Fantasy football 2012 QB preview
Last year proved the modern-day NFL is a quarterback-driven league. QB records went down like once fantasy-loved running backs Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Rashard Mendenhall, Darren McFadden and Matt Forte did.
Even if that massive collection of elite backs stayed healthy, the QB still would be the most important player on all fantasy teams. It is the highest-scoring position, even if it might not be the first one you fill on draft day.
Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's long-standing yardage mark; Aaron Rodgers flirted with Tom Brady's record 50 passing touchdowns; Cam Newton posted the greatest rookie season by a QB in history, including rushing for a QB-record 14 TDs on the ground.
All that, and the quarterback play figures to only get better. Seriously.
No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck looks like a future NFL MVP; Robert Griffin III looks like the second coming of Newton; and there are fewer teams than ever without a QB they view as a franchise guy.
As all these young and prime-aged QBs continue to improve, there just aren't that many veteran QBs looking like they are on the way out -- unless you count Peyton Manning in that discussion. Most people would assume Manning is more on the way back than the way out.
Those are all scary thoughts.
It shouldn't divert you from putting your pre-draft energy into scouting the elite running back and receiver options, though. With the NFL as pass-happy as it is -- and the QB play improving by the day -- there are an abundance of good options. It can allow you to wait into the middle rounds after you have your starters at running, wide receiver and maybe even tight end.
We break down the QB position in depth here, including the top 40 by tiers below:
Like Michael Vick and Josh Freeman a year ago, there likely will be some regression from Newton as a passer for a team with an aging injury risk in Steve Smith and some questionable supporting receivers. Yes, the rushing TDs should be there, but that is why you have fantasy running backs. You want any QB you are picking as high as you have to on Newton to be a threat for 40 TDs and fewer interceptions. Newton could be this year's Vick. Let someone else take the risk on Newton.
He just hasn't had a deck of receivers to work with. Torrey Smith can take a significant step forward in Year 2 and field-stretcher Jacoby Jones was brought in as a free agent to play in three wide receiver sets, which would allow older possession receiver Anquan Boldin to move into the slot, where he belongs. Also, the Ravens had veteran back Ricky Williams retire, so the load on Ray Rice will have to be monitored early in the season.
The Ravens expect to be playing deep into January, so to conserve Rice's legs, they are going to need to adapt to the modern pass-happy NFL. Flacco is almost certainly going to be picked as a fantasy backup, but his projections should be around 3,800 yards and 25-plus TDs. That is some backup. Heck, that's some starter.
Here is how we should tier the quarterback position heading into the preseason: