These 2012 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings will be updated often throughout the summer, so make sure you check back from time to time. Also, be sure to check out my other 2012 Fantasy Football articles, which will include sleepers, busts, tons of 2012 Fantasy Football mock drafts and other material. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers. Bye: 10.
Aaron Rodgers should be the consensus No. 1 quarterback. He posts top passing numbers like the other elite signal-callers, but unlike Tom Brady and Drew Brees, Rodgers picks up a good chunk of rushing yardage, which gives him the edge at this position. Rodgers has 16 rushing touchdowns in the past four seasons. In that span, Brady has five, while Brees has three.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. Bye: 9.
Tom Brady is at the top of his game right now, utilizing his two talented tight ends to near perfection. Brady threw for an all-time second-best 5,235 yards last year, and now he'll have Brandon Lloyd as a new threat at receiver. Jabar Gaffney should also be a decent safety valve.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints. Bye: 6. AUG. 26 UPDATE: Drew Brees was incredibly sharp versus the Texans, going 17-of-25 for 179 yards and two touchdowns. What those numbers don't include are a pair of drops, a pass-interference penalty drawn by Jimmy Graham and a 57-yard completion to Graham that was wiped out by an illegal-touching infraction. It does not look like Brees will be slumping this year because of Bountygate.
JULY 19 UPDATE: Drew Brees' holdout is over. He signed a long-term deal with the Saints, so there will be no monetary distraction.
Drew Brees is obviously a Pro Bowl talent, but there are two concerns with him. First, Sean Payton's year-long suspension could be damaging. Not to Brees himself - he thrived last year when Payton suffered that bizarre sideline knee injury - but to the team in general. The Saints could be in disarray, which will impact Brees' numbers. Second, Brees is in a contract dispute. He'll probably get a contract prior to training camp, but if not, he'll hold out. Players who hold out usually tend to struggle.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions. Bye: 5. AUG. 18 UPDATE: Detroit looked downright lethal versus Baltimore, as Matthew Stafford went 12-of-17 for 184 yards and two touchdowns in less than a half of action. This was highlighted by a beautiful 57-yard bomb to Calvin Johnson in the second quarter. Ser Stafford's only poor throw was a near-pick when he targeted Brandon Pettigrew. He was pretty flawless otherwise. He should be the fourth quarterback off the board in fantasy drafts.
Ah, so that's what happens when Matthew Stafford stays healthy for 16 games. All Ser Stafford did was throw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns. He's a stud.
Having said that, I am slightly down on him this year. He's only played a full season one out of three times, so asking him to do so again could be too much. Also, if you believe in the Madden Curse like me, you're concerned that Calvin Johnson could injure himself by slipping on a McDonald's bag or drinking too much Diet Double Drew, or something.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers. Bye: 6. AUG. 18 UPDATE: Cam Newton couldn't get anything going last week because he constantly had Houston defenders in his face. Things were much easier this time because the Dolphins couldn't put any pressure on him. Newton was brilliant as a result, going 8-of-11 for 119 yards and a touchdown. This doesn't even include a 39-yard pass-interference flag on Sean Smith, who mugged Steve Smith downfield. There was also 29-yard gain to DeAngelo Williams on a screen that was nullified because Brandon LaFell blocked illegally downfield.
Everyone was wrong about this guy. Here's what I wrote last year: "Cam Newton will struggle, as most rookie quarterbacks do. He does have some value in fantasy, however, because of his ability to put up decent rushing numbers. Vince Young threw for just 2,199 yards and 12 touchdowns in his rookie career, but made up for it with 552 rushing yards and seven scores on the ground. I feel like that's a good barometer for Newton's 2012 campaign."
All Newton did was shatter records held by Peyton Manning and other great quarterbacks. Newton could suffer a sophomore slump though. Consider that he threw for 208 yards or fewer in five of his final six games.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons. Bye: 7. AUG. 17 UPDATE: Matt Ryan finished 18-of-21 for 174 yards and one touchdown in less than a half of work against the Bengals. He threw just one bad pass, which was an overthrow to Julio Jones for what could have been a 41-yard touchdown in the middle of the second quarter. Still, it's remarkable that he was on a 400-yard pace despite poor play from his offensive line. He's a strong third-tier quarterback this year.
AUG. 10 UPDATE: Matt Ryan was on fire versus Baltimore's defense in the preseason opener. He went 9-of-13 for 155 yards, one touchdown and a pick in just one quarter of work. The interception was bad; he stared down Roddy White deep in Ravens' territory. He was flawless otherwise though and looked like he was made for Dirk Koetter's offense. Ryan is definitely right with Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Philip Rivers as one of the third-tier quarterbacks.
