Fantasy Football 2012: Ranking the Top 40 Quarterbacks
Training camp is fully underway, as the NFL season is about a month from kicking off. While the real thing is set to begin, you should have already done your homework for the 2012 fantasy season and know who you are going to select when draft day arrives.
The quarterback position is, of course, one of the most valuable on the fantasy roster. Having somebody you can count on week in and week out is one of the major keys to fantasy success. It's also key to have a reliable backup when your starter is going up against a strong defense or he suffers what every fantasy owner fears, an injury.
The quarterback position in the NFL is as deep as it has been in years, so there are no excuses as to why you aren't set at this position.
Here are the top 40 quarterbacks heading into the 2012 fantasy season.
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40. T.J. Yates, Houston
Yates played well enough to win a playoff game for the Houston Texas when Matt Schaub went down but did not provide much fantasy value. Still, Schaub did miss six games last season, so there is a possibility Yates could see playing time again in 2012.
39. Russell Wilson, Seattle
Wilson will be the third-string quarterback behind Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson. Flynn is unproven, and Jackson has proved that he isn't a reliable starter in this league. Wilson is an athletic player who may see playing time regardless due to his dual-threat ability.
38. Colt McCoy, Cleveland
McCoy may not be an option in a two-quarterback roster league, but in 21 career starts, he only has two games where he turned the ball over more than twice. Expect Brandon Weeden to get the nod in Cleveland, but McCoy should also see playing time.
37. John Skelton, Arizona
Skelton only played in eight games last year, but five of those included at least 270 passing yards. Kevin Kolb will continue to get opportunities as a starter, but seeing what Skelton did last season, the leash has to be a little shorter this season.
36. Chad Henne, Jacksonville
Gabbert simply did not play well last season in Jacksonville. He will continue to be the starter, but Henne is somebody who has 31 career starts under his belt. He was also off to a fast start in Miami last season, throwing for over 800 yards, rushing for 100 and scoring five touchdowns in just three-and-a-half games before getting hurt.
35. Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee
While I believe Jake Locker will be the starter in Tennessee, Hasselbeck showed he can still sling the football, throwing for over 3,500 yards despite missing the best receiver on the team. The 37-year-old is of course not worth a draft pick but is somebody to keep an eye on if things go south with the second-year Locker.
34. Joe Webb, Minnesota
Christian Ponder will remain the starter in Minnesota. However, don't rule out Webb just yet. He is a dual-threat player, who seems to work magic when he is on the field. He only has three career starts, but his playmaking ability is attractive. Not a fantasy starter, but somebody you should keep an eye on as the season plays out in Minnesota.
33. Any Dolphins quarterback
There are too many candidates to name, which is why I have the entire position ranked where I do. Matt Moore played well enough to deserve a shot this season. David Garrard is a veteran, who is playing well in training camp. Meanwhile, the Dolphins did not waste a first-round pick on Ryan Tannehill for him to be a spectator.
Who will be the starter? Probably all three at some point, which is why I would avoid every one of them in the draft.
32. Tim Tebow, New York Jets
I believe Tebow will eventually be the starting quarterback in New York, but even when he isn't, he should still see action with the ball in his hands. When he is the quarterback, he has value, especially with the fact he rushed for over 600 yards and six touchdowns last season in 11 starts.
31. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville
Although Gabbert did not play well his rookie season, he was still the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft, so Jacksonville is forced to work with him. He will have a new weapon in wide receivers Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson, as well as a quarterback guru in head coach Mike Mularkey. Expect better results in 2012 from Gabbert.
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30. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland
Expect Cleveland to be more of a running team with Trent Richardson leading the way, but you don't draft a 29-year-old quarterback to hold a clipboard. There aren't many weapons at the receiver position, and the Browns play in a tough division. Don't expect much, but at least you'll likely get a starter with this pick.
29. Kevin Kolb, Arizona
Does anybody know what to expect from Kolb this season? He surely wasn't what anyone expected to be last season. I do know that the Cardinals gave him a ton of money, which almost guarantees him being the starter. With a year in the system, and Michael Floyd lining up next to Larry Fitzgerald, it is time for Kolb to step it up for Arizona.
28. Matt Cassel, Kansas City
If you are late to the party at the quarterback position, Cassel is somebody who will come cheap and has a bit of upside heading into 2012. He should be healed from his season-ending hand injury and will have players such as running back Jamaal Charles and tight end Tony Moeaki back as well.
