Fantasy Football Draft 2012: 10 Starting Quarterbacks You Must Avoid
Fantasy football is a religion to most of the football world. Anyone who plays fantasy football realizes the quarterback position can make or break your season.
Even fringier quarterbacks like Mike Vick or a healthy Peyton Manning may be worth a second or third-round choice.
Despite the seemingly high ceiling of most of these quarterbacks, there are always a handful of quarterbacks fantasy owners should avoid at any cost.
Let’s take a look at the 10 starting quarterbacks you must avoid during your 2012 fantasy football draft.
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
It does not take an individual with far superior knowledge of football or fantasy football to know Blaine Gabbert was terrible last season.
In 15 games played, Gabbert only completed 50.8 percent of his passes for 2,214 yards.
Gabbert continued to impress by throwing 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He was personally responsible for 16 turnovers within the Jacksonville offense.
In addition to his continued needed development, Gabbert is now adjusting to a new offense and head coach with the hiring of Mike Mularkey.
Despite Murlarkey’s track record as a quarterback guru as an assistant, Mularkey has never proven his skills translate to being an NFL head coach. In his two seasons in Buffalo, Mularkey led the Bills to a 14-18 record and left amidst a quarterback controversy between J.P. Losman and Kelly Holcomb.
Jacksonville made strides this offseason to improve their passing game with the drafting of Justin Blackmon, and the signings of Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans. But without Gabbert standing upright, these signings might just be obsolete.
Gabbert was sacked 8.8 percent of the time when attempting to pass. To give you a reference point, Drew Brees led the NFL in lowest percentage of times sacked when attempting a pass with a number of 3.5 percent.
The offense will once again revolve around running back Maurice Jones-Drew. The lack of overall talent on the Jacksonville offense, with the question marks surrounding Blaine Gabbert, will make Gabbert an absolute non-factor when it comes to drafting a quarterback for fantasy football.
Miami Dolphins’ Quarterbacks
Marc Serota/Getty Images
Want to know who is going to start in Miami? The Dolphins coaching staff may not even know yet.
“Miami Dolphins’ quarterback competition looks like it’s still up in the air.” “Returning starter Matt Moore certainly did nothing to lose the job he held for the final 12 weeks of last season. Veteran David Garrard showed leadership and an ability to make the quick, on-target throws that are at the core of the West Coast offense. And rookie Ryan Tannehill made steady progress…”
First, David Garrard who is the most accomplished pro. At 34 years old, Garrard has the most starting experience of the three.
Matt Moore was Miami's savior last season when he filled the void left by Chad Henne. In that time, Moore threw 16 touchdowns, had nine interceptions, threw for nearly 2,500 yards in 13 games and finished with a quarterback rating of 87.1.
Finally, rookie Ryan Tannehill was the No. 8 overall choice for the Miami Dolphins in April’s NFL draft. Tannehill has the most development left in front of him, but the rookie is coming from Texas A&M where new Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was his head coach.
Anytime there is a situation of this nature, a fantasy owner has to wonder what the leash is going to be like if one of the three are named the team’s starter. Will the coach have an itchy trigger finger if the early season starter struggles?
A team that has three quarterbacks in contention for the starting job has zero quarterbacks of fantasy football value.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
I have no doubt Andrew Luck will one day be a fantastic NFL quarterback and a spectacular fantasy football starting quarterback. But that time is not now.
The Indianapolis Colts are rebuilding the franchise and lack the true weapons needed for Luck to be successful this season.
Yes, Reggie Wayne is still in a Colts’ uniform, but any defense in the NFL can defend one solid, aging wide receiver
Luck is stepping into a team that is trying to form a new offensive and defensive identity under a first-time head coach.
Luck will not have a dominant running attack in Indianapolis to support him, as Donald Brown led the franchise last season with 645 rushing yards.
Andrew Luck is already the face of this franchise. In addition to all of his on-field pressures, Luck is trying to deal with comparisons to John Elway and Peyton Manning
I have seen this story before, and it never ends well for young quarterbacks. Because of Luck’s number one overall draft status, fantasy football owners will over-select the young signal caller.
I warn you to stay away from Luck for this season, and allow the young man to develop NFL roots and prove he is the quarterback the Colts thought he was going to be.
Seattle Seahawks’ Quarterbacks
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Much like the Dolphins, Seattle has three quarterbacks who could potentially start for the franchise.
Tarvaris Jackson is the most proven quarterback on the roster. He played respectably last season, and threw for over 3,000 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The problem with Jackson is he also threw 13 interceptions, plus last season was his most productive season as a pro and had the most games Jackson has started in his six-year career.
“It has nothing to do with it. And I've said that from the start; I came into the league saying I don't care how much you guys are getting paid; it's who plays the best…”
John Clayton of ESPN compounded the situation by reporting,
“…higher-priced Matt Flynn has some work to do to overtake him. [Flynn] hasn't wowed anybody in all the off-season program…”
Rookie Russell Wilson is the most athletic of the three quarterbacks, but has the longest road to starting. He has to adapt to the speed of the NFL, and the responsibility placed upon the quarterback at the NFL level.
Again, any time there is a situation of this nature, a fantasy owner has to wonder what the leash is going to be like when one of the three are named the team’s starter. Will the coach have an itchy trigger finger and pull the early-season starter if he struggles?
A team with three quarterbacks in contention for the starting job has zero quarterbacks of fantasy football value.
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Even though Brandon Weeden has not yet to be named the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback, one can pretty safely assume Week 1 Weeden will be taking snaps from under center.
That does not make Weeden a practical fantasy football candidate, though.
