While last year had a plethora of quarterbacks going in the first two rounds, this upcoming season should be vastly different. The league has become extremely pass happy and non-committee running backs are a dime a dozen. In large part, the running back position has the steepest drop-off after the elites and is hands down the shallowest of any position. And this past year, 23 quarterbacks scored more than 200 points (in 6 point per passing touchdown leagues), the most ever to do so. It is ridiculously deep at the quarterback position this year.

The quarterback position is so deep that I would be reluctant to take a quarterback in the first twenty picks! Although I can guarantee that someone will take Aaron Rodgers in the first round, it shouldn't happen. To give you an idea of what can happen, Matt Ryan has been going as late as the ninth round in the mock drafts. So please, fellow fantasy footballers, WAIT! Be patient. Let the draft come to you. Don't start a quarterback run. And if there is one, WAIT! Just because Cam Newton is available in the fourth round does not mean he's the best pick available given the scarcity of running backs. On the other hand, if there is a running back run, you better snatch one up otherwise you might be looking at a tandem of Chris Ivory and Reggie Bush. Yuck.

And to those in my league (which I won) last year who started taking backups in the 8th round. WAIT. Please. Freaking. Wait. Last year, by the time people were taking unnecessary backups, I was taking my starter, Robert Griffin III. Obviously in hindsight it was a great pick. But at the time, it was a scrambling, never-racking pick. And while last year there was a risk to wait that long, this year you can be making bank by waiting that long.

Let me re-iterate: This is the year to wait. If you don't get Aaron Rodgers, so what? Get Tony Romo, Andrew Luck, even Colin Kaepernick after the fifth round. Tony Romo is the 12th ranked quarterback in ESPN and my rankings. In a 10 team league that means he is a backup! Wait. Heck, in a twelve team league I bet you can get Matt Stafford as your backup if want to be "that guy".

Here's another thing. You hardly need a backup quarterback unless you draft Griffin (the ACL concerns). With guys like Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Michael Vick, etc all outside the top 12, you don't need to waste a roster spot when you can just pick one up later. Let me just sternly say: If you draft either Rodgers, Brady, Brees, or Manning and then proceed to draft a backup QB, you are most certainly wasting a roster spot.

So finally, WAIT. WAIT on a quarterback likes it's your girlfriend trying on every dress imaginable. You know she'll find the right one eventually, even if it takes three hours.

Do some mock drafts to see where your favorite quarterbacks are going. Suppose you like Russell Wilson higher than most. Don't rush to take him. Do a mock draft and see if you can get him in the sixth or seventh round. Or maybe you like Matt Stafford to bounce back or maybe you're just fine with any of the QB's from the five to twelve range. Then try mock drafts and push it to see how long you can wait on a number one quarterback. And if you are in a "standard" 4 point per passing touchdown league, really, really wait. If it is a 6 point per any touchdown league, still wait (but perhaps not quite as long).

And alas. Here are my consistency rankings based on last years stats. You can find two seasons ago here. Keep in mind the percentage on the right is for percentage of "Great" games. So for instance, Rodgers was great in 9 out of 16 or 56.25% of his games last season. But it's important to note that he was still a worthy start in 75% of his games (add the 3 "Start" games to the 9 "Great" or better games).

Player (last years rank)35252015<15Inj/Sit% Great
Rodgers (2)45034056.25
Brees (1)64231075.00
P. Manning (4)010222075.00
Brady (3)4    2    6    3    1    0    75.00
Ryan (5)253240    62.50
Newton (6) 23425056.25
Griffin III (7)34143153.33
Wilson (9)*15         2         2         6        0            50.00       
Romo (8)143440    50.00
Stafford (11)12454043.75
Kaepernick (25)01331850.00
Luck (10)13        2         7        3        0           37.50      
E. Manning (14)141370    37.50
Roethlisberger (16)12352346.15
Vick (27)01153620.00
Flacco (15)1          1         5         2        7       0           43.75      
Rivers (20)03175    0    25.00
Dalton (12)07027043.75
Bradford (18)02248025.00
Freeman (13)13336043.75
Palmer (19)10554140.00
Cutler (23)01428133.33
Tannehill (24)01339025.00
Smith (29)02205744.44
Tebow (CFL)It'sTeeBowTimeinCanada?
All stats here based on 1 point per 25 passing yards, 1 point per 10 rushing yards, and 6 points per touchdown.

