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Regular Season, Updated: 9/6/12

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 Aaron Rodgers, GB (Bye: 10)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 225   DOB: 1983-12-02   Age: 34
College: California   Draft: 2005 Round 1 (24) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009GB16350 541 4,434 30 7 59 304 5 402.1 25.1
2010GB15312 475 3,922 28 11 64 356 4 367.7 24.5
2011GB15343 502 4,643 45 6 60 257 3 455.9 30.4
2012 (Projected)GB 388 606 4,844 41 10 60 277 3 451.9  

Outlook: Much like Peyton Manning used to be considered money in the bank as the leagueís elite fantasy signal caller, that throne has now been passed to Aaron Rodgers. Entering his fifth season as the Packers starter, Rodgers has finished as the 2nd, 1st, 2nd and 1st rated fantasy quarterback with the 2011 season rating as his most remarkable season to date. Despite sitting out the finale, Rodgers set career highs in passing yards (4,643) and touchdowns (45), topping his previous best of 30 by 15. If that wasnít impressive enough, he also chipped in 257 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, bring his season averages as a starter in those categories to 281 and four. Shall we continue? The Packers have the best group of wide receivers in the league and go five deep at the position. Their tight end has the potential to emerge a notch below Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. Their head coach treats the running game as an afterthought. Rodgers is just 28 years old, the age where most quarterbacks are entering their prime. Could he be even better in 2012? Well, if he starts all 16 games, why not? We wouldnít go so far as to predict that but we wouldnít discount the possibility. If Rodgers isnít the first quarterback off the board in your league, then join a new one. After Arian Foster, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy are gone, feel free to grab Rodgers. And if you are picking in the top three and really love him, go for it. As noted, heís money in the bank.

 Tom Brady, NE (Bye: 9)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 225   DOB: 1977-08-03   Age: 40
College: Michigan   Draft: 2000 Round 6 (33) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009NE16371 565 4,398 28 13 29 44 1 342.3 21.4
2010NE16324 492 3,900 36 4 31 30 1 348.0 21.8
2011NE16401 611 5,239 39 12 43 109 3 446.9 27.9
2012 (Projected)NE 427 667 4,936 37 11 27 53 1 406.1  

Outlook: At 34 years of age, Brady put together another stellar campaign, throwing for 5,239 yards with 39 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The yardage total would have been a league record if not for Drew Brees throwing for even more yards with New Orleans. There doesnít appear to be any slippage in Bradyís game as he enters his 13th season in the league and there is nothing to suggest that he isnít capable of another MVP-caliber season in 2012. In fact, you could easily make the argument that he has the chance to improve on his 2011 production. Starting running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis left in free agency and his most likely replacements consist of a pair of largely unproven second-year players. At wide receiver, the team added a deep threat in Brandon Lloyd as well as a steady veteran producer in Jabar Gaffney. And at tight end, the Patriots feature the most lethal combination of pass receivers in league history in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. About the only negatives you can find are that Pro Bowl left tackle Matt Light has retired and left guard Logan Mankins is recovering from a torn ACL. Bradyís a top-three fantasy quarterback for 2012.

 Matthew Stafford, DET (Bye: 5)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 232   DOB: 1988-02-07   Age: 30
College: Georgia   Draft: 2009 Round 1 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009DET10201 377 2,267 13 20 20 108 2 188.2 18.8
2010DET357 96 535 6 1 4 11 1 57.9 19.3
2011DET16421 663 5,038 41 16 22 78 0 423.7 26.5
2012 (Projected)DET 407 656 4,852 36 15 39 114 1 404.0  