Cassel has produced two 3,000 yard and 20-plus touchdowns the last four seasons.
27. Jake Locker, Tennessee
Matt Hasselbeck is not getting any younger, which means that Locker will be given every opportunity to lead the Titans. He started five games as a rookie, threw for over 500 yards, had five touchdowns and, most importantly, did not turn the ball over.
With a motivated Chris Johnson at running back and a healthy Kenny Britt at wide receiver, Locker should be a 2012 sleeper.
26. Sam Bradford, St. Louis
Heading into his third season, Bradford will be out to prove why he was the No. 1 pick back in the 2010 NFL draft. He has a new head coach in Jeff Fisher who believes in him and an improved receiving corps. It is still St. Louis we are talking about, but there is nowhere to go but up for Bradford.
25. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Unfortunately for the Jets, I don't think Sanchez is going to get much better than what we saw last season. And to make things even worse for fantasy owners, New York now has Tony Sparano calling the shots (who loves to run the football) and a guy named Tim Tebow, who will likely be the starter at some point.
Sanchez had the best season of his career last year but also went 11 games with throwing at least one interception.
24. Christian Ponder, Minnesota
I really like what I saw from Ponder as a rookie last year. Despite playing with limited weapons, he threw for over 1,800 yards in 10 starts and scored eight touchdowns in the red zone to just one interception. He also managed to rush for 219 yards, which shows his athleticism and gives you extra fantasy points.
With a year under his belt, and a healthy Adrian Peterson (hopefully), I think the Vikings have something with this kid.
23. Alex Smith, San Francisco
Smith will never live up to being the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, but I'm sure fantasy owners will take 3,100 passing yards and 19 total touchdowns from him. Last season was by far his best in his career and with Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and rookie A.J. Jenkins, the 49ers could finally have a true balanced offense.
22. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
Dalton didn't exactly put up great numbers his rookie season, but he has a lot of upside playing with a young and talented receiving corps. However, he needs to trim the amount of interceptions he throws (five games of at least two picks). Overall, Dalton is worth a backup role on your fantasy team.
21. Carson Palmer, Oakland
Despite being traded in the middle of the season and getting used to a new team on the fly, Palmer didn't play badly in nine starts. He had four games of at least 300 passing yards and averaged over nine yards an attempt in his final three games. With a year working with this offense, a better season should lie ahead.
20. Joe Flacco, Baltimore
Flacco believes that he is the best quarterback in the NFL. While I wouldn't go that far, I do consider him a solid quarterback who plays in a balanced offense and can help your fantasy team in 2012. He has thrown for at least 3,600 yards the last three seasons and had six games of at least 250 passing yards.
Flacco is somebody you can get in the later rounds who is consistent enough to be your starter when needed.
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19. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo
What in the world happened to Fitzpatrick, who started the season off so well last season? At this point, we are not quite sure what to expect from the Bills' quarterback. One minute he looks like the savior of this franchise, and the next, he looks lost on the football field and becomes a turnover machine.
Regardless, he has weapons around him on this offense and did top 250 passing yards seven times last season.
18. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay
Freeman is a 2012 sleeper who you should keep an eye on during draft day. His numbers weren't terrific last season, but the offensive line should be improved, and he has a new weapon in wide receiver Vincent Jackson. He is also using his feet more, as he rushed for four touchdowns last season.
A breakout season for Freeman in his fourth year is expected.
17. Matt Flynn, Seattle
Flynn has only started two games throughout his NFL career. Sure, he is heading to Seattle, an offense that has oodles of underrated talent, but haven't we seen this before with players such as Kevin Kolb? I would rather go with a proven quarterback to lead my team, but you can't deny that he has all of the tools to be the next big thing.
16. Matt Schaub, Houston
Matt Schaub is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in both the NFL and the fantasy world. We are talking about a quarterback that threw for nearly 2,500 yards, despite missing six games and missing Andre Johnson for a good portion of the season as well.
With everybody coming back healthy, a 4,000-yard and 25-plus touchdown season is very likely.
15. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis
There simply isn't a rookie quarterback that is more polished than Andrew Luck. He has the athleticism, arm strength, intelligence and accuracy to instantly become a star in this league. He played in a pro-style offense at Stanford, and I expect a very solid freshman season, especially playing in a friendly environment in Indianapolis.
