Sarah Bojarski, RotoExperts.com
6:31 pm, February 7th, 2013
Now that football season is officially over, it’s time to start looking toward next year, right? While it’s still a little early to look at mock drafts and top picks (although, don’t worry, I’ll cover those in the coming weeks), it’s
not too early to take stock of the guys we just saw play. Most people watched the Super Bowl, cheering for their team or the team that would have won them money (OK, and some watched for the commercials and the halftime show). However, fantasy owners looking to next year already, watched and wondered about how those guys would be on their fantasy team. Let’s take a look. Photos via Getty:
1.Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens
The Super Bowl MVP. Flacco certainly looked good in the big game, but fantasy owners remember times during the regular season when he looked good as well. No? How about Week 10 vs. Oakland when he threw for 341 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and rushed for a touchdown too? What about the Fantasy Super Bowl, Week 16, against the Giants, when he threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns? Oh, and he ran for a touchdown that game, too. Of course, fantasy owners
also remember games like Week 7 against Houston, when he threw for 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. This will continue to be the problem with Flacco as a fantasy quarterback. He will have good games, but he won't put them together consistently. He’s a great QB2 to have as a backup in case your starting QB gets hurt, but he’s hard to rely on as an every-week starter. . Draft him as a backup and use him if the matchup is right... but don’t expect more from him based on his Super Bowl performance.
2.Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers
Kaepernick’s sample size is still small, but what he’s shown looks great for a fantasy quarterback. He likely won’t be among the top 10 quarterbacks in the league, but he’ll be close. In deeper leagues, Kaepernick will be a starting QB, but in 10-team leagues, he’ll be a great backup. Like Flacco, it'll be tough not to install him as the starter when he outscores your starting QB, but running quarterbacks are hit-or-miss from week to week. Kaepernick’s numbers from the Super Bowl were great for fantasy purposes: he threw for 309 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while adding 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Comparisons will be made to other running QBs, such as Cam Newton or Robert Griffin III, but Kaepernick has to prove himself first. Draft him as a backup, but don’t be surprised if you can trade him midway through the season to someone looking for a QB1.
3.Alex Smith, QB, 49ers
Smith will attempt to be traded out of San Francisco, and where he lands will determine his value. The Browns, Chiefs, Jets, Jaguars and Cardinals are possible landing spots for Smith. Until he finds a home – and a starting gig – don’t fret about him.
4.Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
Rice was a clear top-three running back heading into the 2012 draft. Looking ahead to 2013, he’s fallen from that spot. Sure, his regular season numbers were good, but not as good as the past three years. He rushed for 1,138 yards and nine touchdowns, and also posted 61 receptions for 478 yards and one receiving touchdown. All of those figures are his lowest since his 2008 rookie season. Historically not known for fumbling, it appeared to be a problem in the post-season, most notably a costly third quarter fumble in the Super Bowl. Rice also began losing carries to Bernard Pierce, a trend that may continue during the 2013 season. He is still a Top 10 RB (arguably a top-five back), but know that you’re not getting the same Rice that you were used to.
5.Bernard Pierce, RB, Ravens
Pierce went from being insignificant in 2012 to being a definite handcuff for Rice owners in 2013. Keeper and Dynasty owners may also consider drafting Pierce (if available), as he looks to be the future for Baltimore. While it doesn’t appear that this will be a timeshare situation (at least not in 2013), Pierce is valuable to own, as he will earn more time, and if Rice struggles, the Ravens know they can play him.
6.Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
Gore will be 30 this year, and he still is injury-prone. However, he is still a RB1 for fantasy owners. There is concern over his age, as he is starting to decline, but he’s still an elite back. His 2012 stats matched his 2011 numbers, and 2013 looks to be about the same. The 49ers will likely start to mix LaMichael James into the backfield, but like in Baltimore, owners don’t have to worry about a timeshare. Gore won't be amazing, but he'll continue to produce.
7.LaMichael James, RB, 49ers
In leagues that reward return yardage, James has value, but for now, he doesn’t have much value in standard leagues. There is concern over his ability to hang on to the football, as he had fumbling issues in the postseason. As it looks now, James will be the primary backup for Gore, at least until Kendall Hunter proves he has recovered from a torn Achilles tendon.
8.Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers
In three postseason games, Crabtree had 20 receptions for 285 yards and three touchdowns. He looked great with Kaepernick as his QB, and since that’s likely to continue in 2013, Crabtree’s draft position rises way up. He should be looked at as a WR1 in most leagues. He has shown great speed and an excellent ability to pick up yardage after the catch, he'll only be 26 years old,
and he'll have an entire offseason of working with Kaepernick. Don’t hesitate to draft him as your top wide receiver.
9. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens
While Anquan Boldin may not return as a Raven, Smith will be there in 2013. The only problem with Smith is that he’s a deep play guy. If he doesn’t get the long ball, he could – and has – put up a 1/14/0 stat line. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, his role changes with Boldin either out of the picture or becoming less effective as he gets older. Smith is the receiving future in Baltimore, although he currently loses receptions to Boldin and Pitta. As of now, Smith is still a WR2 for those looking to draft a receiver with upside for 2013.
10.Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers
Davis started the 2012 season hot and ended the regular season cold. He was better in the postseason than in the last four games of the regular season, but he still wasn’t someone that fantasy owners were salivating to have on their team next year. Davis will likely be a starting TE on a fantasy team, but it will be more out of reluctance than bullishness about his on-field prospects. He hasn't yet developed a great on-field rapport with Kaepernick, so it's hard to gauge where he is going to rank among tight ends in 2013. He’ll likely be around the tenth tight end off the board, and that owner will be crossing his fingers when Week 1 rolls around. He’s a gamble – but one that just might pay off.
11.Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens
Pitta is a restricted free agent, but he should return to Baltimore and be on the radar as a TE1 for Fantasy leagues. He had a hot-and-cold season, where he’d post a 5/67/1 line one week and follow it with a 1/5/0 line the follow week. With more time to work with Flacco, he should be more consistent in 2013. The Ravens know they have a tight end that they can work with, so look for Pitta to improve in 2013. He’s not nearing the level of the elite tight ends, but he’ll do a decent job of filling your roster on a week-to-week basis.
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