Fantasy Football Edition – Top 20 QBs
There is an air of excitement in the air. A fervor that is pretty much already at fever pitch. Everyone understands what it is. What you ask? It is quite simple. Football is back. And with the return of football comes the most popular form of fantasy sports, Fantasy Football.
How popular is Fantasy Football? So popular that the FX network created a pretty popular sitcom based around the practice-- The League. I myself, like many of you out there, enjoy taking part in a fantasy league. I truly love breaking down and analyzing every position, every pick to make in each round, developing a draft strategy around what draft position I have and what needs I should fill with each passing round.
I will be breaking down each position with my top 20 players for each position in a standard league-- with some advise for those in PPR leagues. Even though I participate in a league that uses IDPS (individual defensive players), I will only rank the top choices for best team defenses.
With this post, let us begin with most important position on the field... the quarterback:
1. Drew Brees, Saints- I know that most experts will put Aaron Rodgers at number one, but no QB has more consistently put up better numbers than Brees. He has all of his weapons back from last year and they are fully healthy. Plus he gets back a huge piece of the puzzle that was missing a year ago-- though Brees still had monster numbers-- reinstated head coach, Sean Payton.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers- Sure he lost two huge weapons this offseason-- Donald Driver to retirement and Greg Jennings to rival Minnesota-- but he still has a consistent Jordy Nelson, an up-and-coming star in Randall Cobb, and last year leader in receiving TDs in James Jones. What makes him scarier is if TE Jermichael Finley stays healthy and returns to his old form of just a few seasons ago.
3. Peyton Manning, Broncos- Even after a full season, it still feels weird to me to call Manning a Bronco. But it is still the truth. He put up huge numbers a year ago with receivers Eric Decker and Demyarious Thomas. Those numbers will look quite miniscule when compared with what he will do this year with the addition of one Wes Welker. I do believe we will witness three 1,000 yard receiving years from these weapons that Manning will be throwing to this season. Plus as a legitimate Super Bowl contender, Manning could be in for a special season.
4. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers- I know what everyone is thinking, with Crabtree's injury who is he going to throw to? How about one of the game's premier TEs Vernon Davis and one of the most consistent WRs Anquan Boldin. Let's not forget he also still has Frank Gore and LaMichael James in the backfield. Kaepernick also has the ability to burn you with his legs. Plus as the only QB with very extensive experience in the Pistol offense (four-year starter at Nevada), he has the best ability of knowing what to do with the better than anyone else running this style of offense.
5. Tom Brady, Patriots- Yes Brady lost Welker to Denver and Aaron Hernandez to our legal system, and we know that it isn't a guarantee Rob Gronkowski will be ready to start the season or if he will be able to last the whole season. How is Brady going to put up his usual numbers with seemingly no weapons to throw the ball to? Because he is Brady and he still has Belichick as his coach. People forget he won three Super Bowls with outcasts at the receiver positions. And if Danny Amendola can stay healthy all year, look for him to put up Welker-like numbers for Brady.
6. Matt Ryan, Falcons- How can you possibly go wrong with Ryan as your QB? No, really? He has two All-Pro receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones, a Hall-of-Fame TE in Tony Gonzalez, and consistent third WR Harry Douglas. Let's not forget Jacquizz Rodgers emerged as a star last year in a similar role to what Darren Sproles does in New Orleans. Oh, and the Falcons added a rejuvenated Steven Jackson to the backfield attack.
7. Russell Wilson, Seahawks- It does hurt that he lost Percy Harvin before he got to use him. But I think we forget that he threw over 24 TDs a year ago without him. Those weapons he had last year are back. And how can you go wrong when most defenses will be loading up to stop Beast Mode, Marshawn Lynch? That will open up huge plays for Wilson.
8. Robert Griffin III, Redskins- I know the concern is how will his knee hold up after reconstructive surgery? The bigger concern is will his throwing options stay healthy? I think his knee will be just fine and he will learn to run less often. What concerns me is the fact that his biggest targets a year ago-- WR Pierre Garcon and TE Fred Davis-- couldn't stay healthy for the full season. If they can't stay healthy, Griffin doesn't have a lot great options to throw it to.
