Breaking down the QB keepers -- and more -- for 2012

What we are talking about:

  • Eli Manning

Has he joined the fantasy elite?

  • Rodgers or Newton

Who are you keeping?

  • "Justified"

The best show on television

Kate Upton is the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girl, joining a very exclusive and beautiful club. And if the reports of Upton dating Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez are true, then I'm truly glad for her because at least she would have something positive going on in her life.

Although, when she joined Dave Dameshek and me on Radio Row at the Super Bowl (as part of the Dave Dameshek Football Program, available on iTunes), Upton denied any tryst with Sanchez, showing she at least knows how to recognize some quarterback talent.

But what about you? Are you ready to break down some fantasy quarterback sleepers?

Well, first, to Upton. People are calling her one of the greatest cover models of all time. It's too early for such talk. Here's my top six of the cover girls. Mind you, this eliminates my all-time favorite Stephanie Seymour. Tyra Banks just misses the cut because of the modern-day crazy. And I'm not going to count Beyonce, either. (Click the name to see the images.)

I understand this kind of dates me, but seeing as I'm old enough to remember Starbuck as a man, it fits. Let's get on to business.

And without further ado ...

It might have taken some time to admit Eli Manning was an elite NFL quarterback, but I never doubted him as a fantasy option in 2011. Well, I never doubted he'd ruin my season with a lousy performance against the Redskins in Week 15. But I knew he'd be all right, and he's clearly a good fantasy option right now. ...

Looking at some questions on Twitter, I'd keep Eli over Fred Davis (yes, a real question), but I'd still prefer to keep a guy like Ray Rice if possible. Elite running backs are much tougher to come by than good quarterbacks. ...

And Eli's good. But he's not in the Fantasy Illuminati yet. Take a look at the top five quarterbacks from 2011 in order: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford. The Lions quarterback had 342 points. Eli had 281 points at No. 6 -- quite a drop. So there are a lot of mid-carders who can provide a lot of points. ...

People say things like, "Hey, having to pick between Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton is a great problem to have." Uh, it's not, because the whole thing is agonizing. You have to believe Newton is only going to get better. But Rodgers is still the No. 1 QB, and I'd ride him for one more year. ...

But if you're going with Newton, I'm certainly not going to fault you. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions when you have too much of a good thing. ...

I still like Philip Rivers as a keeper. I don't like Norv Turner coaching the Chargers. But Rivers isn't throwing 20 interceptions again. It's not happening. And it's important to note, I said the same of Eli last year about cutting down interceptions. ...

ImageSpeaking of having too much of a good thing, I came back from Indianapolis with a DVR filled with the Royal Rumble, two episodes of "RAW," three of "Royal Pains" and two each from "Justified" and "Archer." I like "House of Lies" a ton, but fear it's going to be left far behind with so many great shows. "Royal Pains" only lasts because the wife and I watch it together. Otherwise, it'd be out. ...

ImageThe Rumble (and the following shows) have been excellent. Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk is going to be the show-stealer at Wrestlemania. Jericho takes the title from Punk at Elimination Chamber, so the buildup to wrestling's biggest show has Punk on the chase. ...

ImageProps to our man, With Leather's Brandon Stroud, for nailing the Zach Ryder and John Cena fallout by saying Eve would be the modern-day Miss Elizabeth in a love triangle à la Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan during early 1990s. And am I a bad person for laughing out loud when Ryder (in a wheelchair) rolled up on Cena kissing the "love of his life" Eve? ...

If you read the last graph and don't want to watch wrestling now, nothing will ever convince you. ...

Image"Justified" is so good, it's the only hour-long show I would consider watching the commercials for. I won't but would consider it. Walton Goggins should win an Emmy every year. He's like the Victor Cruz of TV right now. His stint on "The Shield" was like his breakout preseason. Now he's at the top of his game. ...

ImageActually, I just watched this week's show. Can you give Emmys to Goggins and Neal McDonough for their scene? ...

