Quarterbacks are the cause of one of the most spirited debates in fantasy football. More and more people believe that you can wait to draft them until at least the sixth or seventh round given the fact that so many players are looked at as interchangeable. However, at the same time, this is usually the position that scores you the most points, unless a guy at another position really goes off. There hasn’t been a lot of turnover at the position coming into the year, but some of the stocks of the players certainly look different than they did at this point last season. Here are the top 30 guys heading into the 2013 fantasy football season.
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1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
371/552, 4,295 yards, 39 TDs, 8 INTs; 259 rush yds, 2 TD
There are few passing games that are more potent than that of the Green Bay Packers. I know that they let go of Greg Jennings, but he hasn’t been that healthy over the past two seasons anyway. Randall Cobb has emerged as a top flight wide receiver, and the Packers have three reliable receivers. There’s no reason to think that Green Bay won’t be among the best in the NFC again, and that Rodgers won’t throw for 35+ touchdowns again this season and be among the best in the business.
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
422/670, 5,177 yards, 43 TDs, 19 INTs; 5 rush yds, 1 TD
He has lost Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem over the past couple of seasons, but Brees still has a fairly dynamic set of weapons in order to maintain the weapons to have a potent offense. There aren’t too many offenses in the NFL that are more prolific in the NFL than New Orleans, and I expect Chris Givens to emerge and make up for some of the players who have left in free agency. The Saints will still be among the best in the business and there’s no reason to think that Brees will throw less than 40 scores.
3. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
400/583, 4,659 yards, 37 TDs, 11 INTs; 6 rush yds
Peyton enjoyed a career resurgence with the Broncos in 2012, although a couple of bad decisions had them out of the playoffs in a quick order. The good news is that Manning proved that his neck injury was behind him and that he was 100% heading into the season. Now that we head in 2013, it is obvious that nothing is wrong with Peyton and with Wes Welker, Demaryious Thomas, and Eric Decker, this should again be a very potent passing offense.
4. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
136/218, 1,814 yards, 10 TDs, 3 INTs; 415 rush yds, 5 TDs (7 starts)
Halfway through the season Kaepernick became the starting quarterback for the 49ers, and the offense flourished ever since. Colin brought a new dimension to the offense as he was able to run with the best of them, but also had a cannon for an arm delivering passes. Kaepernick has it all and will no doubt be among the best fantasy quarterbacks again this season. He runs out of bounds and doesn’t take big hits and runs the option offense better than anyone. This guy could be the number one quarterback in fantasy football in 2013.
5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
422/615, 4,719 yards, 32 TDs, 14 INTs; 141 rush yds, 1 TD
Matt Ryan broke out in 2012 as he has one of the best tandem of wide receivers in all of football with Julio Jones and Roddy White. Ryan’s touchdown numbers have risen in each of his five seasons in the NFL, and while I don’t think you can count on that happening again, the 30+ scores that he had in 2012 are more than enough to keep you happy this season. With Tony Gonzalez returning for another season, the Falcons still have an amazingly potent offense, and there’s no reason to think that Ryan won’t top 30-35 scores again in 2013.
6. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
401/637, 4,827 yards, 34 TDs, 8 INTs; 32 rush yds, 4 TDs
He might have lost some weapons with the injury to Rob Gronkowski, the loss of Wes Welker to Denver, and the murder charges against Aaron Hernandez, but let’s be honest Brady has won the Super Bowl without big name receivers before. This guy makes everyone around him better and even though the Patriots have lost some talent, Brady is still going to be among the best fantasy quarterbacks in 2013 no questions asked.
7. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
280/485, 3,869 yards, 19 TDs, 12 INTs; 741 rush yds, 8 TDs
Newton didn’t throw quite as many touchdowns as in his rookie season, and he definitely didn’t run for as many scores even thought he still was great considering he scored 27 times. Despite the fact that the Panthers haven’t taken the opportunity to add playmakers to their offense, Cam Newton is still able to make something out of nothing and adds playmaking ability with his legs to his throwing arm. He is a threat no matter what the play calling and could score 20 touchdowns through the air and ten on the ground.
8. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
435/727, 4,967 yards, 20 TDs, 17 INTs; 126 rush yds, 4 TDs
How does one player go from throwing 41 touchdowns and looking like a megastar, to only throwing 20 and looking like a huge disappointment? That’s Matthew Stafford the last two seasons folks, but I have to say that I definitely still have faith in this guy to rebound. I don’t know why the Lions don’t try to find this guy one more weapon on the outside, but they did bring in Reggie Bush who has always been great at catching balls out of the backfield and should be a great dump off option for Stafford to take the defensive pressure off him. He won’t have Titus Young around this season to take the focus off the offense so Stafford better produce. I believe he will and will draft him with confidence.
9. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
339/627, 4,374 yards, 23 TDs, 18 INTs; 255 rush yds, 5 TDs
More than anything else, I believe that Andrew Luck impressed us with his poise, which is one of the more important attributes when it comes to playing quarterback. He led the Colts to victory multiple times in the fourth quarter of his rookie season, and I could easily see him doing that again. Another year of maturity from him and targets like T.Y. Hilton and Colby Fleener only give him more of a chance to succeed. We will see if he can get anything from Darrius Heyward-Bey and of course Reggie Wayne leads the group. I like Luck to improve his touchdown numbers this year, and maintain his success running the ball as well, as he added that extra dimension with being smart at when to tuck the ball away and take off downfield. I like this kid a lot!
10. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
425/648, 4,903 yards, 28 TDs, 19 INTs; 49 rush yds, 1 TD
For the life of me I will never understand why the fantasy community hates Tony Romo. Sure, the guy makes a lot of bonehead plays in the fourth quarter and sometimes costs his team a game, but you aren’t a fan of his team in fantasy. I’m sure you don’t like the -2 points for that stupid interception late, but the guy still nearly threw for 5,000 yards and scored almost 30 touchdowns. Why isn’t that good enough? I still like Romo as a lower end QB1 in fantasy.
11. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
258/393, 3,200 yards, 20 TDs, 5 INTs; 815 rush yds, 7 TDs
Many questioned if Griffin was worth the second pick in the draft, and questioned his ability to thrive in an NFL style offense. Well, the good thing now is not every team runs the traditional offense, and he absolutely excelled in his first season. The concern with RG3 is obviously his durability as a guy who runs that many times also takes a good deal of hits, and he limped to the end of the season and helped his team make the playoffs even though you knew he was hurt. There’s an outside chance he won’t be ready to start the season, but all reports are that his rehab has been a major success. He could throw for 3,500 yards and run for another 1,000 but he’s going to have to be able to stay on the field. If you draft Griffin, get used to reading the injury report and be sure that you draft your second quarterback not far behind so you aren’t left with Blaine Gabbert in case this guy goes down for an extended period.
12. Eli Manning, New York Giants
321/526, 3,948 yards, 26 TDs, 15 INTs; 30 rush yds
As soon as Eli declared himself elite and led the Giants to another Super Bowl title two years ago, he followed that up with his worst statistical performance since 2008, and he threw for 1,000 less yards than the season before and a few less touchdowns. The Giants certainly have some nice weapons for him to choose from with Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks when he is healthy, but Eli seems to make receivers better as you saw performances from Ramses Barden, Rueben Randle, etc that you wouldn’t have expected. Eli is in a division with some pretty tough defensive foes in it, and I feel he is just on the borderline of being a low end fantasy starter and a fantastic fantasy backup. Choose wisely.
13. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
329/528, 3,669 yards, 27 TDs, 16 INTs; 120 rush yds, 4 TDs
The most successful ginger since Ron Howard, Dalton took the next step forward in Year 2 as he looks to expand upon his NFL success. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have an absolute freak along side of you in A.J. Green who is my favorite wide receiver. But you also saw some signs of life out of Andrew Hawkins and the team drafted Tyler Eifert to try to give Dalton a big target down the middle (read: a big white guy) to throw to. Dalton to me isn’t your every week starting quarterback, but like Eli Manning is damn close, and is a great guy to have on your roster if you can grab him in the later rounds.
14. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
252/393, 3,118 yards, 26 TDs, 10 INTs; 489 rush yds, 4 TDs
Oh the whole world fell in love with Russell Wilson this past season and he became the media darling as the Seahawks returned to prominence. I still stand by that it was the defense that led them, but I could be a little biased. He is very poised under pressure, I can’t take that away from the guy and he did have a pretty decent statistical season. But he isn’t a top ten quarterback. Not in the NFL, not in fantasy football. He’s short, he doesn’t have a big arm, but what he does have is a nice set of weapons. Seattle traded for Percy Harvin to go with Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, and Doug Baldwin. I believe he will be overdrafted this year, and people will go into the season with him as their starter. I am going to suggest against that, as I think the ‘Hawks will be in a lot of close games with scores in the high teens and low 20s. He has talent, but I think the hype is more than he deserves.
15. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
317/531, 3,817 yards, 22 TDs, 10 INTs; 22 rush yds, 3 TDs
The Super Bowl winning and now highest paid player in football comes into the next season with lofty expectations in fantasy as well but I’m here to tell you that he isn’t going to reach them. The simple fact is Flacco isn’t asked to throw for 5,000 yards or hurl 40 touchdowns. The guy is good, no doubt about that, but he isn’t an elite fantasy quarterback and the loss of Anquan Boldin is only going to make that worse. I expect him to match last year’s stats, or maybe increase the TDs by a few, but despite his contract he isn’t going to all of a sudden turn into a fantasy stud.
16. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
345/565, 4,018 yards, 22 TDs, 14 INTs; 36 rush yds, 1 TD
There are two pieces of good news for Carson Palmer. First is, he is out of Oakland where for some reason everyone seems to forget how to play the game. Second is that in the eyes of the Cardinals’ fans, ANYTHING is an improvement over the quarterback play that they have been getting the past few years. Palmer certainly can’t move, but the guy can still sling it, and it almost reminds me of when Kurt Warner showed up in Arizona. There’s talent there at wide receiver starting with Larry Fitzgerald, but don’t sleep on second year receiver Michael Floyd, and Andre Roberts who can really rack up the receptions. From the day I heard about this acquisition I thought there was a chance that Palmer could be successful. It’s time to find out now if it will be.
17. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
284/449, 3,265 yards, 26 TDs, 8 INTs; 92 rush yds (13 games)
His abilities in bar bathrooms are well documented, but Big Ben also isn’t half bad at football. But Ben isn’t a statistical genius, and likely shouldn’t be a starting fantasy quarterback. He is tough as nails but unfortunately that often leads to him being questionable on the injury report. Ben has only topped the 25 passing touchdown plateau three times in his nine year career, so while I’m not here to tell you he’s bad, you should be able to do better as your starting quarterback, he is one of the best QB2s in the game.
18. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
338/527, 3,606 yards, 26 TDs, 15 INTs; 40 rush yds
Once upon a time, I actually liked Philip Rivers. He showed guts, grit, determination, aaaaand it didn’t hurt he threw 92 touchdowns in three seasons. And then something happened, like a magical curse! All of a sudden he liked throwing it to the other team! Rivers turned into an interception machine! Oh, and I almost forgot the fumbles! It also appeared that when he wasn’t throwing it, Rivers liked to drop the ball so the other team could get it…..to the tune of 15 fumbles in 2012. Rivers has talent around him. Danario Alexander caught everything that was thrown his way last year, and while they aren’t household names, Malcom Floyd, Eddie Royal, and Robert Meachem aren’t slouches! They all have been talented receivers in the past. Everything is there for Rivers to succeed, but he’s bitten me in the butt once too many times. He finished 2012 strong with eight touchdowns and just one interception in December, so hopefully he can carry that in to 2013.
19. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
255/434, 3,033 yards, 19 TDs, 14 INTs; 233 rush yds
If Jay Cutler gets down on his knees and prays at night the one thing that he would have to have asked for every single Sunday would be for SOMEONE ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE TO PICK UP A BLOCK!!!! The poor guy was sacked 38 times, including games of being taken down seven, six, and five times in single contests. The number could have been a lot higher if he wasn’t as good at getting rid of the ball. If Cutler has time, and that’s the hope as the Bears completely revamped the line, this guy can easily throw for 30 touchdowns even without big stars outside of Brandon Marshall. But given the way that his team has protected him in the past, I would have a hard time putting my weekly starting quarterback as a guy who has had so much trouble in recent years.
20. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
282/484, 3,294 yards, 12 TDs, 13 INTs; 211 rush yds, 2 TDs
It is put up or shut up time for Ryan Tannehill as far as his future with the Miami Dolphins goes. The second year man showed some signs of maturity and the ability to be a successful NFL quarterback, but with the talent around him he was only going to go so far. This offseason the Dolphins have brought in a lions’ share of guys. First came top free agent Mike Wallace, then Dustin Keller, followed by Brandon Gibson. Put that together with PPR machine Brian Hartline and you should have yourself a passing game! Miami’s running game will have to step up, but the offense will revolve around the pass. I wouldn’t want him as my starter, but Tannehill does have the tools to throw 25+ touchdowns, now can he do it?
21. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
350/544, 4,008 yards, 22 TDs, 12 INTs
Schaub showed us he still had it, at least to a certain extent in 2012 as he threw for over 4,000 yards coming back from an injury riddled 2011. But he isn’t a guy you should count on. From Week 14 through the first round of the playoffs (that’s fantasy playoff time folks) which encompasses five games, the dude threw ONE touchdown pass. Andre Johnson certainly isn’t what he used to be and he generally spends a couple of weeks on the sidelines a year. Houston drafted DeAndre Hopkins to try to take some of the pressure off of Johnson, but I don’t see him being a huge difference maker right away, he’s not a deep threat. Houston’s offense is still going to revolve around the running game, and while Schaub still has value, it is as a middle of the road QB2.
22. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
204/351, 2,362 yards, 12 TDs, 10 INTs; 332 rush yds, 1 TD (10 games)
His grasp on the job is anything but secure, but it at least appears as of now that Vick is the leader in the clubhouse. Honestly, if they didn’t think he was capable of doing the job, they wouldn’t have given him a new contract. Vick has had massive trouble with fumbles and staying healthy the past couple of games, mostly because he doesn’t have a big frame, and he runs with reckless abandon. That is both good and bad in Chip Kelly’s offense. It appears that he will be doing more running which will help his fantasy value, but it also puts him in harm’s way more often, which could lead to injury. Vick could either be dynamic or on IR in the first five weeks of the year.
23. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
306/558, 4,065 yards, 27 TDs, 17 INTs; 139 rush yds
Can please someone explain Josh Freeman to me? The numbers say the guy had a pretty damn good season with over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. So, why would the team then go out and drat Mike Glennon in the third round? That’s not the kind of pick where you take a guy to fill a roster spot, a third round draft pick has a chance to play in the NFL. Freeman is a mystery. From Weeks 6-11 he threw 16 scores in those six games. In the six games that followed that he threw six touchdowns…….with ten interceptions! He has two quality receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, so why is he so inconsistent? Obviously, the Bucs haven’t put their full faith in him, so I have trouble doing the same. You could be surprised by Freeman and he could repeat last season’s numbers. He also could be holding the clip board by Halloween. Even on my bench, that’s not a situation that I love taking on.
24. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
153/218, 1,737 yards, 13 TDs, 5 INTs; 132 rush yds (10 games)
Listen, I don’t want to beat on this guy, but let’s be realistic about who he is and what happened last year. Everyone talked about how unfortunate it was that he was replaced by Kaepernick due to injury because the team was doing so well. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t because of the passing game. Look at the numbers! 13 touchdowns in ten games isn’t good, and six of them came in two games, which means that in the other eight games he had six touchdown passes. He’s fairly efficient and doesn’t make many mistakes, but the guy just can’t throw the ball down the field and is limited in what he can do. He’s a nice quarterback. He can win you some games, but the Chiefs will never go deep into the playoffs with him, and you won’t even make the fantasy playoffs if he is your starting QB.
25. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
328/551, 3,702 yards, 21 TDs, 13 INTs; 127 rush yds, 1 TD
Bradford started the season pretty damn awful as he had just six touchdown passes in his first six games, including three without a score. He finished fairly strong and comes into 2013 with perhaps his most exciting offseason. Brian Quick is really impressing the coaching staff in offseason workouts, and the Rams drafted a pair of receivers from West Virginia. Tavon Austin got all of the accolades coming out of college, but his teammate, Stedman Bailey, also looks to have a major impact this year. Throw in new tight end Jared Cook, and Bradford may never have had this much receiving talent around him. He still has a ways to go to show that he’s ready to be taken seriously and he needs to remain healthy, but things could be looking up for Bradford.
26. Matt Flynn, Oakland Raiders
5/9, 68 yards (3 games, zero starts)
Boy if you think I don’t like Russell Wilson, how do you think Matt Flynn feels about him? Brought in to Seattle with a monster contract, Flynn never got a chance to show his stuff as Wilson took his job and ran with it. So, here we are another year away and we STILL don’t know what we have with Flynn. There is some talent on the Raiders at wide receiver. Denarious Moore is one of the better receivers that gets very little attention. Jacoby Ford is solid, Rod Streater had a few good games, and they brought in a speedy Joshua Cribbs. There is room for Flynn to succeed here, and while I don’t think he is going to lead your team to a fantasy victory, he isn’t a bad fill in if your starter was to go down a week or two or in case of a bye week.
27. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
177/314, 2,176 yards, 10 TDs, 11 INTs; 41 rush yds, 1 TDs (11 games)
Locker lost nearly half of the 2012 season with a shoulder injury, and I have to say he wasn’t overly impressive when he was in there. But there’s something about this guy that I think could eventually emerge as a legitimate quarterback. He has some weapons in Kenny Britt when he’s not injured or in jail, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker, Kevin Walter, and the Titans drafted Justin Hunter in the second round as a possible playmaker. Obviously you wouldn’t think about taking Locker as your top guy, but if you have one of the top QBs already on your team, maybe grab him late and perhaps you grab yourself a little trade chip during the season to help improve your team somewhere else.
28. Kevin Kolb, Buffalo Bills
109/183, 1,169 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs; 100 rush yds, 1 TD
Sooooooo, you are Kevin Kolb. You sign with the Bills in April and then you come out with those RIDICULOUS comments that you chose the Bills because you thought you could win Super Bowls there. Two months later the team drafts E.J. Manuel with their first round pick and sign him for four years. This should make for an interesting preseason in Buffalo. Kolb wasn’t good with the Cardinals even when he was healthy and now he goes to a team that outside of Stevie Johnson and Fred Jackson, I’m not sure any of them can even drink legally yet. I don’t anticipate a good season for Kolb or the Bills and as a matter of fact I will be surprised if he finishes the year under center and not on the sidelines.
29. Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
300/483, 2,935 yards, 18 TDs, 12 INTs; 253 rush yds, 2 TDs
Many in Minnesota are starting to question whether or not that Ponder will turn out to be the guy they thought they were drafting, and have gone so far as to bring in Matt Cassel to push him. I know it’s not much of a push, but it’s the symbolism. Adrian Peterson will always be the focus of the offense, but there are just too many games where Ponder fails to show up. He had five games where he didn’t even throw for 150 yards, and five more where he failed to throw even a single touchdown pass. The team brought in Greg Jennings and drafted Cordarrelle Patterson to give him more toys to play with, so it’s now or never for Ponder. Right now I have to say that I’m leaning towards never with him……as in you should never draft him.
30. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
246/453, 2,883 yards, 13 TDs, 18 INTs; 28 rush yds
The guy who brought you the Butt Fumble last year is going to bring you more quarterback drama again this year. The Jets got out of the gate by crushing the Bills and Sanchez threw three touchdowns and everyone had hope. Well, he would throw just ten more the rest of the season and we know that more attention was paid to the backup quarterback than the starter. This year the Jets drafted Geno Smith and another quarterback circus will ensue. But regardless the Jets don’t have any weapons and Sanchez isn’t talented enough to make this work. Avoid at all costs!
Draft questions? Keeper questions? General fantasy football questions? Feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow me and send them to @fightingchance. I guarantee an answer in 18 hours or less.