This is a scary time for us fake football pundits. I have no delusions that I won’t make mistakes, but seeing them up close and personal can be painful to the old ego. But I think the practice of looking back is always useful and hopefully will help me not rot so bad in the future. This first look back will be of the quarterback variety. I’ll be using ESPN’s scoring to compare my preseason fantasy football rankings to the final results.
1. Drew Brees — 337 points (My Ranking: 3) — The loss of Sean Payton scared some off of taking Brees with an early pick, but he rewarded those that did with yet another huge scoring year. Brees is a great quarterback to be sure, but he is a better fantasy quarterback. Even in a down year for the Saints, or more precisely, because of the down year for the Saints, Brees threw the ball a ton to make up for a poor defense. There’s no reason not to keep riding the Brees train to fantasy town.
2. Tom Brady — 329 points (My Ranking: 2) — I had Brady high on my list due to the addition of Brandon Lloyd this season and the fact that he’s Tom Brady. Lloyd didn’t go off, but Brady was his usual self and Coach Belichick is always a help to his fantasy stats by never taking his foot off the gas. Brady doesn’t seem to be slowing down, so look for another big season in 2013.
2. Aaron Rodgers — 329 points (My Ranking: 1) — Rodgers had a very up and down season, at least for him. He had been the #1 quarterback over the previous four years (depending on scoring) so putting him at #1 wasn’t a stretch of course, but he didn’t live up to his first round ADP. For a quarterback to be worth a first round pick, he has to out distance other quarterbacks by a healthy margin. He might be the #1 quarterback again in 2013, but his ADP will probably be closer to the second round.
4. Cam Newton — 309 points (My Ranking: 5) — It took him a little while to get on track, but he finally did, and how! Well, by scoring a bunch of touchdowns, duh. In the first half of the season he ranked 12th in fantasy scoring for quarterbacks, but in the second half he ranked 1st. Does that mean he is set to be the number one quarterback next season? It’s a distinct possibility, but he’s harder to rely on from week to week than the top three guys.
5. Peyton Manning — 304 points (My Ranking: 10) — Mr. Manning’s neck scared away many this season, but he had one of the best years of his career. I ended up owning him on a couple of teams, but my ranking was way too low. He didn’t put up crazy numbers, but week in and week out he was solid and that’s what you want from the 5th ranked fantasy quarterback. He has two young stud receivers which should keep him going as one of the top fantasy quarterbacks for a few more years. How few? Well, let’s take it year by year for now.
5. Robert Griffin III — 304 points (My Ranking: 14) — RGIII missed a game and some time and still tied for 5th. He easily would have finished third on the season with that game under his belt. Of course he was injured and that’s really the biggest risk with him moving forward. I ranked him 14th, which was a big oversight on my part. I did rank him as the #1 pick in dynasty drafts, but was worried about the learning curve. I think Coach Shanahan showed his worth this season by straightening that curve out for Griffin.
7. Matt Ryan — 291 points (My Ranking: 8) — Ryan was hyped as strong as any player before this season, and he lived up to that hype for the most part. At times he looked like he was on the verge of top 5 quarterback status, but never quite got there. He still was valuable, especially compared to his ADP of 9th for quarterbacks. Right now this feels like this is a good spot for him. He’s not going to score with his legs like many of the young guns, so his upside relies on his arm and an uptempo offense, which should land him in this 5-10 range.
8. Tony Romo — 271 points (My Ranking: 7) — The much maligned Romo has always been a good fantasy quarterback when healthy. You can debate how good he is in real football, but his numbers are always near the top in fantasy points per game. This season he once again was a better fantasy quarterback than fake one, but was even more inconsistent than he has been in the past. Even though I ranked him just one spot higher than he finished, it was still a pretty big jump in points, with Matt Ryan scoring 20 more than him. I don’t think I can quit Romo, especially with Dez Bryant just now coming of age, but he does look like he may have hit around his ceiling.
9. Andrew Luck — 264 points (My Ranking: 15th) — The signs pointed to Luck throwing the ball often this season, so I thought I was ranking him fairly high, but I surely wasn’t. I doubt he won too many people leagues this year, but he was a reliable quarterback his rookie season because he had to throw the ball the 4th most in the league. It doesn’t hurt that he is a very good quarterback, but that amount of volume also plays a role. Next season is a tough call. The Colts most likely won’t want him to have to throw the ball that often and Reggie Wayne is another year older. I’m not putting all my money on him ranking this high next season.
10. Matthew Stafford — 259 Points (My Ranking: 4th) — Stafford was abysmal this season. The fact that he’s even this high in the rankings is amazing and due to the fact he broke the record for most passing attempts by 36. Before the season, even if you would have told me Stafford is lacking in ability and it would show that this season but he would throw the ball 727 times, I wouldn’t have guessed he’d have such a poor year. Stafford wasn’t helped much by losing most of his receivers not named Megatron, but he did little to nothing to give us hope. The only good thing for the future is that Stafford is still young and will still need to throw the ball a lot.