The 2012 NFL schedule was just released Tuesday and the 2012 NFL draft will be coming up shortly at the end of the month, which means fantasy footballers will need to start preparing for their 2012 fantasy football drafts in the next coming months.
No strategy is more important in fantasy football than to find quarterbacks that are worth of taking a shot at late in your fantasy draft.
In 2008, it was Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was replacing a legend in Brett Favre. Rodgers was ranked 19th at the quarterback position to start the 2008 season, and he ended up finishing second in overall fantasy points just behind Drew Brees.
In 2010, it was Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Michael Vick, who was ranked 34th at the quarterback position to start the 2010 season, 22 spots behind the Eagles starter Kevin Kolb. Kolb was injured in the first game, and Vick took over after and went on finish second overall in fantasy points to end the season.
Moreover, in fantasy football you have to take risks, and the more risks you usually take then you will reap the rewards of a fantasy football championship.
Finding a fantasy backup quarterback is easy as you'll look to replace your starter's bye week, but there are always quarterbacks like the ones above that exceed expectations because they have a driving force to prove everyone wrong.
There are three things that can make a quarterback's eyes light up before a season: a new deal, new weapons via NFL free agency and an easy NFL schedule.
As a result, Smith was awarded two new wide receiver weapons in a big deep threat with Randy Moss and the man that made the catch in the Super Bowl heard round the world, former New York Giant Mario Manningham.
These two new weapons along with all-world tight end Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree will definitely boost the 3,144 yards and 17 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions that Smith finished with in the 2011 season.
More importantly, to prove the regular season was not a fluke, Smith played extraordinarily in the playoffs passing for 495 yards and had six total touchdowns with no interceptions in two games.
Smith will take that momentum and prove his doubting organization wrong as it can only get easier as Smith will face a very pass-friendly 2012 NFL schedule against the Lions (22nd against the pass), Packers (32nd), Vikings (26th), Bills (19th), Dolphins (25th), Patriots (31st), Giants (29th) and Saints (30th).
Moreover, Smith will be better than a matchup-based starter in 2012 and will prove his organization, the NFL, fans and the media that the 2011 season wasn't just a comeback; it was a statement of things to come.
After moving into the starting lineup in Week 6 replacing starter Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder put up 1,853 in 11 games with 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and also picked up 219 yards rushing displaying his tremendous athleticism.
Although his numbers were very mediocre, Ponder excelled in the red zone as he completed 21-of-27 passes (77.8 percent) with an 8:1 TD-to-INT ratio in scoring position.
Additionally, Ponder should have a a healthy Adrian Peterson in the backfield, depending on how healthy he is following reconstructive knee surgery.
The reports look good so far for Peterson and Ponder will still be throwing to playmaker wide receiver Percy Harvin, and tight end Kyle Rudolph will also be a big target for Ponder in his comfort red zone.
Moreover, Vikings also have the No. 3 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, and they can use that on USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil to protect Ponder who was sacked 30 times in only 11 games last season.
If Minnesota listens to NFL draft guru Mel Kiper and draft Kalil then Ponder will take full advantage of his pass protection against the inept pass defenses of the Green Bay Packers twice and Detroit Lions twice as well as Tampa Bay Buccaneers (21st against the pass).
Furthermore, when Minnesota bolsters its line and adds more weapons to the passing game, look for Ponder to lead the charge and become a solid fantasy starter in 2012.
Andy Dalton would have actually won offensive rookie of the year had it not been for Cam Newton, as Dalton finished the 2011 year including 3,398 yards and 20 touchdowns compared to just 13 interceptions.
More importantly, Dalton established rapport with fellow rookie wide receiver A.J. Green who finished with over 1,000 yards receiving and seven touchdowns, firmly establishing himself as one of the best deep threats in the NFL last season.
Additionally, Dalton has a solid tight end in Jermaine Gresham who had 596 yards receiving and six touchdowns.
The Bengals will also have the No. 17 and No. 21 picks in the upcoming 2012 NFL draft, and you can bet they will get a wide receiver to complement A.J. Green.
The Cincinnati Bengals 2012 schedule will be difficult as they face the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers twice, but the Bengals will go against some easier pass defenses like Broncos (18th), Chargers (13th), Raiders (27th), Giants (29th) and Dolphins (25th).
Competing in the AFC North is never easy, but Dalton proved everyone wrong and helped lead the Bengals to a 9-7 record and to the playoffs.
Dalton will take a giant step forward in his second season and become a fantasy star in 2012.
Matt Cassel is only one year removed year from passing for over 3,116 yards and 27 touchdowns compared to seven interceptions during the 2010 season.
I consider the 2011 season for the Kansas City Chiefs a pass for Cassel, considering he was injured in Week 10 and never stepped on the field again for the rest of the season.
Cassel will have his big play threat running back Jamaal Charles back who suffered a season-ending injury in only the second game of the season, as well as his tight end Tony Moeaki, who missed all of the 2011 season due to an injury.
With Charles and Moeaki back, along with Pro Bowler wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, Jonathan Baldwin on the other side, slot receiver Steve Breaston and getting the bruising running back Peyton Hillis through the NFL free agency, Cassel will look to get back to the extraordinary passing numbers he put up in 2010.
In addition to his offensive weapons back, Cassel will face a rather easy 2012 NFL schedule against the Broncos twice, Chargers twice, Raiders twice, Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints and Bills. Look for Cassel to return to 2010 form and get his mojo back along with fantasy stardom.
Sam Bradford has no wide receivers around him at the moment, but he now has a veteran head coach in Jeff Fisher and you can bet Fisher will utilize the No. 6 pick in the NFL draft on wide receiver Justin Blackmon to upgrade the talent around his quarterback.
Bradford will still have workhorse running back Steven Jackson, and you can bet Fisher will develop Bradford even more.
Remember Bradford is only year removed from his solid 2010 rookie season passing for 3,500 yards and 18 touchdowns.
The schedule will also be friendlier as he will go against the Lions, Packers, Vikings, Bills, Dolphins, Patriots and Buccaneers.
Bradford has a ton of potential and will thrive under the tutelage of Jeff Fisher and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who will be installing the system Bradford ran during his 2010 rookie season, when Pat Shurmur brought a version of the offense Andy Reid had ran in Philadelphia.
Moreover, Bradford still has plenty of potential as a late-round pick in your 2012 fantasy football draft. The addition of Blackmon and a great new leader under coach Jeff Fisher will take Bradford from the fantasy bench to fantasy glory.
Start preparing for your 2012 fantasy football draft by adding these five quarterbacks to your list of sleepers that will be on the verge of a fantasy breakthrough come 2012.