At this point, one cannot with certainty even answer whether Weeden is a better NFL quarterback than Colt McCoy. If he is, how much of an impact will that make on the Browns' offense?
Much like Jacksonville, Pat Shurmur and Brad Childress are going to base their offensive philosophies around the production of rookie running back Trent Richardson.
With that said, regardless of Weeden’s success or struggles, the Browns’ starting quarterback will not be putting up big numbers this season. These factors will make Brandon Weeden an unreliable fantasy football choice for 2012.
Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
I will grant that Christian Ponder was not as terrible last season as his projections. The rookie threw for 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions during his first NFL season. Ponder also fumbled the football six times, accounting for 19 turnovers during his rookie season.
This experience will definitely help Christian Ponder in the long run, but I do not think he is quite ready yet to be a reliable fantasy football choice.
The addition of Matt Kalil through the draft should help Ponder stay mobile and upright, especially since Ponder was sacked 30 times last season for a 9.3 percentage of sacks when attempting a pass.
The Vikings offense will once again revolve around the running game. Ponder's numbers will be unreliable because of this. With Adrian Peterson coming off an injury, Minnesota's offense will likely place Ponder in even worse situations than he saw last season.
There are too many question marks surrounding Christian Ponder and the Minnesota offense. His 2012 performance suggests he's too inconsistent to be considered a reliable fantasy quarterback.
New York Jets’ Quarterbacks
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Much noise has been made this offseason about the Jets' acquisition of backup quarterback Tim Tebow.
I ask Jets fans why? He is a backup quarterback that will only play in certain situations and stunt the continual development of starter Mark Sanchez. Sanchez will now be continually looking over his shoulder every time he makes a mistake.
Mark Sanchez’s record as a starter in the NFL is 27-20.
He is a still a liability in terms of fantasy football. Sanchez threw 18 interceptions last season with only 26 touchdowns and accounted for 28 turnovers within the New York Jets offense.
Plus, the Jets offensive line has done anything but helped Sanchez, who was sacked 6.7 percent of the time when he was attempting a pass.
The addition of Tim Tebow will only place more pressure on Sanchez. Tebow will also directly affect Sanchez’s stat line. Rex Ryan and the Jets are going to use Tebow in goal line situations, and this will allow Tebow to vulture touchdowns away from Sanchez.
Tebow on the other hand, will not start in the NFL, so he should not be starting for your fantasy football squad either.
Tebow’s 2012 performance will be too erratic to be a true quarterback of any fantasy football worth. He may vulture a touchdown away from Sanchez in goal line situations, but I do not see him making a meaningful fantasy impact on a consistent or weekly basis.
Arizona Cardinals’ Quarterbacks
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Kevin Kolb’s status in Arizona has never lived up to the hype that came along with their acquisition of him from the Philadelphia Eagles.
He will once again be in a quarterback battle with John Skelton.
The only real number that gives Kolb the advantage in this quarterback competition is the over-$60 million left on his contract.
A football team does not traditionally pay a player over $60 million to sit on the sidelines (unless you're Pete Carroll and Seattle).
Skelton has been doing everything in his power to prove he should be the game one starter for the Arizona Cardinals.
Last season, the Cardinals went 2-6 with Kolb as their starting quarterback and 6-2 with Skelton starting.
Kolb threw nine touchdowns and eight interceptions last season.
But John Skelton’s numbers were not much more impressive. Skelton finished last season with 11 passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Either quarterback is a bad start or an injury away from losing the starting job again. The Cardinals' quarterback situation is a fantasy football nightmare and one I would stay away from as a whole.
Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Hasselbeck is a quarterback whose age and status on his current team are working against him.
He played solidly last season, helping the Titans earn a 9-7 record. In those games, he did not impress with his 18-14 touchdown-interception ratio, but did throw for over 3,500 yards.
Admittedly, the real mistake for the Titans last season was believing Chris Johnson and the running game could produce at the level they were used to after Johnson held out for most of the offseason.
The Titans ranked 31st in rushing in the NFL in 2011, averaging only 89.9 yards rushing per game.
Much of the blame is still being placed on the veteran’s shoulders. This blame is leaving the door open for the Jake Locker era to begin in Tennessee in 2012.
Locker debuted last season and played well in five games. He threw for 542 yards and four touchdowns without throwing an interception. His quarterback rating was 99.4, and he should push Hasselbeck for the starting quarterback job from Week 1.
I would stay away from drafting Matt Hasselbeck as a reliable fantasy football option. Locker may not take snaps away from the veteran in the very short term, but he is the long-term solution in Tennessee and should have a firm hold on the starting quarterback job for the Titans by Week 5.
Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Alex Smith appeared to finally put it all together last football season. He gained much praise and admiration for the San Francisco 49ers’ record and playoff run.
But Smith does not appear to be a sustainable fantasy football option. Smith was sacked a league-leading 44 times a season ago, 9 percent of the time.
However, under that extreme pressure, Smith did account for just 12 turnovers within the 49ers offense.
Last season was the first since 2006 where Smith played in all 16 regular-season games, though.
Smith’s on-field success does not necessarily translate to fantasy football. Smith was a product of the system last season.
The San Francisco running game and defense were the real leaders of this franchise.
The new perception for Alex Smith may be that he is now an elite level fantasy quarterback, just because the 49ers are finally winning football games. I find this to be completely ridiculous. His numbers were solid, but not spectacular.
The bottom line is this: Alex Smith has never thrown more than 18 touchdowns in a season in his career. He is a good starting quarterback on a great football team.
Beware of the smoke and mirrors surrounding Alex Smith—he will not be able to carry your fantasy football franchise to the promised land.