14. Jay Cutler, Chicago
Despite missing six games last season, Jay Cutler was on pace to have the best season of his career. Playing in just 10 games, Cutler threw for over 2,300 yards, which include two 300-plus yard performances.
Now he will have a solid offensive coordinator in Mike Trice calling the shots and Brandon Marshall at wide receiver. Cutler could have the best season of his career in 2012.
13. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is no longer a run-first team, especially with Rashard Mendenhall likely out for the year. Roethlisberger threw the ball a total of 513 times last season, which was the most of his career. He had five 300-yard performances, including a five-touchdown performance against Tennessee.
The defenses in the AFC North are tough, but this is a quarterback who has averaged over 260 passing yards the last two years.
12. Peyton Manning, Denver
Despite coming off several major neck surgeries, Manning is still going to be selected as a top 15 quarterback in 2012. He will no longer be protected by Lucas Oil Stadium and will have to get used to a new offense and teammates. I have my concerns, but if he is healthy, another fabulous season from the Hall of Famer is reachable.
11. Matt Ryan, Atlanta
Ryan is getting better with time, as he has improved his passing yardage in each of the last three seasons. He has only missed two games throughout his four-year NFL career, and out of 62 career games, there has only been 15 games where he has thrown two or more interceptions.
With a solid receiving corps on this Falcons team, Ryan is a reliable QB, who you can get pretty cheap in the later rounds.
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10. Robert Griffin III, Washington
We all saw what Cam Newton did last season, well; picture a more mature and more polished quarterback in Griffin. This guy is truly the real deal, who should have a productive season in the air, and on the ground. I would pick up a solid No. 2 QB because he is still a rookie, but Griffin is somebody you will be able to start quite a bit in 2012.
9. Tony Romo, Dallas
Say what you want about Romo, but he threw for over 250 yards in 11 games last season. He is a terrific regular-season quarterback who will continue to put up solid numbers in an offense that is loaded with talent. Romo topped 30 touchdown passes for the second time in his career, and that was with Miles Austin missing six games.
8. Michael Vick, Philadelphia
I personally would never make Vick my starting fantasy quarterback because of the fact he has finished a full season only once. But I am not blind to the fact that he plays on an explosive offense and can explode any given week with his dual-threat ability.
I have him at No. 8 because of his injury history and his age (32), but he remains a high risk, high reward type player.
7. Philip Rivers, San Diego
Losing Vincent Jackson shouldn't hurt as much when you have Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd, Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal on the roster.
I know he threw 20 interceptions last season (the most of his career), but we are talking about a guy that has thrown for over 4,000 yards in four straight seasons. I'll take my chances, especially with his new weapons.
6. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Manning, for whatever reason is never considered an elite quarterback, but it is about time people start giving him his props. He threw for nearly 5,000 yards last year and hasn't missed a start in the least seven seasons. With his wide receiver corps, I expect another terrific season from the Manning we all fail to mention.
5. Cam Newton, Carolina
Newton shocked us all, throwing for 4,000 yards, rushing for 700 and scoring 35 total touchdowns his rookie season. Second-year quarterbacks really haven't grown much over the years, but his big-play ability cannot be overlooked.
However, his numbers did decline as the season went on, only rushing for one touchdown since Week 12 and zero 300-yard passing games since Week 4, which is why he is No. 5.
4. Matthew Stafford, Detroit
Stafford finally overcame the injury bug in year three and threw for over 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. While his numbers were off the charts, he still had four games of fewer than 250 passing yards and four games of only one passing touchdown. Still, this guy is the real deal and should have another monster season if he is able to remain healthy.
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans
Brees led the league in completion percentage, passing yards and passing touchdowns last season. He has been one of the more consistent quarterbacks you will ever find and should have another extremely productive year. The only reason he isn't higher on the list is because head coach Sean Payton is suspended.
2. Tom Brady, New England
Brady has without question the deepest roster he has ever had when he has been quarterback for the Patriots. He is also coming off one of his best seasons of his career, throwing for over 5,000 yards and 39 touchdowns. Not to mention the Super Bowl loss should keep this guy on a mission in 2012. I really like Brady this season.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Did you see the guy play last season? Rodgers threw for over 4,600 yards and 45 touchdowns. He also is capable of producing in the running game, topping over 200 rushing yards and at least three touchdowns on the ground the last four seasons.
Bottom line, he has arguably the best wide receiver corps, knows the offense by heart and looked unstoppable last season. Consider him the No. 1 overall pick.