If you want to win your fantasy football league championship in 2013 you are going to need a couple great quarterbacks, but unfortunately some of the signal-callers who helped owners this past season might not be as helpful next year.
While many fantasy owners are dealing with the return of their hockey leagues, or are at the halfway point of their basketball seasons or are gearing up for their baseball drafts and auctions, there is a faction of diehard, no-offseason-for-us fantasy football owners who are already setting their game plans for the 2013 campaign.
Between head coaching changes, the NFL draft, free agency, trades and injuries, several of fantasy football’s most notable quarterbacks might not have the same fantasy value in 2013 that they had in 2012. These guys appear on their way to being downgraded on cheat sheets heading into fantasy drafts in August.
Here are four quarterbacks who will take a fantasy hit in 2013:
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
RG3 owners in keeper and dynasty leagues must have broken a lot of televisions and remote controls during the divisional playoff round.
Griffin’s torn ACL and LCL came at the worst possible time because it happened during the playoffs, meaning the chances he will be able to rehab and be ready for the start of the 2013 season are slimmer than if he had done the damage during the regular season, like what happened to Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson the year prior.
It is too early to tell whether or not Griffin will be ready for Week 1 of next season. The conventional wisdom is that he would not return until the season is underway and miss the first couple contests. But RG3 could be superhuman, like Peterson or Captain America.
Chances are Griffin will not be on the field at season’s start, though, and when he does come back he might not be the Olympic sprinter we saw when he scrambled last season. And if he allows Kirk Cousins to play a couple games and does not put up the gaudy rushing numbers he did in his rookie go-round, Griffin's fantasy value will be smashed as if Baltimore’s Bernard Pollard was tackling it.
Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders
Palmer pleasantly surprised fantasy owners in 2012. While he remained interception prone and faded towards the end of the season, the veteran racked up over 4,000 passing yards and averaged more passing yards per game than New York’s Eli Manning, Houston’s Matt Schaub and Carolina’s Cam Newton. Heck, he even averaged the same per game as Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers!
The problem is Palmer will have to look over his shoulder for someone else besides the opposing defensive linemen whom his leak-filled line lets through. Oakland was determined to give backup Terrelle Pryor some playing tie towards the end of the season to see what he could do, which cut into Palmer’s snaps.
While Palmer will enter 2013 as the starter, you have to assume Pryor will be finding the field more and more. Since the read-option offense is the hottest thing in football since the two-point conversion, and since the stiff and robotic Palmer is obviously less suited to that style than the supremely athletic Pryor, the 11-year veteran should have fewer pass attempts and 300-yard games in 2013.
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
You don’t need to be a master of the Rubik’s Cube to figure out this puzzle. Foles ended the 2012 season as Philadelphia’s starting signal-caller. He is a classic dropback passer who can roll out when required and has enough footwork to slide away from pass-rushers when necessary.
New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly likes to employ the more-popular-than-One Direction read-option offense. Considering you need a quarterback with the ability to run to direct that offense, and considering Foles only rushed for 42 yards in seven games in 2012, this does appear to be a match made in football heaven.
Philadelphia will probably not keep the quarterback on the roster that fits that offense the best, Michael Vick, unless Vick takes a 90-percent pay cut. But that does not mean Foles is assured to be the starter.
You have to believe Philadelphia and Kelly will scourer the football world for quarterbacks who are better suited than Foles to run their fast-paced show.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills
Fitzpatrick’s starting days are probably over in Buffalo after another subpar season where he ranked 18th in passing yards, 13th in touchdown passes and eighth-worst in interceptions (16).
There is a new regime in Buffalo. New head coach, new offensive coordinator, new system. This is the ideal time to make a quarterback switch, especially when the 30-year-old quarterback you are switching out has never thrown for 4,000 yards or 25 touchdowns in a season.
Fitzpatrick is the definition of the middle-of-the-road quarterback. He would be a top-tier backup on another team, but he is a lower-tier starter. Think Kyle Orton. While Fitzpatrick has Ivy League intelligence, he also has Ivy League physical skills, and that is not a positive.
Buffalo will likely be spending its offseason searching for a franchise quarterback with a stronger arm and faster legs to lead its new high-tempo offense. There is a chance that Fitzpatrick impresses the staff enough to keep his job, but there is a better chance he will be headed elsewhere.