2013 Outlook: Bradford has size, an above-average arm, good athleticism and moxie. But for three straight years he's been surrounded by awful blocking and inadequate receiving that's doomed him. Can that all change in a single offseason? Well, maybe. Jake Long will guard Bradford's left side, and Tavon Austin, Jared Cook and maybe Stedman Bailey should bolster the receiving corps. But Bradford has been sacked 71 times in his past 26 games, and will go into '13 with an unproven backfield, as Steven Jackson has moved to Atlanta. Plus while much hype is given to the fact that '13 will be Bradford's first in the NFL without a coordinator change, we're not big Brian Schottenheimer fans. There's hope, but we're not completely sold.
2013 Outlook: 13 will be Cutler's fifth season in Chicago, and it will be the fifth straight year the Bears will try to convince you they've figured the formula for a great passing game. Don't believe it. New coach Marc Trestman has an NFL pedigree for creating efficient, short-passing offenses with athletic QBs, and Brandon Marshall is coming off a terrific season. Cutler's sour on-field demeanor notwithstanding, we think the guy is talented. But no offense can function when the quarterback doesn't trust his blocking. We've been told the Bears have fixed this problem year after year, and they haven't. Until further notice, Cutler and his 148 sacks the past four seasons (third-most in the NFL) belong out of your fantasy starting lineup.
2013 Outlook: Despite his Super Bowl win, Flacco is an easy whipping boy. He's never been a top-10 fantasy QB. He's never eclipsed 25 passing TDs or come close to 4,000 yards. And on tape, you've seen him look unbeatable one series and clueless the next. But it's fair to wonder if a new era is coming for Flacco and the entire Ravens offense, out from under the incompetent thumb of former coordinator Cam Cameron. In six meaningful games without Cameron last year, Flacco averaged 283 yards passing and slung 15 TDs and 1 INT. Now, maybe that's an Eli-esque bout of unconsciousness which will fade. But maybe Flacco's giant arm and aggressive offensive mindset have taken a permanent step forward. He's not your fantasy starter, but he's intriguing.
2013 Outlook: Dalton began '12 with three 300-yard passing games in his first six starts, but had zero thereafter. Even worse, over the Bengals' final five meaningful contests including the playoffs, Dalton averaged 158 yards passing and racked up six TDs and six INTs. Throwing to A.J. Green cures some ills, but Cincy knows how poor a passer Dalton is going down the field (a 26.3 completion percentage when his attempts travel more than 20 yards in the air, 30th-best in '12), and must manage him to be successful. In an embarrassing playoff loss to Houston, you saw every wart Dalton has: He can be jittery in the pocket, he misses open men, and he throws bad picks. Expect middling numbers in '13.
2013 Outlook: Freeman finished 13th among fantasy QBs in '12, but don't be fooled. Last season, the average QB produced 14.7 fantasy points per game. Freeman finished below that mark a whopping eight times The film doesn't lie: While he's got a pedal-down mentality we like, Freeman misreads defenses and gets his body in suboptimal throwing positions, factors that contributed to a Sanchez-like 54.8 percent completion rate in '12 and an NFL-worst 39 picks over the past two years. In Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin and Mike Williams, Freeman has the weapons, and he's physically capable of making any throw. But he also has a tendency to spiral down the rabbit hole when things go poorly. Tampa's offense could go places. We're just not sure Freeman is the guy to lead it.
2013 Outlook: Palmer will never be the player he was from '05 to '07. His arm has never fully bounced back from a serious '08 elbow injury, he holds the football too long and takes too many shots, and his decision making is now perennially suspect. He moves from Oakland to Arizona, where at least he's got a potential Hall-of-Fame WR in Larry Fitzgerald. But he'll play behind an O-line that's inexperienced at best, and new head coach Bruce Arians will almost certainly wish he could have the six-years-ago version of Palmer's throwing arm. Expect interceptions and inconsistency.
2013 Outlook: Can you believe that Matt Schaub once threw for 4,770 yards in a season? That was only four years ago, but it seems like an eternity. Since then, the Texans have run it a ton, especially near the end zone: Inside an opponent's 10 last year, Houston called 50 rush plays (second-most in the NFL) compared to 24 passes (18th-most). Schaub threw only six TDs in his final eight contests, but even to that point he'd produced just two above-average games. Andre Johnson is tremendous but rookie DeAndre Hopkins is unproven on the opposite side. Present-day Schaub looks like a game manager.
