Complete Week 18 Projections

Position: ALL | QB | RB | WR | TE | D/ST | K | FLEX
     
PROJECTED 2013 SEASON STATS
1. Aaron Rodgers, GB QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics371/5524295398542592329
2013 Projections360/5404279397532713352
2013 Outlook: When you throw for 39 TDs, eight INTs and 4,295 yards and people say you had a down year, you know you're good. Rodgers is still the NFL's best combination of accuracy, arm and athleticism, and at age 29, he's only now entering his prime. The Packers have big-time questions on their O-line; A-Rod was sacked a league-high 51 times in '12, and constant pressure limited his effectiveness on the deep kill shots he usually enjoys. Nevertheless even with the departures of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver aerial weaponry isn't a problem, and Rodgers has been a top-three fantasy QB five years running. He's as safe as they come, and needs to be the first fantasy signal-caller off the board.
2. Drew Brees, NO QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics422/670517743191551337
2013 Projections427/660517040181471334
2013 Outlook: Brees is the first NFL quarterback to exceed 5,000 passing yards in back-to-back seasons, and he's led the league in passing TDs in four of the past five years. The only reason we nudge him slightly below Rodgers is his interceptions: Over the past five seasons, Brees has averaged a league-high 16.6 picks, while Rodgers has averaged 9.0 But we're picking nits. With Sean Payton back from his year-long suspension and the Saints never lacking for aerial weaponry, Brees is once again a candidate to dominate every week. In '12, for the second straight year, New Orleans boasted the NFL's third-pass-heaviest play-calling. There's no reason that should change any time soon, which means Brees will deliver quantity and quality.
3. Peyton Manning, Den QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics400/583465937112370304
2013 Projections400/602487038132041324
2013 Outlook: Peyton's return saw him rack up 4,659 passing yards and 37 TDs, the second-best totals of his career, as Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker became stars. Now the concern: Manning's arm strength diminished late in the year. In his final four games including the playoffs, his completion rate on attempts longer than 20 yards was 27 percent. Before that, it had been 45 percent. The overtime interception that ruined Denver's playoff run wasn't just a bad decision, it was also a quail. We'd still draft Peyton because he carves up defenses, and because the addition of Wes Welker gives him a great triumvirate of wideouts. But at age 37 with all those neck surgeries, Manning is also far from risk-free.
4. Tom Brady, NE QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics401/637482734823324329
2013 Projections393/605476534823572325
2013 Outlook: Brady just keeps breaking the rules. Top fantasy QBs aren't supposed to rank 19th among NFL signal callers in average yards at the catch. They aren't supposed to rank 23rd in completion percentage on throws of more than 20 yards. And they aren't supposed to achieve excellence without an above-average outside receiver. But in '12, Brady kept doing all those things. He might have the fastest release in the NFL, and his production inside the numbers (17 TDs, 5 INTs and 3,017 yards in '12) is almost unmatched. Sure, he'll be 36 in August. But this rule-breaker shows no signs of slowing down; if anyone can overcome the loss of as many offensive weapons as the Patriots could be missing in Week 1, it's him.
5. Cam Newton, Car QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics280/485386919121277418309
2013 Projections296/497388320131207268323
2013 Outlook: Newton's numbers decreased in '12, but he made progress. He was a better intermediate thrower, and made fewer passing mistakes. But if you're drafting the big guy to be your fantasy starter, you care less about his passing and more about those juicy rushing yards and TDs. You won't be disappointed. Now, Newton was actually more effective in the season's second half, when the Panthers deemphasized read-option runs. Yet Cam still was solid with his legs from Week 9 forward, averaging 7.7 fantasy points per game from rushing alone. And the great thing about Newton is he comes with fewer health worries than your typical running QB, because of his size. Without fail, he should deliver 600-plus rush yards and eight-plus rush TDs.
6. Matt Ryan, Atl QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics422/61547193214331381291
2013 Projections402/61047373311301301314
2013 Outlook: You might think the key to Ryan's leap forward last year was aggressive play calling. Wrong. In '12, he basically threw the same number of passes that traveled more than 10 yards in the air as he did in '11. Was he more efficient throwing it deep? Maybe a bit. But the reason Ryan's production skyrocketed was a better short game. Coordinator Dirk Koetter brought diverse screen plays to Atlanta; on passes behind the line of scrimmage, the team had 66 more completions and 559 more yards than in '11. Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Julio Jones will be the beneficiaries of this high-efficiency work, and they should help keep Ryan among the NFL's yardage elites again in '13.
7. Colin Kaepernick, SF QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics136/2181814103634155164
2013 Projections282/450383320101095907306
2013 Outlook: Kaepernick's physical tools are an unholy amalgam of Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, and when the 49ers unleashed the full power of their read-option attack in the playoffs, he was well-nigh unstoppable. Big-armed, accurate, athletic freaks who break 50-yard TD runs don't grow on trees. A couple drawbacks: We're not positive Jim Harbaugh will unshackle Kap's downfield ability, given the team's lack of a proven speed receiver, plus when a QB runs the chances for an injury increase. But Kaepernick started seven regular-season games last year, and his prorated stats would've been 3,675 pass yards, 544 rush yards, 23 pass TDs and five rush TDs. That would've made him fantasy's No. 9 QB, and he was just getting started. We're buying.
8. Robert Griffin III, Wsh QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics258/39332002051198267304
2013 Projections237/3773067177946246268
2013 Outlook: A healthy RG III would be a lock for the top five QBs, but since Griffin tore his right ACL on January 6th, he's not certain to start Week 1. Before the injury, RG III was perhaps the fastest QB in league history. He scored seven rushing TDs, he eclipsed 60 rushing yards in seven of his 15 regular-season starts, and his 815 total rush yards were the fifth-most ever by a QB in a single season. As a passer, he was acceptable: Accurate in the short game, mostly untested throwing deeper stuff. As a runner, he was a fantasy superstar. Adrian Peterson's fast ACL recovery last year gives us hope. But will RG III's breakneck style be curtailed by injury concerns?
