Whether you’re in your teens or over the hill, chances are you have at least heard of Fantasy Football. Last year, 27 million people across the United States and Canada played fantasy football. To say it has taken the nation by storm over the last decade would be an understatement. Here’s some less than encouraging news for the business owners out there. Every hour spent managing your fantasy football team, at work, costs your company about $5. During last year’s football season, North American companies lost roughly $1.2 billion dollars of productivity per week, due to employees managing their fantasy football teams while at work. On the plus side, the hobby adds $2.97 billion to the economy every year. Which states are the craziest when it comes to Fantasy Football? The top three are North Dakota, Delaware, and Indiana. With every football team, fantasy or real, it all begins with the quarterback. So, which signal callers should you target in your 2012 draft? Let’s take a look.
Tier One: The No-Brainers (with 2011 stats)
1. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers: 4,643 pass yds, 45TD, 6INT, 257 rush yds, 3TD
During the past three years, Rodgers, Brees, and Brady have been, by far, the most consistent fantasy QBs, and Rodgers has been the cream of the crop. You can practically pencil him in for 4,000 passing yards and 40 TDs right now. He should be the first QB taken or highest priced in all drafts.
2. Tom Brady – New England Patriots: 5,235 pass yds, 39TD, 12INT, 109 rush yds, 3TD
If you miss out on Rodgers, Brady and Brees are 1A and 1B and the order just depends on who you are. Brady is my 1A for two reasons; the Patriots added WR Brandon Lloyd to their receiving corps and the Saints saw a whole heap of trouble this offseason.
3. Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints: 5,476 pass yds, 46TD, and 14INT
A normal year for Brees is about 4,500 yards and 37 TDs. Not much of anything has been normal for Brees and the Saints during this nightmare of an offseason. Although Coach Sean Payton won’t be on the sidelines, or anywhere near the team, this year, Brees is a veteran and I expect him to have another very successful season.
Tier Two: The Young Studs
4. Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions: 5,038 pass yds, 41TD, and 16INT
It’s always been a matter of staying healthy for Matt Stafford. He finally accomplished this in 2011 and he, Calvin Johnson, and the rest of the Lions reaped the benefits. With Johnson, second year WR Titus Young, and emerging TE Brandon Pettigrew, Stafford has a tremendous trio of receivers to sling the ball to.
5. Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers: 4,051 pass yds, 21TD, 17INT, 706 rush yds, 14TD
For Newton, a “sophomore slump” may still be a great year. He had probably the best rookie season we’ve ever seen from a QB, in general, and definitely by fantasy standards. However, when drafting, don’t make the mistake of assuming Cam will rush for 14 more TDs this season, because it won’t happen. His talent is impressive, but what’s not is his receiving corps
Tier Three: Reliable Veterans
6. Eli Manning – New York Giants: 4,933 pass yds, 29TD, and 16INT
7. Philip Rivers – San Diego Chargers: 4,624 pass yds, 27TD, and 20INT
8. Tony Romo – Dallas Cowboys: 4,320 pass yds, 29TD, and 11INT
9. Michael Vick – Philadelphia Eagles: 3,303 pass yds, 18TD, 14INT, 589 rush yds, 1TD
10. Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos: 4,700 pass yds, 33TD, and 17INT (2010 stats)
Wild Card: Peyton Manning – Peyton definitely has the track record, but his neck must hold up. The uncertainty of what will happen to it, if anything, when he takes a big hit, is sure to shy plenty of fantasy owners away. Peyton Manning, in 2012, is the ultimate risk/reward option at QB. He has a better than average group of WRs and TEs to throw to, so provided he can stay healthy, Manning could post big numbers.
Sleeper: Jay Cutler – Chicago Bears: 2,319 pass yds, 13TD, and 7INT
Cutler is reunited with former Bronco teammate, WR Brandon Marshall. This means, for the first time since he was a Bronco, in 2008, Cutler has an elite WR to throw the ball to. Although his TDs haven’t taken a dip since going to Chicago, his passing yards are way down. While Cutler nears 30 years of age, we’ll see if he can reach his ceiling in 2012, after a disappointing and injury riddled 2011.
Sleeper: Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons: 4,177 pass yds, 29TD, and 12INT
It’s time for Matty Ice to step up and become the star that we once all believed he could be. With two of the best WRs in the game in Roddy White and second year stud Julio Jones, along with perhaps the best TE of all-time, Tony Gonzalez, Ryan has no more excuses to not be great.
The Next Cam?: Robert Griffin III – Washington Redskins: simply stated, those who feel Griffin III will perform as Cam Newton performed in his rookie season, may get burnt.