Now that the NFL Draft is over (and the NBA playoffs are coming to an end) the roughest two months in sports is on its way. To fulfill your football “fix” The Viking Age is here to get you ready for your 2012 fantasy football draft. For the next couple months we will be counting down by best at each position, then give you our list of potential sleepers and undervalued players. It’s never too early to start targeting players, so with that said lets take a look at the top quarterbacks.
1. Aaron Rodgers: This guy is really really really good. If skill wasn’t enough, have you seen the secondaries this guy gets to go against this year? Take a look at who GB faces between weeks 3-11; @Seattle, New Orleans, @Indy, @Houston, @St. Louis, Jacksonville, Arizona, BYE and @ Detroit. Rodgers does play some pretty tough defenses during fantasy football playoff weeks 15 and 16 (@ Chicago and Tennessee at home, both in cold weather), but playing Detroit (week 14) and @ Minnesota (week 17) will help even out any lack of production. If you are going to take a QB in the first round Rodgers is your man. (Unless Joe Flacco is in charge of drafting your team. In that case your first two picks will be Joe Flacco and Joe Flacco’s Unibrow)
2. Cam Newton: I know a lot of people have Cam as the fourth or fifth best fantasy QB but there is no way I am taking anyone but Rodgers before him. The guy was a top 3 fantasy QB as a ROOKIE last year. That is absolutely mind-blowing to me. We all knew he could run but is there anyone out there who actually thought the guy would throw for over 4000 yards? He has already matured as a teammate and person between year one and two. You have to believe the same is going to true in his accuracy and decision making. He did trail off down the stretch last year (149, 171 and 158 passing yards in his last 3 games) but what rookie doesn’t? Look for Cam to keep it rolling all 16 games this year and put up some even more monster numbers.
3. Tom Brady: After seeing Brady’s new hairdo last month I had a hard time putting him in the top 3, but when your supermodel wife is bringing home 45 million a year you probably should do what she tells you. Right now Brady has two uncoverable tight ends and a catch machine wide receiver in Welker that very few teams can stop 0-15 yards down the field. If the Pats can get one of their 74 wideouts to develop into a deep threat Brady and the Pats could be unstoppable on offense once again. He won’t give you the extra rushing yards or TD on the ground that Rodgers and Newton give you but with Belichick never taking his foot off the gas regardless of the score, Brady can make up that gap.
4. Matthew Stafford: A healthy Stafford is a top 5 QB, an injured Stafford is a worthless fantasy football player. He’s only been able to put together one healthy season in his young 3 year career but that one healthy season resulted in 5000+ yards and 40+ TD. It all comes down to if you trust his offensive line and ability to stay healthy. If you do take an early round gamble and roll with Stafford, I would urge you to be the first person at your draft to take a second QB just in case the worst would happen (Schaub, Manning or Cutler should put your mind at ease).
5. Drew Brees: I know what you’re thinking, how in world is this guy not in your top three? Three words for you: off field distractions. I just cannot see the Saints or Brees having a great year this year with the distraction of “Bounty Gate” and the impact of the punishments. No Sean Payton is going to be hurt, the time Brees is going to miss with the contract dispute is going to hurt, the loss of Carl Nicks and Robert Meachem will hurt a little, all of things add up. I still think he will put up good numbers due to his skill and consistency but I can’t put him as an elite top 3 type QB this year.
6. Tony Romo: Romo has to be the most polarizing NFL player; people either think he’s an under-rated elite quarterback or an over-rated choke artist. No matter which side of the fence you sit on, you have to think that this is a make or break year for Romo. There is no excuse for not making the playoffs with a healthy Bryant, Miles and Witten this year, not to mention the emergence of DeMarco Murray. Unfortunately for those of us who can’t stand “America’s Team” I fully expect Romo to put together his best year yet. What he will do in the playoffs is anyone’s guess but for fantasy’s sake Romo is going to deliver.
7. Michael Vick: I had a really hard time ranking the 3 top NFC East QB’s with this top ten. Vick is no doubt a fantasy juggernaut when he is healthy but his health is not always a given. He’s struggled to stay healthy more so than any QB in recent memory and it makes it incredibly hard to put him in some type of ranking. If Vick plays all 16 games he is a top 2 or 3 QB easily but when he misses a few games he drops to a 9 to 11 QB (like last year). Is he better than Romo? Yes. Will he end up playing more games than Romo? Probably not. Like Stafford, if you draft Vick make sure that you draft a serviceable back up.
8. Eli Manning: If this were just a top ten list of how good QB’s are Eli would be in my top three, the guy is money. In terms of fantasy Eli has always been good to great but never elite. He excels in pressure situations and when the game is on the line but that doesn’t always equate to fantasy greatness. The loss of Mario Manningham is going to hurt his passing numbers, even with the addition of rookie Rueben Randle. Look for the Giants to stay committed to the ground game with rookie David Wilson and Eli’s number to slip just a bit, down from his 6th best QB fantasy status last year.
9. Phillip Rivers: I have to admit I thought that Rivers was going to be a fantasy stud last year. He still ended up being a top-ten QB but it never looked or felt that way. 20 INTs is pretty bad for a guy who has been in the league starting as long as Rivers but we saw Eli bounce back from a high turnover year last year so it is definitely possible. The loss of Vincent Jackson won’t hurt as bad as most people think (6 games with 2 catches or less last year) and with a healthy Gates this offense could still be better than it was last year. With him being slotted where he ended up last year Rivers could easily be a draft day steal, depending on where you get him.
10. Matt Ryan: He isn’t the most exciting quarterback to watch but the guy is consistent. He’s been an unnoticed top-ten fantasy quarterback the past two years; he’s not going to go off for 40 fantasy points but he will be right around 20 every single week. Michael Turner is another year older, Roddy White is in his prime and Julio Junes has another year under his belt so don’t be surprised if this team turns into a pass first offense. “Matty Ice” isn’t as “sexy” as guys like Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler or Matt Schaub but you can count on him to put up consistent numbers and stay healthy the entire year.
Be sure to check back later throughout the week for QB’s 11-20