9. Matthew Stafford, Det QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics435/72749672017351264263
2013 Projections446/7074975281622911288
2013 Outlook: In '12, Stafford set an NFL record for pass attempts in a single season, the second straight year he's led the league in attempts. So at least you know you're getting volume. But the statistical difference in his past two campaigns is massive: Stafford went from 333 fantasy points in '11 to 263 in '12. It's true he had his boneheaded moments, but we believe the biggest problem was a decimation of the Lions' receiving corps, and some unlikely-to-repeat bad luck. (For instance, Calvin Johnson was tackled on an opponent's 1 a whopping four times!) We're convinced Stafford's passing TDs will bounce back -- even if he's unlikely to rush for four scores again. He's a fantasy starter who could present great draft-day value.
10. Russell Wilson, Sea QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics252/39331182610944894259
2013 Projections281/437315026131015265280
2013 Outlook: Wilson has sleeper appeal, but losing Percy Harvin to a serious hip injury creates enough concern that we're not quite biting yet. Without Harvin, the Seahawks offense looks the same as '12. Hey, Wilson was a nice rookie surprise, but despite starting all 16 games, he tied for 25th in pass attempts and threw for only 3,118 yards; only Christian Ponder had fewer among QBs who played the entire season. Of course, Wilson's rushing isn't going anywhere: His 489 yards were third-best among QBs. In a more air-based offense, we'd be all aboard the Wilson hype train. But with relatively few passes called in the Pacific Northwest and the same cast of characters around Wilson, we're still waiting at the station.
11. Andrew Luck, Ind QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics339/62743742318622555264
2013 Projections372/61340612612702893280
2013 Outlook: Luck finished his rookie campaign as fantasy's No. 9 QB. So why don't we project him for a bump as he climbs the learning curve? It comes down to offensive system. Downfield devotee Bruce Arians is gone, and new coordinator Pep Hamilton (Luck's college coordinator) is a West Coast man. We imagine Luck's efficiency may improve -- his completion percentage should go up and his interception total should go down -- but he's unlikely to lead the NFL in attempts that travel more than 20 yards in the air again. In turn, that probably means Luck is unlikely to finish seventh in passing yards again. He's a fantasy starter with upside, but a less-swashbuckling version of Luck may offer lower highs with his higher lows.
12. Tony Romo, Dal QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics425/6484903281930491271
2013 Projections417/6274756301525401284
2013 Outlook: In prototypical "Tony Romo" fashion, Romo ended his breakout '12 season -- during which he crushed his career best passing total by 420 yards -- with a choking-dog performance to ruin the Cowboys' playoff hopes. His street cred will always suffer because he comes up so small in big moments, but the fact remains that Romo has been a top-eight fantasy QB three of the past four years. He doesn't have a huge arm and he'll hurt you with a multi-INT game now and again, but he's a brave dude, standing in and taking shots to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, two of the league's more dynamic playmakers. If you wait to draft your signal caller, you could do worse than winding up with Romo.
13. Eli Manning, NYG QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics321/5363948261520300224
2013 Projections318/5324037251730311232
2013 Outlook: Eli turned in another maddening campaign in '12 because, well, that's what he does. As usual, his highs were tremendous: A 510-yard game in Week 2, five TD passes in Week 17. But his lows were crushing: No TDs and 177 pass yards per game from Weeks 8 to 10. Manning has ridden the weekly roller coaster for his entire career. It didn't help last year that Hakeem Nicks and Martellus Bennett couldn't stay healthy and the Giants scuffled to find an acceptable complements for Victor Cruz. But Eli is as hot-and-cold as they come regardless of who's catching the ball, and his 59.9 percent completion rate was the lowest for a defending Super Bowl champion QB since '06. We don't trust him as a fantasy starter.
14. Ben Roethlisberger, Pit QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics284/449326526826920214
2013 Projections287/4493275259311011221
2013 Outlook: Big Ben's toughness is unquestioned, but it keeps getting the Steelers in trouble. For the second straight year, Roethlisberger missed crucial time to injury during a playoff push, victimized by a shaky O-line and his tendency to hold the ball. Before his Week 10 shoulder and rib woes, however, he was on pace for 4,406 passing yards, 32 TDs, eight INTs and a 67 percent completion rate. Coordinator Todd Haley's quick-release, inside-the-numbers attack suited Big Ben fine. The concern for '13 is continued upheaval in Roethlisberger's blocking, and the removal of playmakers Mike Wallace (free agency) and Heath Miller (torn ACL) from Pittsburgh's attack. Add the likelihood he'll miss games because of injury, and Roethlisberger looks more like a fantasy backup than a starter.
15. Michael Vick, NYJ QBYEARC/AYDSTDINTRUSHYDSTDPTS
2012 Statistics204/35123621210623321140
2013 Projections225/37826761813704172198
2013 Outlook: New Eagles coach Chip Kelly wants a mobile athlete at QB, so the Eagles renegotiated with the frustrating Vick and brought him back. Expect this new offense to go fast and emphasize the read-option, which in theory means Vick could get back to some elite rushing numbers. But does anyone believe a 33-year-old Vick, who hasn't missed fewer than three games due to injury in any of his four years in Philly, can survive the pounding such an offense will generate? Add an O-line with some question marks (the Eagles allowed the league's fifth-most sacks in '12, but return some injured blockers), and you know how this movie ends. Vick will make some exciting plays, and then wind up holding a clipboard.