We hear it every year, but it's really true this time: Quarterback is so deep that the fantasy football gods are practically begging you to be the last team in your draft to take yours. You might even be able to get away with allowing a few of your rivals to take their backups before you take your starter if there is a running back, wide receiver, or tight end that is too tempting to pass on. Don't believe it? Take a look for yourself:
All of these guys are near locks to be Top 10 on a points-per-game basis and in pretty much any given week, and any of them could be No. 1. Rodgers could get a bounce if Green Bay's offense is less conservative this year. Brees gets head coach Sean Payton back. Manning adds Wes Welker and might be piloting an uptempo spread offense. Brady might (emphasis on might) have a healthy Hernandez and Gronkowski for a whole season. Newton finished strong and could carry that over to 2013.
On the Cusp of Elite
- Robert Griffin III, WAS
- Matt Ryan, ATL
- Russell Wilson, SEA
- Colin Kaepernick, SF
- Andrew Luck, IND
- Tony Romo, DAL
- Matthew Stafford, DET
This set of quarterbacks will be available 2-3 rounds later than the elite options (if not more), and any of them could produce like the elite options. Each has an issue that keeps them from the top tier: Griffin's knee, Ryan's propensity to have an unexpected stinker, Wilson and Kaepernick's teams having more balanced offenses, Luck's rookie season inconsistency, Romo's lack of a top five finish since 2007, and Stafford's regression in 2012. Ordering this group is tough, and it may come down to your scoring system. In a 12-team league, you are guaranteed one of these guys as QB12, and that's a beautiful thing.
High Floor Low QB1
This pair doesn't have the elite upside of the group on the cusp, but they will likely give you low QB1 numbers weekly, with elite upside in any given week and a long track record of adequate to great production. They make waiting one more round when only one or two on-the-cusp options are left a reasonable proposition in a 14-team league.
High Ceiling QB2
- Michael Vick, PHI
- Ryan Tannehill, MIA
- Joe Flacco, BAL
- Andy Dalton, CIN
- Sam Bradford, STL
- Philip Rivers, SD
- Josh Freeman, TB
- Jay Cutler, CHI
- Jake Locker, TEN
There's a lot of upside in this group, so totally sloughing the position and taking two of this group very late isn't as crazy as it sounds. Vick will get to pilot a potentially prolific offense - if he wins the job. Tannehill's arrow is pointing up with his new targets - if his line can protect him. Flacco could be a top ten fantasy quarterback - if he produces the way he did after Jim Caldwell took over as offensive coordinator last year. Dalton could be a fantasy QB1 - if he can recover from his late-season swoon. Bradford could finally live up to first-overall pick billing - if Brian Schottenheimer can make good use of all of his new toys in the passing game. Rivers could bounce back to QB1 status - if new head coach Mike McCoy can work his magic on the league-worst offensive line. Freeman could reprise his torrid mid-2012 stretch - if he can play with consistency over a longer stretch. Cutler could produce up to his talent level - if new head coach Marc Trestman's genius revives one of the league's worst offenses. Locker doesn't seem to belong because he has been mostly injured or ineffective, but the Titans install read option runs for this very talented athlete, he could be the fantasy surprise of the season at quarterback.
Intriguing Bench Fodder in Deep Leagues
Even after listing 23 quarterbacks, we still have potentially viable options left on the board. Once again, in short bench leagues, carrying a backup quarterback may be unnecessary. With options like this on the wire to cover byes and injuries, having a backup could cost you more in opportunity than they buy you in security. Palmer gets Larry Fitzgerald and a good offensive head coach, Schaub gets a strong WR2 option for the first time, Smith gains Andy Reid, "the quarterback whisperer", and we know Flynn isn't shy about filling the air with footballs (not to mention the king of garbage time possibilities that Carson Palmer showed us in this offense last year). Manuel and Smith are worth drafting in deep leagues even if they aren't starting Week 1. Cam Newton staggered the idea that rookie quarterbacks should be avoided in redraft leagues back in 2011, and the trio of Griffin, Luck, and Wilson put a stake through it last year. With Manuel and Smith's running ability, either could be an instant QB1 when they take over.
More from Sigmund Bloom:
Playoff Fantasy Rankings and Strategy - December 29
Week 17 Quarterback Tiers - December 24
Week 17 Running Back Tiers - December 24
Week 17 Wide Receiver Tiers - December 24
Week 17 Tight End Tiers - December 24
Week 16 Running Back Tiers - December 18
Week 16 Quarterback Tiers - December 18
Week 16 Tight End Tiers - December 18
Week 16 Wide Receiver Tiers - December 18
Buy Low, Sell High: Week 16 - December 18