2013 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

The concept of the Late Round Quarterback, established by my buddy J.J Zachariason is finally gaining some momentum in the mainstream of fantasy football. To learn more about the genius and the mathematics behind the philosophy, please buy J.J’s e-book with more fantasy football information than you could possibly handle. That being said, quarterbacks still score by sheer volume, the greatest amount of fantasy points and getting points from the position on a week to week basis is very important. You won’t find Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees on any of my teams, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important to understand what they will do for 2013 fantasy football purposes. What follows are tiered rankings of all the 2013 fantasy football relevant quarterbacks in the NFL.

Tier One

1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Drew Brees
3. Cam Newton

The first thing that is going to jump out at people about this list is no Tom Brady in the first tier. The combination of Rob Gronkowski’s injury issues, Aaron Hernandez’s shoulder surgery, no real wide receiver to rely on other than the wildly overrated Danny Amendola, and an increased reliance on the ground game, I’m just not as confident in Brady week-to-week to take him ahead of any of these 3 passers. Aaron Rodgers is the clear choice for #1, as he is the safest bet to finish at #1 on any given week. Brees gets his favorite signal caller, Sean Payton, back and that is going to have a very positive effect on Brees’ numbers. The Saints just didn’t look like themselves on offense last year and Brees’ completion % dropped from a record 71% down to 63%, and his adjusted yards per attempt dropped a full yard from 8.8 to 7.7. Getting Payton back is going to make Brees better, plain and simple. Cam Newton finds himself all the way at number 3 following a “disappointing” season where he scored 387 fantasy points. Newton’s yards per pass completion lead the league last year even though he regressed to be a 57% passer. I suspect that most will find this ambitious ranking, but Newton has a very high floor due to his rushing ability and the highest game to game ceiling of anyone not named Aaron Rodgers.

Tier Two

4. Tom Brady
5. Peyton Manning
6. Matt Ryan
7. Andrew Luck
8. Colin Kaepernick

We are now in the territory where if any of these guys fall to round 8 or so, I will actually sacrifice the draft position and take them. Tom Brady is as consistent as it gets, but he doesn’t have the same ceiling with all of his weapons failing him. Peyton Manning has the most fearsome trio of wide receivers in the entire league and will most likely have another 5,000  yard season, but Brady gets the edge of Manning due to the pace that the Patriot’s play at giving Brady more opportunities at points. Matt Ryan is returning with the exact same passing weapons and a much better running back which should free up the play action section of the playbook a bit more. Greg Cosell believes that Andrew Luck is the most gifted quarterback in the league, which got my attention. I think there is a real chance we talk about Andrew Luck in the next several years of fantasy football the same way we talk about Aaron Rodgers now. Colin Kaepernick represents an interesting combination of risk and reward. If he hits, he will most likely outscore Luck, Ryan and possibly even Manning. However, the rushing yards could take a real hit if Harbaugh changes the offense to protect Kaepernick from getting beat up over a full season the way RG3 did.

Tier Three

9. Matthew Stafford
10. Russell Wilson
11. Tony Romo
12. Robert Griffin III
13. Eli Manning

This tier is most likely the sweet spot for 2013 fantasy football quarterbacks. Matthew Stafford has a 5,000 yard, 42 touchdown season on his resume and the Lions defense is still going to ensure he gets at least 650 pass attempts. Russell Wilson had a truly incredible rookie season, but from a fantasy perspective, I don’t believe that the reigns will come all the way off for Russ the way they will for Kaep in San Francisco. Additionally, Wilson hasn’t gotten the same redzone rushing ability as the other rushing quarterbacks, minus one 3 touchdown game versus the awful Buffalo Bills. Tony Romo is always undervalued because of his failures as a real life quarterback, but with the emergence of Dez Bryant, he is as solid of a quarterback as it gets. RGIII will either end up much lower or higher on my final 2013 fantasy football quarterback rankings, depending on how he heals from his ACL surgery and what the Redskins coaching staff decides what to do about the shape of the offense in 2013. As Frank Dupont pointed out on Rotoviz, “a lot more of RGIII’s fantasy points are going to have to come through the air this year”, which will limit Griffin’s fantasy upside. Eli Manning is where the line is drawn of guys that I would feel comfortable rostering all year. Anyone lower than Manning is strictly a waiver-wire guy, someone who will float on and off rosters all year, based on match up.

