The one position that’s the most important on the field, but not necessarily in fantasy.
Thanks to the 2012 draft class, owners can breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to drafting the right quarterback to lead their team to a fantasy championship.
We’ve seen a transition from just relying on the typical top four pocket-passers, to waiting back to get the dual-threat options.
Last season, we saw four new signal callers emerge in the fantasy world: Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick.
Only one of them wasn’t a rookie, and that one made it all the way to the Super Bowl.
At this point in the offseason, owners are looking at two key factors on how to judge the value of a quarterback: consistency and their new toys that they picked up in the draft and free agency.
When you have Wes Welker jump from New England to Denver, that’ll make you really consider his value and of his quarterback.
Tom Brady might be one of the most reliable fantasy options that’s losing the most value this offseason because all of his weapons are leaving him.
You had Welker leave because of contract issues, Gronkowski can’t stop having surgery, they released Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch will be picked up and dropped by the team at least three times each season, and Aaron Hernandez…well you know about all of that by now.
So right now, if you’re in a dynasty or keeper league with Brady, you’re wondering how he’s going to be the same fantasy stud with Danny Amendola, Jake Ballard, and the funky bunch.
Another key quarterback that owners are going to be paying attention to this offseason is Robert Griffin III.
He’s been hopping around wherever there’s a camera, to show the world that he’s healing quicker than expected, but his coaches and teammates aren’t fans of his marketing.
It appears that he’s going to be ready for opening weekend of the regular season, but you have to wonder if he’s going to run as much as he did last season.
Then there’s always the sophomore slump lurking in the back of everyone’s mind in the draft room.
You have the three rookie standouts last year and Kaepernick’s breakout season.
Will they be as good?
Look at what happened to Cam Newton this past season.
What to do?
Let’s take a look at the top 10 Quarterbacks that you should consider early in your draft this season…
Any surprise here? Didn’t think so. Brees just might be the safest pick in all of fantasy football. That’s right. He’s so safe, you can take him no.1 overall and not have any regrets. Sure, you’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the first pick has to be a running back, but how did that work out for you last season? He’s got every quality you would want: the offense runs through him, he gets the ball in crunch time, he throws for a ton of touchdowns, barely throws interceptions, all of his weapons return, and he plays against some subpar defenses in the NFC South. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be a little more competitive, but Brees is too good for that to factor in to your decision to make him the first quarterback off the board.
Still no surprises here. Some could argue that Aaron Rodgers is a better option because he plays in a weaker division for opposing defenses in the NFC North, but there’s something new in the Green Bay offense this year…a running game. I’m not saying that the additions of Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin are going to completely deplete his value, but they will attempt to be more of a balanced offense with them. Once again, Rodgers has many intriguing qualities as a fantasy option: the offense runs through him, he has the ball in crunch time, he plays against favorable defenses, he throws a ton of touchdowns (39 in 2012), and has elite weapons. Let’s be honest, Greg Jennings wasn’t even a factor last season. Rodgers has Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jermichael Finely and Randall Cobb to throw to. The only reason Rodgers doesn’t go no.1 is because of the factor that the offense could be a little more balanced in Green Bay this season.
Say what? Where’s Brady? Where’s Peyton? This isn’t a typo. Colin Kaepernick is going to be one of the most valued quarterback options to own this season. I’m not saying this is going to be the order of how your draft pre-rankings go, I’m just saying this is how you need to value your options. Kaepernick won’t be drafted in the first two rounds, but he’ll make a great steal down the draft board because your peers aren’t thinking about him that highly. Too many people will have the mindset that he was a one year wonder. Just look at it. Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis started playing better when he took over, Anquan Boldin is a major upgrade over Randy Moss at this stage in his career, and you can’t tell me that Jim Harbaugh isn’t going to expand Kaepernick’s read-option offense. Hmmm, all valid points, but why take him so high? That’s the thing, you won’t have to. Kaepernick is safer than any dual threat quarterback in fantasy drafts. He’s safer than Michael Vick, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson. San Fran tops the NFC West, with the exception that Seattle could take that next step of course. He has the best weapons and offense out of all of those options, there’s no risk for a sophomore slump, and he got better as the season continued last year. The offense is being built around him, so look for Kaepernick to be even better next season.
