After finishing last season with 45 passing TDs and only six interceptions, it should not be a surprise to see Aaron Rodgers as our top-ranked fantasy quarterback heading into the 2012 season. Rounding out our top three are a couple more familiar names with Tom Brady and Drew Brees. There is a slight drop after those three, but all players on this list are solid QB1 options.
1. Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers continues to impress every year, and we still have him as our clear cut number one quarterback. His TD to INT ratio was off the charts, and one thing that people tend to forget is how much he helps your fantasy team with his legs. He was 4th among quarterbacks in rushing yards, and he had 3 rushing TDs. Rodgers is one of those quarterbacks that just makes the game look easy, and we expect another monster year from him again in 2012.
2. Tom Brady
In previous years Brady has proven that he can be an amazing quarterback with limited weapons around him, now he has numerous weapons which makes him even scarier. He still has the two amazing TEs and Welker, and the Pats added Brandon Lloyd into the mix who could be in line for a decent season. The Patriots during the Brady era have never had a hard time putting points on the board, and I don’t expect it to be a problem for them this year either.
3. Drew Brees
Brees has an historic year in 2011 throwing for almost 5,500 yards, but his contract issues and losing his head coach was just enough for use to move him to our 3rd quarterback this year. The Brees/Graham chemistry was amazing last year, and at times these two looked absolutely unstoppable. Pay close attention to the contract talks this preseason, but as long as he gets signed he should have no issues being a top fantasy quarterback.
4. Cam Newton
All I have to say about the rookie year that Newton had is “WOW”. Not only did he have one of the best rookie seasons of all time, he also rewrote the book on how we think of rookie quarterbacks in fantasy. Newton impressed with his arm, but the real story was what he did with his legs. He rushed for over 700 yards and found the endzone 14 times as a runner. I expect him to throw a decent amount of INTs and show his inexperience, but because of what he can do with his legs he has to be in our top 5.
5. Matthew Stafford
We all knew that Stafford had an upside and could be in line for a big 2011, but I don’t think many people would have guessed he would throw for over 5,000 yards. The Lions offense was great last year, and with LeShoure coming back and Titus Young getting better and better they should be in line for another big year. Stafford has had injury concerns in the past, but after playing all 16 games last year he has put some of those concerns to rest.
6. Michael Vick
Vick missed 3 games last year and barely cracked the top 20 in passing yards among quarterbacks, but the rushing yards were still there. He was third in rushing behind Newton and Tebow with 589 rushing yards, averaging 45 yards per game. If Vick can stay healthy he still has the potential to be an elite fantasy quarterback, and I think he is well worth a gamble this year. However, if you do draft Vick I would make sure to get a solid plan B incase he goes down with an injury.
7. Eli Manning
It took a major neck injury to Peyton and nearly a 5,000 yard passing season, but Eli has finally surpassed his brother in our rankings. Eli had an amazing year last year (mainly at the expense of the Giants rushing game), but I expect the Giants to throw a lot this year as well. Cruz has proven to be a top target for Eli, and if Nicks can stay healthy look for the Giants to have close to another 5,000 passing yards again in 2012.
8. Philip Rivers
Even though Rivers had a solid season last year, we were still expecting more. He only had 27 TDs and he threw 20 INTs, which were both worse than 2010. The Chargers offense took a bit hit losing Jackson, and when you look at who Rivers has at WR it could certainly be better. Even with all that being said Rivers is still an amazing quarterback, and even with mediocre receivers I think he could easily throw over 4,500 yards.
9. Tony Romo
Romo was able to play all 16 games last year, and he had another solid year. He is never going to be a top 3 fantasy quarterback, but Romo has proven that if he can stay healthy he can put up solid numbers. The Cowboys have one of the most talented receiver corps in the league, so as long as everyone can stay healthy there should be plenty of touchdowns to go around.
10. Peyton Manning
Drafting Peyton this year is scary and it could end up backfiring, but we are still talking about Peyton Manning. He is in a new home with the Broncos and they are going to ask him to do what he did for the Colts, which is turn a very mediocre offense into something special. Since Peyton does come with big risks I highly suggest drafting another solid quarterback just in case, but I think he still has what it takes to be an elite fantasy quarterback.