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Changing Of The Guard? Mobile QBs Emerging

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Is a QB in the mold of Drew Brees more valuable than the new RGIII types? Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Image

You have to go back as far as 2002 to compare what we have seen in terms of athletic quarterbacks using their mobility to gain an advantage in the NFL, and in the processes, rack up major fantasy football points. So what was so special about 2002? This was the first year we were able to witness "the Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons." Vick showed in his second year how valuable he could be by rushing for 777 yards and eight touchdowns and would continue this level of success until 2006, where he posted a career high 1,039 yards rushing. Fast forward into 2011, a rookie Panthers quarterback and No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft exploded on to the scene, using his legs and physicality to be one of the top scorers and surprise players of the 2011 fantasy season. Cam Newton was able to rush for an amazing 706 yards and 14 touchdowns. This obviously made Newton a top target in fantasy league drafts for 2012, but surprisingly, three new, young and mobile quarterbacks emerged at the same time. The most impressive of them all was Robert Griffin III, another former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Griffin was able to best Newton's yardage from the previous year by rushing for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. So what does this mean for fantasy football? Is there a changing of the guard? Should you be targeting the next young mobile quarterback to ensure you have a top performer for your team? Unfortunately, we really don't have the history to compare the great passers of the game as opposed to the new version of what we call an "elite" quarterback. What we will do though is look at last year and see how rushing quarterbacks faired against some of the best pocket passers that rely heavily on their arms instead of their feet. We will look at some interesting trends and concerns that arose while breaking down the stats of each player and their potential for 2013. The following table was composed from 2012 stats, and for the sake of argument, the standard four points per passing touchdown and six points per rushing touchdown was used. We took the Top Five quarterbacks with the most passing attempts and most rushing attempts in 2012.

Name  Pass Attempts  Rushing Attempts Total Passing Yards  Total Rushing Yards  Total Passing TDs  Total Rushing TDs  Fantasy Points From Rushing  Fantasy Points From Passing Interceptions  Total Fantasy Points Fantasty  Rank  Missed Games 
Matthew Stafford 727 35 4,967 126 20 4 36 261 17 297 10th 0
Drew Brees 670 15 5,177 5 43 1 6 369 19 375 1st 0
Tony Romo  648 30 4,903 49 28 1 10 299 19 309 8th 0
Tom Brady  637 23 4,827 32 34 4 27 286 8 313 2nd 0
Matt Ryan 615 33 4,719 138 32 1 19 244 14 263 7th 0
Cam Newton  485 127 3,869 741 19 8 122 163 12 285 3rd 0
Robert Griffin III 393 119 3,200 826 20 7 96 208 5 304 6th 1
Russell Wilson  393 94 3,118 489 26 4 72 187 10 259 11th 0
Colin Kapernick  218 63 1,814 425 10 2 51 113 3 164 26th 8 (Non-Injury)
Michael Vick  351 62 2,362 332 12 1 39 121 10 160 28th 6

So what can we learn from all this? The most obvious stat is the number of Top 10 scorers from each. Even with the scoring set to standard, four points per passing touchdown and six points per rushing, the passing quarterbacks still had more finishers in Top 10 than the rushing quarterbacks. One player that may not be getting a complete evaluation is Colin Kaepernick, who scored over 164 points and finished at 26th overall even though he only played the last half of the season. The next thing that jumps out is the amount of interceptions that the passing quarterbacks threw, as compared to running quarterbacks. In most cases though, the penalty for interceptions (usually negative two points) is not great enough to make a big difference. The next thing to notice is that the rushing quarterbacks didn't necessary use their running ability to add to their stats, but it comprised much of their production, so it was the real factor behind their fantasy success. The final thing to look at would be the missed games by running quarterbacks as opposed to passing quarterbacks. We saw the consequences of letting your quarterback fun in free space when Robert Giffin III and Michael Vick took such a beating that Griffin had to sit out a full game and Vick six. When we look at the passing quarterbacks, we see not a single game was missed, and as we all know, when a player misses time this can be extremely detrimental to a fantasy team. With all that said, it's hard to draw a solid conclusion from having the limited number of stats and short history on running quarterbacks to say that they are more efficient or valuable in fantasy football. As of now, there really isn't a major difference, and there is no reason to reach for a player solely because of his ability to run and make plays on the ground. Throw in a greater risk of injury, and it is a much safer bet to find the quarterbacks that rely on passing more than running to roster on your teams. Maybe this will change in a few years, and these young quarterbacks have impressed as of late. However, until there is solid evidence that this isn't just a fad, I have a hard time believing that there is a true changing of the guard from the pocket passer to the mobile quarterback.