"You can't spell elite without Eli," is a term that was used over and over again after the New York Giants surprised the world by winning the Super Bowl two years ago. Go ahead and take it for what it's worth, but Eli Manning was everything but elite this past season. New York struggled on the football field and failed to make the playoffs a year after hoisting the Lombardi.
Manning's struggles eventually ended up costing those who selected him to be their QB1 in fantasy football leagues. He just didn't put up above-average numbers on a consistent basis.
Meanwhile, no one will make the mistake of calling Tony Romo elite, but his fantasy performance this past season was one of the biggest surprises.
Let's compare these two enigmatic signal-callers and find out who is the best fantasy option heading into the 2013 season.
Eli Manning, New York Giants: 3,948 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Needless to say, 2012 wasn't Eli's best season. He failed to put up average fantasy numbers in 10 of his 16 starts, going for less than 15 points a total of eight times. In addition, Manning went through a three-week span that saw him tally a total of 11.68 fantasy points. That's just not going to get it done.
Owners look for consistency from their QB1 option and Manning failed to provide that in 2012. He ranked 17th among quarterbacks in fantasy points per game and finished in the top 10 in total interceptions with 15. If you aren't consistently putting up between 18 and 25 points per outing, you don't deserve to be a QB1 in standard leagues. Manning didn't do this in 2012.
The good news for those looking for a rebound '13 campaign from Manning is that the Giants' schedule is pretty fantasy friendly. They have 11 games against defenses that ranked in the bottom half of the NFL against the pass. Manning really shouldn't have any excuses moving forward.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: 4,903 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and 19 interceptions
While Romo did tie Drew Brees for the most interceptions in the NFL this past season, his other numbers made him a fantasy steal. The enigmatic signal-caller finished seventh in passing yards, eighth in passing touchdowns and 11th in fantasy points per game. These figures made him a borderline QB1 option.
Again, consistency was an issue here. Romo yielded below-average fantasy production in seven of his 16 starts, but did come on strong towards the end of the season. Overall, the Cowboys' starter ranked in the top six among quarterbacks in fantasy production from Week 12 on. It isn't a coincidence that his numbers increased with standout performances from Dez Bryant week in and week out.
Romo didn't put up less than 12.72 fantasy points in any of his final 12 starts and topped out at 28.34 against the Washington Redskins in Week 12.
Moving forward, you can expect Romo's numbers to increase a great deal. He seems to have found a nice connection with Bryant and no matter your opinion of Travis Frederick in the first round; he is a major upgrade along the interior of a disastrous Cowboys' offensive line. In addition, Romo and the 'Boys have 10 games against below-average pass defenses this upcoming season.
It won't come as much of a shock to you, but I'd have to go with Romo as the better fantasy option heading into the '13 season. He has the weapons on offense, will be playing behind an improved offensive line and possesses one of the better young receivers in the game.
Meanwhile, it appears that Eli's fantasy production topped out in 2011. He wasn't the same quarterback in terms of decision making this past season, which should also be cause for alarm. The loss of Martellus Bennett in free agency to the Chicago Bears should also hurt him moving forward.
Neither of these quarterbacks are upper-echelon QB1 options. Let's get that out of the way right now. In fact, due to Romo's issues with interceptions; I'd be hard pressed to recommend relying on him on a weekly basis. Go Romo over Manning in a pinch, but look for better options in your standard draft.