The NFL has evolved into a passing league, but will the quarterback position actually lose some value at the top of 2013 fantasy football drafts? Out of the top 15 overall fantasy point scorers of 2012, 12 were signal-callers. That is what I call a statistical abundance! And with rookies like Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson all breaking into the top 10, it makes more sense than ever to wait to select a quarterback in drafts.
Compared to previous seasons, the upper echelon of field generals were very consistent this season. Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Cam Newton all finished in the top five in points at the position for the second straight season. Matt Stafford, who finished 11th, was the lone quarterback not to finish in the top five again. We also saw seven of the top 12 signal-callers in 2011 reach that same level again in 2012. The new entrants to the top 12 were the three rookies standouts, Peyton Manning and Andy Dalton. The players who fell out of the top 12 include Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Mark Sanchez (no, that's not a misprint), Michael Vick and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
So, what can we expect from quarterbacks in 2013? Well, I think there are least 15 players with the skills to end up in the top 10 before there's been one free-agent move, one rookie drafted or one offseason trade. Again, that is a serious abundance of options.
Here's an early look at how the top of the position will look in 2013.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (2012 - 343.60 points): Rodgers scored over 50 fewer fantasy points compared to his 2011 totals ... and still finished second at the position. The veteran has now ranked no worse than second in points among quarterbacks in each of the last four seasons. At 29, Rodgers is still in the prime of his career and should be the first quarterback selected in 2013.
2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (2012 - 345.58 points): It was another ho-hum season for Brees, who threw for 5,000-plus yards for the second straight season and led all quarterbacks in fantasy points. Outside of 2010, when he finished sixth, Brees has been No. 1 or 2 in points at the position since 2008. He has also been among the top six field generals in each of the last six years.
3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (2012 - 340.28 points): Much like Rodgers and Brees, Brady is one of the most reliable quarterbacks in fantasy football. He's ranked among the top five players at his position in three straight seasons and four of his last five full seasons. He will be 36 when the 2013 campaign gets underway, but Brady has shown no signs of slowing down in the stat sheets.
4. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (2012 - 323.46 points): Newton looked like he was going to be a bust in the first half of the season, but he went off in the second half with 17-plus fantasy points in six of his last seven games. That includes a trio of starts with 29-plus points. A versatile athlete across the board, Newton has proven to be one of the elite fantasy football quarterbacks.
5. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (2012 - 311.06 points): Neck surgeries? What neck surgeries? Manning came back to the gridiron in top form, posting over 4,600 passing yards and 37 touchdown passes (his second-highest total ever) in his first season in Denver. Manning is a little long in the tooth -- he'll be 37 in March -- but like Brady he has shown no signs of a statistical regression.
6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (2012 - 276.46 points): Luck has the tools to emerge into one of the elite quarterback in the NFL and fantasy football. As a rookie, he recorded an NFL record 4,374 passing yards and a total of 28 touchdowns. Just imagine what he'll be able to do with a full season of NFL experience under his belt? The statistical upside here is no short of amazing.
7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (2012 - 275.62 points): Wilson started off slow, but there might not have been a hotter quarterback down the stretch. In posted 20-plus fantasy points in each of his last five full games, and he did it without a true No. 1 option in the pass attack. Russell, who can also run with the football, clearly has the tools to be a No. 1 option in fantasy land.
8. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (2012 - 174.06 points): In eight games where he took the majority of his team's snaps, Kaepernick recorded a combined 149.40 fantasy points. Double that total, and he ranks ahead of Romo, Luck, Stafford and Wilson. With a huge arm and the skills to make plays on the ground, I love Kaepernick to break out next season. He could be a draft steal.
9. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (2012 - 318.60 points):RG3 was a fantasy monster, finishing in the top five in points overall despite missing a game with a knee ailment. Like Newton, Griffin III has a hand cannon but can also put up huge totals as a runner. He could move up this list during the offseason, but coming off another ACL reconstruction will make him a bit of a risk.
10. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (2012 - 278.92 points): For the third time in his last three full seasons, Romo finished with over 270 fantasy points. While he did threw a lot of interceptions, he also put up a career best with 4,903 passing yards. Romo might not be a clutch quarterback on the football field, but he is a terrific fantasy option and will continue to be just that in 2013.
11. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (2012 - 304.56 points): Just as we predicted on NFL Fantasy LIVE over the summer, Ryan broke out in 2012 with career bests in just about every statistical category. I'm not about to call him an elite option at the position, but Ryan is a clear No. 1 field general. Throwing the football to studs Roddy White and Julio Jones doesn't hurt his value, either.
12. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (2012 - 275.58 points): Stafford had a nice 2012 campaign in the stat sheets, missing his second consecutive 5,000-yard season by fewer than 40 yards. Where he did fall off was in touchdowns, as he recorded 24 total scores -- that was down from the 41 he had in 2011. Still, Stafford avoid injuries and remains a No. 1 fantasy quarterback for next season.