*Five of Wilson's six duds came in the first seven games. He finished the year with just one dud in his last nine games.

So here are some main takeaways from last years stats (also in comparison to two years ago). And here are last year's rankings for you to compare.
  • Aaron Rodgers "Great" percentage is a far cry from last years perfect percentage. But even with the lowest percentage among the top five, he finished in the top 3 for the fifth year in a row.
  • Over the past two years, Drew Brees has been the most consistent quarterback. And now Sean Payton is coming back. Sheesh.
  • How right was I about Eli Manning? Very right. Expect more inconsistent play from him. For the past two years, he has had the most duds among the top 15 quarterbacks. He's not worthy of a starting spot in any league with 12 or fewer owners.
  • Of my top ten, Peyton Manning was the only one who did not register a freak game. I expect that to change this year with the best receiving corps in football. Sorry to my Packers fans out there.
  • There were 30 freak games this past season in comparison to just 18 last year. Can I emphasize what a passing league this has become? And just how deep the quarterback pool is this year.
  • Andy Dalton tied for fourth in games with 25 or more points. He was also tied for fourth in games with 15 or less points.
  • While Luck does not have a high percentage of great games, he was startable in 13 of 16 games.
Now. With all this in mind, get it! Be patient. Have fun. And stock up on running backs and wide receivers while your opponents take quarterbacks way too early.

Rounds 2-3: The Super Elite
1. Aaron Rodgers (ADP 9.9)
2. Drew Brees (ADP 14.3)

This is pretty straightforward. Since 2009, these guys have finished right next to each other at 1st and 2nd three times. And since 2009, neither has finished outside the top six quarterbacks. They are benchmarks for consistency and durability. You cannot go wrong with either of them. But no, I would not take either in the first round. Not this year folks.

Who I want the most: Who do you think? I want my boy the all-time passer rating leader. But actually, I'd prefer Brees here. You can get Brees slightly later than Rodgers (ADP 9.9 vs 14.3) and simply put, some fool is probably going to take Rodgers in the first anyway. Yet the biggest reasons I have for Brees is that Sean Payton is back and the possible emergence of a running game in Green Bay. We all know the chemisty Brees has with Payton and I expected the duo to replicate and improve upon last season. And with offensive line changes and high potential running backs in Green Bay, I expect Rodgers' yardage and touchdowns to be cut in to. I especially expect declines in Rodgers' own rushing stats in which he has averaged 279 yards and 3.6 touchdowns per season. While those aren't great by any means, they are usually what puts him over the top of Brees and Tom Brady.

Rounds 3-5: The Elite
3. Peyton Manning (ADP 21.6)
4. Tom Brady (ADP 18.7)
5. Cam Newton (ADP 29.3)

First off, let me remind you that in a typical league, there's no way you'll get any of these guys in the fifth. But, you should be able to. People just don't get it. In the first ESPN experts mock draft, Brady and Manning went in the fourth while Newton went in the fifth. I highly doubt the people you play with will be that smart and patient. Nonetheless, as I said, waitand reap the benefits.

As you can see, there are still no question marks in this deep quarterback class. Cam has ended any doubt that he could be the same QB he was as a rookie, Manning is back to full health and robot-like precision, and Brady is still Brady. I would take Manning over Brady simply because of all years where we've seen Brady's options, this could be the worst. With virtually no receivers besides the still unproven Danny Amendola, Brady will lean heavily on Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, both of whom have had their fair share of injuries (and in Hernandez's case, an arrest warrant).

Who I want the most: Despite the addition of Wes Welker in Denever, I'll actually take Cam here. While I do think Manning will have the better season, I don't think it will be that much better than Cam's. I mainly prefer Cam here because of the draft value and hopes to get him (realistically) in the fourth. As for Brady, just remember that he is still Brady. No matter who his receivers are, you can expect Brady to be Brady. Did I say that enough? Brady will be Brady. 

