QB position last year’s preview, I recognized the possibility that the fantasy football landscape changed by the 2011′s extraordinary production on top of the QB rankings, but ultimately expressed disbelief. In ’11, five of the top 10 most important players in terms of Value-Based Drafting is quarterbacks. We have not seen more than a QB particular end top 10 since ’04, and that year, only two made it. And yet the temptation is strong to ignore history and believe that ’11 represented the beginning of the trend.
And that, friends, is why we do not let the small size of the sample to cause us to overreact.
It’s not that quarterbacks do not have a great ’12 campaign. They did: Eleven of the 12 highest designation player fantasy quarterbacks last year. But the truth is that so many QBs play well last season that the difference between them is minimal. The top seven fantasy QBs wound up separated by fewer than three fantasy points per game. And small spread fantasy starters lead exactly a quarterback ranked among the top 10 VBD last year: Drew Brees at No.. 10.
I’ll discuss why this happened and what it implies in terms of draft strategy at the end of this range. But first let’s run through a roundup of the major players in position.
Aaron Rodgers has become a top-three fantasy quarterback five years running, and there is no reason to believe that will change anytime soon. The Green Bay Packers have questions to answer on their offensive line, as A-Rod was sacked an NFL-high 51 times last year. But even with Greg Jennings leaving the town, Pack has massive aircraft weapons. Rodgers should be the first quarterback drafted in all leagues. … Drew Brees was the first NFL quarterback to exceed 5,000 passing yards in back-to-back season, and he led the league in passing touchdowns in four of the past five years. Sean Payton’s yearlong suspension threw a kink in the New Orleans Saints’ season last year, yet still dominated Brees. I … Tom Brady really up Brees in my personal ranking, but it’s close either way you divide it. Personally, I prefer Brady’s steadiness and lack of negative game: Brees has thrown an NFL-worst 16.6 interceptions per season over the past five years, while Brady has thrown at 9.3 span. Even at age 36, Brady is rock solid. … Peyton Manning dropped off a bit in December last year, especially in deeper fluttering pass: In his last four games including the playoffs, his completion rate attempts longer than 20 yards is 27 percent. Before that, it was 45 percent. But that adds a trace of danger to a person coming off the second-best season of his illustrious career. With Wes Welker joins Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker Denver Broncos’ receiving lot, stronger production is likely imminent. … In my own set, I really like Cam Newton over Peyton, but again, it was close. Newton certainly has yet to prove that he is among the elite fantasy passers, especially since the Carolina Panthers do not boast an elite receiving lot. But Newton form for any aircraft deficiencies in its absurd running. It is hard to imagine that he will get 600-plus yard rush and eight-plus rush TDS, plus his size makes him less any risk damage than your typical running quarterback.
The Next Tier
Matt Ryan leapt forward in passing yards in ’12, not because he threw it deep better or more often, but since the Atlanta Falcons generated a deadly game screen. Passing behind the line of scrimmage, the team had 66 more completions and 559 yards more than it did in ’11. The addition of Steven Jackson will only reinforce the short game. Only a lack of elite TDS hold Ryan back from the top-five fantasy quarterbacks. Colin … Kaepernick started seven regular-season games last year, and his stats would had gone prorated 3675 pass yards, 544 rush yards, 23 pass rush TDS TDS and 5. Made to him by Fantasy 8 does not. QB, and he was just getting started. And when the San Francisco 49ers released the full force of their read-option attack in the playoffs, Kap was almost unstoppable. It is fair to worry about Michael Crabtree of absence, and the fact that Kaepernick is an above-average risk injury because he was running so much. But the advantage here is the key. … Russell Wilson is slightly hamstrung by conservative game Seattle Seahawks’ plans, especially near the goal line of the enemy’s. But Wilson’s 489 Rush yards was third best among QBs last year, and my guess is that the Seahawks will open things with Percy Harvin in the fold. Certainly I think Wilson would finish far above his meager 3118 passing yards from last year. Have … Sure there are many athletic quarterbacks, is not there? Especially when you consider Matthew Stafford – who just set a record for most passing attempts in the same period last year – barely cracked the top 10. His line is mediocre, and he had some shaky moments last year, but Stafford also had faced a decimated receiving corps and some unlikely to repeat baffle (Calvin Johnson is tackled in a competitor’s 1-yard-line with amazing six times!). Frankly, I would be perfectly happy waiting to take a QB and having Stafford as a starter in any league. Getting … the picture yet? There are so many great quarterbacks today. Andrew luck takes a tumble just because there are concerns that his new offensive coordinator, Pep Hamilton, may limit the downfield passing game that is calling card Bruce Arians’ while rookie year of good luck. But again, if you told me I could wait to take a quarterback and wind up with this guy? Yes, I’m on board. … Tony Romo is off a career season in which he placed his previous single-season yardage mark with 420 yards, and he could not get a sniff of fantasy top 10. Quiet, Romo has become a top-eight fantasy quarterback three of the past four season and one of the game’s brightest young receiver Dez Bryant.
