Welcome back seekers of knowledge and those who are just totally freaking out about who to take when for your upcoming Fantasy draft. I have already brought you the Top 20 Running Backs for 2012, and now we look at a position that gets to be more and more important every year, the quarterback! Yes the NFL has become a pass-happy league, so it has become essential to get a top signal caller early on and not settle for a guy who can get you average numbers.
As I have always said, the league is always changing, and every few years something new comes into the mix. Where teams were using 3 running back systems and going all screen pass happy just a few years ago, now it is all downfield, and teams like the Falcons and 49ers amongst many, are piling up on big receivers, and the need to have a big arm is huge right now. So I am here to help you shed some light on who is your choice at QB. The difference between the guy or guys that will go in rounds 1-4 are more evident this year over the guys that will go after, so think hard and choose wisely. It’s clear to me that a top QB will hold more value than a number 2 RB this season.
With that being said, here is my top 20 players at QB this season. Read,learn and win!
19. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: Big Red surprised many of us last year stepping in as a rookie, and helping the Bengals into the playoffs. His numbers were decent, 20 TDs and 13 INTs, so one would think this season he can improve on those numbers. His top target, A.J. Green looks to be emerging as one of the games top WRs, but an injury to TE Jermaine Gresham and the departure of Jerome Simpson means he will have to find new weapons. Dalton will be a nice filler for a week or 2, but a back-up on your fantasy squad at best for now.
18. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Who do we get? Freeman from 2010 would prove to be an excellent pick. However Freeman from 2011 could be a disaster. At 6 foot 6 inches tall, and with mobility I think the 2010 one is more like the Freeman we should see. The Bucs added some key players in free agency this year, including a big target in WR Vincent Jackson. With a good balance of run and pass Freeman can be solid again, maybe even solid enough to be a steal later on in the draft, but if you draft him, wait and see first.
17. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: Here we are again with a decent QB who always has us wanting to think there is more. Yes he has been a consistent 3,600+ yard passer, but last season he threw for just 20 TDs, which was down from 25 in 2010. The Ravens have some decent WRs, but we have to face the fact that with Ray Rice there, it is a run first offense. This could be the last year I have Flacco in my top 20, but the Ravens win often and get to the playoffs with him, but that won’t help in fantasy ball.
16. Robert Griffin 3rd, Washington Redskins: Rookie QBs have taken a big leap forward, thanks mostly to Dalton and Cam Newton last year, so why not try Griffin as at least a fantasy back up? He has shown excellent ability to run the ball, much like Newton, and he does throw a good ball. He seems smart and ready for the pro game and can be a nice sleeper if the offensive line holds up. The Redskin offense is loaded with RBs and decent talent in pass catchers, so yes at 16 I will get risky and say try Griffin.
15. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: Much like on draft day in the NFL, draft day of fantasy should have the same results, with Luck going right ahead of RG3. Yes I realize we are watching pre-season games, but Luck looks cool and calm in the pocket and has his timing down nicely. Also waiting for him is some talent at WR in veteran Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie. Rookie TE Coby Fleener, who was Luck’s teammate in college also helps his progress in having a familiar face to throw to should be given a shot as a number 2 QB, he could just surprise us.
14. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans: Remember not too long ago that this was the guy leading the way for every experts Super Bowl sleeper pick? Well Schaub is back from the injury that made many of us forget about him, and he still has guys like Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels to work with, as well as an excellent pass catching RB in Arian Foster. Schaub plays the game smart and has become a good clutch QB. The Texans have sewn up the offensive line as well, so he can find glory again as long as he stays healthy. Remember, when healthy he has been a regular in the 4,000+ yard club and threw for 54 TDs in his last 2 full seasons.
13. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: It may not be the fancy pick for most fantasy owners given the fact that he plays reckless at times and can always be good for a tough injury or 2 each week, but how can you not like Roethlisberger in the Steelers new and improved high flying offense? With plenty of speed at WR in Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace, who is expected back in camp soon, he has lots of talent to play with, and a good enough defense to keep the ball in his hands. They do like to run a lot, but the Steelers bread and butter has become the deep pass play, and Ben is one of the best on the league at throwing that deep ball. He may not be the starter on a fantasy championship team, but he is worth having for sure.
12. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: Fear, lots and lots of fear here. The name alone holds tons of credibility, like a high roller at any casino, even if he has not played in some time. Manning is still plenty smart, and still can throw the ball, but he has to learn a new system with a young group of WRs who still don’t seem “Manning-ready”. Yes Eric Decker is a solid choice, but the others need to learn quicker and we still have to see how long Manning can hold up from previous injury. I would never tell you not to draft Manning. I am however going to tell you not to do it too early. Buyer, beware!
11. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: The numbers rarely lie in fantasy, and usually they speak of the player’s ability perfectly. However, despite 27 TDs last season it seemed as if Rivers was not the guy who owners once leaned on for huge points. Well here we are in 2012, and Rivers will be looking at new options and sort of a fresh start. His running game has been depleted with an injury to star back Ryan Mathews and the departure of Mike Tolbert and he no longer has to play the waiting game on departed WR Vincent Jackson. What he has is a hungry Robert Meacham, Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates and when he gets healthy, Vincent Brown. Rivers shows us he has game, but the turnovers need to stay down. He is a guy that gets owners the juice, but I don’t see him as a guy who should go earlier than round 5 this season.
10. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: I understand this pick may give some of you chills, but this could very well be the year that Cutler finally shows us why he has been seen as a big time talent at QB. Before his injury last year he had the Bears rolling and seemingly on their way to the playoffs. After his injury the offense proved it was hopeless. The Bears went out this offseason and added his former teammate and stat pumper, WR Brandon Marshall as well as rookie Alshon Jeffery who has looked really good so far. The usual suspects return as well in his trustee college mate Earl Bennett, the fleet footed Johnny Knox and Devin Hester as well as 2 good pass catching backs in Matt Forte and Michael Bush. So you see, all the stars are lined up for Cutler to have a huge season, and I say the time is right to roll the dice. No, don’t reach in rounds 1-4, but keep a close eye on Cutler.
9. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: No, being from Philadelphia does not mean I am totally in love with Vick. I realize when healthy he can be a monster using both his feet and his arm to post big numbers. However, that is just the problem he plays reckless and takes too many big hits to be trusted. Vick has missed at least 4 games in each of his last 3 seasons, and that’s tough to swallow in a top 10 QB. On the plus side, in 2010, in just 12 games, he accounted for 30 total TDs and over 3,700 yards of total offense. He is the ultimate high risk/high reward player, so taking him early is a gamble. If you take Vick within the first 4 rounds, use your fifth round pick on another solid QB.
8. Eli Manning, New York Giants: It gets tougher in the top 8 to decide who falls in where. If this was a Super Bowl contest, yes you take Manning, but in fantasy, as good as he can be you always have to keep an eye on who is in front. He has good weapons, and gets the TDs and yards, but tends to turn the ball over more than desired. Losing Mario Manningham won’t prove to be as devistating as many think as he still has Hakeem Nicks, last year’s surprise Victor Cruz and rookie Reuben Randle to work with. The key is the offensive line keeping him upright. Manning has finally become more important than brother Peyton, and he should be an early round consideration for your QB.
7. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: The run of NFC East QBs continues with Romo. Many fear taking this guy because he just has not been the big winner that Dallas has hoped. But friends this is fantasy football, and in his last 2 seasons when healthy he put up TD numbers of 26 and 31, while also going well over 4,000 yards. Now he has solid WR play and guys in the backfield that can catch, so his prospects are looking up. His offensive line is the main concern, but if they hold up, it is possible that Romo can be even better than last year. Heck, like I said I am a Philly guy, and even I think he is an excellent choice for fantasy. Roll with it!
6. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: Here is my dilemma, how do I put a guy that I feel may be the best all around athlete in football at 6? Stats baby, stats! The guys in the top 5 are really good, and Newton could be as good as any of those guys. The worry is that the Panthers have RBs who can/could all steal touches, and the WR corps are not loaded with Pro Bowl players outside of Steve Smith. Newton did post 35 total TDs last year, which is an excellent number, and can get huge rushing yards. This year defenses will be a little better prepared, so we have to see if Newton will fall to the sophomore jinx, or if he will become that much better. Many will take him in the first 2 rounds, and despite me having him at 6, I have no problem with that.
5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: One of the most trusted names at QB over the past few years is back for more action in New Orleans with a brand new contract. Now, can he overcome not having his head coach all year? How will he deal with the loss of Pro Bowl Guard Carl Nicks? Can Darren Sproles really have that good of a year again this season? Alright I can go on and on with questions, but we will just have to wait and see. Brees is a record breaker, a TD maker and a big time gamer at QB. I put him at 5 only out of concern for how he plays without Payton on the sidelines, and that he lost WR Robert Meacham, which means that if/when Marques Colston suffers one of his usual injuries, who will be there to pick up the slack? I still say you take him early, I just happen to like 4 guys more this season.
4. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: How can’t you love the guy who passes to Mega-Tron? Quite frankly, you can’t! Stafford stayed healthy last year, for the first time and for it went over 5,000 yards passing and also had 41 TDs. His top weapon, Calvin Johnson, is easily the best WR in the game, and now he has help in emerging youngsters Titus Young and TE Brandon Pettigrew. Many think the Lions will have to find a running game to help Stafford, but I think he has all that he needs to be huge in 2012. Round 2 pick anyone?
3. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: Do not adjust your screen, this is not a mistake! Folks, you will all thank me later on this one right here. I almost, but guess I couldn’t, put him second, but he can’t surpass a Hall Of Fame guy, at least not yet. Okay, time to get to business. Every season his numbers go up, and he progresses beautifully. Now he has one of the best group of skill players in the league in emerging stud Julio Jones, the always big Roddy White, future Hall Of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez and now even a backfield threat in Jacquizz Rodgers. Also some food for thought, he plays 8 games in a cushy dome, where he always has big days, and also plays in sunny Tampa, domed New Orleans, and Carolina, so it is rare that weather plays a factor. I have been on the Ryan train since camp started, and I have told everyone I know that this guy is going to have a monster year. Some drafts I got him in rounds 6-9, which is almost like finding a solid gold bar in the jewelry section at a dollar store. Put this name on your paper, and take it to the bank, Matty Ice!
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: Is it possible that this guy is the best QB in Packers history? Well maybe not yet, but Rodgers is the guy whose name comes off everyone’s lips when asked “so who do you think is the number 1 fantasy QB?” Not to mention he is a 2-time winner of my personal Sharky Awards as fantasy MVP. I know, you all want numbers, so here they are: 4,900 total yards of offense, 48 total TDs and just 6, yes only 6 INTs. He is beyond smart and beyond sharp on the field, and cool and calm off the field. You are a true contender with this guy leading your team, and after the big 3 RBs are off the board, many will have to consider Rodgers. 1st round pick worthy for sure!
Alright owners, here are your top signal callers. So you may have not seen a name you like, don’t worry, they will be around at the late stages of your draft. So if you are in love with Carson Palmer, grab him, I have no problem with that. However, check my rankings first, just because I say so! Next we will look at WRs, but until then, happy studying students!
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[amazon_link id=”1477542981″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft[/amazon_link]