In fantasy football, quarterbacks are easily the highest producing fantasy football position. Some might say it's also the most crucial position to fill in order to have success.
The following is a list of the top 10 quarterbacks going into the 2012 fantasy football season:
1. Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers
Notes: Rodgers without question is the best fantasy football quarterback this year. The Packers quarterback combines an elite passing game with quality rushing numbers; rushing last season 60 times for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Even more notably, Rodgers still led fantasy football quarterbacks even though he posted his worst rushing numbers since 2008, placed 5th in most yards thrown, 16th in pass attempts and played in only 15 games. Rodgers undoubtedly has a very high floor and showing that there is potential to improve upon his numbers from last season, possibly a comparatively higher ceiling.
2. Tom Brady - New England Patriots
Notes: Brady has so many high quality receivers and tight ends to pass to this season it's almost not fair to any defense that has to play against the Patriots this season. I've been hearing quite a few people say that Brady is on or starting his decline but the fact is the quarterback had his third best regular season, behind 2010 and 2007. Brady isn't declining and the Patriots offense is just getting better and for those reasons he's the number two fantasy football quarterback this year.
3. Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints
Notes: The total passing yards Brees threw for last season was ridiculous but statistics show that the utilization of the passing game is on the rise so it's not completely ludicrous to expect similar numbers again. The only number that has me skeptical of Brees repeating last year's fantasy production is his passing touchdown total. Last season Brees threw 46 passing touchdowns which is 35% more than his second highest total and I just don't see Brees reaching a number like that this year. Despite that, he'll still finish as one of the top fantasy football quarterbacks this year.
4. Matthew Stafford - Detroit Lions
Notes: As fantasy owners learned last season, when Stafford is healthy he is a deadly force. Last season he surprised everyone throwing for over 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. In addition, the Lions probably had one of the weakest running games, averaging the 4th lowest rushing yards a game and the 2nd least attempts a game with about 22. This means that fantasy owners can expect Stafford to again be utilized as often as he was last year. Also, Calvin Johnson is as much of threat as he has ever been and another year under the belts of Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew should push Stafford over the edge.
5. Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers
Notes: If Newton keeps up with his rushing numbers then I'll admit I undervalued him this season. But I think it will be very difficult for him to repeat close to 14 rushing touchdowns. More importantly though, the seven times Newton threw for over 250 yards in a week, six of those time Steve Smith had over a 100 receiving yards. So it seems that in order for Newton's passing game to succeed he needs Smith to get open and have a quality performance. So until I see a consistency in Newton's passing game I think it's too much of risk to rely on his running game for fantasy production this year. Either way, even if we see a significant drop in his rushing game he's still head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd.
6. Eli Manning - New York Giants
Notes: Manning's value has been on the rise in the past three years. He's thrown for over 4,000 yards in each season, almost 5,000 last year, and has seen a consistent increase in passing attempts per game since 2008. In addition, with the departure of Brandon Jacobs, the Giants could be looking to utilize Manning more often in red zone pass attempts, especially inside the 10 yard line; Jacobs seven touchdowns did all happen to come within that range. Either way, Manning provides valuable expected production.
7. Tony Romo - Dallas Cowboys
Notes: Romo might have his issues but when this quarterback is on his game there is no denying his production. In seven games last season against five of the teams he will be playing again this year, he combined for an average of 269.7 yards a game, 15 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and an average 106.4 passer rating. Romo has brought quality fantasy football production to the table in the past and he'll so again this year.
8. Michael Vick - Philadelphia Eagles
Notes: Vick may have had an outstanding 2010 NFL season but he can be highly inconsistent and injury prone. In the past two seasons he's had about 18 quality passing performances in 25 starts and missed the seven other starts due to injury. That's not really a statistic you look for in an elite quarterback. This means that when Vick is healthy fantasy owners are going to have to rely heavily on his running production and we all know how that turned out last season.
9. Matt Ryan - Atlanta Falcons
Notes: I'm very confident that Matt Ryan will have a stellar fantasy football season this year. He has the easiest schedule for a quarterback this season; his opponents' this year combined for an average 236.7 passing yards allowed a game, 333 touchdowns and 195 interceptions, and an average 87.7 passer rating last season. Notably as well, he posted the 5th most red zone pass attempts, 90, last season. The Falcons are looking to decrease their utilization of the run game which should increase Ryan's value as well.
10. Peyton Manning - Denver Broncos
Notes: After missing last season due to injury and then joining a new team, Manning will be returning to the NFL, which is why I'm not so quick to rank him so high for fantasy football quarterbacks. However, he will be playing a fairly quarterback friendly schedule this season so he may very well be worth the risk. In addition, he has some very quality targets to throw to this season in Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Jacob Tamme, as well as a few others.
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Jake has played fantasy football for years and has won numerous leagues. Follow him on twitter,@JGilfix, for his latest sports news, fan perspective articles, or just to talk sports or fantasy sports.