Week 1: Player Upgrades
Hello and welcome to the first edition of player upgrades. Throughout the year we'll be focusing on which players should receive starts based on matchups, injuries, etc.
Your opponent has a clear-cut starting QB in Drew Brees, but maybe you're saddled with Andy Dalton and Big Ben? You locked up AP with the number one pick, but forgot to take another back until round seven? Player upgrades will help you decide whom to start each week.
This offseason, like many others, saw plenty of changes. As such many players' situations improved or regressed. This week we'll examine the players most poised to breakout and which ones could be in line for some instant success.
For each following week, we will identify seven players (typically two QBs, two RBs, two WRs and one TE) that you should consider starting and we'll break each player down with some analysis.
And so without further ado welcome to player upgrades!
Andy Dalton has a stockpile of weapons. He's entering his third season. He has bright red hair. All of these things add up to a good year for the Bengals and a breakthrough year for Dalton.
Dalton tailed off down the stretch in 2012, but he had three 300-yard passing games in the first six weeks of the season. Overall, he showed dramatic improvement from 2011 to 2012 and the same can be expected this season. Here's why: he has star WR AJ Green, a plethora of shifty targets and two solid tight ends in Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham.
All roads point to Dalton being a dynamic fantasy QB in 2013.
Palmer had a solid season on a terrible Raider team in 2012, throwing for 22 TDs and over 4,000 yards. Logic dictates his numbers should improve in Arizona with Larry Fitzgerald, the emerging Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts. The Cardinals offense was a wreck last season, but largely due in part to the lack of a quarterback. Palmer is a huge upgrade at the position and with no real running threat in the backfield, he'll be throwing the ball all over the yard.
Most importantly, Palmer gets matchups against Detroit and New Orleans early on. Both are suspect against the pass and should give Palmer a nice start to the season.
Knowshon Moreno is injury-prone and hasn't delivered big numbers since his rookie season. So why is he on this list?
Simply put, the Broncos have a bit of an identity crisis at running back. Ronnie Hillman fumbled the ball away twice in preseason and Montee Ball hasn't yet won the trust of Peyton Manning due to his inexperience in pass blocking. That leaves Moreno as the guy on third downs with an opportunity to steal more carries. In 2012, he rushed for 356 yards in the final four games of the season (including two 100-yard games in weeks 14 and 15).
Manning values well-rounded running backs and if Ball continues to struggle in pass protection, Moreno will see increased looks. With Denver shaping up to be one of the NFL's most potent offenses this season, Moreno should be a guy to keep your eye on early in the season.
We at FFToolbox have something of a man crush on David Wilson, and with good reason. Ahmad Bradshaw has departed the Big Apple for Indianapolis and Andre Brown recently suffered a broken leg. Bottom line: the Giants' backfield is wide open and Wilson is primed for a breakout year.
There's no denying his athleticism. Though there are fumble concerns, Wilson is expected to receive the bulk of the carries, including the much-coveted goal line touches. While likely, Wilson has also expressed a desire to reprise his role as a kick returner where he showcased his explosiveness last season.
Playing in the NFC East is also a blessing as Wilson gets four games against the Cowboys and Eagles who had the 22nd and 23rd ranked run defenses respectively in 2012. Throw in games against the Chiefs, Raiders, Packers and Lions and Wilson has seven games against suspect run defenses.
However, don't overlook matchups against the Bears, Broncos, Vikings and Seahawks all of which will be tough sledding. If Wilson can break off a few big runs in those games (which is likely given his speed and power), he should be able to put together a season worthy of a top fantasy back.
Fewer receivers this side of Larry Fitzgerald have endured such a frustrating run of poor quarterback play. Bowe's talent is unquestionable, but the Chiefs' inability to find and develop a QB has put a damper on a promising career.
Now Andy Reid and his pass-happy offense are in town led by none other than Alex Smith. While Smith isn't a premier quarterback, he's certainly an upgrade over Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn. Bowe will reap the benefits especially in week one against a Jaguars secondary starting two rookies in Dwayne Gratz and Johnathan Cyprien.
Looking ahead, Bowe could easily recapture the form that led to consecutive 1,100-yard seasons. He faces a string of mediocre secondaries throughout the year and should be featured in what should be a much-improved Kansas City offense.