Today we will cover, who I believe, will be the Top 20 quarterbacks of the 2012 fantasy football season. The quarterbacks place on the draft board has changed some since a few years ago.

Here is an example; I drafted a QB in 2003 with my first round pick and people laughed at me. Now and days, all the elite QBs are gone in the first round. If you have a chance to take an elite or stud QB, you do it.

#1 Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (Age 29)
Last year was one for the ages, for fantasy quarterbacks, as it seems like everyone threw for 40 TDs. Rodgers is no exception, as last year he totaled a whopping 48 TDs and put up almost 5,000 yards of total offense. He has an insane amount of weapons in his arsenal with Finley, Jennings, Nelson, Cobb and Jones. There is no running game really in need of mentioning, and if there was, I do not think the Pack would count on it much anyways. Rodgers is the unquestioned #1 QB in fantasy football, so no need to debate.

#2 Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (Age 33)
The whole fantasy world can breathe a sigh of relief as all the Saints fantasy players have value again, since they wouldn’t have if Brees didn’t sign. There is not a quarterback in the league more consistent than Brees. He has passed for at least 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns every single year since 2006. They should be behind a lot since they are without their head coach and half their defense. It should give Brees more opportunity to find his weapons even more then he has before. When you have his accuracy along with Graham, Colston, Sproles, and even Moore, you can always put up elite numbers as a QB.

#3 Tom Brady, New England Patriots (Age 35)
Do we expect anything less than great numbers from Thomas? Brady put up the best numbers of his career last year, as far as yardage is concerned, with over 5,000 yards. There is no doubt that he can reach that again this year. He didn’t match his record of 50 TDs from a few years ago, but he still managed 39 touchdowns, and that’s elite. His tight ends are just ridiculous, and with BJGE gone, that should cause for many more passing TDs in the red zone. Just like Rodgers and Brees... Brady will not get past the first round, so take him if he does.

#4 Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Age 24)
Matt Stafford's 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns, isn’t being talked about by anyone in the NFL world, but people sure know about it in the fantasy world. Not to mention that… IT WAS ONLY HIS FIRST FULL SEASON. He has a history of getting banged up but I think he put that behind him. He has the best football player in the world to throw the ball to in Calvin Johnson on a pass happy team. He has other players that can cause some damage with Pettigrew and Young, but the Lions can’t even spell running game, some say that helps. Since he has an easy schedule against weak defenses look to select him early in your draft.

#5 Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (Age 23)
As a rookie this guy busted off over 4,000 yards through the air with 27 touchdowns, and ran for over 700 yards and 14 more TDs. I do not see him throwing for 4,000 yards again this year but the rushing yards and TDs should not change. He is the TD vulture for Carolina in the red zone with two RBs that keep the defense honest. The weapons are scarce, since Steve Smith is the only person to even speak of who can catch. However, that still should not stop Cam from being a top five producer.

#6 Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (Age 32)
Romo… Ugh! I’ve never been a fan of his, but he still has potential to put up elite numbers with the elite talent around him, so you have to rank him a top this high. Do I expect him to put up good numbers? Yes, but I mentioned yesterday that fantasy football is about maximizing opportunity and minimizing risk. There is lots of risk all around with this team but unlimited opportunity, how do you judge that? Lots of questions as you can see. Will they run more, will Dez stay out of trouble, and can Austin stop pulling hamstrings? Romo can be a stud producer, but manage expectations; last year’s week 16 was a fine example of his downside.

#7 Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (Age 31)
Vincent Jackson is gone so he will need Gates to be the TE of old. Matthews is a soon to be stud runner who can catch out of the backfield, but we will realize how much guys like Mike Tolbert were helpful to this offense. Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem are not the remedy to any passing situation, but Rivers is good enough to spread the ball around. I'm not certain he can be an elite QB anymore, but his potential on a pass happy offense leaves Rivers in the top 10.

#8 Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles (Age 33)
Mike Vick is a fragile quarterback, since he takes shots normal guys won’t take at his position, he is always a risk. He is against sliding and only runs out of bounds if he has too. Normally, you won’t mention things like that with a QB, but in this case you have to. Vick is an often injured QB who has potential, but really has never had a that GREAT season. He has the potential to put up explosive numbers with his insane weapons, so his value is always high.

#9 Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (Age 36)
I use to live by the mantra of “Draft Peyton if you want to win”… but not anymore. I love Manning, but he just has a scary risk to him. He is looking good and mobile in camp, but he did not play at all last year, so we only have reputation and expectations to go by. He was as consistant as any QB when he plays and has a bunch of talented pass catchers. Thomas, Decker and another familiar target in Jacob Tamme, who will be a huge safety net for Peyton, are not bad options to have. You can put him down for over 3,500 yards passing and 30 TDs, which in any other era would be elite. Not in today’s NFL.

#10 Eli Manning, New York Giants (Age 31)
In each of the last three years, Eli has passed for over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. Those are pretty good stats for someone who did not know how to stop throwing interceptions just a few years ago. The running game is not as strong as it has been with Brandon Jacobs leaving for San Fran. They had to draft a RB in the first round and Bradshaw has a major injury history, so they may need to pass more often this year. Nicks is hurt but should be back in about a month and last year’s Super Bowl hero is gone. Hopefully drafting Randle will help limit the negative impact that could have on the passing game.

