It seemed as though if there was a passing record to be had in 2013, Peyton Manning broke it. From his season-opening seven-touchdown salvo to his finish with the single-season touchdown pass and passing yardage records, Manning regained the form that has made him a fantasy stud throughout his career. Even though Eric Decker has moved on to the New York Jets and Knowshon Moreno has given way to Montee Ball, things will remain largely the same with the Broncos offense in 2014. After all, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas are still collecting mail in the Mile High City. No reasonable person can expect Manning to repeat his video game-like numbers from last season, but there's little reason to think Manning won't once again be a major fantasy commodity. He'll be one of the first quarterbacks off the board and could even sneak into the latter portion of the first round in some drafts.
Few fantasy quarterbacks have been as consistent as Brees. The veteran signal-caller has finished in the top two among QBs in four of the past five seasons. Brees has thrown for 5,000-plus yards in three consecutive campaigns -- and has done it by using a wide variety of pass-catchers. However, there could be some consternation heading into 2014 if the team can't come to an agreement with all-everything tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham's presence has been a boon for Brees and if he's not on the field at the start of the season, his presence will undoubtedly be missed. But even without a full complement of pass-catchers, Brees long history as a fantasy stud should make hime one of the top three drafted at his position yet again in 2014.
Rodgers' numbers in 2013 weren't up to his usual standards, but that's because a broken collarbone forced him to miss nearly eight full games. Nonetheless, when he was on the field, he was the same dynamic fantasy QB he's been since taking over as Green Bay's starter in 2008. In fact, in the previous four seasons before 2013, Rodgers finished first or second in fantasy scoring at his position. The good news is that the Packers might have finally found the running game they have so desperately sought in the form of Eddie Lacy. That should open things up by making the Packers less one-dimensional. Through it all, Rodgers will have a full complement of weapons next season -- including a healthy Randall Cobb -- and should again be one of the first QBs off the board.
There's no doubt that on the field, Andrew Luck is a winner. And for the most part, he's been the same in fantasy as well. He was the fourth-highest scoring fantasy QB in 2013, but only posted 20-plus points four times. However, some of that inconsistency can be attributed to losing Reggie Wayne to an injury and having a hobbled T.Y. Hilton for a sizable stretch. Heading into the 2014 season, those two assets should be healthy and he will have an additional target in free agent Hakeem Nicks. There's no doubt that Luck is poised to be a star on the field and in fantasy football for years to come and should be one of the first quarterbacks to come of the board this summer.
Stafford will have a new head coach in 2014 in Jim Caldwell, but there's little reason to think the Lions passing game won't still be heavily centered on throwing the football. Entering his sixth season, Stafford has established himself as a high-volume passer who can accumulate yards and touchdowns in bunches. That's a talent that should manifest itself again now that Detroit has added Golden Tate to its stable of pass-catcher. However, Stafford also has a propensity to throw interceptions in bunches as well. If the veteran can maintain his touchdown totals while curbing his interceptions, he could challenge to be a top five fantasy QB option.
Newton's young career has been a good news/bad news situation for fantasy owners. The good news is that in 2013, he was the third-highest scoring quarterback in fantasy football. He's also been among the top five at his position every season he's been in the NFL. The bad news? His numbers have declined in every season as well. Nonetheless, Newton's outstanding abilities as a runner will continue to serve him, the Panthers and fantasy owners well. That last part could be crucial considering the state of Carolina's wide receivers. Steve Smith and Ted Ginn are gone, leaving Jerricho Cotchery and an equally underwhelming host of wideouts in their place. If Carolina can find a big play threat in the passing game, his value will grow.
Call it a sophomore slump. Call it a recovery from knee surgery. Call it whatever you like, but Robert Griffin III's second act in the NFL wasn't what fantasy owners had hoped for. The dynamic quarterback wasn't nearly as dangerous running the football and struggled with interceptions in a way that wasn't evident in his rookie campaign. However, things are looking up for RGIII in 2014, with a new head coach, new offensive coordinator and new offensive weapon on DeSean Jackson. Suddenly, Washington's offense looks a lot more potent than it did last season and Griffin seems to be in a strong position to benefit. It might be a stretch to think he can land in the top five by the end of the season, but it's very believable that RGIII is a top 10 option in 2014.
Foles was easily one of the biggest surprises of the 2013 season. The young Eagles QB took over for an injured and ineffective Michael Vick and became one of fantasy's most productive options at the position while playing in Chip Kelly's offense. Perhaps his biggest strength was his ability to take care of the football, throwing just two interceptions and losing two fumbles in 10 starts. That will be a tough standard to repeat in 2014. Foles will also be working with a new main target now that Jeremy Maclin is back and replacing DeSean Jackson, who left Philly in free agency. If the young QB can come close to duplicating last year's success, he should once again be a top 10 option at the position.
The 2013 edition of Tom Brady wasn't the same fantasy quarterback we had become accustomed to seeing. Maybe it was the loss of Wes Welker or not having Rob Gronkowski for much of the season, but Tom wasn't quite as terrific as he had been in past years and finished just 14th among quarterbacks. But a deeper look at the numbers shows Brady rallied late in the season, scoring 20-plus points in Weeks 12-15. A lot of that had to do with the growth of his young receivers as the season progressed. His days as a top five fantasy quarterback might be over, but Brady still has potential as a low-end No. 1 option.