Ok, now this is starting to feel back to normal. Manning was a perennial top quarterback choice for many years, but not any more. He’s best viewed as a value option in leagues today. He’s the fourth best option because of the weapons that he has around him. Let’s be honest, the offense is going to run through him wherever he goes because he is practically the coach. He has Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, and now Wes Welker to throw to. If that doesn’t scream reliable, I don’t know what does. Once again, we have a quarterback that plays against weak divisional defenses. Manning might be in the most favorable situation as far as that quality is concerned. You don’t have to reach for him, but he should still be highly valued on your list. He had some issues getting the ball downfield towards the end of last season, but his teammates say that his arm is stronger this offseason. Come on now, who wouldn’t say that about their most important teammate? The good thing is that he upgraded his weapons and is still the key piece to his offense. Continue to view Manning as an elite option.
Do you really think that just because Brady lost all of those weapons that he’s going to decline that much? Well, enough to fall behind Peyton. But come on people, the guy won a Super Bowl throwing to David Givens. If he can pull that off, he can work with Danny Amendola and the funky bunch. He’ll get Gronk back late, Amendola is injury-prone, and his best option might end up being 2nd rounder Aaron Dobson out of Marshall. Hey, he worked well with another Marshall receiver in the past. No matter the debacle in offseason, losing all of those pieces, Brady is still going to be Brady. Come on, he plays against the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins in the division. He’ll find a way to be effective. I’m just saying he’s not going to be throwing five touchdowns a game until Gronk returns.
You’re not quite sure how to view Andrew Luck. You know that he’s good, you’re just now sure how good. He has the potential to be a fantasy sleeper. A sleeper? Yes, a sleeper. How can the former no.1 overall pick from just a year ago be a sleeper? Just look at the other options. Are you drafting Luck over Brees, Rodgers, Manning, Brady, maybe even RG3? Not everyone else is thinking like that. He got some new weapons to help him out in Darrius Heyward-Bey and Ahmad Bradshaw this offseason, which can only help him out on offense. He did lose Donnie Avery, but DHB will be an upgrade. TY Hilton is really Luck’s favorite target, along with his safety net Reggie Wayne. The Colts also happen to play in one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, with the AFC South. They’re playing the Jaguars, the Titans, but they do have the Texans. Houston will be a tough opponent, but Indy proved last season that they’re up to the challenge. Luck threw for over 4700 yards last season and will surely improve his touchdown totals this season (23 in 2012). Out of the three rookie sensations last season, look for Luck to be the most productive this year.
Did you know that Atlanta is trying to make it to the Super Bowl? Matt Ryan sure played like it last season. The only different between last year’s breakout campaign and this year is that he actually has a legitimate rushing attack that could balance out the pass-happy offense. The acquisition of Steven Jackson will certainly make things more level for the Falcons, but that doesn’t mean that Ryan is going to drastically regress. You can’t help but be productive when you have Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez to throw to. Just look for some of those extra throws that he had drawn up last year to transition to hand-offs to Jackson. Ryan is still a top 10 quarterback option that can be a reliable source of points on a weekly basis, guiding one of the most explosive offenses in the league.
Is it time to take the read option to the next level? Russell Wilson will certainly try. He didn’t have the best options to throw to last season, but he still threw for over 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns. Now he gets a real weapon in Percy Harvin, which will only makes that offense more dangerous. Marshawn Lynch is still the most productive piece of the show, but Wilson is making his case. He will maintain those numbers this year, but not necessarily improve. There were times last season where you saw him trying to do too much in games. While I do believe that Wilson will try to run more and utilize the read-option offense, I don’t think you’ll see anything better than 25+ touchdowns. He’s still a great option for where you can get him in drafts.
