SEE 2013 UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE!
Back to QB we go, and with three that will likely go outside the very top tier yet all three have a reasonable chance at throwing for 5,000 yards – how’s that for a deep fantasy class of QBs? Tony Romo is off a career-best 4,903 passing yards, Matt Ryan is off a career-best 4,719 passing yards and Matthew Stafford has thrown for 5,000 yards in 2011, and came just 33 yards short of doing it again last year. In terms of ADP, this goes #7 Matt Ryan, #10 Matthew Stafford and #12 Tony Romo (magazine rankings have it nearly the same). However, these three QBs are part of the “big 12″ this year. After the 12th-ranked/drafted QB Tony Romo (on average), there is a 2-round gap before the 13th-ranked QB Eli Manning gets drafted on average and another 2-round gap after that before the 14th and 15th QBs get taken in Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger.
Somehow, Tony Romo is a massive underdog in this poll based in magazine rankings and ADP. Romo is ranked wildly consistent in magazines, never higher than 10th and never lower than 12th. It’s hard to really see why he can’t have a chance to win this one though. Romo is off a career-best 4,903 yards and while he somehow has sneaked up to age 33, Romo is certainly playing in his prime and Dallas just rewarded him handsomely with a 7-year, $119.5M deal with $55M guaranteed, including a $25M signing bonus (must be nice to be Tony Romo). In terms of guaranteed money, Romo’s $55M ranks 4th behind Drew Brees ($60.5M), Peyton Manning ($60M) and Tom Brady ($57M). Romo is a year-removed from a career-best 31 TDs and he has Dez Bryant on the other end of his passes, who says his goal this year is to be the league’s first-ever 2,000-yard receiver. In addition, Romo welcomes some new offensive parts this year with three new rookies to work into the mix (RB Joseph Randle, WR Terrance Williams and TE Gavin Escobar).
It’s funny, Matt Ryan is off a career-best 4,700 yards with 32 TDs and there are those who will still call Ryan a game manager. Starting Week 1 of his rookie season, Ryan averaged 3,560 yards per season during the 2008-2011 seasons. Last year, he popped to easily a career-best 4,719 yards, a 13% increase over the season prior when Ryan first joined the 4K club (Ryan averaged an extra 34 yards per game last year over 2011). Ryan completed 68.6 percent of his passes last year, better than Aaron Rodgers and tied with Peyton Manning as 2nd-best in the NFL among QBs with at least 200 attempts (behind Alex Smith oddly enough). Inside the red zone last year Ryan was particularly deadly, throwing 28 TDs to just 2 INTs. One thing we haven’t seen however is can Ryan succeed with adversity, say an injury to Julio Jones or Roddy White, as some of the other top QBs have done. Also, for what it’s worth, Ryan and the 13-3 Falcons benefited last year from playing the easiest schedule in the league (a combined 108-148 record against other teams) and against a slate of opponents that actually allowed the most points in the history of the NFL per Fantasy Index. Lastly, an odd stat from last year – Ryan had a 21:5 TD/INT ratio on the road but only a 11:9 TD/INT ratio in homes games.
You know QB is deep when a guy comes into the season having averaged 5,003 yards over the last two seasons and he is the 10th QB selected somewhere in the 6th round on average. Matthew Stafford comes into 2013 having averaged 310 yards per game over his last 32 games. Stafford is also one year removed from a 41-TD season. Despite that, there isn’t one single magazine on the market that ranks Stafford over Matt Ryan. Under Stafford, and with HC Jim Schwartz, Detroit has passed more than any other team in the NFL in each of the last two seasons. Stafford slung it 727 times last year (45 times per game!), nearly a full game’s worth more than Drew Brees who had 670 attempts, after just nudging Brees in 2011 663 to 657. Stafford needs to improve in the first half of games as he was a very marginal QB in the first half last year completing less than 60% of his passes with a 7:12 TD/INT ratio. Of course Stafford comes into 2013 with the league’s best receiver, the consensus #1 in every single magazine, after compiling a NFL best-ever 1,964 receiving yards and averaging exactly 1 TD per game the season prior.
UPDATE 01/04/2014: Cruising relatively comfortably for the win here is Detroit’s Matthew Stafford with 348.75 fantasy points (as the #4 QB this year), some 35 points more than Matt Ryan and Tony Romo who finished as the 10th and 11th-ranked fantasy QBs, respectively. Among Speed Bump participants, 32% got this one right while Matt Ryan was the top vote collector with 49% of votes going his way in the poll.
It ended pretty sour for Matthew Stafford which seem to underscore another successful fantasy season but Stafford finished up as the #4 QB on the season. Stafford had the lowest passing total he’s had in three seasons, from 5,038 in 2011 to 4,695 in 2012 and 4,647 this past year but Stafford now averages 4,793 yards over his last three seasons. Still, fantasy GMs were left jilted with Stafford this year when it mattered most. Through Week 13, Stafford was averaging 319 yards per game and was on pace for a career-best 5,100 yards with 32 TDs. Over the last month however, Stafford averaged just 206 YPG and had just 2 TDs in four games. Detroit is rumored to be hiring Ken Whisenhunt to be its new head coach. Matt Ryan could be had a little more cheaply in 2014, but the reality is he had a pretty solid year (4,515 passing yards with a 26:17 TD/INT ratio, especially considering that star WR Julio Jones was missed for most of the season and WR 1B Roddy White was either out or playing injured for most of the year as well). Head Coach Mike Smith and Ryan joined the Falcons together in 2008 and they compiled a 56-24 together from 2008 – 2012, before Atlanta’s surprise rough 4-12 season this past year. In Dallas, it was yet another 8-8 season for Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Romo could be more of a lower-end QB1 in 2014 (he finished as the #11 QB in 2013), but Romo is still just one-year removed from a 4900-yard season and Romo had another solid season in aggregate with a 31:10 TD/INT ratio in 2013.