AccuScore, a company that specializes in thorough game simulations, has released its initial projections for the 2012 NFL season.
These 25 quarterbacks, based solely on AccuScore projections (not mine), will collect more than 17 total touchdowns this season.
(Note: Fractional projections rounded off to the hundredth point.)
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers—47.48
2. Drew Brees, Saints—41.52
3. Matthew Stafford, Lions—40.07
4. Tom Brady, Patriots—37.91
5. Peyton Manning, Broncos—34.12
6. Tony Romo, Cowboys—34.05
7. Philip Rivers, Chargers—33.55
8. Matt Ryan, Falcons—33.37
9. Eli Manning, Giants—30.81
10. Cam Newton, Panthers—29.24
11. Michael Vick, Eagles—27.62
12. Joe Flacco, Ravens—26.13
13. Matt Schaub, Texans—24.76
14. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers—23.92
15. Andrew Luck, Colts—23.90
16. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills—23.45
17. Alex Smith, 49ers—22.42
18. Robert Griffin III, Redskins—22.40
19. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers—21.89
20. Jay Cutler, Bears—21.58
21. Jake Locker, Titans—19.29
22. Matt Flynn, Seahawks—19.16
23. Mark Sanchez, Jets—18.37
24. Matt Cassel, Chiefs—17.96
25. Andy Dalton, Bengals—17.63
- AccuScore's projections for Rodgers, Brees, Stafford and Brady have merit, from a ballpark standpoint. But I would bet a large sum of money that Peyton Manning does not account for 34-plus touchdowns this season. In his illustrious NFL career, Peyton has only passed for 34 or more TDs once (then-record-breaking campaign of 49 in 2004) and he's averaging only 1.21 rushing TDs per year.
- I would take the Stafford projection of 40 TDs in a heartbeat. I would even tolerate an eight percent reduction in passing yards.
- AccuScore was very wise to target Cam Newton (4,757 total yards last year) for fewer touchdowns in 2012. I just don't see him collecting 14 rushing TDs again, especially with the Panthers' rushing trio of Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert requiring a healthy dose of red-zone touches. On the flip side, Newton has the capacity for 25-plus passing TDs.
- Noticeably absent from the list: Kevin Kolb, Sam Bradford, Christian Ponder, Brandon Weeden, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Moore, Ryan Tannehill, David Garrard, Blaine Gabbert and Carson Palmer. In 2011, Palmer acquitted himself nicely with the Raiders (2,753 yards, 14 TDs in just nine starts) despite little practice time or intimate knowledge of his receivers.
- AccuScore has Mark Sanchez ticketed for a significant drop-off in total touchdowns (18.37), compared to last year (32 TDs, six rushing). I'd love to know if the diminished projections are a result of an underwhelming receiving corps with the Jets (aside from Santonio Holmes) or Tim Tebow swiping a sizable chunk of QB reps in the red zone.
- The Jake Locker projection just screams for more insight: AccuScore has the Titans dynamo accounting for 3,027 total yards (2,739 passing) and 19.29 total TDs, with only 8.96 interceptions. Conversely, AccuScore has Matt Hasselbeck budgeted for 1,021 yards passing, essentially the work of four of five games. In other words, the computers like Locker for 11 starts in 2012.
- Slotting Matt Ryan for 33.37 touchdowns seems a tad ambitious. But let's remember two things: Ryan tallied 57 passing TDs in 2010-11, and he's only one of three quarterbacks (along with Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers) with the likelihood of boasting two top-15 receivers and one top-7 tight end by season's end.
- Even with Brandon Marshall (81 catches/1,214 yards/6 TDs in 2011) turning 28 and Jay Cutler enduring season-ending injuries in 2010 and '11, fantasy owners should be very optimistic about the pair's prospects in Chicago, especially if tailback Matt Forte plays a full season. Throw in the upgrades of RB Michael Bush (free agency) and WR Alshon Jeffery (NFL draft), and the Bears might have enough power to match the Packers and Lions in the passing game.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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