#11 Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (Age 27)
I was a big fan of his last year and I’m a big fan of his again this year. This guy just has a good arm and elite talent around him, to say the least. When you have a 100 catch receiver in Roddy White, and young stud Julio Jones out wide, you’re going to produce by default and we saw that last year. Tony Gonzalez is on his farewell tour so don’t be surprised if they pass more often late just to give him some love. He is a legend, and you do that for legends. I’m not listening to what people say about Turner, so with him pounding the rock and keeping the defense honest; you should see lot of successful play action passes. Ryan is not a bad borderline #1 QB.

#12 Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (Age 30)
The Steelers running game is going to stink with Mendenhall out and no worthy backup to mention taking the carries. That means Roethlisberger will throw more often than normal, even with a torn rotator cuff. Mike Wallace will get signed soon, if not, Brown, Sanders and Miller will get the chance to make things happen. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley likes to run, but he is going to have to move the ball somehow and he will utilize Big Ben as much as he can when he can. I expect Big Ben to get more red zone carries and goal line sneaks since the running game is banged up. Big Ben can be a #1 QB, but he is a more realistic #2.

#13 Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (Age 22)
This guy is Vick meets Newton. He has a jugs machine for an arm and the agility of a cat when he runs. He will be a top 3 QB one day, but since he is a rookie you have to manage expectations, so that one day is not today. Shanahan likes to give his QBs room to run, so that works in his favor, but he has very few weapons at his disposal. They are not scared off by his wide outs and the running game is a big IF. Pierre Garcon is someone they brought in to help, but he is not an elite WR by any means. Fred Davis is a good TE who will be there to help the QB as a safety net, but with so few weapons, you have to wait and see RG3. He should be drafted as a #2, don’t get fancy and try to make him your starter.

#14 Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (Age 29)
He has a new weapon, one that he is quite familiar with, in Brandon Marshall. Marshall caught over 100 balls a few times with Cutler at the helm and presents a reliable pair of hands for Cutler. Martz is out as OC, thank the lord, and Tice is now running things. So expect the ball to be put through the air a ton, but with a purpose, not just to throw it. The O-line stinks something awful and Forte needs his workload, so expect TDs to not be something that is a given.

#15 Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (Age 23)
Andrew Luck was one of the most highly anticipated quarterbacks to ever enter the NFL draft, and rightfully so. He has a heck of an arm and just picks up everything around him so easy. His new OC, Bruce Arians, loves to air it out and that should not change just because of a rookie QB. Reggie Wayne can perform well whenever he is on the field, and with the two new TEs underneath in Fleener (his teammate from Stanford) and Allen, you can expect them to try to stretch the field. Manage expectations this year, but his upside is unreal.

#16 Matt Schaub, Houston Texans (Age 32)
OK let’s see… Foster, Foster, Pass, Foster and Foster for the TD. That will be a common trend. Schaub is coming off an injury and has never done much which would make him deserve being a starter on any fantasy team this year. This is a run first team and if they pass, Andre Johnson might pull a hamstring or a groin if he has to run too far. Sorry for the sarcasm.  There #2 WR is a guy name Walter who is as quick as me when I’m sitting and is in every waiver wire pool I’ve seen. This team is good because of Foster and the defense; don’t waste your starting quarterback spot on a guy who has never really produced.

#17 Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (Age 25)
He was rookie last year and still did well posting almost 3,500 yards and 20 scores. His stud WR is only going to get better in A.J. Green and Gresham is a TE who should produce way better then his ADP this year. He should remain a decent fantasy quarterback this year and should even be better in another year or too for Dynasty guys. I do not think he can ever be an elite type of QB and his running game is just not that good, but Dalton should produce low end #2 QB numbers.

#18 Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Age 24)
Freeman did not get any better last year than he was his previous year. He passed for just about the same amount of yards, but dropped off considerably in TDs. His TDs were down because his weapons were blanks. They gave up on plays and didn’t make any effort to go get the tough balls. Greg Schiano is the new Head Coach and he will run the ball down your throat. They drafted Doug Martin in the first round to help with a running game that did not do that well last year. Freeman gained Vincent Jackson as a passing option and that should help, and even though Dallas Clark is old, he can still help out as well. Don’t expect anything special from him as he will be a pedestrian fantasy #2 at QB.

#19 Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills (Age 30)
Fitzpatrick was a very productive fantasy option last year with about 3,800 yards passing and 24 TDs. Not bad, and he has room to grow. The Bills running game is stout with Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller, and are very good at catching the ball out of the backfield. His pass catching options are very thin, and Stevie Johnson is the only one with any play making abilities out side. Even though, he is still a low end #2 fantasy option and should be on a roster in all leagues as his upside is still pretty good.

#20 Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (Age 27)
Rounding out the top 20 is a guy you can never really trust to start for your fantasy team. Flacco is inaccurate often and has a RB who is the #1 option in passing and rushing, so going down the field does not happen much. That may change with the emergence of Smith as a deep threat and Rice, Boldin and Dickson holding the defenses at bay underneath. Expect his cannon of an arm to unleash a little bit and therefore get more yards. The TDs on this team will still go to Rice, so expect him to be bye week filler.

Join me tomorrow as I will go over the Top 20 Running Backs of the 2012 season. See you then.

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