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.
New Orleans Saints 312 passing ypg 99 rushing ypg (updated September 1, 2013)
QB: Drew Brees is capable of stat lines that will win many Paper Pigskin matchups by himself. The Saints' defense gets shredded regularly, which forces the offense to try to win shootouts. Brees doesn't take many bad hits and is a sure bet to finish in the top five overall.
RB: There are many mouths to feed this backfield. Darren Sproles plays a role that provides the best scoring opportunity; he's the 3rd option in a the pass heavy system and because defenses have to respect the pass, he's allowed to space to make big plays when given hand offs. He'll receive over 100 targets which will equate to RB1 upside in PPR leagues; in standard leagues his yards from scrimmage are good enough for RB2 status. With Sean Payton back on the sidelines, N.O. will utilize the run game a bit more than last season. Mark Ingram will be featured more in this role and get the carries inside the five. Ingram is low end RB3 but presents solid RB2 potential if he can get 15 or more touches per game. Pierre Thomas is the most complete back of the trio. PT gets overlooked but because of his pass blocking, he stays on the field a lot and will receive underneath dump offs as one of Brees' last reads. He should be drafted just because he's #1 on the depth chart, if either of the other should miss time, his role will expand significantly.
WR: Marques Colston is the top receiving option on this team. He's drafted as a WR2 which makes him one of the best early values, he can easily finish in the top 10 at his position. Lance Moore as the fourth option in this offense still is a solid player to have on your team. He's a high end WR3 with potential to finish in the top 20 as he did last season. Whoever is third on the depth chart here doesn't present much value at all unless you play in a deep PPR league.
TE: Jimmy Graham is the biggest advantage compared to your opponent at the position than any other Paper Pigskin player. This is reason alone to use an early round selection on him. Graham puts up points that are consistent with a WR2.
Defense: Play all of your options against them early in the season, Rob Ryan will find ways to replace their best pass rusher and get pressure on the QB.
Kicker: Garrett Hartley ends all of the scoring drives of this high powered offense and plays home games in a dome.
Carolina Panthers 223 passing ypg 110 rushing ypg (updated September 1, 2013)
QB: Cam Newton isn't the best passer in the NFL by any means but with the size of a defensive lineman, he is the top goal line option for his team; he accounted for almost 10,000 total yards and 62 touchdowns in his first two seasons. The yards Cam can accrue on the ground will offset any mishaps if any with his passing. Cam is good for a top six QB finish in Paper Pigskin.
RB: On paper, this is a running back by committee situation, scouts have touted Jonathon Stewart as the better equipped player in this backfield even though he hasn't been able to keep himself on the field. However, DeAngelo Williams have shown and proved that he can be relied upon. All he needs is for the team to stand by him, his play is the primary reason for the Panther's 5-1 finish last season. He can be drafted in the 10th round which is a bargain for a starting running back. Stewart will play a role when he his healthy, nobody knows when that time will come though.
WR: Steve Smith talks a big game and plays that way as well. This is as durable and consistent as you get in this league. All Paper Pigskin rosters need somebody like this. Smith should be drafted in the 5th round, anything further will be uncivilized. There's not enough to go around for a second wide receiver to be relevant on this team at this moment. Somebody needs to take over for Smith eventually and Brandon Lafell might be ready to do it. Lafell is worthy of a late round flier and the third option in the passing attack.
TE: Greg Olsen has come into his own in this league, he had a solid finish to last season; only one other tight end scored more fantasy points to end the season. Do what you want with that last nugget on draft day.
Defense: Carolina finished 10th in total defense. They're not a unit to target on your schedule, they're also a unit that wouldn't cause harm to your team if used the last pick in the draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 249 passing ypg 115 rushing ypg (posted August 12, 2013)
QB: You really don't know what to expect from Josh Freeman. He's had a season of 25 TDs/6 ints followed by 16/22, then last season with a career high in yards but awful completion percentage. If you wait draft your QB1, then you can select Freeman as a #2; Tampa has a few soft passing defenses on their schedule.
RB: Doug Martin has everything needed to be a star running back, he can block, catch, low center of gravity, is muscular and coach Greg Schiano wants to put him to work. Opportunity is everything in Paper Pigskin, and the muscle hamster will have plenty of them.
WR: Vincent Jackson had career highs in yards and receptions. 5th in NFL in yardage and 1st in average per reception. Good enough for top six, lower in PPR. Those numbers can easily be improved on if his QB can connect better than 50% of balls thrown in his direction (72 of 147 in 2012). Mike Williams also finished in the top 20, he too was also a victim of quarterback inaccuracy. Both of these guys are big, fast and benefit from playing with each other. Williams often gets overlooked, thus provides value; he's a top 20 WR that's going in the mid 30's. Cash in on a good investment.
TE: Luke Stocker is on top of the depth chart. Tom Crabtree was like 10th string in Green Bay.
Defense: Bucs had NFL's top run stopping unit but they also had the worst when it came to passing. The secondary should be much improved with the additions of Dashon Goldson and Darrelle Revis, if he can return to form. Don't be one of those people that drafts a defense before round 13, a team like this can provide stability for you after all others reach.
Atlanta Falcons 282 passing ypg 87 rushing ypg (updated September 1, 2013)
This team is pure fantasy gold. I'll keep it simple, you can't go wrong with any of their skill position starters.
QB: Matt Ryan has established himself as a top signal caller in this league. Hasn't won many real life playoff games but because of his accuracy and plethora of weapons, he won't be the reason for your team's failure. If you draft him, you'll have one of the best in your league at his position. His new toy in the backfield will only enhance his play-action.
RB: Atlanta's running game was atrocious last season, fortunately for them they've acquired a beast in the off season. With the threat that the passing game poses, Steven Jackson will have more open space to run with than he ever has. Not sure what his workload will be, what I do know is this offense will be in the red zone often and he'll have opportunities for many touchdowns. Jackson also adds the element of a dynamic receiver out of the backfield; he caught 90 passes in a season before. Jacquizz Rodgers should be drafted in later rounds; he can be used as a decent flex play in bye weeks or a starter in deeper PPRs.
WR: Julio Jones is getting all of the love currently; this is a case of the preference for youth, size and speed. Roddy White, however, was the more productive receiver last season, as well as being a top ten Paper Pigskin guy for the last six seasons. Hence, the reason I don't understand why White is being drafted almost a whole round behind Jones. Jones will attract more defensive attention due to his superior athleticism and potential to make bigger plays which leaves Roddy with more freedom to do what he does. Both of these guys will score for you regularly, Jones in standard leagues is top five, White has more PPR value.
TE: Tony Gonzalez is the best TE in the history of the NFL, he should probably be the second or third TE chosen. Where he's drafted all depends on how confident you feel about about what you already have on your team when it's time to make this choice.
Defense: Epitomizes the phrase "bend but don't break", finished last season toward the bottom of the league in yards allowed but close to the top in fewest points allowed and turning the ball over.
Kicker: I'll rarely talk about kickers but considering this is a high powered offense and they play in a dome, Matt Bryant is a good one to have.