Griffin's cannonball splash sent ripples through the fantasy community. (USAT)
Expect the unexpected. For those that followed the timeless phrase and invested in a rookie quarterback in 2012, chances are they, at the very least, punched a playoff ticket. Carrying on the work started by Cam Newton and Andy Dalton last year, RGIII, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson continued to erase negative stigmas attached to first-year passers. Their success speaks to the position's overall depth and scope. In terms of yards per game (232.8), 2012 was the most prolific passing season in NFL history. No surprise, 15 signal callers averaged at least 20 fantasy points per game, a new century-high. Below is our recap of this season's QB flames and lames with a quick look at what notable names could bring rags or riches in 2013. Ring out the old, ring in the new.
Who is most deserving of MVP honors?
Andy – CAM NEWTON. For me, the fantasy MVP question isn't simply about the numbers, but when you delivered 'em. Cam was a monster down the stretch, in the most important weeks of the fantasy season. Check the scoring leaders from Weeks 12-14; he finished first, second, then first again
Brad – CAM NEWTON. Everyone raked him over the coals after a brief midseason downturn, but the disdain was only temporary. His 30.5 points per game output in traditional formats blazed a trail to the trophy for his fortunate owners.
Brandon – ROBERT GRIFFIN III. RG3 has to be the MVP given his ROI (No. 12 QB drafted, No. 1 in fantasy PPG through Week 15), but it was tough for me to award a QB MVP to a player that missed Week 15 with injury and had two of his lowest scoring weeks leading up to that.
Dalton – ROBERT GRIFFIN III. Comparing his value to his draft day price tag, this seems like close to a no-brainer. RG3 missed the crucial Week 15 due to injury, but he carried many of his fantasy owners that far. Factoring in his rushing stats, his passing production was equivalent to 4,604 yards and 29 touchdowns - in 14 games. He also had a 66.4 completion percentage while getting 8.3 YPA as a rookie, but he was MVP regardless of tenure.
Scott – I'm not getting swayed by the late Newton run; he was outscored (slightly) by other quarterbacks in all of my leagues, and he certainly wasn't as consistent as other brand names. What good is a monster playoff run if your team doesn't make the tournament to begin with? I'll go with AARON RODGERS on the hardware, but if you prefer a Brady, Brees or Manning (no need to ask which one), I will not quibble. I am not a quibbler.
Who is the biggest bust of 2012?
Andy – PHILIP RIVERS. Wherever you took him, it was too high.
Brad – MATTHEW STAFFORD. What he failed to accomplish despite nearly setting the NFL record for pass attempts was nothing short of astonishing. When annually average contributors Sam Bradford and Joe Flacco throw more touchdowns than you, it's a tell tale sign of your unparalleled suckiness.
Brandon – PHILIP RIVERS. Like the rest of the Chargers, Rivers was an epic fail. The No. 11 QB drafted on average, he finished outside the top 20 QB scorers.
Dalton – MICHAEL VICK. He averaged just the 14th most fantasy points per game among QBs before suffering an injury that would ultimately limit him to nine games, burning owners for the second year in a row. He had 12 touchdowns with 14 turnovers. After rushing for nine scores in 2010, Vick has totaled two over the past two seasons combined.
Scott – When do we stop making excuses for ELI MANNING? At least with some of the other El Busto QBs (like Rivers), it was easy to toss the bad hand into the muck. Manning whispered like a siren some weeks, then disappeared in others. He stands 18th in fantasy scoring at the position, a horrible return for the seventh quarterback off the board. (I don't want to hear about injuries; the truly elite guys find a way to produce no matter what.)
What widely drafted player was the biggest steal of the season?
Andy – PEYTON MANNING. He was drafted in most leagues as a low-end QB1, perhaps as part of a platoon. But he's given us a vintage Manning season, the seventh 4,000-yard, 30-TD campaign of his remarkable career.
Brad – ANDREW LUCK. A slew of passers are deserving of a mention in this space, but consider for a moment where Luck was drafted on average back in August (104.6 ADP). That's right, he was taken some 30 picks after Philip Rivers and 20 post-Cutler. Highway robbery.
Brandon – RGIII. You could also make a case for Andrew Luck here, as he was the No. 15 QB drafted and has sat among the top 10 QB scorers pretty much all season.
Dalton – PEYTON MANNING. Manning's 34 touchdown passes and 290.3 passing yards per game are both his second-best marks of his career, and he still has a game to go. He missed all of last season after undergoing his fourth neck surgery while joining a new franchise at age 36. Pretty impressive.