It seems like a long time since Michael Vick is under consideration to be a first-round pick, is not it? He is taking no fewer than three games in any of his four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, and he seems like a terrible bet to stay healthy in an offense Chip Kelly to design more for Runs the quarterback than Andy Reid ever made. I do not rule out the possibility that Vick starts great year and win some games fantasy for you in September. But he can not hurt satisfied as soon as possible thereafter. … Josh Freeman finished as fantasy’s No. 13 QB last year, but as a group, we at ESPN ranked him No. 20 for the upcoming season. (He was No.. 19 on my personal list.) Why the drop? Free people make too many mistakes and posted a Mark Sanchez-like 54.8 percent completion rate in ’12, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are said to be less than enamored with Freeman (nagki drafted Mike Glennon spring ). Independent person is entering a contract year, and I could not be shocked if he gets benched at one point in ’13. … And I believe San Diego Philip Rivers court would charge if they had anything resembling a practical option in their young QB depth chart. Rivers Absolutely not bounce back last year, instead suffering behind a poor offensive line and onto a touch-and-Ducker became slow relay routes out and turned the ball over 22 times, giving him an amazing 47 turnovers in the past two seasons. You’ll hear a lot of talk about how Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt will turn things around for Rivers in ’13. Do not believe it. Rivers’ arm looks cooked.
I’m really not a fan of late-career Carson Palmer, but even I have to admit that moving from Oakland Raiders at Arizona Cardinals, with Bruce Arians as its new playcaller, Palmer provides some glitter fantasy. While Palmer is still not throw his usual good deep ball back to its glory days in the Cincinnati Bengals, his arm was apparently recovered from where it was a few years ago, and Larry Fitzgerald should benefit. Palmer will have to play behind an inexperienced (and often shaky) offensive line, and make horrible, fantasy-fatal errors on a regular basis. But the fact that there would Arians his quarterbacks to be aggressive can lead Palmer at least fantasy backup status. … Andy Reid embrace Alex Smith to Kansas City Chiefs and put him in a low-risk system will play the Smith force. While I was quite doubtful that add up to fantasy starter numbers, the Chiefs improve their dreadful ’12 record. Expect low TD and INT totals for Smith, with due season where he’ll be near the bottom of the league in average yards to catch, but without hurting too many performances. He has a deep selection in a two-QB league. … Matt Flynn made the “Opportunity Knocks” this column last year too, only he was wearing a Seahawks uniform. Russell Wilson seized the starting job should be Flynn, and now rookie Tyler Wilson will have the opportunity to do the same now with the Oakland Flynn. Flynn will probably start, but the Raiders are a disaster area, especially along the offensive line. Creepy I’d be surprised if Flynn winds up being rosterable any fantasy leagues in 2013.
Only three rookie quarterbacks appear to have a legit shot to start in Week 1. I just mentioned Tyler Wilson, who probably has the longest shot of the three, and although he was under center, he can think of to make more with the Raiders. Geno Smith looks like the odds-on favorite to replace Mark Sanchez and even the New York Jets’ starting signal-caller, but – stop me if you’ve heard this before, Jets fans – his throwing accuracy is a work in progress. And considering the acceptance of the lot New York may be the NFL’s worst, plus recognize that Smith was not a running QB, there is very little chance Smith will register on the radar screen of fantasy in ’13. … In fact, as we rate E.J. Manuel Smith less than our QB rankings, it’s easy to argue that Manuel has significantly more advantages than Smith. After all, he was a Cam Newton-sized behemoth who will be nowhere near Newton runner, but he really could be a TD-maker in opponents’ red zone. Oh, consistency and Manuel throwing mechanics are a mess at Florida State, and it is uncertain thing he beats out Kevin Kolb this summer.
