If you’re playing in the typical 10 team, one quarterback league, I’m gonna give you a glaring hint that you no doubt (not the band) already know: You don’t need the top QB in the league to win. In fact, you want to try and avoid them as the more critical areas such as running back and wide receiver are going to thin out much quicker than the quarterback position. How deep can a position be, you ask? When the 7th best WR – Roddy White - is outscored by the 19th best QB - Matt Hasselbeck - you can tell that skill positions are a little harder to field than a little ‘ole (or in Hasselbeck’s case ‘old’) QB. I will admit that I might be low-balling the numbers from last year, but only because we have not seen that level of production concentrated into one season before as six of the top 20 all-time single season passing records are now owned by QBs from the 2011 season. They might repeat, but I’m not going to pretend we’re playing Madden on rookie settings with my 2012 fantasy football rankings. With that said, let’s go on a journey together where we try and predict what the future holds for Quarterbacks in 2012.
Projections based on passing yards, passing touchdowns, interceptions, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns
1. Aaron Rodgers – See top 10 for 2012 fantasy football for Aaron Rodgers projections.
2. Tom Brady - See top 10 for 2012 fantasy football for Tom Brady projections.
3. Drew Brees – See top 10 for 2012 fantasy football for Drew Brees projections.
4. Matthew Stafford – See top 10 for 2012 fantasy football for Matthew Stafford projections.
5. Cam Newton - See top 20 for 2012 fantasy football for Cam Newton projections.
6. Michael Vick - Vick is the end of the third tier that started at Newton. I call this tier ‘they might be giants’ since either one from this list could easily finish as one of the top two quarterbacks for 2012. True to the boom and bust nature of the fantasy football world, Vick has been having somewhat of a hero’s trial. He was a waiver wire savior in 2010, leading many teams to championships and then a 2011 pariah leading many teams to early season deaths. I think Vick is going to come full circle this year. Is he a safe play? Nope! But has he been close to matching Newton’s 2011 per-game stats before just in fewer games? Yep! Based on talent, he’s about as close as you can get to Newton without having to spend primo on him and that’s why he’s this high in my rankings. Despite missing three full games last year and parts of other games due to injury, Vick was still the 11th best QB. Not bad for a down year, eh? Sorry if you came here for vanilla, we only sell that flavor of ice cream with chipotle in it. 2012 Projections: 3800/25/15/400/5
7. Tony Romo – This is the next tier. This tier goes from Romo to Rivers and is called ‘the safety dance’ tier because they’re steady QBs who should be safe plays most weeks. Plus I like making silly 80′s references. I’ll most likely have my QB1 from this tier. To start, let’s get that overused Jim Mora thing off the board: Playoffs?!? We don’t care what Romo does in the playoffs, unless it’s the fantasy kind and he’s as solid as they come when healthy. You’re drafting Romo to get 250 yards with 2 TDs and maybe 1 turnover a game. He’s not going to wow you nor is he going to win your week but he’s not going to lose it for you either. It’s quite beautiful in it’s blandness…blandiful? 2012 Projections: 4000/30/10/50/2
8. Matt Ryan – I wrote about Matt Ryan in a post earlier this summer. I wrote it while in the back seat of a Volkswagen with Shannen Doherty.
9. Philip Rivers – What’s with all the R’s in this tier? Romo, Ryan and Rivers. This tier should’ve been rated triple R. Anywho, 2011 was a weird year for Philip, you say? If I told you Rivers would finish in the top 10 in passing yards, passing TDs and INTs you’d say ‘well yeah, duh’. But when I said ‘top 10′ with regards to INT, I meant the top bottom but since top bottom doesn’t make any sense I still called it the top 10. You get it? Yeah, I don’t think I do either. All this to say, those 20 INTs were an anomaly and should – unless they suffer from priapism – go down this year . 2012 Projections: 4200/30/10/10/0
10. Eli Manning – This is a new tier and goes from Manning to Big Ben. I call this ‘the final front’ tier. This is where I should already have a QB but if I don’t, I’m taking one from here. Though I’m sure Eli is wondering why he’s not in the ‘they might be giants’ section, he missed that it wasn’t with a capital ‘g’. For all the great games Manning has thrown, he has also thrown some atrocious ’3 INT over the middle to seemingly to no one in particular all off his back foot’ games. All that to say, he’s solid but he’s going to drop a bomb of a start that makes you ask me if he should play against the Browns the following week. Enjoy! 2012 Projections: 4400/28/15/25/0
11. Robert Griffin, III – Yeah, he’s not in my top 10 but he’s pretty darn close. But you don’t go putting risk plays in your safety dance circle; you might shoot your eye out. Griffin has the ability to be this year’s Newton but until he does it, he has to hang out down here. But when he does it, I make a request that he goes by RG3, Esq. 2012 Projections: 3500/22/18/500/6
12. Ben Roethlisberger -Ben Mispelledberger has been solid as a rock for Pittsburgh during his career. He’s also stood in the pocket like a rock waiting for every single ‘have you talked with Troy Aikman lately, what you’re doing is not a good idea’ blow for most of his career and I have a hard time believing he’s gonna be able to play that way for much longer. There’s rumors that the Steelers will go no huddle more in 2012 but if Ben can’t even remember how to tie his shoelaces after all the hits he’s taken, I don’t see how well that’s going to go over. Could bounce back, could get bounced off the turf repeatedly. 2012 Projections: 4000/28/18/50/1
