THE OUTLOOK: We are now firmly entrenched in what has become a new Passing Era in today’s NFL. The proliferation of the passing game has lead to the deepest crop of quarterback prospects fantasy players have ever seen. Don’t believe me? ESPN’s Matthew Berry breaks down the numbers.
- The 2011 season saw three quarterbacks, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions, throw for more than 5,000 yards for the first time in league history (5,476 , 5,235 and 5,038, respectively, with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning falling short of 5,000 by only 67 yards)
- Net offensive yardage reached an all time high (693.7 net yards per game)
- In 2011, there were a record setting 18 individual 400-yard passing performances
Outside of the Elite 3 (Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady), there are seven to nine more quarterbacks one could conceivably win their league title with (Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Mike Vick, Tony Romo, The Manning Brothers, Phillip Rivers, Big Ben, and Matt Ryan). Depending on how well their teammates perform, Jay Cutler and Robert Griffin III could be in line for big seasons as well. The quarterback position has never been as deep as it is this year. A prudent draft strategy may see an owner wait on drafting a quarterback until rounds four through six. This way, you’d be able to stock up at other positions in the early rounds, while still landing a prospect you can win with on a week to week basis.
- The Rise of Russell-Mania knocked out Matt Flynn as my pick for a sleeper this season. Wilson hasn’t played like a rookie thus far and his rushing capabilities could see him provide immense value through out the season
- Although he has answered questions about the strength of his arm, Peyton Manning barely cracks the top ten of these rankings. He’s still assimilating himself with his new weapons and I still wouldn’t have my fantasy season depending on his surgically repaired neck
- Andrew Luck’s preseason performance vaulted him from the 20s up to number 14. The Colts look like they won’t be using kid gloves the 2012’s top draft pick. He should be a high end QB2 through out the year
*lists created with Four-Downs.com Ranking Editor*
- Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Bccaneers (ADP: 12 Team – 12.04; 14 Team – 10.13) – In 2010, Freeman posted 25 touchdown passes to 6 interceptions on his way to a Top 10 finish in the fantasy season. Many predicted big things for Mr. Freeman in 2011. However, he disappointed his believers with 16 touchdown passes to 22 interceptions on the year. Yuck. This offseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers upgraded their wide receiver corps with the addition of Vincent Jackson. Pairing Jackson with Mike Williams, the Bucs leading receiver in 2010, should do wonders for Freeman’s numbers in 2012. Freeman is definitely worth a look in the later rounds of 12-14 team fantasy leagues. (if you play in leagues with less than 12 teams, you’re doing it wrong. the competition level increases and strategies are of the utmost importance in 12+ team leagues. not to mention they are just flat out much more exciting than 8-10 team leagues. do yourself a favor – take the training wheels off if you participate in 8-10 team leagues)
- Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 12 Team – 13.12; 14 Team – 11.14) – The former number one draft pick produced 19 total touchdown (17 passing, 2 rushing) to go along with only 5 interceptions in 2011. The 49ers brought in Randy Moss and Mario Manningham to give a boost to their passing game in 2012. No matter what you may think of Moss, league insiders say he’s still got the wheels to stretch the top of defensive coverages, forcing DBs to respect his game. I fully expect Alex Smith to take advantage of his new toys and finish within the top 15 of quarterbacks for the fantasy season.
- Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (ADP: 12 Team – 2.01; 14 Team – 1.12) – There is no young QB in the league getting more love from the analysts right now than Matthew Stafford. After putting up more than 5,000 yards, 41 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions last season, expectations for Stafford’s future performances shot through the roof. However, what they’ve failed to take into account is the fact that 2011 was the first year Stafford played in all 16 games in his three year career. A knee injury cut his rookie campaign short in 2009, while a shoulder injury limited him to only three games in 2010. I realize that injuries are wholly unpredictable, but I’m not hitching my wagon to a quarterback with that injury history. I’d like to see Stafford put up those numbers for a second consecutive year before placing him amongst other game changers at his position.
- Matt Schaub, Houston Texans (ADP: 12 Team – 9.09; 14 Team – 8.03) – Matt Schaub’s time as the Houston Texans starting quarterback has been a real mixed bag. Schaub was acquired from the Atlanta Falcons in 2007, and has only started the full slate of 16 games twice in that 5 season span. Last season, (with help from Arian Foster) he set the table for the Texans first playoff berth in franchise history. After a broken foot ended his season prematurely, he was replaced by rookie fifth round pick, T.J. Yates who showed promise as a future starter in the NFL. Schaub’s role within the Texans’ offense has been reduced to game manager, which makes him unworthy of his current average draft position. There will be better quarterback options available at these draft slots (ie – Freeman, Josh & Smith, Alex)