There’s really only a “damaged man” need to know QB this year, but he’s a biggie: Robert Griffin III. When no torn right ACL he suffered in January, RG III would be a lock for the top five fantasy QB status, maybe even top three. As a rookie, Griffin proved he could be the fastest quarterback in NFL history. He scored seven rushing TDS, he eclipsed 60 rushing yards in seven of his 15 regular-season starts, and his 815 total rush yards are the fifth most ever by a QB in a single season. And he has potential as a passer, though I think folks who declare him a “good” deep-ball thrower should reserve judgment, as RG III tied Christian to think for 27 attempts traveled 20 plus yards in the air last season. Nevertheless, the real question about Griffin is he going to be ready for Week 1 (this is starting to sound as if he will be), and if he can be his usual dynamic self so Soon after a torn ACL. Will the Washington Redskins allow him to run the way he did in ’12? We have no way of knowing really, Griffin can make one of these great value choice this year. I have him ranked ninth on my QB list, which is also where we put him as a group on ESPN.com.
I put Ben Roethlisberger at QB position sleeper list last year’s preview, and he was playing well before derailed by injury. And that’s always likely to be the sticking point with Big Ben: He gets hurt. But before his shoulder Sunday 10 and rib woes in ’12, he was on pace for 4406 passing yards, 32 TDS, 8 INTs and a 67 percent completion rate. Todd Haley wants to emphasize the quick passing game with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Roethlisberger suits of all-waterbug receipt of the lot, now that Mike Wallace will leave. I would not be shocked if Big Ben posted top-10 fantasy season, even on a per-game basis, in ’13. … Sam Bradford will officially be out excuses in ’13. The St. Louis Rams spent big to get Jake Long blocking Bradford’s blind side, you’ve got a fast tight end Jared Cook, traded up to draft Tavon Austin, and now boasts one of the fastest offenses in the NFL. Bradford has above-average size, mobility and arm strength. Now it is time. I did not really important for Brian Schottenheimer as a playcaller, and the Rams’ backfield is unproven, but Bradford could take a major step forward if he takes advantage of all that speed. New … Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman has an NFL pedigree for creating efficient, short-passing offense athletic quarterbacks, and Brandon Marshall is coming off a horrible season. That land Jay Cutler is the sleeper list for the second straight year. But I do not really believe it. The truth is, until the Bears prove they fixed their terrible offensive line, Cutler disappoint. The team spent considerable for Jermon Bushrod left tackle, but there is a real question about just how good a player really Bushrod (Drew Brees tends to make her look very good blocking, rather than opposite), and the disappointing J’Marcus Webb will still start at right tackle. Bottom line? I would not be shocked if Cutler numbers improve. But I’ll be surprised.
I gave two contradictory opinions on the QB position last year’s preview. On the one hand, I wrote: “I suspect that the top 10 or 12 quarterbacks will be bunched closer this year than they were last.” I believe this because I assume guys like Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and others bounce back from disappointing season, re-establishing a more practical “middle class” with quarterbacks, and because I thought that rookie QBs last year had a chance to contribute. This leads me to the conclusion that it is highly unlikely that we would not see anything approaching five quarterbacks in the top 10 VBD again in ’12. But on the other hand, I wrote: “However … Rodgers, Brady, Brees and Stafford [will] as among my top 11 overall fantasy players this year.”
How do I justify this contradiction? Safety. I do not see enough to secure top RBs or WRS to justify late-first-round selection. And missing studs in different positions can trust me, drafting a QB is acceptable. Although I assumed such an approach leads to diminished upside, the trade-off made strategy reduced downside acceptable. Questionable high-upside RBs and WRS would still be there the next round.
And so I think the major change in QB draft strategy for ’13 does not really come QBs at all, but rather from a different position. There are more attractive first-round RBs this season and, perhaps more importantly, a noticeable lack of tasty choices outside the top 10 RB. If you wait for your plan, you can get “stuck” with Andrew luck. If you wait for your RB, you can wind up with Ryan Mathews as your top backfield option. Nobody wants that.
What I’m saying in terms VBD I expect the spread to start fantasy RBs to be enormous, while spreading the beginning fantasy QBs will be – they in ’12 – smaller. Since there are probably a dozen top RBs acceptable and due to the drop-off after that seemed so serious, I consider it unwise to select a QB in the first round of your draft in ’13. (In my overall ranking, I have no QBs in my top 10.) Let someone else have Rodgers or Brees or Brady in a standard fantasy league. To load up on RBs and be happy there are so many great QBs out there.
Similar logic applies to the auction. I do not have to be the person who paid an extra $ 5 for the best quarterback, not when money could be put toward shoring up my Hindi. 2 RB spot. Become a comparison shopper patient quarterback. If I can be one of the last teams in an auction that grabs a starting fantasy signal-caller, I can find some cans on the market. And in fact, my preference would be to save the quarterbacks so I can splurge on other positions. Finally, if you are going to buy a backup fantasy (which is necessary only in deeper leagues), make sure you do not spend more than a buck or two.