2012 NFL Fantasy Football: Top 5 QB/WR Tandems in the Game

Matthew Smith@@MatthewSmithBRCorrespondent IIISeptember 1, 2012

2012 NFL Fantasy Football: Top 5 QB/WR Tandems in the Game

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    The 2012 NFL fantasy football season is about to kick-off and millions are anxiously awaiting the return of weekly injury updates, waiver-wire pickups and the breakout performances that often determine the difference between running for a league championship this season and waiting for the next opportunity next year.

    With more than 30 million playing fantasy football according to Pro Football Weekly, offensive position players have never been a more popular draft choice. Now while running backs can be the rock for a league champion, fantasy success is often up to stellar quarterback play and wide receiver domination.

    Want to have the best shot of winning your league? 

    It's best to have a top billing field general at QB and a fleet-footed, sure-handed beast at WR. In case you were wondering, that does not include the combination of Michael Vick and Desean Jackson

    Some may say, “I won my league with Ryan Fitzpatrick!”

    That's great, but it is the exception to the rule. 

    Want to have the best chance to take it all the way? All you have to do is average 34 points per week with your QB and top receiver. It is that simple. You see—consistency is the key in fantasy football.

    With that said, let’s look at the best QB and WR tandems in the game today along with video highlights of their greatest hook-ups.

How Did You Decide?

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    The criteria for inclusion in this very small segment of fantasy greatness is simple and based on CBSSports.com’s standard scoring format. There was no attempt to re-invent the system or use obtuse qualifying metrics in order to develop the list. 

    It is simplicity at its finest.

    First, add up the total number of points each QB and WR scored during the 2011 regular season.

    Second, divide it by 16 to factor in the bye-week.

    Third, rank in order.

    This system puts a premium on touchdown passes and catches. Rushing touchdowns for a QB are minimized as well as those for a receiver. Remember this list is about the toss-and-catch, not the snap-and-dash.

    Finally, while 34 may seem like an arbitrary number, as the data will show, it is the baseline for the top 5 pairings.

    Now that the parameters have been set out, a brief moment for those that missed the cut is in order.

Not Bad, but Not Top 5

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    Cam Newton and Steve Smith

    Newton is an absolute monster, but don't forget, this is about the pass-and-catch. Newton scored 14 touchdowns last year on the ground, and that constituted quite a few of his 410 fantasy points.

    On the receiving side, Smith is very good, but if Newton’s rushing touchdowns are excluded, the tandem does not reach the magical 34 ppg threshold.

    Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown or Mike Wallace:

    Big Ben is actually not a very reliable fantasy quarterback. Combine his overall ineffectiveness. Divide that by two receivers, and the value just does not exist. 

    Oh, they also fail the ppg requirement.

    Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall

    They may make the list next year, but this list is not about potential, it is about production. 

    So, without further ado, the top QB/WR tandems in fantasy football are…

5. Eli Manning and Victor Cruz

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    Eli Manning scored the sixth most fantasy points by a quarterback last year with 338 while Victor Cruz clocked in with a fourth-best receiver total of 205.

    Not only did Cruz have 82 receptions last season, but he compiled over 1,500 receiving yards, nine touchdowns and averaged 18.7 yards per catch. Not too shabby.

    Manning may not be the flashiest QB around, and he may not hang a 500-and-6 performance on anyone, but his consistency is something to be cherished in the realm of fantasy football.

    The New York Giants duo combined for 543 points or 34 ppg.

4. Drew Brees and Marques Colston

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    Drew Brees was an absolute beast last year, scoring 483 fantasy points for leading one of the league’s most prolific offenses. He threw for 5,476 yards with 46 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions. Combining those numbers and a 110.6 QB rating, which was second in the league, tells us that Brees is golden in fantasy football.

    Brees' favorite target was Marques Colston. He racked up 160 points, good for 12th in the league, and as Captain Drew’s favorite target, he promises to deliver the points again this year.

    The New Orleans Saints combination totaled 643 points and averaged 40 ppg.

3. Tom Brady and Wes Welker

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    Tom Brady, from the University of Michigan, had been a prime performer since seizing the starting job in New England from Drew Bledsoe. Last season Brady amassed 443 points, which was good for third among starting quarterbacks. 

    Brady’s primary target last year was Welker. Since exploding on the fantasy scene, Welker has over performed year after year. With almost 1,600 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, Welker was good for 213 points last year, or 13 ppg.

    They combined for a score of 656 points and averaged 41 points per game. 

2. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson

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    Matt Stafford finally lived up to his expectations in 2011 after a couple of injury-shortened seasons as the starting QB for the Detroit Lions. His 424 points were attributable to more than 5,000 passing yards and 41 TDs. He attempted the most passes with 663 tries in the NFL last year, and fantasy football players should not expect that number to go down.

    Calvin Johnson is nicknamed Megatron for a reason. He is easily the best receiver in football.  His 1,681 receiving yards and 16 scores were both top in the NFL, and he creates match up problems even when he is doubled. He also produces numbers that are both consistent and extraordinary.

    With their total of 687 points and 43 ppg in 2011, Stafford and Johnson can be expect to perform similarly this year.

1. Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson

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    Not much else need to be written.

    The most consistent and productive QB the last two seasons, Aaron Rodgers, is not gong to slow down for some time. He scored an amazing 486 points last year thanks in large part to 45 touchdowns and over 4,600 passing yards. Wow.

    Jordy Nelson was a bit of a surprise. Most expected Greg Jennings to be the big producer, but Nelson took advantage of the opportunity to the tune of 216 points and 15 touchdowns. 

    The duo combined for 702 points for an average of 44 per week for the Green Bay Packers.  Outstanding stuff.