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Face the Future: 2012 Draft Quarterbacks

A few weeks ago we discussed the first round of 2012 fantasy football drafts. It was a round loaded with the few elite running backs left all the way to the seventh pick with Marshawn Lynch. Then we saw a run on the four First Tier Quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and newcomer Cam Newton. Finally, the draft ended with the consensus two best receivers in fantasy football, Calvin Johnson and Wes Welker.

This week we’ll discuss quarterbacks in the 2012 draft. Let’s start things off with a ranking of the Top 10 quarterbacks in fantasy football for the 2012 draft and the three tiers they fall into.

Tier 1: Elite Squad (First Round or Early second Round)

1) Aaron Rodgers

2) Drew Brees

3) Tom Brady

4) Cam Newton

Tier 2: Not Elite, but Pretty Awesome (Second Round or Early Third Round)

5) Eli Manning

6) Matthew Stafford

7) Tony Romo

Tier 3: The Last Game Changers on the Board (Third and Fourth Rounds, Fifth if you’re lucky)

8) Philip Rivers

9) Matt Ryan

10) Ben Roethlisberger

Tier 2 Analysis

I’m not going to focus too much on the First Tier because that’s ground I’ve already covered in the last “Face the Future” article. Needless to say, all of them are worthy of being drafted in the first round and early in the second, if they’re still available. If you routinely put up 30-45 points each week, yes, you’re worthy of first-round consideration.

I’m going to focus most of my attention on Tier 2 and Tier 3, starting with Eli Manning. Manning’s had an incredible season, throwing for 29 touchdowns and nearly 5,000 yards. He’s in the prime of his career and with weapons like Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks plus Ahmad Bradshaw keeping defenses honest with a solid running game, the New York Giants should continue to have an excellent offense in 2012.

I give the edge to Manning over Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo because of injury concerns for both of them. Stafford proved a lot of his doubters wrong this year by going a full season without missing any time due to injury, a first for his career where he had previously missed 16 games out of 32 in his first two seasons. It’s great news that Stafford seems to have finally gotten over the injury hump, but the fact that he missed so much time in the past still gives me some concern.

Besides Stafford’s lingering injury concerns, he definitely had a superior fantasy season than Manning, surpassing him in passing yards and obliterated him in touchdowns, throwing 41 to Manning’s 29. Stafford’s numbers may be a little skewed after throwing five touchdowns and for 520 passing yards in Week 17 against the Green Bay Packers, but at the end of the day, the stats don’t lie. Stafford had seven games this season where he threw for three or more touchdowns, so Week 17 certainly wasn’t an anomaly.

Again, the injury concerns just prevent me from ranking him any higher, but I’m sure there will be a lot of owners willing to rank Stafford higher than Manning after his outstanding year. Stafford was one of this season’s biggest value picks this season, and while owners won’t be able to draft him late in 2012, he’ll still be able to give owners some value being drafted in the second and third rounds, after all the elite quarterbacks are gone.

Tony Romo has been one of the most consistent fantasy quarterbacks over the last five years, and that’s why he still should be at the tail end of the Second Tier. For the third time in the last five years he passed for more than 4,000 yards and he added 31 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions. He’s one of those quarterbacks who usually gets overlooked because many people discount him as a quarterback in reality, especially in the playoffs. This, of course, doesn’t matter to fantasy football, which only deals with the regular season and is irrelevant to judging a fantasy football quarterback.

Romo might have the most weapons of anybody in the Second Tier, with Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Laurent Robinson and Jason Witten. Next season he should have DeMarco Murray back fully healthy, which significantly helps him open up the passing game.

Romo was hurt a lot this year but never missed any games though he destroyed the hopes and Super Bowl dreams of many a fantasy owner by sitting out most of Week 16’s game, and it’s going to be hard for a lot of owners to draft him next season. Regardless of the residual bitterness many owners might have with him, he still is one of the safest draft picks for owners in the 2012 season and will likely fall to the latter portion of the third round, a decent value for a quarterback with a lot of upside.

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