.  Griffin should be a lock for at least 500 rushing yards a season.  Given his arm strength and accuracy, expect RGIII’s passing stats to progressively escalate.  If RGIII can hover around 250 passing yards, adding another 50 on the ground, to go along with possibly three TD’s a game, he will continue to be a fantasy beast.

Russell Wilson (Projected: 4,000 total yards/ 33 total TD’s) – Wilson proved that he was capable of throwing a 300+ yard game in the playoffs.  That’s the type of production fantasy owners are looking for next season.  If you add another 60 yards on the ground, he’s right up there with the top fantasy producers.  Percy Harvin gives Wilson another weapon, and a great player, to succeed with this season.  Wilson will have those 250 yard, 2 TD games here and there, but expect the 300+ yards per game trend to continue.  Seattle has a great team going into 2013.

Joe Flacco (Projected: 4,000 total yards/ 30 total TD’s) – Flacco really stepped it up in the playoffs, throwing for 11 touchdowns and no interceptions.  Flacco had some great fantasy games in 2012 (382 yards & 3 TD’s in week three/341 yards & 4 TD’s in week nine), but he also had bad fantasy starts in nearly half of the games he played.  Flacco should play with more confidence this season, showcasing that Super Bowl ring on his finger now, and I expect him to go for 4,000 yards and 30 TD’s this season.  Sure he’ll have those poor games here and there, but I expect less of those in the future.  It’s best to pair Flacco up with another decent fantasy option and focus on the matchups week to week.  Flacco had his biggest games against the weakest teams on the schedule (excluding the Chiefs).  There will be some good starts there.  And there might be good starts all season long.  Flacco did post a 117.2 QB rating in the playoffs, so he’s worth the risk to see if he can continue to do it next season.

Andy Dalton (Projected: 3,900 total yards/ 29 total TD’s) – Dalton progressed nicely in his sophomore campaign.  Having A.J. Green to throw to definitely helped.  Green will demand attention from defenses, ultimately opening up more options for Dalton to throw to.  The more comfortable Dalton gets with this league, the more his stats should progress.  Dalton has the potential to be a perennial 4,000-yard & 30 TD producer.  This could be the season where it all begins.

Eli Manning (Projected: 4,000 total yards/ 28 total TD’s) – Which Eli is going to show up?  The one that threw for 510 yards against Tampa Bay, or the one who was 10-24 for 124 yards, no TD’s, and one interception against Pittsburgh?  You never know, but you can usually bank on him when he plays against sub-par defenses, so he’s a good QB to pair with another quarterback and play matchups.  Drafting Manning along with Flacco or Dalton and playing the matchup game could turn out to be a winning strategy.  Eli is always capable of having a big game and he did have five 3+TD performances in 2012.  If you play your cards right with Eli, he could produce some pretty solid weeks for you during the season.

Josh Freeman (Projected: 4,000 total yards/ 28 total TD’s) – The addition of Vincent Jackson last year to Freeman’s arsenal really helped out Josh’s fantasy value.  Freeman went over 4,000 passing yards and almost notched 30 TD’s.  Freeman needs to limit the amount of turnovers he produces (52 over the last two seasons).  If some of those turnovers could turn into touchdowns, Freeman could end up with some really solid fantasy stats.  This is now an offense that can score some points, and Freeman will be the main beneficiary from that.  Doug Martin will keep defenses at bay, allowing Freeman a little more room to comfortably throw the ball.  Freeman ended last season on a sour note, with back-to-back games with four interceptions in each.  But he also flashed signs of beastness, and this could be the season where he puts it all together.  We will see.

Philip Rivers (Projected: 3,900 total yards/ 27 total TD’s) – Rivers had 13 fumbles last season.  He was able to drop his interceptions down from 20 to 15, but if you tack on those 13 fumbles, he actually caused more turnovers than the season before.  That’s scary.  Back-to-back turnover plagued seasons makes you forget about those 4,000 yard, 30 touchdown seasons a couple years ago.  His QB rating was the lowest of his career, by far.  But I guess it can only get better from here, right?  If, and it’s a big if, Rivers can keep the amount of turnovers to a minimum as he did in 2009, he is capable of producing solid fantasy stats.  But keep in mind that he only had two 300-yard games last season.  Hopefully that will change without Norv running the show.