13. Peyton Manning – Peyton is the start of his own tier and I call it the ‘Petyon’s Place’ tier as I can’t justify putting him anywhere. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t trust him and for that reason, he probably won’t end up on any of my teams this year. For a reason, let me take you down memory lane. Remember when Manning and Brady were the most reliable QBs available in your draft? I do, like it was yesterday…yeah, it pretty much was considering that was 2010. I have to rank Manning here because we don’t know how healthy he really is and at age 36, that’s pretty darn important. I guess what I’m trying to say is, most people are drafting him like the Manning of old while I’m drafting him like Manning IS old. 2012 Projections: 3800/26/8/10/0
14. Jay Cutler – Cutler is the start of a new tier that stretches through Flacco. I call this tier the ‘clipboard’ tier because I don’t mind these players as my backup but I don’t want to run them out there every day. There was a lot of buzz about Cutler’s 2011 up until he went down with his injury. In looking at his numbers and prorating them over 16 games ( 3710 passing yards, 21 TDs, 11 INT, 100 Rushing yards, 1 TD), I honestly am not hip to the buzz. Other than reducing his interceptions, he was having a mildly useful season and that was all. I’m sure having Brandon Marshall on board will help a bit, but I’m not going to get all crazy about Cutler. 2012 Projections: 3500/23/12/150/2
15. Matt Schaub – It’s clear that with a healthy Andre Johnson, Schuab has a shot at becoming an elite QB. Problem is, he had a healthy Andre in 2009 and 2010 and was just ok and now he’s possibly not healthy. At best, he’s a final front tier QB. At worst, he’s right where he is now. If you’re still reading, go ahead and look at #11 again since that’s who you really came to read about. It’s ok, this writing will still be here when you come back. 2012 Projections: 3800/24/10/10/0
16. Andy Dalton – This blurb used to start with ”I almost put Dalton ahead of Flacco’. Then I looked back at last season and decided it was probably the wise thing to do anyways. All and all, Dalton had a nice rookie season. He seems like one of those solid QBs that doesn’t hurt you but doesn’t do anything extraordinary either. All this to say I feel comfortable with him in this tier. 2012 Projections: 3600/22/12/150/1
17. Joe Flacco - I’m exhausting my enjoyment for this list at this point so pardon me if I keep this short. All along they kept saying if they’d just give Flacco some quality targets to throw to, he’d be a pro-bowl player. Well, he keeps getting decent talent and he keeps disappointing. I’m afraid to even put him this high. Don’t go whacko for Flacco this year. 2012 Projections: 3600/21/12/80/1
18. Josh Freeman - This is the final tier and goes from Josh to Fitzpatrick. I call this tier the ‘so you play in a 2 QB league’ tier because, yeah I’m not drafting them outside of the deepest of leagues. No two ways about it, he was terrible last year after having a solid second season but I think you’re getting a bounceback of sorts from him this year. He might sneak into the clipboard tier by the end of the season if he can cut back on the turnovers that plagued him in 2011 (22INT/5FUML). Vincent Jackson should help spread the field a bit and Doug Martin should give them a solid receiving back and only aid the run game. Could give you solid numbers, could give you heartburn. Whatever, this is the 18th guy in the rankings, what more could you expect? 2012 Projections: 3500/18/12/250/1
19. Carson Palmer - At first I didn’t want to put him in my top 20 for quarterbacks but then I went and pro-rated his 2011 season to having played 16 games – 4400 passing yards to go with 21 touchdown passes – and realized I’d be pretty stupid not to. Not to say I’m not still stupid but that’s for a different post. I don’t think he averages 8.39 yards per completion again but I also don’t think he gets picked off at the rate of 1.6 INT a game either. Like Freeman, there’s room to make for improvement on this spot in the rankings, I just can’t do it with the knowledge we’ve got without contributing to my ‘how I’m stupid’ post more. 2012 Projections: 3700/22/15/50/0
20. Ryan Fitzpatrick – Well someone has to go here and it can’t be Blaine Gabbert. Ugh, I have no words to say. He was useful for the first part of the year and then almost worthless the rest of the way but who else goes here? Maybe Mark Sanchez? That’s your answer to my rhetorical question. I appreciate a fine sense of humor but…no. 2012 Projections: 3600/21/20/175/1
Below are guys I couldn’t justifiably put i the top 20 but felt the need to talk about for better or worse. It also allows me a few more words before you verbally shake your fist at my ratings above (and we both know you will so let’s not kid ourselves. It’s how internet friends are born!).
Andrew Luck – Somebody somewhere out there is going to say ‘but what do you think of Luck!’. Well SSOT, I think Luck is going to be a good QB. Notice I said ‘going to be’. Everyone remembers Peyton didn’t play 2011 because he was beaten to a bloody pulp due to a poor offensive line, right? Welcome to the NFL, Andrew. 2012 Projections: 3600/22/25/150/0
Christian Ponder – Speaking of guys who had a bad first year in part due to their OL. Ponder was completely lost most of his year in Minnesota. However, Minnesota is at least making moves to improve that issue by signing 4th overall pick Matt Kalil to help with his blindside. Now if only Adrian Peterson were healthy this year, we might all ponder more about Christian’s chances. 2012 Projections: 3500/22/17/175/1
Jake Locker – All you have to do is look back at the box score for the December 18th game vs the Colts to know why I am featuring Locker here. Hasselbeck is better served as a back-up at this point in his career and should be this year if the Titans know what they’re doing. I don’t think Locker sets the world on fire but he could have value in two QB leagues with room for upside. 2012 Projections: 3300/16/14/200/2
Alex Smith - I wrote a bit about Alex earlier this season examining that for all the talk of having a great season, he sure didn’t do much. He finished 14th for QBs in 2011 but that was more due to having very few turnovers (7 total) vs his TD total (19). His team has a system in which he doesn’t have to do much and guess what? He doesn’t do much. Amazing how that works. 2012 Projections: 3100/18/7/150/1