Top Fantasy Football Players 2013: New Acquisitions Who Will Climb Draft Boards
Draft day is approaching for many eager fantasy general managers, and it's worth looking at players on new teams who will shoot up draft boards for the 2013 season.
A plethora of offensive players were moved during the offseason and many of them find themselves in much more favorable situations. It's important for you, the GM, to find the players that can put up big-time points in their first seasons with their respective teams.
Seeing as most standard leagues require a GM to select one defense and special teams rather than individual components of said units, defensive players were not considered.
Some of the offensive players chosen had down years in 2012, but that isn't why they were selected.
Simply put, the following guys are in much better positions to succeed and will rack up a ton of points for your fantasy teams.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Rashard Mendenhall wasn't healthy for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, starting just four games and playing in six. In fact, he's only played a full 16-game season once in his five-year NFL career (2010).
He was a quality option that year, tallying 13 rushing touchdowns and 1,273 rushing yards. He totaled 1,440 yards from scrimmage.
His final two seasons in Pittsburgh saw him lose playing time to Isaac Redman, adding insult to injury and making him a less useful fantasy option than his potential would suggest.
Now that he is scheduled to be the feature back in Arizona, a healthy season from Mendenhall could push him into the top 15 running backs on draft day.
Worst-case scenario, Mendenhall will become a highly qualified bye-week replacement for some of the more notable halfbacks.
Ryan Williams will see playing time behind him, even if it only comes in third-down situations. Williams played in just five games in 2012, so it could end up being a race to see who is healthiest during the regular season.
Quarterback Carson Palmer will rely heavily on the run game in an effort to open the field for Larry Fitzgerald, so expect Mendenhall to get a ton of carries.
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
With no other quarterbacks breathing down his neck and a new head coach in his favor, Alex Smith is in a great position to succeed.
According to The Sports Xchange (h/t Yahoo! Sports), coach Andy Reid has wanted Smith for years, and now he'll finally get to work with him—albeit in a different uniform than he initially envisioned.
Smith no longer has the pressure of worrying about Colin Kaepernick's development, nor does he have the pressure of high expectations in San Francisco. In Kansas City, Smith can work under the radar and quietly revive his team from mediocrity.
Smith could even find himself a low-end No. 1 option by season's end if he and Bowe can hook up for touchdowns with some regularity.
Smith's problem has almost always been his lack of weapons. Not until recently did the 49ers surround him with quality pieces, and just look at the results from the past two seasons.
His weapons in K.C. have the potential to stack up with the pieces in place in San Francisco, so the less pressurized situation will be what helps Smith reach new heights.
Reaching for Smith on draft day may not be a great idea in most situations, but taking him in the later rounds with the intention of watching him blossom is.
Matt Flynn, QB, Oakland Raiders
The Seattle Seahawks signed Matt Flynn last offseason with the notion of making him their starting quarterback. Rookie Russell Wilson had other ideas, and head coach Pete Carroll's decision to roll with Wilson out of the gate certainly paid dividends.
Flynn was traded to the Oakland Raiders in April and made the starting quarterback shortly after Palmer was dealt to Arizona. Finally in position to take charge of an offense, Flynn will not disappoint.
The LSU product has started just two games in five professional seasons, but those two games have shown the NFL just how special he could turn out to be.
He is 1-1 as a starter with 731 yards and nine touchdowns, including a 480-yard, six-touchdown performance against the Detroit Lions in the 2011 regular-season finale.
While it would be ludicrous to expect that from him every time out, Flynn certainly has the talent to put up good numbers on a team that loves to pass the football. Oakland is the perfect spot for that type of quarterback.
Palmer ranked eighth in the NFL with 565 attempts last season, so Flynn will be given plenty of opportunities to throw.
Darren McFadden, Denarius Moore and Marcel Reece all represent good options for him in the passing game, and young receivers like Brice Butler and Rod Streater could step up and become valuable options as well.
In his first season as a starting quarterback, Flynn deserves a selection on draft day.
Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Over the course of his 10-year NFL career, Anquan Boldin has been both a fantasy must-have and fantasy benchwarmer.
After swapping jerseys between last year's Super Bowl teams, Boldin could be back to being a low-end No. 2 wide receiver in fantasy. This makes him a player you certainly want to have on your team.
Kaepernick lacked end-zone targets outside of Vernon Davis last season, while Boldin was the perfect target for Joe Flacco in anything-and-goal situations. His strong hands and physical frame make him an ideal target for a young quarterback like Kaepernick, who is still adjusting to NFL defenses.
Boldin could foreseeably double his touchdown total of four from last season and could be a 1,000-yard receiver in the process—something he hasn't been since 2009, his final season in Arizona.
Which player will be most useful for fantasy GMs in 2013?
Throughout his time with the Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens, Boldin had never really been a No. 1 receiver. Fitzgerald overshadowed him in Arizona, while Lee Evans and Torrey Smith have overshadowed him in Baltimore.
With Michael Crabtree on the shelf and Mario Manningham lacking the size to be a go-to receiver, Boldin is finally in a position to be the No. 1 guy. Davis will demand the majority of targets, but Boldin should be the first wide receiver Kaepernick looks to.
He may no longer be the same guy who averaged 100.1 yards per game in 2005, but Boldin is set to reestablish some serious fantasy value in 2013.
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