The fantasy football season is finally in full swing. The next few weeks will be filled with fantasy drafts, beer, and a lot of wings. But let’s be honest, there is some serious business here. A good draft will make or break your season, and having the right fantasy quarterback is imperative.
While the fantasy football quarterback rankings more or less have remained the same for the last few years, this year’s list has changed quite a bit. Quarterbacks retired, were traded, or drafted to new teams and will shake up the landscape more so than in any other year. Have you paid attention? If you haven’t, you could be in big trouble.
Since March, I have been tracking the top 27 fantasy football quarterbacks. Why 27? Because it is just as important to have a solid backup as it is to have a blazing starter. I cut through all the NFL propaganda and look at where the NFL quarterbacks rank and why.
One thing that I found painfully obvious is that there is a huge drop off between the top six fantasy quarterbacks and everyone else. Now there are going to be some guys past six that will put up big numbers, but they all have some kind of question mark. You really need to grab a top six QB to at least have confidence that you will get points at the quarterback position. It may be worth taking a QB early in the second round with such a large drop after six.
Now I know we are still in preseason and injuries can happen, but this is the peak of the fantasy draft season. So don’t come whining back to me next week if someone in the top ten breaks their leg. Your fantasy commissioner won’t want to hear it, and quite frankly neither do I. It isn’t an exact science, yet it isn’t rocket science either. With that said, here is how I see the fantasy football quarterback rankings this season.
2. Peyton Manning – In order to drop Peyton Manning I need to see something done in the offseason that would have weakened Peyton’s fantasy status. I haven’t seen anything to make me believe that Peyton Manning won’t be as prolific as he was last season.
3. Matt Schaub – Matt Schaub lost his offensive coordinator which could impact Schaub in a big way. Now Schaub has looked decent in the preseason. Unfortunately the Texans have already lost Ben Tate for the year. Owen Daniels claims to be back at 100%. I still think Steve Slaton is one of the most dangerous backs out of the backfield whether he is starting or not. The issue with Schaub will always be his health. He made it through the entire season last year without issue after a preseason scare. If Schaub and his weapons stay healthy, he has enormous potential to repeat.
4. Aaron Rodgers – The only concern for me is that Donald Driver is another year older. In all fairness it seems that wide receivers can play a little longer at an elite level than most skill players. The upside here is that Rodgers will hopefully have Jermichael Finley for an entire season. A decline in Driver’s ability could sink the entire Green Bay Packers offense and greatly impact Rodgers’ number.
5. Tony Romo – It’s the same story for Tony Romo every year. He will give you those frustrating weeks late in the year, yet he will also give you a hot early season. I am not suddenly convinced that Miles Austin is the breakout receiver that the Cowboys would like you to think he is. Dez Bryant has a huge chip on his shoulder and could really be a difference maker throughout the season. No way Jason Witten has two slump seasons in a row. I like Romo high, but tread carefully in December.
6. Tom Brady – I am not buying the Tom Brady hype. I am starting to think that the Patriots have hit the wall with their golden boy. Wes Welker is a less of a concern than I thought he would be. So far so good in preseason and he took a heck of a hit in the Falcons game. Tom Brady tends to be a little overvalued by fantasy experts, but he will have enough of those Tennessee type games to balance out his points throughout the season. I think he will have good numbers, but I don’t see him as a top five quarterback.
7. Kevin Kolb – Before Eagles haters start the hate comments, please tell me who will be a better fantasy quarterback bet at 7? Sure guys like Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford, and Philip Rivers have potential to blow Kolb away. But, are any of those guys a safer bet at 7? I know, this is a high ranking for Kolb but I think he is the quarterback sleeper of the year. Living in Philadelphia, I have watched and read a lot about Kolb all off and preseason. The writers tend to believe his arm is better than some give him credit for. He has more weapons (Jackson, Celek, McCoy, Weaver, Maclin, Avant) around him than almost any other NFL offense. The offensive line is definitely a concern. Kolb had two 300+ yard games last season and to think Andy Reid is going to suddenly go run-heavy with LeSean McCoy as his lead back is just ludicrous. I love him this season.
8. Philip Rivers – Philip Rivers may be the most interesting name on this list. He won’t have LaDainian Tomlinson this season which could be a good or bad thing. Vincent Jackson will miss time and could wind up eventually traded. The Chargers receivers haven’t looked great thus far in preseason. If Rivers is going to put up his typical numbers, he is going to have to do it on his own. Can he is the big question here.
9. Brett Favre – Brett Favre is back and will be starting once again for the Minnesota Vikings. Preseason injuries to Sidney Rice and the continuing headaches of Percy Harvin are a huge concern. Sidney Rice is now out until at least mid-season. Greg Camarillo could be a hell of a preseason pickup for the Vikings which would me this a very potent offense once Rice returns. As great as Favre was last season, he is screwed if Harvin misses games as long as Rice is out. At 41 by mid-season, he is also high risk high reward when it comes to injury.
10. Matt Stafford – Matthew Stafford is another guy I really like this season. He has looked really good in preseason. He is always going to be dangerous with Calvin Johnson. He threw a lot of interceptions last year but word out of Lions’ camp is that Stafford has made big strides in knowing when to throw it away or force the ball. Brandon Pettigrew will finally take the field this season and rookie Jahvid Best looks awesome thus far. The defense is still a work in progress which means this team will have to throw to stay in games. I like Stafford a lot this season.
11. Alex Smith – Which Alex Smith shows up is always the big question? Michael Crabtree will have a full off season with Smith which should increase Smith’s value. Vernon Davis emerged as a fantasy monster last season and if he can stay healthy, should do the same this year. The pressure is on Alex Smith this year and I think he can deliver.
12. Joe Flacco – Anquan Boldin and the return of Derrick Mason should spread out the Ravens offense more than ever before. Ray Rice is always good to turn a few screen plays into fantasy gold for Joe Flacco. I am a little concerned about some of the things I have seen out of Flacco this preseason. I think he will have some big weeks, but I wouldn’t expect any consistency from him throughout an entire season.
13. Matt Ryan – Matt Ryan is another guy that I expected to have a big bounce back season until I started watching him in preseason. The Atlanta Falcons offense is still struggling. Michael Jenkins is expected to be in the lineup for the opener which will help a lot. I am starting to think that Tony Gonzalez may have hit the wall. If this offense can get clicking, Ryan could be a top 8 fantasy quarterback. If, if, if.
14. Jay Cutler – For one thing, he has an offensive minded new offensive coordinator in Mike Martz. Two, he has a running back that can catch the ball and make big things happen on third down with Chester Taylor. Even with Orlando Pace, that offensive line has been atrocious in the preseason. I had Jay ranked much higher in my earlier QB rankings but after seeing that o-line in action I am starting to worry.
15. Carson Palmer – Carson Palmer is arguably the most disappointing quarterback of all of last fantasy season. How many more seasons is this guy going to disappoint fantasy owners? The Bengals added Terrell Owens a few weeks ago which gives Palmer the dual receiver threat he missed last season. It hasn’t helped in the preseason and the Bengals aren’t looking good. I I have never been a huge Antonio Bryant fan so I can’t get too excited about his addition to the team. I like him as a bye-week fill-in, but nothing more.
16. Vince Young – Once again, which Vince Young will show up? What I liked about Young is that he was passing more than at any time in his NFL career last season. Young and Kenny Britt have a ton of potential together. Young’s favorite target Bo Scaife will be back, and of course teams will be gaming for Chris Johnson. If Young can take advantage of those matchups, I expect a solid season from him in Tennessee.
18. Matt Moore – There isn’t a lot to work with here, but how much worse can he be than Jake Delhomme? Steve Smith managed to have some good games down the stretch last season even with Delhomme and his many mistakes. Moore will have opportunities with teams stacking the box against the run. Can he take advantage of them? I think so. He has a ton of upside, but nobody I’d even consider with my first quarterback pick.