9. Tony Romo, Cowboys- Say what you will about his performances in do-or-go home situations (most fantasy seasons are done by then anyway), Romo is a fantasy boon if he is available. He has the most reliable TE of the last ten years in Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant finally emerged as the topnotch receiver the world thought he could be last year. Add Miles Austin, who would the top receiving option on most other teams, and Romo has quite the weapons to work with. If the offensive line can provide consistent protection, there is no telling what kinds of astronomical numbers Romo might put up this year.
10. Matthew Stafford, Lions- Stafford's number can become so much better if TE Brandon Pettigrew can put up similar numbers to what he did two years ago and if a consistent number WR emerges to help Calvin Johnson on the outside. At the end of the day, Stafford will still have great numbers because he still has Megatron to throw the ball to.
11. Andy Dalton, Bengals- He has consistent performers in WR A.J. Green and TE Jermaine Gresham. Plus he has a handful of emerging young receivers to complenent Green and Gresham. Dalton is a QB on the rise as a fantasy performer. He is a definite sleeper pick.
12. Andrew Luck, Colts- Luck already has HOF WR Reggie Wayne and emerging young stars in WR T.Y. Hilton and TE Dwayne Allen. Add RB Ahmad Bradshaw to the backfield and his college TE Coby Fleener, and Luck will put up more TDs and yards. Plus I definitely see him improving as one Peyton Manning did in his second year at Indy and drastically cut down on his interceptions.
13. Eli Manning, Giants- He has a healthy Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz available to him and the emerging backfield tandem of Andre Brown and David Wilson. If he can cut down on his INTs, Eli will be a nice sleeper pick for a starter or a definite strong backup for any fantasy team.
14. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers- Yes he lost Mike Wallace to free agency, Plaxico Burress to a torn rotator cuff in training camp, and TE Heath Miller is trying to comeback from a torn ACL in his knee. That does seem like a lot to overcome, but the addition of rookie RB Le'Veon Bell will lessen the pressure on Roethlisberger and WRs Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are emerging as topnotch targets. Big Ben will be just fine... if he can stay healthy.
15. Joe Flacco, Ravens- While he no longer has Anquan Boldin to throw to and emerging TE Dennis Pitta is out for the year with a hip injury, WR Torrey Smith has emerged as a big play target for Flacco, WR/Ret Jacoby Jones looks ready to seriously contribute to the offense, and TE Ed Dickson should be back by Week 1 to lessen the blow of losing Pitta.
16. Cam Newton, Panthers- He has Steve Smith, one of the best playmakers in the game, and consistent TE Greg Olsen, but not much else to throw to. If WR Brandon Lafell can emerge as the consistent number two WR and the running finally emerges, Newton will able to put up strong numbers. If Lafell doesn't step up and Newton ends up as team's leading rusher again, the Panthers will again struggle and Newton will a lost pick for your team.
17. Jay Cutler, Bears- He already has a great target in Brandon Marshall, and WR Alshon Jeffery began showing signs up showing up last season-- he will continue to develop that. Plus you add TE Martellus Bennett who is now two seasons removed from Jason Witten's shadow and showed he could a number one TE last year in New York, and you can see Cutler put up some very nice stats in Marc Trestman's offensive system.
18. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers- He has two huge targets outside in Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson to throw the ball to, emerging backfield weapon in RB Doug Martin, and what looks to be a potentially promising young TE in Luke Stocker. All signs are pointing upward for Freeman. He just needs to drastically cut down on his mistakes and INTs.
19. Matt Schaub, Texans- Yes he leads a pre-dominantly running attack, but he still has a superstar WR with Andre Johnson, and a strong TE in Owen Daniels. With addition of rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins, Schaub could be a strong backup for your team.
20. Alex Smith, Chiefs- Yes he is with a new team and for the seventh time in eight years he has to learn a new offensive system, but he proved two years ago-- and last year before he was injured and replaced-- that he is a consistently good QB. He should do just fine with WR Dwayne Bowe, RB Jamaal Charles, and up-and-coming TE Tony Moeaki as some of his targets. Let's not forget that he has Andy Reid as his coach (just look at Reid's history in developing QBs).
There you have my top 20 QBs. Up next is the Running Backs.