Fantasy: Four quarterbacks you can't pass on this season

Justin Boone,
8/9/2012 10:54:51 AM
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The last time I heard the song 'Simply The Best' by Tina Turner was a few years ago when I sent the YouTube link to a coworker to mock them.

However, I find myself humming the tune when I think about this year's quarterback class.

Yes, there is plenty of fantasy depth at the quarterback position with names like Rivers, Cutler, and Roethlisberger being drafted as low end starters, but if you're going to win your league this season (which I sure hope you are), you will absolutely need an elite passer.

The top tier of quarterbacks can score between 50-100 fantasy points more than the next closest player at their position, which can almost feel like you're starting an extra player on your fantasy roster in any given week.

That means going out of your way to draft one of the top four quarterbacks off the board this season, a group that is exponentially better than all the rest.  


Aaron Rodgers (Packers) - No one expected it to be easy to forget a certain player who wore number four in Green Bay, but Aaron Rodgers has helped Packers fans do just that. He is the most consistent player at the most important position and he is just entering his prime. If you draft him you're almost guaranteed to reach the fantasy post-season.

Tom Brady (Patriots) - It's not often that we feel bad for Tom Brady, but last season the Patriots star eclipsed Dan Marino's single season passing record, only he won't be remembered for it because Drew Brees set the bar even higher in the same year. When it comes time to draft this season, don't forget that Brady threw for the second most passing yards in NFL history in 2011, a feat that he looks poised to repeat.

Drew Brees (Saints) - This season, Brees will be without his head coach Sean Payton (suspended), his former wide receiver Robert Meachem (Chargers), and his former Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks (Buccaneers). As someone who loves to play devil's advocate, I still find it nearly impossible to mount an argument against Brees being among the uber-elite at his position.

Matthew Stafford (Lions) - Stafford finally stayed healthy a year ago, which resulted in a 5,000-yard campaign. Pretty impressive numbers for the once lowly Lions' offence. Stafford has the best receiver in the league catching his passes and with the questionable running game in Detroit, Stafford will once again challenge for the most passes attempted.


Cam Newton (Panthers) - I can hear the complaints already, suggesting I'm crazy for not having Newton in the highest tier. I admit that Newton has an outside chance to deliver elite fantasy stats this season, but I'm banking on his rushing touchdown total of 14 coming back to earth. Newton is a hard worker who needs to improve his passing, after completing just 56.8 per cent of his throws over the final five games of his rookie season.

Michael Vick (Eagles) - Heading into last year's fantasy drafts, Vick was arguably the top quarterback on the board and not much has changed. Vick still has the potential to electrify the league with his rare blend of skills, but he is unlikely to play a complete slate of games and that makes him a much bigger risk than the top four.


Tony Romo (Cowboys) - Romo has one of the most talented receiving corps in the league (WR Dez Bryant, WR Miles Austin, TE Jason Witten) and he is coming off one of his best statistical seasons. It all sounds great, until you factor in the presence of RB DeMarco Murray, who will allow the Cowboys to run the ball more than in past years.

Eli Manning (Giants) - The eternally disrespected Eli Manning can't be happy to find himself getting drafted outside the top five, after finishing 2011 just shy of 5,000 yards and adding another Super Bowl MVP to his resume. Nothing against Eli, but it's hard to imagine him reaching the 40 touchdown passes it would require to stand near the top of the fantasy mountain.

Peyton Manning (Broncos) - Much like his brother, Peyton is lower in the rankings than he probably expected. Coming off of a year away from the game due to injury, Peyton is suiting up for a new team and no longer has the perfect conditions of the dome in Indianapolis to rely on. Peyton does have weapons in Denver and could still surprise in his new uniform. 

Matt Ryan (Falcons) - There is plenty of hype surrounding wide receiver Julio Jones in Atlanta, but Jones' success will require someone to pass him the ball. The Falcons also have veterans Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez catching passes. With an aging Michael Turner in the backfield, Matt Ryan's arm is set for a big season.


Philip Rivers (Chargers) - Rivers ended last season with a few strong outings. While he will be without WR Vincent Jackson (Buccaneers), he does have a healthy Antonio Gates, as well as an underrated set of receivers in Robert Meachem, Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal. Add to that a solid pass catching running back in Ryan Mathews and Rivers could make us forget about his career high 20 interceptions in 2011.

Jay Cutler (Bears) - With the reunion of Cutler with former offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and WR Brandon Marshall, it's tough not to like Cutler's prospects in 2012. Mike Tice will be calling the plays in Chicago, which should help Cutler, but his offensive line will need to come together if he is going to return to the 4,000-yard club.

Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) - There are plenty of question marks around Big Ben with a new offensive coordinator in Todd Haley and a star receiver who still hasn't reported to camp in Mike Wallace. Like Cutler, Roethlisberger is at risk behind an unproven line. However, if Wallace does eventually rejoin the team, Roethlisberger could set a career-high in passing yards. 


Robert Griffin III (Redskins) - Nothing is as volatile in the fantasy world a a rookie. Everyone wants to be the genius who drafts the next big star and after Cam Newton set the league on fire last year, the assumption is that Robert Griffin could have a similar impact. Good things are in store for Griffin, but it may take time to get acclimated in the pros.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (Bills) - For a man with pedestrian skills, Fitzpatrick was an outright star early in 2011. Leave it to Chan Gailey to make the most of his quarterback's talent. I don't believe an injury caused Fitzpatrick's mid-season decline. Until the Bills find a viable second receiver, it will be difficult for the Bills' quarterback to be consistent.

Carson Palmer (Raiders) - Off his couch and into action for the Raiders in 2011, Palmer had his struggles and the interceptions to prove it. Palmer doesn't need to prove himself as much as he needs to show us he still has it. With a full training camp and a crew of young talented pass catchers, the veteran quarterback whose career appeared to be over may surprise folks in the coming year.

Andrew Luck (Colts) - Griffin may be the sexier fantasy pick this season, but Andrew Luck shouldn't be sold short. The Colts drafted a pair of pass catching tight ends in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, and they still have Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie at receiver. On a team that will trail plenty of games, Luck may be the king of fantasy garbage time points.


Matt Schaub (Texans), who twice broke the 4,000-yard mark, is now in a run-first offence... Josh Freeman (Buccaneers) has a new toy in WR Vincent Jackson and a defence that will struggle to keep teams from scoring, which is a nice recipe for fantasy production... Maybe this is the year Joe Flacco (Ravens) puts it all together, or maybe it's not... Andy Dalton (Bengals) is a good quarterback with a great receiver in A.J. Green, but would need to improve drastically to move up this list... Jim Harbaugh revived the career of Alex Smith (49ers), but Smith's goal is still to simply avoid mistakes... Matt Cassel (Chiefs) has a nice crop of receiver to throw to, only he is playing on a team that plans to run, run, and run some more... While they aren't worthy of being fantasy starters yet, Christian Ponder (Vikings), Matt Flynn (Seahawks), and Sam Bradford (Rams) have shown glimpses of their talent... If he can beat out veteran Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker (Titans) has the ability to make noise this year as a sleeper thanks to a penchant for the big play and speed to gain yards on the ground... I don't think I am legally allowed to discuss NFL quarterbacks without mentioning these two words, so here it goes - Tim Tebow.

Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Stafford (Photo: Getty Images)


(Photo: Getty Images)
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