I imagine this list is going to be very similar to 2011. Not a whole lot changes from year to year in the most important position on the field. Sure, some have moved up like Cam and some down like Freeman but the majority are close to where they were in 2011. Think of this as a refresher course for the new ‘most important position in fantasy football.’
1. GB Aaron Rodgers
2011 Stats – 343/502, 4643 YDS, 45 TD, 6 INT, 60 RUSH, 257 YDS, 3 TD
He was number one on my list a year ago and he is still atop the list coming into 2012. He’s just so consistent and smart that I like his chances to have another fabulous year. 45 touchdowns and just 6 picks is just sick. I expect his INT’s to go up this year but staying right around 10 total isn’t going to sway me from taking this stud in the first round.
2. NE Tom Brady
2011 Stats – 401/611, 5235 YDS, 39 TD, 12 INT, 43 RUSH, 109 YDS, 3 TD
The only thing keeping Tom Brady below Rodgers is the fact that Aaron Rodgers will also get you additional points scrambling out of the pocket. Brady will hardly ever take that chance. Don’t let the 109 yards rushing in 2011 fool you. His total yards rushing from 2009 and 2010 were just 74 combined. He’s still great and the addition of field stretcher Brandon Lloyd should help keep Welker, Gronk and Hernandez open underneath.
3. NO Drew Brees
2011 Stats – 468/657, 5476 YDS, 46 TD, 14 INT, 21 RUSH, 86 YDS, 1 TD
Last years most prolific passer in NFL history threw for more yards than any quarterback in the NFL, EVER. 2012 is a new year though. Is he going to be good. Of course he is. Do you expect that kind of production again? I don’t. Especially with all of the Saints off-field issues, missing coaches, suspended players, and contract disputes. I still expect him to finish top 5 and he carries less risk that others because he has been so good for so long.
4. DET Matthew Stafford
2011 Stats – 421/663, 5038 YDS, 46 TD, 16 INT, 22 RUSH, 78 YDS, 0 TD
I have a really hard time putting Stafford here. And most likely he will be the first to move out of the top 5 slot. I love him, I do. Really. But I think he carries much more risk this year to regress. I don’t think he has the smarts to keep up with some of the other QB’s if his star receiver goes down. If Calvin goes down preseason (thanks to the Madden cover), how would you feel about Matt then? Ask yourself that same question with any of the other quarterbacks. I thought so.
5. CAR Cam Newton
2011 Stats – 310/517, 4051 YDS, 21 TD, 17 INT, 126 RUSH, 706 YDS, 14 TD
No one should expect 14 rushing touchdowns in 2012. Could it happen? Sure, it could but take a look at Vick’s numbers from 2010-2011. He went from 9 in 2010 to 1 last year. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. I do expect Cam to have more passing touchdowns and interceptions this year. I could see his stat line ending right around 30 and 20. Not bad, especially if you still get 6-7 rushing TD’s as well.
6. NYG Eli Manning
2011 Stats – 359/589, 4933 YDS, 29 TD, 16 INT, 35 RUSH, 15 YDS, 1 TD
One word to describe Eli, SAFE. He had his third straight 4000+ season and almost cracked 5k for the first time. He seemed to have made the turn from decent quarterback to star last year. I expect him to have about the same numbers in 2012, so if you are looking for a less risky investment after the initial run on quarterbacks, Eli just might be the one to snag.
7. DEN Peyton Manning
2011 Stats – Did Not Play
I wonder who will have Manning higher than I coming into the 2012 season. All I know is, I do not want to be the one playing him in any game this year. There is still an aura around Peyton in my mind. I definitely want to own him in at least one league this year.
8. DAL Tony Romo – MOVED DOWN
2011 Stats – 346/522, 4184 YDS, 31 TD, 10 INT, 22 RUSH, 46 YDS, 1 TD
For all of the hate that Romo gets as the quarterback of the most hated and loved franchise, he is a stud when it comes to fantasy football. Last year was one of his best years and that was after he broke his ribs in week 2! Look at his numbers in the second half of the season and you’ll see as he got healthier, so did the numbers. I expect him to make a move into the upper echelon of fantasy in 2012. UPDATE: I moved Romo down 4 spots because of the sheer number of injuries that seem to be plaguing the Cowboys right now. All three of his top weapons are hurt. I like him even more if he slips to the later rounds.
9. CHI Jay Cutler
2011 Stats – 182/314, 2319 YDS, 13 TD, 7 INT, 18 RUSH, 55 YDS, 1 TD
I’m expecting big things from Cutler this season. Mainly because he doesn’t have Martz’s system anymore. For a smarter, more cerebral quarterback, Martz makes a lot of sense. But Cutler isn’t that. He is a risk taker and now that he has a big time target again, in former teammate Brandon Marshall, he can take more chances downfield and feel comfortable doing it. He also a got another nice addition via the draft in Alshon Jeffery.
10. PHI Michael Vick
2011 Stats – 253/423, 3303 YDS, 18 TD, 14 INT, 76 RUSH, 589 YDS, 1 TD
While I don’t expect 9 rushing touchdowns from Vick like he gave us in 2010, I do expect more than one! Which is what he gave his owners last season. 2012 should be a bounce back season for Mike. He’s got a hopefully happy DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and healthy Maclin and Steve Smith. Just try and get a decent backup, because you will need him at some point in 2012. Two things are for sure, he will be fun to watch and will be in the top 10 among fantasy quarterbacks on a per game basis. In 2011 he ended up 6th in standard scoring per game among his peers.
