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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

NFL Preseason 2012: Quarterback Cheat Sheet

When it comes to handicapping the NFL no position is more important than that of the quarterback.  However, in the preseason, this aspect of the process takes on a whole new meaning.  Below is a quick reference cheat sheet to the QB depth charts for all 32 teams.

The rankings are based on an average of most relevant fantasy football writers/sites compiled by the FantasyPros.  Keep in mind that these lists are based on "fantasy" potential rather than real life ability.  This means guys with a lot of intangibles like Big Ben are not going to be ranked as high and others like Tim Tebow will be ranked higher than he should be due to his relevance in goal-line situations.

Yet, it should give you a great ball park idea of how teams stack up at the position.  When it comes to individual player analysis (and injuries), fantasy sites can become a beneficial tool. The following rankings cover the top 85 QB's in the league.  For guys further down on the depth chart you'll have to dig a bit deeper and do some more research.  For this, local beat writers are a great resource to get the lowdown at how these guys are looking in camp.

QB Depth Chart Rankings

Seahawks: Matt Flynn (25), Tarvaris Jackson (42), Russell Wilson (45), Josh Portis
Browns: Colt McCoy (39), Brandon Weeden (32), Seneca Wallace (44), Thaddeus Lewis
49ers: Alex Smith (22), Colin Kaepernick (56), Josh Johnson (41), Scott Tolzien
Bears: Jay Cutler (13), Jason Campbell (48)Josh McCown (68), Matt Blanchard
Lions: Matthew Stafford (4), Shaun Hill (43), Kellen Moore (85), R.J. Archer
Packers: Aaron Rodgers (1), Graham Harrell (50), B.J. Coleman (82)
Broncos: Peyton Manning (11), Caleb Hanie (70), Brock Osweiler (53), Adam Weber
Patriots: Tom Brady (2), Brian Hoyer (57), Ryan Mallett (78)
Texans: Matt Schaub (14), T.J. Yates (60), John Beck (65), Case Keenum
Cowboys : Tony Romo (7), Kyle Orton (52), Stephen McGee (73), Rudy Carpenter
Redskins: Robert Griffin (15), Rex Grossman (51), Kirk Cousins (74), Johnathan Crompton
Saints: Drew Brees (3), Chase Daniel (58), Luke McCown (84), Sean Canfield
Vikings: Christian Ponder (28), Joe Webb (40), Sage Rosenfels (83), McLeod Thompson
Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger (12), Byron Leftwich (71), Charlie Batch (69), Jerrod Johnson
Chiefs: Matt Cassel (26), Brady Quinn (49), Ricky Stanzi (79), Alex Tanney
Panthers: Cam Newton (5), Jimmy Clausen (81), Derek Anderson (76)
Raiders: Carson Palmer (17), Matt Leinart (61), Terelle Pryor (80), Kyle Caballero

This group of teams have three QB's that rank in the top 85 overall rankings.  Not everyone is going to agree about how 3rd string QB's are ranked and this is where you're going to have the largest variation.

Eagles: Michael Vick (6), Mike Kafka (46), Trent Edwards, Nick Foles
Titans: Matt Hasselbeck (31), Jake Locker (24), Rusty Smith, Nick Stephens
Jets: Mark Sanchez (27), Tim Tebow (30), Greg McElroy, Matt Simms
Cardinals: Kevin Kolb (29), John Skelton (34), Ryan Lindley, Richard Bartel
Bills: Ryan Fitzpatrick (19), Tyler Thigpen, Vince Young (47), Brad Smith
Dolphins: Matt Moore (33), David Garrard (37), Ryan Tannehill, Pat Devlin
Buccaneers: Josh Freeman (16), Dan Orlovsky (54), Brett Raitliff
Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert (36), Chad Henne (35), Jordan Palmer, Nathan Enderle
Chargers: Philip Rivers (9), Charlie Whitehurst (62) [injured], Jarrett Lee
Falcons: Matt Ryan (10), Chris Redman (66), John Parker Wilson, Dominique Davis
Rams: Sam Bradford (23), Kellen Clemens (55), Tom Brandstater, Austin Davis
Colts: Andrew Luck (21), Drew Stanton (59), Chandler Harnish
Giants: Eli Manning (8), David Carr (72), Ryan Perriloux
Ravens: Joe Flacco (18), Tyrod Taylor (64), Curtis Painter, John Brantley
Bengals: Andy Dalton (20), Bruce Gradkowski (63), Zac Robinson, Tyler Hanson

The remaining 13 teams only have two QB's ranked among the top 85.

So what is the best way to put these rankings to use?

NFL Preseason 2012: Quarterback depth charts
To begin with, teams with a starting QB competition (Seahawks, Browns, Titans, Cardinals, Dolphins, and Jaguars) are prime candidates to take a closer look at for preseason betting.  You'll also want to keep an eye on teams with veterans in the backup position looking to retain or win a place on the team or depth chart.

Steelers, Bills, Bears, and Dolphins have experienced depth at the position, while other teams have a big dropoff once you get past the starter (too many to list).

QB depth charts can be utilized differently depending on what week of the preseason you need them.  In weeks 1 and 4 teams are going to be using the full extent of their rotations with starters seeing a quarter or less of playing time.  Weeks 2 and 3 the starters and primary backups are going to see a bigger bulk of the action.  Subsequently, the above rankings would look much different when analyzing the middle weeks.

Finally, you have to put each QB rotation into its proper context.  Factors to consider include the philosophy of the coach and a QB's experience in the system.  For instance, some coaches know what they have at the position and don't feel a need to give their top guys extended playing time.  Other coaches are new on the scene or have offensive coordinators installing new systems and want to get their QB's more reps. 


QB depth charts are only one part of handicapping a preseason matchup, but they also comprise a vital component of the analysis.  Too many times I've come across game previews where there is far too much attention paid to starters with very little (if any) mention of the backups.  This might be fine if you are making picks on first half lines, but for full game predictions no stone (or QB) can remain unturned.  How you use the depth charts is up to you, but knowing how they stack up in the fantasy community is a great first step.

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