The easiest thing to say about Matt Ryan's 2013 season is that he was hurt by injuries to his key teammates. Julio Jones went down for the season with in Week 5 while Roddy White struggled to be healthy all season. Through Atlanta's first six games, Ryan averaged better than 20 fantasy points per contest. That number fell to just over 12 points per game for the remainder of the season. And while the Falcons have lost Tony Gonzalez to retirement, they will regain Jones and should have a healthy White. Look for Ryan to be undervalued heading into 2014 drafts.
It took a while before Kaepernick looked like the quarterback many fantasy owners thought they were drafting. Early in the season, he wasn't running the football frequently and averaged just 9.9 fantasy points per game between Weeks 2-6. However, the return of Michale Crabtree late in the season seemed to enhance Kaepernick's fantasy value. The idea that Kaepernick can have a full season of Crabtree along with Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis should be one that excites fantasy enthusiasts. That should help Kap's fantasy production hold a little more steady in 2014 -- especially if he decides to be a little more aggressive running the football as well.
It wasn't Tony Romo's best season ever, but the oft-maligned quarterback finished as a top 10 option for the third straight season. While his yardage numbers were down, Romo also did a good job protecting the football with just 10 interceptions. What was even more encouraging was the added responsibility Romo had in the offense. In 2014, the biggest key could be the synergy between the triumvirate of Scott Linehan, Bill Callahan and Jason Garrett. Nonetheless, Romo will remain a solid option as a low-end QB1 or a top-notch backup option.
Despite an uneven finish to 2013 -- he averaged 11.43 points in the final four weeks -- Wilson ended the season in the top 10 at his position. The prospect of having a healthy Percy Harvin creates an immediate upgrade at Seattle's wide receiver position and could go a long way toward boosting Wilson's value in all types of fantasy drafts. Harvin will need to remain healthy for the length of the schedule to make up for Seattle's loss of Golden Tate. But as long as Marshawn Lynch remains in a Seahawks uniform, the offense will still be heavy on the run, which could keep Wilson toward the lower end of the QB1 spectrum.
2013 saw the resurrection of Philip Rivers -- both on the field and in fantasy. After an awful 2012 that saw him fall out of the top 20, the Chargers quarterback rebounded to become the sixth-best fantasy signal-caller last season. While he wasn't quite as good in the second half of the season, rumors of a fade have been greatly exaggerated. Rivers averaged 17.9 points per game after his Week 8 bye -- compared to 19.0 points in his first seven contests. It certainly doesn't hurt that he's found a very good young receiver in Keenan Allen. Rivers should be a QB1 heading into 2014.
Cutler was putting together one of the best seasons of his career before injuries threw things of track. Still, he was able to wrest control of his starting job from Josh McCown upon his return late in the year. While he still has a propensity to give the ball away too often (12 INTs in 11 games is frustrating), the Bears found a playmaker in Alshon Jeffery to pair with Brandon Marshall. Add Matt Forte to head coach Marc Trestman's up-tempo offense and Cutler has the weapons around him to challenge the top 10 in 2014.
It was easy to overlook Roethlisberger in 2013, but he finished as the 12th-highest scoring QB in fantasy football. While that might sound underwhelming, it was his best season since 2009, when he finished eighth. Nonetheless, Big Ben's season was marked by inconsistency. He scored 19 or more points in a game just five times during the season. It was encouraging that Antonio Brown, Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders filled in nicely after the departure of Mike Wallace. However, Cotchery and Sanders are gone -- replaced by Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey. It could present new challenges as Big Ben tries to find a comfort zone with his new receivers. Hopefully it won't be enough to prevent Roethlisberger from being relegated to fantasy QB2 status.
When it comes to misleading stats, Andy Dalton might have cornered the market in 2013. The Red Rocket finished as the fifth-highest scoring fantasy quarterback, marking his first foray into the top 10 among his mates. Yet his three 30-point games were offset by five games in which he failed to reach 15 points -- including a trio of single-digit efforts. It's reassuring to have A.J. Green on the outside and the emergence of running back Giovani Bernard is nice. But until Dalton finds some more week-to-week consistency, it's hard to imagine him duplicating the feat in 2014.
2013 was arguably Alex Smith's most successful from a fantasy standpoint. It was still only good enough to land him 13th among quarterbacks. Joining Andy Reid in Kansas City certainly helped him rebound from a frustrating 2012 campaign, but he was in an offense that was built around the talent of Jamaal Charles. Even with Smith threw the ball, he didn't do much to shake his "Captain Checkdown" reputation. Part of that was owed to the fact that the Chiefs lacked any downfield threats. It would be a surprise if Kansas City didn't address it receiving corps in some form this offseason, but it would also be a surprise to see Smith as anything more than a QB2 in 2014.
Tannehill took a big step forward in his second season, throwing for nearly 700 more yards and doubling his number of touchdown passes. He also got better as the season progressed. Tannehill averaged better than 19 points per game in the six contests from Weeks 10-15. It was during that stretch that he found a rapport with free agent acquisition Mike Wallace. If the QB and WR can remain on the same page from start to finish in 2014, both could see a boost in their respective fantasy values.
Many hoped that a move to Arizona would help Palmer's fantasy value in 2013. It didn't. The veteran QB finished 17th at the position, the same spot he occupied at the end of the 2012 campaign. Palmer won't be anything more than a backup option in most leagues, but the development of Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts could preserve Palmer's fantasy value a little longer. Still, he'll remain on draft boards until the later rounds in nearly every format.