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Fantasy Football Rankings 2012: Quarterback Dissection

An author critiques a set of SB Nation fantasy football quarterback rankings.

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SB Nation Fantasy has been rolling out a whole host of rankings this week, as fantasy football drafts pick up steam through the last preseason games. The 2012 regular season is only a week away, so time is running out if you want to be 100% prepared for your draft.

We have had two fantasy quarterback rankings this week, with Mike Gallagher and Scottie Gerhart breaking down the position. Mike provided his top 30 QBs, while Scottie had his top 38. Since we have two separate opinions on the subject, we thought it would be fun to have each author critique the other author's rankings. Below are Mike Gallagher's rankings, followed by Scottie's critiques.

1 Aaron Rodgers
2 Tom Brady
3 Cam Newton
4 Drew Brees
5 Matthew Stafford
6 Matt Ryan
7 Eli Manning
8 Michael Vick
9 Ben Roethlisberger
10 Peyton Manning
11 Philip Rivers
12 Tony Romo
13 Jay Cutler
14 Robert Griffin III
15 Jake Locker
16 Matt Schaub
17 Andrew Luck
18 Russell Wilson
19 Joe Flacco
20 Carson Palmer
21 Matt Cassel
22 Josh Freeman
23 Ryan Fitzpatrick
24 Andy Dalton
25 Sam Bradford
26 Alex Smith
27 Brandon Weeden
28 Christian Ponder
29 Tim Tebow
30 Ryan Tannehill

Mike's rankings are great and very well thought out. I always enjoy reading his articles, both for fantasy football and basketball. But what fun is there if we always agree with each other? With that said, here are a few of my thoughts comparing our sets of QB rankings.

Fantasy Position Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | Sleepers
Cheat Sheets: Standard League | PPR League

The first difference I noticed when comparing his rankings to mine, was Cam Newton at No. 3, while I have him at No. 5. I own Cam Newton in two of the dynasty leagues that I play in, and I hope that he finishes as the third-best quarterback this season. But I'm expecting him to finish with roughly the same amount of points as last season. I think his passing touchdowns will rise to No. 23 or 24 with about 4,000 yards passing. With a full training camp and a season of experience, I imagine his interception total will drop, but only slightly, to No. 14 or 15.

I'm not completely sold on the Panthers receivers. Steve Smith had a renaissance season in 2011 but he's a year older. Brandon LaFell has scored only four touchdowns and a single 100-yard game in his first two seasons. LaFell is entering his third season, which is usually the breakout year for receivers, but I am skeptical. And Greg Olsen is a reliable TE, although how excited would you be if he was your starting TE on your fantasy team? The biggest reason Newton scored so many points and finished fifth in most scoring systems last year was his running abilty and rushing points. Carolina has not really cleared up their backfield situation, but added to it by signing Mike Tolbert this offseason. That's a three-headed backfield. I cannot imagine Newton being completely taken out of the red-zone TD situation, but I think his rushing touchdowns will drop. Cam Newton is definitely a top-five QB but I think he's going to finish behind Rodgers, Brady, Brees and Stafford.

Another quarterback that I'm not as high on is Jake Locker. I have him six spots lower at No. 21. Locker is an amazing athlete with the ability to make plays with his arm and legs. The biggest reason why I'm not completely sold is his accuracy issues. Over the five games he appeared in during the 2011 season, Locker threw for four touchdowns, rushed for one, threw no interceptions but completed barely 50 percent of his passes. Accuracy is a vital part of being a complete quarterback and it matters in fantasy too.

I don't know if the Titans are completely sold on Locker either because, remember, they wanted to jump in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes also. Locker will have some good options to throw to in the passing game, but Kenny Britt has a suspension potentially looming. I believe the Titans will also look to emphasize the running game behind Chris Johnson. Jake Locker has great potential and should at least score a fair amount of rushing points, but my expectations for him in 2012 are low.

One player that I'm higher on is Josh Freeman. Many are sleeping on Freeman because he disappointed so many with his poor 2011 season. How easy it is to forget that in 2010, Freeman passed for 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. The Tampa passing offense faces one of the easier passing-friendly schedules. The Bucs opened their wallets during the offseason and signed Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark to provide Freeman with a couple more talented receivers. Tampa will rely more on their running game but I think Josh Freeman makes for a low risk, high reward backup, who has proven that he can perform at a high level.

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