11. SD Philip Rivers
2011 Stats – 366/582, 4624 YDS, 27 TD, 20 INT, 26 RUSH, 36 YDS, 1 TD
Even with the loss of #1 WR Vincent Jackson to Tampa Bay, I still think Rivers should be a solid number one quarterback in 2011. It seems like Rivers can make practice players relevant if they just get in the game on Sunday.
12. ATL Matt Ryan - MOVED UP
2011 Stats – 347/566, 4177 YDS, 29 TD, 12 INT, 37 RUSH, 84 YDS, 2 TD
Between Roddy White’s inconsistent play in 2011 and Julio Jones just not showing up in full form, it’s amazing Matty Ice did what he did last year. He continues to improve his overall numbers year after year. If White and Jones show up ready to go every game, Matt should have another good year with potential to be great. Also consider that Michael Turner looked really slow at the end and is not getting younger.
13. PIT Ben Roethlisberger
2011 Stats – 324/513, 4077 YDS, 21 TD, 14 INT, 31 RUSH, 70 YDS, 0 TD
Will Pittsburgh do things as they have in recent years and be a run first team? That is the question. Now that Todd Haley is the offensive coordinator it will be interesting to see which direction they lean. Tomlin probably wants to keep it simple like in years past, but Haley has been to known to let the trigger fly. When he was the coordinator in Arizona, they were second in the league in pass attempts consecutive years. And with Mendenhall still on the mend with the torn ACL, maybe Ben gets to throw it around a bit more.
14. HOU Matt Schaub – MOVED DOWN
2011 Stats – 178/292, 2479 YDS, 15 TD, 6 INT, 15 RUSH, 9 YDS, 2 TD
Just remember that these stats from 2011 were for only 10 games before he got injured. And then remember that only two of them were played with super wideout Andre Johnson. Could this be the year they both stay on the field? Risky sure, but the chance to snag a top 8 QB in round 3 might just be the payoff you’re looking for.
15. TB Josh Freeman
2011 Stats – 346/551, 3592 YDS, 16 TD, 22 INT, 55 RUSH, 238 YDS, 4 TD
Big boy with a big arm. And now he has Vincent Jackson to match that physical strength down the field. He should see a bounce-back year in 2012 and put his disappointing 2011 campaign behind him.
16. BUF Ryan Fitzpatrick
2011 Stats – 353/569, 3832 YDS, 24 TD, 23 INT, 56 RUSH, 215 YDS, 0 TD
17. CIN Andy Dalton
2011 Stats – 300/516, 3398 YDS, 20 TD, 13 INT, 37 RUSH, 152 YDS, 1 TD
18. SF Alex Smith
2011 Stats – 273/445, 3144 YDS, 17 TD, 5 INT, 52 RUSH, 179 YDS, 2 TD
I love the addition of Mario Manningham, and I believe he showed enough in 2011 that Harbaugh will give him a little more freedom this year. And if somehow, Randy Moss can rekindle any form from previous glory days, Smith could be a sleeper.
19. BAL Joe Flacco
2011 Stats – 312/542, 3610 YDS, 20 TD, 12 INT, 39 RUSH, 88 YDS, 1 TD
Many thought that 2011 would be Flacco’s breakout year, but it just wasn’t. He had a chance. Joe threw for more pass attempts but couldn’t muster up greater numbers. If any of the three previous seasons are telling of what is to come, he will end in the top 20 with about 3,600 yards and 20 TD’s with 10 INT’s. Blah. Serviceable, but blah.
20. KC Matt Cassel
2011 Stats – 160/269, 1713 YDS, 10 TD, 9 INT, 25 RUSH, 99 YDS, 0 TD
Lets face it, Cassel was awful in 2011. But the Chiefs were a mess almost from the start of the season. Hopefully for his sake, all of the weapons are healthy including newcomer Peyton Hillis, Jamal Charles and 2011 rookie Tony Moeaki.
21. IND Andrew Luck – MOVED UP
2011 Stats – Rookie
I really believe that Luck is going to have an ok year. It’s going to be tumultuous with all of the new players and systems but at least you know he’s the guy from day one. It’s more than I can say about Jake Locker, Matt Hasselbeck, Mark Sanchez, Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Colt McCoy and Matt Moore. UPDATE: He has looked extremely comfortable playing in his first two preseason games. Not the best second game but enough poise to forget a pick six he just threw to lead a long touchdown drive. Gotta be the number one pick in dynasty leagues.
22. OAK Carson Palmer
2011 Stats – 199/328, 2753 YDS, 13 TD, 16 INT, 16 RUSH, 20 YDS, 1 TD
I really don’t trust him to stay healthy with that front four but he did prove relevant in fantasy last year.
23. WAS Robert Griffin III
2011 Stats – Rookie
I really like this kid. He’s smart and funny and good looking… you know what I mean. But he’s not the specimen that Cam Newton is. He has the speed but lacks the skill set currently to be an NFL quarterback. But if he’s a fast learner, the Redskins will be fun to watch. Cross your fingers he makes it through the season in one piece.
24. NYJ Tim Tebow
2011 Stats – 126/271, 1729 YDS, 12 TD, 6 INT, 122 RUSH, 660 YDS, 6 TD
Maybe it’s the leftover Tebow love I have still bottled up in the cupboard but I really think there is still more Tebow Time to come in 2012. And I can’t wait!
25. SEA Russell Wilson
2011 Stats – Rookie
It now appears that Wilson has the inside track for the starting job in Seattle. It was a long shot for him with Flynn getting paid a lot of money to come from Green Bay but Pete Carroll is known as a competition coach. If you win the spot, you deserve the shot. And Wilson has looked awfully good in two preseason showings. He gets to start in week 3 and all eyes are on him.