Scott – I had 101 reasons to avoid PEYTON MANNING before the year and they all sound silly now. You win, No. 18. You crushed it.
What waiver wire acquisition rescued auto-drafters from looking more moronic than they already were?
Andy – ANDY DALTON. There's obviously a great case for Wilson here, but many more fantasy owners were leaning on Dalton during the bye weeks. He's given us five games with three or more passing scores, plus he's been a nice enough contributor via the ground game.
Brad – RUSSELL WILSON. His sterling run from Week 9 on was spectacular. During that stretch he compiled over 200 passing and 40 rushing yards per game while tallying a 18:2 td:int split, ranking him firmly inside the top-10 in points per game.
Brandon – RUSSELL WILSON. If you picked him up in Week 8 and played him every week through Week 15, you enjoyed the No. 3 fantasy QB (PPG) in that span.
Dalton – ANDY DALTON. He fizzled at the end, getting just 5.9 YPA with a 3:5 TD:INT ratio over his last four games (although he added two rushing scores over that span), but Dalton was likely available in most fantasy leagues after drafts and was the 12th most valuable QB in most scoring formats.
Scott – RUSSELL WILSON was a second-half hero as the Seahawks finally opened the playbook. Take a bow, Darrell Bevell (and here's hoping you hang around for a few years).
In the Year of the Rookie, what first-year QB should take home the ROY hardware?
Andy – ROBERT GRIFFIN III. Just imagine what he'll eventually do when he gets an elite receiver or two. RG3 could be unfair. He was the top-scorer at the position, before his Week 15 DNP.
Brad – ROBERT GRIFFIN III. Wilson and Luck were also dynamite, but no slinger shined much like RGIII. From his explosive first game in New Orleans to his laudable season-ending effort at Philadelphia, he was a top-five force who thumped opponents via ground and air.
Brandon – RGIII. It's unfortunate for Wilson and Luck that three of the greatest rookie QB seasons all had to happen in the same year.
Dalton – ROBERT GRIFFIN III. He led what was easily the most impressive rookie QB class in NFL history. There's a legitimate chance three sophomore quarterbacks are selected in the top-10 at their position in fantasy drafts next season.
Scott – As much as I'd love to reroute the hardware to Seattle, I think we all know ROBERT GRIFFIN is the right choice. Wilson should be second, Luck third - but I could see the mainstream media screwing that up.
St. Nick's late-season statistical gifts could have him in esteemed company next year. (USAT)
Because there’s never an offseason in fantasy football, what sleeper (Post-Round 5) are you eying for 2013 drafts?
Andy – COLIN KAEPERNICK. I'm anxious to see what the Niners cook up for CK in the offseason. The dual-threat talent here is obvious, the O-line is very good, and the weapons at his disposal aren't plenty appealing.
Brad – RUSSELL WILSON. Given the endless depth at the position, Wilson will likely slip to Round 6-8 in 12-team drafts next year. Based on his extraordinary finish, coolness and scoring duality, he has reasonable odds of becoming a coveted QB1 even in shallow formats.
Brandon – COLIN KAEPERNICK. I have a feeling Wilson will wind up going off the board fairly often by Round 5, but I think Kaepernick will offer similar value for a little bit cheaper draft price.
Dalton – COLIN KAEPERNICK. That is, unless Russell Wilson is available that late. Both have the upside to finish as top-five fantasy producers next year, no question. If only their teams' defenses weren't so good.
Scott –I was going to say Kaepernick too, but it's no fun when we all give the same reply. Here's something different: watch out for RYAN TANNEHILL down in Miami *if* the Dolphins go out and acquire a legitimate No. 1 receiver. Tannehill has the offense mastered, can make all the throws, and turned into a sneaky scrambler down the stretch.
Conversely, what player are you avoiding like joyrides with Kenny Britt?
Andy – JAY CUTLER. If I'm gonna suffer with him in real-life (and I basically have no choice), I can't allow the pain to spill over into my fantasy portfolio. No thanks. Fix the line, hire a real OC, then we'll talk.
Brad – ELI MANNING. The normally reliable quarterback greatly underperformed. His 18.7 per game mark in standard formats ranked No. 17 among QBs. Yes, Hakeem Nicks wasn't 100-percent for much of the year, but his ceiling is limited. Considering the probable mid-round price tag, he's completely avoidable.
Brandon – JAY CUTLER. Same story, different year. You never make money drafting Cutler.
Dalton – Assuming it's a 1-QB format, I'll be avoiding any quarterback who's being taken within the first seven rounds of drafts. I feel like a broken record at this point, but I honestly can't fathom taking a QB before that with the way our current system is set up.