Rounds 4-7: The Up and Coming
6. Robert Griffin III (ADP 56.5) (Pending injury updates)
7. Matt Ryan (ADP 41.3)
8. Colin Kaepernick (ADP 43.7)
9. Russell Wilson (ADP 49.9)

A tier with three running sons of guns. But hear this folks, whether or not the read option sticks, they are changing the way the game is being played right now. Matt Ryan here is the only truly proven one here, but that doesn't mean I would trust the other three any less. But those three guys are the only ones I would even consider drafting a backup for. Because they run so much and are thus vulnerable to injuries, a backup could be worth it. But if you take anyone besides RGIII, Kaepernick, or Wilson please, please do not draft a backup. You don't need one.

Who I want the most: Matt Ryan. Tony Gonzalez is back and the addition of Steven Jackson gives the Falcons a running back who will play a role in their passing attack. Ryan finished seventh among QB's last year and has a chance to finally crack the top five this year. I trust him most of those not in the top five and expect big things as the Falcons are once again loaded in weapons.

Rounds 7-10: The Value Starters
10. Matt Stafford (ADP 64.4)
11. Tony Romo (ADP 80.5)
12. Andrew Luck (ADP 71.0)

These are the guys I'm targeting. They finished 11th, 9th, and 8th respectively and all are in a position to improve on that. You cannot go wrong with any of these and drafting one as your starter and it will allow you to have the stock up and running backs (and wide receivers). 

And for those of you who are thinking you might want to take one as your backup before I get my starter? Think again. Remember how last year worked when THREE people took backups before I got my eventual starting quarterback? Yeah, take a look at my championship belt why don't you. And do you really want to waste a roster spot on a quarterback who will never start over a top five QB? Or just give you headaches about which of your two QB's you want to start? And I have asked enough leading questions to make you never even ponder this decision again?

Who I want the most: Matt Stafford. Despite struggles last year, he still put together a solid season. While it was a far cry from his 2011 breakout campaign, I expect him to rebound. While he may not throw over 700 times this year, the additions of Reggie Bush and a slightly improved line can only help. And he's still got that guy Calvin Johnson. That helps too. And you can't go wrong with Romo either. Just because he can't win big games does not mean he is not a good fantasy option.

Rounds 11-16: The Rest
13. Eli Manning (ADP 92.9)
14. Ben Roethlisberger (ADP 104.7)
15. Michael Vick (ADP 119.5)
16. Joe Flacco (ADP 112.9)
17. Philip Rivers (ADP 137.0)
18. Andy Dalton (ADP 131.0)
19. Sam Bradford (ADP 133.0)
20. Jay Cutler (ADP 137.4)
21. Matt Schaub (ADP 127.5)
22. Alex Smith (ADP 145.1)
23. Josh Freeman (ADP 136.7)
24. Carson Palmer (ADP 139.8)
25. Ryan Tannehill (ADP 145.1)
105. Tim Tebow (ADP N/A)
106. JaMarcus Russell (ADP N/A)

Time be blunt. None of the guys outside the top fifteen should be drafted. Don't waste a roster spot for a guy who won't be used. So. Pick up Eli for bye weeks. Keep a close eye on Vick in Kelly's new offense. Monitor Rivers to see if he can regain old form. And if he performs like he did with gloves on, perhaps he will. Monitor Palmer solely for his impact on Larry Fitzgerald. Watch Big Ben and Flacco. Watch Cutler to see what a grown baby looks like. Watch Tim Tebow warm up seats for Brady. And watch to see if JaMarcus can regain his eating form. It looks like he took some time off from that. And use the all of them as very solid bye week replacements. Boom.


2012 Fantasy QB Tiers

Tier 1: The Mega Elite
1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Tom Brady

Who I want the most: Aaron Rodgers. This is quite possibly the easiest decision in this draft. Aaron Rodgers never once scored less than 20 points last season, unless you count week 17 against the Lions when Matt Flynn went off. He scored over 30 points seven times and 40 points twice. Aaron Rodgers was no doubt the most consistent and highest scoring quarterback, and he still believes that he has room for improvement. He has a legitimate case to be number one overall, but is nevertheless a top 5 overall pick.

