Fantasy football drafts are happening now. As the millions of "paper league" experts parse statistics to glean who's worthy of a spot on their rosters, a #2 QB is something to keep in mind. Last season, Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck rose through the chaff of his position peers to be a solid option by year's end. Is there a possible star among the tier below the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL?
First, let's examine my list of Top 10 Fantasy Football QBs to see who's left:
#1 - Drew Brees - The New Orleans Saints will be throwing the ball like never before. Why you ask? Well, you have to look no further than new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's "new" defense to see why. It's going to be up to Brees to outpace the hoards of points the Saints' opponents will be scoring this year. Gotta' love it when the only option a team has is to lean heavily on their quarterback. Fantasy points galore are headed Drew Brees' way.
#2 - Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay has a few question marks at wide receiver, but it won't really matter. Rodgers is currently the best quarterback in the league, and only falls behind Drew Brees because the Green Bay defense will be a tad better at limiting scoring. Rodgers can eat up the clock too, with painstakingly perfect drives down the field, allowing his defense to rest. The big ding on Rodgers from a fantasy perspective is his offensive line, and the number of times the former Cal Bears star gets sacked every year. Injury potential is spelled: Bakhtiari
#3 - Peyton Manning - One of the best to ever play the position, Manning has a top two or three wide receiver corps going into the 2013 season. The addition of Wes Welker to an already talented group bodes well for the Broncos. They'll score, and score some more. While small question marks exist on the Denver defense, I believe they'll still provide great field position for Manning all year.
#4 - In no particular order: Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Matt Stafford, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson. This batch are almost guaranteed to be in the 30 to 38 touchdown range, with a couple of them adding some fantasy potential on the ground too. All of these guys can be had in rounds 3 to 5 with very little problem at all.
Let's look at my "Tier 2" quarterbacks:
#11 - Eli Manning - This is the single most under-drafted quarterback every year, even though he posts decent numbers. What drives his stock down is the Giants' penchant for a balanced offensive attack. Eli just doesn't get many opportunities to pass for much more than 300 yards in a game, and in the red zone, running backs get most of the calls. Still, Eli will give you a solid, though boring, 25 to 30 touch downs each and every year. He's a great bye-week option in any size league.
#12 - Andrew Luck - In my opinion, he's only limited in fantasy value by the team around him. Put him in Atlanta or Denver, and he lights up the NFL world. But he's in Indianapolis, so he destined to flash brilliance in spite of the team around him. He's going to be a 25 to 28 touchdown guy, so take him based on match up - like in Week #4 and Week #17 when they play Jacksonville...
#13 - Ben Roethlisberger - Tough as nails, but slowing down from his prime of a few years ago. Anyone who is buying into Pittsburgh not having a decent wide receiver corps is sadly mistaken. Antonio Brown is the real deal, so look for him to be a featured weapon for "Big Ben". The Steelers quarterback will land in the 25 to 28 touchdown range, and be a "just OK" fill in for your #1 QB's bye-week.
#14 - Joe Flacco - If you look up the word Flacco in the dictionary, it should mention something about "Peak and Valley". The term "elite" will continue to evade the Baltimore quarterback, which is odd since he's got Super Bowl winner on his resume. Flacco just doesn't consistently post good numbers week to week in fantasy football. It's made worse by not really be able to use him as a "match up choice". He looks "all world" against a good team one week, then bad the next. In a game against a weak opponent, he can look great, or completely lost. Still, he'll be a 25 to 30 touchdown guy, but buyer beware if you try to plug him in based on his opponent.
#15 - Brandon Weeden - The oldest second year man in the NFL has looked great so far this preseason. The arrival of Norv Turner as the Browns offensive coordinator appears to have worked wonders for the former Oklahoma State star quarterback. He'll lose Josh Gordon for the first four games of the season due to suspension, so he'll take a fantasy hit. He also throws to one of the great fantasy football lost-leaders of all: Greg Little. Still, I think he could turn some head this season, so keep an eye on Weeden.
#16 - Sam Bradford - Who said: "The guy with the most toys, wins!"? Whoever it was may have had the Rams quarterback in mind, or at least in spirit. Bradford has a stable of potentially Gucci toys to play with; only limited by their youth and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's dream-scape. The fourth year quarterback has my biggest touchdown potential zone - 25 to 40. Lots of fantasy football eyes will be keyed in on Bradford this season. If - and I stress the IF - he gets on the same page with all the receiving options at his disposal, he could light up the fantasy football scoreboards. If not, he'll be middle of the road at best. Feel like rolling the dice? My advice is to wait until week #5 before pulling the trigger on the former Oklahoma University star.
#17 - Ryan Tannehill - Miami has some great weapon for their second year quarterback, but will they be all they appear to be? Mike Wallace's huge free agent contract carries with it some serious pressure to prove his value. This need for the former Pittsburgh Steelers star to perform draws a line straight to Tannehill. Offensive line questions are there too. Gone is perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long, so Tannehill's blind side is a question mark until proven otherwise. I see him as a 22 to 28 touchdown quarterback, with some match up potential as a bye week substitute.
#18 - Michael Vick - While he's had his best preseason in the last few years, the doubts about how Vick will perform are there. He could very well master new head coach Chip Kelley's offense, and experience a re-birth of his former glory. Or, he could fall flat on his face, injured and beaten as he did in 2012. This is a quarterback to monitor as the season progresses. If he makes it through the entire season - which I doubt - he could be in the 21 to 29 touchdown range.
#19 - E.J. Manuel - Ahhh! The rookie pick to light things up in fantasy football? Could be, and I like the situation he's in up in Buffalo. They have a big "zilch" in quarterback talent behind the 2013 first round draft pick. Manuel has shown some sparks this preseason, so keep an eye on him in the first four weeks of the regular season.
#20 - Matt Schaub - Yo-ho-he-ho! Yo-ho-he-ho!... Toiling away in the Houston fan heat is Matt Schaub. Workman like in all things quarterback, Schaub has a "just this side of great" offense to steer in 2013. But will he? As fans scream for a Ferrari-esk roar, Schaub has shown nothing more than Buick Regal performance. Safe, sane, he's a "point A to B" man in every sense of the term. Is it just me that thinks he looks like he's just gotten out of bed in the photos I've seen? But this is the NFL, and weapons are what wins games. Houston is chocked full of offensive toys, led by Arian Foster and an aging Andre Johnson.