19. Josh Freeman – I thought he had the potential to turn into a sleeper quarterback this season. Unfortunately Freeman injured his thumb and will be out until the opener. I have serious concern when a quarterback goes into the season with any kind of injury, especially on the hand. Now in all fairness, Matt Schaub got hurt last preseason and it didn’t impact him at all during the regular season. Syracuse receiver Mike Miller was drafted and is being touted by some as another fantasy sleeper of the season. If not for the injury, I’d rank him higher but the injury is a reality.
20. Eli Manning – Eli took a nasty hit during a preseason game and missed a game. Eli is expected back for the next game which is a great sign. What is a bad sign is Eli’s preseason play. Even worse has been the play of the offensive line. Shawn Andrews could be a difference maker or a cut by midseason. If the line can sew up protection and Steve Smith flourishes like last season, Eli could have steady numbers this year. It is not so much Eli, but that offensive line that scares me.
21. Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben had 26 touchdowns on a team that has been mostly known for their running. Unfortunately Ben had too much fun in the offseason and will miss 4-6 games. If not for the suspension, I’d put Ben about ten spots higher on the list. But I can’t recommend a quarterback any higher that I know will miss a quarter or the season.
22. Matt Cassel – So far so good in the preseason for Matt Cassel and the Chiefs improved offense. If we are to believe that Charlie Weiss is as responsible for Tom Brady’s development as some say that he is, than Cassel should skyrocket this season. Cassel looks to be checking down a lot more in the preseason and the blocking is there. Cassel has huge potential but you’d have to be a fool to take him much higher in your draft.
23. Mark Sanchez – Wow, if there is one story exposed on Hard Knocks this season it is that Jets fans needs to be very afraid of Mark Sanchez. He is making erratic throws in practice and in preseason games. He looks like he has digressed from the wonder kid who started the Jets 4-0. If there is a bright spot here it is that the Jets have the best arsenal of wide receivers that they may have ever had. Braylon Edwards, Jericho Cotchery, and Santonio Holmes are a deadly combo on any team. L.T. has looked great in turning screens into big gains which will greatly inflate Sanchez’s numbers. Even though Santanio Holmes is suspended for a few games, he has looked unbelievable in the practice clips shown on Hard Knocks. I think there is some big upside here, yet also some serious cause for concern when it comes to Mark Sanchez.
24. Chad Henne –I really expect the Miami Dolphins to open up the offense more this season. I did a top 25 preseason fantasy quarterback ranking and wrote, “Why the Dolphins aren’t in the Brandon Marshall sweepstakes is beyond me.” Well guess what? They acquired Brandon Marshall. He has looked pretty good this preseason. Fantasy analysts are still waiting for Davone Bess to step up and the sleeper he was predicted to be last season. The Dolphins are in a tough division, but two games a year against the Bills and Patriots defense are enough to make Henne a bye-week filler.
25. Jake Delhomme – Here we go again! Like Jay Cutler, I can’t believe that all of the sudden Jake Delhomme has turned into a terrible quarterback. He is bad, but he isn’t that bad. A new system and a new team should be able to give Jake new life. Jake has looked good in preseason but that means nothing when it comes to Jake Delhomme. The lack of weapons on offense is worrisome which is why I have him ranked so low.
26. Kyle Orton – Josh McDaniel may think he is smarter than everyone and for the sake of Broncos’ fans, I hope so. In the last two years he has traded Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Tony Scheffler. Kyle Orton had some decent last season, but with Marshall and Scheffler gone, he is in big trouble.
27. Sam Bradford – If Arizona had a definitive starter, he would be here. But how could you take either Matt Leinart or Derek Anderson at 27 when you know that both guys will have a short hook in Arizona? You can’t. Sam Bradford is an interesting prospect. The last couple of high profile rookie quarterbacks not named JaMarcus have actually done really well in their first NFL seasons. All of the other remaining quarterbacks will be looking over their shoulders this season, including Jason Campbell if he can’t get it done. If not for Donnie Avery’s injury I may have bumped Bradford up a few notches. Sam Bradford looked phenomenal against New England in the third preseason game. I wouldn’t take him at all, but I’d surely keep my eyes on him in case both of your QB picks are busts.
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