Tier 2: The Elite
3. Drew Brees
4. Cam Newton
5. Matt Stafford

Who I want the most: Drew Brees. While this is a tough call, Brees is hands down the most proven of the bunch. Stafford is still an injury concern and there is no way I expect Newton to replicate his 14 rushing touchdowns. While the Saints are a bit troublesome with the whole bounty scandal, expect Brees to still be one of the safest and best picks of the draft.

Tier 3: The Rock Solid Value
6. Tony Romo
7. Michael Vick
8. Philip Rivers
9. Eli Manning
10. Peyton Manning

Who I want the most: Michael Vick. This year, Vick is a bargain. Rather than being drafted in the first round like last year, Vick should slip past the second and be available between the 3rd and 5th rounds. Jump on him. Last year's disappointment still ranked him 11th among all quarterbacks even with only 13 games played. And while I expected his rushing touchdowns from 2010 to decrease, I did not expect a 1 rushing touchdown season. He still averaged 8 yards a carry last season and has elite potential. Take your chances, but be sure to get a solid backup in case of injury.

Bust potential: Philip Rivers. While I was high on Rivers last year, this year worries me. Ryan Mathews is becoming a feature back and Rivers lost Vincent Jackson. While Rivers should still produce, he is more of a risk than previous years.

Tier 4: The Producers
11. Ben Roethlisberger
12. Matt Ryan
13. Matt Schaub

Who I want the most: Ben Roethlisberger. With Rashard Mendenhall out the Steelers will be relying more heavily on their passing attack. Big Ben does have weapons in Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders. I think he can finish in the top 10 this year. Matt Ryan, who ranked in the top 10 last year, could also be a bargain with Turner aging and elite weapons in Roddy White and Julio Jones. If you miss out on any of the top 10 guys, do not be afraid to jump on either of these two.

Tier 5: The Rest
14. Jay Cutler
15. Robert Griffin III
16. Joe Flacco
17. Josh Freeman
18. Ryan Fitzpatrick
19. Andrew Luck
20. Tim Tebow

Who I want the most: Robert Griffin III. Or Tim Tebow. Griffin has huge upside in an above average offense in Washington. His running ability puts him into the Vick/Newton territory as he should benefit from 500+ rushing yards and around 5 rushing touchdowns. And as for Tim Tebow, welll you know, I love him. Do not draft him, but keeps tabs on him because there is one current starting quarterback I could see Tebow overtaking. And that man is Mark Sanchez.

Sleeper Potential: Jay Cutler. As much as it pains me to say this, Cutler could be in for a big season. He is reunited with Brandon Marshall and has solid options in Chicago. With an offensive line that improved as the year went along, Cutler might actually see time in the pocket. While I won't be surprised to see his pouty face multiple times, Cutler might finally produce a better than average season.

Extra Sleeper: Nate Amodio. This season, instead of being a Woodhead/Tebow hybrid, he will be called upon to be the Aaron Rodgers of the returning playoff team, the Pineapple Chunkers. With an excellent scrimmage in the offseason already, his arm looks sharp and his decision making has been great. However, a second pulled hammy in 4 months is making him less than a surefire option. And he needs his mobility to be top-notch because as you all know, he can barely see over his own lineman in the pocket. But given a healthy body and handlebar mustache, I expect nothing less than excellence.


2011 QB Rankings

Ranking   Player                  Bye Week
1           Aaron Rodgers       8
2           Drew Brees            11
3           Michael Vick          7
4           Philip Rivers           6
5           Tom Brady             7
6           Peyton Manning     11
7           Tony Romo            5
8           Matt Schaub          11
9           Ben Roethlisberger 11
10         Matt Ryan              8
11         Josh Freeman        8
12         Joe Flacco             5
13         Sam Bradford         5
14         Matt Cassel           6
15         Eli Manning            7

Tier 1: Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, Drew Brees
       Player I rather have: Aaron Rodgers. Vick is a big risk in the first round for reasons stated in my previous article, but still an elite QB. Rodgers has proven himself after 3 spectacular seasons and has no reason to slow down with an offense that has even more potential this year.
       Why is Brees here and not the next tier? He threw for a career high 22 interceptions last year, but also had a career high in 658 pass attempts. He has thrown for at least 33 touchdowns in the past three years and has easily eclipsed 4,000 passing yards in the past 5. He is much safer a pick than Vick.

