We know quarterbacks that come off the board in the early rounds are going to be impact players. There is a reason we see Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady at the top of the leaderboard in terms of points. Still, impact quarterbacks can be found in the middle rounds for certain. While others look to spend picks early to land one of the top quarterbacks, other owners feel that biding time and selecting from a “second-tier” makes their team that much more effective.
Three quarterbacks that are somewhat in the middle of the pack right now are Eli Manning, Tony Romo, and Matt Ryan. Each can certainly make an impact on your team and their performances will certainly have a major influence on some key receivers that are being quite well thought of in early drafts. All three have had a certain frustration aspect in common over the last few seasons. They can go from carrying a team one week to throwing three interceptions the next.
But what are they ready to do this season? Here is how these three impact quarterbacks stack up and how you can take advantage of their draft position.
This is the classic example of frustration. Manning threw for nearly 5,000 yards last season yet he only had four games of three or more touchdowns. In and of itself, that may not seem so bad. When you compound it with five games with just one touchdown or, worse, zero, that makes for a tough fantasy season unless yards are scored heavily. Give him some credit though. Manning nearly doubled up his interception total and completed 61 percent of his passes. Over his final five games including the playoffs, Manning threw 12 touchdowns and just one interception to go with 1,565 yards passing.
The point is, he continually improved. The Giants have also added help in the backfield through the draft and eliminated the headache that was Brandon Jacobs. There is a defined scheme in the backfield here. Add in a passing game that should have strong receivers on either side with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz and this is a strong overall offense on the outside. A healthy Domenik Hixon will add to the depth. Better said, Manning’s passing yard totals and overall completion numbers show that these three receivers should see plenty of fantasy production regardless of his performance. Throwing for that many yards means plenty of balls to go around and an offense that will generate points.
As a sixth round pick, Manning fits the bill of a quarterback that can help once the initial wave has gone through. His numbers continue to improve and the final portion to the season and playoffs showed growth. This is a guy that could easily be a man on the move.
The difference between Ryan and Manning last season? 50 yards per week. The two had identical touchdown and interception numbers and eerily similar completion percentages. It boiled down to no more than two points each time they took the field. Over a season, it can add up. In a given week, it probably is not enough to sway the needle too much. Ryan had five games of three or more touchdown passes and did not throw an interception in six of his last seven contests during the regular season. Ryan came on over the course of the second half after starting the season with one touchdown or less in six of his first seven games. In reality, it was a tale of two seasons for the Atlanta starter.
It should be more of the second half numbers as the 2012 season begins. With two of the game’s best receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White on either side, Ryan will have the tools at his disposal early on to make a positive impact to the numbers of all three. Add in Harry Douglas as well as second-year player Kerry Meier and it shows a stable of options along the outside and slots for Ryan to use. Atlanta also will continue to throw out Tony Gonzalez at tight end, still a tremendous option and easy red zone target.
Atlanta continues to have a strong ground attack with Michael Turner and have added a back in Jacquizz Rodgers that can simply seem to do it all from the slot to receiving back to change of pace option. The dynamic should make the Falcons offense more potent. With Ryan at the center, this could be the year he makes the leap.
Dallas always seems to be one step away from breaking out. A key injury hurts them each step of the way and it leaves the offense with a hole to fill. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not, but the guy always at the center of the controversy is Romo. Maybe he needs to be given some slack though. With seven games of at least 290 yards passing, only one interception in his final four starts (against 10 touchdowns), and 4,200 yards in 15 games, Romo is more than an impact player.
On the ground, Dallas will enter with two strong pass-catching backs in Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray. Both provide more than just help between the tackles. They serve as strong outlet receivers that can do a lot after the catch with the ball in their hands. Each will get used and will add to the overall offensive picture. Their role will likely expand pending what goes on with Dez Bryant and his off-season issues. Still, without that even factored in, Romo will add to his totals as both will be ready to go to start the season.
Miles Austin spent more times on the sidelines than he did on the field last season and Dez Bryant had issues adjusting to being a number one guy. Austin’s return means speed on the outside while Bryant can work more effectively in the middle area of the field and over the middle. Kevin Ogletree should develop into a third option for Dallas that can expand the passing game as the competition at number four intensifies over the preseason.