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Forget the Names, Find the Numbers: how to win your fantasy football league in 2013

That’s right. The 2013 Fantasy Football season is about to be back and better than ever.

So whether you drafted Adrian Peterson and won your league last season, or Maurice Jones-Drew and cried yourself to sleep, we
all have a blank slate.

Fantasy Football is all about the numbers—not the names. Don’t believe me? Here are some examples that
might make you rethink your draft perspective.

Russell Wilson had 35 more points than Eli Manning despite not being drafted on most teams last year (Manning avg. rd 3).  Alfred Morris had 773 yards and 11 touchdowns, more than LeSean McCoy; yet, Morris was not drafted (McCoy avg. top 5rds). James Jones ranked 26 spots ahead of Percy Harvin.

What’s our point? Numbers, not names, win fantasy championships. With that in mind, here are some undervalued
players who have top fantasy potential, and some overrated players who could be in for a down year.

Draft success: 

1. The season can’t be won in the first round, but a bad pick sure can lose it. Heroes are overrated… go with guys who are going to be around to get you numbers in December.

2. Do some mock drafts. Practice makes perfect. Being smarter than your friends on draft day makes it that much more fun.

3. Remember, the game isn’t real, but the perks of winning are. If you stay active, you only increase your odds of winning. It’s that easy.

 Undervalued:

Stevan Ridley, Patriots RB

The Patriots offense was top 10 in the NFL in rushing yards, top five in rushing attempts and led the league in rushing touchdowns. That’s right, the great Tom Brady offense is a run-first team, especially with the loss of Welker, Hernandez,and a fragile Gronkowski.

Ridley scored in 10 of 16 games in his first season as starter, with 18.1 carries per game.  Even with the prospect of backup running back Shane Vereen getting some carries, there’s plenty of love to go around here.

Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs WR

 Believing that Bowe will have a better season than Larry Fitzgerald isn’t a popular opinion, nor is it one I would consider smart, but lets take a closer look. Andy Reid’s West Coast offense passed 60 percent of the time last season…with Nick Foles and Michael Vick.

 Although Bowe’s numbers may seem pedestrian at 801 yards and 3 TDs, he was receiving passes from Brady Quinn half the time. He’s the fourth highest paid receiver in the league, and the Chiefs literally have no one else to pass to. He has no choice but to succeed.

 I’m expecting big things.

 Giovani Bernard, Bengals RB

 Anybody heard of this guy? No? Time to take notice. Bernard was the first running back taken in this year’s NFL draft. That means the Bengals know that Benjarvis Green-Ellis doesn’t have much left in the tank.

And with 6.7 yards per carry and a full arsenal of moves, he might be taking on the workload. Bernard continues to take reps with the first team offense and has been used as a wide receiver in multiple occasions.  Translation: They want to give him the ball.

He could be the gold mine everyone is looking for late in the draft.

Overrated:

Matt Forte, Bears RB

Forte is being taken in the early second round in most leagues, which means he is being picked before the likes of Dez Bryant, Stevan Ridley and Brandon Marshall. Which wouldn’t be so bad, if you hadn’t consider that Forte spent almost half the season out with an injury.

Even worse, the man can’t get in the end zone. Forte has actually been so bad at the goal line, that the Bears have given the carries to alter-ego Michael Bush.

But the reality is I just don’t trust him to stay healthy week to week, and I don’t trust him to produce week to week if he is healthy. I just don’t trust him.

 Colin Kaepernick, 49ers QB

Ok so yes, he had an insane postseason last season.  And yes, he is a freak athlete that has the potential for Cam Newton type numbers. But the concern for Kaepernick to produce similar type numbers in only his second season might outweigh the potential.

Michael Crabtree is done for the year. Anquan Bolden has only had a maximum of four touchdowns in his last two seasons. Vernon Davis has been non-existent since Kaepernick took over, and run-first quarterbacks tend to be reckless when they have the option. He is being drafted in the same round as Matt Ryan in most leagues.

Kaepernick’s going to need more than just lineman help this season

Please take Matt Ryan.

Wes Welker & Eric Decker, Broncos WR’s

One might think that both Welker and Decker with Peyton Manning sounds like a dream come true for Fantasy owners.  And honestly, I’m not discounting that.  BUT….no one has any idea of who is going to get the ball in this offense.

Due to the arsenal of weapons this team has, you might as well flip a coin to see who is going to get receptions between these two receivers.  Manning, unlike Brady, does not use the middle of the field as much.

Meaning that Welker’s reception total from last year (118*) could drop down to 70, And Decker’s total (85*) down in the 60’s.  That’s a HUGE drop-off in workload.  The worst part is that the Broncos ran the ball more times than any other team in the Red Zone last season.  Consider staying clear in earlier rounds.

In the end, pick the players you like and have fun with it.  Happy Drafting!

*All stats acquired through ESPN statistical database

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