It's a good time to re-examine fantasy quarterbacks for the 2013 season
When, a few weeks back, we analyzed the quarterback position from a fantasy perspective, two players who were missing from 2012's top dozen were Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick, the two signal callers set to battle in the Super Bowl a week from today.
Because a disproportionate amount of credit is given to quarterbacks whose teams win important games, both Flacco and Kaepernick are regarded higher than they were nary a month ago. With their performances in the playoffs adding to the collection of data fantasy owners will use to determine where to draft these men in 2013 drafts, let us re-examine their fantasy status.
Flacco finished 2012 in 15th place among quarterbacks in fantasy points. Despite discussion about how he was unworthy of a contract extension, Flacco established career-highs with 317 completions, 3,817 yards, 12.0 yards per completion and a 1.9 percent interception rate. His 22 touchdowns were the second-highest mark of his career, and he has never thrown fewer than the 10 picks he had this season.
Even with all of these statistical improvements, along with the fact that Flacco had won a playoff game in each of his first four seasons in the NFL and advanced to two AFC Championship games during that span, only recently did Flacco warrant genuine consideration as a fantasy starter in 2013.
The biggest reason for this change in opinion, aside from defeating Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in back-to-back weeks, is the replacement of Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator with former Colt coach Jim Caldwell.
Flacco played two full regular-season games under Caldwell's guidance and three postseason contests. In those five outings, Flacco averaged 283 yards passing with 12 touchdowns and a sole interception.
Baltimore has signed Caldwell through 2013, seemingly a benefit to Flacco. The Delaware product is still a mid-round selection as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback, but with an offseason to more fully harmonize with Caldwell, Flacco is a sleeper as a breakout candidate in 2013.
Kaepernick has started nine games since his controversial coup of erstwhile starter Alex Smith. Since Week 11, Kaepernick has averaged 234 yards passing and 49 rushing. He has a grand total of 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
Granted, with such a small sample size, one gaudy showing, like the NFC divisional dismantling of the Packers and their porous defense, can skew the numbers. In that game, Kaepernick set the record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback with 181. He also had 263 passing yards and four combined scores. Removing that game yields averages of 230 passing yards and 32 rushing yards and totals of 13 touchdowns and three interceptions.
If Kaepernick were to put eight similar games together twice and comprise an entire season, he would rank approximately eighth among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. Add the occasional game where he is apt to rush for 100-plus yards and you have a quarterback who falls just outside of the elite group of Brees, Manning, Brady and Rodgers.
The playoff game with Green Bay was seen by so many viewers that fantasy owners have pushed Kaepernick near the top of their draft boards for 2013. Most weeks, though, he is going to be a low-end No. 1 quarterback, interspersing some weeks of sheer awe. Owners who draft him need to avoid the temptation to expect excellence every week.
Whereas Flacco and Kaepernick have rising draft stock, Robert Griffin III is precipitously dropping. After tearing knee ligaments in a wild-card playoff game versus Seattle, Griffin is unlikely to replicate his impressive rookie campaign in 2013.
Dr. James Andrews anticipates Griffin to be ready for the season opener, yet his effectiveness remains under question. Adrian Peterson, who recovered unbelievably well from a serious knee injury, warned fans against having unrealistically high standards for RG3's recuperation.
Griffin will certainly have a limitation in his mobility early in the season, which will impair his fantasy value. He is no longer a lock as a No. 1 quarterback and should be drafted as a back-up with the hope that he returns to being a reliable commodity by midseason.