ImageFor you Archer fans, did you know Salvador Dali once owned an ocelot named Babou? How much funnier is that now? (Make sure to click Babou to see the photo). ...

Oh, that's right, this is a fantasy column. I trust Stafford going forward. One reader, though, had to choose between him, Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Graham and Steven Jackson. Tough, tough call, but I'd lean toward Megatron. ...

Another great reader question: Stafford for three years or Eli for one? Stafford. ...

I don't want to express too much hyperbole, but Stafford could be one of those guys who ends up running the Fantasy Illuminati in a few years. He's really impressive, and the Lions are only going to get better. ...

I have to say it kills me to like Jackson now following his appearance on the Dave Dameshek Football Program, Episode No. 46. I hope he can hang around long enough to be one of the Los Angeles Rams. ...

Is Brees the best keeper option? It's close. But if I had to choose between him and LeSean McCoy, my first instinct is to say running back. But dang, this is Drew Brees. For those of you who say he can't throw for 5,400 yards again, I say, why not? He's topped 5,000 yards twice in four years. His lowest TD total during those four years is 33. I don't know how you can't keep him. ...

The year after Brees threw for 5,069 yards in 2008, he set a career mark with a 109.6 passer rating the following year. Don't worry about Brees. ...

Bounce-back alert: Josh Freeman. He has a new system and a new chance to regain his rookie form. He becomes an even better quarterback if the Buccaneers draft Trent Richardson. ...

Bounce-back alert II: Michael Vick. Tough year for him, but he's still an elite quarterback to me. I wouldn't give up on him. ...

Tony Romo is a guy I keep, too. They seem worlds apart as clutch guys, but Romo had just five fewer points than Eli. ...

I keep wondering how much longer Brady is going to be competitive. He's the same age as Peyton Manning. And now Brady has come close a number of times and missed the Super Bowl title. At least he's still motivated. Obviously he's a keeper, but I'm going to pick his replacement of the future. That's why I'll overpay for Andrew Luck or RG3 in my draft this year. You have to make a bold move. ...

But there is no need to hold on to Peyton. I would rather keep a guy like Jake Locker for the long term, or at least pick up somebody with upside. Nobody is going to draft Peyton as a QB1 this season, so there's no need to waste a valuable keeper spot on him. ...

I'm excited about Todd Haley coming to the Steelers, but I'm still not keeping Ben Roethlisberger over an elite receiver like Hakeem Nicks. The running theme here is you can find a lot of good quarterbacks in the middle rounds of the draft. I'd be in favor of targeting him in the re-draft, but there is no sense in keeping him. ...

Now, if you don't have a lot of great keeper options on your team, I do like Roethlisberger a little bit. As I previously mentioned about Haley, I do like Big Ben to bounce back from his troubling 2011 season. ...

One of the things that shocked me is guys like Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick all had better fantasy seasons than Roethlisberger. But Big Ben will out-score all of those guys in 2012. There isn't a reasonable scenario to keep Ryan, Sanchez or Fitzy for this season, unless you get a cash bonus for every interception. ...

Having to pick between Matt Cassel and Joe Flacco is a great problem to have. Why? Cassel and Flacco are lousy, and I'd easily part ways with either one of them. Both are QB2 options for next season. If you forced me to pick one, give me Cassel -- begrudgingly. ...

Carson Palmer isn't your keeper this year, either. I just didn't see enough of the arm strength, and there were too many times when he had great matchups but failed to come through. A full camp will help, but he's still a mid-card guy right now. ...

Andy Dalton was another guy who failed to make good on some favorable matchups. We got ahead of ourselves in saying Dalton was going to be great in the fantasy playoffs. (Notice it's "I" when things are good, but "we" when things are bad.) Dalton someday will be a viable fantasy option. Just keep watching out for him. ...

