Top Fantasy Football QB's 2013

Fantasy football QB rankings for 2013 are ready – but what will your draft strategy be? If you are going in with only one name in mind you are making a BIG fantasy football draft mistake. The biggest surprise I find with new fantasy football owners is they were not prepared for the situation when they faced TWO good players – how do you know who to draft? Everyone has their top names highlighted and ready to go, but there are more things to consider beyond the top name. What happens if you are pick #7 and Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are gone? Below I have compared fantasy football QB rankings for 2013 – and specifically compared players that you will be faced with making a decision between. If you are thinking about two players that are not compared here – look at our fantasy football projected fantasy points to help you make your decision. We have analyzed 2012 stats and projected our 2013 NFL stats to provide our top fantasy football QB rankings for 2013.

Fantasy Football QB Rankings

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Aaron Rodgers vs. Drew Brees, 2012
Name Pass Yards TD Int Run Yards Run TD Total Fantasy Points Average Points
Aaron Rodgers, GB
4,295 39 8 259 2 410 25.6
Drew Brees, NO
5,177 43 19 15 1 416 26.0

2012 finished with 3 legitimate QB’s that stood above the rest in fantasy football. They were: #1: Drew Brees, #2: Aaron Rodgers, #3: Tom Brady. They finished in that order. Yes, Drew Brees outscored Aaron Rodgers in 2012. Granted, he only outscored him by 6 points – but still. Consider also that Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees finished almost 40 points ahead of the #4 QB: Peyton Manning. Once you drop to the #6 QB Matt Ryan, the point difference is 50 points. This point difference explains the trend to pick a QB first overall if you have access to Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. In 2012 Aaron Rodgers finished with 4,295 yards (almost 800 yards fewer than Drew Brees) – but with 39 TDs to 8 INTs. One reason Aaron Rodgers yards were fewer in 2012 was his offensive line struggles. Aaron Rodgers was sacked 51 times in 2012, that is more than any other NFL QB and almost double that of Drew Brees (26 for Brees), and 30 more times than Peyton Manning. Aaron Rodgers also put up 39 TDs without Greg Jennings or Jordy Nelson fully healthy for much of the season. Obviously Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers and showed he doesn’t need big name WRs to get his work done.

Drew Brees on the other hand surprised analysts by turning out a tremendous fantasy football year without head coach Sean Payton. Drew Brees threw 43 TD to 19 INT while crossing the 5,000 yard mark. Drew Brees was efficient (63% completion percentage) but threw too many forced INTs that may have been a result of rushed decisions without his head coach. Brees made San Diego cringe as he went to Darren Sproles often throughout games – making Sproles a PPR steal. Drew Brees surprised fantasy football owners by finishing ahead of both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady (thought to finish as the #2 QB) while completing separating himself from the rest of the pack.

Fantasy Football QB

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Aaron Rodgers vs. Drew Brees, 2013
Name Pass Yards TD Int Run Yards Run TD Total Fantasy Points Average Points
Aaron Rodgers, GB
4,373 36 8 221 2 400 25.0
Drew Brees, NO
4,932 41 17 18 1 399 24.9

For 2013 I expect much of the same for Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Unless injury strikes, there is no doubt in my mind these two will finish as the Top 2 fantasy football quarterbacks. Once again I see these two finishing leaps and bounds ahead of the pack, possibly even distancing themselves as early as the #3 QB (difference of 20 points this year) and 60 points from the #5 overall QB. I like Aaron Rodgers to come out as the #1 fantasy football QB for several reasons: (1) He has found his new playmaker: Randall Cobb. (2) Jordy Nelson is fully healthy and James Jones showed he can be more consistent. (3) They invested 2 high draft picks to build a running game. (4) He is a more effective runner.

The only caveat I have to picking Aaron Rodgers over Drew Brees is the Week 16 NFL game. Aaron Rodgers faces a Pittsburgh defense that may not be what it once was, but it is still a Top 10 NFL defense. Meanwhile, Drew Brees faces a terrible Carolina defense that was absolutely shredded by the pass in 2012. If you draft Aaron Rodgers ahead of Drew Brees – you don’t need to worry about drafting a second QB that you would start in Week 16, but you should be aware to draft other position players against weaker defenses to balance this matchup.

