Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings: Second-Tier Quarterbacks Ready to Step Up

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerContributor IIISeptember 23, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16: Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams looks, unsuccessfully, for a touchdown call against the Washington Redskins at the Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

If you have dominated your fantasy league in recent seasons, chances are you have a capable quarterback leading your roster. 

While top-notch quarterbacks are premier assets in the NFL and practically a necessity for Super Bowl contenders, they're also an important piece to your fantasy football puzzle. 

Maybe you're beginning to learn this the hard way as you currently watch your fantasy team slip in the rankings, but it's not too late to do something about it. 

If you missed on an elite quarterback during your league's draft, you can still come up with gaudy passing stats if you simply search for a diamond in the rough. 

Like Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford a year ago, there are always a few unexpected quarterbacks who step up and put up numbers. 

Of all the second-tier quarterbacks in the league, here are the top options who will most likely continue to produce as the season progresses. 


1. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams 

Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams won Rookie of the Year in 2010, but he experienced a decline during his sophomore season in 2011. 

Based on the first two games this season, it looks as though Sam the Ram is back and ready to finally produce like a No. 1 overall draft pick. 

Bradford currently has the third-best quarterback rating in the NFL at 112.4 and had four touchdowns in two games. 

Bradford had 198 yards and a touchdown in the opening week against Detroit, but he really put it together in Week 2 against Washington after throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. 

Bradford will continue to carry the St. Louis offense and should post respectable numbers. 


2. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers

Alex Smith was a No. 1 overall pick in 2005 and was widely considered to be a complete bust until he finally played at a decent level in 2011. 

Even though Smith was able to rebound, he was still considered a modest game manager and not a stat juggernaut, so his ceiling is still being debated. 

However, so far in 2012, it looks as though Smith can produce the numbers. Smith has four touchdowns, zero interceptions and the second-highest quarterback rating in the NFL (115.9). 

The San Francisco 49ers are an elite team, which will allow Smith to produce no matter what. 


3. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets

As the face of the New York Jets, Mark Sanchez takes a lot heat from the brutal and unforgiving Jets fanbase. 

Regardless of the sometimes humorous overreactions from the mentally unstable fans, Sanchez has improved every year he's been in the league and will only be better in 2012. 

Sanchez has been sharp early on with over 400 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception. 

As long as Sanchez isn't dragged down by the drama associated with the Jets, he should have a big year. 


4. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been garnering attention ever since he took over the starting role in 2010. 

Between the 2010 and 2011 seasons combined, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 47 touchdowns and nearly 7,000 yards. 

Fitzpatrick can be a little erratic at times and cough up interceptions, but he's always guaranteed to produce touchdowns to go along with those picks. 

He's risky, but a solid option if you're desperate. 


5. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Josh Freeman was a terrific fantasy asset in 2010 after throwing for 25 touchdowns and nearly 3,500 yards. 

Freeman declined in 2011 with only 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions, but he's looking more like his former self as of late. 

With just three touchdowns and two interceptions in 2012, Freeman still has some work to do before he convinces people that his production has returned. 

However, with a loaded backfield and Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams at his disposal, Freeman is bound to produce.