Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In the world of the NFL, the quarterback is king. He gets more than his share of glory when his team wins, and more blame when they go down in defeat.
In this instance, fantasy football, is similar. In most cases, to win in your fantasy league, you need a top signalcaller. Looking at the leaderboard, we find six of the top seven players were quarterbacks, although for the second consecutive year the top fantasy scorer was a running back (Chris Johnson in 2009 and Arian Foster in 2010).
Even more importantly, the variation from top quarterback to No.12 (theoretically the best and worst starting quarterbacks in a typical 12-team league), is almost 100 points. Compare that number to the best and worst starting kickers where the difference is just 32 points or wide receiver where the difference is 63 points. Those statistics simply point out the value of having a top quarterback in your lineup.
It also is a great advantage if you get him in the last round or as a free agent. And that's the true beauty of what Michael Vick did for fantasy teams. Because he didn't cost you much at all, those who selected him late in the draft, or picked him up after the first week's play, probably had a deeper squad than the rest of his or her competitors. Or at the very least, his fantasy owner was now deep enough at the quarterback position that he could afford to trade on of his QBs to strengthen another position.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia - Vick went from backup and fantasy irrelevance to superstar in about the time it took Eagles season opening starter Kevin Kolb to get injured in game No.1 against Green Bay. Vick took the ball and never relinquished it even when he missed almost three games due to a rib injury. He produced more points than Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady in just 12 games. He was good with both his arm and his legs. He didn't throw an interception until Week 12 and ran for a league-high nine touchdowns. Putting together his best ever season with his low ADP (Average Draft Position) and you end up with Vick winning the position MVP and 2010 TSN Best Bargain Award.
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis - You expect a lot from Manning each year and he always delivers. In 2010 Manning again threw for more than 4,000 yards (10th time in 11 seasons) and tossed 33 touchdown passes, the fourth time in five years that he has topped the 30-touchdown mark. He finished just five points behind Vick despite losing his favorite tight end for half the season (Dallas Clark) and both Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie for multiple games. He also did it with an invisible running game. But then, that is what we expect from Manning and so his statistics were exactly what we assumed when we drafted him at the end of the second/beginning of the third round.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay - Rodgers was the first quarterback off the board in last August's fantasy draft after a superb 2009 season. And had the Packers quarterback not missed almost two full games with a concussion, he likely would have matched those numbers and again been the top fantasy quarterback in the league. He still finished just nine points behind Vick and four behind Manning throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and also rushing for 356 yards and four scores.
Tom Brady, New England - Like the three players who finished ahead of him in the quarterback standings, Brady had a great season. In some ways he was even better than Vick, Manning and Rodgers. Like the fact that he didn't throw an interception from Week 7 until the end of the regular season. He finished with 36 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. If not for the fact that he and the Patriots chose to limit his passing over the final three weeks (he threw for less than 200 yards from Week 15-17), Brady would have led the position in scoring. He did all this, without his favorite deep threat, Randy Moss, who was traded to Minnesota after Week 4 creating uncertainty in the Patriots receiving corps.
Drew Brees, New Orleans - Brees threw for 4,620 yards and 33 touchdowns. Not a bad season for most "mortals," but not as good as he had done in 2009 when he led the Saints to a Super Bowl victory. Or 2008 when he threw for a career- high 5,069 yards and 34 touchdowns. With a running game in disarray due to injury, Brees threw 144 more passes for 232 less yards than in the previous season and doubled his interception total from 11 to 22 and it's the reason the quarterback fell from the No.2 QB spot to No.5 in fantasy points.
Philip Rivers, San Diego - Rivers posted career-highs in passing attempts (541), completions (357) and passing yards (4,710). Yet for the second half of the season he was without most of his starting receiving corps. Antonio Gates limped through the stretch run and Malcom Floyd, Legedu Naanee and Patrick Crayton all spent weeks on the inactive list. Add in that No.1 receiver Vincent Jackson missed the first 11 weeks due to contract problems and it's amazing that Rivers posted such excellent results.
Eli Manning, New York Giants - First the good news - Manning threw for 4,002 yards and a career-high 31 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also led the league with 25 interceptions. The younger Manning is best when he lets the running game lead the way and then uses play-action passes to hit his talented receivers. But in 2010 he threw 539 times, the most since 2005 and it showed in the results. Of course, the fact that both starting receivers, Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks missed time, hurt his numbers, but both Rivers and big brother Peyton managed to overcome similar problems.
Matt Schaub, Houston - Schaub was the fifth quarterback off the board, but didn't play like a top fantasy QB until around Week 13. Over the first 12 weekends, he cracked the 300-yard mark just three times. He suffered from a gimpy Andre Johnson for most of the season, an ineffective Owen Daniels at tight end and a running back who led all of fantasy football in rushing (1,616 yards) scoring (356 points) in Foster.
If not for the fantastic performance of Vick in 2010, the "Best Bargain" at the quarterback position would have gone to Buccaneers' signalcaller Josh Freeman. He has helped turn a Tampa Bay offense into enough of a threat to make the team a playoff contender. Freeman didn't throw for a lot of yards, but he also made very few mistakes as indicated by his 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions. The Freeman-to-Mike Williams combination was one of the best all season and a surprise to most fantasy owners. Freeman was a huge bargain as a 20th-round selection (ADP 229). If the Bucs can find one more receiver to go opposite Williams, Freeman could be a fantasy star.
The "Most Disappointing Award" goes to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. While the team performed beautifully, going 12-4, Cutler didn't live up to expectations. After a great season opener against the Detroit Lions (372 passing yards, two TD passes), Cutler failed to crack the 300-yard mark the rest of the way. He threw a total of 23 TD passes and was intercepted 16 times. That's not what fantasy owners expected when he was teamed up with offensive coordinator Mike Martz and those who drafted him in the fifth round (ADP 62) were left unsatisfied.