Scott – MATTHEW STAFFORD was merely the No. 10 fantasy quarterback despite the Calvin Johnson float. What if Johnson's production slips a level or two? What if the Lions start running a more-balanced offense? Stafford is the most overrated big-name passer in the league.
Though April's NFL draft class may pale in comparison to 2012’s, what expected draftee are you most excited to see in action next year?
Andy – MIKE GLENNON. But really, this question is all about landing spot. At the moment, there isn't any incoming QB who looks like a must-watch fantasy asset, but NC State's Glennon could surprise. As if you needed another reason to watch the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
Brad – TYLER WILSON. Most draft pundits have him ranked behind Geno Smith and Matt Barkley, but the Razorback might be the most NFL-ready signal caller in a very weak draft class. Equipped with a rocket arm, strong leadership qualities and excellent pocket poise, he would make a ton of sense in Buffalo.
Brandon – GENO SMITH. The next QB draft class is a world apart from the ’12 dream class, but Smith has the gunslinger mentality and good enough mobility to make things interesting from a fantasy perspective.
Dalton – MATT BARKLEY. He was obviously a huge disappointment this year, falling from a possible top-five pick if he entered in 2012 to a late first round prospect at best in 2013 despite having terrific receivers at his disposal during his final campaign at USC. But this is someone who started at Mater Dei as a freshman, so I'm hardly ready to give up on him.
Scott – GENO SMITH has everything you'd want: size, strength, intelligence, mobility. He deserves to go in the early first round to a downtrodden franchise.
List your top-13 for ’13.
Andy – 1) Cam Newton, 2) Drew Brees, 3) RG3, 4) Aaron Rodgers, 5) Tom Brady, 6) Matt Ryan, 7) Peyton Manning, 8) Matthew Stafford, 9) Andrew Luck, 10) Tony Romo, 11) Eli Manning, 12) Russell Wilson, 13) Colin Kaepernick.
Brad – 1) Drew Brees, 2) Cam Newton, 3) Robert Griffin III, 4) Aaron Rodgers, 5) Tom Brady, 6) Matt Ryan, 7) Russell Wilson, 8) Peyton Manning, 9) Matthew Stafford, 10) Andrew Luck, 11) Colin Kaepernick, 12) Tony Romo 13) Ben Roethlisberger
Brandon – 1) Robert Griffin III 2) Cam Newton 3) Drew Brees 4) Aaron Rodgers 5) Tom Brady 6) Matt Ryan 7) Andrew Luck 8) Peyton Manning 9) Russell Wilson 10) Colin Kaepernick 11) Matthew Stafford 12) Ben Roethlisberger 13) Tony Romo
Dalton – 1) Aaron Rodgers, 2) Tom Brady, 3) Drew Brees, 4) Cam Newton, 5) Robert Griffin III, 6) Peyton Manning, 7) Matt Ryan, 8) Tony Romo, 9) Russell Wilson, 10) Colin Kaepernick, 11) Andrew Luck, 12) Matthew Stafford, 13) Eli Manning
Scott – 1) Aaron Rodgers, 2) Drew Brees, 3) Tom Brady, 4) Cam Newton, 5) Robert Griffin III, 6) Peyton Manning, 7) Matt Ryan, 8) Tony Romo, 9) Russell Wilson, 10) Andrew Luck, 11) Colin Kaepernick, 12) Ben Roethlisberger, 13) Eli Manning
Finally, if you hopped into a time machine and could pluck one player from the past, any era, to field on your squad, who would that be?
Andy – GEORGE BLANDA. Dual-eligibility at kicker and quarterback? Um...yes, please. Check his stats from '61: 36 pass TDs, 16 FGM, 64 XPs.
Brad – WARREN MOON. During his playing days in Houston, the HOFer really was a man before his time. In today's age, elements of the run 'n shoot are commonplace, a system that was often questioned in the 80s. His sick 1990 season (312.1 pypg, 33:13 td:int) was one of the paramount passing performances of the 20th century.
Brandon – STEVE YOUNG. When he was healthy, and not having to play understudy to Joe Montana, his pass/run combo fantasy platter was plated in gold.
Dalton – STEVE YOUNG. He finished with the second highest YPA (8.0) since the merger in a time in which passing wasn't nearly what it is today while also being a huge threat as a runner.
Scott –He didn't have the best numbers, but give me KENNY STABLER. Study the playbook by the light of the jukebox. And for my CFL Fantasy Franchise, we'll roll with DOUG FLUTIE.
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