2012 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks – The Best Of The Rest

In this segment of my 2012 fantasy football rankings, we will discuss and breakdown the best of the rest at the qb position. The quarterbacks that come after the elite, but still hold fantasy value being on your roster. You can review my take on the top 10 quarterbacks for 2012 season here: 2012 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top Ten Quarterback Edition. As always, good luck this season.

Upside = upside Risk = injury risk

11.) Dallas Cowboys –  Tony Romo (Projected Stats: 3,900 Passing Yards, 30 Touchdowns)

As  noted in my earlier piece, Tony just missed the top ten list. He had an impressive 2011 season despite battling injuries and missing time during crucial fantasy weeks. He threw for 31 touchdowns and had an impressive 102.5 quarterback rating. Romo has weapons all over the field in Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten so he has the ability to put up respectable fantasy points every week.

However, Tony Romo is an inconsistent quarterback, and has recently been criticized for his lack of training due to his love for the game of golf. If you look at Tony’s career numbers, it goes like this…up,down,up,down,up….Last year was an “up” and if history repeats itself, we may see another down year from Tony.

Those who disagree can draft him somewhere around the 47th pick or later. He is one of the quarterbacks you target, if you like to be patient when drafting this position. Romo has only thrown over 4,300 yards once, and has never eclipsed 40 touchdowns. Elite…no, a valuable starting fantasy quarterback…yes.

 

12.) Chicago BearsJay Cutler (Projected Stats: 3,700 Passing Yards, 26 Touchdowns) Upside

Jay Cutler is downright being undervalued this season. All the major fantasy networks are saying he’s the 15th best quarterback or lower in the rankings. I’m going to agree to disagree here. And believe it or not, it’s not all about the fact that Brandon Marshall is in town either.

It has more to do with Chicago’s coaching staff and their offensive approach this off-season. According to Jay Cutler, Jeremy Bates was his favorite coach in Denver, and he’s a pass-first coordinator. Bates’ has pledged, “to take better advantage of Jay Cutler’s wheels.” Offensive coordinator Mike Tice, has also said he expects his team’s offense to be one of  ”explosiveness.” Now, we know every NFL OC will want to say that about his team, but I actually believe Mike when he says it. The weapons are everywhere. Brandon Marshall, Kellen Davis, Matt Forte, Michael Bush, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, and rookie Alshon Jeffery.

I take Bates and Tice’s comments as reason to believe that we will see more of a 2009 Jay Cutler. A verison of  Jay Cutler that we saw throw the ball 555 times, completing 336 of them. 3,666 passing yards and 27 passing touchdowns show his ability to produce large fantasy numbers. If he can keep the dumb mistakes and interceptions to a minimum, and the offensive line actually shows up on Sunday’s, Jay Cutler can end up being a real value selection. In a 10 team fantasy league, you can find Jay in the 10th round or later. One of the best backup qb’s you will find on the board, but I say he can be starter material as well.

 

13.) Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III (Projected Stats: 3,100 Passing Yards, 450 Rushing Yards, 24 Touchdowns)

Robert Griffin III is a dual-threat quarterback that matches up well with head coach Mike Shanahan’s version of the west coast offense. This system will have the rookie spending plenty of time outside of the pocket, throwing on the run and scrambling for yards on the ground.

Griffin ran out of the shotgun at Baylor, which featured a high-octane offense, but he will need to adapt his game in the NFL. He has great arm strength and his quick feet will certainly earn you some fantasy points this season. However, the Redskins don’t have a true number one wideout, but they do have a deep rotation of receivers and a decent tight end in Fred Davis, that could be productive.

 

14.) Pittsburgh SteelersBen Roethlisberger (Projected Stats: 3,500 Passing Yards, 24 Touchdowns) Risk

Banged up Ben. That’s what I was walking around mumbling to myself as I watched my fantasy qb limp up and down the field with a high ankle sprain during the playoffs. He mustered a whopping 13 fantasy points the final 3 games of the season. Ben Roethlisberger is one tough dude, and no one can question his character. Unfortunately, you don’t get awarded fantasy points for toughness. The Pittsburgh Steelers have a major problem on the offensive line, and it doesn’t look to be fixed anytime soon. Mike Wallace is in the midst of a contract struggle with the front office, Rashard Mendenhall is out for at least 8 weeks, and Hines Ward has hung up the cleats and replaced it with a microphone.

