During the 2012 NFL campaign, a plethora of quarterbacks flourished. We had the impressive crop of rookies, typical star veteran, seemingly every signal callers was putting up strong fantasy numbers. In fact, 21 quarterbacks eclipsed the 200 fantasy point mark, which is the most we have ever seen. Because of these huge numbers, many fantasy owners decided to wait on drafting a quarterback, knowing how deep the position was. And while the 2013 season didn’t quite see the same quarterback success, it doesn’t really matter.
It was the right move.
In 2013, 18 quarterbacks scored 200 fantasy points, but had Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Fitzpatrick (yes, Ryan Fitzpatrick) started the entire season, that number would have easily been 20. However, according to Tristan Cockroft, the position set an all-time fantasy point record of 7,828, which was 273 more than last year’s record.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the year that was among quarterbacks.
How can you not start with the soon-to-be MVP?
Peyton Manning put together the greatest single-season performance a quarterback has ever had, thus, awarding himself with his own section in this column. Fantasy’s number one quarterback, scoring a whopping 406 points, Manning tossed a record 55 touchdowns and (another record) 5,477 yards. Again, Cockroft states that Manning’s 406 ESPN standard points were the most since LaDainian Tomlinson back in 2006. The Broncos offense set records themselves, mainly because of Manning’s dominant play, averaging a league-leading 25.4 fantasy points per contest. He posted just four games with fewer than 20 fantasy points all season long.
We saw a handful of quarterbacks come out of nowhere and really establish themselves as high-end fantasy signal callers. It seems that two or three guys emerge every year, which is again why you should wait on the position. Anyway, let’s start with the Red Rifle, Andy Dalton, shall we?
After watching his constant atrocious playoff performances, you’d be hard-pressed to believe that Dalton, yes Dalton, was the fifth-highest scoring fantasy quarterback in 2013. Only four other players scored more points. Dalton finished inside the top-five.
Nope. No matter how many ways I say it, still doesn’t sound right.
Still, Dalton was a very good fantasy option, you know, when he wasn’t in one of those ugly cold streaks. His 17.3 fantasy points per game ranked 7th-most in the league, but it was a bit of a roller coaster ride for fantasy owners. Yes, he tossed a stellar 33 touchdown passes (3rd-most), but he was also one of only five quarterbacks to throw 20 or more interceptions. Dalton is streaky, which is why not many are going to fully believe in him come next season. For instance, during weeks 9-11, Dalton threw eight picks and just five touchdowns, but during weeks 14-16, he was great, throwing for 290 yards and three touchdowns per game, without turning the ball over. However, I still think he’s a top-12 option for next season, strictly because when he’s good, he puts up huge numbers. Also, I love his supporting cast. He’s got a top-three wideout in A.J. Green, a burgeoning pass-catching back in Gio Bernard, an athletic young tight end and a viable red zone option in Marvin Jones.
Then there’s the Comeback Player of the Year, Philip Rivers. After a rather weak 2012 campaign, Rivers exploded for 4,478 passing yards (5th in NFL) and 32 touchdowns (4th). He was extremely accurate, finishing with the league’s highest completion percentage of 69.5 percent. Those strong numbers helped him finish as the 6th-best fantasy option in 2013. It’s even more impressive when you consider he did it all with a rookie receiver (a darn good one), an aging tight end and both Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander out for the season. Head coach Mike McCoy was an offensive wizard during his inaugural year in San Diego, and his style of offenses (targeting the running backs) makes Rivers’ job much easier. I see nothing wrong with him in 2014, especially if Keenan Allen and Ladarius Green continue to mature.
Finally, Nick Foles. The guy started just ten games all season, but still finished inside the top-12 in fantasy points scored, and if you take it by a per-game basis, he was the third-highest scorer. Since Week 8, only Manning has scored more fantasy points than the Eagles franchise quarterback, and according to PFF, Foles led all quarterbacks in fantasy points per dropback (0.72). Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense is primed for fantasy success, as the Eagles averaged a healthy 65.4 plays per game. Remember, in just 10 games, Foles still tossed more touchdowns than the likes of Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson. Don’t expect just two interceptions all of the 2014 season, but Foles has boatloads of fantasy upside in this offense, and could even get Jeremy Maclin back next year.
There’s Always Next Year
Of course, with breakout years also come busts.
Eli Manning was obviously brutal for anyone who waited on quarterback and were hoping for some more Eli magic. He was laughably bad, throwing just 18 touchdowns compared to an ugly 27 interceptions. He finished as a top-12 quarterback (get this) just one week all season, and that was during the first game of the year against Dallas. I mean, the guy averaged just over 10 fantasy points per game. That is so incredibly bad, especially for a quarterback. I’m not even thinking about investing on him. There are too many better options.
One guy who I am perfectly fine with drafting next year is Matt Ryan, who’s down 2013 campaign wasn’t really his fault. Sure, 26 touchdowns and 17 interceptions isn’t terrible, but it’s not what you planned on when drafting Ryan. Injuries obviously killed Ryan, as Roddy White dealt with a nagging ankle injury all year long, while Julio Jones was sidelined for the rest of the year back in Week 5. Still, Ryan was strong as usual when he did have Julio, passing for at least 300 yards and two scores in four of his first five contests, averaging a solid 19.2 fantasy points per game during that span. He’ll rebound tremendously this year and should serve as a Matthew Stafford type guy, someone you can wait on and get QB1 value with ease. No, he won’t have the security blanket that is Tony Gonzalez, but with pass-happy offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter returning, Ryan should be more than serviceable in 2014.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.