This is a series on my 2013 outlook of players you would want to have on your Paper Pigskin team (fantasy football). I'll be organizing them by division. What you'll find here are my views based on years of playing experience and countless hours of geeking out researching stats, trends, and articles. I'll advise where to reach and whose hype not to believe.
Cincinnati Bengals 224 passing ypg 109 rushing ypg (posted August 24, 2013)
QB: Andy Dalton has lead the Bengals to playoff births in his first two seasons. Similar to Joe Flacco, Dalton wins games in real life but not so much in Paper Pigskin. What makes the ginger different is that Cincinnati have added to their supporting cast to go with one of the best targets outside. Wait until the 10th round when backup QBs start to come off the board to select Dalton, the extra options on offense might be enough to elevate him to a borderline QB1.
RB: This is shaping up to be a two-man backfield. BenJarvus Green Ellis is the clear starter that will get the early down carries and his number called at on the goal line. However, rookie Giovani Bernard has the makings of a star. The Bengals will use him in passing situations to try to get him in space where his ability to make defenders miss can be utilized. Bernard will also be used as a change of pace back, so here's a rare situation where the guy who's not the starter can be a more productive player. Bernard is being drafted as an RB3 in all formats with high RB2 upside in PPR leagues. The Law Firm is going a couple of rounds later; his touchdown opportunities give him much value as late as the early 8th round.
WR: AJ Green is a stud; he might take a small step back from last season because there have been an upgrade to secondary options but he should still be among the first five receivers chosen. Mohamed Sanu is tough as a possession receiver coming across the middle. There are games on the Bengals schedule where they might be involved in shootouts that Sanu could be flex worthy in deeper PPR leagues. Draft and stash him.
TE: The Bengals drafted pass catching rookie Tyler Eifert because he can go up for balls in traffic, specifically the red zone. Jermaine Gresham is no slouch though; he's been Dalton's second favorite target. The two can eat into each other's production. Both are TE2.
Defense: Very solid unit that specializes in pressuring the QB, they are a viable starting selection.
Cleveland Browns 215 passing ypg 100 rushing ypg (posted September 1, 2013)
QB: Brandon Weeden has one thing going for him, which is Cleveland's new head coach has a history of designing above average offenses. He has a strong arm that fits well in an offense that goes deep. Don't draft Weeden, there are are shortage of weapons in the passing game. The only cream puff passing defense on the schedule is against Miami.
RB: Offensive coordinator Norv Turner said he'd like for Trent Richardson to have 300 carries this season. He almost reached that number last season in 14 games, if you include his 51 receptions, he had 300+ touches. This man doesn't leave the field unless injured, he played the middle portion of last season with broken ribs. Richardson will be in better in the 2nd year. RB1 with top three upside in PPR leagues.
WR: The only name you really need to know about is Josh Gordon, he excels in vertical routes as well as catching short passes and making plays after the catch. He's a risk because he's suspended for the first two games because he loves Mary Jane; another positive test will have him gone for a full season. He has high end WR2 upside at WR4 value. Davone Bess is a solid possession receiver and has value only in PPR leagues.
TE: Both head coach and O-Coordinator have built offenses that made the tight end the focal point of the passing attack, thus viable for Paper Pigskin purposes. Queue Jordan Cameron, an athletic former college basketball player who has taken his ability to the gridiron. Sound familiar? With so many questions surrounding the top ranked players at this position, it would be wise to grab this guy as soon as the 2nd run on TEs start; he should have a huge year.
Defense: This unit should be improved under a new defensive coordinator but not to be drafted.
Pittsburgh Steelers 237 passing ypg 96 rushing ypg (updated August 31, 2013)
QB: The Steelers have never been known as a team that likes to throw the ball. This is reflected by the statistics of Ben Roethlisberger. Ben puts his team in a position to win, if the running game and defense is up to par, then Pittsburgh will get the W. Draft Ben as the 13th or 14th qb off the board, and you'll have a solid team. He's serviceable as a low-end QB1 or the top backup.
RB: All signs point to Le'Veon Bell winning the starting job and getting the lions share of the workload. He has the tools to be an every down back. With Heath Miller missing some time, Bell should get some opportunities in the red-zone. He is a bell cow ( pun intended). Jonathan Dwyer was the teams leading rusher, however, he was recently waived and now Isaac Redman will assume the starting spot. LaRod Stephens Howling will be the the 3rd down back.
WR: Antonio Brown had more receptions than former teammate Mike Wallace last season while playing three fewer games. Brown will see more balls come his way and with that, a chance for a huge year. Expect him to finish in the top 15 among wr, while being drafted around 20. Emmanuel Sanders will get the start opposite Brown, and he too should have a nice year. He's going unnoticed which makes him a Paper Pigskin sleeper candidate.
TE: Heath Miller finished as the fourth best at his position in standard leagues last season but had a terrible triad injury that he hasn't recovered from as of yet, keep an eye on his progress. Matt Spaeth was set to replace Miller until a Lisfranc injury put him out. This is an unknown for this team.
Defense: The #1 defense in the NFL in yards allowed last season. You hear about the other teams because of the big plays, however the Steelers are perennially a reliable unit to have on your side. The big plays are bound to come, own them and reap the rewards.
Baltimore Ravens 234 passing ypg 119ypg updated August 31, 2013
QB: Don't confuse leading a team to wins in real life with leading a team to wins in fantasy football. There's discussion if Joe Flacco is a top 5 quarterback in the NFL right now; no such talk is allowed in the realm of Paper Pigskin. Flacco is a mid-level QB2, especially after losing his top two pass catchers from last season.
RB: Ray Rice is as reliable as they come; a dual threat that has averaged 100 yards from scrimmage per game for four straight seasons. Don't let talk of Bernard Pierce deter you from drafting him in the top five if you like him, this guy is a stud in ppr leagues especially. Speaking of Pierce, the lip service makes him worthy of a pick in the 9th round or so, the current consensus has him off the board in mid 10th.
WR: Torrey Smith is consistently inconsistent. Smith has caught less than half the passes thrown his way; known for duds and can surprise with monster games. He's definitely the man now. Due to his ability to convert explosive plays, he has low WR1 upside, but would be more accurately slotted as a 2nd wide receiver. Jacoby Jones is only good if your league gives you points for return yardage. Brandon Stokely has minimum value in PPR leagues as he has solid ball-catching skills, Keep an eye on Marlon Brown.
TE: Somebody has to fill the void left by Boldin and Pitta, here we have Ed Dickson. Dickson is athletic and should be an easy target for Flacco to connect with. They have no choice to lean on him, it wouldn't surprise me if he surpasses Pitta's numbers from last season.
Defense: It's no secret that they'll be missing two future Hall Of Famers as well as other playmakers. Baltimore's defense was already rated in the middle of the pack.