Matt Schuab (Projected: 4,000 total yards/ 25 total TD’s) – Schuab now has three 4,000-yard seasons under his belt and is looking to add one more in 2013.  He’s yet to break 30 TD’s in a season, and that most likely will not happen this year as long as Foster is there to run it in.  Andre Johnson is a scary weapon, and as long as he can stay on the field, Schaub will always have fantasy success at his fingertips.  Schaub is another great quarterback to sub in for good matchups.  Against Jacksonville last season, he threw for 527 yards and 5 TD’s.  I don’t like relying on Schaub week in and week out, but I’m happy to see him during my starting QB’s bye week.

Sam Bradford (Projected: 3,900 total yards/ 24 total TD’s) – Statistically Bradford had his best season last year.  His QB and passer rating were the highest they’ve ever been.  If those stats continue to improve, Bradford is all of a sudden a viable fantasy option.  He had three 300-yard games last season, but expect that to possibly double.  Bradford is still out to prove why he was the number one pick in the 2010 draft.  The Rams are still convinced that they have a piece of gold, so it’s up to Bradford to show St. Louis and your fantasy squad that they were right.

Ben Roethlisberger (Projected: 3,800 total yards/ 25 total TD’s) – There seems to always be a Pittsburgh fan in your fantasy league that will always draft and start Big Ben.  Statistically, he can pump out some nice games.  But I’m curious to see how much the loss of Mike Wallace will affect him.  That’s a big subtraction from their passing game, ultimately leaving a ton of pressure on Antonio Brown to carry the load.  Roethlisberger is a great football player, and when he’s healthy and ready to go, he can always beat you.  Big Ben’s stats are very predictable.  His QB and passer rating has remained identical for years.  With Roethlisberger, you know what you are getting.  The question is, do you want it?

Carson Palmer (Projected: 3,900 total yards/ 24 total TD’s) – Palmer has never had a wide receiver like Larry Fitzgerald before.  Chad Johnson is about the closest he’s had.  Palmer will rely on Fitz to carry the load this season, and Larry has to be happy with the change of scenery behind center.  Despite Carson being a turnover machine, he does rack up 300-yard games quite often.  Fitz will only help him do that more.  The Cardinals offense is nothing scary, and they do play in the NFC West against some of the best defenses in the game, but Palmer will have his days.  His completion percentage is always over 60% and he has no problem throwing the ball 500+ times a season.  Unless the Cards turn things around this season, Palmer should be forced to throw more, possibly resulting in more 300-yard games.

Michael Vick (Projected: 3,900 total yards/ 23 total TD’s) – Vick will be sitting on somebody’s roster with their fingers crossed that Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme works in the favor of this southpaw quarterback from Virginia.  Vick still has wheels and he will run the ball.  But Kelly is hoping that Vick will be able to air it out this season, which offers the potential for Vick to produce the best passing numbers he’s ever had.  That is, if Vick can stay on the field.  Michael hasn’t exactly been the most reliable quarterback, and dreams of him rushing for 1,000 yards again are long gone.  But he could dash for close to 600 again and throw for another 3,300 or so.  And that’s giving him his standard 2-3 game injury break.  Vick has always had the potential to post outstanding fantasy numbers, and every now and again he will, but unfortunately his best fantasy numbers probably would’ve come during the years he was out of the game.  He’s worth a spot on your bench if you already have a solid quarterback.  Cross your fingers and see what happens.

Alex Smith (Projected: 3,700 total yards/ 22 TD’s) – Does this have sleeper written all over it?  Will Andy Reid allow Smith to actually throw the ball finally?  This guy completed 70% of his passes last season, so why wouldn’t you let him throw the ball?  He got drafted high for a reason; because he can throw the ball.  Smith is only 28 years old, so he should be primed to produce the best numbers of his career.  I gave him very moderate projections, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him sitting closer to 4,000 yards and 25 TD’s.  Bowe is still a machine, and Alex will finally have an opportunity to really pass the ball.  That is if the Chiefs don’t draft and bench him for Geno Smith.  I really don’t think Alex Smith can go through that again.

