Last year, I wrote about how it was important to grab a quarterback early in your draft, and at the time it seemed like a good idea. After the season unfolded, though, it was clear that waiting to get a quarterback or even picking one off the waiver wire may have won certain owners their championships. Russell Wilson could have been had late in many drafts or grabbed off waivers. Peyton Manning was available in the later rounds of most drafts. Colin Kaepernick was available in almost all leagues since he only started the last seven games of the season. In leagues where you start only one quarterback, you can now wait until the seventh or eighth round or later to pick your quarterback and still come away with a good player.
Aaron Rodgers is still the cream of the fantasy quarterback crop. His 2012 season dipped down from his stellar 2011 season, but fantasy owners still came away with a great season. Looking to this season, Rodgers should still be the first or second quarterback taken in drafts. Greg Jennings has moved on to Minnesota, but Rodgers put up great numbers last year with Jennings injured for half of the season.
One major positive for Rodgers in comparison with Brees is his lack of turnovers. He only turned the ball over 12 times, in contrast with Brees handing the ball to opponents 20 times. If your league deducts points for turnovers, Rodgers should definitely be the first quarterback taken.
That being said, a couple of recent developments may cause concern in regards to Rodgers. The first is the loss of offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga. Green Bay allowed Rodgers to be sacked 51 times in 2012. For him to continue to produce at a high level, pocket protection is a must. Keep tabs on how the line holds up during the preseason. The other concern is the loss of Jordy Nelson. Team doctors expect him to be back from his knee surgery in time for the season opener, but right now it's hard to predict. Last season, the Packers were without Jennings and Nelson for two games. In those two games, Rodgers still passed for six touchdowns. Green Bay has a wealth of talent at wide receiver, but the loss of Nelson still hurts.
A close second, or No. 1 for some, is Drew Brees. Brees has now passed for over 5,000 yards in back-to-back seasons and 89 total passing touchdowns over those two seasons. Besides having a great passing offense, another reason for the prolific passing numbers last season was the poor job the Saints defense did at stopping opponents' offenses. This resulted in Brees passing to keep the Saints in games. New Orleans would like to become more balanced offensively to keep its defense off the field and run the clock some more. The only knocks on Brees are that he turns the ball over more than Rodgers and he doesn't put up numbers running the ball. When you post the numbers he does, though, who needs to worry about those two things?
Peyton Manning came back from injury and produced the second-best season of his career. This could be his last great year, and the Broncos added an amazing new target in Wes Welker to his arsenal. The Broncos running game still seems to be figuring things out, and that means Manning will be called upon the carry the offense for at least the beginning of the season. One concern with Manning is the risk of injury. Losing his starting center raises the health risk, but Denver knows it must protect Manning. The other concern is his drop in arm strength toward the end of 2012. It is highly unrealistic to think that Peyton will fall to you in the later rounds this year.
Quick Notes: EJ Manuel continues to please the Bills coaching staff ... Jacksonville lists Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne as co-starters on its depth chart ... The Green Bay Packers signed Vince Young to a one-year contract and he'll compete to backup Aaron Rodgers ... Dolphins quarterback Pat Devlin suffered a hand injury in the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday ... Tony Romo will make his preseason debut against the Raiders on Friday ... Matt McGloin is outperforming Tyler Wilson for the Raiders third-string quarterback job.
|Robert Griffin III