Tom Brady

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Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, 2012
Name Pass Yards TD Int Run Yards Run TD Total Fantasy Points Average Points
Tom Brady 4827 34 8 32 4 327 20.4
Peyton Manning 4659 37 11 6 0 305 19.0

2012 was a bold year for fantasy football owners who took an early risk on Peyton Manning. We had all seen Peyton before 2011, but how would he return? The fantasy football points show he did quite well. Peyton averaged 19 points per game which was good enough for 4th overall. Tom Brady averaged 20.4 points a game which was good enough for 3rd overall (behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers). Tom Brady attempted more passes, while Peyton had a higher completion percentage – fueling the discussion in the offseason whether his arm strength is in fact back to 100% (due to the number of shorter throws made). Don’t underestimate Brady’s 4 rushing TDs – which has become a routine in NE inside the 3 yard line. Both QBs had fantastic statistical years and served as QB1 for any fantasy football lineup.

Fantasy Football Rankings

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Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, 2013
Name Pass Yards TD Int Run Yards Run TD Total Fantasy Points Average Points
Tom Brady 4277 36 10 47 3 314 19.6
Peyton Manning 4376 42 9 8 0 334 20.9

New faces have come into both cities – Denver and New England. On the surface most reporters are projecting the Patriots and Tom Brady to have a down year – I don’t expect that. Of course Brady will start the year without Rob Gronkowski and is trying work to get on the same page with his new WRs. As far as fantasy football is concerned, Tom Brady is Tom Brady. One name most people are forgetting is Danny Amendola. If Amendola is healthy all year we will all forget about Wes Welker in Denver. I project Tom Brady to have a slightly lower fantasy football season than 2012, but to finish as a top 5 quarterback averaging close to 20 points a game. This would be down less than 1 point per game last year, this while you can get Brady sliding towards the 2nd-3rd rounds.

Peyton on the other hand should see a better statistical season. He has had another full offseason in Denver to gain more strength and become more comfortable with the offense. I still think Denver will have Peyton on some sort of pitch count, seeing how efficient they were down the stretch in 2012. Denver has a young running game and can balance their attack without burning Peyton out early. I love Peyton as my fantasy football QB1, the question is whether I’m willing to pay the high price to get him. Expect your leagues to jump on Peyton Manning as the 2nd or possibly 3rd QB overall taken. In my leagues guys take QBs starting in the 1st round, a price I am not willing to pay for Peyton. If he is available grab him, but if he goes too early – look for a small dip in numbers and get old faithful Tom Brady.

Matt Ryan Fantasy Football

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Matt Ryan vs. Matt Stafford, 2012
Name Pass Yards TD Int Run Yards Run TD Total Fantasy Points Average Points
Matt Ryan, ATL 4719 32 14 141 1 356 22.3
Matt Stafford, DET 4967 20 17 126 4 297 18.6

In 2012 we saw Matt Ryan finally have the fantasy football season analysts had been talking about. He completed a staggering 68.6% of his passes for 4,719 yards and 32 TDs. Matt Ryan found Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White and Julio Jones early and often in games – and it worked. One downside to the season was Michael Turner showed an obvious loss of speed and power and looked like an old truck stuck in mud. This created more opportunities for Matt Ryan to air it out. He ended as the #6 fantasy football QB.

Matt Stafford aired it out in 2012, and then aired it out some more – attempting a staggering 727 pass attempts in 2012. He ended with only 20 TDs and 17 INTs in a disappointing season. The yards were still there as he neared 5,000 yards – but the TDs and efficiency were not. He struggled without a clear RB in the backfield and only one legitimate WR threat. Multiple issues on the field and off plagued the Detroit Lions in 2012 as Stafford was still able to finish as the #11 fantasy football QB.

