A narrative I keep hearing this season is that the quarterback position this season is as “deep as it has ever been.” I would argue that while that statement could be true, don’t get caught waiting.
Considering just a couple of days ago I wrote about my evolving draft strategy in the rookie running back preview, I still couldn’t help but get bothered by the way the quarterback position has been downplayed. I’m as big an advocate for the quarterback as anyone, so to watch as owner-after-owner pass on the position because they’re “certain” they can get one in later rounds that will equal what the smart money guys got earlier is a mindset that has to be eliminated.
By now you’ve seen the lists experts have put out regarding the “elite” crop of signal callers and end with the “not-so-elite” guys. I think those lists should include what you’re missing out on by passing up those select group of guys. For instance, Drew Brees in Yahoo!’s fantasy football format scored 539 fantasy points for owners in 2012. He was the number one fantasy player in any league format. Let me repeat, he wasn’t just the number one quarterback, he was the number one player in fantasy football. So with no offense to the Adrien Peterson or my evolving thoughts on drafts, don’t think all quarterbacks are made equal.
Lets look at it statistically: Aaron Rodgers in Yahoo! leagues (and others obviously) is being dubbed as the number one or two quarterback in drafts. He scored 479 points in 2012 or, as I like to look at it, 11% fewer points than the number one guy Brees.
And did I mention he was third among his position in points behind Tom Brady?
The fifth ranked quarterback in fantasy football was Matt Ryan (447 points in 2012) and he was 17% off the pace. We’re talking about two or three games worth of production from the number one quarterback to the quarterback ranked fifth. Not many people can afford to lose that kind of production, especially at a position guaranteed to touch the ball 80-85 times a game.
Then there are those who consider the sensational rookie crop from 2012 as legitimate no-doubt-about-it options in 2013. That would be a mistake.
Looking back at the last four notable rookie starters after their first full season (that would be Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Joe Flacco) All but Flacco saw a drop in yards, touchdowns, and completion percentage; and only Flacco and Newton were able to maintain or decrease the number of interceptions thrown. The takeaway from this is it must be pointed out will be growing pains, and there will be more video. That means some of the things the rookies of 2013 were able to do will not be done in 2013.
So if you’re drafting Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson (who I think will be the best of the bunch) expecting them to step in and give you equal or more production than the elites, you’re playing a sucker’s game. Especially when you line up your prospects in realistic ways. What if I said “hey, instead of Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers I’m gonna draft a guy coming off his second ACL surgery, a guy who started seven games, a guy whose only competition last season to start was Matt Flynn, or a number one pick who threw 18 interceptions and just lost his offensive coordinator with a pass first mentality.” How would you feel then?
Admittedly, all of these guys are better than that overly simplistic description but I think you get my point. You will get nice production from those guys and others, but you have to make sure you weigh your options to get the most bang for positional buck.
My top five:
- Drew Brees, QB, Saints
- Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
- Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
- Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
- Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta
My next five:
- Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys
- Matt Stafford, QB, Lions
- Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
- Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
- Matt Schaub, QB, Giants
Don’t buy into these guys:
- Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins: Okay I’ll be that guy. The guy who is skeptical of Mike Shanahan as a head coach that protects his players. They guy skeptical of a second year player coming off another ACL surgery and tossing conventional wisdom by publicly going back and forth with his coach. But as sensational as RGIII was in 2012, I don’t see it in 2013
- Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: An article I wrote last year about Philip Rivers and his closing window got picked up by a San Diego website that, paragraph-by-paragraph broke down why I was wrong. Well, I wasn’t. Philip Rivers has essentially played himself out of any and all draft consideration. Don’t let the name fool you.
- Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers: I think we can all agree we’re done gambling on Josh Freeman right? No? Okay well with a career rating less than 80, three of four seasons with 17 or more interceptions, and now an offensive line that can’t stop anything I’ll let you deal with the headache.
- Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: Place all of your stock in Smith at your own risk. Harbaugh was masterful in the turnaround he did with this guy, but based on what I’m seeing he’s going to be more of the (very limited) same.