Whether it was from injury or lack of production there were some big time disappointments from last season. There are definitely a handful of players who, barring unexpected injuries, are primed to return to form and live up their high fantasy draft status or at least lofty expectations. Here is a quick rundown of the Top 10 projected bounce-back candidates for the 2013 fantasy football season.
Larry Fitz’s fall from grace last year was nothing short of meteoric, both for his standards of excellence and his fantasy owners’ fortunes. Generally off the board before round 3, Fitzgerald was consistently plagued by terrible quarterback play, slipping to 71 catches, 798 total receiving yards and 4 TDs. Smart owners will see this blip on the radar and make a profit. Carson Palmer and his garbage time stats have come to the desert, and are being joined by a rejuvenated Rashard Mendenhall. Both have much to prove, and more weapons around Larry can only mean another strong season is in the offing. His ADP is currently sitting in round 4 territory, which is a steal.
Vick was a complete and total train wreck for owners in 2012. Appearing in just 10 contests, he threw for under 250 yards per game, was a turnover machine, and rushed for only one touchdown. Vick has always been turnover prone, but his dual threat capabilities and explosive play potential have usually made up for it. 2013, however, is a new dawn for Vick – Chip Kelly and his dynamic, up-tempo offense have come to town. Vick is exactly the style of QB most suited for Kelly’s offense, and he should beat out lead-footed Nick Foles for the starting job with ease. If he produces even half of his career averages, sharp drafters will make a strong showing. His current ADP is outside the top 100, making him the perfect backup or two QB league draft pick. Take Vick with a late sneak attack.
Following an extended and ultimately unsuccessful holdout, owners felt bullish on the Oopma Loompa in 2012, plucking him off draft boards in the early parts of round 2. Championship banners and riches were envisioned, but MJD did his best to dash such hopes by gaining only 500 total yards from scrimmage and appearing in only six games before succumbing to the dreaded Lisfranc foot injury. Jones-Drew will bounce back simply because he can’t be any worse than he was last year. He’s reporting that his foot Is 100% healed and should be all systems go for camp. Draft him as your RB1 or RB2 without hesitation.
Following Jordy’s monstrous 2011 campaign (1200+ yards receiving, 15 TD), owners plucked him off draft boards in the 3rd round in 2012, hoping for similar or better results from what they believed to be their WR1. It was not to be. Nelson’s final stat line for 2012 reads 12 games played, but anyone who owned him knows that he left multiple games with injury, and obviously missed 4 others outright. That he finished with 7 TD and 745 yards receiving is nothing short of miraculous. Discard his lost 2012 and draft him again with confidence – he’s still paired with Aaron Rodgers in the pass-happy Green Bay offense, he’s fully healthy now, and even better, you can get him a whole round later this year. Draft, and enjoy!
Going into the 2012 season, there didn’t seem to be reason for optimism for Garcon’s fantasy prospects. Instead of being paired with legendary Peyton Manning, he would now be in the muddled Washington offense with an unproven rookie QB named Robert Griffin III. Then they connected on a long TD in their first game together, and what seemed to be a dynamic duo was born. Unfortunately for Garcon, he tore a toe ligament on that very same play and was a shell of himself for the remainder of the season, limping to a 2012 overall ranking of 143. He’s now had a full offseason of rest, and has Alfred Morris, RG3 and a healed Fred Davis to take the attention off of him. He’s currently very affordable, being taken in the 5th, and makes for a WR2 with explosive upside potential.
Anyone who owned Harvin in 2012 can attest to this: He was a damn irritating player to have on your team. He seemed to catch 12 balls per game, but never scored, and only played 1 of every 2 games. Percy was drafted in the 4th round in 2012, but only ended up playing 9 games and catching 62 balls, good for a 117 ranking overall. Christian Ponder masquerading as a viable quarterback certainly didn’t help things, but the trade from the Vikings to the Seahawks certainly did. Harvin will be surrounded by powerful weapons in Seattle for the 2013 campaign, and it doesn’t take a genius to see that great things are coming this season for Mr. Harvin. His current ADP is mid-third round, and he has the potential to greatly out produce this draft slot. Take him with confidence, and prepare for the pyrotechnics.
On draft day a trendy late-first to early-second round running back, DeMarco Murray quickly developed into one of the biggest busts of 2012. In all, he totaled just over 900 yards from scrimmage while scoring only 4 times, netting him an overall ranking of 104. Murray battled a wide variety of dings and dents in 2012, but the latest news has him fully rehabbed and ready to go to battle. The Cowboys offense still features Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten, so there will be plenty of weapons around Murray to help him succeed. Better yet, his recent injury history / the bad taste he left in owners’ mouths has affected his draft status, as he is now going in the middle of the third round in early mocks. With a little luck, his 2013 performance should far outshine his third round price tag.
I’ve always felt bad for poor Steven Jackson. You can tell he is legit, and brings it 100% every time he’s on the field. I always felt that if only the Rams weren’t terrible, he could be a top-10 fantasy player. After his offseason signing with the Atlanta Falcons, Jacksons’s time is now. He has plenty left in the tank, and joins one of the highest scoring units in the game in a clear case of the rich getting richer. He’ll also be more involved in the passing game, and the mere presence of Roddy White and Julio Jones will mean far fewer stacked boxes against him. I’m predicting a career high in total touchdowns and an MVP-like year. I’m not the only one, however – his current ADP sits at 2.01, making the 12th pick very enviable this year. I’m already thinking of picking 12th and taking Morris and Jackson back to back…
Coming off of major reconstructive surgery in 2012, nobody expected much of Mendenhall, and they were right. He totaled less than 300 yards from scrimmage, and was basically an afterthought, both for the Steelers and fantasy owners. He’s fully recovered, healthy, and picked up by the Cardinals in the offseason. Reports have him running as the clear #1 back under his former coach Bruce Arians. He joins Fitzgerald and Palmer in the desert, and the Cardinals should field a much upgraded offensive attack in 2013. Available in the 5th round, snap up Mendenhall on the cheap and wait for the fantasy points to roll in.
It is interesting that Amendola’s game has always been compared to Wes Welker, since he’s been signed by New England to take the departed Welker’s place in the slot. Amendola has a long injury history, but there is no doubt that when he’s right, he’s a dynamic player – On Sept. 16th last season, he shredded the Redskins for 160 yards and a TD on 15 catches. With Tom Brady as his QB, and few other established WR options around him, it seems the time is ripe for Welker 2.0 to have a career year. Keep a sharp eye on his ADP, which currently rests in the early 5th round. If he stays in that neighborhood on draft day, he should be an automatic WR2 pick, as his returns will almost certainly beat that price by quite a bit.