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The 2011-12 football season was not a good one for many quarterbacks not named Rodgers, Brady, Brees or Newton.
For some, the problems stemmed from injuries and missed games (or missed seasons). For others, the season began with confirmation that they had starting jobs, but ended prematurely in demotion.
All of this made it a difficult season for fantasy owners to navigate. Now, a new season finds predictable names among the top-ranked QBs, but a host of others looking to rebound from injuries and other disappointments.
My top 20 QBs:
1. Aaron Rodgers, GB: You should well know by now of my man-crush on Rodgers. Nothing changes this year, as he'll again be the best QB - if not the pass yardage or TD leader.
2. Tom Brady, NE: Could have his best season since 2007-08, when he had 50 TDs, not that I'm unimpressed by 5,235 passing yards last year.
3. Drew Brees, NO: Another yardage beast with all his toys and a new contract in place, but missing his suspended head coach.
4. Cam Newton, CAR: Sure, he could sink under pressure to repeat his rookie feats, but the dual-threat posed by throwing arm and legs is what we call fantasy football gold.
5. Matthew Stafford, DET: If he stays in good health, he has the stuff to jump ahead of the big three in both TDs and passing yards.
6. Michael Vick, PHI: The Eagles' offense was a huge bust in 2011, but Vick still has three great receivers in DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, and he can still run.
7. Tony Romo, DAL: I've always been unimpressed by Romo's fumbles, late-game mistakes and general inconsistency, but he managed the highest QB rating in his career last season, and I think Dez Bryant will be a star receiver.
8. Eli Manning, NYG: Nothing to prove, not very glitzy, and like Romo can go from brilliant to bad quickly, but he piled up just under 5,000 yards last year and with his great receivers can blow past it this year.
9. Peyton Manning, DEN: I have him ranked higher than most, and critics say he has nothing but no-name receivers to work with, but he's made a career out of turning no-names into stars.
10. Matt Ryan, ATL: Suffered from high expectations in 2011, but rallied as the season went on, and has posted higher yardage and TD numbers each of the last three seasons.
11. Jay Cutler, CHI: I really wanted to put Cutler in my top 10, and believe he has ideal targets in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. He could be poised for career highs in TDs and yardage, but the offensive line still looks bad, and thanks to Mike Martz, he won't have an experienced tight end who can catch.
12. Robert Griffin III, WAS: With Newton's and Tebow's rookie antics last year, I'm as ready as anyone else to believe RG3 is the next ready-made pro. Like Newton, his effectiveness as a dual-threat could make him a starter in the deepest leagues before the year is done.
13. Philip Rivers, SD: Incredibly disappointing last season, with interceptions and fumbles ruining high-yardage games. He still leads a potent offense, which is why some will rank him as high as seven or eight among QBs, but there's too much risk for me.
14. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT: Already the subject of injury talk, and he threw 14 INTs last season, but Big Ben is a reliable fantasy backup or No. 2 in two-QB leagues.
15. Matt Schaub, HOU: Coming back from injury, he could either surge and become a top 5 QB this season, or might just fall flat with top target Andre Johnson's career fading rapidly.
16. Andy Dalton, CIN: With injuries to many QBs last year, he turned into a workmanlike fantasy starter, delivering decent points week to week without much down side.
17. Andrew Luck, IND: I wouldn't mind picking him up for the second string if my No. 1 QB is among the top five on this list. Could be a surprise if Colts keep things simple for him.
18. Carson Palmer, OAK: He didn't do much in 10 games last season, but has the targets in front of him to be a 4,000-yard 25-TD QB again.
19. Josh Freeman, TAM: Much-hyped at this time last year, he was a huge bust. Still, I'd be willing to gamble my backup slot on him.
20. Joe Flacco, BAL: Another no-glitz choice who should provide reliable numbers, though most of those numbers were down last year, except fumbles - 11, six of which were lost.
Sleeper Pick: Matt Flynn, SEA: Free from being backup to Aaron Rodgers, he's now fighting Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson for a starting job. At times, he's looked like a young Brady, and has intriguing talent in his receiver corps. If he wins the job soon, he could be a late-round pick in many leagues.
QB Most Likely Drafted Despite Not Being A Starter: Tim Tebow, NYJ: It's still a mystery how often the Jets will use Tebow, but they reportedly have been working on wildcat scenarios. I'm guessing Tebow will go in the last round in many leagues, though if he somehow becomes the starter, he could become a top 20 QB. It doesn't matter how he gets the fantasy points - running or passing - just that he gets them.
* SB Nation eyes a wildcat sighting in New York.
* Pro Football Weekly ranks Newton ahead of Brady and Luck above Cutler. Shocking.
* Bleacher Report weighs the prospects for Luck and Griffin.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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