Tier Four

14. Ben Roethlisberger
15. Micheal Vick
16. Sam Bradford
17. Joe Flacco
18. Jay Cutler
19. Andy Dalton
20. Ryan Tannehill

This is the streaming tier of quarterbacks where you can feel comfortable that they will produce in the right environment. Ben Roethlisberger had his most talented weapon, Mike Wallace, leave town, but he has produced similar numbers every single year of his career. He’ll most likely get banged up and miss a few games, which is why he’ll be a consistent streaming option. Micheal Vick is going to get the first shot at running Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense that could theoretically produce video game numbers. Along with Vick, Sam Bradford has the most upside of any quarterback in this tier; Vick has the new offensive system and Bradford has a team that is clearly improved it’s passing game options and is seemingly showing a dedication to passing the ball. Bradford will probably end up being the first quarterback drafted on many championship winning fantasy football teams in 2013, producing top 12 numbers most weeks for a fraction of the cost. He may have won a Superbowl, but Joe Flacco is not a week to week fantasy football starter. Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta will be good fantasy options, but Flacco won’t be consistent enough. Jay Cutler might finally return to the promise he showed in his early seasons in Denver. Denny Carter writes here and here about the future fantasy relevance of Cutler due to the innovatice schemes of Marc Trestman and I’m inclined to agree with him to a point. Cutler is firmly in the group of middling, streaming quarterbacks. Andy Dalton plays in an offense that limits his ceiling but with A.J Green, Tyler Eifert, Jermaine Greshem and a whole medley of WR2 types, there is potential for several 300 yard, 3 touchdown games throughout the season. Ryan Tannehill is getting some serious love in the fantasy football community and I do agree that the talent is there, but I don’t have much faith in the players around Tannehill improving the overall offense immediately.

Tier Five

21. E.J Manuel
22. Matt Schaub
23. Josh Freeman
24. Phillip Rivers
25. Jake Locker
26. Geno Smith
27. Brandon Weeden
28. Carson Palmer
29. Alex Smith
30. Christian Ponder

We are at the end of the line. In a 12 team league, Ponder is the absolute last player I can see being rostered or drafted for any reason. That being said, look at this list of last-ditch efforts quarterbacks and tell me the argument for drafting a quarterback before the double digit rounds. E.J Manuel is going to be given the keys to an offense featuring the explosive C.J Spiller and a whole stable of young and athletic receivers. Rookie quarterbacks are more likely than more experienced signal callers to pick up rushing yards, which will boost Manuel’s value. Matt Schaub’s fantasy value has consistently declined as Arian Foster’s has gone up, but the drafting of Deandre Hopkins could signal a shift in the Texans gameplan. Josh Freeman  and Phillip Rivers are only this high due to previous accomplishments, but I don’t believe in either one of them. Geno Smith is in a similar situation to Manuel, but I think a lot less highly of the Jets offensive overall skill level. Brandon Weeden has a much higher ceiling than this ranking, but we haven’t seen it from him. The vertical offense of Norv Turner should improve his fantasy numbers and Josh Gordon gives him a true receiving threat to keep defenses honest. Alex Smith is in a system that has made fantasy superstars, but I don’t trust the arm talent away from Jim Harbaugh. It’s that simple. Christian Ponder gets the last slot because he is going to start and has a small ability to run the ball. Beyond that, he has nothing.

Tier Six

31. Blaine Gabbert
32. Matt Flynn
33. Kirk Cousins
34. Chad Henne
35. Mark Sanchez
36. Nick Foles
37. Mike Glennon
38. Terrelle Pryor
39. Jason Campbell
40. Matt Barkley
41. Matt Cassell
42. Landry Jones
43. Tyler Wilson

Blaine Gabbert and Matt Flynn are two starting quarterbacks who don’t have hardly any job security, which is reflected by my ranking of Chad Henne and all three of the Oakland Raiders quarterbacks. Mark Sanchez and Nick Foles will likely start a few games due to injuries or struggles of the rookie quarterbacks on the rosters of their respective teams. Tampa Bay announced that Mike Glennon was firmly in contention for the starting quarterback position. Jason Campbell could appear several times if Cleveland management decides that Brandon Weeden is a sunk cost and Landry Jones will surely relieve an injured Big Ben several times. Christian Ponder is suffering from a bad elbow injury and as a result, Matt Cassell could draw several starts.

One thought on “2013 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

  1. Interesting take. I have Kaepernick #11 in my dynasty rankings, I’m worried he’s more a product of the system then a once in a generation talent he’s made out to be. Will certainly be exciting to see what Harbaugh does next year…