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Top 10 Fantasy QB Performances Of 2012

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Rookie Russell Wilson torched the Bills in Week 15.
Rookie Russell Wilson torched the Bills in Week 15.

When it comes to drafting a quarterback for your fantasy football team, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Some folks like the security of drafting a star quarterback early, while others prefer to wait and find value in a quarterback towards the middle-to-end of their draft.

Does one method work better than the other?

Purists (stock up on running backs early) and new age fantasy footballers (be safe and take a quarterback early) are engaged in an all-out Holy War on that very question. One thing that everyone can agree on is that you need big (and I mean JaMarcus Russell- big) weekly performances from your quarterback if you’re going to win your league – regardless of where you draft him.

One of the great things about the offseason is that it affords us time to sit back and ponder these types of existential topics. With free agency a few weeks away and draft season just beginning, our ability to look towards the future is a bit limited since we don’t even know which players will be on which teams. At the moment, the best (and only) way we can pontificate on this topic is by taking a quick trip down memory lane and reviewing the 2012 fantasy football season’s top quarterback performances. These weekly totals represent a limited sample size, but perhaps we can help solve the early vs. late quarterback debate by comparing the top weekly quarter back performances to average draft position.

2012’s Top 10 Weekly Quarterback Performances

10. (tie) Matt Ryan (Week 1 vs. Kansas City), Ben Roethlisberger (Week 3 vs. Oakland), Tom Brady (Week 4 vs. Buffalo), Matthew Stafford (Week 8 vs. Seattle), Nick Foles (Week 14 vs. Tampa Bay) – 31 points

With apologies to Nick Foles, this list reminds me of an old Sesame Street song I remember from when I was younger, “One of these things is not like the other...” Each quarterback on this list benefitted from either a 300-plus yard game or a four-TD game on their way to leading their way to victory (aside from Roethlisberger). Outside of those similarities, the average draft position for each was all over the map – ranging from fifth (Brady) to 81st (Roethlisberger) to undrafted (Foles).

7-9 (tie). Robert Griffin III (Week 11 vs. Philadelphia), Aaron Rodgers (Week 16 vs. Tennessee), Tony Romo (Week 16 vs. New Orleans) – 32 points

Moving up on our list, we get three four-TD performances that include two huge passing games from Rodgers and Romo (342 and 416 yards respectively) and a strong all-around game from RGIII (200 yards passing to go with 82 yards rushing). In terms of average draft position, we’re still as varied as Andrew Bynum’s hairdos with ADP’s spanning from third (Rodgers) to 45th (Griffin) and 46th (Romo).

6. Robert Griffin III (Week 6 vs. Minnesota) – 34 points

Mr. Griffin shows up on our list yet again with a huge performance that led the Redskins to a 36-28 victory against Minnesota. RGIII cobbled together his point total in a bit of an unconventional manner (182 yards and one touchdown through the air to go with 138 yards and two touchdowns on the ground), but points are points and his owners enjoyed every single one of the sixth-best fantasy performance by a quarterback in 2012.

5. Cam Newton (Week 14 vs. Atlanta) – 36 points

If you asked fantasy owners who the most disappointing quarterback was halfway through the season, the answer would have been Cam Newton (ok, fine, the answer would have been Matthew Stafford, but Newton would’ve been a close second). As you’re about to see below, the man with an average draft position of 19 exploded onto the scene in the second half and paid penance to his patient owners (or savvy owners who traded for him) by posting 36 fantasy points. Like RGIII above, Newton’s point total came in a relatively unconventional manner (287 yards and a touchdown through the air and 116 yards and a touchdown on the ground) but as I said, points are points.

3-4 (tie). Matt Schaub (Week 11 vs. Jacksonville), Cam Newton (Week 12 vs. Philadelphia) – 37 points

Newton pops up on the list with the game during which he began his fantasy atonement (306 yards with two touchdowns through the air combined with 56 yards and two touchdowns on the ground), but it was Matt Schaub who arguably posted the most ridiculous game of any quarterback in 2012. Schaub (average draft position of 89) threw 527 yards and five touchdowns on his way to leading the Texans to victory (barely) over the lowly Jaguars. If it weren’t for his two interceptions that helped the Jaguars take Houston to overtime, Schaub would have posted the best fantasy game of any quarterback in 2012.

2. Aaron Rodgers (Week 6 vs. Houston) – 38 points

Rodgers may not have quite lived up to his average draft position (and didn’t even finish as the top quarterback), but did deliver two huge performances that included this one against Houston and his Week 16 32-pointer, which came during the most important week of the season. Rodgers played a nearly perfect game against the Texans in throwing for 338 yards to go along with SIX touchdowns, which went a long way towards reassuring the aforementioned “new age” owners (no, I’m not talking about Yanni here) that they made the right choice in selecting Rodgers with their first pick.

1. Russell Wilson (Week 15 vs. Buffalo) – 39 points

If you had told me in August that Russell Wilson (he of the 151st average draft position) was going to post the best fantasy game of any quarterback in 2012, I probably would’ve said you were crazy. Wilson took advantage of a porous Bills defense in Week 15 and posted the top quarterback performance of 2012 by passing for 205 yards and a touchdown to go along with 92 yards and three scores on the ground. It took Wilson a few weeks to get his rookie sea legs, but it will be performances like this that catapult him onto Top 10 quarterback lists for the 2013 season.

As you may have noticed, the average draft positions among weekly top performances were all over the place. There were numerous “early” quarterbacks who gave a solid weekly return on owners’ investments, but there were also some “late” (or even undrafted) quarterbacks who gave their owners jackpot returns. Alas, the debate of where to draft a quarterback will rage on, but this list has made one thing abundantly clear: there is no wrong answer.