Outlook: Considered an injury risk heading into his third year in the league in 2011, Stafford proved his doubters wrong by putting together a Pro Bowl quality season (although he miraculously wasnít named to the Pro Bowl) by throwing for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns. With the Lions struggling to run the ball, Stafford led a high flying passing attack that threw the ball 663 times and attempted more passing plays than any team in the league. Perhaps most impressively, Stafford was able to produce in the clutch, leading the Lions to big comeback wins over the Cowboys, the Vikings and the Raiders in helping Detroit secure their first playoff spot in more than a decade. If you were looking for consistency, Stafford provided that too by registering fewer than 19 fantasy points just once. Thatís what happens when you throw for multiple touchdowns 12 times, have eight 300-yard passing games and fail to throw for 250 yards just four times. Whatís in store for 2012? Provided Stafford remains healthy, and it is worth noting that four shoulder injuries caused him to miss 19 of his first 32 games in the league, he should finish the season as a top five fantasy quarterback. With Calvin Johnson in the fold and Titus Young expected to build on his impressive rookie season, Stafford has explosive weapons at wide receiver as well as a solid tight end in Brandon Pettigrew, not to mention perhaps a shiny new toy in 2nd round pick Ryan Broyles. While Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady need to be the first quarterbacks off the board, you could make a strong argument that Stafford needs to go number three.

 Drew Brees, NO (Bye: 6)
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 209   DOB: 1979-01-15   Age: 39
College: Purdue   Draft: 2001 Round 2 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009NO15363 514 4,388 34 11 22 33 2 370.7 24.7
2010NO16448 658 4,620 33 22 18 -3 0 362.7 22.7
2011NO16468 657 5,476 46 14 21 86 1 472.4 29.5
2012 (Projected)NO 428 649 4,932 36 17 18 44 0 395.0  

Outlook: With his record-setting passing performance in 2011, Brees finished the season as the top ranked fantasy quarterback, averaging 29.5 FPts/G. He eclipsed Dan Marinoís single-season passing yardage record with 5,476 yards while throwing for a career-high 46 touchdowns. Better yet, he cut down on his interceptions, going from a career-high 22 in 2010 to just 14 last season. Things couldnít be looking rosier, right? Well, Bountygate has put a cloud over the Saints and Breesí outlook for the 2012 season with head coach Sean Payton suspended for the entire year. Paytonís absence has to have a negative impact on the teamís offensive production and letís face it; it is folly to chase last yearís fantasy production so predicting 5,500 passing yards and 45 touchdowns for Brees is foolhardy. Brees will remain a fantasy stud in 2012 but 5,000 yards and 35-40 touchdown passes seems far more realistic. After Aaron Rodgers, Brees deserves consideration as being the number two quarterback on your draft board along with Tom Brady, Matt Stafford and Cam Newton.

 Cam Newton, CAR (Bye: 6)
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 244   DOB: 1989-05-11   Age: 28
College: Auburn   Draft: 2011 Round 1 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2011CAR16310 517 4,051 21 17 126 706 14 441.2 27.6
2012 (Projected)CAR 310 508 3,756 19 16 115 667 8 378.5  

Outlook: After scoring just 16 touchdowns during the 2010 season, the Panthers used the 1st pick in the 2011 draft to acquire Newton. With Newton leading the offense from Week 1, Carolina scored 48 touchdowns despite him not having the benefit of a full off-season, easily justifying his selection as the top overall pick. Along the way, Newton became the first rookie to throw for over 400 yards in his first game, set the rookie record for passing yards in one game with 432, set the NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 14 and broke Peyton Manningís record of 3,739 passing yards for a rookie, finishing the season with 4,051. He also threw for 21 touchdowns and amassed 706 rushing yards on his way to becoming the 4th ranked fantasy quarterback in 2011. By seasonís end, Newton had put to rest any notion that he was not ready to lead a pro style offense. If you are looking for any reason to doubt Newton in 2012, here it is. He was held to under 200 yards passing in each of his last three games and over his last six games, he averaged just 194 passing yards per game. Of course, he more than made up for that by throwing for nine touchdowns and rushing for 295 yards and rushing for five touchdowns. At seasonís end, Newton was the fourth ranked fantasy quarterback, with his 14 rushing touchdowns helping propel him to that spot. However, rushing touchdowns from the quarterback position can be volatile and as a precautionary tale, look no further than Michael Vick, whose rushing touchdowns plummeted from nine in 2010 to just one in 2011. Put another way Ė can we trust Newton to average one rushing touchdown every nine carries again in 2012? While Newton is a top five ranked fantasy quarterback for 2012, he carries far more risk than any of the other options surrounding him in the rankings.