Tier 2: Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning
       Player I would rather have:  Philip Rivers. While Manning and Brady are both benchmarks for consistency and always very safe and solid picks, I think Rivers’ potential and talent around him makes him a better option. That said, you clearly cannot go wrong with any of these players. Manning’s neck also worries me a little bit and so does Brady’s receiving corp. But has that ever stopped them?

Tier 3: Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger
       Player I would rather have: Tony Romo. He was on pace for a monster season before an injury sidelined him. Dallas is loaded with talent and Romo looks to pick up where he left off. Before last season, he had three straight seasons of 26 or more touchdowns and two seasons with over 4,000 yards. Expect a big season from Romo.

Tier 4: Matt Ryan, Josh Freeman, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford,
       Player I would rather have: Matt Ryan. Ryan exceeded expectations and had a great season throwing for 28 TD’s and 3,705 yards. With Julio Jones, I expect him to do just as well. The Falcons are still a run first, pound the ball team, but that shouldn’t keep you from drafting him.
       This tier has several solid quarterbacks for those who miss out on the elite QB’s. The possibility of a 2 QB strategy starts here as one can take two of the above and play matchups, hot streaks, etc.

Tier 5: Matt Cassel, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, Kevin Kolb, Matt Stafford
       Player I want on my team: Matt Stafford. Stafford has loads of potential on a vastly improving Lions team. He has stud Calvin Johnson to throw to and has potential to put up great numbers. The main concern is his injury risk as he has only played in 13 of 32 games. But for a late round flier, he could produce like a low-end number 1 option.
       Players I never ever want on my team: Jay Cutler and Matt Cassel. Jay Cutler is just way too inconsistent for fantasy and the Chicago Bears. And Cassel really is just an average quarterback who completes under 60% of his passes. If you draft either of these, make sure to draft another solid quarterback for if and when these two go cold.

2011 Quarterback Sleepers

Josh Freeman: While he won’t go under the radar like he did last year, Freeman definitely has the talent to produce even better. I would not be surprised if he puts up top 10 maybe even top 7 numbers. With his running ability and improving Bucs' offense, he could be a steal in the middle rounds. 

JaMarcus Russell: Last year, Plaxico Burress was ranked ahead of Russell in last year’s ESPN preseason rankings. What this means is that a man who was in jail was more likely to score more points than Russell. I expect Russell to consume at least 100 hot dogs and 250 Wendy’s Baconators during the season, with potential to exceed our expectations.

Kevin Kolb: With Larry Fitzgerald as his new best friend, Kolb has a chance to develop into a solid fantasy quarterback. He has shown flashes of potential but is still far from proven in limited starts. He sports a mediocre 73.2 passer rating but will have his chance to improve on that with a fresh new start. Kolb should definitely be available in the late rounds and is worth a shot as a solid backup and potential to be a low end starter.     

Deeper QB Sleepers:

Tim Tebow: While many still question whether or not Tebow can be a capable quarterback in the NFL, I have no doubt in my mind he will. And despite my love for the greatest college quarterback, I do not expect that to happen this season. But Tebow has something that only Rodgers, Vick, and Freeman have: running ability. In the three games Tebow started, he scored 22, 22, and 27 fantasy points. He helped those few owners out who started him during the fantasy playoff weeks with very solid numbers. 51% of his fantasy points came from his rushing stats and that is why he is a decent fantasy option this season and a great late round pick.  This is all IF he starts.

Ryan Fitzpatrick: He started last year on fire and some people pegged him as a must start option. Teehee. Nope. But I do think Fitzpatrick, the Harvard grad, has some potential to come close to last year’s first half. While I would not neccessarily draft him, I would keep tabs on him for the week 8 bye of Rodgers, Ryan, and Freeman. Fitzpatrick has an excellent matchup against Washington’s defense.
Jason Campbell: A quarterback who has never lived up to expectations, Campbell has a chance for a decent year with loads of speed around him. Assuming Coach Tom Cable doesn’t randomly bench him for the incapable Bruce Gradkowski, don’t be surprised if Campbell finally puts in a good one.