Ben failed to reach double-digit fantasy points in 5 games last season, and only surpassed the 17-point mark, 4 times. He just wasn’t fantasy stud material last year, and most likely burned you in the playoffs if you owned him. Antonio Brown got paid, and Emmanuel Sanders is considered raw but talented, but the pieces just aren’t all there for Ben. The risk of injury, the change in the offensive system, the loss of his running game, and the fact that Mike Wallace is unhappy, has Ben off my radar this season. We know he can light it up, we have seen it before, but his current ADP of 82.4 is a tad high for me. Can’t draft as starter, but should be considered a higher end backup.

 

15.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Josh Freeman (Projected Stats: 3,300 Passing Yards, 300 Rushing Yards, 23 Touchdowns) Upside

You can’t draft Josh Freeman as your fantasy starter, but he’s going to be one of the higher end backups for the 2012 fantasy campaign. He had a miserable 2011 season, throwing 22 interceptions compared to just 16 touchdowns. This turned out to be a fantasy disaster for anyone who drafted Freeman, expecting to get the 2010 version where he threw 25 touchdowns. The off-season has been busy for the Buccaneers organization. They hired former Rutgers head coach, Greg Schiano, picked up veteran receiver Vincent Jackson, and drafted Boise State running back, Doug Martin. There’s nowhere to go but UP for Freeman this season. He needs to sharpen his decision making, and be less erratic with the ball (22 INT’s and 5 fumbles). He also attempted 551 passes last season, eighth highest in the NFL, which may have been part of the reason for all the turnovers. His passing attempts should decrease this season, as Schiano will most likely conduct a more run-heavy system. Being a dual-threat, Freeman has the potential to give you solid fantasy numbers, but he’s being undervalued because of his poor play last season. Josh Freeman is a high to mid tier backup qb with great upside.

 

16.) Houston Texans - Matt Schaub (Projected Stats: 3,200 Passing Yards, 23 Touchdowns) Risk

Matt Schaub is the definition of the word forgotten. Not so long ago, Matt Schaub was a very sought after fantasy football quarterback. Let’s throw last season out the window, and look at his stats for the 2009 and 2010 season. Through those 2 seasons, Matt combined for a massive 9,140 yards and 53 touchdowns. Those are eye-popping numbers no matter how you look at it, but the reality in this situation is this is a new era for the Texans.

Things have changed drastically since 2009. The Texans defense wasn’t nearly as stout as it is now, and the team tended to get themselves into shootouts. Petyon Manning was in the division, the Jacksonville Jaguars actually had an offense, and Chris Johnson was running over defenses. Peyton is no longer in the AFC South, the Jaguars have some guy named Blaine as their quarterback, and Arian Foster is now one of the best running backs in the league.

In other words, the Texans do not need Matt Schaub to throw for 4,500+ yards in a season to be a successful team. Andre Johnson, Matt’s go-to-guy since Day 1, is also an injury risk. He has missed multiple games in four of the past seven seasons, and Matt is not nearly as effective without Andre on the field. I think Matt bounce’s back from last season, but that bounce won’t go very high. The Texans don’t need an air show to win anymore. His current ADP is 90.1, but I have seen him fall quite farther than that in recent drafts. Not starter material, but can be a consistent mid to lower tier qb if he stays healthy.

 

17.) Cincinnati Bengals - Andy Dalton (Projected Stats: 3,350 Passing Yards, 22 Touchdowns)

Not many saw it coming or predicted it, but Andy Dalton had quite an impressive rookie season. He threw for 3,398 yards with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Those numbers were impressive, especially since Andy didn’t experience a full season. Dalton ended up being the 15th best fantasy quarterback last season, and a lot of it had to do with the dynamic receiver, A.J. Green.

They became the NFL’s first rookie passing tandem to go for 3,000 passing and 1,000 receiving yards. The problem with Dalton, is that he lacks the arm strength to further this production, and move up the ranks at quarterback. In four of the final five games of the season last year, Andy failed to surpass 200 passing yards, and defenses really gave him a hard time. Until Dalton improves on his arm strength, and the Bengals can develop another weapon to line up opposite of Green, consider him a middle tier backup with great upside.