ImageAs great as Archer is, FX really is way off base with "Unsupervised," which is the worst thing ever produced by a network that has a level of consistency similar to the Lakers -- producing contenders every year. And don't make a joke about "Lucky" either, which was brilliant but ahead of its time. Seriously, go back and rewatch the show -- it's pretty good. And it's miles better than the ESPN poker show with Mr. Blonde, which nearly killed The Black Crowes' "Remedy." So back off. ...

ImageAnd for the record, I won't extend my recording time for "Archer," just so I won't have to watch even a second of "Unsupervised." Yes, the show is really that bad. ...

ImageBTW, I'm over the whole HHH vs. the Undertaker angle. I mean, I'm glad the E isn't wasting valuable guys in a HHH angle (like they did with Punk post-Summer Slam), but it's just not compelling at all. The upshot is we'll have 30 minutes to play flip cup during my Wrestlemania party this year. ...

ImageAnd seriously, did John Cena really do the "X" thing? WWE referees cross their arms above their heads if a guy is legit hurt in the ring. And Cena has had such a hard time trying to blur kayfabe and reality over the years, and this is desperate and insulting to guys who have been seriously injured in the ring over the years. Just when I was starting to like the guy. ...

Matt Schaub is an interesting question. He was an MVP for one of my winning teams in 2010, but he's now going to be a guy who hands the ball off to Arian Foster and Ben Tate 40 times per game, killing his value, along with Andre Johnson's. There's no reason to keep him. ...

When Sanchez tops 3,000 passing yards, the rules committee needs to come correct. That would be akin to Major League Baseball passing a rule to allow the Padres to move in the fences when they're batting but move them back out when the other team comes to the plate. ...

Sanchez also had some running touchdowns, which skewed his perception as a viable fantasy option. It's not happening this year. He's not a prime-time player. ...

ImageRon Jaworski has been removed from the "Monday Night Football" booth, and this would be a devastating move if anybody even gave a (expletive) about "Monday Night Football" anymore. The strength of the Sunday night schedule, along with a superior broadcast team on NBC's slate, completed neutered the MNF product. ...

ImageDave Mustaine must really believe it's Richie Sambora who's running for president, right? ...

ImageFor those who don't know who Mustaine is, he started Megadeth but was one of the early members of Metallica. Only he was kicked out for drinking too much. Let it soak in: He was kicked out of Metallica for drinking too much. That would be like Bill Belichick cutting somebody for wearing a sweatshirt. ...

One reader had Jake Locker as a possible keeper. If you have a high number of keepers and can plan for the future, then Locker is a great option. But you might need to cut bait since Matt Hasselbeck still figures to open as the Titans' starter. ...

I was trying to explain Fitzpatrick's contract to a friend, and to me, it's akin to doing some eBay bidding while you've been drinking. The next day, you wake up and realize you just spent $20 on a lot of Jim Everett rookie cards. I mean, it might have made sense at the time, but once you've had some perspective, you realize you're stuck with something you don't need. ...

I just don't get Matt Ryan. He did finish eighth in fantasy points among QBs on NFL.com. And he should put up huge fantasy numbers if Julio Jones is able to stay healthy for an entire year. The Falcons might be forced to pass more, too, if Michael Turner slows down as expected. Still, I'm not compelled to keep him if I have better options. ...

Jay Cutler is one of those punch-line quarterbacks. But Cutler is a guy who really can excel if the Bears find him a receiver who can both run and catch. He's more of a sleeper option for me in 2012 than keeper candidate. ...

Remember, too. Everybody has different rules and stipulations for keepers, so if I didn't answer your question here, be sure to contact me personally. ...

Oh yeah, don't keep Tim Tebow.

For the record, you can submit your fantasy questions to NFL Fantasy Live, Michael Fabiano or me on Twitter. But realize, NFL Fantasy Live has 45,000 followers, and Fabiano has 50,000. Me? Just 13. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook. Also be sure to catch the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program."

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