Dynasties rise and dynasties fall due to leadership. In the new NFL, 4,000 yard passers throwing for over 30 touchdowns are the norm. Having a signal caller that will stay healthy and be productive for many years is extremely important for your dynasty team. Excellent college quarterbacks, unlike most the other positions, do not always translate to great NFL quarterbacks. Let's see how I breakdown the top 24 dynasty quarterbacks. I listed each quarterback's age at the end of 2012 in parenthesis. Use this as a snap shot for the next 2-3 years.
Aaron Rodgers (29), Green Bay Packers
Rodgers last year totaled 48 touchdowns and accounted for almost 5,000 total yards. The Packers lack a quality running game so Rodgers throws the ball more often than most and this will continue for the foreseeable future. I love his weapons with Jermicheal Finley, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb. The NFC North is full of porous defenses so he will have little to stop him in six of his sixteen games each season.
Matthew Stafford (24), Detroit Lions
In Stafford's first full year of playing injury-free, he threw for over 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. He has one shining superstar in Calvin Johnson, but has many more weapons at his disposal with Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew, Titus Young, and rookie Ryan Broyles. This pass-first offense should continue to roll even with the health of their pass-catching running backs improving. Stafford is also getting the same benefit of playing in the NFC North as Green Bay's pass defense is worse than the Lions.
Eli Manning (31), New York Giants
Manning, in the past three years, has thrown for over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. Unlike those earlier years, the running game is not as dominant as it once was. Brandon Jacobs is in San Francisco and Ahmad Bradshaw still has health issues. With the big upgrades, first at second running back aka David Wilson and at third wide receiver aka Rueben Randall, the Giants will have a more wide-open attack that will be even more dependant on Manning's arm.
Cam Newton (23), Carolina Panthers
Newton had an amazing rookie year throwing for over 4,000 yards, 27 touchdowns, and rushing for over 700 yards and 14 touchdowns. I see a regression to yearly totals of 4,200 yards passing, 31 passing touchdowns, and 500 rushing yards with 9 touchdowns for the next 2-3 years. Outside of Greg Olsen and Steve Smith, he doesn't have many talented pass catchers. Whatever combination of running backs the Panthers trot out will be effective in negating some of Newton's value.
Drew Brees (33), New Orleans Saints
Brees has thrown for at least 4,300 yards and 27 touchdowns since 2006. That is as consistent as it gets. He is getting older and his head coach is taking a year off thanks to his role in the Saints scandal which is why I have him lower than most. The Saints have great passing targets in Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Darren Sproles, and Lance Moore. Their defense is going through an overhaul including a new defensive coordinator so they will continue to be a pass first team.
Tom Brady (35), New Englan Patriots
Brady had his best season last year throwing for over 5,200 yards and 39 touchdowns. I am rating him lower than some due to his age and the Patriots paradigm shift in the 2012 Draft. Defense was finally the focus of Belichick's draft. I expect the Patriots to go to a more power-control offense to give their defense time to rest as they didn't do that the past two seasons. This will cause Brady's numbers to drop closer to the 4,400 yard and 32 touchdown range for the next few years. I would also expect to see the backup quarterbacks to get more chances to play when New England has the lead.
Ben Roethlisberger (30), Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger knows controversy better than most other quarterbacks. At least this year, it is on the field with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The Steelers are becoming a more pass-happy offense due to injuries to Rashard Mendenhall and the use of the talented receiving core that includes: Mike Wallace (now in contract dispute), Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and the young at heart Heath Miller (age 30). With the 2012 1st and 2nd round investments to their offensive line, Roethisberger looks like he will have time to find the open receiver. This is great news for him to improve on his best season of 4,300 yards and 26 touchdowns from 2009.
Matt Ryan (27), Atlanta Falcons
Ryan is entering his fifth season as the Falcons starter. He is blessed by playing with a sure-fire Hall of Famer in Tony Gonzalez, but for how much longer? Roddy White and second year Julio Jones along with Harry Douglas are one of the best receiving cores in the NFL. With Micheal Turner slowing down, leaning on the arm of Ryan might be the future of the Falcons. Jacquizz Rodgers is a dual threat and is very effective in space. There were rumors of going to a more West Coast offense which would suit Ryan's talents well.
