We are several months away before even thinking about picking up a fantasy football magazine from the local gas station, pharmacy or Barnes and Noble. However, there is no such thing as being too prepared. Joe Flaherty, a junior journalism major from Loyola’s Sport Locker program, has joined me to offer some fantasy football insight to get your creative juices flowing before summer.
Purple Horns: Who do you believe should be the first quarterback taken in 2013 fantasy drafts?
Joe Flaherty: Dual threat QBs are nice, but adding Wes Welker to Peyton Manning’s arsenal makes this decision pretty easy. With Thomas and Decker on the flanks, Welker can wreak havoc in the slot. Other QBs to watch would be Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Colin Kaepernick.
PH: You mentioned Wes Welker. Do you think that he will have the same success in Denver as he did in New England with Tom Brady?
JF: There may be a little bit of a learning curve, which should be expected with anyone switching offenses after a number of years in a comfort zone. But if anyone can make that transitioning process as smooth as possible, it’s Manning. I’d say this year, he’ll be nearly as good as the Welker of old, but his second season will be even better.
PH: How will the arrival of tight end Martellus Bennett impact the value of quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall?
JF: Martellus is a great addition, but remember he can only catch passes from Cutler if Cutler is still standing on his feet! In a perfect world, with improved pass protection, Bennett is just what the doctor ordered. His size and soft hands make him a safety valve in the red zone and short yardage situations, and he can create some serious mismatches when lined up in the slot against smaller defensive backs. If the pass protection is there, Cutler and Marshall’s value should spike.
PH: Will Adrian Peterson be the best running back again?
JF: 100%, yes, absolutely. The man turned in an MVP season and carried his team to the playoffs on one leg. Nothing much more needs to be said, but so much more can be said. Short and simple answer: yes, Purple Jesus is the clear #1 choice at running back. This doesn’t bode well for me, because I was able to steal him in the 4th round or later in 3 separate leagues last year. h=
PH: Is there any chance Matt Ryan slips into the top three quarterbacks this year?
JF: You can easily add him to that list of upper echelon QBs, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to throw him in the mix for top 3 just yet. That right there should tell you all you need to know about the depth of talent at the QB position in this day and age. But Steven Jackson’s presence in the backfield will definitely open up the passing game more if he can regain his St. Louis form, and Tony Gonzalez returning is another huge plus. But, gun to my head, top 3 right now: Manning, Brady, and Rodgers.
PH: Is quarterback Colin Kaepernick a guy to taken in the first two rounds?
JF: Kaepernick is definitely a top two round option in my eyes. He and Wilson are probably the best dual threat QBs available, given RG3s questionable health. But adding [Anquan] Boldin to that offense is almost sickening. The loss of Delanie Walker will hurt the team’s flexibility a bit, but I haven’t seen any offense run the option with as much success as the 9ers have. As long as Kaepernick keeps his explosive first step, he’s about as lethal on the ground as he is through the air. I’d go as far as saying he could be the fourth QB off the board.
PH: Alright, the last and most important question. Who is the sleeper this year?
JF: Call me a homer all you’d like, but my sleeper pick is Alshon Jeffery. He’s been working with Brandon Marshall all offseason long to work on route running, and his skill set oozes with potential. I’d predict he has something in the range of 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.