Hey remember two seasons ago when this guy was one of the best fantasy quarterbacks? Yea, he suffered through that sophomore slump last season. Now, in his third season, it’s time to get back to being one of the best quarterback and running back options in your league. That’s right, Newton was practically a running back in his rookie season. Management still hasn’t done anything to upgrade his weapons, which is ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean that Newton isn’t going to be productive. What’s great about playing in the NFC South is the fact that you HAVE to score a lot in order to keep up with the other teams. The main strategy is just to outscore your opponent and play minimal defense. From a fantasy prospective, that means that those quarterbacks are going to be asked to do a lot in their offenses. Newton is a dual threat that is ready to bounce back and return to being one of the early options that should be drafted.
Robert Griffin III
Here’s where we start to get into the questions of who’s going to be healthy, who’s going to suffer a sophomore slump, and who’s going to be over-drafted. RG3 is subject to all three of those concerns. He was injured late last season, he doesn’t have the best weapons to throw to, and he could be hesitant to run as much as he did last season. Still, he has the talent to be one of the best fantasy assets. Just view him as you used to about Michael Vick, with the exception that he can actually throw the ball. The NFC East is going to be tougher, I believe that Griffin won’t run as much this season, and he could struggle out of the three rookies that thrived last year. Plus, don’t forget that the Redskins like to run Alfred Morris…A LOT. Griffin is a risky option because of his health, but could be the biggest value pick because of the pre-draft jitters.
He started playing better towards the end of the season, but still finished with a tough touchdown to interception ratio. Now, let me ask you this: who did he have to throw to? Ah, now we’re on the same page. This year, management actually went out and got him some weapons. They brought in Mike Wallace to stretch the field, Dustin Keller to be a replacement for Fasano, and Brian Hartline is productive when he feels like it. Reggie Bush is off to Detroit, meaning that more pressure will be on Tannehill to be the heart of the offense. The AFC East isn’t the toughest when it comes to defense, so Tannehill could end up being very productive. This might be over-speculating, but they’re called sleepers for a reason.
Matthew Stafford Lions
-He got paid, so what does he have to work towards? He’ll do whatever it takes to get the ball to Calvin Johnson, which most of the time creates turnovers.
Andy Dalton Bengals
-He was almost the sleeper draft pick this year, but Tannehill plays against weaker defenses. He has the second best receiver in the league in AJ Green, and the addition of Tyler Eifert is one of the biggest names being hyped this offseason. He still has problems turning the ball over too much. (turnover in each of the first 8 games last season)
Matt Schaub Texans
-He has an elite target in Andre Johnson, but it’s the Arian Foster show in Houston. Schaub is nothing more than a game-manager, not someone that you expect to blow up the stat sheet every week.
Phillip Rivers Chargers
-What has he done to make you not view him as a value option that you settle for because the rest of the league got all of the elite quarterbacks?
Ben Roethlisberger Steelers
-He likes to throw it down field as much as he likes to get injured. Pittsburgh is actually going to try to run it more this season, so expect Big Ben to return to that game-manager type of option.
Joe Flacco Ravens
-Another one that got overpaid. He’ll put up decent number, but you can’t tell me that the loss of Anquan Boldin isn’t going to hurt this offense.
Eli Manning Giants
-He has great weapons, but he turns the ball over way too much.
Jay Cutler Bears
-Is Marc Trestman the Quarterback Whisperer? The only whispering that needs to happen in Chicago is what happened last year: “Throw it to Marshall 15 times a game”. Cutler’s turnovers is what keeps him from being a top fantasy option, but it’s not getting better this year.
Jake Locker Titans
-You want him to be great, but neither he or his weapons can ever stay healthy enough to improve. He’s got a lot of upside as a late round pick, but keep in mind that he’s yet to stay healthy for an entire season.
Tony Romo Cowboys
-Another Eli Manning case where he have very talented receivers, but finds ways to turn the ball over.
Michael Vick Eagles
-He might not even start in Philly this year. Chip Kelly will probably go with Matt Barkley before you know it, so Vick is nothing but a backup draft option.
Josh Freeman Bucs
-He won’t even be the Bucs QB at the mid-point of the season, so why trust him?