 Michael Vick, PHI (Bye: 7)
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 215   DOB: 1980-06-26   Age: 37
College: Virginia Tech   Draft: 2001 Round 1 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009PHI126 13 86 1 0 24 95 2 29.8 2.5
2010PHI12233 372 3,018 21 6 100 676 9 356.5 29.7
2011PHI13253 423 3,303 18 14 76 589 1 302.1 23.2
2012 (Projected)PHI 286 469 3,752 23 15 87 636 5 373.2  

Outlook: Despite averaging the second highest FPts/G average of his career, Vick was considered a bit of a bust in 2011. At 23.2 PPG, Vick averaged 6.5 FPts/G fewer than his monster 2010 season and it doesnít take a rocket scientist to figure out why. After scoring nine touchdowns on the ground in 2010, Vick found the end zone just once. However, Vick himself may have been the biggest cause for his lack of scores as he turned the ball over repeatedly, coughing up 14 interceptions and losing four fumbles in the 13 games he appeared in. Otherwise, Vick put together a solid season setting career-highs in completions (253), attempts (423) and passing yards (3,303). In 2012, his success will depend on two factors: a willingness to avoid hits and improved decision-making. Vick can still run the ball (589 rushing yards last season) and his passing is light years ahead of what it was in his younger days, although not quite on par with the upper echelon quarterbacks in the league. He seemed to get the message about avoiding hits when he returned from a rib injury in Week 14 last season, with his rushing attempts dropping from 7.2 before the injury to 2.8 after the injury. And therein lies the quandary with Vick as your starting fantasy quarterback. He needs to run the ball effectively to be a stud but that increases his risk of injury, which takes him out of the lineup. Look for Vick to improve on his 2011 fantasy production but not match his monster season in 2010, leaving him just outside the top five as a fantasy option in 2012. Keep in mind that drafting Vick necessitates grabbing an upper tier backup since itís pretty much certain he will miss time at some point in the season.

 Matt Ryan, ATL (Bye: 7)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 220   DOB: 1985-05-17   Age: 32
College: Boston College   Draft: 2008 Round 1 (3) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009ATL14263 451 2,916 22 14 30 49 1 244.7 17.5
2010ATL16357 571 3,706 28 9 46 122 0 309.5 19.3
2011ATL16347 565 4,177 29 12 37 84 2 345.3 21.6
2012 (Projected)ATL 357 575 4,257 31 14 31 102 1 353.1  

Outlook: Matty Ice has been regular season nice for the Falcons. Just not so much for his fantasy owners. He is the perfect example of a player whose value to his NFL team far exceeds his value as a fantasy player. Or should we say has been the perfect example? With former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey having been hired to lead the Jaguars, Dirt Koetter assumes the coordinator position this season and he will bring a vertical passing attack to the franchise and enhanced fantasy expectations for Ryan. Letís face it, the weapons were already in the fold and what Ryan really needed to unleash an upper tier fantasy season was an offensive philosophy that emphasized the pass. Letís dig deeper. Will head coach Mike Smith allow Koetter to unleash Ryan and stud wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones as well as tight end Tony Gonzalez on the rest of the league? Does it matter that starting running back Michael Turner has reached the ripe old age of 30? Would you be surprised to know the Falcons, despite adding Jones to the roster, actually scored 12 fewer points in 2011 than they did in 2010? Can speedsters Jacquizz Rodgers and Harry Douglas put together solid seasons? With Ryan coming off his first 4,000-yard season (4,177) and having thrown for a career-high 29 touchdown passes in 2011, it looks like Ryan may reach elite fantasy status in 2012 for the first time in his five year career. Ryan rates a notch below the big five at quarterback this year.