Matt Stafford Fantasy Football

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Matt Ryan vs. Matt Stafford, 2013
Name Pass Yards TD Int Run Yards Run TD Total Fantasy Points Average Points
Matt Ryan, ATL 4628 30 13 123 1 344 21.5
Matt Stafford, DET 4714 31 15 87 2 349 21.8

Looking ahead for 2013 we project these two fantasy football QBs to pick up right where they left off, with Stafford only looking up. I expect Matt Ryan’s stats to come down slightly as two of his main threats are nearing the end of their primes and careers (Roddy White / Tony Gonzalez). Age will play a factor in how effective they will be, however, they will still be able to draw double teams away from Julio Jones as he aims to go on an absolute terror in 2013. I like Matt Ryan for 30+ TDs again in 2013 as I project he will finish as the #6 ranked fantasy football QB again in 2013. I like him ahead of names like Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III.

Matt Stafford is primed for a comeback year. Can it be a comeback year when you aren’t injured? Well, still – look for Matt Stafford to get back to what he does best – getting the ball deep to Calvin and short to Reggie Bush. Reggie Bush will give Matt Stafford that safety check down he lacked in 2012. I also like the development of Ryan Broyles in the slot and opposite Calvin Johnson. Ryan Broyles if fully recovered from knee injuries should be a nice possession WR. I like Stafford to get back to his 2011 form and end as the #5 fantasy football QB. I would draft Stafford ahead of Matt Ryan, and should be drafted after Peyton Manning. The best part when drafting your fantasy football lineup is both of these QBs should be available in the 5th round. That means you can draft RB-RB-WR-WR-QB and still come away with a Top 5 QB.

Robert Griffin III

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Fantasy football 2013 drafts are getting close, and one inevitable decision you will have to make is…who will your stud QB1 be? No doubt in my mind that Aaron Rodgers should be the first overall QB taken. Who should be the next fantasy football QB taken? Some say Drew Brees, others say Peyton Manning. But if you favor rushing QBs, you will be comparing Cam Newton to Robert Griffin III. We will break down their 2012 fantasy football numbers and look ahead to 2013 projections.

Cam Newton vs. Robert Griffin III, 2012
Name Pass Yards TD Int Run Yards Run TD Total Fantasy Points Average Points
Cam Newton 3869 19 12 741 8 296 18.5
Robert Griffin III 3200 20 5 815 7 308 20.5 *(15 games)

At first glance you notice the similarity, 296 points for Cam Newton, 308 for Robert Griffin III. But looking closer at the average and you notice Robert Griffin III played one less game due to injury in 2012. Cam Newton is the better passer of the two, throwing a full 600 yards more than Robert Griffin III. However, he forces the ball more and throws a higher amount of INTs. Most leagues penalize for INTs, if yours doesn’t this will shift his numbers slightly. My league penalizes 3 points per INT, which would account for 21 less fantasy football points than Robert Griffin III. Robert Griffin III on the other hand rushed for more yards than Cam Newton, threw one more TD and had 7 fewer INTs. However, like I started with – taking RGIII as your fantasy football QB means you may encounter 1-2 games less due to injury. Also consider how Robert Griffin III ended the season (injured) and this becomes tough conversation.

Fantasy Football QB Rankings

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Cam Newton vs. Robert Griffin III, 2013
Name Pass Yards TD Int Run Yards Run TD Total Fantasy Points Average Points
Cam Newton 4123 20 13 712 8 304 19.0
Robert Griffin III 3394 18 10 602 6 258 16.1

In 2012 we saw Robert Griffin III actually outscore Cam Newton in fantasy football, this won’t be the case in 2013. We saw a totally different Cam Newton down the stretch of the season than we did the first half of the fantasy football season. I think Cam will ride his momentum and learn from his mistakes to become a slightly more accurate passer in 2013, and will maintain his rushing yards from 2012. He should be more ready for defenses that have adjusted and will increase his TD numbers. His INTs will remain as Cam likes to force the ball more than he should. He won’t have any major new toys to play with, but what we will see is a more focused Cam ready to improve on 2012 and a QB that will end as the 3rd highest QB.

Robert Griffin III will have a productive year, but it will be difficult to match his 2012 campaign. Fantasy football is a complicated issue to figure out, and owners will see Robert Griffin III’s numbers dip in his sophomore slump. Coming off an injury that knocked him out of the playoffs, we will see defenses adjust to Robert Griffin III in combination with a coaching staff that will realize he may not be as durable as they would like. I also have his dipped numbers reflecting the 1-2 games he may miss at some point during the season due to a concussion or other minor injury. He just lacks the size to run consistently in the NFL. Robert Griffin III will continue to be an effective passer, but look for a slight increase in INT numbers. Overall I project Robert Griffin III to finish as a top 10 fantasy football QB and worthy of a QB1 spot, but he will not be pressing Cam for a top 3 fantasy football finish.

Fantasy Football Rankings

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Colin Kaepernick vs. Russell Wilson, 2012
Name Pass Yards TD Int Run Yards Run TD Total Fantasy Points Average Points
Colin Kaepernick, SF
1,814 10 3 415 5 189 27.0 (Over 7 games as starter)
Russell Wilson, SEA
3,118 26 10 489 4 310 19.4

In 2012 Colin Kaepernick only started 7 games – making his regular season sample size much smaller, but he continued his torrid pace into the playoffs to make himself known outside of Turlock, Reno and the Bay Area. Colin Kaepernick over 7 games finished with 1,814 passing yards (10 TD to an impressive 3 INT) to go with his 415 rushing yards and 5 rushing TDs. Over the final 7 games of the season Colin Kaepernick finished as the 8th overall fantasy football QB ahead of names like: Matt Stafford, Robert Griffin III, Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck. You can attribute much of his success to the breakout of Michael Crabtree, not Vernon Davis (as Vernon Davis’ stats dropped tremendously when Colin Kaepernick took over – see our TE analysis for more). One name Colin Kaepernick did NOT outperform over those final 7 games: Russell Wilson.

Russell Wilson became a household name on the West Coast in 2012 as he took Seattle to the playoffs in his rookie season and making Seattle a legitimate contender in NFC. Russell Wilson finished as an impressively efficient passer with a TD:INT ratio of 2.6:1. He did this with a banged up WR crew with Sidney Rice never quite hitting full health and a group of young talented unknown WRs. Russell Wilson helped revive Marshawn Lynch’s career (vaulting him into Top 10 RB status), also while rushing for 489 yards and 4 TDs. Russell Wilson finished as the #9 overall fantasy football QB in 2012 behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Tony Romo.

Colin Kaepernick

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Colin Kaepernick vs. Russell Wilson, 2013
Name Pass Yards TD Int Run Yards Run TD Total Fantasy Points Average Points
Colin Kaepernick, SF
3,071 18 9 603 6 299 18.6
Russell Wilson, SEA
3,284 21 10 470 3 292 18.25

2013 brings a lot of unknowns at QB – consistency is the question for the younger QB’s and whether they can withstand a sophomore slump (see Cam Newton first half of the season). First off with Colin Kaepernick: I look for Colin Kaepernick to pick up right where he left off. He is missing his #1 WR for most of the year as Michael Crabtree rehabs his achilles tear, but also consider that at this point last season Colin Kaepernick was watching Alex Smith run with the first team offense – never giving him the training camp time to develop a relationship with Vernon Davis. The one silver lining to Crabtree’s injury is that it happened so early in the season – before training camp even began. That combined with the early trade of Anquan Boldin (and now signing of Austin Collie) and Colin Kaepernick has a full camp (with the same O coordinator) to develop timing with his new WRs an Vernon Davis – while expanding the playbook after earning the coaching staff’s trust. I look for Anquan Boldin to dominate targets over the middle while Vernon Davis proves he is a force to be reckoned with (word is he will be lining out wide as a WR often this season).