Ryan Tannehill (Projected: 3,700 total yards/ 20 total TD’s) – Miami might have landed a pretty solid quarterback… finally.  Tannehill would’ve most likely have been the first quarterback drafted in this year’s NFL draft.  Philbin really likes this kid and the Dolphins are building an interesting offense around this young buck.  And he has Mike Wallace to throw to now.  That addition at wide receiver is what the Dolphins were missing last season.  Bess and Hartline will no longer have to carry the load.  With Wallace now leading the way, it’s a solid crew of receivers for Tanne to toss to.  Tannehill is very athletic and proved that he could do some damage running the ball as well.  It will most likely be an up and down season for Tannehill, but expect some progression and a big game here and there.

Matt Flynn (Projected: 3,500 total yards/ 2o total TD’s) – So now will we finally get to see what Matt Flynn has to offer the fantasy world.  Now it won’t be the easiest transition.  Heyward-Bey went to Indy and the tight-end Myers bailed to New York.  If Flynn is unable to produce, we might end up seeing Terrelle Pryor in action.  But don’t forget that this is the same guy that threw for 480-yards and 6 touchdowns in his last actual start.  Flynn also helped LSU win a National Championship.  Flynn will have to really play well to get this Oakland offense rolling, but a healthy RunDMc will make this transition much easier.  Flynn is a sleeper, because nobody truly knows his complete potential.  All we know about him is that he’s that guy that was sitting behind Rodgers.  Now he’s the guy sitting in the driver’s seat of Oakland’s success.

Jay Cutler (Projected: 3,500 total yards/ 20 total TD’s) – Cutler loves to throw interceptions.  And he very rarely throws for over 300 yards these days in Chicago.  But he does have Brandon Marshall once again, and that puts him on the fantasy radar.  But… he just turns over the ball way too much to warrant any consistent fantasy value.   If he gets hot, he could pop out a couple good games, but you can bank on him popping out a couple of interceptions as well.

Brandon Weeden (Projected: 3,400 total yards/ 18 total TD’s) – Weeden is headed into the season as the starting QB, so we’ll see how he runs with it this year.  Josh Gordon is a solid weapon that Weeden will rely on heavily to put up good numbers.  Weeden struggled reading NFL defenses during his rookie year, ending up with more interceptions than touchdowns.  But with a year under his belt, that should improve this season.  Weeden will most likely throw his fair share of INT’s, but hopefully a rise in touchdown passes will even it out.  Don’t invest too much into Weeden, but he should definitely benefit from Cleveland becoming a better team this year.

Jake Locker (Projected: 3,100 total yards/ 19 TD’s) – The Titans are convinced that Jake Locker is the answer, but that didn’t stop them from bringing in Ryan Fitzpatrick as the backup.  If Locker does not live up to expectations, don’t think the Titans will flinch for one second to throw Fitzpatrick on the field.  Locker will have every opportunity to prove his worth to the Titans and fantasy owners this season, but if he doesn’t succeed or gets injured again, expect Fitzgerald to take the reigns.  That being said, Locker does have a ton of potential.  He’s a very good athlete and he has some excellent weapons around him.  With the addition of Shone Greene, the Titans rushing attack should be hard to stop.  Chris Johnson can turn any Locker screen pass into an 80-yard touchdown.  Locker could easily surpass the stats I have listed above, but he could also fall flat on his face again this season.  It’s time for Locker to step it up or hangout with Mark Sanchez on the fantasy football waiver wire.

And whatever you do, don’t get stuck with Mark Sanchez on your fantasy team.  I don’t care if you forgot to draft a backup and he’s one of the only guys left.  Draft a rookie!  Hell, even draft the winner of the Chad Henne vs. Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder vs. Matt Hasselbeck, or even the Kevin Kolb vs. Tavaris Jackson QB battles before Sanchez.  Sanchez was strictly the product of an excellent college program and he was also the reason the Jets lost back-to-back AFC Championship games.  That was their Super Bowl teams.  Sanchez was the weakest link, just as he will be on your fantasy team.  Sanchez fails on the reg, and the fact that Rex Ryan has a tattoo of his wife wearing a Sanchez jersey makes me believe that there’s just too much weird stuff going down on that Jets team.  Maybe it will be Tebow time after all?