 Eli Manning, NYG (Bye: 11)
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 218   DOB: 1981-01-03   Age: 37
College: -   Draft: 2004 Round 1 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009NYG16317 509 4,021 27 14 17 65 0 315.6 19.7
2010NYG16339 539 4,002 31 25 32 70 0 331.1 20.7
2011NYG16359 589 4,933 29 16 35 15 1 370.2 23.1
2012 (Projected)NYG 379 642 4,365 32 18 19 42 0 350.5  

Outlook: Last year, I asked you whether you got the feeling that Eli is the Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy quarterbacks and the answer to that was yes. This year, there is no doubt the answer is no. Coming off a career year with 4,933 passing yards and 29 touchdowns that culminated with the Giants second Super Bowl win, Manning figures to start getting some fantasy love in 2012. There goes the chance of acquiring him as a value pick as has been the case in recent years. If you want to nitpick, you could view the departure of Mario Manningham and the downgrade at tight end to Martellus Bennett as issues but Manning seems to be at the point of his career where he can make lemonade out of lemons. Of course, when your starting wide receivers combined for 2,728 yards, you donít need much of a supporting cast. With three-year averages of 4,319 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, Manningís consistency and expected production in 2012 should make him no worse than the 7th quarterback off the board in your draft. The Dangerfield days are over.

 Philip Rivers, SD (Bye: 7)
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 228   DOB: 1981-12-08   Age: 36
College: North Carolina State   Draft: 2004 Round 1 (4) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009SD16317 486 4,254 28 9 26 50 1 335.7 21.0
2010SD16357 541 4,710 30 13 29 52 0 360.7 22.5
2011SD16366 582 4,624 27 20 26 36 1 348.8 21.8
2012 (Projected)SD 354 553 4,537 28 15 30 42 0 343.1  

Outlook: The free agent market over the last two seasons has not been kind to Rivers. Last season, he lost running back Darren Sproles and watched as his diminutive checkdown option went on to enjoy a career season in New Orleans with 1,313 total yards and nine touchdowns. This off-season, Rivers watched as his top wide receiver Vincent Jackson left town for a lucrative long-term contract the Chargers were unwilling to give him. While Robert Meachem will take over for Jackson in the Chargers starting lineup, he is an inconsistent player and both Gates and Malcom Floyd have proven to be injury-prone. On the positive side, Rivers enjoyed arguably the best year of his career in 2010 despite numerous injuries amongst his receiving corps and losing Jackson for most of the season due to a holdout, suspension and injury. However, that comforting fact is offset by his performance in 2011 when he threw a career-high 20 interceptions in what was regarded as the worst year of his career. Rivers is still too good and the Chargers throw it too much for him not to be a starting fantasy quarterback but the odds of him cracking the top 5 in 2012 are unlikely. Consider him a mid-tier to lower-end fantasy starter this season.

 Tony Romo, DAL (Bye: 5)
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 228   DOB: 1980-04-21   Age: 38
College: Eastern Illinois   Draft:
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009DAL16347 550 4,483 26 9 35 105 1 344.7 21.5
2010DAL6148 213 1,605 11 7 6 38 0 128.1 21.3
2011DAL16346 522 4,184 31 10 22 46 1 343.8 21.5
2012 (Projected)DAL 343 544 4,242 28 12 13 55 1 335.6  

Outlook: Romo put together a strong 2011 season after missing ten games in 2010 due to a broken collarbone. He topped 4,000 passing yards for the third time with 4,184 yards and threw for 31 touchdowns, the second highest total of his career. The truth is that Romo may have had the best year of his career last season as he continued to play well despite missing Miles Austin for six weeks, Jason Witten struggling somewhat down the stretch and Dez Bryant failing to register a breakout season in his second year in the league. Part of Romoís success was based on the chemistry he had with Laurent Robinson, the teamís third wide receiver who signed with Jacksonville in the offseason. Itís anybodyís guess who will attempt to replace that production in 2012 but the odds are that none of the candidates will come closing to matching Robinsonís 858 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. While Romoís statistics from last season would have been good enough to make him a top five fantasy quarterback a few years ago, he finished as the 8th ranked player at his position. There is little reason to suggest that he will improve on that ranking in 2012. Consider him a low end QB1.

 Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (Bye: 4)
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 241   DOB: 1982-03-02   Age: 36
College: -   Draft: 2004 Round 1 (11) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009PIT15337 506 4,328 26 12 40 80 2 340.4 22.7
2010PIT12240 389 3,200 17 5 33 176 2 257.6 21.5
2011PIT15324 513 4,077 21 14 31 70 0 294.9 19.7
2012 (Projected)PIT 331 526 4,156 26 16 31 90 1 326.8  

Outlook: Roethlisberger put together another workmanlike season in 2011, throwing for the 2nd most yards in his career (4,077) with 21 touchdowns. While those numbers are reasonably impressive, they were only good enough to rank as the 13th best fantasy quarterback and 14th on a FPts/G basis. He failed to put up starter quality fantasy points partly due to the decline in his rushing production, as he ran for just 70 yards and no touchdowns after averaging 125 yards and two touchdowns over the first seven years of his career. A late season high ankle sprain didnít help matters, further proof that his refusal to throw the ball away increases his risk of injury. In 2012, Big Ben gets a new offensive coordinator in Todd Haley with Bruce Arians having been shown the door. While Haleyís Kansas City tenure was marked by huge production in the running game, he relied heavily on the pass as the Cardinals offensive coordinator so concern that the Steelers will pound the ball on the ground is overblown, especially considering that largely unproven Isaac Redman will assume the starting role while Rashard Mendenhall recovers from a torn ACL. With a pair of quality starting wide receivers in Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown and the talented yet injury-prone Emmanuel Sanders coming off the bench, the Steelers may actually throw the ball more this season. Consider Roethlisberger a low-end fantasy starter but one who could surprise on the upside, provided the offensive line replenishments work out. He could be a bargain on draft day.

 Peyton Manning, DEN (Bye: 7)
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 230   DOB: 1976-03-24   Age: 42
College: Tennessee   Draft: 1998 Round 1 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameComp Att Yard TD INTAtt Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2009IND16393 571 4,500 33 16 19 -13 0 355.7 22.2
2010IND16450 680 4,700 33 17 18 18 0 368.8 23.1
2011IND00 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0
2012 (Projected)DEN 374 575 4,195 27 13 15 17 0 319.5  

Outlook: In past years, an analysis of Peyton Manningís fantasy football prospects would be about how remarkably consistent and highly productive he has been. This year, itís about his health and his role with a new team, the Denver Broncos. Reports out of Denver indicate that his arm strength is nearly back to full capacity after having multiple neck surgeries but training camp and the preseason will tell us if that is truly the case. Preseason games will also give us an indication of how well his body responds to physical contact. As to the Broncos offensive philosophy, letís just say that they didnít get Peyton Manning to hand the ball off anywhere near as much as they did last season. With a pair of emerging wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, two solid receiving options at tight end in Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreesen and an intriguing rookie out of the backfield in Ronnie Hillman, there are more than enough weapons for Manning to finish as a top five fantasy quarterback provided he can remain healthy for the entire season. More on to the consistency factor: Prior to last season, Manning had thrown for over 4,000 passing yards in 11 of 13 seasons (missing the mark in his rookie season and in 2005 when he was rested at the end of he year) and had at least 26 touchdown passes in every pro season. And we all know that he had never missed a start prior to 2011. Given his health status, Manning should be taken as the 9th or 10th quarterback but his upside is certainly greater than that.