Since the 2012 fantasy season ended, you’ve only had a brief period 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 best value for their owners during 2012. And it will also deliver the jump start that you need toward plotting your draft process at the position next summer, when you will be presented with 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 Romo and 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. But this article will provide an in-depth look at five who exceeded their average draft position through their output on the field. It is based upon the numbers that each signal caller produced, 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 average draft position 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 QBs who provided the worst value, click here: https://fantasyknuckleheads.com/2012-fantasy-football-quarterbacks-that-provided-the-worst-value/
1. Peyton Manning
Throughout 2012, much of the discussion regarding Manning involved neck fusion, which team's roster he would reside on, and how wise it was for him to even attempt to perform again. All of which caused fantasy owners to wait until eight other signal callers had been chosen before drafting Manning in the fifth round. But #18 has undoubtedly reclaimed his spot among the elite QBs, after finishing fourth overall among all players in fantasy points. He exceeded 4,000 yards for the 12th time in his career by generating a total of 4,659, which placed him sixth among all QBs. He also surpassed 30+ TD passes for the seventh time, while finishing with the NFL’s third highest total (37). His leadership and exactness as a passer were exceptional throughout the year. Plus, he remained one of the NFL’s best play callers, consistently checking into and out of plays that provided favorable results for the Broncos. While he will be 37 by next season, it is difficult to imagine a massive drop-off in production. Therefore, he should be among the first five selected at his position in next summer's drafts.
2. Matt Ryan
When Atlanta added former Jaguar offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to the same position with the Falcons, there was optimism that his presence, combined with the collective talent of WRs Roddy White, Julio Jones, and the ageless Tony Gonzales, would propel Ryan to career best production in 2012. That mindset helped make Ryan the seventh QB chosen last summer, as he departed the draft boards in Round 4. Ultimately, having the new pass oriented OC and the dynamic weapons did help Ryan achieve the highest numbers of his five-year career. And despite his high selection, he still surpassed those lofty expectations by delivering better production than his ADP. Ryan finished with a career high 32 TD passes, which was the fifth best among all QBs. He also ranked fifth with 4,719 yards, which established yet another career best. Most importantly for owners, he was the fifth highest scorer among all players in fantasy points. Ryan and his most important assets will return next season. And even though the position will be supply many appealing options on draft day, he should be a top eight pick among all QBs.
3. Robert Griffin III
The Redskins paid a hefty price for RG3, when they traded three first round selections and a second round pick to the Rams in exchange for the opportunity to draft the former Heisman Trophy winner. But not only did he reward Washington by assembling an exceptional rookie campaign, but he also delivered fantasy production that easily exceeded his draft position. He was originally selected 12th among all QBs, with an ADP of 66. But RG3's prowess as both an accurate passer and dangerous runner enabled him to accumulate the seventh highest total of fantasy points. And he accomplished that despite being forced to miss Week 15 with his knee injury, and having his production negatively impacted in Weeks 16-17. He threw for 3,200 yards and 20 TDs, and finished with the NFL's fourth best completion percentage (65.6). He also led all QBs in rushing with 815 yards, and finished second at the position with seven TDs on the ground. RG3 also demonstrated effective ball security by limiting his INTS to just five, and supplied sufficient evidence that next season should be even more productive. While the 2013 draft process will entice fantasy owners with a large number of viable options at QB1, a healthy RG3 would have been one of the top six signal callers selected. Instead, he must recover from reconstructive knee surgery, and his status for next season is uncertain.
4. Russell Wilson
Wilson was just the 22nd QB selected during the draft process, and was chosen after Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub, Carson Palmer, Josh Freeman and Alex Smith. However, it was understandable, because he was not even named as the team’s starter over Matt Flynn until August 26. He remained outside the fantasy radar early in the season, because the decision makers in Seattle were extremely meticulous in making sure the he was not overwhelmed. In his first four contests, a conservative game plan contributed to his failure to surpass 160 yards, and his limited total of four TDs. But the Seahawks’ strategy eventually paid off, as his production then improved significantly. In six of his next seven games, Wilson generated at least two scoring throws, and ultimately finished the regular season with 26 TD passes. That placed him in a tie for ninth among all QBs, despite the underwhelming start. While he did throw 10 INTs, only two of those occurred after Week 8. Wilson also accumulated 489 yards on the ground, which helped him become the ninth highest producer of fantasy points. He has now proven to be a legitimate QB1. And even though the position will be exceptionally deep next year, Wilson should be one of the top 10 QBs chosen on draft day.
5. Andy Dalton
He was just the 21st QB selected, by owners who simply hoped that he could become a reliable QB2 on their rosters. But even though he did not quite ascend into QB1 status on an every week basis, he established himself as a worthy spot starter, particularly in the first half of the year. Plus, his numbers far exceeded his ADP of 126. In fact, he is a essentially a more effective fantasy QB than he is at spearheading the Bengals' attack. He did tie for seventh among all signal callers with 27 TD passes. But that number masks his underwhelming production during the last 10 regular season contests, when he only surpassed 211 yards in three of those games. Plus, he failed to generate more than one scoring throw in his final five games. Still, this column is examining fantasy value, and there is no question that he exceeded his original draft position. Next season will be Dalton's third as a pro, and it is critical for him to reduce the number of times that he misses open receivers. Plus, he must take advantage of mismatches, particularly when they involve A.J. Green. Until we witness these improvements, he should be considered a QB2, who is not to be selected until the top 15 signal callers have been taken.