2012 QB review, early 2013 rankings
January, 8, 2013
By Eric Karabell | ESPN.com
Quarterbacks were chosen with the first two selections in last summer's NFL draft, and each figured to earn starting nods without delay, so perhaps it was easy to see how one of the stories of the 2012 fantasy season would be the rookie signal-callers. After all, top pick Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts finished among the top 10 quarterbacks in standard season scoring, and Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins, second on draft day, might have topped everyone had he not been injured.
In addition, Seattle Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson rocked after September and finished just a shade outside the top 10, and second-year signal-caller Colin Kaepernick joined him in post-October relevance. It's not like all older fellows struggled, either, as Peyton Manning joined the Denver Broncos and seamlessly returned to past glory, finishing tied with Griffin in season scoring. Thirty-somethings Drew Brees and Tom Brady didn't disappoint. Old and young enjoyed productive campaigns.
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsRussell Wilson accounted for 30 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions as a rookie.
Frankly, there was no shortage of helpful quarterback candidates for standard leagues and even for deeper formats. In 2011, the top fellows performed better, with three quarterbacks exceeding 5,000 passing yards and four reaching 352 standard fantasy points. In 2012, Brees was the only one to hit 5,000 passing yards and he led the position in scoring with 337 points. Still, check the depth. The No. 10 fantasy quarterback in the 2011 season was, believe it or not, New York Jets attention-getter Mark Sanchez with 227 fantasy points. This season those same 227 points earned Baltimore Ravens leader Joe Flacco a No. 14 ranking, while Detroit Lions attempts machine Matthew Stafford was 10th with 263 points. Depth is indeed a good thing.
So, with an eye toward the future, let's recap and preview the NFL's signature position -- the quarterback -- for fantasy purposes.
Quarterback MVP: Brees led all of fantasy in scoring regardless of position, a shade ahead of Brady and Aaron Rodgers, but each was a first-round pick on draft day. Griffin, however, followed in the footsteps of the Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton from the year prior -- rookie and runner -- and electrified the fantasy world, doing so as a fifth-rounder. No quarterback rushed for more yards, and Griffin's 27 total touchdowns to five interceptions was outstanding. Consider Brees and Matt Ryan each had five interceptions in one game! Griffin gets the fantasy quarterback MVP nod over Seattle's Wilson, an afterthought fantasy 14th-rounder who was a top-five scorer from Week 6 on.
Quarterback LVP: Two of the top 10 quarterbacks from fantasy draft day really disappointed, but with Michael Vick, you should have known well in advance the risk of injury derailing his value. Vick played well enough in the first half of the season before a concussion and team goals shut him down for two months. With Eli Manning of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, however, he tormented fantasy owners from Week 6 on. If you had played this Manning the first five weeks and Wilson after that, it would have been a top-five overall quarterback. Alas, Manning finished 15th among quarterbacks in scoring, edging Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams, hardly a fantasy hero himself. In a five-game stretch starting with Week 6, the younger Manning averaged a mere seven fantasy points per game, taking his teams down with him. After rebounding with quality performances in Weeks 12-14, those who regained trust in Eli during the fantasy playoffs were rewarded with two fantasy points in Week 15 and 10 the week after. Yuck.