For Russell Wilson I don’t expect much to change from 2012. He lost Percy Harvin for most of the year, but actually – did he really ever have him? No. I like the development of Golden Tate as a breakout WR in Seattle and I also like the long term production you can get out of Sidney Rice. I look for Seattle to stick to the same game plan that worked in 2012, keep it conservative with Russell Wilson – grind it out with Marshawn Lynch and take your shots. I expect Russel Wilson to end as the #12 overall QB, slightly down from 2012 – only due to the upgrade of Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick in 2013.

I would draft Colin Kaepernick over Russell Wilson. I like Colin Kaepernick as the #10 overall fantasy football QB in 2013 – ahead of names like: Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Sam Bradford. I actually think I have put Colin Kaepernick’s numbers too low – his talent and athletic ability is so high that he could easily be the Top QB several weeks of the season and if Austin Collie/Anquan Boldin/Vernon Davis trio work he could be a Top 5 fantasy football QB.

Andrew Luck vs. Eli Manning, 2012
Name Pass Yards TD Int Run Yards Run TD Total Fantasy Points Average Points
Andrew Luck, IND
4,374 23 18 255 5 309 19.3
Eli Manning, NYG
3,948 26 15 30 0 272 17.0

In 2012 Andrew Luck finished as the #10 overall fantasy football QB. Andrew Luck in his rookie year surprisingly finished with 309 fantasy football points, an average of 19.3 points per week. Impressive. Andrew Luck revived Reggie Wayne’s career and took the Colts to the playoffs – not bad considering the enormous Peyton Manning shadow he played in all season. The downside of Andrew Luck was the amount of fantasy points he compiled while trailing in games. Indianapolis lacked any form of a running game in 2012 and heavily relied on Andrew Luck – Reggie Wayne and Ty Hilton.

Eli Manning had a lost season in 2012. Ok maybe not that bad, but the New York Giants imploded towards the end of 2012 – leaving much to be desired going into 2013. Hakeem Nicks never showed any form of his athletic ability and Eli Manning at times had to rely on rookie unknowns (Reuben Randle) to finish games. With the defense struggling mightily and Eli Manning struggling for any consistency he still finished as the #15 overall QB with 272 fantasy points, good for an average of 17.0 points per week.

Andrew Luck vs. Eli Manning, 2013
Name Pass Yards TD Int Run Yards Run TD Total Fantasy Points Average Points
Andrew Luck, IND
4,058 25 12 189 2 306 19.1
Eli Manning, NYG
4,239 28 16 29 0 291 18.18

For 2013 I expect changes for both Andrew Luck and Eli Manning. Andrew Luck has a few new weapons to play with in 2013 after adding free agents Ahmad Bradshaw and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Neither of these players are game changers, but they will add speed to compliment Reggie Wayne and a new dimension in the running game (IF Ahmad Bradshaw can get and stay healthy). I expect Andrew Luck to go to Reggie Wayne often again in 2013, but I do expect Wayne to show signs of age as he will operate as a possession only WR. I like the idea of a speedy DHB, but his struggles early in camp with drops are giving Ty Hilton his opportunity to shine again in 2013. I still like Andrew Luck a lot in 2013, but due to his popularity he will most likely be overdrafted and go too early in most fantasy football league drafts. If you can get him – I like him to be drafted just after Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, and Colin Kaepernick. I would draft Andrew Luck ahead of names like: Russell Wilson, Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning.

Eli Manning expects to have a nice recovery from a woeful 2012 season where he was plagued by turnovers (15 INTs). More importantly, his low TD production (26) is where he will improve in 2013. Hakeem Nicks still looks to be nursing injuries – but Rueben Randle has been impressive in camp and the New York Giants have a top camp battle brewing with David Wilson and Andre Brown both proving to be effective runners. I look for the NYG to get more selective with Eli and maximize his efficiency in the red zone as I bumped his TD numbers up slightly to 28 for 2013. I view Eli Manning near the bottom of QB’s you should select if you miss the other big names. I would avoid Eli as a QB1 if possible as I see Andrew Luck the last QB1 that should be drafted. I would take Eli Manning after Jay Cutler, but would draft him ahead of names like: Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Freeman, Andy Dalton, Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer.
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