If we could inject NFL players with truth serum and ask them what they think of their fantasy value, what would they say? We’re about to find out…
“I just won a Super Bowl and the Super Bowl MVP to go along with it, but even I wouldn’t draft myself as a top-15 fantasy quarterback. Not when I threw for less than 200 yards in seven of my 16 starts last season. Not when I threw for one touchdown or less in 10 games last year. Not when my most trusted wide receiver got dealt to San Francisco. Not when offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell is limiting
Ray Rice in favor of
Bernard Pierce, who caught a total of six passes last season.” –
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Hot-and-cold Flacco has a lot on his mind, particularly his inevitable fall back to earth. He spent January and February shattering playoff records, but don’t expect him to post a 11-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio at any point this season. With
Anquan Boldin gone, Flacco has
Torrey Smith and
Jacoby Jones as his No. 1 and 2 wide receivers. Though Jones was a superstar in the playoffs, both guys are inconsistent deep threats. Tight end Dennis Pitta has been hyped as Baltimore’s answer to the Boldin vacancy, but it’s hard to bank on a guy who eclipsed 75 yards receiving just once last year. Expect another seesaw year from Flacco.
“It’s ridiculous that people talk about my age and when my window is closing. Last year I finished as a top-5 fantasy quarterback, and I spent half the season shaking off the rust from my neck surgeries. What more do you want? Right now I’m locked into a system with three superstar wide receivers, and even if you manage to cover all three of them, I’ll find one of my tight ends and burn you. No one is stopping this offense. And I’m not even worried about losing Elvis Dumervil on defense, because when teams score on us, I’ll just fire back and pad my stats. If you draft anyone other than Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton or Drew Brees ahead of me, you’re nuts.” –
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Manning’s fired up about his second year in Denver, and with good reason. He’ll be fully healthy in Week 1, this will be his second year in Denver’s system, and the addition of
Wes Welker adds an obvious boost to the passing game. But there’s even more good news for fantasy owners. What often goes overlooked is the fact that Denver’s defense and special teams scored a whopping eight touchdowns in 2012. Those are eight touchdowns Manning couldn’t score himself, and we’re not even factoring in the potential yardage he missed out on. Denver’s defense was ranked fifth in scoring last season, but with
Elvis Dumervil gone, expect the Broncos to have less success with their pass-rushing schemes. That’s fantastic news for Manning, who’ll have to keep throwing.
“Everyone’s stoked about me heading to Kansas City and uniting with Andy Reid. That guy is a genius when it comes to coaching-up quarterbacks, but I think people should realize that I was a total bum until Jim Harbaugh put me in a cushy situation with a ball-control offense and an elite defense. I wish all the sleeper hype would stop. At the end of the day, I’m just another dink-and-dunker.” –
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Smith brings up some good points here. He certainly never impressed anyone prior to the Harbaugh era in San Francisco, and even then, he was never fantasy-starter material. Never the type of guy to storm back from a two-score deficit while posting an explosive stat line. In nine starts last year, he eclipsed 300 yards only once — in a runaway game against Buffalo. Take away that Buffalo game, and Smith’s point totals go: 17, 17, 10, six, two, eight, 21, six. Note that his 17-, 17-, and 21-point efforts came in cozy wins against Green Bay, Detroit and Arizona. How cozy do you think he’ll be in Kansas City? Even though Reid operates a pass-first scheme and has a knack for bringing out the best in quarterbacks,
Alex Smith should not be a late-round sleeper target come August. Not when there are running back handcuffs and sneaky-good tight ends to be had. Ignore Smith and scrape him off waivers after the draft-day dust settles.
“I had the lowest completion percentage of any quarterback last year, and now my team’s new offensive coordinator is shifting to a more run-oriented system. Not only that, he’s shortening my passing routes, and to be honest, I’m starting to think my rookie year numbers were fluky. Despite all this, my average draft position puts me in the same neighborhood as
Matthew Stafford, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick. Are those fantasy owners crazy, or is it me?” –
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Luck isn’t crazy.
Tim Tebow may endure all the groundball jokes, but there’s no denying that Luck is below average at completing passes. His 54.1 percent completion percentage was the second-worst among starting quarterbacks last season (ahead of only
Chad Henne). To combat this ugly statistic, new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is integrating a West Coast offense and placing heavier emphasis on the running game. Gone will be the days of Luck constantly chucking downfield for monster yardage. Luck still has loads of passing options, and the new offensive scheme should lower his interception total, but if you’re banking on him outperforming
Matt Ryan, stop. And one more thing: Luck had five rushing touchdowns last season. That’s 30 fantasy points. Think the Indianapolis Colts want their precious future of their franchise diving for the goal line? Me neither.