Fantasy Football Draft 2012: 10 Quarterbacks You Must Avoid This Season

Ben Leibowitz@BenLeboCorrespondent IIIMay 15, 2012

Fantasy Football Draft 2012: 10 Quarterbacks You Must Avoid This Season

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    Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees… those are the fantasy quarterbacks you’d ideally want to target in your NFL fantasy draft. You may even take a chance on the rushing threat Mike Vick or the “healthy” four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning.

    Despite the seemingly “can’t-miss” QB targets there are some quarterbacks in the NFL you should look to avoid at all costs come draft day.

    Here’s a list of NFL quarterbacks you shouldn’t draft to lead your fantasy team in 2012.

Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    It doesn't take a fantasy guru to know you should avoid Blaine Gabbert at all costs this season.

    Gabbert ranked dead last a season ago with a passer rating of 65.4, which was even worse than Colts' fill-in quarterback Curtis Painter.

    In addition, Gabbert only completed 50.8 percent of his throws, which was only better than Tim Tebow.

    Gabbert certainly didn't have much help around him with a lack of competent receivers and an offensive line that allowed their quarterback to get sacked 40 times, but the improvement has been minor at best.

    The Jaguars traded up in the draft to add wide receiver Justin Blackmon, but there are questions as to whether Blackmon can be a true No. 1 receiver in the NFL. He'll help, but Gabbert needs far more assistance.

    Look for the Jags' offense to revolve around the running game of Maurice Jones-Drew once again next season.

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams

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    Is St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford poised for a breakout year this season? It’s possible, but we haven’t seen many signs from him that he’s ready to take his game to the next level.

    A season ago, Bradford only played in 10 games because of a high ankle sprain that kept him sidelined. In those 10 games, Bradford threw for just six touchdowns while tossing six interceptions. He also fumbled the ball a paltry 10 times in those 10 games.

    A quarterback putting the ball on the ground 10 times in 10 games while throwing the same amount of interceptions as touchdowns is not a guy you want on your fantasy football team.

    Bradford’s rookie season was better in nearly every facet. He was healthy (played in all 16 games), fumbled the ball less (still seven times) and put up over 1,000 more passing yards than his sophomore season (3,512 yards compared to 2,164 yards), although keep in mind he played six fewer games his sophomore year.

    Anyway, even in his rookie season, Bradford wasn’t stellar.

    He threw 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Compare those numbers to a quarterback whose team missed the playoffs last season, Tony Romo, who had 31 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions, and Bradford’s numbers look even murkier.

    Bradford could be ready to have a breakout season in his third professional year with the Rams, but he’s going to have some added pressure on his shoulders.

    If you recall, the Rams held the second overall pick in this year’s draft. St. Louis traded the second overall selection to the Washington Redskins for a banquet of draft picks in the future.

    Adding all of those additional picks is certainly the right move, but now Bradford will have his career compared with RG3. If Robert Griffin III gets off to a hot start and Bradford struggles again, Rams fans will not be happy.

    It doesn’t help that Bradford lost his biggest weapon, Brandon Lloyd, to the New England Patriots this offseason.

Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals

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    Kevin Kolb’s quarterback status will become clearer when the season gets closer, considering he’ll be in a position battle with John Skelton for the starting job in Arizona.

    At the moment, however, I’m not sure I like Kolb’s chances.

    Since coming over from the Philadelphia Eagles in a trade that sent dynamic cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to Philly, Kolb has been disappointing. Though it’s difficult to fault Kolb as he’s struggled with injuries (mainly concussions), the Cardinals had high hopes for him.

    Those hopes were so high in fact, that after coming over in the trade, Kolb was handed a five-year $63.5 million contract.

    Right now, that’s the number that gives Kolb the best opportunity to win the starting job. As a franchise, you don’t pay players over $60 million to sit on the sidelines.

    Nevertheless, Skelton has been aggressive in trying to prove he should be the guy.

    Last season, the Cards went 2-6 with Kolb as their quarterback and 6-2 with Skelton running the show.

    It’s difficult to think that a guy making as much money as Kolb would sit on the bench next season, but as Herm Edwards would say, "you play to win the game."

    If Skelton shows this offseason that he gives the Cardinals the best chance to win, he’ll be the starting quarterback. Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt is no fool; he’ll play the best option they have.

    With that said, even if Kolb wins the starting job, he’s a bad start or an injury away from losing it again. The Cardinals' quarterback situation is one that I'd stray away from.

Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans

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    Matt Hasselbeck is a quarterback who could be on the hot seat this season.

    Although Hasselbeck played solid football last season helping the Titans to a 9-7 record, the team still missed the playoffs.

    Admittedly, the real travesty for the Titans last year was their pitiful rushing attack. They ranked 31st in the NFL a season ago averaging 89.9 yards on the ground per game.

