No matter whether you get four or six points for a TD pass in your league, you cannot pass on one of the “Big Three” early in your draft. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are a cut above the rest and nearly guarantee you top-level production from the position on a week-to-week basis. Quarterback is a pretty deep position when compared to running back, but you cannot let an opportunity to get a Fantasy megastar when you have one. As long as you are well prepared, and draft your top RB in the second round, you can comfortably go with an elite quarterback as your first pick.
Rodgers has a current Average Draft Position of 2.19 on NFL.com, just behind Arian Foster and ahead of Ray Rice. Rodgers will not fall beyond the No. 5 slot in most leagues, as Foster, Rice and McCoy will go off the board ahead of him. Some may elect to take Calvin Johnson ahead of Rodgers. If you get a chance at one of the top three RBs, it’s often too hard to resist given the shaky nature of the position. Once the top three are gone, though, Rodgers stands out as a prime pick. He threw a career-best 45 TD passes last year with only six interceptions, and his excellent decision-making skills and great accuracy nearly put him in a class by himself. The Packers will certainly be pass-heavy again this season and will engage in many shootouts.
Brady’s ADP is 5.00, which puts him just behind Rice on the current board, and Brees is at 6.21, two spots behind Brady and right in back of McCoy. Both quarterbacks can throw 40-plus TD passes this year and Brees is coming off the best statistical season of his career. When comparing the two for Fantasy purposes, though, Brady gets the slight nod, as his receiving crew is more impressive overall. The addition of Brandon Lloyd and a possible full season from Aaron Hernandez could boost him past Brees statistically.
Cam Newton, coming off an unprecedented marvelous rookie season, is the next QB off the board in NFL.com drafts, with an ADP of 11.04. He rushed for 14 TDs last year and displayed great promise, toughness and tenacity as a passer in 2011. When you consider, though, that Newton threw three TD passes in the final six games last year, and Mike Tolbert could steal some goal line carries this year, a first round pick appears to be too early to take Newton this year, even though he should still be among the better Fantasy players at his position.
Matthew Stafford has an ADP of 11.67 and I personally prefer him over Newton, as he is more of a pure passer with a higher statistical ceiling and he should be more of a consistent thrower. Stafford’s ability to throw 40 TD passes makes him the clear No. 4 QB to consider to me. You should not be averse to taking him in the second round. Concerns about his durability truly began to evaporate last season.
Once those five aforementioned QBs are taken, there is a dropoff in ADP and perceived value. If you do not get one of the top five early on, you can still grab a very good starter anywhere from rounds four to six, and there are some gems available even after those rounds. After Stafford, Michael Vick has the next highest ADP at 37.08. Vick has more upside than most other QBs being taken behind him in any given week, but he is an injury risk as well. Other passers taken behind him such as Eli Manning and Matt Ryan should prove to be safer selections and are optimum starting selections. I have Eli Manning and Ryan ranked sixth and seventh respectively at QB on RotoExperts.com.
Tony Romo has an ADP of 38.52, which put both he and Vick in the fourth round range in most drafts. Romo always posts very good Fantasy numbers, but the depth of his receiving corps is a legitimate concern. Once Eli Manning and Ryan are off the board, though, it’s hard to pass on Romo. Peyton Manning’s NFL.com ADP has risen to 48.94 recently as there seems to be growing optimism about his health. Once he gets in rhythm with his receivers, Peyton Manning could be a very good Fantasy passer again, especially later in the regular season.
Rivers, at 55.01, is just ahead of Eli Manning (60.53) in the QB ADP order. Rivers is determined to prove he can be better than he was last year in terms of cutting down on interceptions. The seventh round position of Eli Manning on average makes him a sensational value in NFL.com drafts. He is a near-lock to throw 30 TD passes and threw for a career-best 4,933 yards in 2011. Eli Manning is in the prime of his career and has arrived as a prolific fantasy starter.
Ryan’s ADP is actually 81.21, which puts him in ninth round range. I have taken Ryan as early as the fifth in some drafts. Ryan has thrown 57 TD passes in the past two seasons and could have his best year yet with Julio Jones emerging as a major force opposite Roddy White. Jay Cutler, with an ADP of 113.46, is another tremendous value, as he could have a very good year now that he has Brandon Marshall back as a partner.
Robert Griffin III looks to be very poised for a rookie and should be a top option among Fantasy backups. Matt Schaub and Carson Palmer are among the better selections for reserve Fantasy passers. Andrew Luck will be useful depending on matchups, and Andy Dalton will be an adequate option. Josh Freeman may be set for a rebound year, and you cannot overlook the upside of Jake Locker.
RAMS FANTASY HISTORY: Kurt Warner is unquestionably the best Rams Fantasy passer in history. His best season was in 1999, when he threw for 4,353 yards and 41 TD passes.
NEXT: The ever-changing RB landscape.