The Fantasy 100

Rodgers, Brees, Brady, Manning: Quarterbacks in The Fantasy 100

Bobby Colton

The great thing about The Fantasy 100 is that this is a week-to-week game. No more losing sleep over bye weeks and handcuffs. No more using draft picks on long-term breakout candidates and ripping out your hair when they never earn the starting job. No more concerns!

Well, maybe that’s an overstatement.

One issue you should become familiar  with in The Fantasy 100 is figuring out the unique scoring features of the game. Much like other fantasy football games, there are six points awarded for both rushing and receiving touchdowns and 0.1 points per rushing or receiving yard accumulated. There are points lost for fumbles and bonuses for eclipsing 100 yards. So nothing out of the ordinary.

What to make of the quarterback position

Where the intrigue comes is with the quarterbacks. Unlike in most standard fantasy football games, quarterbacks earn six points—not four—per touchdown thrown. To somewhat offset the inflated scoring from the touchdowns, quarterbacks lose a point for each sack.

 How to choose your quarterback

The scoring potential of quarterbacks is incredibly high in this game. Even in standard fantasy football games, quarterbacks are often the highest scoring players. In ESPN standard scoring the top six scorers were quarterbacks, and Adrian Peterson was the only non-quarterback in the top 12.

Quarterback is an exceptionally deep position this season. You have superstars such as Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, an exciting new generation of signal callers including Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton, and reliable veterans like Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford. Toss in injury-prone, yet talented quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer, and the guys who don’t really fit into any of the above groups but can go off for big numbers, such as Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, and Eli Manning, and that gives you nearly 20 quarterbacks whose names you just read and thought to yourself, “Ya, I’d consider him.” 

Here’s how you make your decision easier. With six points per passing touchdown, the run-happy quarterbacks just aren’t as valuable as they are in standard fantasy football games. Newton, Kaepernick, Griffin and Wilson—the four quarterbacks with the most rushing yards last year— scored 99 touchdowns in 2012, 75 passing and 24 rushing. Brees, Stafford, Romo and Brady—the four quarterbacks with the most passing yards—combined for 135 touchdowns. Even when doubling Kaepernick’s total touchdowns to 30 (to account for his limited playing time), the mobile quarterbacks’ total of 114 pales in comparison to the 135 of the pocket passers.

My advice would be to stick to the guys whose performance you can best predict. Frankly, why risk a dud of a week when you can always have a stud on your team? Unlike in regular fantasy football games, you and your opponents can all start one of the best quarterbacks. A nightmare scenario would be you pinching pennies on your top scoring position while the rest of the competition is enjoying a week where Brees throws for four touchdowns and nearly 400 yards like he did against Carolina Week 17 last season.

Don’t worry about the sack penalty

Common sense would suggest that the quarterbacks who scramble would be sacked less often. Logically, if you spend less time in the pocket there’s less chance of getting sacked, right? Well what if I told you that Brady and Brees were sacked significantly fewer times than any of Griffin, Wilson or Newton? It throws even more support to the notion that rushing quarterbacks aren’t as advantageous in this game as they are in your standard fantasy football game.

Mobile quarterbacks may not be the best option, but what do you do about the pocket passer who gets knocked down? Rodgers was sacked 51 times last season, or in other words, 3.2 times per game. Are you prepared to lose three points per week by taking Rodgers?

YES!

Don’t panic over sacks. Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, and though you don’t keep a single quarterback over the course of a 17-week season, he could easily be the top scoring quarterback any given week. Passing up a big-time quarterback is a much bigger mistake than taking a quarterback who’ll be knocked down a couple times per game.

Pay attention to matchup issues

At times this year a superstar quarterback will run into a stingy defense, which may drop the player’s tier down a spot or two. Do you go to a different superstar who isn’t facing an intimidating defense, or do you take advantage of the player who the defense devalued? Let’s take a look at how things went in 2012.

In two games against top-five passing defenses, Denver and San Francisco, Brees threw for 213 and 267 yards respectively, which were 18th and 12th for the week. Manning accomplished just 253 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers—the NFL’s top passing defense last season.

Rodgers managed just 223 yards against the stingy Seattle Seahawk defense, who allowed just 15.3 points per game and 218 yards against another top-five passing defense, the Arizona Cardinals. He did manage 303 yards against the 49ers, though there were still eight other quarterbacks who out-produced him that week and it could have just been a Week 1 fluke for San Francisco.

Stafford threw for a total of 476 yards against San Francisco and Arizona. Ryan was limited to 219 yards against Denver, and while he threw for 301 against Arizona, he was buoyed by an above-average quantity of attempts. Romo threw for 341 yards against the Steelers, but is hardly a good barometer as he also inexplicably threw for just 218 yards against a 30th-ranked Washington passing defense.

The only quarterback who managed to overcome the travails of being pitted against an elite defense was Tom Brady, who lit up Seattle, Arizona and San Francisco for a total of 1154 yards. 

Brady aside, the statistics clearly indicate that if a player is dropped a tier due to their opponent, it’s usually not worth the risk of taking him.

It won’t be hard to establish an upper echelon of quarterbacks as the season goes on. Some players will break out and others will fall off as they do each and every season. Unless all of the top quarterbacks are facing tough defenses, there is no reason to dip out of that player pool and reach for a non-elite slinger. To win any given week of The Fantasy 100 you’ll need to take some gambles, but I’d gamble elsewhere before passing up one of the premier passers.

Let me hear your thoughts all year on Facebook (http://facebook.com/thefantasy100) and Twitter (@Bobby_Colton). Send me your questions or concerns and where you agree or disagree with my opinion, and I promise to answer as many inquiries as I can.

Good luck, and enjoy the inaugural season of The Fantasy 100.

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Bobby Colton

Twitter: @Bobby_Colton