    It’s unfair to blame the Titans' struggles on Hasselbeck, but unless the team gets off to a blistering start in 2012, we may see the Jake Locker era in Tennessee.

    Locker played well in five games for the Titans a year ago. He threw for 542 yards and four touchdowns without throwing an interception. His quarterback rating during that time was 99.4.

    Hasselbeck will likely be the starter for the Titans in Week 1, but I think it’s only a matter of time before Locker gets his reps.

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets

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    Even though Mark Sanchez has improved statistically every year since his rookie season, he’s still a liability in terms of turning the ball over.

    Last season, Sanchez threw 18 interceptions and fumbled the ball 10 times.

    If you aren’t able to grab an elite quarterback in your fantasy draft, you should at least take someone who won’t kill your stats with turnovers.

    Also, the addition of Tim Tebow could potentially take away from Sanchez’s stats during the 2012 season. If Rex Ryan and the Jets decide that Tebow is the better option for goal line situations, Sanchez could have a lot of touchdowns taken away from him this season.

    Sanchez is already a quarterback who turns the ball over a lot, so the Buffalo Bills vast improvement to their defensive line via Mario Williams and Mark Anderson should be seen as a big red flag for fantasy owners.

Tim Tebow, New York Jets

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    Although it could prove tempting to draft Tim Tebow in the later rounds of your fantasy draft, you’d be smart to hold off.

    Tebow won’t start for his own NFL team, so he won’t be starting for your fantasy squad. At best, Tebow will be a fill-in while the other quarterback on your roster is on a bye week or sustains an injury.

    Tebow may get touches in goal line situations with the Jets, but I don’t see him making a meaningful fantasy impact on a week-to-week basis.

    Unless the Jets make a snap decision to start Tebow over Sanchez in the future, you’d be safer going with better options. Except of course if your fantasy football team name is based on Tebow… then you should feel obligated to draft him.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings

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    The experience that Christian Ponder gained last season in the NFL will be invaluable for him moving forward, but I think that Ponder is not quite ready to have a solid statistical season.

    During his rookie year last season, Ponder threw 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 11 games played. He was better than most at holding onto the football (six fumbles last season).

    The addition of Matt Kalil in the draft should help Ponder’s ability to make decisions in the passing game, considering he was sacked 30 times a season ago in just 11 games played, but the young quarterback still needs help.

    Look for the Vikings’ offense to revolve around Adrian Peterson and the run game. Ponder is simply too inconsistent to be considered a reliable fantasy quarterback at this juncture.

Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

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    Let me start by saying that I think Robert Griffin III will have a great NFL career. With that said, RG3 has no weapons surrounding him on the Redskins.

    The Skins’ leading receiver from a year ago, Jabar Gaffney, was released by the team and signed with the New England Patriots.

    The Redskins leading rusher a season ago was Roy Helu with 640 yards.

    Griffin is drawing comparisons to Cam Newton because of his arm strength and ability to scramble, but Newton had a much better supporting cast in Carolina (which isn’t saying much because the Panthers were still a bad team).

    Griffin is also an injury risk because he’ll need to exert himself to a huge level of play to keep this Washington team competitive.

    Overall, RG3 is a high-risk, high-reward move, but if someone in your league drafts him as his No. 1 quarterback in fantasy, I wouldn’t be too worried.

Colt McCoy/Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns

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    You’ve got to feel bad for a guy like Colt McCoy. After a mediocre year spent mostly on his backside due to lack of protection, the 25-year-old McCoy was figuratively replaced by 28-year-old quarterback Brandon Weeden in the draft.

    Is Weeden a better quarterback than McCoy? It’s certainly possible, but if he is, it’s likely not by a huge margin.

    With that said, regardless of which quarterback wins the Browns’ starting job this offseason, that person won’t be putting up big numbers.

    Look for the Browns to pound the ball on the ground with their prized draft pick, running back Trent Richardson.

Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers

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    Alex Smith gained a lot of praise last season for the San Francisco 49ers and for good reason. Despite being sacked a league-leading 44 times a season ago, Smith threw just five interceptions and only fumbled seven times.

    With that said, how are those numbers sustainable?

    Last season was the first since 2006 that Smith has played in all 16 regular season games. Smith played well and stayed healthy, but he looked good by association mainly because of the Niners’ great defensive unit.

    Even though Smith managed to put up rock solid numbers despite being sacked 44 times, he was never seen as an elite quarterback until last season (likely because the Niners were finally winning games).

    Smith has also never thrown more than 18 touchdowns in a season in his career.

    He’s a good quarterback on a great football team, but a good fantasy quarterback? Beware of the smoke and mirrors surrounding Smith when you draft your fantasy team.