Fantasy Football: Power Ranking the Top 25 Players to Own in Keeper Leagues
It's a sad truth in fantasy football, but by this point in the season, some teams are gearing up for a run at the playoffs and others are crying as it's all but over, their playoff dreams having been crushed by injuries and disappointing performances.
For fantasy owners of such teams in keeper leagues, this is an important time of year.
It's time to decide which players to hang onto and which to look at dealing to contenders for picks in next year's draft.
To help those owners separate the wheat from the chaff, here's a look at the top 25 keeper-league players in point-per-reception (PPR) formats looking ahead to 2013.
25. Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Sure, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White is the wrong side of 30, but the eighth-year veteran is also one of the most consistent wide receivers in the NFL.
24. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
A lot of the fantasy value of Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is tied to whether teammate Greg Jennings returns to Titletown.
Since I don't expect that to happen, Nelson should be Aaron Rodgers' top target in the passing game in 2013.
23. Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants
Any question as to whether New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz's breakout 2011 campaign was a fluke appear to have been put to rest.
With the 25-year-old on pace to set career highs in catches and scores, the future for everyone's favorite salsa dancer looks bright.
22. Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings
In his fourth NFL season, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has emerged as one of the most dangerous players in the league.
At only 24-years-old, Harvin's fantasy upside is limited only by an uncertain quarterback situation in the Twin Cities.
21. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
Granted, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski may not match his record-setting production from 2011 this season, but the third-year pro is still on a clip that will make him fantasy football's top tight end for the second straight year.
20. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
It's important not to look too far ahead in keeper leagues.
Grizzled veterans such as Tom Brady of the New England Patriots will still have plenty of fantasy value in 2013.
However, Andrew Luck has the potential for strong QB1 production, not to mention that he could be part of your roster for many seasons to come.
19. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Given that Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has racked up nearly 500 total yards over his past two games, it may seem strange that the rookie isn't higher on this list.
The fact remains that he's still only played half a season in the NFL, so let's not get too carried away.
18. Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers
Running back Ryan Mathews of the San Diego Chargers is one of the riskier players on this list.
The third-year pro would seem to have all the talent necessary to become one of the NFL's elite players at his position, but ball security issues and an impending shakeup in San Diego cloud his future enough to cost him a few spots.
17. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles has come back strong from last year's ACL tear.
Given that he's on pace for nearly 1,600 total yards on an awful Chiefs team, it's reasonable to expect even better things from the fifth-year pro next season.
16. Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints
Along with Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, tight end Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints is one of a precious few players at his position that can give you a significant fantasy edge.
Without Aaron Hernandez breathing over his shoulder, Graham gets the edge as the top tight end in keeper formats.
15. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
Running back Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears is one of the best dual-threat backs in the National Football League.
Forte's in the prime of his career, and there's no reason to think that he won't once again flirt with top-10 fantasy production next year.
14. Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants
2012 has been an injury-plagued disappointment of a season so far for wideout Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants.
But the 24-year-old remains an immensely talented player whose role as the underneath target makes him a preferable fantasy option to Victor Cruz in PPR formats.
13. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is enjoying an MVP-caliber season at the helm of an undefeated team.
While the fifth-year pro may not possess a tremendously high ceiling, the bevy of offensive options at his disposal helps ensure his floor won't be low.
12. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Were Larry Fitzgerald would be higher on this list if he wasn't stuck catching passes from mediocre quarterbacks.
But the fact remains that the 29-year-old is one of the best wide receivers in the history of the National Football League.
11. Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears is on pace to set career highs across the board in his first season in the Windy City.
However, the mercurial 28-year-old's checkered past is still reason for a bit of concern about his long-term prospects.
10. Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins has electrified the NFL with his ability to hurt teams with both his arm and his legs.
It's that dual-threat ability that makes the youngster such an attractive fantasy option.
9. Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns
Much of the hope for the future of the Cleveland Browns lies with rookie tailback Trent Richardson.
Doug Martin has put up the bigger numbers in 2012, but that doesn't change the fact that Richardson is a superior talent.
8. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
With 25 touchdown passes and only five interceptions, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers is once again fantasy football's top signal-caller.
At only 28-years-old, that doesn't appear to be a title Rodgers is going to relinquish any time soon.
7. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
In his second NFL season, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones has already become a top-15 fantasy option at his position.
While that production may not have met the preseason hype around Jones, that's more an indictment of the former than the latter.
6. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Another second-year pro doing big things in 2012, no receiver in the NFL has more touchdown catches than A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Given how much quarterback Andy Dalton targets Green, the former Georgia star should continue to produce elite fantasy numbers for the foreseeable future.
5. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
OK, so I'm drinking the Kool-Aid.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has made an absolutely miraculous recovery from an ACL tear late last season. Were it not for that injury, I'd probably have the NFL's leading rusher ranked even higher than this.
4. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions
Yes, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has struggled with injuries in 2012. After catching 16 scoring passes a year ago, "Megatron" has only one so far this season.
However, none of that changes the fact that Johnson is in the prime of his career and is the best wide receiver in the NFL.
3. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
If you look at my top three players entering this season, and then glance at my top three players on this list, you'll notice a similarity.
They're exactly the same.
With Michael Vick likely on the outs in Philadelphia, the Eagles will almost certainly lean more heavily on the running game in 2013.
The main beneficiary of that from a fantasy perspective will be running back LeSean McCoy.
2. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
The Houston Texans have become one of the best teams in the AFC.
A huge part of that success is the Texans continued pounding away on the ground. That makes running back Arian Foster one of the very best options available at any position in fantasy football.
1. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
At the midway point of the 2012 NFL, season Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice ranks third among running backs in fantasy points per game. He'd rank higher than that if the team gave him the ball as much as it should.
Add to that that at 25 he's still more pup than veteran and there's no player in fantasy football I'd rather have.