Fantasy Football 2013: QB “Tiers, Not Fears”

With the way he’s forcing himself up the ranks, just call him Muscle Wilson
Photo Credit: Larry Maurer


There are so many quality fantasy QBs that even the “back-ups” on most teams are good enough to start. However, it’s hard to make an argument against spending top dollar for the best QBs.

Go and look at the top four or six teams in your league. You’ll see a similar trend of playoff bound teams featuring top-tiered signal-callers. Does this mean that it’s impossible to win without a top QB? Of course not. 


However, when you get an Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, you greatly increase your odds of finishing in the top half of your league and making the playoffs. Once you make the postseason, you feel pretty damn good about your week-to-week odds when you have an elite QB.


I personally have a hard time dropping $60 or more on a QB in an auction format, but I can’t fault the owner willing to pony up. 


The good news is that whether you want to spend major coin on a QB or prefer to go with RBs/WRs early and wait on a signal-caller, “Tiers, Not Fears” is for you. We’ve got 35 QBs ranked and tiered up. So pull up a Mexican Chair Person, shit’s about to get real.


More after the jump:


The “League Of Their Own” Trio
Rodgers and Brees have been sitting atop of most rankings as the clear-cut two best QBs in fantasy, but Manning is right there with them. Pistol Peyton gets a shiny new weapon in Wes Welker and is further removed from his multiple neck surgeries, showing more zip on his throws in 2013. I nudged Rodgers into the top spot because he has brilliant weapons, is in a pass-first offense (fuck Eddie Lacy), and underachieved last year (yet still put up sick numbers). Brees? He makes the cut not so much for his receiver talent, but because he has shown time and time again that he isn’t afraid to run up the score. It’s a dickhead move, but one that leads to incredible fantasy performances.

1. Aaron Rodgers, GB 

2. Drew Brees, NO 

3. Peyton Manning, Den 


The Second-Tier Citizens

If you miss out on one of the top dogs, worry not. For a much more affordable rate, you can have one of the QBs in this tier. Brady is losing some fantasy fans now that he’s without Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker (while also having to deal with a battered Rob Gronkowski), but the Patriots are the most adaptable team in football. Expect Brady to maximize the players on his roster and continue to be an elite fantasy option. Wilson checks in ahead of his dual-threat counterparts RG3 and Newton, mostly because of his poise and the fact that he’s just scratching the surface (Seattle let him throw only a few times a game for most of the regular season before loosening the reins). With full control of the offense, expect the tiny playmaker to enjoy a tremendous season. Griffin III probably would’ve checked in as the no. 4 QB on my list if he wasn’t coming off such a gruesome injury. All reports indicate he’ll be fine for the season, but he’s rocking a knee brace this year and you have to be a bit concerned about his legs and movement. Newton is overrated, but his O-line should be a lot better. A big question mark centers on how often he’ll run. Carolina wants him to be more of a pure pocket QB going forward, so if that’s really the case, you can say bye-bye to all those GL rushing scores that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. 

4. Tom Brady, NE 

5. Russell Wilson, Sea 

6. Robert Griffin III, Wsh 

7. Cam Newton, Car 


The “Still Great Starters” Society

So you didn’t land a QB in the first two tiers. No sweat. All of the QBs in this group are amazing consolation prizes for owners in 12-team leagues. Even without Michael Crabtree, Kaepernick looks ready to bust out for a huge season (I’m expecting a healthy number of rushing plays). Matt Ryan disappeared for fantasy owners down the stretch, but still has two of the best WRs in the business (plus Tony Gonzalez). The biggest fear for Ryan owners should be Steven Jackson. Atlanta has gone with a balanced attack in the past, and may do so again in 2013 if Jackson is in great form. Romo and Stafford are big-armed QBs who can rack up the yards, but Romo is prone to stupid mistakes (and costly fantasy performances) while Stafford struggles when he can’t force the ball to Megatron. Andrew Luck has been overvalued as fuck this year. I think he’s a starting QB in fantasy leagues, but with no Bruce Arians helping to creatively stretch the field, I’m anticipating a quality, but not spectacular, sophomore season for Luck (who turned the ball over a lot and struggled with his accuracy at times in his rookie campaign).