Michael Vick (33), Philadelphia Eagles
Vick plays a very physical style of quarterbacking. Injuries and law issues have slowed down his career, but when he is out on the field Vick is peerless. Due to his age, I'm not convinced that he will be a top five fantasy producer again, because his body won't hold up to 16 games a season. Vick will get his groove back though. The Eagles best player, LeSean McCoy, was re-signed and the word is that he will be used even more in the passing game. Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin flashed last year and maybe DeSean Jackson will be more motivated with the big roll of money lining his pockets these days. Vick is élite, but I would be grabbing a backup quarterback earlier if I owned him.
Andrew Luck (23), Indianapolis Colts
Luck is an extremely talented college quarterback that has a former NFL backup quarterback as a father. He has a pass friendly offensive coordinator in Bruce Arians. The veteran wide receivers, Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie, can perform at a high level for him. The Colts went out and got Luck the best two rookie tight ends in Colby Fleener (his old teammate) and Dwayne Allen. Since the Colts defense is getting a rebuild, a few years of 3,400 yards and 25 touchdowns is not out of the question for Andrew Luck. I expect these numbers to improve significantly as he progresses.
Tony Romo (32), Dallas Cowboys
This is a make or break year for Romo. He threw for over 4,100 yards and at least 26 touchdowns in the last two seasons he played over 14 games. Losing Laurent Robinson will hurt, but with the reports coming out that Dez Bryant is in shape and ready to play, Romo should have better production. Jerry Jones seems determined to give him enough pieces to get him to the NFC Championship Game. If Romo can average over 500 attempts, he will be a very productive fantasy quarterback with upside to get to 5,000 yards passing and 35 passing touchdowns.
Jay Cutler (29), Chicago Bears
The Mike Martz experiment is over. Mike Tice is now the offensive coordinator for the Bears. Tice was the inventor of the Randy Ratio so I expect Cutler's pedestrian Bears offensive numbers to improve. This improvement has ties to bringing Brandon Marshall in the fold and the acquisition of Alshon Jeffery. An extensive holdout from Matt Forte may cause a few ripples, but I envision the Bears to come out throwing the ball and being very successful. Even rookie TE Evan Rodriquez and TE Kellen Davis will see a lot more targets in Tice's TE friendly system. Cutler should return to at least a 3,500 passing yard and 25 touchdown a year average starting this year. The Bears porous offensive line does cause concern though.
Phillip Rivers (31), San Diego Chargers
This rating outside of the top 12 is due to the departure of offensive talent from the Chargers. Vincent Jackson and Mike Tolbert were important cogs to the Norv Turner offense. While I love Ryan Matthews' talents, I am not confident they will be available for more than 36 games in a 3 year cycle. Antonio Gates has lost a step or two and struggles with staying healthy. The infusion of Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem could be helpful to the passing game, but I'm not convinced. Maybe Vincent Brown can step forward in the next few years to help Rivers become a #1 fantasy quarterback again.
Robert Griffin III (22), Washington Redskins
Griffin may be the most athletic quarterback of our generation. He has a cannon for an arm and can glide better than Vick. Shanahan likes to roll out his quarterbacks which will open one half of the field to Griffin. This will also give him a running lane to exploit. The Redskins signed Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan to beef up their wide receiving core. Rex Grossman last year had over 450 passing attempts so I would expect Griffin to throw for close to 3,000 yards and 22 touchdowns his first year and gradually improve on that. He should easily add another 400-500 yards on the ground with a handful of rushing touchdowns.
Matt Schaub (32), Houston Texans
The good news is he has Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels to catch his passes. The bad news is he hands off to Arian Foster and Ben Tate. In his last two healthy years, Schaub threw for at least 4,300 yards and 24 touchdowns. He is productive, but the Texans rushing game is so good that they will score the majority of their points on the ground. Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels are getting older. Second year LeStar Jean may be due for a bigger year than thought, but it's hard to get excited about starting the quarterback of a team built on strong running and defensive units.
