5 QBs Who Are Rock Solid 2012 Fantasy Options
So, we're going to derive from the obvious, as most fantasy leagues have at least eight or more teams.
Cam Newton may seem like an obvious choice, but he's only going into his second season, and the expectations have significantly increased. Therefore, the pressure in 2012 is on even more to live up to the hype.
As we've come to know with Newton, however, he's lived up to the moment each time.
Well, let's checkout him and the other non-obvious rock solid quarterbacks for fantasy football this season.
Alex Smith, 49ers
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Alex Smith is coming off his best season as a pro and finally got a head coach in Jim Harbaugh who can bring out the potential.
Although he only tossed 17 scores in 2011, Smith was intercepted only five times and set career highs across the board in yards, completion percentage, yards per attempt and overall rating.
Now, this preseason we've only seen a minimal amount of Smith. Fortunately, the 'Niners signal-caller has fared well, and 2012 has much expectancy. Include some new targets in Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, and the San Francisco passing game will hit a new level.
The 49ers are also not facing the most insane of schedules, so Smith will produce even better on the field and have numerous opportunities courtesy of the NFL's best defense.
Matt Schaub, Texans
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Since the 2009 NFL season, Matt Schaub has dominated pro football.
Unfortunately, that came to an abrupt end in 2011 after the season was cut short and he appeared in just 10 games. At that time, Schaub had 15 touchdowns to only six picks and almost 2,500 passing yards.
The upcoming season, though, has much promise for Schaub and the Houston Texans.
With two dual-threat running backs in Arian Foster and Ben Tate to rely on, Schaub won't get blitzed often and having receiver Andre Johnson and tight end Owen Daniels only helps matters. We know Johnson is a beast out wide, but Daniels is one of the NFL's more underrated offensive weapons.
Combine all this talent and Houston's difficult schedule won't be much of a factor. If anything, playing teams like Green Bay, Detroit and New England will force the Texans to play faster to keep pace.
Well, this isn't an issue offensively, and the Texans defense is among the elite few right now.
Matt Cassel, Chiefs
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Matt Cassel doesn't get enough credit.
The man is a better quarterback than at first glance, but it's not surprising when he goes overlooked. After all, when you think of today's NFL gunslingers, Cassel is a hard press for the short list.
Nevertheless, this is a guy who went 11-5 with New England in his first season as a full-time starter and has given life to the Kansas City Chiefs offense. By no means has Cassel been ridiculously dominant, however, he's a lot better than being labeled your prototypical "game manager."
In 2010 he tossed 27 touchdowns to only seven picks and 3,116 yards. Obviously 2011 was a disappointment, but that could be said for the entire Chiefs team as well—key injuries were simply too much to overcome.
Presenting reliable mobility, a strong arm and proven success, Cassel will have an impressive 2012 season.
He's played consistently well through the preseason, and as long as K.C. remains healthy, Cassel has a career year opportunity this fall.
Andy Dalton, Bengals
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Another second-year guy we get is Andy Dalton.
The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback had one of the better rookie seasons any team can ask for, but he was unfortunately overshadowed by Cam Newton, Tebowmania and all the speculation about Peyton Manning's future throughout the 2011 season.
Throwing 20 scores to just 13 picks and almost 3,400 yards is a great season for any rookie.
And we can only anticipate more from Dalton this season.
No. 1 receiver A.J. Green is going to tear up secondaries and develop even more against double-coverage. For as reliable as he'll be, Green's presence outside does create more favorable mismatches to Brandon Tate and tight end Jermaine Gresham.
Cincy does have a strong schedule ahead in 2012, but the running game remains sound with BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the backfield. So Dalton isn't going to hit over 4,500 yards and toss 35 touchdowns, but a more fantasy-friendly stat performance than 2011 will occur.
Cam Newton, Panthers
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Cam Newton has been under the microscope almost every moment since roughly the middle of the 2010 college football season.
After winning the Heisman Trophy, a national championship and then being the No. 1 draft pick in 2011 NFL draft, Newton then went on to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
That's quite an impressive set of accomplishments, and the Carolina Panthers certainly made the right move. All that said, Newton's previous consistency only spells more pressure in 2012.
After throwing for over 4,000 yards and combining for 35 touchdowns last year, the Panthers closed out the season at 4-2, and the momentum carried over through the offseason. Newton's overall athleticism and ability to spread the field will only bode well for this fall, because Carolina has helped him by improving the defense.
The Panthers also won't see a barrage of great defenses either, so the opportunity to set the game tempo will be more evident. As long as he avoids the sophomore slump, Newton will easily roll.
Follow John Rozum on Twitter.