2013 Outlook: Rivers became an object of nostalgia and pity in '12. Remember when his arm had life in it? Remember when he had legitimate wideouts and an offensive line that seemed to care? Remember when the Chargers had a strong complementary running game? None of these things is true any longer, and Rivers seems a husk of his former self. Once one of the league's most prolific deep-ball purveyors, he's now a chuck-and-ducker, perpetually slow to deliver out-routes and a constant threat to commit a turnover. The real problem appears to be Rivers' shoulder. For two years running, it's looked cooked.
2013 Outlook: The numbers look awful. Tannehill passed for 12 TDs and 13 INTs in his rookie year, but the fact that he started 15 games is in itself a victory. Remember, this kid was a converted WR who had 19 college starts at QB. The Dolphins see poise and talent in Tannehill, and the mockery they endured for taking him No. 8 overall in '12 has quieted. Miami is in "go for it mode," and the addition of Mike Wallace helps what was the NFL's worst receiving corps. For now he's dynasty-league material, but Tannehill has brought hope to South Beach.
2013 Outlook: All the talk-jockeys and surface-level analyzers yap all day about how Smith was No. 3 in QB rating before he was benched with the 49ers last season, that he's thrown 30 TDs and 10 INTs over the past two seasons, that the Niners went 19-5-1 in his final 25 starts. But watch the tape and you see a dink-and-dunker who needs a road-grading O-line and dominant defense to stay in games. In KC, he'll have neither. Andy Reid will play to Smith's strengths, but it won't add up to good numbers. If he tops 3,000 yards passing, it'll be an achievement.
2013 Outlook: If new Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and coordinator Norv Turner could draw up their ideal QB, it would be a big-armed, vertical passer with enough size to take hits and enough accuracy to thread the needle. Weeden has the arm and the size, but he completed 57.4 percent of his throws in '12 and had 17 picks. Most troublesome is his lead-footed lack of athleticism and his propensity to lock onto his first read. The good news is Cleveland's passing offense should look much more exciting this year. The bad news is we're not sold Weeden will take advantage.
2013 Outlook: Locker almost has everything. He's got a howitzer for a right arm. He's got 4.59 speed. He's big and he's a great athlete. But the one thing he's lacked from college into his first two NFL seasons is accuracy, and it's a killer. At the University of Washington his completion percentage was 53.9 percent. With the Titans, he's posted seasons of 51.5 and 56.4 percent. Even if Kenny Britt can stay healthy and Kendall Wright can break out, we're not convinced Locker can keep enough drives alive, and we're concerned his interception total will be sky high.
2013 Outlook: We finally saw the good Ponder in Week 17 last year: He went 16-of-28 for 234 yards, three TDs and zero INTs in a must-win situation. But boy, he was so crummy at times in '12. It got so bad by December that the Vikings basically refused to let Ponder throw it down the field: In the season's final five games combined, he had 12 attempts travel more than 20 yards in the air. Maybe Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson will change things in Minnesota, and maybe Ponder can harken back to that big Week 17. We have severe doubts.
2013 Outlook: Manuel was the shocker of April's draft, when the Bills drafted him 16th overall. At 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, Manuel approximates Cam Newton's size and has a big arm, but his throwing mechanics and consistency were a mess in college. Nobody's denying this kid's raw tools, but we consider it unlikely he's ready to be an NFL star right away. Manuel needed a knee scope during camp; with Kevin Kolb out indefinitely because of another concussion, undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel could be Buffalo's Week 1 starter. Manuel will take over when his knee is right, and he could help a bit as a runner. As a passer? We're skeptical.
2013 Outlook: Smith has enough pocket awareness and mobility to extend plays, but he's not a read-option QB. As such, you can't expect him to provide elite rushing numbers in the NFL. And his throwing inconsistency makes keeping the Jets starting job an open question. But to begin the year, it now seems clear that New York will sink or swim with Geno, having seen enough of the Mark Sanchez era in Gotham. The ride figures to be extremely rough for Smith, as his weapons aren't very good. But he showed moxie in college, so we'll keep an open mind.