The NFL has evolved into a passing league, and it's never been more apparent than after a 2011 season that saw three different quarterbacks (Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matt Stafford) throw for 5,000-plus yards. Before this past campaign, two signal-callers (Dan Marino in 1984 and Brees in 2008) had reached that level of statistical success -- ever. Furthermore, 10 field generals (or almost a third of the league) reached the 4,000-yard passing mark as well.
Quarterbacks are also scoring more touchdowns, as seven found the end zone 30 or more times. Another three scored 25 or more, so it's clear that the number of fantasy starters at the position is greater than it's ever been. The evolution of the league also means that more quarterbacks will be drafted in the first two rounds, as the era of the running back being the top fantasy position has ended.
Here's an early look at how the top of the position will look in 2012.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (2011 - 397.42 points): Rodgers will be the top overall pick in countless 2012 fantasy drafts, and he'll be taken no worse than fourth. He's finished either first or second in fantasy points at his position in each of the last four years, so he's both productive and consistent.
6. Tony Romo, Cowboys (2011 - 369.34 points): Despite missing most of one game with an injured hand, Romo still finished with 4,184 yards and a combined 32 touchdowns in 2011. In his last two full seasons, he's finished no worse than seventh in fantasy points at his position. That makes Romo worth a second- or third-rounder.
7. Michael Vick, Eagles (2011 - 233.02 points): Vick was a serious disappointment from a fantasy perspective, posting 77.3 fewer points than he did in 2011 despite playing in one more game. His proneness to injuries makes him a risk, but Vick's versatile skill set still makes him a legitimate No. 1 fantasy quarterback in 2012.
10. Peyton Manning, Colts (2011 - 0 points): No one knows if Manning will return to the gridiron, but we'll assume he will for argument's sake. In that scenario, I still see him as a top-10 fantasy option at his position. His future will be one of the most important stories of the fantasy football offseason.