|National Football League|
2012 set to be the year of the fantasy QB
By TOM KESSENICH
(AP) -- What the NFL has always known, fantasy football players are now getting on board with as well - there is a huge premium to be placed on elite quarterback play.
Between the sidelines, a star quarterback makes all the difference. Of the top 10 passers by rating last season, nine led their team to the playoffs. Only Tony Romo and the Cowboys fell short.
It's no different in fantasy football. The top 10 leaders in points per game in the National Fantasy Football Championship in 2011 were all quarterbacks, led by Aaron Rodgers' scintillating 35.9 per game.
Curiously, of that group, only Rodgers was viewed as being first-round worthy in NFFC drafts. He finished with an average draft position of 14.13. Michael Vick (16.33) was the only other quarterback k who had an ADP in the top 25.
One year later, things have changed dramatically.
Quarterbacks have dominated the early rounds of NFFC pay drafts thus far. Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford have all been selected in the first round of at least one draft, with Rodgers going first overall in a few leagues. Cam Newton has consistently been a second-round pick while Vick has also crept into that range.
Here's a look at where the top 5 quarterbacks are currently being drafted in the NFFC:
- Aaron Rodgers (ADP of 3.89)
- Tom Brady (6.61)
- Drew Brees (8.22)
- Matthew Stafford (15.83)
- Cam Newton (22.11)
In a 12-team league, that means nearly half of the teams are aggressively pursuing their starting quarterback early. That's a huge change from last season, when the sixth-highest drafted quarterback was typically available in the fifth round or later.
It's clear fantasy owners have seen the immense production being put up by Rodgers, Brady, Brees and Co., and believe having that in your lineup each week can be a huge ingredient in a championship season. That was certainly the case in the NFFC's Primetime event last season, when Dave Clum cashed the $100,000 grand prize due in large part to the stellar play he received from Brees.
Whether last season's prolific quarterback production will be duplicated or whether it was a one-season anomaly is a fair question.
Last season, five quarterbacks averaged more than 300 passing yards per game, headlined by Brees' record-setting 342. In the previous five, only two quarterbacks (Brees in 2008 and Brady in '07) averaged more than 300. That's a jarring change in terms of prolific passing.
That has led some fantasy players to question whether the trend being seen so far this season - quarterbacks going early in drafts - is more a case of owners reacting to what transpired last season as opposed to accurately projecting future occurrence. There may be some truth to that, but when one views how the game has shifted more heavily to feature passing offenses, it's difficult to ignore the impact these star quarterbacks are having not only on the NFL, but on fantasy football as well.
There is a price to pay for elite fantasy production and owners have not been hesitant to pay that often steep price for high-end running backs. So why should quarterbacks be any different, especially when there are so few truly elite ones in the league right now?
Targeting quarterbacks in the early rounds is not only an aggressive move, but a potentially shrewd one. Last year, for example, STATS had Rodgers ranked fifth overall on a preseason draft list, far earlier than many were thinking he should go.
Thus far this season we've seen Rodgers, Brady, Brees and Stafford all go among the first 10 picks of some drafts with Rodgers being selected No. 1 overall at times. It's clear NFFC owners are diving in aggressively to these elite quarterback waters, anticipating the type of production which can pave the way toward league dominance.
It's a trend that will continue until the season begins. This is shaping up to be "The Year of the Quarterback." When the dust settles at season's end, don't be surprised if a large number of league champions are the ones who pursued the elite ones with a vengeance on draft day.
Tom Kessenich is the Manager of High Stakes Fantasy Games for STATS LLC. To find out more about the NFFC, go to nffc.stats.com or email Tom at email@example.com mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> mailto:email@example.com>>. Follow him on Twitter TomKessenich.
Updated August 7, 2012