With the conclusion of Super Bowl XLVII, it’s time to preview the 2013 NFL fantasy football quarterback landscape.
1. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers): In his fifth season as the starter, the former first-round pick (24th overall in 2005) continued to pile up the numbers, throwing for 4,295 yards and 39 touchdowns to just eight interceptions with a career-high 371 completions in 2012. That’s 84 TDs and 14 INTs the past two seasons.
2. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints): His seventh season with the Saints wasn’t as sensational as his sixth in 2011, but Brees now has back-to-back 5,000-yard seasons and 89 touchdown passes. Are you serious? His 33 INTs over the past two years and lack of a ground game keeps Brees out of the top spot, but he’s close.
3. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers): An absolute monster down the stretch, Newton didn’t deliver a ton of touchdowns through the air, but he was close to the 4,000-yard mark with 3,869 in 2012. Plus, the former 2011 No. 1 overall pick has rushed for at least 700 yards and eight TDs in each of his first two NFL seasons.
4. Tom Brady (New England Patriots): Tom Terrific will never confuse anyone for being a mobile quarterback, but the 35-year-old does have seven rushing scores over the past two seasons. You already know what he brings to the table with his arm. PLenty of yards and touchdowns with a low interception total.
5. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts): Replacing a legend (like Peyton Manning in Luck’s case) is always a tall order, and Luck did about as fine of a job as Aaron Rodgers (who replaced Brett Favre in 2008) or any other quarterback in taking over after a legend in league history. His impressive numbers (4,374 yards, 23 TDs to 18 INTs and 255 rushing yards with five scores) and role in turning around a 2-14 team to an 11-5 club that cracked the postseason was overshadowed in some eyes by the more mobile young guns (Kaep, Wilson and RG3). His second season should be special.
6. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons): Luck and Ryan are in the same tier, but Luck gets a slight edge since he has a little of Rodgers’ ability to give you the bonus points with his legs. With that said, Matt Ryan has two of the game’s top wide outs. Last season was not a fluke and he should challenge 5,000 yards and 35 touchdowns.
7. Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos): While his arm strength wasn’t what it once was, you cannot help but be impressed by his 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions this past season.
8. Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers): He has the “it factor.” He’s equally as lethal with his arm as he is with his feet. Kaepernick will have to improve in the red zone to take the next step as a quarterback, both in fantasy and reality.
Here’s an interesting statistic: During the regular season, Alex Smith and Kaepernick threw the exact same amount of passes. In nine starts, Smith completed 153 of 218 passes (70.2) for 1,737 yards with 13 TDs to 5 INTs.
In seven starts, Kaepernick completed 136 of 218 passes (62.4) for 1,814 yards with 10 TDs to 3 INTs. Of course Kaepernick outgained Smith on the ground — 415 yards and 5 TDs to 132 rushing yards.
9. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions): For the second straight year, Stafford quietly approached the 5,000-yard mark. He had 20 touchdowns to 17 interceptions. He missed the 5,000-yard mark by 33 yards in 2012 and crossed it by 38 yards in 2011. The 25-year-old should provide excellent value as a low-end QB1.
10. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks): Wilson, 24, who reminds many of Fran Tarkenton, had modest passing totals (3,118 yards and 26 touchdowns), but he only tossed 10 interceptions all season and also ran for 489 yards and four scores. Don’t forget, this was a third-round pick (75th overall) who many said the Seahawks reached for at the time.