Since the 2012 fantasy season ended, you’ve had time to reflect upon how your seasons unfolded. Yet, many of you have already started planning your next drafts. This column will help you evaluate which QBs provided the worst value for their owners during 2012. And it will also deliver the jump start that you need toward creating your 2013 draft plan, that will include a large number of legitimate options for your QB1.
First, let’s rewind to last August or early September, when your fantasy drafts occurred. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees were almost universally the initial three QBs selected. Then, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton departed the draft boards before the end of Round 2. After that? There was an assemblage of signal callers that consisted of Michael Vick, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Tony Romoand Peyton Manning. Then an additional tier of Robert Griffin III, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub.
Of these QBs, some performed extremely well, others produced satisfactorily, and others were complete disappointments. This article will provide an in-depth look at five whose overall production failed to match their average draft positions. That conclusion will be based upon the numbers that each signal caller generated, using a scoring system of six points per TD, one point per 20 passing yards, and one point per 10 rushing/receiving yards in a 12-team league. After conducting an overall assessment of their ADP from six primary fantasy sites, those results will be combined with their overall production to determine their value to fantasy owners.
For a look at the five signal callers who delivered the best value, click here: http://fantasyknuckleheads.com/2012-fantasy-football-quarterbacks-that-provided-the-best-value/
1. Michael Vick
You knew this was coming didn’t you? Many analysts espoused the idea of bypassing the elite signal callers in Rounds 1 and 2, then waiting until at least Round 3 to draft a QB. And Vick was often suggested as a viable alternative. That certainly was not endorsed in our Fantasy Knuckleheads QB rankings, as you were cautioned to avoid him in your drafts. But a sufficient number of owners placed their faith in the 12- year veteran to make him the eighth QB selected, with the majority of owners choosing him in the fourth round. Unfortunately, he failed to reward those who made that lofty investment. Vick was perpetually ineffective in the initial eight games of the season, while exhibiting almost no pocket presence. He was sacked 28 times, and fumbled ten times during that span, while throwing just 11 TD passes with nine INTs. Then, concussion issues sidelined him until he returned in Week 17 to complete a thoroughly forgettable year. Vick could easily find himself on another roster next season. But regardless of how that plays out, you should avoid him in your drafts, as there are numerous alternatives that will produce far better results.
2. Eli Manning
Manning joined Vick as a popular option among those who abstained from selecting a top five QB last summer. He was the sixth QB taken, and departed the board by the middle of Round 4. But he subjected his owners to an extremely erratic journey throughout the regular season. First, by generating 10 TDs in his first five games, then enduring a horrific five game stretch with just two scoring throws. The roller coaster continued as Manning rebounded with eight TDs in three games. However, that became part of an erratic December that consisted of nine TDs in two contests, yet only two in the remaining three games. As a result of his inconsistent year, his final numbers failed to match his production from the 2011 season. He tied for ninth among all QBs with 26 TD passes, which were three fewer scoring throws than he was able to manufacture during the previous year. Manning also finished just 12th with 3,948 yards, which represented a sizable decline from 2011, when he generated the fourth best yardage total, and just missed a 5,000 yard season (4,933). All five all of the QBs that were drafted before Manning last season, should be chosen before him once again this summer. Plus, the advent of numerous options such as Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, and Colin Kaepernick, will keep Manning from being selected among the top 10 QBs.
When owners were planning their drafts last summer, Stafford was an appealing option. Particularly for those who preferred to utilize a first or second round pick on their QB. He had seemingly captured a slot among the NFL’s elite, after joining Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers as the only three signal callers to produce at least 40 TD passes in 2011. Plus, he was also one of just three QBs to surpass 5,000 passing yards. Those impressive results compelled fantasy owners to select him fourth at his position, while investing an early second round pick on the fourth year signal caller. Unfortunately, Stafford failed to replicate those excellent 2011 statistics, as his TD total fell short of expectations. 18 other QBs produced more scoring passes than the 20 that Stafford generated. That number was also less than half of the 41 that he tossed in 2011, while his 17 INTs were the NFL’s fifth highest total. He did manage to place much higher among his peers in passing yardage, as his 4,967 total was exceeded only by Drew Brees. While Stafford did not qualify as a disappointment to the same degree as Vick and Manning, he only finished 12th among all QBs in fantasy points, slightly ahead of Andy Dalton. Still, there is reason for optimism in 2013. He will only be 25 years-old when the season begins, is an extremely gifted passer, and his primary target is Calvin Johnson, who arguably remains unrivaled among WRs. By improving his mechanics, his accuracy will increase. Then, Stafford can accumulate sizable yardage once again, while also enhancing his TD total. Those factors should make Stafford the eighth signal caller selected next summer, which would result in him departing the draft board during Round 3.
There was hope among many fantasy owners that Rivers would rebound significantly from a disappointing 2011 season, that included a career worst 20 INTs. The belief that he would reward those who selected the nine year veteran resulted in Rivers becoming the 11th QB chosen during the draft process. But his advancing age, the ongoing depletion of viable weaponry, and an unacceptable level of protection at left tackle all conspired to restrict his output. While he tied for ninth among all QBs with 26 TD passes, that was atill his lowest total since 2007. And he finished just 17th with 3,606 yards. His numbers would have been far less acceptable, if the unforeseen emergence of Danario Alexander had not occurred. Rivers had only manufactured 10 scoring throws and 1,492 yards through San Diego’s first seven games, before Alexander made his debut with the Chargers in Week 9. He instantly became Rivers’ most effective weapon, and the tandem ultimately connected on 37 receptions for 658 yards and seven TDs. That helped Rivers amass 16 TDs and 1,740 yards after Alexander joined the lineup. The wideout’s continued health is essential, if Rivers is to have any chance of producing reasonable numbers next season. And until more playmakers are added to Rivers’ arsenal, he should only be considered a low end QB2 during your drafts.
5. Jay Cutler
Heading into the 2012 regular season, you could count me among those who believed that a combination of factors would propel Cutler into his best season as a Bear. Which made him an intriguing high end QB2, if not a low end QB1. After all, his reunion with Brandon Marshall appeared to be the perfect tonic to rejuvenate his production, considering that his career first ignited when the duo connected on 206 passes and 2,590 yards when they originally pooled their talent in 2006-2008. Plus, his health appeared to be in far less jeopardy, since the departure of former OC Mike Martz and his ill-fated offensive system meant that Cutler would spend less time cemented to the pocket. For those reasons, fantasy owners drafted Cutler 15th among all QBs. But even though Marshall finished within the top three among all WRs in targets (194), receptions (118), and yardage (1,508), Cutler’s overall numbers failed to reach the level that optimistic owners had expected. He finished just 21st among all QBs with a mere 19 TDs. Those were the fewest scoring throws that he has produced since Cutler’s 2006 rookie season. He also ranked even further down the list in yardage, placing a lowly 24th, while barely surpassing 3,000 yards (3,033). If those numbers don’t demonstrate how underwhelming his output was, he also finished 24th at his position in fantasy points. Even though Marc Trestman has ascended into the HC role for Chicago, Cutler should only be considered a low end QB2 option for next season. Until he displays reason to believe otherwise.