Obviously, it’s way too early to really start looking at who to draft for the 2013 Fantasy Football season. However, before the free agent rush starts (March 12, less than a month away!), we can look at the teams and see who might be the best bets for your draft. With the disclaimer that things might (and will) change before you draft in August, let’s take a look at players to begin to target… in February.
Put down your half-eaten discounted chocolates and show some love post-Valentine’s Day to some players that, assuming no drastic changes to their teams, I love heading into the 2013 season.
I was lucky enough to draft him in the late rounds of one of my leagues this past year. Then, in the first week of the season, in another league, someone offered me a trade: they’d give me Spiller for Jonathan Baldwin. I owned Fred Jackson already, yet, I debated! Looking back on the year, it’s hard to imagine. Spiller, despite being underutilized in Buffalo, set a career high in rushing yards, more than doubling his 2011 total (561 to 1244 yards). He added six rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and 43 receptions for 459 yards. He recently triggered a clause in his contract, which boosted his salary higher than Jackson’s, making him the highest paid back in Buffalo. With the addition of new head coach Doug Marrone, Spiller is set to benefit. Marrone has headed a run-first offense, and with Ryan Fitzpatrick still at QB, it only makes sense to continue to maintain that in Buffalo. Spiller will be 26 next season, and if he can be utilized as a pass-catching back in addition to being the No. 1 running back he’s arguably a first-round draft pick in PPR leagues.
While Mikel Leshoure will be the No. 1 running back in Detroit, Bell has proven to be his backup. Kevin Smith is an afterthought, and should anything happen to Leshoure, it will be Bell’s gig. Both Bell and Leshoure can be pass-catching backs, which is good for sidearm-throwing Matthew Stafford. The Lions will need to work on their offense in the offseason, as it currently consists of Calvin Johnson and little else. Leshoure is a good second option but the Lions need to expand their options if they expect to compete. Having a second running back will provide at least one more option for the team. Bell only had 414 rushing yards in 2012, but he added 485 receiving yards on 52 receptions. Leshoure, on the other hand had 798 rushing yards and only 214 receiving yards. Bell will be used in the passing game, which will make him a good late round draft pick, especially in PPR leagues.
Fantasy owners will likely grab Hilton – and that’s a good grab. However, there’s another receiver to keep an eye on the Indianapolis Colts. Look out for LaVon Brazill in 2013 as well. First, however, let’s look at Hilton. In his rookie season, he had 50 receptions for 861 yards with seven touchdowns. In leagues that reward return yardage, he added 118 kickoff return yards and 300 punt return yards with a touchdown. As Reggie Wayne gets older, Andrew Luck is going to look toward the younger players – Hilton and Brazill. Don’t be surprised when Hilton outscores Wayne in Fantasy leagues in 2013. He’ll be the No. 1 receiver in Indy by the end of next season. As for Brazill, he’ll benefit as Wayne fades away. Brazill is more of a slot receiver (while Hilton will be a wideout) and will likely see more work in 2013, as Donnie Avery probably won’t be returning. Brazill didn’t have more than two receptions per game in 2012, so he won’t be on the Fantasy radar in most re-draft leagues, but in the late rounds remember his name.
Those of you in return yardage leagues already knew the value of Cobb. However, even in leagues that don’t reward return yards, Cobb is a WR2 with the potential upside to be a WR1. First, he has Aaron Rodgers throwing to him. Second, he’s shown that in addition to be a good slot receiver he can also run the ball. It’s likely that Greg Jennings won’t be returning to Green Bay, so Jordy Nelson will be on the outside. James Jones will be the third receiver, and all three will be viable Fantasy options. It’s no secret that Green Bay likes to throw the ball, so any receiver will benefit from having Rodgers throwing to him. In 2012, Cobb had 80 receptions for 954 yards and eight touchdowns. He added 132 rushing yards, 965 kickoff return yards, 292 punt return yards and a touchdown. Even if Green Bay takes him off punt and kickoff returns (unlikely), his value is still high. Cobb may go high in drafts because of the potential, but this is one that looks to pay off.
Just as Sanu started to make his way onto the Fantasy radar, he injured his foot in practice and needed surgery. After being placed on the IR, he may be slightly forgotten or undervalued heading into 2013. He had receptions in only five games, but in those five games, he had 16 receptions for 154 yards and four touchdowns. Clearly, there was chemistry with Andy Dalton, and with a full offseason to work together, that will only improve. Sanu has begun running and is on track to be a full participant in offseason workouts. He’ll be on the field opposite A.J. Green, and defenses are going to focus on him, leaving Sanu open (similar to how Cobb benefited in 2012). Mark him as someone to watch on Draft Day.
Everyone thought Decker would have a breakout season in 2012, and most owners were disappointed. He ended the season with 85 receptions for 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns. While it may not have been a breakout type performance, it certainly helped Fantasy owners – especially the touchdowns. The other wideout in Denver, Demaryius Thomas, only had 94 receptions for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns. The biggest issue with Decker, as with many teams with two solid wideouts, is consistency. He only had two 100-yard games, and he had four games with less than 25 yards. Unfortunately, that dilemma isn’t going to improve. (Just talk to owners of Julio Jones or Roddy White). However, the arrow is pointing up for Decker. He showed a solid rapport with Peyton Manning, and he didn’t have the fumbling issues that Thomas had. Manning clearly looks to Decker in the end zone, and that’s not going to change in 2013. Take him over Thomas.