Good things come to those who wait.
That cliché certainly applies when it comes to drafting a fantasy quarterback. While real NFL teams may struggle to find their face of the franchise, it's not so difficult to find a quality starting fantasy quarterback.
Going into the 2013 season, I would be comfortable with any of my top-12 fantasy quarterbacks starting for my squad(s). Looking back at some of the fantasy football daily mock drafts I've done recently, a top-12 quarterback could be had as late as Round 10.
Here are my top 30 fantasy quarterbacks for 2013:
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
More efficient than any other quarterback, Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating (108.0) after setting the single-season record in 2011. In fact, Rodgers has had a passer rating of 100-plus in each of the past four years.
Rodgers threw 39 touchdowns and only eight interceptions last year. In 2011, he threw 45 touchdowns and only six picks.
Over the past four years, only Drew Brees (156) has thrown more touchdowns than Rodgers (142).
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Leading the Saints pass-first-ask-questions-later offense, Brees led the NFL in both passing yards (5,177) and passing touchdowns (43) although those numbers were actually down year over year.
Brees became the first player in league history to throw for 5,000-plus yards and 40-plus touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. Not only is he the first (and only) player with multiple 5,000-yard seasons, his three 5,000-yard seasons tie ever other quarterback to play in the history of the NFL.
No quarterback had more games with multiple passing touchdowns than Brees (13) last season. In addition, he led the league in 300-yard passing games with 10.
With the return of head coach Sean Payton in 2013, Brees has an excellent chance to exceed or come close to 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns once again.
3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
After throwing for 5,235 yards in 2011, Brady fell short of that total last year with 4,827 yards, the fourth-highest in the league in 2012. Brady threw 34 touchdowns and eight interceptions while rushing for another four touchdowns.
With the exception of Week 13, Brady threw for 300-plus yards and/or scored two-plus touchdowns every week last season. In other words, he had double-digit fantasy points in all 16 games this season.
There is some concern that tight end Rob Gronkowski, who will undergo a fifth surgery in eight months on Tuesday, won't be ready for the start of the season, but he missed five games last season as well and Brady still finished among the top three quarterbacks in fantasy points.
4. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Excluding a relatively slow start in Weeks 1 and 2, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning posted nine 300-yard games and a 34-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the final 14 weeks. He finished second in the NFL in passer rating (105.8) and threw for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns, both of which were the second-highest totals of his illustrious career.
Peyton had a pair of stud receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker at his disposal as both finished with 85-plus receptions, 1,000-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns this past season. While both receivers are back, the team's receiving corps will be even better in 2013.
Sniping Wes Welker away from the Patriots (and Brady) with a two-year deal, the Broncos now have the league's best trio of wide receivers. The Slot Machine is the only player in NFL history with five 110-reception seasons under his belt. In fact, nobody else has more than two.
5. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton started the season slowly, but he came on strong and finished tied for fourth among quarterbacks in fantasy points. In his first eight games, Newton had a six-to-eight touchdown-to-interception ratio, but that ratio improved with 13 touchdowns to only four interceptions in the second half.
While he finished with fewer passing yards and scored fewer touchdowns in his second NFL season than he did as a rookie, he rushed for a career-high 741 yards and still scored eight rushing touchdowns.
One of the concerns with Newton is that the team, which already had a relatively weak receiving corps, did not add another receiver this offseason opposite Steve Smith, who recently turned 34 years old.
6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta's Matt Ryan took a big step forward with his development in 2012. Ryan posted many career highs last year (previous highs in parenthesis): 68.6 completion percentage (62.5 percent), 4,719 passing yards (4,177) and 32 passing touchdowns (29).
The Falcons have arguably the league's top wide receiver duo in Julio Jones and Roddy White plus tight end Tony Gonzalez, who posted four-year highs with the Falcons last year, is going to play at least one more season.
7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Seattle's Russell Wilson was good for a rookie in the first half of the season, but he was great (for any quarterback) in the second half.
In his first eight games, Wilson threw 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions and he averaged 6.98 yards per pass attempt and 3.6 yards per rush attempt. In his final eight regular-season games, however, Wilson had a 16-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, averaged 9.03 yards per pass attempt and 6.2 yards per rush attempt. In fact, all four of his rushing touchdowns last season came in the second half of the year.
Wilson finished the year with a rookie-record 26 passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions and was one of four quarterbacks to finish with a passer rating of at least 100.0 in 2012.
Helping Wilson's cause in 2013, the Seahawks have acquired Percy Harvin in a trade with the Vikings. As one of the league's most dynamic players, Harvin averaged 8.9 yards after catch.
- Full fantasy profile and projection for Wilson
8. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Even though he threw it an NFL-record 727 times last year, Stafford surprisingly saw his touchdown total drop by more than half to 20 last season.
That said, the former No. 1 overall pick has thrown for more than 10,000 yards over the past two seasons combined, has the league's best receiver on his team and just turned 25 years old.
9. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Drafted by the Chicago Cubs as a pitcher in 2009, San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick is one of the strongest-armed quarterbacks in the league. While he can win games with his arm alone, it's his dual-threat abilities that make him a fantasy stud. For example, Kaepernick threw for 263 yards, two scores and had a pick while also running for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Unfortunately for his 2013 outlook, the 49ers lost Michael Crabtree, the team's clear No. 1 receiver, to a torn Achilles injury during OTAs. Crabtree may return late in the season, but it's unclear how late as well as how productive he'll be when he first returns.
10. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Leading all rookie quarterbacks in fantasy points last year, Griffin III was the most consistent from beginning to end.
Unfortunately, RG3 suffered a torn LCL and ACL in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. All things considered, however, early indications look good for his availability to the start of the season (and perhaps even training camp).
Tied for fifth among quarterbacks in fantasy points with Peyton Manning, Griffin was third in the NFL in passer rating (102.4) and posted a remarkable 20-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio as a rookie. In fact, he never threw more than one interception in any game, which is impressive for any player but especially a rookie.
While his passing stats may not be gaudy, his rushing stats were. RG3 finished with a QB-most 815 rushing yards to go along with seven rushing touchdowns. In fact, he finished in the top 20 among all players in rushing. Along with Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham, he is only the third quarterback since the 1970s to rush for at least 800 yards in a season.
Even if he is recovered from the knee injuries to start the 2013 season, it would be surprising if he runs as much in 2013 (and the future) as he did as a rookie. With knee and concussion injuries forcing him to miss time, the exciting plays he can make as a runner come with a (potentially) heavy cost.
- Continue to QBs 11-20 | Continue to QBs 21-30
- Fantasy QB Dynasty Rankings
- Fantasy QB Strength of Schedule
More Fantasy Football Preseason Rankings: Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends
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