8. Colin Kaepernick, SF 

9. Matt Ryan, Atl 

10. Tony Romo, Dal 

11. Matthew Stafford, Det 

12. Andrew Luck, Ind 


The “They Might Be Starters” Syndicate

Amazingly, these players are not technically “starter-worthy” in 12-team leagues, but they look like some incredible imposters. Manning still has Eli-te weapons and is capable of putting up big numbers. Vick weapons look shady after Shady, but if he can stay healthy, he can still be a very productive fantasy QB as Chip Kelly’s offense is a good fit for Vick’s skill-set. Big Ben was very efficient in a shorter passing game scheme last year and the Steelers are reportedly much more comfortable with their offense in Year Two of Todd Haley’s system. Many folks don’t trust Rivers, but the new coaching staff is employing a “small ball” passing game that puts an emphasis on letting Rivers make high-percentage throws and take what’s given to him. That should suit Rivers a lot better, as he’s spent the last two years forcing the issue more often than Ben Roethlisberger in a public bathroom.

13. Eli Manning, NYG 

14. Michael Vick, Phi 

15. Ben Roethlisberger, Pit 

16. Philip Rivers, SD


The “Quality Backup” Brigade

You don’t want these three starting in Week One, but if you go the platoon route (or don’t fully trust your QB1), these guys are solid options. Palmer gets the benefit of teaming up with Bruce Arians and Larry Fitzgerald, so expect some big weeks from him. The Ravens should run it a ton (as per usual), but Flacco throws it deep as often as any QB in football and that should lead to a a lot of big plays. If offensive “genius” Mike Martz couldn’t fix Cutler, what makes you think Marc Trestman is about to turn him around? I say I feel that way, but still cannot bring myself to rank Cutler any lower. After all, he as much upside as anyone on this list and could have an intriguing set of weapons if Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett do work. 

17. Carson Palmer, Ari 

18. Joe Flacco, Bal 

19. Jay Cutler, Chi 


The “Barely Roster-Worthy” Hooligans

They’ll be on someone’s roster, but unless they are strictly a bye-week plug-in, you can’t really get excited about any of these QBs. Freeman and Dalton are prone to stupid mistakes and offer zero upside. Tannehill is plenty talented, but is a raw product whose offensive upgrades (Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller) aren’t enough to make him a fantasy starter. Schaub is accurate as hell, but he’s in a run-first offense and is a checkdown specialist at this stage of his career.

20. Josh Freeman, TB 

21. Andy Dalton, Cin 

22. Ryan Tannehill, Mia 

23. Matt Schaub, Hou 


The “Only An Asshole…” Associates

There’s one in almost every league. The person(s) who pick up as many competent starting QBs as possible to leave the waiver wire barren (thus forcing other their opponents to trade in order to acquire a QB when an injury, bye week, or bad matchup strike). If you don’t have an owner like this in your league, then the QBs on this list will likely be available. However, that probably means your league isn’t cutthroat enough and thus not that competitive. Alright, I guess we have to show a little love to assholes (pause).

24. Alex Smith, KC 

25. Brandon Weeden, Cle 

26. Sam Bradford, StL 

27. Geno Smith, NYJ 

28. Jake Locker, Ten 

29. Christian Ponder, Min


The “No Chance” Nincompoops

These QBs make the list because they could all be starting at some point in 2013, but make no mistake about it, you want no part of these scrubs.

30. EJ Manuel, Buf 

31. Terrelle Pryor, Oak

32. Blaine Gabbert, Jac 

33. Chad Henne, Jac


*Last updated 9/2/13.


About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.