2013 Fantasy Football Rankings: Which Players Did Wild Card Weekend Affect Most?

Nick Caron@@nicholascaronAnalyst IJanuary 9, 2013

2013 Fantasy Football Rankings: Which Players Did Wild Card Weekend Affect Most?

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    For most, Week 17 marked the end of the 2012 fantasy football season. But that doesn't mean that the analysis is over.

    Those of us who are already looking forward to the 2013 fantasy season are also watching the playoffs, looking for signs of what's to come. With Wild Card Weekend now in the books, we have had a chance to sit down and analyze what happened in the first four games of these playoffs and what it will mean to fantasy owners this fall.

    Even though most who watched the games would agree that they weren't particularly exciting, there were definitely some important occurrences that we need to keep in mind when we're compiling our 2013 fantasy football rankings. 

    The following five players saw significant impact to their 2013 fantasy values due to their performances on Wild Card Weekend. 

5. Greg Jennings

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    Wild Card Stat Line: 4 rec, 61 yards

    2013 Value: Rising

    On the surface, Greg Jennings' Wild Card Weekend stat line isn't particularly impressive. Still, even with only four catches for 61 yards, Jennings was the Packers' leading receiver in his team's home win over the Vikings. 

    Actually, Jennings' stat line was significantly better if you consider that he played against the Vikings in back-to-back weeks and has now led Green Bay's talented wide receiver group in receptions, yardage and touchdowns over the past two weeks.

    In Week 17, despite a Packers loss, Jennings hauled in eight passes for 120 yards and two scores. They were his first two touchdowns since he was knocked out of play back in Week 4. 

    We do expect that Jennings will be with another team in 2013, but it's good to see him back and healthy again. 

4. Russell Wilson

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    Wild Card Stat Line: 15/26, 187 pass yards, 1 pass TD, 67 rush yards

    2013 Value: Rising

    He may not be in serious consideration as a Rookie of the Year candidate, but with the exit of Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck from the playoffs, Wilson is the only remaining rookie quarterback who has a chance to bring his team to the Super Bowl.

    Wilson's progression as an NFL quarterback has been amazing this season. We've seen him go from being a detriment to his team to a simple game manager. And in the late season and on Wild Card Weekend, we actually saw him take over and win a game for his team.

    Wilson's passing statistics weren't great on Sunday, but his rushing ability really gave us hope. Wilson rushed for 67 yards, bringing his total to 556 on the season, most of which have come late in the season.

3. DuJuan Harris

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    Wild Card Stat Line: 17 rush attempts, 47 rush yards 1 TD, 5 rec, 4 rec, 53 rec yards

    2013 Value: Rising

    There is no doubt that the Green Bay offense is one of the best in the league. We've seen Aaron Rodgers continue with his league MVP-caliber play, but the Packers running game hasn't really been able to keep pace.

    Perhaps that's beginning to change.

    Second-year running back DuJuan Harris spent a short amount of time on the active roster in Jacksonville before moving Green Bay in 2012. He didn't play much during the regular season, but has looked pretty good in his short time as the Packers' primary ball-carrier.

    Though he rushed for only 2.8 yards per carry this past week, Harris became a threat as a receiver out of the backfield and brought his total yardage to the 100-yard mark for the first time this season.

    Without any obvious choice in the Packers' backfield, Harris could find himself as the team's starter in 2013 as well, which could mean plenty of opportunities to put up nice fantasy numbers.

2. Bernard Pierce

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    Wild Card Stat Line: 13 rush attempts, 103 rush yards

    2013 Value: Rising

    Ray Rice was a top-10 fantasy running back again this season—his fourth straight appearance in the elite of his position. However over the past three weeks, it has been another Ravens running back, Bernard Pierce, who's led the team in rushing.

    Of course, we should note that much of Pierce's success has happened due to the Ravens being up late in games and to a Week 17 in which Rice barely played due to the lack of significance for playoff seeding. Still, the production that a backup running back has had in this offense shouldn't go, and won't go, unnoticed in fantasy analysis.

    Rice will certainly still be "the guy" in Baltimore, and it's highly unlikely that the 22-year-old rookie Pierce will be headed elsewhere, but what Pierce has become is one of the league's most valuable handcuffs for 2013. If Rice were to go down with an injury, Pierce would be the obvious choice to replace him, and the Ravens offense might not have much of a hiccup with him taking the carries. 

    Better yet, Pierce could become one of the few "handcuff" backs who has some decent value even when the starter is healthy and playing. Like Ben Tate of the Houston Texans, Pierce is capable of getting significant carries and producing especially in games when the Ravens get out front early. 

1. Robert Griffin III / Kirk Cousins

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    Wild Card Stat Line: 10/19, 84 pass yards, 2 pass TD, 21 rush yards

    2013 Value: Falling

    This one hurts to write.

    After being knocked out of Sunday's wild-card game with a knee injury, it now appears as if 2013 might be a lost season for the likely Rookie of the Year.

    The Washington quarterback threw for 84 yards and two touchdowns on an obviously hobbled leg, adding 21 rushing yards in a gutsy performance that has to be appreciated. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to get his team the win after a fumbled snap gave the Seahawks the ball in Redskins territory late in the game when the 'Skins were already behind.

    We've heard it many times before, but quarterbacks who run the ball as often as Griffin does are simply putting themselves in harm's way and thus potentially giving their teams—and fantasy owners—some serious headaches. 

    The torn LCL and probably ACL tear will likely keep Griffin on the sidelines for most, if not all of 2013, which will lead the way for his fellow rookie quarterback, Kirk Cousins, to take over in Washington. 

    Cousins' value obviously increases with this news as well, but without a star receiver on the roster, it is unlikely that he will be able to come anywhere near replacing Griffin in terms of fantasy production. Cousins isn't a complete statue behind center, he's just not RGIII, and for fantasy owners, this situation sucks.