Elite QB Strategy Vs. Two-QB Strategy

For the past several years in fantasy football, the value of a quarterback has gradually increased. While it used to be uncommon for a quarterback to go in round 1, we have seen a large amount of quarterbacks drafted in the early rounds. While there are 6 clear elite quarterbacks this year, and maybe a seventh in Tony Romo, the depth at quarterback has also increased. While some prefer to jump on the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick, others prefer to wait for a combination like Matt Stafford and Eli Manning. There can be benefits to either strategy.

While in the past I would have waited to draft a QB like Ben Roethisberger later, I have now become an advocate of taking a QB in rounds 2-4. Each draft will vary, but you cannot argue with the consistency and production from this year's top 7. Besides Michael Vick, you almost know what you will get from these top quarterbacks. Even Tony Romo last year was on pace for a solid 4280 yards and 29 touchdowns before he got injured. Just take a look at the averages for the past 3 full seasons for each elite quarterback. 

Passing Yards
Passing Touchdowns
Aaron Rodgers
Drew Brees
Michael Vick (just last year's)
Philip Rivers
Tom Brady
Peyton Manning
Tony Romo

Obviously, with players like Rodgers and Vick, they see their points increase greatly thanks to rushing stats which also helps their argument as surefire first rounders. But you can see why it is to your benefit to grab one of the elites. They have the marks of consistent production year in and year out. That said, overpaying can leave you short-handed at key WR and RB positions, so be careful. Snagging someone like Philip Rivers, for instance, who is not too different from Rodgers, is a better bargain being drafted 2-3 rounds later. But stretching for someone like Peyton Manning, who I have advised to be avoided in drafts for now obvious reasons, can be a poorly valued pick.

So the question that arises is, "What if I want to wait altogether on a quarterback? How much do I lose by going with the likes of Sam Bradford and Matt Stafford as opposed to Tom Brady?". The answer is not simple. For one, you lose a bench spot to a quarterback. With a top 7 QB, you hardly need a backup save their bye weeks. For any other quarterback, you will surely need a backup. In addition, playing matchups can become stressful and it makes for tough weekly decisions.

So let's take a look at some scenarios that may have played out in just last season. I will assume that the best decision possible was made each week in these 2-QB scenarios.

Passing Yards
Passing Touchdowns
Eli Manning/Ryan

So, clearly the two quarterback strategy can work. In fact, it can even work better than an elite quarterback. But this strategy is risky and far from a given. Playing the matchups perfectly is nearly impossible to do. And the fact that these quarterbacks are not as consistent as the elite leaves you vulnerable to implosions. 

The quarterbacks being drafted later are drafted for clear reasons. Some may be injury-prone like Stafford, others may be pick magnets like Manning, and some are still young and unproven like Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford. I do believe that there is great potential for some of these quarterbacks, but they no doubt have a risk and a bit of an "unknown" factor. That is, we still do not really know how they will do. This is a sharp contrast to someone like Brady or Rodgers. Consistency is a big issue as well; thus, making matchup playing a nightmare.

Is it worth it? To me, the answer is no. To others who think they are brilliant coaches and matchup wizards, go for it. But I would much rather have the safety of a Rivers, Rodgers, or Brady than a mixture of Eli Manning and Matt Stafford. I figure, you save a bench spot for a non-quarterback and avoid stressful decision making during the week. Not only are you going to get consistent, solid production, you will have the luxury in knowing that you have a top quarterback who does not need to be subbed out. 

If you do miss out on an elite quarterback (Tony Romo signifies the end of the elites), don't panic and be patient. Who knows, getting Matt Stafford and Sam Bradford could be a blessing in disguise. This year there is potential outside of the top 7 for producing similar to an elite quarterback. While you won't be nearly as safe, you can still have a top-notch team that can crack the playoffs. I still advise getting a top tier QB, but at least for this season, it is not the end of the world to miss out. 

All stats from ESPN stats and game logs.