There's a buy-low opportunity here for Matt Ryan. Everyone expected Ryan to have a huge 2011 campaign. He certainly wasn't bad, throwing for 4,177 yards and 29 touchdowns, but most thought he'd post greater numbers. Plus, many won't be able to block out the image of Ryan failing to put up any points against the Giants in the playoffs.
Ryan should have his best season yet. The Falcons spent two Day 2 selections on offensive linemen, while Julio Jones will be more effective as an NFL sophomore.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys. Bye: 5. AUG. 27 UPDATE: Despite missing Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Miles Austin-Jones, Tony Romo was perfect against the Rams. Literally perfect. He went 9-of-13 for 198 yards and two touchdowns in just one quarter of action. A pair of his incompletions were dropped (John Phillips, Kevin Ogletree), while the other two were thrown away. Romo hit wideout Dwayne Harris for touchdown bombs of 61 and 38 yards. He's firmly locked in as a third-tier fantasy quarterback, alongside Matt Ryan, Eli Manning and perhaps Philip Rivers.
AUG. 20 UPDATE: With Miles Austin-Jones and Jason Witten potentially set to miss the first couple of games, Tony Romo's projected stats have to decrease.
I was glad when I heard Tony Romo declined an invitation to participate in some random golf tournament this year. He's always done this, which prompted many, including myself, to question his dedication to football. He'll actually be concentrating on football now, so that's a plus.
Romo is still a strong QB1. He lost Laurent Robinson, but Miles Austin-Jones will be healthy this year. Those things should offset each other, so if Dez Bryant can take a step forward, Romo should have his best season yet.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants. Bye: 11. AUG. 25 UPDATE: Eli Manning was incredibly sharp against the Bears, going 17-of-21 for 148 yards and a touchdown despite once again missing Hakeem Nicks' services. He was pretty much perfect; a couple of incompletions were thrown away, while another one was a Victor Cruz drop on what would have moved the chains on third down.
So, that's why Eli Manning said that he's an elite quarterback. Eli threw for 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns during his second Super Bowl campaign. It's unlikely he'll be able to match the yardage numbers in 2012, especially with Mario Manningham gone. However, Brandon Jacobs is also history, so Eli will be asked to do more in the red zone.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. Bye: 7. AUG. 31 UPDATE: Philip Rivers went 8-of-10 for 89 yards and an interception in the preseason finale against San Francisco's reserves. The pick was quite puzzling. He made a horrible decision by trying to fit the ball into Malcom Floyd and was consequently picked off by a backup safety. Rivers is going to throw a ton of interceptions this year. Downgrade him if your league subtracts two points for picks.
Philip Rivers denies it for some reason because he doesn't want to make an excuse, but he was hurt all of last year. He'd be a nice bounce-back candidate if he didn't lose his No. 1 receiver, Vincent Jackson, to the Buccaneers. Still, Rivers is a strong QB1 because of his unbelievable talent. He has played well without Jackson before, and should be able to do so again.
Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos. Bye: 7. AUG. 27 UPDATE: Manning finished 10-of-12 for 122 yards and two touchdowns in just one quarter of work versus San Francisco. He had just one true misfire; the other was a Joel Dreessen drop. It must be noted that the 49ers were missing some key defensive personnel, but it was still encouraging to see Manning bounce back after getting hit hard. He responded with a completion to Willis McGahee and an ensuing touchdown to Eric Decker. There's still a bit of a concern about if his neck can hold up the whole season, but Manning can be drafted as a lower-end QB1. The problem is that he's being taken much earlier than that. He went in the fourth round of one of my fantasy drafts this past weekend, which is just way too early.
AUG. 23 UPDATE: Multiple reports from ESPN and Scouts Inc. indicate that Peyton Manning has had major issues throwing to his right for more than 10 yards. This is obviously bad news for Manning's fantasy potential. While he could heal and become a low-end QB1, he's just going way too early in fantasy drafts. Stay away from him unless he falls to about Round 9-10.
Peyton Manning is a very risky fantasy player. On one hand, if he's close to 100 percent, he'll be a steal in Round 4 or 5, or wherever he goes. If he's not, he'll be a wasted, early-round pick.
I wouldn't trust Manning enough to take him in the first five rounds. He's had multiple neck procedures, and he already showed signs of erosion in 2010. He also has a brand-new supporting cast that he has to get used to. Oh, and he hasn't been as effective outdoors, so he has to get used to playing in the elements every week.