Here is my projected list of the top 25 quarterbacks for this coming season, according to standard fantasy league scoring. In parenthesis next to the quarterback’s name is the ranking he ended up with at the end of the regular season in 2011. Tomorrow, I will provide my rankings for the running backs.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (1st)
Rodgers has been by far the most consistently stellar fantasy quarterback over the past three seasons, so he is the prohibitive number one choice.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (tied for 3rd)
Brady gets back all those weapons this season – Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski – plus he acquires a new speedster: the top fantasy wide receiver from two years ago, Brandon Lloyd.
3. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (tied for 3rd)
Will Cam Newton suffer a sophomore slump? With all that running he likes to do? I don’t think so. Granted, it would have been nice for the Panthers to go after an elite wideout via free agency or the draft, but if Cam has anything close to the season he had last year, he should be a top five quarterback without question.
4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (2nd)
So many questions swirl around the Saints these days, not the least of which is Drew Brees’ unsettled contract situation. But Brees will take the field for the Saints and he always throws the heck out of the ball, having recorded at least 33 touchdown passes in each of the last four years.
5. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles (11th)
Yes, Vick had a mediocre, injury-riddled season last year. But the addition of a fresh, new quarterback underneath him by way of the draft should motivate Vick to excel. And Vick ended last year on a positive note, scoring 19, 20, and 21 fantasy points respectively over the final three weeks of the regular season.
6. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (9th)
There’s just no way a quarterback this talented is going to have the same miserable start he had last year. Prior to last season’s passer rating of 88.7, Rivers posted three straight seasons with passer ratings above 100. Rivers is poised for a revival this season, so if you have a chance to take him in the third round of your draft or later, do it.
7. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (5th)
In his first year of being fully healthy, Stafford torched the record books in Detroit, throwing for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns en route to being a top five fantasy quarterback. The only reason I don’t have him higher is because of all those injury concerns from years past.
8. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (7th)
Whatever Romo’s critics may feel about his inability to win “the big one,” he always posts solid fantasy numbers when healthy. And Dallas has been a top eight passing offense in each of the last three seasons.
9. Eli Manning, New York Giants (6th)
With an absolutely brutal schedule this year, Manning’s numbers could dip slightly from the stratospheric levels he achieved in 2011. But he’s still a very solid choice and should be available in the early to middle rounds of the draft.
10. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (N/A)
Will Peyton Manning be able to transform the Broncos from a run-first offense just a year ago? With the presence of the explosive Demaryius Thomas and the addition of former Colts tight end Jacob Tamme, signs point to yes.
And here are the best of the rest:
11. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans (20th)
12. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (13th)
13. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (8th)
14. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills (12th)
15. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (25th)
16. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers (14th)
17. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (N/A)
18. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17th)
19. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (tied for 15th)
20. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (tied for 15th)
21. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (32nd)
22. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (N/A)
23. *Mark Sanchez, New York Jets (10th)
(*if Tim Tebow replaces Sanchez early in the season and holds onto the job, Tebow should be considered a top ten fantasy prospect)
24. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs (31st)
25. Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings (27th)