Since the beginning of time in fantasy football, the quarterback was an after thought after you had at least your stud running back and a good wide receiver. Sure there was always one guy that would get ridiculed for taking Peyton Manning early in the first round, but everyone else was thrilled by the selection because that meant another running back had slid further down the draft. Welcome to 2012 and two major changes have taken place in the world of fantasy football. 1. It’s a passing league where there is a difference between good and elite quarterbacks. 2. Running backs are by committee now without a true stud on every squad. Instead of drafting a quarterback in the 4th to 6th rounds you need to secure your franchise quarterback by round 2 or you will be missing out each week on a bunch of points!
Jay Cutler has thrown for over 18,000 yards in his first six seasons, but he has only been a top 10 fantasy quarterback once in his career when he threw for 4,500 yards in his last season in Denver. Cutler hasn’t been higher than 17th while playing for the Bears due to poor blocking and turnovers. There will be no excuses this season with the weapons surrounding Cutler. Most mock drafts have him falling to the 11-13th selected quarterback which could and should prove to be a great value. The past few seasons with Martz as coordinator it was way to risky to start Cutler on a weekly basis! With Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffrey along with Earl Bennett and the Hester Package along with Matt Forte, this should be a huge season for Cutler and almost a shoe in for a top 10 quarterback season!
Fantasy Top 10 QB’S
1. Drew Brees-
In the post-Bountygate world in New Orleans, Brees is now the de facto offensive coordinator. Brees has not thrown for less than 4,000 yards since arriving in Cajun Country, and without Sean Payton, you have to believe that the Saints offense will be even more pass happy. There’s also a good chance that they will be trailing more than last year which will mean more Brees passing and #1 Qb in fantasy.
If Rodgers didn’t sit out the last week of the year he would have easily been last season’s #1 fantasy quarterback. Rodgers had 45 touchdowns to 6 interceptions last season and there’s no reason to believe his production will slip. The Green Bay Packers still do not have an established running game and have named James Starks as starting running back which translated in fantasy football terms means Rodgers could be passing 50 times a games. Rodgers has been a top 10 fantasy QB since taking over for Brett Favre, and 2012 should be no exception.
3. Tom Brady
The old veteran now of fantasy qb’s. Except for his one pass injury season of 2008, having Brady on your roster has always been a good thing. The Patriots offense is always adding new twists from The Randy Moss years, to the two tight end passing game, and now Brady has a new toy to play with in Brandon Lloyd. Brady only threw for 5,200 yards last year, and with the new addition the sky is the limit in 2012. Draft Brady early because he will not be available very long in any draft.
4. Matt Schaub
Schaub will be availble later in the draft then some other guys ranked lower in this ranking for one reason only—HEALTH. Schaub and the Texans offense always put up great offensive numbers and they have some of the best weapons at ever postition in Foster, Johnson, and Owens. Schaub has only completed 2 seasons which is alarming but when he’s on the field he puts up some great fantasy numbers. He may be a red flag risk but the high end reward is there especially the later the round in the draft that he’s still available.
It’s amazing what health and having arguably the best Wide Recevier in the league can do. Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards in his first season where he played all 16 games. Stafford had the luxury of Calvin Johnson which makes the QB job a lot easier. Stafford will most likely be gone by the 2nd round at the latest in your draft. The Lions early on will not have much of a running game and how well Leshore fits into the offense is still to be determined on Sundays so expect a lot of balls in the air in Detroit again this season.
6. Matt Ryan
Ryan’s stats have been very consistent and improving every season since entering the league. He leads a very boring offense which isn’t sexy but still puts up the stats every week. This season could be a change from the vanilla to maybe neapolitan since Julio Jones after a very slow start came on at the end of the season and could burst on to the scene. Jones could help Ryan become a top 5 QB like Johnson did for Stafford last season. The Falcons are not going to abandon the run but it will not be surprising to see a lot more explosive plays from them this season and make Ryan and very good value as a fantasy QB.
7. Eli Manning
The good side of Eli is that his yards per season has increased the past four seasons and he’s very consistent in his TD’s per year. The dark side of Eli is the interceptions! Everyone likes to harp on Jay Cutler for bad int’s but Eli has the same bad tendency. In his Super Bowl season’s he has been able to steer clear of the turnover bug and put up good numbers. He may be without Hakeem Nicks early on and will be missing Mario Manningham. This could be a small decline in his numbers from last season but the decline shouldn’t be too drastic not to draft him in the t0p 4 rounds.
The former #1 fantasy quarterback for years now has a new home and address. Drafting him will be a huge risk with the neck injury, but the reward could be huge if he stays healthy for the entire 2012 season. Manning will be in a new system with unfamiliar players, but he’s just too good of QB not to believe he will make all the adjustments needed through his endless preparations to be highly successful in Mile High City. In mocks drafts his position has been very unpredictable so where he gets selected will depend on the fondness for him by you or your league mates.
9. Cam Newton
Cam Newton did something no other rookie quarterback has done in fantasy football…Dominate from day 1. His turnover ratio does need to improve, last year it was 21-17 but he was unstoppable by the goal line rushing for 14 touchdowns. Defenses seemed to catch up to Newton’s passing skills late in the season, so you may want to keep an eye on him during the pre-season action to see if his accuracy has improved, but his natural talents and progression could lead to even greater statistics then his first season.
10. Tony Romo
Forget the fact that Romo chokes in the playoffs or when a possible playoff spot is on the line. This is fantasy rankings and Romo is a stat machine. Romo routinely puts up 4,000 yards 30 touchdown seasons. Dez Bryant could be the next big receiver in the NFL which will be an added plus to Romo owners. He still has his security blanket in Whitten, and he should have a good running game with Murray and Jones. There has been little chatter out of Dallas this off season compared to other years which could lead to a Dallas revival!
Breakout Fantasy QB- Alex Smith
Just like the Bears off season, the 49ers have added offensive weapons. Oldie but goodie Randy Moss and Super Bowl champ Mario Manningham have been added to a very average 49ers offense. Smith had a rebirth under first year coach Jim Harbaugh throwing for 17 touchdowns and only 5 picks. Smith may not leap into a top 10 fantasy qb this season but his stats could see a tremendous jump with the added offensive firepower surrounding him provided Moss plays at a high level for most of the season.
Bust Fantasy QB-Joe Flacco
The bizzaro world of Tony Romo. Flacco has tremendous playoff success but is a liability during the regular season in fantasy football. Flacco hasn’t missed a game and his stats are very similar the past three seasons but there has been no progression. He has one of the top running backs in the league in Ray Rice, so you know the Ravens will force feed him as much as possible. This is the season where no progression meets regression for Flacco. They play the Steelers twice a year so that’s a guaranteed two weeks you won’t want to start him, and they will never go into a game with the philosophy of airing it out. Steer clear of Flacco as your #1 qb this season.
The ball will be in the air more than ever this season! Who’s your top 10, sleeper, or bust? Will Jay Cutler be a top 5 fantasy qb? I would be glad to see your lists in the comments section!!