Josh Freeman (24), Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Freeman had a very mediocre sophomore season compared to his rookie year. He threw for almost the same yardage, but threw nine less touchdowns. His passing options gave up on routes and came in with a lesser sense of urgency. New coach Greg Schiano wants to run the ball more and the Bucs made that obvious with their trading back into the first round to select Doug Martin. Freeman has new targets with Vincent Jackson and an older Dallas Clark to help stretch the field. Freeman will be a solid #2 quarterback for you producing 3,500 yards, 22 passing touchdowns, and adding in a few goal line rushing touchdowns as well.
Peyton Manning (36), Denver Broncos
I admit I was a burnt Manning owner last year so I tread lightly. He is looking good in camp and has a slew of talented targets: Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Jacob Tamme. Being on a John Fox team does limit your offensive and fantasy upside, so I think he will be good for 3,600 passing yards and 32 touchdowns for the next two years if he can stay healthy. To me that is a big if, Manning is a great handcuff to get if you have Luck or Griffin, when Manning breaks down one of those talented quarterbacks will be ready.
Andy Dalton (25), Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton had a very good rookie season with 3,400 yards passing and 20 passing touchdowns. He will continue to be a solid #2 fantasy quarterback. Having AJ Green and Jermaine Gresham will continue to give Dalton confidence in his abilities. I don't feel his upside is above 3,800 yards and 25 touchdowns as the same coaching staff remains in place.
Jake Locker (24), Tennessee Titans
Locker is the enigma wrapped in a riddle. Reports are coming out saying that Locker will not be the Week 1 starter. I have enough confidence in the organization that Locker will be the starter by Week 8. He is very mobile and has a stronger arm than Matt Hasselbeck does. Locker showed enough in limited duty last year that he can be accurate and mobile in the pocket.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (30), Buffalo Bills
With the full year to start, Fitzpatrick took a hold of the reigns and never let go. He was very productive with 3,800 yards passing and 24 touchdowns. The Bills have a strong running game with Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller, but rely on Fitzpatrick to move the ball. He is very much a product of the system and outside of Steve Johnson, I'm not excited about another wide receiver or tight end on the Bills. Fitzpatrick will be productive for the next 2-3 years averaging closer to 4,000 passing yards, but I doubt he will ever top 30 passing touchdowns a season.
Matt Cassel (30), Kansas City Chiefs
Romeo Crennel is all about good defense and ball control. Those things don't play right into increasing Cassel's passing attempts. He will not be ultra-efficient (27 TDs to 7 interceptions) like he was in 2010. Cassel should average 3,500 yards passing with 22-25 touchdowns depending if Dwayne Bowe sticks around or not. The solid #2 dynasty quarterback well is starting to dry up real fast.
Alex Smith (28), San Francisco 49ers
Smith did an outstanding job leading his team to the NFC Championship Game. Unfortunately, this is where it ends, at least fantasy-wise. Smith threw for over 3,000 yards once in his six-year career (2011) and has thrown for over 17 touchdowns once (2009). Perhaps by adding Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, the 49ers can elevate Alex Smith to over 3,200 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns. He is a bye week filler and if you need more..look elsewhere.
Ryan Tannehill (24), Miami Dolphins
He has the best pocket presence of anyone in his draft class. The best passing targets in Miami are Reggie Bush, Anthony Fasano, and Brian Hartline. Not exactly a trio that brings terror to the hearts of defensive coordinators. Tannehill can use his feet to make things happen and maybe he is the type of quarterback that can use his TEs and RBs in the passing game. He has the benefit of playing for his college coach and should be comfortable Day 1 in the offense.
John Skelton (24), Arizona Cardinals
Skelton is battling Kevin Kolb for the starting job. With his opportunity last year, Skelton performed quite well with 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns in seven games. Unlike Kolb, he can find Larry Fitzgerald. With the addition of a healthy Ryan Williams and rookie Michael Floyd, the Cardinal passing offense will be more potent. Skelton is the same age as Jake Locker and Ryan Tannehill, so he is young enough to keep on developing. You can still draft him later than Kevin Kolb and get the younger, better player.
Andy Miley is the host of Dynasty Blitz Podcast on Blog Talk Radio, Dynasty/Keeper Football Staff Writer at Fantasy Alarm and can be found on twitter @AndrewMiley