 

18.) Buffalo Bills - Ryan Fitzpatrick (Projected Stats: 3,400 Passing Yards, 23 Touchdowns) Upside

Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills started the 2011 season red hot. They started the season 5-2, and were the talk of the league after coming from 21 down to beat the New England Patriots in Week 3. Fitzpatrick recorded 25 fantasy points in each of his first three starts, throwing for 841 yards and 9 touchdowns in wins over the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, and the Patriots.

However, everything went sour after such a promising start. Fitzpatrick finished the season with a career-high and league-leading 24 interceptions. His production plummeted with five games under 210 yards passing over his final ten weeks – a period in which he threw for 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. While injuries to running back Fred Jackson and at the wide receiver position were part of the problem, some of the blame goes to Fitzpatrick whose accuracy got worse as the season progressed.  Injuries to key starters hindered the Bills ability to continue their early success, and they ended up missing the playoffs. Those injuries included linebacker Shawne Merriman, center Eric Wood, cornerback Terrence McGee, and star nose tackle Kyle Williams.

While his season ended badly, you can’t put all the blame on the Harvard product. Fitzpatrick still finished as the 11th ranked fantasy quarterback which was generally higher than predicted. The Bills threw the ball over 58% of the time last season, but that should decrease with Jackson back in the lineup. Keep the interceptions down, and Fitz could end up being a top 12 quarterback again. With a current ADP of 141.8, I put him as a middle tier backup with good upside.

 

19.) Baltimore Ravens - Joe Flacco (Projected Stats: 3,500 Passing Yards, 21 Touchdowns)

Joe Flacco remains an important piece to the success of the Baltimore Ravens. However, the Ravens will go as far as Ray Rice and their defense will take them. The truth is, the Ravens don’t have many offensive weapons outside of Ray Rice or speedster, Torrey Smith.Anquan Boldin is getting older and the next receiver on the depth chart is Jacoby Jones. Not exactly, knock you off your feet talent by any means.

Throw in the fact that the Ravens offensive system is beyond conservative, and you really don’t have anything spectacular here. Joe Flacco is and will remain nothing more than a decent game manager, who rarely puts up 20+ point fantasy performances. A rare plus in drafting Flacco is the fact that he has played in all 16 regular season games the past 4 seasons. Other than that, he’s a lower tier backup quarterback, with a career qb rating of 86.0.

 

20.) Oakland RaidersCarson Palmer (Projected Stats: 3,300 Passing Yards, 20 Touchdowns)

Palmer adapted himself nicely last year after being traded to the Raiders. He threw for 2,753 passing yards and 13 TDs in nine starts, he did however have 16 interceptions. The return of Darren McFadden should help open things up for Carson, but the Oakland offense scheme, now run by Greg Knapp, has a run first attitude. Head coach Dennis Allen said Palmer has looked “exceptional” so far at camp, and Carson has openly said his goal is to bring the Raiders to the playoffs.

Carson Palmer does have an athletic set of skill receivers to work with that include Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Jacoby Ford. Interesting enough, all three of them battled with injuries last season, and took their turns being the play-maker. If his receivers can stay healthy, Carson could provide more production than expected. Consider him a lower tier backup. His current ADP is 137.0.

That will conclude this segment of my 2012 fantasy football rankings of the not so elite club of quarterbacks. I also just want to add, that it’s not always a bad thing, when you end up with a player from this group of quarterbacks. Owning the “elite” comes with the risk of them being benched during the crucial fantasy playoff weeks. When you own a guy like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, there’s a great chance their team will be sitting pretty come week 15-16. Which, in turn, can end up ruining that great regular season you had when they end up being benched or only play one half due to already clinching a playoff berth. Don’t act like you haven’t seen it or endured it before, because it’s happened to all of us. Stay tuned in, as tomorrow I will release my 2012 fantasy football rankings on the top ten running backs.

 

Michael J. Igyarto is a featured fantasy football columnist at Rant Sports and community outreach director for FFBLIFE

Follow Michael on twitter: @windycityiggy

 


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