Fantasy Football Cheatsheet: Top 25 Rankings Heading into 2013 NFL Season
With NFL training camps in full swing, millions of fantasy football owners find themselves scrambling to figure out how to strategize for their upcoming, all-important draft.
As a way to somewhat assuage your anxiety and get you started on the right foot, I've got you covered with a cheatsheet for the top 25 players heading into the 2013 NFL season.
Quarterback or Running Back in Round 1?
The fantasy world is divided up into two types of owners. On one side are the owners who swear by a running-back-first strategy, while the other side consists of a more modern take—those who believe snagging a top quarterback is the first priority.
You'll find a mixture of the two in this cheatsheet, along with another position of note—the ever-important wide receiver.
1. Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings
After a 2,000-yard, 12-touchdown campaign in 2012, Peterson is primed for another monster season. The Vikings have a competent receiving corps to complement Peterson's bruising running style. Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph will help keep defenses honest, which will open up more running lanes.
Which running back should be No. 1?
2. Arian Foster, Running Back, Houston Texans
The most consistent, prolific fantasy football player in recent memory, Foster should be a stalwart again this year. The Texans finally added a solid No. 2 receiver in rookie DeAndre Hopkins, meaning defensive secondaries will be forced to cover both sides of the field, opening up lanes for Foster.
3. Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers
With a competent running game (we hope) backing him up, Rodgers will be even more dangerous this season than he was last year.
4. Drew Brees, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints
With Sean Payton back in the fold, the Saints should be incredibly explosive on offense again in 2013. He and Brees have a symbiotic relationship that leads to huge numbers in the passing game.
5. Marshawn Lynch, Running Back, Seattle Seahawks
"Beast Mode" will be in full effect this season. With Percy Harvin, Golden Tate and Sidney Rice stretching defenses, Lynch will get plenty of opportunities to wreak havoc between the tackles.
6. Ray Rice, Running Back, Baltimore Ravens
Rice will likely become more involved in the passing game this year, now that Anquan Boldin is with the San Francisco 49ers. He's always one of the most productive players at his position, and you can expect him to have a huge year for the defending champs.
7. Cam Newton, Quarterback, Carolina Panthers
After a disappointing sophomore campaign, Newton is ready to take a big leap in his third year. Even counting his struggles in 2012, he was one of the best fantasy football players in the league.
8. Doug Martin, Running Back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The "Muscle Hamster" is a do-it-all back who broke out in a big way last year for the Bucs. This year, as the team's defense is expected to do a better job of protecting against the pass with Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson, Martin will have more opportunities to pound the rock late in games.
9. Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots
Even though Brady's receiving corps was stripped this offseason, you can always count on him to have a big statistical season. He'll get his 4,500-5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns, and his ability to protect the ball bolsters his output in fantasy leagues.
10. Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions
Megatron. He caught passes for 2,000 yards receiving last year.
Need I say more?
11. Jamaal Charles, Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs
After recovering from an ACL injury suffered in 2011, Charles had a big year for the Chiefs, even though the team had zero ability to move the ball through the air. With Alex Smith at the helm, led by Andy Reid, Charles will have even more room to roam.
12. C.J. Spiller, Running Back, Buffalo Bills
Perhaps the most exhilarating player in the league, Spiller will have a chance to shine in the Bills new offensive scheme. His ability to make game-breaking plays in both the passing and running game makes him an extremely valuable fantasy commodity.
13. Alfred Morris, Running Back, Washington Redskins
Morris, like Martin, was a beast in his rookie campaign for the Redskins. With Robert Griffin III recovering from ACL surgery, the Redskins will likely rely on him to carry even more of the load—especially early in the year.
14. Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Washington Redskins
Don't expect RG3 to have a sophomore slump. Mike Shanahan proved last year that he understands how to tailor a game plan to fit his young signal-caller's strengths, and he'll have him rolling once again in 2013.
15. A.J. Green, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
Green is nearly as impressive a receiver as Megatron. His ability to win one-on-one battles with most cornerbacks makes him a big red-zone threat, and he'll see plenty of single coverage this year given the Bengals have so many excellent offensive weapons.
16. Stevan Ridley, Running Back, New England Patriots
One of the biggest sleepers as a top pick, Ridley is going to have a monster year for the Patriots. Bill Belichick showed last year that he wants to pound the ball, and given the team's lack of talent in the receiving corps, Ridley will be counted on to work even more this year.
17. Dez Bryant, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys
The arrow is still pointing up for Bryant, who has yet to reach his full potential. A veritable man-child, Bryant put up 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns last year and will likely continue to improve those numbers this season for the 'Boys.
18. Matt Forte, Running Back, Chicago Bears
With a well-rounded game, Forte is a reliable fantasy player. He makes big plays in both the running and passing game for the Bears. The biggest reason to perhaps think twice about drafting him is that Michael Bush is somewhat of a vulture near the goal line.
19. Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Denver Broncos
Wes Welker will open up the Broncos offense in a big way this season. With Welker working the middle of the field, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker will run wild on the perimeter. This adds up to a monster season for Manning.
20. Trent Richardson, Running Back, Cleveland Browns
With 12 total touchdowns as a rookie last year, playing with busted ribs, the future is bright for Richardson and the Browns. He's reportedly healthy at training camp, as noted by the AP (via ESPN.com) and will be a beast this season for Cleveland.
21. Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Atlanta Falcons
Jones is one of the most exiting big-play artists in the NFL. He made significant positive strides for the Falcons in his second season, catching passes for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns, and the best is yet to come.
22. Chris Johnson, Running Back, Tennessee Titans
Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack will help turn Chris Johnson into an elite running back once again in 2013. He struggled to find running lanes last year, but he'll run wild in 2013.
23. Matt Ryan, Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons
With 4,719 passing yards and 33 total touchdowns last year, Ryan's maturation as an NFL quarterback blossomed. He's truly an elite NFL signal-caller now, and his game will only get better as he builds chemistry with Jones—one of the league's most explosive playmakers.
24. Percy Harvin, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks
San Francisco 49ers fans should fear the combination of Harvin and Russell Wilson. The two of them will be incredibly dynamic together, and Harvin will be a top fantasy receiver in 2013—provided he stays healthy.
25. Frank Gore, Running Back, San Francisco 49ers
Old Reliable, Gore can be counted on year in and year out for consistent fantasy production. Though he won't tote the rock 25 times a game, Gore makes big plays when he gets his opportunities and will have another solid year in 2013.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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